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Author Topic: Yeah Cartier-Bresson couldn't crop for........a member's comment  (Read 47492 times)
Joe Behar
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« Reply #40 on: September 27, 2010, 06:16:41 PM »
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Well, that settles it then.

Thanks Russ,

I didn't want to be the first to say it Smiley
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #41 on: September 28, 2010, 01:57:21 AM »
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It is always the case that this perennial topic gets confused with a variety of spurious normative claims, to the effect that one should compose in the camera and never crop.  Impossible to defend.  But what is usually overlooked are the reasons why composing in camera at the time of capture has a special status.

In philosophy of action, the agent commits an act, where the act is explained by reasons (beliefs and desires) which are brought to bear on the moment (and at no other time), and the meaning of the act is fixed in an important sense.  Leading up to the act, the agent committed his/herself to all manner of choices, including where to stand, where to look, and exactly when to trip the shutter and commit to the capture.  

In the cases where the agent is most engaged, engaged in what Dewey called "experience par excellence", we expect the agent's actions to be most meaningful in the aesthetic sense (even in the everyday aesthetic sense).  In these cases, what the photographer produced at the moment of capture bears the marks of inspiration, rich inspiration, to the extent that it would be difficult for the photographer to reconstruct his/her own motivations -- or to improve upon them -- after the fact.  

While cropping is not inherently wrong, there are some deficits that one has to accept in the trade.  The question is often this: Is a proper subset of the frame captured an /ideal/ capture?  The answer is that there is no a priori reason to believe that the ideal capture is a proper subset of the original capture.  Given a rejection of the original capture, the ideal capture might have been in an entirely different angle, viewpoint, or perspective.  One can only make a compromise.

Is there a normative claim in this?  No.  You can make your art by whatever means, with the only qualification being that it is artistically justified.  But for those who are engaged with their subjects in just the appropriate way, the unedited capture will exhibit artistic depth in a special way.

For my part of it, I affirm this approach, and will only see the benefits of cropping about once in a thousand captures.  But I acknowledge that other artistic approaches have merit.


Too true and well said.

But who tells me to see the world in an 2/3 or 3/4 ratio?

I often crop to get the aspect ratio which I feel was right from the beginning but
not supplied by my camera, especially panorama and squarish formats.
I also feel, when cropping, that the original impulse of the act is coming to a final end just then.

I often do not really understand myself when taking photographs.
The postprocessing helps me understanding myself and what I wanted.
To hit the nail from the beginning is always preferable, but sometimes an image is the
result of a somewhat cloudy intuition, which needs refinement, reflection and understanding later.

I agree with almost all of what you wrote, just want to add, the afterthought/afterfeel has its value.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2010, 02:03:11 AM by Christoph C. Feldhaim » Logged

Rob C
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« Reply #42 on: September 28, 2010, 02:52:22 AM »
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Never did understand curator-speak.

Rob C
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LKaven
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« Reply #43 on: September 28, 2010, 06:29:42 AM »
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Too true and well said.

But who tells me to see the world in an 2/3 or 3/4 ratio?

I often crop to get the aspect ratio which I feel was right from the beginning but
not supplied by my camera, especially panorama and squarish formats.
I also feel, when cropping, that the original impulse of the act is coming to a final end just then.

I often do not really understand myself when taking photographs.
The postprocessing helps me understanding myself and what I wanted.
To hit the nail from the beginning is always preferable, but sometimes an image is the
result of a somewhat cloudy intuition, which needs refinement, reflection and understanding later.

I agree with almost all of what you wrote, just want to add, the afterthought/afterfeel has its value.

I agree with these things too.  Sometimes I wish my Nikons had a square mask so I could visualize square compositions at the time of capture.  I should overlook that and shoot to square anyway more often.

Often you have all the requisite artistic intentions when you take the picture, but you aren't consciously aware of them.  One can spend considerable time trying to reconstruct those intentions after the fact, usually by studying the image as it was originally shot.  I get the feeling that you shoot for different dimension frames without a mask, but that you still see the shot at the time of capture.
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LKaven
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« Reply #44 on: September 28, 2010, 06:31:48 AM »
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Never did understand curator-speak.

Rob C
You mean me?  Sometimes you have to get under the hood a little.  This question comes up so often, and yet it seems to have a fairly clear answer to me. 
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stamper
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« Reply #45 on: September 28, 2010, 06:37:45 AM »
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You mean me?  Sometimes you have to get under the hood a little.  This question comes up so often, and yet it seems to have a fairly clear answer to me. 

It has a clear answer. You do what suits you. Personally I crop images whenever I feel it to necessary. I haven't seen anything in this post or others that will change my mind. And no .... I don't have a closed one. Wink
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pegelli
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« Reply #46 on: September 28, 2010, 07:37:28 AM »
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It has a clear answer. You do what suits you. Personally I crop images whenever I feel it to necessary. I haven't seen anything in this post or others that will change my mind. And no .... I don't have a closed one. Wink

Exactly, cropping is just like any PP or gear issue i.e. a means to an end. It's the end that counts.
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pieter, aka pegelli
Rob C
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« Reply #47 on: September 28, 2010, 08:40:08 AM »
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What all of this litle knock-around ignores, is that if you have worked professionally within the 135 format you do not want to crop.

The reason is real estate. Every little mm counts, so you try to get it right on the night.

If you worked in the same manner but with 120 formats, then probably it was the 6x6 where you grew up; in that case, you almost always had to crop because apart from record albums, there were very few demands for square imagery. 6x7 became flavour of the month quite a while later; in fact, I seem to remember that it was Linhof that introduced it as their 'ideal' format. Mamiyas in 6x7 came along much later in the game, which many young snappers don't realise, thinking that RBs and RZs were the foundations of what followed. Indeed, not; 6x9 was more common, though pretty rare in pro usage.

In fact, the job you had to do usually governed the format you selected, because of shape, type and ultimate scale of reproduction. Even then, when you knew you were going to crop, you filled up as much format as possible.

Rob C
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pegelli
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« Reply #48 on: September 28, 2010, 08:54:58 AM »
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What all of this litle knock-around ignores, is that if you have worked professionally within the 135 format you do not want to crop.

Well, the OP talked about not cropping for artistic reasons, because it "lends authenticity to the scene". The technical reasons you bring on now are totally different and btw just as much valid for professionals or amateurs.  Tongue

I agree there is always image degradation when cropping, but with good glass and high resolution sensors you can take a hit without it being noticable in the end-product (except for pixel peepers, but we're talking about art here....  Wink). I look at it much different now than the times I shot color slides on film, where the framing needed to be near perfect (and suited to the aspect ratio of the camera) to avoid all kind of different sizes in a slide show.

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pieter, aka pegelli
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« Reply #49 on: September 28, 2010, 09:47:08 AM »
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Well, the OP talked about not cropping for artistic reasons, because it "lends authenticity to the scene".

Yes, but Chris said that the "authenticity" idea came from Cartier-Bresson. It didn't. If anyone doubts that I'd suggest he read The Mind's Eye. It's a very short book and an easy read, and has most of HCB's photographic philosophy carried over from Images à la sauvette, also known as The Decisive Moment.

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I agree there is always image degradation when cropping, but with good glass and high resolution sensors you can take a hit without it being noticable in the end-product (except for pixel peepers, but we're talking about art here....  Wink). I look at it much different now than the times I shot color slides on film, where the framing needed to be near perfect (and suited to the aspect ratio of the camera) to avoid all kind of different sizes in a slide show.

I agree with you, Pieter, especially about the fact that current technology makes image degradation a less serious problem than it was when Rob was active as a pro. But that wasn't what HCB was talking about. If anyone wants to go back through the thread, he'll find plenty of discussion about the real issue from HCB's point of view: visual integrity.

I like your example of shooting color transparencies. I suspect everyone on here, except possibly the youngest, has shot them. Okay, folks, when you shot color transparencies (slides) did you shoot with the idea of cropping? I doubt it, because unless you were very unusual, with very unusual equipment you couldn't crop. So what did you do? You were very careful to get the composition and lighting correct before you tripped the shutter.

Look, nobody on here is saying you must not crop! What the sensible voices are saying is this: It's worthwhile trying to get the picture right in the viewfinder before you trip the shutter. That's when you have options that'll never be open to you during post-processing. In other words, shooting loose and hoping to find a picture later not only is sloppy work, it's lazy work and a sign that you're not quite sure what you want to do -- a deadly state of mind for a photographer.

Cartier-Bresson would tell you that you never should crop, yet we know that in two of his greatest pictures he cropped. I posted an example about two-thirds of the way down page 2 of a picture I shot a few days ago where I knew I didn't have time to move closer before I made the shot and knew I'd have to crop. Had I been HCB I'd have tried to move closer so I wouldn't have to crop, and I'd have lost the picture. There are always situations like that. But that's not the same thing as banging away and hoping you can find a picture in your files later on.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #50 on: September 28, 2010, 10:46:55 AM »
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I like your example of shooting color transparencies. I suspect everyone on here, except possibly the youngest, has shot them. Okay, folks, when you shot color transparencies (slides) did you shoot with the idea of cropping? I doubt it, because unless you were very unusual, with very unusual equipment you couldn't crop. So what did you do? You were very careful to get the composition and lighting correct before you tripped the shutter.
Interesting question, Russ. In my own case I realize that out of quite a number of thousands of kodachromes I shot, almost all were seen as fitting the 3:2 format at the time of shooting. In about a half dozen cases the 35mm format wouldn't fit, and I later cropped the slide by putting black photographers' tape on the slide mount. Ugly but effective.

And after many, many years of 35mm work, soon after I bought a 6x6 Mamiya, I found myself finding square compositions for the first time. In other words, my seeing is influenced by the equipment I am using. which means, of course, that when I am shooting in a particular format, I may well miss some good shots that would work better in another format.

Eric
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pegelli
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« Reply #51 on: September 28, 2010, 12:15:40 PM »
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But that's not the same thing as banging away and hoping you can find a picture in your files later on.

Couldn't agree more.
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pieter, aka pegelli
Rob C
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« Reply #52 on: September 28, 2010, 04:08:26 PM »
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I don't really see the validity of saying that shooting on transparency is a different situation from shooting on sensor. In both cases you are limited: in the first, by the film breaking up when you venture too far in magnification; in the second, by the sensor giving you a sudden load of crap when you find you have exceeded its ability to hide its native harshness and even its mush.

It all comes down to the same thing: make the most of the acreage you have.

Of course there will be times when the best intentions don't work, when you suddenly realise that a nice shot lurks within the framework of your original shot - but that's not to say that the first was lousy, just different.

At the end of the day, peole are free to do as they please - but experience and good housekeeping tell you to fill the frame where you can.

Eric mentions finding the square. Yep, and with that an entirely fresh approach until it becomes your normal format. As with 35mm, you fall into ways of working.

I have mentioned this before, but the cameras not only change your shape of image, they also can change your shooting dynamic in the way that you operate: with 6x6 a tripod mode is how it takes you; with 35mm you can be Jumping Jack Flash. And that's not just the shooter: I had a client who liked me to work 35mm because she liked the excitement of the ethos, the way the whole job took wings.

So there you are - it can make differences you never dream might exist.

I wonder if bankers face these subliminal drives... maybe that's why they buy Ferrari Hassies and red dots.

Rob C
« Last Edit: September 28, 2010, 04:10:21 PM by Rob C » Logged

Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #53 on: September 28, 2010, 05:50:57 PM »
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Hey Rob,

Wasn't that you wielding a 35mm, hand-held in the movie Blowup?  Cheesy

Eric
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

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pegelli
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« Reply #54 on: September 29, 2010, 12:09:03 AM »
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I don't really see the validity of saying that shooting on transparency is a different situation from shooting on sensor. In both cases you are limited:

If you print the transparancies on paper you're right. If you project them cropping (or taping as mentioned above) will lead to all kind of size changes in your slide projection which is very unattractive and tiring for the audience. A problem you won't have cropping digital captures, resizing to right output format and projecting them with a beamer.

Also agree you should always try to use all film/sensor real estate, but sometimes you can't, and then a cropped shot might still be better than the uncropped version or no shot at all.
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pieter, aka pegelli
Rob C
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« Reply #55 on: September 29, 2010, 03:33:35 AM »
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Hey Rob,
Wasn't that you wielding a 35mm, hand-held in the movie Blowup?  Cheesy
Eric


Should have been, but I guess I must have been busy.

However, at least I was already doing fashion before the movie, so it can't be levied against me as a motivator!

;-) - Rob C

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welder
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« Reply #56 on: October 01, 2010, 11:48:07 AM »
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The decision to crop or not to crop really has no bearing on a photo's "autheticity" or "integreity" or whatever else you want to call it. The authenticty of a piece of art depends on the artist successfully conveying his/her vision or intention. If part of the artist's vision is that the photos shall not be cropped, so be it. If part of the artist's vision is cropping the hell out of everything, so be it.

One point that gets lost is that process can be part of the art. There are those that say the final image is all that matters. Well, there are many times in art when the process matters too. The artist has every right to decide that the process they use is part of the art. The choice not to crop can be part of the process.

But likewise, it would be silly to assume that because a photo is cropped it is somehow less authentic or has less integretiy. The chosen process can be a distingusihing characteristic of the art, but chosing one process over another doesn't make the art more or less authentic. After all, using a brush to paint a picture doesn't make something that is inhernetly better than a picture made with a camera.
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RSL
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« Reply #57 on: October 01, 2010, 12:00:21 PM »
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Welder, Did you actually read the rest of this thread? Did anyone on the thread other than the OP talk about "authenticity?" It's hard for me to believe that part of any artist's "vision" is to crop. A crop usually is made because the photograph didn't fit the artist's vision.

The statement that "process can be part of the art" is what's known in English as a tautology. It's obvious that you can't produce the product without process.

What this thread's really about is the difference between precise work and sloppy work.
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welder
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« Reply #58 on: October 01, 2010, 06:19:21 PM »
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Welder, Did you actually read the rest of this thread?.
Yes I did.

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Did anyone on the thread other than the OP talk about "authenticity?"
I am not allowed to address the OP's reference?

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It's hard for me to believe that part of any artist's "vision" is to crop. A crop usually is made because the photograph didn't fit the artist's vision.
I don't see why it's hard to understand that a photographer may regard cropping as technique to be used to fulfill their artistic vision. If my artistic vision includes producing a series of images cropped in very extreme proportions (something I'm currently working on now) are you telling me that is not valid?

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The statement that "process can be part of the art" is what's known in English as a tautology. It's obvious that you can't produce the product without process.
At the risk of getting into a argument of semantics, I think you are not seeing the meaning behind the statement. Which is that sometimes the process is a defining characteristic of the art. A good example I can give is of a recent exhibition I saw where the artist created sculptures resembling animals out of old furniture.  In addition to the actual physical pieces on display, he explained how the process was integral to his work. He would not ever buy his materials: he would have to find his furniture. He would go out into alleyways, drive around dingy neighborhoods, looking for discarded furniture, metaphorically “hunting” his prey. In his workshop, he would be sure to keep every piece of his “kill” during the manufacture of the sculpture, and every bit that wasn’t used for the sculpture was carefully stored in jars, labeled and dated (right down to the sawdust). In other words, the art wasn’t just the resulting sculptures, it was the whole process.

If you want to relate it to photography, then consider artists who still do daguerreotypes or other alternative methods of developing photos. We have digital techniques to emulate all kinds of photographic looks, but certain photographers still perceive an intrinsic artistic value to doing things by hand in a more labor intensive fashion. In theory two photographs could look exactly the same, but if different processes are used to create them, then the process is an additional distinction to the art itself.


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What this thread's really about is the difference between precise work and sloppy work.
That seems to be a rather narrow minded perception of what photographic art can be.  Precision doesn’t make great art. And sloppy art is sometimes great.
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RSL
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« Reply #59 on: October 01, 2010, 08:33:16 PM »
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I don't see why it's hard to understand that a photographer may regard cropping as technique to be used to fulfill their artistic vision. If my artistic vision includes producing a series of images cropped in very extreme proportions (something I'm currently working on now) are you telling me that is not valid?

Fair enough. But what you're describing sounds like something that has to do with your "artistic vision" rather than with photography itself. When people try to create "extreme proportions" in a photograph they usually stitch instead of crop.

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At the risk of getting into a argument of semantics, I think you are not seeing the meaning behind the statement. Which is that sometimes the process is a defining characteristic of the art. A good example I can give is of a recent exhibition I saw where the artist created sculptures resembling animals out of old furniture. In addition to the actual physical pieces on display, he explained how the process was integral to his work. He would not ever buy his materials: he would have to find his furniture. He would go out into alleyways, drive around dingy neighborhoods, looking for discarded furniture, metaphorically “hunting” his prey. In his workshop, he would be sure to keep every piece of his “kill” during the manufacture of the sculpture, and every bit that wasn’t used for the sculpture was carefully stored in jars, labeled and dated (right down to the sawdust). In other words, the art wasn’t just the resulting sculptures, it was the whole process.

Okay, next time I do a sculpture I'll be sure to get out into the back alleys of dingy neighborhoods so I can make satisfactory "kills." Not sure I have enough jars though. Probably have to buy a few more.

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If you want to relate it to photography, then consider artists who still do daguerreotypes or other alternative methods of developing photos. We have digital techniques to emulate all kinds of photographic looks, but certain photographers still perceive an intrinsic artistic value to doing things by hand in a more labor intensive fashion. In theory two photographs could look exactly the same, but if different processes are used to create them, then the process is an additional distinction to the art itself.

Ah yes! I see the relationship you're trying to make, but somehow it escapes me what daguerreotypes have to do with cropping. The only way to crop a daguerreotype is with a saw. As you say, different processes result in different results. And that proves...?

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That seems to be a rather narrow minded perception of what photographic art can be.  Precision doesn’t make great art. And sloppy art is sometimes great.

Well, that certainly seems to track the current opinion in the "fine art" world. In fact, the sloppier the more artistic. The example I love is the (true) story of the museum janitor who got fired because he swept up and dumped a "fine art installation" into the trash.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2010, 07:24:17 AM by RSL » Logged

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