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Author Topic: the view from my new home  (Read 8003 times)
shutterpup
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« Reply #60 on: May 15, 2010, 03:12:36 PM »
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Alain,
I'm back from reading. This summed up what I got from your essay:

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My goal is to create images that represent the world not as it is, but as how I see it, how I feel when I am in a specific location and how I perceive this location as a whole.  Not just the part that I see, but the part that I don’t see: the melting sap of Pinion pines on a warm summer days; the call of a blackbird bouncing off a canyon wall; the heat waves floating in front of me over the bare sandstone; the multitude of sensory inputs that are, by nature, non-visual.  After all, a photograph is nothing but something we can look at.  Yet, the reality of the world is much more than that.  The reality of the world is something that we experience through five senses: smell, touch, hearing, taste and finally sight.  A photograph only makes use of the fifth sense.  It is a partial perception of the world, representing at the most 1/5th of all that we sense. I wish those that argue that unaltered photographs can represent reality would understand that. But, as I explain, it is not in my power to change their mind.  Therefore, I limit myself to just answering “yes” when they ask me questions about whether my work is manipulated or not.  Of course my work is manipulated.  How could it be otherwise?  Only a fool would believe that it isn’t.  Yes.

This about there being 5 senses and only 1 being used in camera capture delineates the quandry I've found myself in for a while. It is, indeed, the reason that I write; because I have not found a way to capture in a photograph all that the senses perceive in the scene of a photograph taken.

Annoyingly, I participate in an "arts" forum; that is to say, the participants there are writers and visual artists. They have had many discussions as to whether photoshopped images displayed in the gallery are truly art. Almost to a person, they say no.

I am reminded of something I read once concerning painting/multimedia work. That it is more art than photography is  because it goes onto canvas after having been filtered through the artist's mind. I've been intimidated by this reasoning for a long time. I can wrap my mind around the fact that a manipulated photo has also been filtered through the artist's mind. It doesn't have to be labeled inferior, although often they don't suit my taste. So it is with any writing, music or artistic endeavor of any kind.

Your essay has changed the way I think of post-processing. When I saw what you did to my photo, my immediate reaction was that it in no way matched the mood of twilight that I had seen and felt. My experience is not necessarily yours. But isn't that the way it's always been?
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alainbriot
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« Reply #61 on: May 15, 2010, 03:31:59 PM »
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Quote from: John R Smith
Well, Alain, I really hesitate to question you on this issue, because I have followed your contributions here on LL for a very long time and have always respected your work and your opinions. But, as you know, many many photographers shot transparency film for years (including myself, on 6x6), for publication as magazine covers, calenders, or for projection (in my case as well) for lectures and illustrated talks. And with an Ektachrome you cannot crop, burn, or dodge, or alter the colour balance. You have to get it right in camera. It seems to me that I still managed to take some pretty decent photographs back then, nonetheless.

John


Agreed.  I also photographed on Ektachrome, Kodachrome, Fujichrome, color and BW negative film, etc.  But, I never was satisfied with what the camera alone gave me. Darkroom work was an important aspect of my final work when I used film.  

Notice I did not say "You."  I am only talking about my work.  This is a personal matter and making different choices is OK.  My opinion is that the camera is not giving me what I want, be it on film or sensor, and that I need to modify the camera image to create the images I am looking for.  Also note that I am talking only about Fine Art Photography.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2010, 03:36:04 PM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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John R Smith
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« Reply #62 on: May 15, 2010, 03:37:31 PM »
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Pup

You know, maybe it really isn't so deep, or profound, or bloody difficult as everyone seems to be making out. You can spend far too much time debating, agonising, and philosophising over this stuff, and in the end it is all really a bunch of crap. What does it matter if photography is art? Personally I prefer to think of it as a craft, it takes all the pretentious nonsense right out of it.

So if you can get hold of that concept, of craft, the natural conclusion is that you should get out there and master your craft. Whatever floats your boat - portraits, landscape, street, or still-life, just get a camera out (any camera will do) and get on with it. Shoot lots, be very critical of the results, go out again and do it better.

And when you get something you really like, don't give a monkey's whether it seems to be art or not. Or whether anyone here on LL Forum likes it. And especially disregard whether or not John R Smith likes it    Print the sucker, pin it on the wall and enjoy it.

If it's not fun, it's not worth a damn and not worth doing.

John

(Apologies, Alain, we cross-posted. This was not meant to be a personal go at you)
« Last Edit: May 15, 2010, 03:41:32 PM by John R Smith » Logged

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alainbriot
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« Reply #63 on: May 15, 2010, 03:38:36 PM »
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Quote from: shutterpup
Alain,
I'm back from reading. This summed up what I got from your essay:

Your essay has changed the way I think of post-processing. When I saw what you did to my photo, my immediate reaction was that it in no way matched the mood of twilight that I had seen and felt. My experience is not necessarily yours. But isn't that the way it's always been?

Great.  So now you have to find a way to modify your photo so it shows what you saw.  What I did to it was to make it look the way I like it, as I said in my original post.  Not being there taking the photo there was no other way for me to approach the image.
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Alain Briot
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shutterpup
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« Reply #64 on: May 15, 2010, 03:54:27 PM »
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Quote from: John R Smith
Pup

You know, maybe it really isn't so deep, or profound, or bloody difficult as everyone seems to be making out. You can spend far too much time debating, agonising, and philosophising over this stuff, and in the end it is all really a bunch of crap. What does it matter if photography is art? Personally I prefer to think of it as a craft, it takes all the pretentious nonsense right out of it.

So if you can get hold of that concept, of craft, the natural conclusion is that you should get out there and master your craft. Whatever floats your boat - portraits, landscape, street, or still-life, just get a camera out (any camera will do) and get on with it. Shoot lots, be very critical of the results, go out again and do it better.

And when you get something you really like, don't give a monkey's whether it seems to be art or not. Or whether anyone here on LL Forum likes it. And especially disregard whether or not John R Smith likes it    Print the sucker, pin it on the wall and enjoy it.

If it's not fun, it's not worth a damn and not worth doing.

John

(Apologies, Alain, we cross-posted. This was not meant to be a personal go at you)

John,
I am a complicated person, or better to say that I approach everything in a complicated manner. So I do agonize, debate and consider the philosophical ramifications of what I'm attempting. That is who I am; it isn't easy being green.  

That said, I'm not sure I'm trying to "make art." I'm just not having any fun with photography right now, my vision seems to have deserted me, and I'm trying to change that current reality.
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« Reply #65 on: May 15, 2010, 03:55:52 PM »
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Quote from: John R Smith
(Apologies, Alain, we cross-posted. This was not meant to be a personal go at you)

I didn't take any of this personally but thanks for the note.
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Alain Briot
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shutterpup
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« Reply #66 on: May 15, 2010, 03:59:34 PM »
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Quote from: alainbriot
Great.  So now you have to find a way to modify your photo so it shows what you saw.  What I did to it was to make it look the way I like it, as I said in my original post.  Not being there taking the photo there was no other way for me to approach the image.

I will abandon my original thinking. I have always proudly stated that "this photo is just as it was straight from the camera." Somehow that statement told me that I had the right settings, was standing in the right place at the right time. Except that my images were leaving me cold, and I knew what they were about.

And so I continue forward with a new resolve, thanks to these discussions.
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John R Smith
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Still crazy, after all these years


« Reply #67 on: May 15, 2010, 04:10:07 PM »
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Quote from: alainbriot
I didn't take any of this personally but thanks for the note.

Thanks, Alain  

Quote from: shutterpup
That said, I'm not sure I'm trying to "make art." I'm just not having any fun with photography right now, my vision seems to have deserted me, and I'm trying to change that current reality.

Well, that was exactly my point. You should be having fun with your photography. You have to find a way to put that passion and desire back into it. And to do that you have to have self-belief. Which means not being intimidated by some agenda which includes profundity and "art" as a prerequisite to taking a picture, and an inner conviction that you enjoy doing this craft for its own sake. In fact, it's pretty much like trying to play a great guitar solo, or finding someone to fall in love with, or writing a great novel - the harder you try, the worse things often get. It is when you cease to try, but just are, that the magic happens. Find the zone, and the pictures will follow.

John
« Last Edit: May 16, 2010, 03:24:17 AM by John R Smith » Logged

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« Reply #68 on: May 16, 2010, 02:17:33 PM »
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Quote from: shutterpup
I will abandon my original thinking. I have always proudly stated that "this photo is just as it was straight from the camera." Somehow that statement told me that I had the right settings, was standing in the right place at the right time. Except that my images were leaving me cold, and I knew what they were about.

And so I continue forward with a new resolve, thanks to these discussions.

Well... just to muddy the waters a little...    Two photographers whose work I admire are Stephen Johnson and John Paul Caponigro.  There are others  I admire as well, but I mention these two for one reason...  Both of them do great work (in my opinion, which means I like what they do), but their approach to photography is almost diametrically opposed.  Stephen is very much a 'get it right in camera' type of person.  John Paul uses the camera as a beginning place to create his art.  Vincent Versace is another, and one thing he's mentioned is that he never crops his images.  Ever.  Alain is certainly another who does great work.  Elizabeth Carmel is another.  To me what makes each of them and his/her work interesting is not where they lie on the bar of Photoshopped<____________>No Manipulation, but that they are each true to their own vision, and it shows in their work.  

As to studying under the masters, I agree wholeheartedly.  Michael has also said that one can tell a photographer by the number of books of photography (not technique books, but books of photographs) s/he has around the house.  It's a subject that was covered here by George Barr, and one I also covered in my blog post 'Becoming a Better Photographer'.  For me, becoming complacent in one's work is the death knell for creativity.  That doesn't mean one can't be satisfied with what one has achieved, only that we seek to become more.

Mike.

P.S.  I remember when Alain's post 'Just say Yes' came out, and I thought it was great!
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« Reply #69 on: May 17, 2010, 10:39:38 AM »
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Well, I was going to jump in again and try to say something profound. Now I think the most profound thing I can say is that I agree completely with Mike. I especially agree with his reference to Michael's statement that a serious photographer has bookcases full of books of photographs.

Alain's work is based on darkroom or Photoshop manipulation. He's is more painter than photographer, and he's very good at what he does. My own bent is more toward the "never crop or manipulate unless you can't avoid it" school, yet I can appreciate and enjoy Alain's final prints.

I think Alain's advice about learning someone else's technique as a starting place is right on. It applies to poetry, prose, painting, photography... etc. But I don't think you have to master, say, Elliott Erwitt's technique before you can begin developing your own. What you find as you try to echo someone else's technique is that you can't! And when you hit those places where you simply can't adapt to your model's approach you begin to find -- well, let's call them workarounds -- that may eventually coalesce into your own technique.

As far as I'm concerned, the other great piece of advice came from John Smith: "If it's not fun, it's not worth a damn and not worth doing." Now that's profound.
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shutterpup
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« Reply #70 on: May 17, 2010, 12:52:37 PM »
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Quote from: wolfnowl
Well... just to muddy the waters a little...    Two photographers whose work I admire are Stephen Johnson and John Paul Caponigro.  There are others  I admire as well, but I mention these two for one reason...  Both of them do great work (in my opinion, which means I like what they do), but their approach to photography is almost diametrically opposed.  Stephen is very much a 'get it right in camera' type of person.  John Paul uses the camera as a beginning place to create his art.  Vincent Versace is another, and one thing he's mentioned is that he never crops his images.  Ever.  Alain is certainly another who does great work.  Elizabeth Carmel is another.  To me what makes each of them and his/her work interesting is not where they lie on the bar of Photoshopped<____________>No Manipulation, but that they are each true to their own vision, and it shows in their work.  

As to studying under the masters, I agree wholeheartedly.  Michael has also said that one can tell a photographer by the number of books of photography (not technique books, but books of photographs) s/he has around the house.  It's a subject that was covered here by George Barr, and one I also covered in my blog post 'Becoming a Better Photographer'.  For me, becoming complacent in one's work is the death knell for creativity.  That doesn't mean one can't be satisfied with what one has achieved, only that we seek to become more.

Mike.

P.S.  I remember when Alain's post 'Just say Yes' came out, and I thought it was great!

Well Mike. You can muddy the waters any time. I started by reading George Barr and your blog entry. I was so glad I did. I was able to look at Steven Johnson and Vincent Versace's work with a whole different mindset. I was familiar with neither of them; I was able to identify what I liked and didn't like based on George Barr's essay. You had already made reference to Elizabeth Carmel's work in another thread here before and I had her site bookmarked. However, I took another look and was able to identify why some of her images work for me and others simply don't. Nice to be able to look at all these images and understand my gut reaction to many of them. Not to leave out Jean Paul Caponigro, I've been getting his newletter for some time, and I am a member of his site. Again, I was exposed to him from some articles he did here.

I am familiar with some of your "top 50" list in your blog. It's a good starting place for me to delve into other photographers' work. I find Mike that much of what you have recommended in this and other threads really interest me. I thank you for this response and it's detail.
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shutterpup
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« Reply #71 on: May 17, 2010, 01:02:49 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Well, I was going to jump in again and try to say something profound. Now I think the most profound thing I can say is that I agree completely with Mike. I especially agree with his reference to Michael's statement that a serious photographer has bookcases full of books of photographs.

Alain's work is based on darkroom or Photoshop manipulation. He's is more painter than photographer, and he's very good at what he does. My own bent is more toward the "never crop or manipulate unless you can't avoid it" school, yet I can appreciate and enjoy Alain's final prints.

I think Alain's advice about learning someone else's technique as a starting place is right on. It applies to poetry, prose, painting, photography... etc. But I don't think you have to master, say, Elliott Erwitt's technique before you can begin developing your own. What you find as you try to echo someone else's technique is that you can't! And when you hit those places where you simply can't adapt to your model's approach you begin to find -- well, let's call them workarounds -- that may eventually coalesce into your own technique.

As far as I'm concerned, the other great piece of advice came from John Smith: "If it's not fun, it's not worth a damn and not worth doing." Now that's profound.

Russ,
Thanks for getting back to me. Yes, there was quite a discussion going on here on these two threads of mine on Saturday. I appreciate so much all the input I got.

I know that you believe less is more as far as manipulation of an image. But a deft hand in the digital darkroom is as important as any other skill that a photographer has. No one ever complained about photographers manipulating images in the wet darkroom that I've heard of. I think today it's so easy to do go over the top with post-processing that it causes concern.

While I was looking at some of the photographers whose sites Mike provided, over and over I asked myself "How did s/he do that? Today I am more aware than I was last week. And tomorrow moreso than today!
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shutterpup
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« Reply #72 on: May 17, 2010, 01:49:09 PM »
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Mike,
Your blog entry you gave me cited both "Photography and the Art of Seeing" and "More Photography and the Art of Seeing," both by Freeman Patterson. I can find the former on Amazon, but I can't seem to find the latter. Can you, or anyone else here point me in the right direction?
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« Reply #73 on: May 17, 2010, 02:14:50 PM »
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Quote from: shutterpup
But a deft hand in the digital darkroom is as important as any other skill that a photographer has. No one ever complained about photographers manipulating images in the wet darkroom that I've heard of.

You're right. Knowing how to manipulate photographs in any kind of darkroom (or lightroom) is an essential skill for a photographer. But if you've never heard of anyone who complained about darkroom manipulation then you've never heard of Henri Cartier-Bresson. Henri wouldn't let even publications as prestigious as Life magazine crop a smidgen from his photographs. He's not the only one. On the other hand there were folks like W. Eugene Smith and Ansel Adams for whom darkroom manipulation was 80 or 90 percent of the job. Ansel said: "The negative is the score. The print is the performance." Neither side was "right." Neither side was "wrong." It all depends on what kind of photographs you want to produce. A lot of Cartier-Bresson's work is astonishing. A lot of Gene Smith's work is astonishing. The thing I've always denounced is the idea that you can go out and shoot a bunch of exposures, then look at them on your computer and see if you can find a real photograph by cropping and manipulating.
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shutterpup
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« Reply #74 on: May 17, 2010, 03:34:06 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
The thing I've always denounced is the idea that you can go out and shoot a bunch of exposures, then look at them on your computer and see if you can find a real photograph by cropping and manipulating.

And that Russ is what I've been doing in a nutshell. Until recently. My husband has severely trounced me more than once for that attitude. And that's what has caused me to abandon that mentality. I'm better at making sure what I'm photographing, but it's a process still in its infancy.

Back in the late '70's and early '80's, Ansel and black and white photography were my Holy Grail. Unfortunately, I haven't grown much beyond that hero worship I felt back then. As I told Mike in an earlier post(and forgive me as I repeat myself), I am more aware today than I was last week and tomorrow I will be moreso.
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« Reply #75 on: May 17, 2010, 09:15:51 PM »
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Quote from: shutterpup
Mike,
Your blog entry you gave me cited both "Photography and the Art of Seeing" and "More Photography and the Art of Seeing," both by Freeman Patterson. I can find the former on Amazon, but I can't seem to find the latter. Can you, or anyone else here point me in the right direction?
Hi There:

You know, I went to Freeman Patterson's website, and he doesn't list it either.  Maybe I was thinking of something else?  All of my books are in storage at the moment.


Photography for the Joy of It
(revised)
   
Photography and the Art of Seeing
(revised)
   
Photography of Natural Things
(revised)
   
Photographing the World Around You
(revised)

Mike.
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shutterpup
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« Reply #76 on: May 17, 2010, 10:20:35 PM »
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Quote from: wolfnowl
Hi There:

You know, I went to Freeman Patterson's website, and he doesn't list it either.  Maybe I was thinking of something else?  All of my books are in storage at the moment.


Photography for the Joy of It
(revised)
   
Photography and the Art of Seeing
(revised)
   
Photography of Natural Things
(revised)
   
Photographing the World Around You
(revised)

Mike.

So I'm not having a senior moment?  

Thanks for checking.
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John R
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« Reply #77 on: May 19, 2010, 11:35:13 AM »
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Quote from: wolfnowl
Hi There:

You know, I went to Freeman Patterson's website, and he doesn't list it either.  Maybe I was thinking of something else?  All of my books are in storage at the moment.


Photography for the Joy of It
(revised)
   
Photography and the Art of Seeing
(revised)
   
Photography of Natural Things
(revised)
   
Photographing the World Around You
(revised)

Mike.
Yes, it's an error. The reference is really to "Photographing the World Around You," , which I have and recommend to Shutterpup or anyone else learning. I have all of his learning series, which I received mainly as gifts. His first book on "Photography and the Art of Seeing." was recommended for years by the well known Kodak series of books, because for many years few books of its kind existed.

I also have "Portraits of earth" which consists of outstanding images from around the world. The book is not about pretty pictures, but about "expressiveness." They convey something, just like any people studies that are well done. I believe it won an award. I also have a book by Eliot Porter and other photographers. The way this discussion has gone is really over the top for me. Very few of us will go on to be photographers in the "artist" sense of having a career. This will not change. So I agree with John R Smith. If you have a passion for photography and enjoy the craft, just shoot to express yourself, and in the process learn what you can, and above all, enjoy it. Or else there is little point in continuing. Critique of photos should be simple, an attempt to dissect the elements using the well known principles of visual design and hopefully touch on the aesthetic qualities as well; It should not be unduly bound up with references to photographers that few people know about, much less have studied. Most of my friends don't even know who Ansel Adams is, but they still enjoy photography.

JMR
« Last Edit: May 19, 2010, 09:54:35 PM by John R » Logged
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