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Author Topic: John Paul Caponigro on Composition  (Read 48777 times)
Rob C
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« Reply #60 on: June 16, 2009, 03:42:39 PM »
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[quote name='RSL' date='Jun 16 2009, 03:28 PM' post='291804']
Sure, Rob. It's what Stieglitz called an "equivalent." You pointed a camera at it and tripped the shutter. Good "equivalent."
[/quot



No foolinŽa pilot, Russ! Sorry, Ray, just straight from the ground via D200 and polarising filter... :-(

But worth a try at causing mayhem and general confusion, even if only my own.

Rob C
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russell a
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« Reply #61 on: June 17, 2009, 08:56:42 AM »
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Ed, I agree. It's the interesting question: "What is art?", which no one yet has answered adequately since the question calls for a subjective definition. As far as I'm concerned, in order for something to be art, whether it be music, poetry, painting, photography, pottery, glass, etc., it has to hit me with a transcendental jolt -- an experience I can't put into words.

It would be well if one realized that "Art" is a proper noun, not a common one.  That is, there is no way to definitively limit the scope of the word to a bound class of objects.  "Art" is a name that anyone can award to anything at all.  The set of examples of art-for-me that an individual "collects" into a personal virtual museum need not resemble that of any other individual.  Read Thierry De Duve's Kant After Duchamp.
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Ray
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« Reply #62 on: June 17, 2009, 09:44:51 AM »
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Quote from: EdRosch
I like that picture quite a bit, it must have been fun to see.  It does raise some interesting questions as to the nature of art,  after all, we photographers are primarily in the business of documenting 'found' naturally occurring scenes and calling it art.  If a wild elephant happened to have made some interesting construction of flowers, fruits. leaves and such and one of us were to come along and document it in some compositionally interesting manner, print it big and then hang it in a show, no one would bat an eye at calling it 'art'.  Same with a tame elephant, so one could argue that a photo of that canvas, regardless of the elephants 'intent' (whatever that means    could arguably be called 'art', so why not the canvas itself?

Note that I'm not taking a position on this, but it is an interesting line of inquiry.

Well I'm glad at least someone likes it   .

What is and isn't art is a terrible question to answer. I'd prefer to approach it from an agreed definition of art. It's much easier to determine whether something that is claimed to be a work of art meets the requirements of a particular definition. Without a clear definition, one tends to endlessly go round in circles.

If we take the first definition in the Oxford English Dictionary: 1. Skill in doing anything as the result of knowledge and practice., then in order for the elephant painting in my shot to meet the requirements of 'art' according to that definition, we would have to accept that an elephant is capable of knowledge.

What do you think? Does an elephant possess knowledge? The elephant in my photo has probably had plenty of practice at painting, with a bit of help from its trainer and it obviously posseses a certain skill with that flexible trunk.

If we consider the second definition of art in the Oxford Dictionary, 2. Human skill as an agent, human workmanship. Opposed to nature, then clearly by that definition, the elephant painting is not art.

Likewise, if we consider the fourth definition, 4. Skill in applying the principles of a special science; technical or professional skill, then I don't think the elephant painting quite makes it.

However, my photo of the elephant would meet the requirements of all three definitions to be called art. By another definition it may not.

Here's the blow-up of the painting. There's a certain art in my reproducing that here.

[attachment=14609:1964_cro...painting.jpg]
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walter.sk
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« Reply #63 on: June 17, 2009, 10:02:36 AM »
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Quote from: Ray
Well I'm glad at least someone likes it   .

What is and isn't art is a terrible question to answer. I'd prefer to approach it from an agreed definition of art. It's much easier to determine whether something that is claimed to be a work of art meets the requirements of a particular definition. Without a clear definition, one tends to endlessly go round in circles.

If we take the first definition in the Oxford English Dictionary: 1. Skill in doing anything as the result of knowledge and practice., then in order for the elephant painting in my shot to meet the requirements of 'art' according to that definition, we would have to accept that an elephant is capable of knowledge.

What do you think? Does an elephant possess knowledge? The elephant in my photo has probably had plenty of practice at painting, with a bit of help from its trainer and it obviously posseses a certain skill with that flexible trunk.

If we consider the second definition of art in the Oxford Dictionary, 2. Human skill as an agent, human workmanship. Opposed to nature, then clearly by that definition, the elephant painting is not art.

Likewise, if we consider the fourth definition, 4. Skill in applying the principles of a special science; technical or professional skill, then I don't think the elephant painting quite makes it.

However, my photo of the elephant would meet the requirements of all three definitions to be called art. By another definition it may not.

Here's the blow-up of the painting. There's a certain art in my reproducing that here.

[attachment=14609:1964_cro...painting.jpg]

Clearly, this smells of fraud!  It is clear that the elephant has appropriated the style of Monet without giving him credit!  Thank goodness the elephant never saw Guernica!  If you look for the signature you will see that it is not Monet, but Money.
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Rob C
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« Reply #64 on: June 17, 2009, 10:09:25 AM »
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[quote name='walter.sk' date='Jun 17 2009, 03:02 PM' post='291988']
 Thank goodness the elephant never saw Guernica!  


Here we go. Another attempt to start a civil war in our ranks!

Rob C
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EdRosch
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« Reply #65 on: June 17, 2009, 11:56:49 AM »
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Quote from: Ray
Well I'm glad at least someone likes it   .
 
Just to be clear, I was liking your photo of the elephant 'taking a bow' with the picture..........  I find the elephant's picture interesting, but like most of the commenters a bit problematical, but worth discussing.

In terms of defining art,  I take a somewhat different view.  While making for interesting conversations, I don't think that attempting a universal definition of art is going to be a very fruitful task.  On the otherhand, I believe that anyone who considers themselves an 'artist' has to develop some understanding of what 'art' is and is not, and some sort of working definition.  This will be unique to them,  they don't even have to share it with anyone, but without one, at least an implicit one, they're just spinning their wheels.



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RSL
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« Reply #66 on: June 17, 2009, 02:27:00 PM »
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Quote from: EdRosch
Just to be clear, I was liking your photo of the elephant 'taking a bow' with the picture..........  I find the elephant's picture interesting, but like most of the commenters a bit problematical, but worth discussing.

In terms of defining art,  I take a somewhat different view.  While making for interesting conversations, I don't think that attempting a universal definition of art is going to be a very fruitful task.  On the otherhand, I believe that anyone who considers themselves an 'artist' has to develop some understanding of what 'art' is and is not, and some sort of working definition.  This will be unique to them,  they don't even have to share it with anyone, but without one, at least an implicit one, they're just spinning their wheels.

History is what defines art. If you look at something displayed in a museum or quoted in current books or played in current concert halls, if it's enjoyed by people in general and it's a hundred or so years since it was created, it's art. Time separates the wheat from the chaff, but the threshing is a process most of us miss because it happens so slowly in terms our our short time on earth. Trying to forecast what actually will survive as art is like trying to forecast the weather a hundred years down the road.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #67 on: June 17, 2009, 03:08:42 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
History is what defines art. If you look at something displayed in a museum or quoted in current books or played in current concert halls, if it's enjoyed by people in general and it's a hundred or so years since it was created, it's art. Time separates the wheat from the chaff, but the threshing is a process most of us miss because it happens so slowly in terms our our short time on earth. Trying to forecast what actually will survive as art is like trying to forecast the weather a hundred years down the road.

History certainly helps to define art, as it helps to define many other things.  But a particular thing is not excluded from art just because it hasn't met a history or other test.  What most defines art is what's acceptable as such in known art circles.  Add unknown art circles into the mix and there you can certainly get an argument.
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russell a
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« Reply #68 on: June 17, 2009, 03:30:37 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
History is what defines art. If you look at something displayed in a museum or quoted in current books or played in current concert halls, if it's enjoyed by people in general and it's a hundred or so years since it was created, it's art. Time separates the wheat from the chaff, but the threshing is a process most of us miss because it happens so slowly in terms our our short time on earth. Trying to forecast what actually will survive as art is like trying to forecast the weather a hundred years down the road.

History just tells us that during period P items X, Y, & Z were regarded as art by some segment of the reigning culture.  The segment could arguably be singular, but usually is some establishment entity.  It will indeed be interesting to see how much of the art of our period is regarded in the future.  (And, if conservators are able to even prevent its self-destruction between now and then.)  At least Conceptual Art doesn't present a daunting conservation issue.
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RSL
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« Reply #69 on: June 17, 2009, 03:51:01 PM »
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Quote from: russell a
History just tells us that during period P items X, Y, & Z were regarded as art by some segment of the reigning culture.  The segment could arguably be singular, but usually is some establishment entity.  It will indeed be interesting to see how much of the art of our period is regarded in the future.  (And, if conservators are able to even prevent its self-destruction between now and then.)  At least Conceptual Art doesn't present a daunting conservation issue.

Russell, You missed part of what I said: "if it's enjoyed by people in general." If you delve into art history you'll find that Impressionism not only was not regarded as art by the "reigning culture" or an "establishment entity," it was rejected.

Here's a little poem. No one knows where it came from and it's very old, but it certainly wasn't something regarded as art by the reigning culture:

O westron wind when wilt thou blow
That the small rain down can rain?
Christ that my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again.

That's art! It's been around for a very long time but it still gives you that transcendental jolt -- the kind of experience you can't put into words.

My point is that in the long run, what the establishment, or the reigning culture said about a work at the time it was created no longer has anything to do with its status as art.
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Ray
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« Reply #70 on: June 17, 2009, 10:33:43 PM »
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Quote from: walter.sk
Clearly, this smells of fraud!  It is clear that the elephant has appropriated the style of Monet without giving him credit!  Thank goodness the elephant never saw Guernica!  If you look for the signature you will see that it is not Monet, but Money.

Does that mean you like the painting, Walter?

There's no fraud here. At the show I attended, the process was completely transparent, although I confess I didn't have the best vantage point for photographing the events.

All paintings were offered for sale immediately after completion. Of course there's money involved. Nothing happens in our civilization without money being involved. If you climb a mountain to admire the view, or simply walk along a country path, there's always money involved. Even if you walk bare-footed and in the nude, you presumably need money to buy the food to give you the energy to walk.

If the elephant painting is slightly suggestive of some works by Monet, it's probably due to guidance from the elephant's mahout. I believe each elephant is assigned a mahout at an early age who generally stays with the elephant for many years. A close bond is formed between elephant and carer. Any painting is as much about the mahout's arstistic sensibility as it is about the elephant's. You could say, perhaps the quality of the painting reflects the quality of the relationship between elephant and mahout.

Here's a heavily cropped close-up of an elephant actually painting, with brush in trunk. You can see that the mahout is guiding or directing the elephant by gently tugging on its right tusk. "Just a bit higher, sweetiepie (two tugs). No! too high; down a bit (one tug). That's better! Good boy!"

[attachment=14620:1958_crop.jpg]
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daws
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« Reply #71 on: June 17, 2009, 11:09:41 PM »
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Quote from: Ray
Here's a heavily cropped close-up of an elephant actually painting, with brush in trunk. You can see that the mahout is guiding or directing the elephant by gently tugging on its right tusk. "Just a bit higher, sweetiepie (two tugs). No! too high; down a bit (one tug). That's better! Good boy!"
No doubt about it, those mahouts with their tusk-control elephant brushes are amazing painters! (Can I get a TCE brush as an action for CS4?)  
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Ray
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« Reply #72 on: June 18, 2009, 12:06:08 AM »
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Quote from: daws
No doubt about it, those mahouts with their tusk-control elephant brushes are amazing painters! (Can I get a TCE brush as an action for CS4?)  

No need! You have a variety of artisitc styles in PS (under Filters) that can help turn your photos into elephant paintings.
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Rob C
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« Reply #73 on: June 18, 2009, 03:11:24 AM »
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Quote from: Ray
No need! You have a variety of artisitc styles in PS (under Filters) that can help turn your photos into elephant paintings.


Those Adobe people think of everything!

(Except charity towards me.)

Rob C
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daws
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« Reply #74 on: June 18, 2009, 03:25:32 AM »
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Quote from: Ray
No need! You have a variety of artisitc styles in PS (under Filters) that can help turn your photos into elephant paintings.
I'm kicking myself for not coughing up the cash for CS4 Extended. In Standard, all you get is the Panicky Snake pseudo-Pollock brush, the Leaping Beetles On a Griddle simulated-Seurat, and the Angry Badger van Gogh (which, wouldn't you know it, keeps crashing my machine). Nary a genuine Tusk Control Elephant brush in the lot.
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Ray
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« Reply #75 on: June 18, 2009, 03:45:28 AM »
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Quote from: daws
I'm kicking myself for not coughing up the cash for CS4 Extended. In Standard, all you get is the Panicky Snake pseudo-Pollock brush, the Leaping Beetles On a Griddle simulated-Seurat, and the Angry Badger van Gogh (which, wouldn't you know it, keeps crashing my machine). Nary a genuine Tusk Control Elephant brush in the lot.


Genuine wit!      
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DavidHoptman
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« Reply #76 on: October 25, 2009, 06:43:38 AM »
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Quote from: RSL
Ed,

Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. I think JPC is a very, very good photographer, but that doesn't necessarily make him a good teacher. I'd suggest that looking at his photographs is a lot more helpful than looking at his words. I think the kind of thing he's teaching might be helpful if the subject were painting. But painting is a contemplative art. You can sit down with a sketch pad and construct a composition by following the kind of rules-based approach JPC is putting forth, but you can't do that with a photograph. HCB said it best: "We photographers deal in things that are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth that can make them come back again. We cannot develop and print a memory." Photographic composition has to be intuitive. You don't have time to construct it. You have to see the subject and the geometric relationships all at once or it's no go. That's why I keep harping on looking at photographs in order to learn about composition. Photographic composition is something you have to absorb rather than learn.

  COMPOSITION is basically the most fundamental and most important aspect that visual image makers have to deal with. You can talk about how to make a good composition endlessly and that I would say is much easier than creating a good composition. Its like mistaking the finger pointing to the moon for the moon itself{old zen phrase}. The best tool we have today in our digital bag of tricks is the instant feedback from our camera monitors. We see exactly what we have done immediately. So its time when out in the field looking to make a great photographic composition to pay attention to the photo we just made and objectively look at the image that we see on our camera monitor and go from there. We ask ourselves; do we need a higher or lower camera angle should we move to the right or to the left forward of backwards, is our composition working? maybe we need to  come back at a different time of day or even a different time of the year. Its all out there in front of us. Pay attention to the photo you have made and make adjustments, shoot another frame and re-adjust  and continue with the process until you are satisfied with what you see on the monitor before walking off to make the next composition. Making a great photo is by no means easy to pull off, I have been at it my entire life as a professional photographer and instructor and I can still attest to that. Take your time, don't stop and make a photo and keep moving without checking out your view screen and being critical about your capture. Its almost impossible to make a poignant image just walking stopping and shooting. It take effort, patience and stamina. The post above is correct. intuition is one of the keys to making timeless photo's. But first you need to pay your dues and know the fundamentals of your camera lenses etc. etc.   Enjoy the process, composition is the ultimate challenge.... but when you've nailed a great photo/composition.. its a great feeling!.. DAVID HOPTMAN
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« Reply #77 on: October 25, 2009, 08:58:45 PM »
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David, I agree with everything you said when you apply it to studio work, architecture, or landscape. But street photography doesn't allow you to wait for the sun to move or the rain to stop. In almost every case you get one chance and one chance only. You can't very well say, "Lady, would you mind moving back a couple steps so I can shoot this shot over again?" Chimping doesn't help. Once you've made the shot, the only reason to look at it on the camera is to satisfy your curiousity. Your composition has to be intuitive, and the only way I know to develop that kind of intuition is to study the work of the greatest street photographers and practice, practice, practice. In street photography, by the way, what you said about becoming familiar with your equipment is magnified many times over. If you have to think about the camera, you're lost.
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schrodingerscat
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« Reply #78 on: November 18, 2009, 10:56:58 PM »
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Quote from: russell a
It would be well if one realized that "Art" is a proper noun, not a common one.  That is, there is no way to definitively limit the scope of the word to a bound class of objects.  "Art" is a name that anyone can award to anything at all.  The set of examples of art-for-me that an individual "collects" into a personal virtual museum need not resemble that of any other individual.  Read Thierry De Duve's Kant After Duchamp.

Jam yesterday, jam tomorrow, but never jam today - Dada campaign slogan.
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schrodingerscat
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« Reply #79 on: November 18, 2009, 10:59:41 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
David, I agree with everything you said when you apply it to studio work, architecture, or landscape. But street photography doesn't allow you to wait for the sun to move or the rain to stop. In almost every case you get one chance and one chance only. You can't very well say, "Lady, would you mind moving back a couple steps so I can shoot this shot over again?" Chimping doesn't help. Once you've made the shot, the only reason to look at it on the camera is to satisfy your curiousity. Your composition has to be intuitive, and the only way I know to develop that kind of intuition is to study the work of the greatest street photographers and practice, practice, practice. In street photography, by the way, what you said about becoming familiar with your equipment is magnified many times over. If you have to think about the camera, you're lost.


"Be the ball" - Chevy Chase, Caddyshack
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