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Gentilissimo e bravissimo Gianni, sono un appassionato fotografo di bianco e nero che ammira da sempre il suo lavoro e la sua competenza. Mi chiamo Fabio Urbinati di lavoro faccio l'Oculista e non a caso ho dedicato da sempre il mio interesse e la mia passione a tutto ciò che ha a che " vedere " con all'immagine in generale e con fotografia in particolare.
Sin dai tardi anni 70 ho passato ore in camera oscura stampando bianco e nero con qualche soddisfazione, e ora passato con entusiasmo e pochi tormenti da più di un decennio al digitale, cerco invano di ricreare la magia della stampa analogica coi nuovi procedimenti.
Ho finalmente capito che sebbene il mezzo sia rimasto sostanzialmente lo stesso, i substrati e i materiali attuali non possono trasmettere la stessa sensazione materica di quello che l'analogico rendeva , sebbene con molti limiti anch'esso, come un continuum di tonalità che passavano senza soluzione e senza strappi dal bianco brillante al nero profondo.
Il digitale ha varcato le colonne d'Ercole della resa materica sostituendo per lo più la stampa con la visione su schermo, e in questo ha perduto un po' della magia della pellicola, acquistando però altre capacità e spalancando modalità di sperimentazione e ricerca virtualmente infinite. Ma la stampa rimane per me come per tutti quelli che fanno fotografia, il vertice dell'espressione di questo mezzo. Per cui dopo aver letto con attenzione i suoi articoli vorrei porle alcune quesiti su questo aspetto del flusso di lavoro.
Tutta questa lunga premessa per dirle che anch'io alla fine di una transizione lunga e non indolore ho abbracciato definitivamente la nuova tecnologia di stampa e dopo numerosi tentativi ed errori ho forse avuto la mia illuminazione sulla strada di Damasco quando quasi per caso ho avuto modo di provare le fotocamere della Fuji che mi hanno ridonato il piacere della fotografia ragionata e non compulsiva. Adoro la resa di queste fotocamere e di loro obiettivi.
Per cui l'articolo che ho letto mi ha molto interessato.
Vorrei perciò chiederle perché secondo lei l'impostazione del tipo di pellicola dovrebbe essere così importante nella resa finale dei file RAW, visto che a quanto ne so questa resa dovrebbe riguardare solo i JPEG ? qualcosa mi sfugge ? Uso anch'io Silver Efex PRO 2 che adoro, ma questo dovrebbe agire sui dati grezzi della conversione RAW fatta da ACR di Photoshop. o no? Quale influenza possono avere su di essi le impostazioni della resa dei JPEG ?
La prego, mi chiarisca questo punto.
P.S. mi scuso per averle scritto in italiano su un blog interamente in inglese, ma pur leggendo correntemente tale lingua ho grosse difficoltà a scriverci.
Se ritiene di potermi rispondere anche privatamente sarò lieto di ascoltare il suo parere, altrimenti prenda queste osservazioni come un piccolo contributo alla discussione.
Ringraziandola comunque per la qualità del suo blog e delle sue immagini la saluto amichevolmente.
Fabio Urbinati Ancona

Absolutely stunning images and a great write up. I look forward to the next discussion. If you feel it appropriate, I would appreciate some discussion/comparison with your Olympus OMD E1.

Jim,
thank you very much.
Regarding the X-T1 vs. E-M1 discussion/comparison, I'd feel it more than appropriate. Except that a direct comparison between two cameras would require methods I don't know and equipments I don't have. But you will easily find "scientific" side-to-side tests on the Internet.
As I said before though, both cameras deliver awesome image quality. Their difference is mainly a matter of ergonomics, so your hands will judge better than your eye.

Thank you Fabio.

I try to summarize in English your comment.

- You are/have been a nostalgic of the black&white film era, as both the visual rendition and tactile pleasure of the digital imaging/output don't meet your taste.
Let me disagree on this: obtaining a tonally rich monochrome file is not more difficult than obtaining a well-printable black&white negative. It's only a matter of deeply knowing your gear and software, having a well calibrated monitor and "translating" your valuable darkroom experience into the digital workflow through a slow, meditated and painstaking trial-and-error process.
On the other hand if you miss the inherent technical limits of the photo-chemical imaging system, I have no objection. Nothing beats the appeal of a vinyl LP if you are more interested in old turntables and vacuum-tube amplifiers than in music. Or the fascination of a sailboat if your goal is enjoying the wind instead of getting to a destination. One's pleasure is never objectionable.
As for printing, have you ever tried to order a pro laboratory a Lambda or Lightjet baryta print? Give it a try, and you will never miss an enlarger anymore, believe me. I tried White Wall, a Germany-based online service: simply fabulous.

- You ask me why I recommend camera settings which will have no influence on the raw file. Thank you for asking, as my writing wasn't clear enough in this regard.
You are right, raw files contain raw data which are unbiased by your personal camera settings. Though, if you shoot raw only, you can still apply my suggested in-camera settings to your raw-developer application. This will widen your monochrome potential in Silver Efex.
Nonetheless I like the idea of obtaining a good workflow based on jpg instead of raw. Why make it more complicated if there is a chance to have it simpler? As in many aspects of life, less is more: the lesser the process, the better your imaging. In other words, why bother with vinyl if you simply want to listen to music?

I don't often write on web sites, but I must make an exception here. I originally came to your site looking for examples of the Sigma DPM2 and DPM3, which I use, and then found you also use the X-T1. I was intrigued by your B&W work and started going through your web site.

I am so impressed by the excellence of your photography, the quality of your writing (most native English speakers can scarcely construct a lucid sentence yet alone a paragraph), and the usefulness of the content.

A few days ago, I bought and downloaded one of your photography books (Sushi Notes) because I wished to help support your site, and, quite selfishly, because I enjoy your B&W abstractions. As I'm writing this, it struck me that I've not bought an on-line photo book before (in fact, the last photo books I purchased were printed well over a decade ago). I also date from B&W film days (and analog audio too), and so appreciate your approach to creating B&W images.

Truly, hats off to you and your work.

Robert,
you definitely made my day.
Such a rewarding comment is the best cure for the laziness that sometimes refrains me from posting texts after my long day-job hours.
As for cameras, I wouldn't call myself a gear-geek: I'd rather say that we are living the very early years of the digital photography era, where imaging technology evolves by the hour and aesthetics and style evolve accordingly (as it was in the second half of the 19th century). Thus trying new cameras often leads photographers towards new ways of expression -by the way, I just purchased an used Leica Monochrom, which turns out to be a mindblowing photographic tool-.
Regarding books, thanks for your support. I'm planning a new black&white title in the next few months, so stay tuned.

You say to set film simulation to Negative Pro Standard, but why should that make a difference if you are post processing the raw file?

Barry,
I usually wouldn't.
Fuji cameras deliver the best jpgs I have ever seen in my life, and I couldn't manage to do better via the raw-ACR pipeline. Therefore if your exposure is correct you can rely on jpg without qualms, provided that it's set on "Negative pro Standard".

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