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Author Topic: Personal Style  (Read 8989 times)
Rob C
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« on: June 04, 2010, 03:05:22 AM »
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Just finished doing my first website after a dismal start around a year ago which left me owning one website address and now another: one for the price of two - a bargain, you might say. Thanks to Fred for pointing me in the right direction!

Anyway, financial tears are not the point of this, the point being rather more visual. My thumbnails represent model work shot from the mid-seventies, more or less, until the mid-eighties with the non-people stuff dating from rather later on. Though I started back in '66, most work was lost or sold off to clients in the move from Britain to Spain and so I can't show any of that earlier stuff other than the BB material which was shot in September, seven months into my solo career. So, as the later spectrum is visible on one contact sheet, as it were, is it possible to detect in such a tight, compressed space, any sort of personal eye at work over such an eclectic mixture?

It has sometimes caused me to wonder about the need or instinct for people to tend to specialise, snappers or painters or even, perhaps, musicians. Is it something that happens because we like some things more than others, because it is influenced by what is available to us, or do we instinctively feel drawn to doing what we think we can get away with? Or, is it really no more than photography being much of a muchness and anything goes? I do sometimes remember the days when I subscribed to Playboy: it would arrive at home and my mother-in-law would come to visit my wife and the kids and she'd pick through the magazine and she'd say to Ann: I bet this is the shot that Rob likes best! And you know, she was generally right, as was my wife.

This isn't asked as any request for personal/photographic critique - if I wanted that I'd say so - it is a more impersonal musing whose theme interests me and I wondered if other people have been made curious by similar thoughts. After all, we all do something, so why do we do what we do? A song there, somewhere?

Ciao -

Rob C
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fredjeang
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« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2010, 07:05:19 AM »
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Hi Rob.

I'm still amazed that my agent is still selling some of my paintings that belong to another time of my life. She calls me from time to time to let me know: "this has just been sold dear for xxx amont". Each time I'm completly surprised, it is like an old world is still working its own way.

Great you have now this website Rob, and can share your particular approach of the art you have been doing during your life.

Cheers.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2010, 10:49:02 AM by fredjeang » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2010, 08:13:30 AM »
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Fred

Yes, well put. But I am really thinking a little to one side of your thesis: does the same mental attitude travel from one genre to the other of the same person's oeuvre?

I am thinking mainly of three photographers here, with whose work I am somewhat familiar: David Bailey, Frank Horvat and Francis Giacobetti. In the case of Bailey, he also paints, and from what I have been able to discover here and there, he is fascinated by African art. The paintings of which I have seen reproductions are what might be called 'primitive' and are quite rough and visceral - even alarming - fantasies on what I take to be his African interests. Horvat, if you look at his site ( http://www.horvatland.com ), displays a rather wide range of 'periods' and, without knowing, it would be difficult to say that the work comes from a single mind. Giacobetti did what I think, along with Sarah Moon's work, to be the best of the Pirellis which, to me, have gone downhill since the period of the lean years during which they stopped making them. I think their later mistake was taking the photography out of the European ethic. Crossing the Atlantic for talent, though some was European-born, brought in more expensive shooters and, I would assume, egos. Somewhere, the feeling went away and production values crept in via the back door as flashy but useless additions at the cost of emotion.

Yet, if you take Sarah Moon, she seems to be doing much the same sort of thing now as she did at her genesis, no bad thing. Though I have been seduced, often, into believing the mantra that to stand still is to die, I increasingly doubt the truth in that. After all, only the poor old shark has to find perpetual motion in order to breathe! To die is to be unable to do what you always craved; that is spiritual death and a long, slow one at that. I wonder how many commercially successful photographers are slowly losing it under the pressure of living a lie?

Rob C
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fredjeang
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« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2010, 08:42:22 AM »
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Horvat is one of my favorite Artist ever.

I think that it is important to have fun and enjoy. Then, if from there one can earn the money without "selling the soul" it is great, if not, keep going doing an alimentary job but never sell talent cheap. IMO, because then we are in the spiritual death you are talking about.

According to styles, I guess some repeat over and over the same pic, others are experimenting, or more exactly, taking the oportunities that life brings to go ahead with the fun but using different languages or tools.
In the end, one's sensibility is unique despite changes and we keep endeing with what we have. What we don't really have goes away.

If some have been able to do different styles, it is because IMO they had this tendency from the very beginning. A horse will never be a donkey and vice-versa.
(it is not a value judgement about horse vs donkey, they are equal but just different animals).

Or, some devices that you know well, an Alfasud has never been a Ford XR3. I remember racing with my Alfasud 1,5 Ti with a friend with his XR3, he always beated me. But, I had this italian refined board design.

IMHO.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2010, 10:52:58 AM by fredjeang » Logged
fredjeang
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« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2010, 11:02:13 AM »
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By the way, I saw an interesting concept from Frank Horvat in his website.
He introduces his web with: "photography is the art of not pressing the button"

Wise sentence.
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Rob C
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« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2010, 05:00:56 PM »
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Famous last words. In the OP I mentioned I'd finished setting up a website: yes, but without making sure that the Contact bit actually works! So it's back to the drawing board again... I always knew that I was not for this computer age. Quills were very nice, if you found a good one - almost as good as film!

;-(

Rob C
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2010, 07:21:43 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
Famous last words. In the OP I mentioned I'd finished setting up a website: yes, but without making sure that the Contact bit actually works! So it's back to the drawing board again... I always knew that I was not for this computer age. Quills were very nice, if you found a good one - almost as good as film!

;-(

Rob C

I just tried out your Contact bit, so see if you get an email from me.


In any case, I want to say that you have a lovely collection of photos (and abstract paintings). To me they all look as if the photographer/painter really liked what he was doing. 

The website is nice and clean and direct, too. I like it.

Cheers,

Eric

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-Eric Myrvaagnes

http://myrvaagnes.com  Visit my website. New images each season.
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« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2010, 08:28:27 PM »
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Rob,

I agree with Eric. You may consider yourself a novice when it comes to the computer but you ended up with a fine web. As I said in the contact I just tested on your site: "It's girls like these that protect the race from extinction."

Best regards,
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Rob C
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« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2010, 02:20:51 AM »
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Hi guys

Thanks for the kind comments - I'm not even able to get the 'famous last word' bit right: the Contact part is working after all, and I think it took a reasonable night's sleep before I twigged what was wrong: I had been expecting that anything sent to the Notice section would appear on my normal e-mail space in the computer... oh well!

In fact, you are too kind: it took my ruthless daughter to tell me that I had fallen yet again upon  my spelling sword, twice omitting the letter l both in a name and in a less insulting little word that only a teacher daughter would notice. Thank God for daughters, as Russ points out!

Thanks again for the remarks and thanks again Fred for helping along the way.

Rob C
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fredjeang
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« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2010, 04:20:54 AM »
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I must say that I'm very proud of what's Rob has acheived.
And for several reasons.

The only thing I did was to advice him about some possible solutions. That is all I did.
I offered my phone (as we are both located in Spain) in case he would have face some serious issues,
but Rob never abused, neither called me. All was solved in a couple of quick mails.
The only word I have in mind is: exemplary.

So the result is 100% Rob's work and I do think it is a great accomplishment considering that
he did not have any previous experience in web language, style sheet, and implementation.

I also like the result and all I can say is congratulations.

Best regards.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2010, 08:59:50 AM by fredjeang » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2010, 09:54:05 AM »
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Thanks very much, Fred, but I think I found the greatest problem to be impatience, closely followed by a non-logical progression mindset. That's where an outside mind is invaluable in seeing the next step.

The longest part if it in terms of time was doing the changes from PS format into JPEGs and then attempting to get all those wee thumbnails up on the screen at once and rearrange them to make some kind of cohesive and overall integrity of colour and weight.

I'm playing about (risking DVT is closer to reality) on a second gallery just now and face exactly the same problems of time/patience as I did with the first one. As I do this, I am haunted with the conditioning of separate galleries for different subjects. But you know what - I can't get my mind to think like that at all. My life never was a series of pigeon holes, far more a random set of experiences, most of them under my control only in unreliable retrospect. Thing is, experience shows me that even looking at world-leading guys' galleries is breathtaking for a few seconds and then the level of excellence takes its own toll and I lose the excitement. Like a diet of caviar, I suppose; you need some fish´n´chips to notice the difference, and sometimes the latter taste better - it depends on the day you're having. Or I'm having. The proportion of caviar to the other is ever open to debate. ;-)

Something that has hit me with the conversions from Kodachrome to digital colour is that tanned skin becomes rather difficult - particularly with girls of mixed race origins; they are stunning in reality and in b/w work but tend to look polarized as I try to make them web-friendly. I only used polarizers once on models and never again: killed the skin and made it look like brick. I suppose pro retouchers wouldn't find these problems but I simply lack their skills.

Rob C

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fredjeang
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« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2010, 11:36:22 AM »
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Quote from: Rob C
Thanks very much, Fred, but I think I found the greatest problem to be impatience, closely followed by a non-logical progression mindset. That's where an outside mind is invaluable in seeing the next step.

The longest part if it in terms of time was doing the changes from PS format into JPEGs and then attempting to get all those wee thumbnails up on the screen at once and rearrange them to make some kind of cohesive and overall integrity of colour and weight.

I'm playing about (risking DVT is closer to reality) on a second gallery just now and face exactly the same problems of time/patience as I did with the first one. As I do this, I am haunted with the conditioning of separate galleries for different subjects. But you know what - I can't get my mind to think like that at all. My life never was a series of pigeon holes, far more a random set of experiences, most of them under my control only in unreliable retrospect. Thing is, experience shows me that even looking at world-leading guys' galleries is breathtaking for a few seconds and then the level of excellence takes its own toll and I lose the excitement. Like a diet of caviar, I suppose; you need some fish´n´chips to notice the difference, and sometimes the latter taste better - it depends on the day you're having. Or I'm having. The proportion of caviar to the other is ever open to debate. ;-)

Something that has hit me with the conversions from Kodachrome to digital colour is that tanned skin becomes rather difficult - particularly with girls of mixed race origins; they are stunning in reality and in b/w work but tend to look polarized as I try to make them web-friendly. I only used polarizers once on models and never again: killed the skin and made it look like brick. I suppose pro retouchers wouldn't find these problems but I simply lack their skills.

Rob C
I understand your point about pigeon holes.
However, IMO, you can make separations by periods or years or locations etc...
This is mainly usefull for not having to load once too many pics, also it gives space, or breath in your galleries.

And yes, retouching is a profession in itself, like printing. There is an enormous difference between what the gurus can acheive in PP, and not specially retouching to transform, but retouching also to reproduce the exact tones and textures from original supports, and what a photographer does in a home-made sauce. It could take many years of daily practise.

The web anyway is "killing" generally the original by its lack of definition and profiles issues, and there is nothing we can do to escape that fact.

Cheers.

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feppe
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« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2010, 12:45:23 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
Just finished doing my first website after a dismal start around a year ago which left me owning one website address and now another: one for the price of two - a bargain, you might say. Thanks to Fred for pointing me in the right direction!

Noticed you finally got around to setting up your site. It looks very good, and the photography is pretty much what I expected: pretty ladies, skin and excellent photography  The photos have a quality which is sadly missing from most of today's commercial glamour photography (talking Playboy, FHM, Maxim type here): class and artistic merit (not that I'm any kind of authority on that). Edit: Playboy still has that, but I'm just not fond of the overly retouched look they have these days.

I just wish they were a bit larger - I prefer 800 pixels or so on the longest side.

You should put up a note in the Coffee Corner or User Critiques announcing your site.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2010, 12:46:22 PM by feppe » Logged

Rob C
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« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2010, 02:45:41 PM »
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Quote from: feppe
Noticed you finally got around to setting up your site. It looks very good, and the photography is pretty much what I expected: pretty ladies, skin and excellent photography  The photos have a quality which is sadly missing from most of today's commercial glamour photography (talking Playboy, FHM, Maxim type here): class and artistic merit (not that I'm any kind of authority on that). Edit: Playboy still has that, but I'm just not fond of the overly retouched look they have these days.

I just wish they were a bit larger - I prefer 800 pixels or so on the longest side.

You should put up a note in the Coffee Corner or User Critiques announcing your site.



Hi, and thanks for the nice comments! I have just come from looking at James' car photography and I get the crushing feeling that what I did then to what he does now is the photographic equivalent of racing a Ferrari with a rickshaw.

Yes, I am no lover of the contemporary girl-pix scene either, and that applies to what I see in the fashion magazines too. It's as if the entire graphic world has come to believe that Earth is peopled by aliens. There ain't no skin, tits are false and hair comes in a spray. Legs are stretched in a computer and human proportions destroyed. I really wonder if that's what turns today's youth on. For me, it's as much over my head as is most of the digital technology that goes to produce it. It just doesn't do it for me, but that's not to deny that there is an immense satisfaction in being able to work on my old stuff from the attic - well, that's where it would be if I had one still - and create new life for it. At the same time it is somewhat frightening and just as exciting to know that something done in Mallorca yesterday has crossed the world in moments and suddenly my ass is hanging out there. An alarming new version of mooning!

By the way - I have a question that cropped up this afternoon as I sat trying to get enthusiasm back after lunching on my own cooking. It's this: screen resolution seems to be anything but standard even on a single computer - so many options you can set it to; does that work out as if with a tv, where assuming the same shape, all sets display the same full image regardless of how big the different sets are? In other words, when I try to design a collection of thumbnails that all show up together on my screen without scrolling down, will all the other monitors in the world also see the same full grouping without the need to scroll just as long as the pics are all made at a resolution setting of 72? I can't decide if this question is dumb or if I am unwell. Not that my food was that bad.

Rob C
« Last Edit: June 06, 2010, 02:47:15 PM by Rob C » Logged

LoisWakeman
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« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2010, 11:06:02 AM »
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Quote from: Rob C
screen resolution seems to be anything but standard even on a single computer - so many options you can set it to; does that work out as if with a tv, where assuming the same shape, all sets display the same full image regardless of how big the different sets are? In other words, when I try to design a collection of thumbnails that all show up together on my screen without scrolling down, will all the other monitors in the world also see the same full grouping without the need to scroll just as long as the pics are all made at a resolution setting of 72? I can't decide if this question is dumb or if I am unwell. Not that my food was that bad.
Answer="No" - and also not dumb. Sadly, although most browsers now display similarly, the one variable you can't control is the screen resolution. You can get round it by having "elastic" designs, which flow to the width of the screen or the browser window, but this is still problematic if you want a grid of thumbnails. The other approach is to artificially limit the display width to (say) 1000px so it will work on most computers - but then you force horizontal scrolling on blackberries, gooseberries and all the other tiny devices that people use these days.

There are probably ultra-geeky ways to get round this, but life is too short to spend it all in front of the computer.

I like your site - you have reminded me just how subtle and nice to look at glamour photography used to be in my youth, and why I hate most of what passes for it today.  
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Rob C
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« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2010, 02:40:58 PM »
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Quote from: LoisWakeman
Answer="No" - and also not dumb. Sadly, although most browsers now display similarly, the one variable you can't control is the screen resolution. You can get round it by having "elastic" designs, which flow to the width of the screen or the browser window, but this is still problematic if you want a grid of thumbnails. The other approach is to artificially limit the display width to (say) 1000px so it will work on most computers - but then you force horizontal scrolling on blackberries, gooseberries and all the other tiny devices that people use these days.

There are probably ultra-geeky ways to get round this, but life is too short to spend it all in front of the computer.

I like your site - you have reminded me just how subtle and nice to look at glamour photography used to be in my youth, and why I hate most of what passes for it today.  




Lois

1.  I guess that the answer has to be, more or less, be happy and hope the world sees the images the same way! As you say, life sure is short and even the little I do do seems to take me forever - perhaps if I could find a comfortable swivel chair instead of the Inquisition Special I have had for years...

2.  Website. Thank you for the kind words - maybe it was partly conditioning by what went on in those days when Page 3 was invented - I don't know; maybe it's because my original experience was fashion or because I married young and also have a daughter - whatever it is, I have always loved women and I suppose I was fortunate in that most of the ones I worked with received respect because they deserved it and it didn't occur to me to think otherwise. My simple aim was to make something beautiful and sometimes I was lucky and at other times I failed miserably. In the end, it is always chemistry, but most folks outwith the business (and probably also some within) neither believe nor understand that truth.

Rob C
« Last Edit: June 07, 2010, 02:41:41 PM by Rob C » Logged

LoisWakeman
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« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2010, 02:40:08 AM »
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Quote from: Rob C
... I have always loved women ...
That comes across very clearly in your shots, a sense of warmth that is all too often lacking. No objectification is what I am, I guess, saying.
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Riaan van Wyk
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« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2010, 02:53:10 PM »
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As to "why" we do it I have no idea Rob. I could speculate or perhaps hint at some things that might influence a person's choice but as I have only a vague idea as to my own "why," I should maybe not try to comment on the why of others.
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Rob C
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« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2010, 04:14:29 PM »
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As to "why" we do it I have no idea Rob. I could speculate or perhaps hint at some things that might influence a person's choice but as I have only a vague idea as to my own "why," I should maybe not try to comment on the why of others.


There's a site which I found some time ago - perhaps I mentioned it here before - I really can't remember - which has several people expanding on this same theme, or at least, they are addressing the question of why they are/were photographers.

http://www.pixchannel.com

It's quite illuminating. And for me, rings very true.

Rob C
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« Reply #19 on: August 17, 2010, 02:09:27 PM »
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There's a site which I found some time ago - perhaps I mentioned it here before - I really can't remember - which has several people expanding on this same theme, or at least, they are addressing the question of why they are/were photographers.

http://www.pixchannel.com

It's quite illuminating. And for me, rings very true.

Rob C

Thank you for the link Rob. Will keep it as reference when I have a clearer idea. Woke up this morning with this thread in mind and mulled over the question most of the day. One of the things that kept flashing somewhere in a dark corner of the grey matter was that photography seems some sort of "refuge" for my mind/ thoughts to dissapear into, particularly landscape photography.   
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