The Echo After the Final Note

In the days of film, much of the creative work that went into a print happened in the darkroom. From Wikipedia:

During exposure, values in the image can be adjusted, most often by "dodging" (reducing the amount of light to a specific area of an image by selectively blocking light to it for part or all of the exposure time) and/or "burning" (giving additional exposure to specific area of an image by exposing only it while blocking light to the rest). Filters, usually thin pieces of colored plastic, can be used to increase or decrease an image's contrast (the difference between dark tones and light tones). After exposure, the photographic printing paper (which still appears blank) is ready to be processed.

Today, the bulk of the creative work happens in what is called the “digital darkroom”. Computer programs such as Lightroom, Photoshop, and Silver Efex mimic the tools we used in the darkroom, while also extending our capabilities far beyond what was ever imagined in the past. The challenge today is not so much what we can do (which is nearly limitless), but how we should limit ourselves so as to not over-process our images.

In the digital realm, the act of printing is essentially a push button operation (once the initial technical hurdles are cleared, which are not insignificant). Because the creative work happens in the computer prior to making the print, the final step is primarily a technical challenge. Ansel Adams described the negative as the score, and the printing process as the performance. Today, the digital negative is the score, post processing in the computer is the performance, and the act of printing is only the echo after the final note of the symphony.