Fine art prints are by definition modified versions of what the camera captured.
The concept of creating a “straight fine art print” from a negative, a transparency or a Raw file is a myth. A legend. A dream. It was so the darkroom age, it is still so in the digital age. It’s just not true.
Why? Because there are two photographs: the one the camera captures, which is on film or on the flash card, and the one you visualized in your mind’s eye, which is in your mind. The two are not the same because there are many differences between what we see and what the camera captures (see my essays on the subject: “The Eye and the Camera” and others.
What the camera recorded is objective. It is precisely what was in front of the lens when I clicked the shutter.
How I arrived at a final image that shows what I experienced is subjective. It is not only what was in front when I took the photograph but what I felt and experienced.
If you make a straight print you will ony show what the camera captured objectively. In order to show what you visualized, what you saw in your mind’s eye, you have to modify what the camera captured. You have to make the objective less objective. This is where image optimization and what some call “manipulation” comes in. These are the tools we must use to transform what the camera saw into what we visualized, into what inspired us.
This is why there can be no “straight fine art print.”
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