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Author Topic: Homage a Atget  (Read 940 times)
John R Smith
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Still crazy, after all these years


« on: November 24, 2010, 04:00:13 AM »
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After our very interesting discussion about Atget over the last few days, I went home last night quite inspired by it all. I felt in the mood to have a go at something along similar lines, so I had a look through this year’s shots to see if there was anything, well, Atget-ish, if you know what I mean. Snag is, there wasn’t much that was suitable, but in the end I pulled out this frame of Padstow Churchyard which I had given up on and never printed. I had, frankly, made a serious balls-up of this shot. It is about 1 EV under-exposed, and I had managed to back-focus it into the bargain so the foreground is soft.

So I started from scratch in Lightroom. I made a B/W conversion which attempts to mimic the look of orthochromatic film by cranking down red and orange and boosting the green and blue part of the spectrum. Then I did all sorts of things to wild excess which I would never normally do, pushing sliders around in a fin-de-siècle induced haze until it sort of looked, hmmmm . . . like this really. The killing blow was a seriously heavy vignette, carefully shaped to follow the line of the path on the right-hand side.

There was a serious purpose to all this, in fact. The exercise was designed to kick me out of my comfort zone, and stop me applying my routine editing approach to every shot I take. Now, I’m not sure whether I like it or not. I think I like some bits of it. Was I just polishing a turd? Did I go too far? Does anybody care?

Let me know what you think.

John


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fredjeang
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« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2010, 05:48:34 AM »
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Nice,

It looks like platine paladium technique: http://www.platine-palladium.com/

(sorry it's in french)

My 2$ sensation is that the approach is interesting but applying filters or corrections in digital even if complex has the effect to harmonised too much all over the frame, without differenciations.
In short, it's too perfectly applied. Digital in that sense is unable to a more organic solution.
The only way to put the effect "alive" is to work with a lot of layers and literally paint the picture. And that's true for all effects.
That's where actually a lot of photographers give up, stop, where they shouldn't.

Cheers.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2010, 05:56:44 AM by fredjeang » Logged
John R Smith
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Still crazy, after all these years


« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2010, 08:30:46 AM »
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Fred

Your point is well taken. I think that is what I was really feeling when I said I liked some bits of it. Ideally I would have liked to vary things more in different parts of the picture, which perhaps would be possible in PS using layers, rather than just trying to do the whole thing in LR.

Even then I am not sure I could get the organic look I took for granted with film.

John
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GEOFFREYJAMES
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« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2010, 09:37:20 AM »
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Either way, it has some energy as a picture -- I like the way it has a kind of spiralling movement to it.    I am always a  bit dubious about riffing  other photographers.  There  is a small industry of people who rephotograph Atget.   But check out Chris Rauschenberg (son of Robert) who rephotographed Atget and then did his own photos in the spirit of the old man. I don't have the site to hand, but I am sure it is there on Google.   Much of so called "fine art"  photography seems to consist of redoing other people's work ( check out the bearded guys with  Deardorfs trying to find Ansel Adams' tripod holes at Yosemite)  .  An aesthetic dead end,  although I suppose everyone has to start somewhere.  Clark Terry,  a great trumpet player said it well.  Imitate. Emulate.  Innovate.  Probably in that order. 
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John R Smith
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Still crazy, after all these years


« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2010, 09:43:22 AM »
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I am always a  bit dubious about riffing  other photographers.  There  is a small industry of people who rephotograph Atget. 

Absolutely, Geoffrey, but this was strictly tongue-in-cheek. Just having a bit of fun, for a change. You will notice that I claimed no greatness for it.

John
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GEOFFREYJAMES
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« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2010, 10:53:34 AM »
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Actually,  It's more of an English photograph than French.  Do you know Benjamin Stone ?  He was good at churchyards.  http://www.vam.ac.uk/images/image/29703-popup.html
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John R Smith
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Still crazy, after all these years


« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2010, 06:33:14 AM »
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Fred

I think what you have done there is actually far more fun than my version. And you were hampered by only having a tiny jpeg to work with, rather than the original RAW. Well done!

You are right in what you say. Strangely, I find that I am nothing like as adventurous or exploratory in PS or Lightroom as I was in the wet darkroom. Back in the day, I was doing reversals, liths, solarisations, posterisation, reticulation, paper negatives, and printing B/W negatives on colour paper to get crazy split-tone effects. In fact for a while I hardly printed anything "straight", despite having Ansel's "The Print" at my bedside.

Now, I tend to go for a very unprocessed, simple look. Last night I got home and looked at my print, and I hated it. In fact I loathed it with a deep and enduring loathing. It seemed to sit there and glare at me. It was not Atget, and neither was it John Smith. So I spent the evening re-working the picture from scratch, and now it is not at all adventurous or pushing any boundaries, but it is me as I am in my 64th year. Actually, there is just the same amount of work in it as the "Atget" version, although it is harder to see.

Oh, and by the by, before I bore everyone to death with this picture, despite its technical failings I like the shot because of the swirling motion of the path as Geoffrey mentioned. And although you can't read the inscriptions on the headstones in the jpeg, the two central graves are those of "Master Mariners of this Town". Padstow is an ancient seaport, and I was struck by the fact that the junction of the paths creates the form of the prow of a ship, which seemed to be an entirely appropriate resting place for our local sea captains.

John

« Last Edit: November 25, 2010, 07:48:46 AM by John R Smith » Logged

Hasselblad 500 C/M, SWC and CFV-39 DB
and a case full of (very old) lenses and other bits
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