Re: Why Winsor & Newton - OT, About Book Accuracy - OT

From: Judy Seigel ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 06/01/05-04:12:59 PM Z
Message-id: <Pine.NEB.4.63.0506011705060.29803@panix3.panix.com>

On Tue, 31 May 2005, Robert M wrote:

> This does not change the fact that for the most part, a book is generally
> more accurate than a typical e-book, web site, or online "publication."
> Generally speaking, not in every case. This is because many people are
> involved with the book. Experts editing programming books, for example, can
> (usually) spot the minor problems and they are (usually) eliminated. Same
> thing with car books, history books . . . every type of book for that
> matter.

In my experience your experience is very different than *photo publishing*
experience...

You mention "experts editing programming books." The folks publishing
photo books that are aimed, not at photo chemists or other *experts* but
at the photo amateur or art photographer or general photography market,
like KOL (Keepers of Light), or Scopick's Gum Printing, or the very very
worst, volume 2 of the Ansel Adams (if you could believe) series, about
(he spins in his grave) "alternative processes," plus the "alternative
processes" chapter in R. Hirsch's "Photographic Possibilities," which are
by no means all, but the ones that leap to mind.... were not only not
"experts" but knew so little about the processes (and were so intimidated
by them and photography itself) they had no idea they were publishing
error (gross to less gross), and if something didn't make sense to
them assumed it was because they didn't understand photography.

I add, by the way, that I forgive KOL, as pioneer & essentially a gift to
us all... but there is no excuse for KOL's errors (as in cyano toning)
being copied almost verbatim except for elaboration that made it WORSE in
"Possibilities," just for instance.

Anyone who knew cyano toning could well assume that the author(s) had
copied from somewhere and never done the thing themselves. I've always
wondered where Crawford got his original by the way, having so far as I
was able, with the resources I had, worked through all the old formularies
& never seen anything like it...

I've also made the point in Post-Factory that it's fine to give a formula
or process the author hasn't done him or herself, so long as s/he says so.

> You can post anything on a web site and experts generally do not vet the
> information before you post. I am not suggesting every editor catches every
> mistake or every web site is inaccurate. I bet even the publication
> (Post-Factory?) is inaccurate or wrong from time to time.

Actually, that's the beauty of a periodical... I had (tho rarely, she
said modestly) some feedback from readers who had different experience or
disagreed or even some corrections (years ago, so I'd have to check issues
to recall them), but mostly clarifications, or refinements from the
author -- which ran in the next issue.

> Mistakes should be questioned and corrected. The problem is when folks
> "correct to death," as you mentioned. Sometimes we end up with two people
> arguing something and both sides are actually wrong. The poor reader is then
> left to sort it out.

Not my experience. At least my impression on this list is that the result
is better than that... almost always some enrichment of information comes
out or new threads spin off, or things people wouldn't have thought to say
de novo get added because the subject is broached. As for "the poor
reader being left to sort it out" -- the reader, poor or rich has to do
that anyway because we're talking about ongoing process which is ALWAYS
subject to variables, even the season the paper was made is a variable,
BTW, for some of them -- winter paper works, summer not for some media, or
maybe it was the other way around. (The water at the mill is presumably
different.)

Which is to say, little that we do is as set in concrete as the correct
spelling of "moto-cycle." Ongoing process -- even paint you make yourself
-- is never indentical unless you're working in a temperature/humidity
controlled clean room, and (from what I hear of those conditions) not
necessarily then. If you buy your chemicals all at once, they can age, if
you buy them as needed... ha ha. Etc.

> You would not believe how many "experts" post incorrect information about
> polarizer filters and how they work.

Of course I would

> ... If I made the same mistakes, my
> publisher and the experts peer reviewing the work would scream. Errors will
> be corrected before the book goes to press in the first quarter of next
> year.

Then you are indeed lucky in your publisher and experts. Pray that they
live forever... (but they won't, of course).

> A basic book about freelance writing will not automatically advise the
> reader to use e-mail and manuscript attachments. In a recent e-book, a
> self-proclaimed "Literary Agent" said to always use email and attachments.

My daughter-the-journalist says it is now standard practice to contact
agents, publishers, editors by e-mail, in fact handles most of her
correspondance (including with her students and other faculty) that way.

> The same bad advice often appears on writer's mailing lists. No book
> published by "Writer's Digest Books" would dare to let their author get away
> with such bad advice.

They're wrong.. whoever "their" authors are.

> Yes, there are variables. This is where science comes into play. Water
> quality can be controlled, so regardless of what comes out of your tap, you
> can change and modify it.

My theory is that you speak from theory rather than actual experience *in
these processes.* My experience is that the variables of water are not
easily diagnosed or controlled. A lot of them are, BTW, what the boys at
the pumphouse decided to put in that day. Plus, in the city at least, the
general flow of water -- how much leaf mold is dislodged by the volume,
etc.

> ....Or you can use distilled water.

In some of the toning and film control processes I tested, results with
distilled water were not nearly as good... Again, you speak (I suspect)
from theory rather than actual experience with ***these*** processes.

> ...Water can be
> tested. Every variable can be controlled to some extent. Paper, for example,
> can be modified with mordants and humidity adjusted.

Maybe yes, maybe no, but for an artist there is NEVER enough time to do
your work... What you describe might or might not provide control, but it
would eat up the life, sap the energy, divide or distract the attention,
drain the brain, in fact be counterproductive even if "successful". In
real life, I find, not every theoretical possibility is useful, let alone
advisable.

> .... Most processes are very stable if you are careful and
> there should not be much variability. Unless the manufacturer changes
> something. Or the worker does.

In our field of course the manufacturer ALWAYS changes things, but again
it sounds like you extrapolate from other fields, rather than experience
in this one... (I notice that "should.") But again, this is beside the
point. If you have 100 images you're dying to develop, explore, expand,
and hundreds more you're dying to create, you have to triage -- what can I
dump? OK, family and friends of course, but what else? (Besides this list
of course.) Also, setting up your own chemistry/engineering lab. Yes, know
your variables and control as far as possible... but not a miligram more
than necessary.

>Paints can contain either dyes or pigments. I do not know what
> you mean by "near dyes."

This was explained to me by rep at College Art, from either W&N or
Golden... a couple of years ago. Someday I'll find it in my notes, but not
today -- that these dyes (as I recall) are extremely finely ground
pigments, so there is an intermediate state...

Judy
Received on Wed Jun 1 17:41:23 2005

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