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Author Topic: Toward New Romantic Landscape  (Read 28620 times)
Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #20 on: April 25, 2009, 11:15:29 AM »
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Unfortunately, once a cliche exists Ansel's original becomes a cliche too -- except for the incredible quality of the prints he was able to produce.
Maybe ... but I think AA is more like Citizen Kane ... every film made since owes something to Orson Welles and Citizen Kane ... something somewhat similar is in play with AA in my view.

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I really like the underwater thing. I've never done it, but I'm sure you're right that it's preserving things that are vanishing. That's always worthwhile.
I'm a real novice underwater ... but I love it.

I'll post a couple on another thread for kicks ...
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RSL
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« Reply #21 on: April 25, 2009, 12:15:14 PM »
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Quote from: Jeremy Payne
Maybe ... but I think AA is more like Citizen Kane ... every film made since owes something to Orson Welles and Citizen Kane ... something somewhat similar is in play with AA in my view.

No question about it. But every photograph most of us makes owes something to Atget. Still, there's no prospect of an Atget become a cliche but there's every prospect of an Adams becoming a cliche. In fact, I'd say the Adams cliches already are out there in abundance.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2009, 12:23:41 PM by RSL » Logged

JeffKohn
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« Reply #22 on: April 25, 2009, 04:06:20 PM »
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Sorry, but you can't tell me the genre of street photography doesn't have plenty of cliches of its own: from the gnarled old homeless guy with the gap-toothed grin, to the crowds of disinterested workers hurriedly bustling to their destination along crowded sidewalks, to the long shadows and rising steam when the sun breaks through the clouds after a rain shower. The "seen one, seen them all" attitude can apply just as much to street photography as to landscapes.

I don't think "documenting the human condition" elevates street photography to some higher purpose either, especially given how given how narrow a view of the human condition most street photography focuses on.
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« Reply #23 on: April 25, 2009, 05:22:08 PM »
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Sorry, but you can't tell me the genre of street photography doesn't have plenty of cliches of its own: from the gnarled old homeless guy with the gap-toothed grin, to the crowds of disinterested workers hurriedly bustling to their destination along crowded sidewalks, to the long shadows and rising steam when the sun breaks through the clouds after a rain shower. The "seen one, seen them all" attitude can apply just as much to street photography as to landscapes.

I don't think "documenting the human condition" elevates street photography to some higher purpose either, especially given how given how narrow a view of the human condition most street photography focuses on.

Jeff. It's true that anyone can make cliches on nearly any subject. But do you really believe that the best of Cartier-Bresson's photographs or the best of Elliott Erwitt's photographs, for instance, have been turned into cliches? How about a contemporary -- Steve McCurry? There are dozens of photographers who've photographed the same kinds of subjects Steve has photographed, but have they turned Steve's photographs into cliches? I don't think so. The copyists simply can't bring it off. But you can go back to the exact positions where Ansel stood when he shot his photographs and pretty much reproduce what he shot, though you may have to wait around for the right weather conditions. On the web your shots will look very much like the work of the master. You'll only see the difference when you look at the actual prints.

I won't argue with you about a higher purpose. That's a subjective thing. But we're not talking about "most" street photographers. We're talking about the great street photographers. Everyone's a photographer and there are thousands and thousands banging away with their cameras who haven't a clue what's important about the photographs of, say, a Steve McCurry.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2009, 05:26:45 PM by RSL » Logged

dalethorn
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« Reply #24 on: April 25, 2009, 05:35:28 PM »
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Dale, If you actually believe that then evidently you haven't looked at much street photography. I guess the problem is to define street photography. I've been using the term too loosely -- mainly because I can't find a better term for the general class of photography that deals with the human condition. But if you believe what you said, then you aren't familiar with Cartier-Bresson, Elliott Erwitt, Walker Evans, or the many others who've caught people within their milieu in a way that can expand the horizons of those who examine their photographs.
Can anyone on this forum come up with a substitute for "street photography," a term that's too restrictive if you take it literally? We need a term that can cover the whole range of human-oriented photographs from Robert Frank's picture of the girl elevator operator to Ansel Adams's "Moonrise, Hernandez?" Both photographs share at least two elements: both included humans, or artifacts created by humans and both were grab shots -- or, in the case of "Moonrise," the closest you can come to a grab shot with a view camera.
By the way, if you think street photography is easy, try it. Anyone can go out on the street and shoot a picture of the street with people in it, but to catch something that matters is very, very difficult.

Have you ever taken a long stroll down 5th street in L.A.?  You can find a lot of anguish to photograph there.  How difficult is that?  I have lots of street photos - good stuff IMO, if not technically superb.  But replicate what AA did?  Even at a lesser technical quality?  Not that easy.  Very difficult in fact.
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« Reply #25 on: April 25, 2009, 09:01:48 PM »
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Have you ever taken a long stroll down 5th street in L.A.?  You can find a lot of anguish to photograph there.  How difficult is that?  I have lots of street photos - good stuff IMO, if not technically superb.  But replicate what AA did?  Even at a lesser technical quality?  Not that easy.  Very difficult in fact.

Dale, Sorry. If you were familiar with the work of Cartier-Bresson, Elliott Erwitt, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Robert Frank, Andre Kertesz, Brassai, Robert Doisneau, or any of the other people I've been talking about you'd realize how bad both of these "street" photographs are. "Anguish" isn't what makes a good street photograph. As I've said, above, anyone can go out and shoot a picture of a street with someone in it. That's not street photography. Try finding a copy of Bystander, A History of Street Photography. What you learn from that book might surprise you.
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luong
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« Reply #26 on: April 26, 2009, 01:11:02 AM »
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Most of the world's important photographers are or were important because they dealt with people or with artifacts created by the hand of man. Ansel was an exceptional technician. Photographers of my generation learned a lot from him, but the photographs of people like Walker Evans, Cartier-Bresson, etc., etc. are where the real art resides.

I am personally a practitioner of nature landscape photography (not only) and have a lot of appreciation for the genre, however I cannot help but notice that from the point of view of the US and European art museum,  all the way to magazines such as Aperture or publishers such as Steidl, all which think of themselves as at the forefront of contemporary art photography, indeed there is not a lot of interest for nature landscape. I use the term nature landscape to differentiate it from landscapes that include the hand of man.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #27 on: April 26, 2009, 06:25:24 AM »
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Dale, Sorry. If you were familiar with the work of Cartier-Bresson, Elliott Erwitt, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Robert Frank, Andre Kertesz, Brassai, Robert Doisneau, or any of the other people I've been talking about you'd realize how bad both of these "street" photographs are. "Anguish" isn't what makes a good street photograph. As I've said, above, anyone can go out and shoot a picture of a street with someone in it. That's not street photography. Try finding a copy of Bystander, A History of Street Photography. What you learn from that book might surprise you.

And why would you think I don't know? I've been around artsy-photo circles with their fanboys for several decades. I rarely do night photos, and I don't do film noir, but that doesn't make my images *bad*. If I were going to exhibit street photos next month, I would shoot some newer material, but yes, you wouldn't recognize it. Too much light for your taste.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #28 on: April 26, 2009, 07:58:03 AM »
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And why would you think I don't know? I've been around artsy-photo circles with their fanboys for several decades. I rarely do night photos, and I don't do film noir, but that doesn't make my images *bad*. If I were going to exhibit street photos next month, I would shoot some newer material, but yes, you wouldn't recognize it. Too much light for your taste.

Quoting myself (why not?), to add another thought: Yes, these guys get good at what they do with a lot of practice, and I haven't practiced street photography since the 1960's.  More to the point, these guys have a fan base, and most of their fans wouldn't like what I do, even if I practiced a lot and turned out some "really good stuff".

OTOH, there are a million interesting photos to be gotten on the streets of L.A., but how many landscapes?  And it's easy to snap some on the streets and crop here and there to get what you want, but try that with landscapes, and you get undifferentiated mush.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2009, 07:59:32 AM by dalethorn » Logged
RSL
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« Reply #29 on: April 26, 2009, 08:10:07 AM »
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And why would you think I don't know?

Because I saw your pictures.
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« Reply #30 on: April 26, 2009, 08:12:35 AM »
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And it's easy to snap some on the streets and crop here and there to get what you want...

Which is exactly what you've done here with these people who, basically, are street performers. A snapshot of a performance is not "street photography."
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dalethorn
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« Reply #31 on: April 26, 2009, 10:01:11 AM »
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Because I saw your pictures.

You saw all of my photos?  You're amazing.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #32 on: April 26, 2009, 10:02:50 AM »
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Quote from: RSL
Which is exactly what you've done here with these people who, basically, are street performers. A snapshot of a performance is not "street photography."

Street photography is photography on the street.  And we're all performers on the street where I go, but then, you may never have been to a big city, sticking to books mostly, based on your comments.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #33 on: April 26, 2009, 10:11:15 AM »
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Which is exactly what you've done here with these people who, basically, are street performers. A snapshot of a performance is not "street photography."

In the three photos, only the man with the birds is a street performer. Actually, scratch that, just the birds. This is probably too subtle for you, but the people in front of the store are store workers and musicians who do not do street performance - they're doing a special to advertise their product. The religious cleric is not a street performer - he's a synagogue worker who is doing a special outreach, and lastly, the lady feeding the birds is an ordinary person in a moment of spontaneity.
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« Reply #34 on: April 26, 2009, 10:13:28 AM »
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You saw all of my photos?  You're amazing.

I saw the photos you presented as examples of street photography. What else do I need to see? I'd say that evidence is conclusive.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #35 on: April 26, 2009, 01:34:05 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
I saw the photos you presented as examples of street photography. What else do I need to see? I'd say that evidence is conclusive.

Your willingness to conclude your analysis on almost no information (did you expect me to post 100 images?) is evidence of your lack of analytical ability, nothing else. I don't have to prove anything to someone whose head is in a tiny artspace where not much light gets in. I suspect all members who've been here awhile know what street photography is - it was well covered on one or more LLVJ's, and I have 1 through 17.
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« Reply #36 on: April 26, 2009, 02:22:50 PM »
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Your willingness to conclude your analysis on almost no information (did you expect me to post 100 images?) is evidence of your lack of analytical ability, nothing else. I don't have to prove anything to someone whose head is in a tiny artspace where not much light gets in. I suspect all members who've been here awhile know what street photography is - it was well covered on one or more LLVJ's, and I have 1 through 17.

Dale, I'm going to drop the whole thing here. I'm sorry my response agitated you so drastically, but I assume that when someone puts photographs on the web for evaluation he wants a truthful response, not a diplomatic pat on the back. I realize that's not always true, but I've found it usually is.

Best regards,
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #37 on: April 26, 2009, 03:15:22 PM »
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Jeff. It's true that anyone can make cliches on nearly any subject. But do you really believe that the best of Cartier-Bresson's photographs or the best of Elliott Erwitt's photographs, for instance, have been turned into cliches? How about a contemporary -- Steve McCurry? There are dozens of photographers who've photographed the same kinds of subjects Steve has photographed, but have they turned Steve's photographs into cliches? I don't think so.
That's certainly true, but I would say the same is true for many of the truly great landscape images. I just don't think think the fact that some of Ansel's most famous (though not necessarily best IMHO) images are taken from well-known locations that millions of people photograph every year doesn't invalidate landscape photography as fine art, or make it less relevant or important than documentary/street photography.

I'll grant you that many of the iconic landmarks in the national parks have been overshot. But there are plenty of landscape masters shooting lesser known or less accessible locations, as well as venturing away from the classic 'big' landscape to find their own interpretations of the landscape. And I don't necessarily think landscape has to mean wilderness ; I have great admiration for what I would call rural landscapes such as some of the work by folks like Charlie Waite or Joe Cornish.

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The copyists simply can't bring it off. But you can go back to the exact positions where Ansel stood when he shot his photographs and pretty much reproduce what he shot, though you may have to wait around for the right weather conditions. On the web your shots will look very much like the work of the master. You'll only see the difference when you look at the actual prints.
Well, I would say that without regular access your chances of truly duplicating or bettering those previous works is going to be pretty slim, because the chances of getting those perfect conditions on a single visit to an area are very small. I've taken some of those shots myself though, because even though they won't make it into art galleries I think it's still worthwhile to take them, if I gain enjoyment or learn something in the process. I consider it a form of training, part of process of finding my own voice and eventually creating my own style and vision.

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I won't argue with you about a higher purpose. That's a subjective thing.
It is subjective, and I'm certainly not saying that street photography isn't art or isn't important just because it's not my cup of tea. I guess what irks me a bit is that in some circles the definition of art is considered to be absolute even though it's just one viewpoint. I just don't like the elitist thinking that says anything that is popular can't be be real art, or that art must challenge traditional definitions of beauty to be taken seriously (but please note that I'm not accusing you of thinking that way).

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But we're not talking about "most" street photographers. We're talking about the great street photographers.
Fine, but if you want to single out the best of street photography you should do the same for landscape. I would argue that both genres have more than their fair share of cliches, as well as examples that truly define the genre and will stand the test of time.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #38 on: April 26, 2009, 04:34:53 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Dale, I'm going to drop the whole thing here. I'm sorry my response agitated you so drastically, but I assume that when someone puts photographs on the web for evaluation he wants a truthful response, not a diplomatic pat on the back. I realize that's not always true, but I've found it usually is.
Best regards,

Like the previous posts, this accusation is unfounded.  I value your opinions, but I have to read between the lines and re-interpret them, since on their face they don't have much merit.  But please keep trying.  And I'm neither agitated nor offended.  Thank you.
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RSL
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« Reply #39 on: April 26, 2009, 06:26:07 PM »
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That's certainly true, but I would say the same is true for many of the truly great landscape images. I just don't think think the fact that some of Ansel's most famous (though not necessarily best IMHO) images are taken from well-known locations that millions of people photograph every year doesn't invalidate landscape photography as fine art, or make it less relevant or important than documentary/street photography.

I'll grant you that many of the iconic landmarks in the national parks have been overshot. But there are plenty of landscape masters shooting lesser known or less accessible locations, as well as venturing away from the classic 'big' landscape to find their own interpretations of the landscape. And I don't necessarily think landscape has to mean wilderness ; I have great admiration for what I would call rural landscapes such as some of the work by folks like Charlie Waite or Joe Cornish.

Well, I would say that without regular access your chances of truly duplicating or bettering those previous works is going to be pretty slim, because the chances of getting those perfect conditions on a single visit to an area are very small. I've taken some of those shots myself though, because even though they won't make it into art galleries I think it's still worthwhile to take them, if I gain enjoyment or learn something in the process. I consider it a form of training, part of process of finding my own voice and eventually creating my own style and vision.

It is subjective, and I'm certainly not saying that street photography isn't art or isn't important just because it's not my cup of tea. I guess what irks me a bit is that in some circles the definition of art is considered to be absolute even though it's just one viewpoint. I just don't like the elitist thinking that says anything that is popular can't be be real art, or that art must challenge traditional definitions of beauty to be taken seriously (but please note that I'm not accusing you of thinking that way).

Fine, but if you want to single out the best of street photography you should do the same for landscape. I would argue that both genres have more than their fair share of cliches, as well as examples that truly define the genre and will stand the test of time.

Jeff,

That's about as reasonable a response to a slightly overstated argument as I've seen anywhere. I especially appreciate: "I just don't like the elitist thinking that says anything that is popular can't be be real art, or that art must challenge traditional definitions of beauty to be taken seriously (but please note that I'm not accusing you of thinking that way). I'm glad you're not because I have a real beef with what our current elitists have done to art. For me it started with poetry. I've written and had poetry published since I was 19. At University of Michigan it was my favorite subject. I subscribed to Poetry magazine for decades and watched it go down hill until I finally received an issue with nothing in it worth reading and dropped my subscription.

The same thing's happening to visual art. I used to think the problem peaked with "Piss Christ," but I've since had to revise my opinion. It just keeps on getting worse and worse. Sometimes I wonder if it's because I'm getting older and older. May be.

In any case, though it may sound as if I'm dissing landscape, I'm not. If you're willing to include the rural landscape, I'm with you. Probably that's why a very large poster copy of Ansel's "Moonrise, Hernandez" occupied the premier space above my computer table for about 15 years -- until I substituted this:

[attachment=13254:Egret_on...atlakaha.jpg]

But week after next, when I get back to Colorado and my office I'm going to substitute this:

[attachment=13255:River_St...t_Sweets.jpg] Unfortunately the red of the awning seems a lot more unsaturated when I check the preview on Luminous Landscape than when I look at my local computer copy or the print that's hanging on my wall. There's a truer copy at FineArtSnaps.com, provided your monitor is calibrated.

If you include artifacts from the hand of man then I've shot a lot of landscapes. You can see a few at my commercial web: www.FineArtSnaps.com

By the way, it's really unfortunate that Ansel got typecast as a wilderness photographer. Actually, he was very versatile and very good at things like group portraits. The sad part is that only his wilderness shots get shown with any frequency.

Best regards,
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