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Author Topic: Impressionism, with a camera  (Read 4183 times)
Mike L.
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« on: October 18, 2010, 02:38:51 PM »
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The current Monet retrospective in Paris (unfortunately I haven't personally seen it) had me thinking about how I might create an impressionistic photograph without resorting to  Photoshop filters or digital manipulation.  The two photographs below are straight out of the camera. The first is a perfectly straightforward shot of water lilies, with the rippled reflections of the trees and shrubs in the background providing the desired impressionistic effect. The second is actually the reflection, turned upside down, of people standing on a deck over a pond (with distracting parts of the image cropped away).   Very simple to do, and lots of fun.  But as the title of this forum asks, is it art, or just a tacky impersonation?  Photographed at the Japanese Garden, Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle.

Mike
www.mikelevyonline.com










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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2010, 03:06:32 PM »
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Disclaimer: I'm no art historian or expert - this is driven from the remains of my school knowledge.

Actually impressionism comes from impression and was the idea to capture what is seen as opposed to capture a concept of something.
It was something opposed to the "old masters".
The impressionists maybe were some of the very first "photographers" and their relation to the light is similar to ours.
So - you could say taking photographs is the final point of impressionism.
Because of the role of light in impressionism, I believe any photograph capturing the quality of the respective light conditions,
be it available light, "blue hour" or high noon, is impressionistic in the mentioned original meaning.
Since the "raw seeing", especially of the light is essential, blur and pointillistic style (like found in reflections in ripples of water) can do this,
but I also believe it is not necessarily so.

In this sense I believe the images you presented are impressionistic and I'd like to add two of mine I'd see in the same category though completely different:

(click images for full size)










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Rob C
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« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2010, 03:59:33 PM »
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Mike

The first one I don't think works because the sharp 'floaters' distract too much; the second, 'upside down'  shot is beautiful.

Rob C
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2010, 05:27:18 PM »
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Nicely done, Mike.

There is actually a genre called Photoimpressionism.  The term was coined by a Canadian photographer named Freeman Patterson.  In the film days, there weren't a lot of people practicing the art, but it has exploded with digital.  The instant feedback of digital makes it much more economical than shooting several rolls of film and never being sure what you had until after you'd got the film back and spent the $$ to do so.  Nothing at all tacky about it.  There are lots of people who like it.  There are lots of people who don't like it.  Is it art?  Absolutely.

If you want to check out others using the technique, look into Stephen Patterson (no relation), Andre Gallant, Tony Sweet or William Neill.  I've got two galleries dedicated to impressionistic images on my website as well (and no, I'm not putting myself in the same category as the others, I can't hold a camera strap to them).

Christoph, other way around, actually.  Impressionism was the act of capturing an 'impression' or concept rather than a strict reality.  It was an expression of what was in the mind's eye of the painter rather than a realistic depiction of what the eye actually saw.

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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2010, 04:58:26 AM »
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Christoph, other way around, actually.  Impressionism was the act of capturing an 'impression' or concept rather than a strict reality.  It was an expression of what was in the mind's eye of the painter rather than a realistic depiction of what the eye actually saw.


Aren't "impression" and "concept" a sort of contradiction?
I mean - the impressionists went out and left the studio of academic painting to capture the
changing light and to get near to the reality they wanted to capture.
IIRC the expression of the subjective inner reality was actually a trait of the expressionists at the beginning of the 20th century.
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2010, 06:48:52 AM »
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No, I don't think 'impression' and 'concept' contradict each other.  But the fact is that the Impressionist style is about rendering something other than a strictly realistic reproduction of a scene.  The Expressionists were much more extreme in the imposition of alternate reality.  Impressionism is rooted in reality - an interpretation (impression) of the scene in front of the artist.  Expressionism is not.  Expressionism is much more abstract.
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