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Author Topic: Some NYC stuff  (Read 2774 times)
Jeremy Payne
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« on: April 05, 2009, 07:10:48 AM »
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I don't walk around the city with a camera like I did as a youngster, but I do every now and then ... C&C most welcome.









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RSL
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2009, 09:00:59 AM »
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Jeremy,

I’m not sure what you mean when you say that you don’t walk around the city with a camera like you did as a youngster. Since you haven’t given any information in your member profile I haven’t any idea how long ago you were a youngster. I can’t imagine not having a camera in my hand as I walk around a city, because street photography is my favorite thing

I think anyone who’s going to do street photography has an absolute responsibility to become familiar with the photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, and Garry Winogrand. I’d like to add Elliott Erwitt, but even though he’s my favorite, I don’t think the lessons in Elliott’s work are as important as the lessons in the work of the other three. I’m not suggesting anyone look at the photographs made by these people so he can copy them. You can try, but you’ll fail. In the end, if your work’s going to be good, it has to be your own work.

But one of the most important lessons you can learn from these three is that you don’t gain anything by deliberately making someone look ridiculous. There are plenty of situations where people make themselves look ridiculous, and Garry Winogrand was especially good at picking up those situations. But that’s a different kind of thing from someone inadvertently looking ridiculous through ignorance or distraction and the photographer taking advantage of that.

Another thing you learn from these guys is that to be good, a street photograph has to tell a story of some sort. It doesn’t have to be a complicated story. In fact, it’s usually true that the simpler the story the more effective the photograph.

There are plenty of other lessons these guys can teach you, but I’m going to leave it with those two.

Best regards,
« Last Edit: April 05, 2009, 09:12:43 AM by RSL » Logged

dalethorn
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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2009, 09:23:02 AM »
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#1 - great portrait.
#2 - don't know what it is, but it looks dangerous.
#3 - looks just like NY - good capture.
#4 - don't know what to make of this except it's cold, like NY in the winter.
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ProPhotoInsights
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2009, 01:56:48 PM »
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I do a similar thing now and again and that is to take my camera and one lens and just wander.
I think we are so tied to our computers these day and weighed down with gear that it nice to de-clutter and enjoy taking pictures.
Love the portrait of the lady it kinda captures New York for me.
Nice job.
Cheers,
Simon

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Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2009, 02:47:09 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Iím not sure what you mean when you say that you donít walk around the city with a camera like you did as a youngster. Since you havenít given any information in your member profile I havenít any idea how long ago you were a youngster. I canít imagine not having a camera in my hand as I walk around a city, because street photography is my favorite thing
I'm almost 40.  From  1983-1993, I lived near Boston and spent a lot of time walking around town shooting TriX on an Olympus OM-2S.  I wanted a Nikon, but it wasn't gonna happen.  When I was 18, I won the Boston Globe photo contest in the "junior" category and it was downhill from there   ... I went to off to college and by the time graduated, I was broke and much more concerned with feeding myself than making images ... it was a luxury I couldn't afford - literally.  To save the cost of film and lab work, I spent most of the time at the end in a rented darkroom space in Chelsea printing old work.  They should have made a sitcom out of that place.

I like your tips.

The woman in the portrait was from Poland and had recently come over to live with her son who worked on Wall Street.  Her English was rough, but she also spoke French and so do I ... sorta.  She explained that her son was a software developer who worked for a Wall Street bank and gave me his email address.   I sent him a full-resolution file and he was very happy.  She sat still enough to use more than one capture/exposure in the final image.

"Men at work" has always been a big theme in my cityscapes.

The last was an ice sculptor at work.  It was amazing to watch ... I took a bunch of shots - many of them "action" shots like this:

[attachment=12763:ice.JPG]
« Last Edit: April 05, 2009, 02:49:26 PM by Jeremy Payne » Logged
Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2009, 03:29:32 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Jeremy,

I think anyone whoís going to do street photography has an absolute responsibility to become familiar with the photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, and Garry Winogrand. Iíd like to add Elliott Erwitt, but even though heís my favorite, I donít think the lessons in Elliottís work are as important as the lessons in the work of the other three. Iím not suggesting anyone look at the photographs made by these people so he can copy them. You can try, but youíll fail. In the end, if your workís going to be good, it has to be your own work.
Best regards,

Personally I'd rank the recently departed Helen Levitt above the others; her photos simply crackle with life. They look like effortless poetry, and demonstrate genuine respect for her subjects, particularly children. I must confess that I've never 'gotten' Gary Winogrand, despite repeated study of his photos and reading several long interviews in which he explained his work and what he was trying to do. His photos seem to lack any shred of sympathy for his subjects. Robert Frank likewise is no doubt brilliant and incisive, but his work is incredibly sarcastic. Lampooning late 1950s Americans? Like clubbing baby seals. I'm with you on Elliott Erwitt, though. He draws humor from street photos without showing contempt for people.
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RSL
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« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2009, 07:09:25 PM »
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Quote from: Geoff Wittig
Personally I'd rank the recently departed Helen Levitt above the others; her photos simply crackle with life. They look like effortless poetry, and demonstrate genuine respect for her subjects, particularly children. I must confess that I've never 'gotten' Gary Winogrand, despite repeated study of his photos and reading several long interviews in which he explained his work and what he was trying to do. His photos seem to lack any shred of sympathy for his subjects. Robert Frank likewise is no doubt brilliant and incisive, but his work is incredibly sarcastic. Lampooning late 1950s Americans? Like clubbing baby seals. I'm with you on Elliott Erwitt, though. He draws humor from street photos without showing contempt for people.

Geoff,

I'm a Helen Levitt fan too. She's one of my favorites. I have two of her books in my library and go through both fairly often. I agree with you about the quality of her photographs. I especially admire the one of the three kids in masks on the front stoop.

But the reason I listed the three phtographers I did is because, first, Cartier-Bresson practically defined 20th century street photography. He didn't invent it. If anyone did that it was Atget, lugging around a huge stand camera and plates, though Andre Kertesz has a claim for the "inventor" title.

But Henri was a formalist, and careful composition was one of his main strengths. Robert Frank stepped out of that mold and showed that you could put power into pictures that aren't as carefully composed as Henri's, and that sometimes careful composition can detract. I don't agree at all that Robert shows no sympathy for his subjects. I'd say just the reverse. I think he shows deep sympathy for them. Again, you haven't given any information about yourself in your profile, so I don't have any idea how old you are, but I turned 79 last month and I was in my middle and late 20s when Frank did his tour de force. I see those pictures as anything but sarcastic. What he did was tell the truth about that period. I remember how upset Popular Photography Magazine was with The Americans, and it took me a fairly long time to understand what I was seeing when I'd look at the pictures in that book. But they grow on you as the truth begins to seep through.

Garry Winogrand is another guy whose work takes time to understand. Besides that, a lot of Garry's stuff that gets printed isn't all that good. It appears he lost it in his later years. But I think Garry is the guy who finally eliminated any residual doubt in the fine art world that photography is its own kind of art and that you can't judge photographs on the basis of what you've learned about painting.

And so, what I was talking about is the lessons you can learn from these three people, each of whom broke away from a tradition set by his predecessor. As far as my favorites are concerned, Elliott Erwitt tops my list because of his sense of humor, but also because of some of the singularly un-humorous shots he made. The picture of Jackie Kennedy at her husband's funeral, with Bobby in the far right of the frame comes to mind. But Walker Evans runs a close second and was my absolute favorite for a long time. Helen Levitt's right up there in the top group too. I can also add Steve McCurry, Robert Doisneau, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Brassai, Gene Smith, etc., etc, etc...
« Last Edit: April 05, 2009, 07:11:47 PM by RSL » Logged

Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2009, 08:56:12 PM »
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Now you are talking about photographers I know!

I went digging around the catalog and found a few shot on the G9 that I like:









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kaelaria
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« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2009, 11:49:11 PM »
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I love the tones in #2
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RSL
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« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2009, 09:10:54 AM »
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Jeremy, Good stuff. At first I was a bit put off by #1 -- the picture of the lady at rest. I assumed it was a walk-by shooting -- a grab shot. Had it been, I'd have suspected you of trying to make fun of her. But knowing the story that goes with it changes everything. Even if I hadn't gotten the story though, revisiting the picture brings out more and more of the dignity of that woman. I like the second ice picture better than the first because it tells a story. The second batch is very good, especially #3. #2 in the first batch is good surrealism, especially when you identify the modified razor wire and the stack of what I'd guess are fire-escape landings. Don't go out on the street without your camera.

Here's a "street" shot taken on a different kind of street.

[attachment=12793:Center_Hill_John.jpg]
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2009, 03:31:15 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Geoff,

Again, you haven't given any information about yourself in your profile, so I don't have any idea how old you are, but I turned 79 last month and I was in my middle and late 20s when Frank did his tour de force. I see those pictures as anything but sarcastic. What he did was tell the truth about that period. I remember how upset Popular Photography Magazine was with The Americans, and it took me a fairly long time to understand what I was seeing when I'd look at the pictures in that book. But they grow on you as the truth begins to seep through.

Garry Winogrand is another guy whose work takes time to understand. Besides that, a lot of Garry's stuff that gets printed isn't all that good. It appears he lost it in his later years. But I think Garry is the guy who finally eliminated any residual doubt in the fine art world that photography is its own kind of art and that you can't judge photographs on the basis of what you've learned about painting.

I appreciate the perspective. I'm 51, so lampooning the Eisenhower era was de rigeur throughout my wayward youth. Robert Frank's work just fits in so seamlessly with circa-1970s contempt for the late 1950s, I find it difficult to see it any other way.
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RSL
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« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2009, 06:46:39 PM »
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Quote from: Geoff Wittig
I appreciate the perspective. I'm 51, so lampooning the Eisenhower era was de rigeur throughout my wayward youth. Robert Frank's work just fits in so seamlessly with circa-1970s contempt for the late 1950s, I find it difficult to see it any other way.

Geoff,

That puts your understanding of Robert Frank in perspective, and it certainly makes sense. You're 5 years younger than my oldest son who was born while I was flying fighters in the Korean war, so you have no way to understand what a relief Eisenhower and his era were to those of us who'd gone through what preceded it. There's nothing "wayward" about that.

I don't  think Robert was making the kind of judgments you see him making about the world he photographed. The only political point he made in The Americans was that Jim Crow was wrong. He certainly took digs at some Hoboken and Chicago politicians, but generally his view was apolitical. What The Americans deals with are the absurdities that go with the human condition, a condition that's always at the heart of good street photography.

You were seven when I spent a year in Thailand and Vietnam and watched LBJ make the unbelievable errors that led to the political furor that took him down. You were 16 when I went back to Southeast Asia for a second year and watched as that same political furor caused us to abandon the South Vietnamese. I think it's very difficult to make political judgments on earlier periods. You can learn all about the facts of an historical period but that's not the same thing as living it.

Try shutting out the political bias and take another look at The Americans. You may be surprised at what you see. It's an important learning experience for anyone doing street photography.
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Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2009, 05:58:12 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
I'm a Helen Levitt fan too. She's one of my favorites. I have two of her books in my library and go through both fairly often. I agree with you about the quality of her photographs. I especially admire the one of the three kids in masks on the front stoop.
I didn't realize she how recently departed she was ...

I also just met the man who has been her fine art printer today at my son's birthday party.
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