Today, most photographers have to work their digital images on a computer and some photographers spend hours and even days retouching a single photograph and, of course you don't get advanced retouching skills without a lot of study and practice. But working still in front of a computer is not for me, even though I never spend more than 30 minutes retouching my digital photographs. To be honest, I spend usually less than 3 or 5 minutes working on my digital photographs.
This is one of the reason I jumped to film photography. I don't want work in front of a computer but manipulate my work with my hands. This is why I prefer the dark room, "looking at your photograph coming out on a paper with chemicals reacting is the closest you can come to magic".
In order to make a good print I had to gain some skills on three different art:
- Photographing (research scenes, calculate exposure time, adding and adjusting your tools appropriately and use previous experience to overcome challenges and get closer the result you want to archive.
- Developing negatives (choosing the appropriate chemicals, measurements and agitation to make the image on the negative come more or less sharp, more or less grainy, more or less contrasty).
In order to print we have to choose the paper based on the look we want to archive. Then find the exposure time to come closer to the result wanted.
To find the right exposure, I expose the paper several times like the image besides.
Found the ideal exposure I look for the areas that will need more or less light in order to don't get too dark or too bright. Some times covering part of the photograph against the light with my hands and some times creating masks.
Now you can understand why some photographers get offended when people don't value their work, as if photography is just the act of choosing cameras and lens and pressing the camera button.
Like any other art, photography is a creative activity and artistic process. And like any other art, there is always more to learn, doesn't matter how long you have being working with it.