The Quest for Clarity

Title sounds ominous enough.

My first attempts to produce “snappy” pictures in print started in my sophomore year in college. I was the production manager for our college magazine and was determined to make the images in the the next issue pop off the page-

BigEye Halftones

I just had no earthly idea what that required. I didn’t understand the reproduction game at the time. I remember accompanying the school photographer on assignments and asking him to shoot “high contrast pictures.” A little vague in direction, but my intent was pure.

I had just seen way too many images in print that looked flat and lacking in detail and figured that the photographer needed to pick up his game. I thought that if he just shot the picture with more contrast, the image would print with greater clarity. Made sense.

At that time I was working my way through college in the reproduction department of Tropical Gas Company in Miami Florida, running forms and reports and an occasional newsletter. 1250 MultiWhen I ran a photo in our company newsletter, the halftone images that emerged from my Multilith 1250 duplicator usually printed flat, and I figured the fault had to be the photographer’s. That was my early approach to QC in photographic images. I understood absolutely nothing about the photo/lithographic process at the time. Though that was about to change big time.

What I came to realize was that there were several VERY significant steps between the camera shot and the images coming out of the duplicator. Lighting on the scene was important, but it was only the first move in the reproduction ballet. In between were the critical steps of film development, photographic enlargement (the print) and the halftone conversion process. The lights began to turn on. Over the next few years I began my quest for image clarity.

35mm-dev-tankI determined to learn and take control over all the steps in the process, starting with the photography, developing my own films, enlarging my own prints, and shooting my own halftone images. The quest now had a plan. The kid was in control.

Funny how life unfolds. Here I am nearly fifty years later and I’m still on that quest. After investing a bunch of time in the lithographic and photographic industries, I’m still on track. Digital film instead of emulsion, digital development instead of rocking canisters and trays, editing on a digital display instead of dodging and burning on an enlarger easel, and printing on ink jets and displaying on the Internet instead of spitting paper out of a small quick-copy duplicator. But the challenge remains. An eternal quest for image clarity. Same challenge, just a different landscape. No matter where you are in this visual journey, keep learning. It’s an honorable quest!

That’s the way I sees it.

Check out my latest video asking you the question: “What’s the Key Factor in All of Photography?” You might be surprised at my summation. It’s six minutes long- take the time!

Drop me a note. I’d like to hear your thots. Let’s learn together.

See you next time.


About Herb Paynter

I'm an author, photographer, and video producer living in Fort Pierce, Fl. I've been in the color game for more years than I care to admit. In that time I have picked up some insights and experience that I like to share.
This entry was posted in Analog and Digital Photography, Opinions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Quest for Clarity

  1. Marty Knapp says:


    Just checked out your “Gotta Know…” video series promo. Looks like just the sort of information that would be helpful for me.

    I’d like to purchase this production from you but I’m stopped by a contradiction. Would you please reconcile your statement of “watch as many times as you like” with what appears to be a one-year subscription offering for my payment on the PayPal billing page?

    Please let me know, will I truly have the unlimited access you state in your promo video, or will I have to pony up again after one year to continue to access the information?


    ps. You must know by now that the link in the email announcement needs a dot replaced with a forward slash in order to link. So if you’re not getting the response you hoped for from this excellently-produced promotion video, then that’s certainly why.

    • Herb Paynter says:

      Thanks Marty for the heads up. I had considered doing a yearly membership but decided against it. The membership is an unlimited one. I’ve changed the confusing wording on the order form.

  2. Marty Knapp says:

    Thanks, Herb. I’ll head over and sign up. Your video series looks very useful and I’m sure will help me get my head wrapped around some of the mysteries of color digital that have hitherto baffled me.

  3. Cialis says:

    Thank you for sharing your info. I truly appreciate your efforts and I
    will be waiting for your further post thank you once again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s