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Author Topic: The Plantation at New Mills  (Read 7263 times)
John R Smith
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« Reply #40 on: May 28, 2011, 05:50:51 AM »
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What nobody so far has managed to mention, is the quite obvious reason why the first picture works well and the second one does not -

The first picture draws the eye into the scene, by virtue of leading lines and a dark surround.

The second picture pushes the eye back out of the scene, because the pile of logs in the foreground blocks the eye from progressing.

Which is actually the stuff we should be talking about.

John
« Last Edit: May 28, 2011, 06:01:21 AM by John R Smith » Logged

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« Reply #41 on: May 28, 2011, 12:39:24 PM »
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[rant]I am disappointed that this thread got hijacked into another discussion of X vs. Y, which has nothing to do with the original post, which showed a pair of images in the critique section, thus inviting comments from those that might have something constructive to suggest to John about his images.

I wish to apologize to John and all other LuLa readers for getting caught up in this irrelevant debate myself.

If some of you wish to debate further the relative merits of painting vs. photography, Canon vs. Nikon, DSLR vs. MFDB, street photography vs. studio photography, portraits vs. macro photos of insects, or how many photons can fit on the head of a pin, please start threads of your own, preferably in the Coffee Corner section, and not in the Critiques section. Let's please do our best to keep comments in the Critiques section relevant to the original post.[/rant]

Eric

Eric, If the thread was "hijacked," when was it hijacked, and why? If you look back at the beginning of the thread you'll discover that until I suggested John's posted pictures might be less than splendid, the criticisms amounted to "I really like the first one," and similar penetrating observations: as you put it, "a unanimity of responses." What I saw, and still see, is something I've often seen in "camera club" offerings: good lighting but subject matter from which photography can't remove the banality.

John responded that the picture represents a rare occasion when he managed to pull off the vision he had for the shot and achieve it technically. "Technically" is the operative word. Yes, technically the shot's very good, but the "vision" is John's. Nothing wrong with that. I'm sure the picture means a lot to John. I have a bunch of pictures like that: technically excellent, but with subject matter that means a lot to me but to no one else.

Maybe there's a feeling that it's not legitimate to criticize subject matter on LuLa. If that's true, then we're restricted to criticizing the technical aspects of posted pictures. That leaves us at about the same point you'd be on Nikonians or Leica Users' Forum where you're pretty much restricted to discussing the qualities of cameras. But let's face it, when Christoph says, about Jennifer's street shots: "Two images, two stories, well executed. Good stuff! Thanks for showing these." and you respond "And me too!" you're both offering subject matter criticism. So what's different? Landscape is off the criticism list but street photography isn't?

The thread got hijacked, if that's the word, when I suggested that painting can do things with landscape that photography can't do. The response was:

Quote
I think Russ and Rob have both made it clear that
1.    Landscape photographs leave them cold, and
2.    Anybody who responds positively to landscape photographs is guilty of Wrong Thinking.

Which had nothing at all to do with what I'd said. From there on the thread degenerated into a rejection of the idea that painting can do things photography can't, and ended up pretty much with Stamper throwing up his hands and telling us that he can't deal with that idea, and that his personal solution to the problem is: "Then stop comparing them. Personally I don't, therefore I don't have a problem."

John's a good photographer. A couple of his landscapes -- ones which, incidentally, included the hand of man -- were interesting. His still lifes were excellent. But these two... well... I don't want to beat this to death, but I just can't get inside the idea that a stand of trees, all by itself, can be interesting subject matter, unless, perhaps, you watched them grow from tiny plugs, as John did.

Let me give you a comparison: Last year Chuck Kimmerle did a series of North Dakota landscapes that were published in LensWork. It was fine work. The pictures weren't any more technically excellent than John's first picture, but they showed the effect of the striking, cold barrenness of a North Dakota winter upon its residents by including what art critics call "indices. Black and white was entirely appropriate to the scenes he was portraying. Color would have interfered with the feeling the pictures were intended to portray. Several pictures included the hand of man and were pointers to the kind of life North Dakotans live in the winter. I loved those pictures. They were landscape pictures! It's one case where I doubt a painter could have improved on what Chuck did. But there are very, very few cases like that.

So there's a subject matter criticism for you. Seems to me that if we can say "I like it," we ought to be able to say "I don't think much of it" as long as we include a "why."It doesn't make much sense to me to have a "critique" section that outlaws criticism.
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Bruce Cox
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« Reply #42 on: May 28, 2011, 03:11:38 PM »
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That's the beauty of this place, of LuLa as a whole: one thing leads to another and vision, of all kinds, gets broadened.

AT THE END OF THE DAY, WHAT AND HOW MUCH CAN YOU SAY ABOUT ANY PICTURE? THAT'S WHY IT USUALLY ENDS UP WITH ANODYNE INANITIES LIKE: +1! OR ME TOO! OR EVEN I LOVE IT! THE ALTERNATIVE IS GALLERY-SPEAK. TO WHICH THOSE WHO REVEL IN CRAP ARE WELCOME.

If this 'stolen' thread has helped even one person think outside the confines of his mental cage, the I, personally, feel I've done something worthwhile with my time.

It's the only reason I have stuck with this site whilst abandoning everything else online into which I've looked for edification.

Rob C

Fertilizer varies a lot in its quality and in it's appropriate uses.  [IMHO your's is one of the best grades and broadly applicable.]

Describing how we structure what we see in photos is like horseshoes and hand-grenades, though not always as accurate.  It is necessary though.  I seldom revel in other people's ideas about what is going on in a photo, other than to I think how clever I am for seeing it my way, but sometimes I learn something.

Bruce
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Rob C
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« Reply #43 on: May 28, 2011, 03:33:51 PM »
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Fertilizer varies a lot in its quality and in it's appropriate uses.  [IMHO your's is one of the best grades and broadly applicable.]

Describing how we structure what we see in photos is like horseshoes and hand-grenades, though not always as accurate.  It is necessary though.   I seldom revel in other people's ideas about what is going on in a photo, other than to I think how clever I am for seeing it my way, but sometimes I learn something.

Bruce




Oh? Why?

Rob C
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Bruce Cox
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« Reply #44 on: May 28, 2011, 04:18:38 PM »
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Oh? Why?

Rob C

"Describing" because even visual people think largely in words and showing would be redundant or imitative.  [I don't mean to exclude changing it to what you think looks better]
  It is necessary because being part right is better than having no idea at all.
  Different minds see more variously than different eyes do.  And people change their minds.  It's a mess, but if we are to communicate with images we need to hear about how other people see them.  Guessing what they see based on our own reaction, even when it is the most informed, is relatively neat and clean, but less accurate.  Besides, this way you get to tell other people how to see.

Bruce
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stamper
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« Reply #45 on: May 29, 2011, 03:06:58 AM »
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Quote

Which had nothing at all to do with what I'd said. From there on the thread degenerated into a rejection of the idea that painting can do things photography can't, and ended up pretty much with Stamper throwing up his hands and telling us that he can't deal with that idea, and that his personal solution to the problem is: "Then stop comparing them. Personally I don't, therefore I don't have a problem."

Unquote

No hands in the air, they were on the keyboard Grin This is a photography site and this is a photographic critique thread. The constant references to painting didn't - imo - help progress the thread in any way. I suspect that most members don't connect the two subjects in any meaningful way? I sensed, surprisingly, that the art of painting was portrayed in some way superior - in someone's mind - to photography and WE should all listen - or more accurately read - and accept that premise. Everybody is entitled to their opinion but hijacking the thread to promote the idea that painting is superior, at the expense of photography, was OTT. Sad
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Rob C
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« Reply #46 on: May 29, 2011, 03:19:52 AM »
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"Describing" because even visual people think largely in words and showing would be redundant or imitative.  [I don't mean to exclude changing it to what you think looks better]
  It is necessary because being part right is better than having no idea at all.
  Different minds see more variously than different eyes do.  And people change their minds.  It's a mess, but if we are to communicate with images we need to hear about how other people see them.  Guessing what they see based on our own reaction, even when it is the most informed, is relatively neat and clean, but less accurate.  Besides, this way you get to tell other people how to see.

Bruce



Are you saying that, in your opinion, all images require captions? I think it's a valid comment for any sort of news-photography where the image is just (?) an illustration of an event, but for so-called decorative/artistic uses, I think words are a distracting problem rather than anything else: after all, it's the initial buzz that the buyer gets that counts, that opens the wallet or not, not the play in the snapper's mind as he pressed the button. In fact, that emotional connection is a right royal pain: it causes photographers to impart special worth to mundane images of theirs, simply  because they were having a jolly at the time of clenching, a jolly that exists only in their head and not in the image: an exercise in futility.

There you are, some more hi-grade fertiliser for the farm!

;-)

Rob C
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Rob C
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« Reply #47 on: May 29, 2011, 03:30:21 AM »
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Quote

Which had nothing at all to do with what I'd said. From there on the thread degenerated into a rejection of the idea that painting can do things photography can't, and ended up pretty much with Stamper throwing up his hands and telling us that he can't deal with that idea, and that his personal solution to the problem is: "Then stop comparing them. Personally I don't, therefore I don't have a problem."

Unquote

No hands in the air, they were on the keyboard Grin This is a photography site and this is a photographic critique thread. The constant references to painting didn't - imo - help progress the thread in any way. I suspect that most members don't connect the two subjects in any meaningful way? I sensed, surprisingly, that the art of painting was portrayed in some way superior - in someone's mind - to photography and WE should all listen - or more accurately read - and accept that premise. Everybody is entitled to their opinion but hijacking the thread to promote the idea that painting is superior, at the expense of photography, was OTT. Sad




Stamper, in some circumstances it most certainly is a superior medium; to pretend otherwise is just that: pretence.

As you say, the two are different media but that doesn't prevent or save one from its shortcomings relative to the other, and to imitate the actions of the ostrich (rather than of the tiger) is self-defeating at best and does neither 'art' any service.

Blindness to failures is akin to football fanaticism, and God save us from that in these gentle pages!

Rob C
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stamper
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« Reply #48 on: May 29, 2011, 04:53:57 AM »
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Stamper, in some circumstances it most certainly is a superior medium; to pretend otherwise is just that: pretence.

As you say, the two are different media but that doesn't prevent or save one from its shortcomings relative to the other, and to imitate the actions of the ostrich (rather than of the tiger) is self-defeating at best and does neither 'art' any service.

Blindness to failures is akin to football fanaticism, and God save us from that in these gentle pages!

Rob C

Unquote

The first sentence is very subjective. I am someone who isn't interested in paintings so it doesn't impact on my photographic mind. As to shortcomings relative to each other, Sean Reid, a couple of weeks ago, had an article in this site where he had an analogy with motor cars. I didn't see the connection there either. No doubt someone will state if I get interested in painting it will improve my photography. Now where is the shutter button on the paint brush? Wink
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Rob C
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« Reply #49 on: May 29, 2011, 09:10:01 AM »
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Stamper, in some circumstances it most certainly is a superior medium; to pretend otherwise is just that: pretence.

As you say, the two are different media but that doesn't prevent or save one from its shortcomings relative to the other, and to imitate the actions of the ostrich (rather than of the tiger) is self-defeating at best and does neither 'art' any service.

Blindness to failures is akin to football fanaticism, and God save us from that in these gentle pages!

Rob C

Unquote

The first sentence is very subjective. I am someone who isn't interested in paintings so it doesn't impact on my photographic mind. As to shortcomings relative to each other, Sean Reid, a couple of weeks ago, had an article in this site where he had an analogy with motor cars. I didn't see the connection there either. No doubt someone will state if I get interested in painting it will improve my photography. Now where is the shutter button on the paint brush? Wink



Well I don't have any fertiliser for that one, stamper, but what I do have is an elegant solution for my (one of) photographic problems which was a 35mm lens that I might feel obliged (foolishly, in my case) to buy as a sort of jeep for a carry-around system: all I need do is fish out the immaculate D200 which has lain dormant in the ally box since the arrival of the D700, and stick on the manual 2.8/24mm that is pretty damned good, as I know from its use on houses. Using the central zone will make it even better! I should have known that everything in life has its reasons, and that the reason I didn't get a good purchase offer for the D200 was that it wasn't the right move for me; should have learned years ago my own lesson, oft quoted here for the benefit of others: sell nothing, you never know.

;-)

Rob

PS As I was playing with the D200 I decided to stick black tape over the white Nikon branding... how old-fashioned and derivative! Totally made my day, which indicates the sort of day I'm having, though my own, home-made salad lunch was nice. The sardines will probably give me indigestion, though; I find anchovies far too salty.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2011, 10:12:51 AM by Rob C » Logged

Bruce Cox
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« Reply #50 on: May 29, 2011, 09:18:32 AM »
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Are you saying that, in your opinion, all images require captions? I think it's a valid comment for any sort of news-photography where the image is just (?) an illustration of an event, but for so-called decorative/artistic uses, I think words are a distracting problem rather than anything else: after all, it's the initial buzz that the buyer gets that counts, that opens the wallet or not, not the play in the snapper's mind as he pressed the button. In fact, that emotional connection is a right royal pain: it causes photographers to impart special worth to mundane images of theirs, simply  because they were having a jolly at the time of clenching, a jolly that exists only in their head and not in the image: an exercise in futility.

There you are, some more hi-grade fertiliser for the farm!

;-)
Rob C


I didn't mean captions; I think they are best done without or, if necessary, kept to a minimum.  I meant the ideas I have viewing someone else's photo, what I think I see and the relevant or topical implications.  "Gallery-speak" or at least speaking in galleries such as this can make a certian amount of sense and is frequently an antidote to the photographer's emotional connection.

Bruce

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Rob C
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« Reply #51 on: May 29, 2011, 10:00:27 AM »
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"  "Gallery-speak" or at least speaking in galleries such as this..."


That's something else; gallery-speak to me is all about 'artist's credo' and the worst example of this I heard, at first hand, was in Hamilton's Gallery in London several years ago, when Robert Mapplethorpe's brother was having a show. I was looking at an indifferent (to me) image, hung large on the wll, when a guy in brown cords and tweed jacket stood beside me with a woman who appeared to be getting the guided tour number played on her. The undiluted fertiliser (new buzz word for me this week!) to come out of the guy's mouth was far more interesting and amusing than the pics! Had I the time, I'd have faked longer interest and hug around just for the soundtrack.

Of course, who really knows if he had anything to do with the gallery? I don't... but hell, with Patty Loveless singing Crazy Arms softly into my ears right now I'd forgive anyone everything!

Rob C
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« Reply #52 on: May 29, 2011, 11:10:15 AM »
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I am someone who isn't interested in paintings so it doesn't impact on my photographic mind. As to shortcomings relative to each other, Sean Reid, a couple of weeks ago, had an article in this site where he had an analogy with motor cars. I didn't see the connection there either. No doubt someone will state if I get interested in painting it will improve my photography. Now where is the shutter button on the paint brush? Wink

Stamper, Do you know anything at all about the history of photography? If you were to study that history you might be able to learn two interesting facts: (1) Many of history's best known photographers studied painting. Henri Cartier-Bresson, certainly the most influential photographer of the 20th century, is the prime example. The man certainly acquired his fabulous knack for intuitive composition in his classes with Andre Lhote, the painter. (2) The vast majority of the world's best known photographers photographed people and their artifacts primarily, not landscape. Ansel was an anomaly, and he was an anomaly not because he was such a great photographer, but because he was a great printer. Edward did some interesting landscapes but his fame came primarily from photographs of vegetables and people.

First came the Pictorialists, whose often maudlin photographs strained to duplicate the effect of paintings. It's not unreasonable to say that Paul Strand's photograph of the blind woman marked the first serious deviation from Pictorialism. From then on both Strand and Stieglitz, and then the whole photographic community began to abandon Pictorialism, but Pictorialism lived on among many photographers who continued, and continue, to work hard to make their photographs look like paintings. Most of these folks do landscapes.

You don't have to be "interested in paintings" to understand that painting, and printmaking along with photography are varieties of flat, visual art. Since that's true, there's nothing unreasonable, or, as it seems you're implying, illegal, in making comparisons between the effect of paintings, prints, and photographs. Yes, there's no doubt that a serious study of painting can improve your photography. But, since you claim you'd be looking for a shutter button on a paintbrush, it seems unlikely you'd be able to take advantage of that fact.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #53 on: May 29, 2011, 12:31:08 PM »
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It is highly unlikely that a Jehovah's Witness, knocking on my door, will persuade me to become a believer. It is equally unlikely that I would walk into a temple during a prayer and persuade anyone inside that God does not exist.

It is equally unlikely that Russ at al. will ever persuade me that landscape photography is a lesser genre (let alone lesser art or art at all). It is equally unlikely that I would ever persuade them that, say, street photography is a lesser genre just because it invokes the same "so what?" reaction in me as a sunset does for them.

In the above sense, it has become rather tiresome to be badgered with the same rehashed arguments about superiority of (landscape) paintings over (landscape) photography. Especially when Russ' Witnesses do so inside a temple of landscape photography Wink
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Slobodan

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« Reply #54 on: May 29, 2011, 01:52:53 PM »
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It is equally unlikely that Russ at al. will ever persuade me that landscape photography is a lesser genre...

Slobodan, I have to conclude that you came in late and didn't read the whole thread. I never said that landscape photography is a lesser genre. In fact, I gave an example of Chuck Kimmerle's work that I'd say probably is superior to painting. That series of pictures had a theme and the theme depended very much on the iconic nature of the pictures. The effect probably would have been less powerful in a painting.

But I also said that painting can control linear perspective and atmospheric perspective to a much greater extent than photography can. You can get lucky with atmospheric perspective on a foggy day, but you can't change linear perspective in a photograph. I also pointed out that you can control color in a painting in a way you can't even begin to control it in a photograph. And since you have to take what's there pretty much as is, though you can burn and dodge the way Ansel did, you can't make the kind of allegorical modifications you can make in a painting. Another thing I said, in a different thread, is that the most effective landscape paintings and photographs include man and/or his artifacts.

So, what does all that amount to? What I said is that landscape painting can be more effective than landscape photography. To interpret that as "landscape photography is a lesser genre" is a bit of a stretch.

I do landscape all the time. Here's one. It's even in black and white. But note that the hand of man is the focal point, not the trees.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #55 on: May 29, 2011, 02:46:22 PM »
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But Russ, yes, you have indeed been badgering us "with the same rehashed arguments about superiority of (landscape) paintings over (landscape) photography" over and over in this thread (where it certainly is irrelevant to the original post), and in many others. The fact that you magnanimously bestow your blessing on one of Chuck's images, or that you even deign to show a "landscape" of your own (while taking pains to point out that the Hand of Man is the Focus) does not alter that fact.

With your insistence on the "Hand of Man" as being essential to any landscape, I am a little surprised that you didn't prefer John's second image (the logs, obviously cut by the Hand of Man) to the first one, in which the Hand of Man was perhaps less obvious.

IMHO comments that Subject Matter X is {unsuitable, less valuable, whatever} than Subject Matter Y is always unhelpful, dogmatic, and I would rather childish. I still believe that if you don't care for the subject matter of a post in the Critiques section, you should refrain from making any comment at all, unless you have something constructive to say.

And yes, I can find an image of Cartier-Bresson's that I think is admirable, too. And all of your comments about your views on landscape that I have read on the LuLa forum tell me that your view of photography is rather constricted. If that makes you happy, so be it.

I agree 100% with Slobodan when he said, "It is equally unlikely that Russ at al. will ever persuade me that landscape photography is a lesser genre..." Your mileage evidently does vary.

Eric
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Rob C
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« Reply #56 on: May 29, 2011, 03:07:37 PM »
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I'm probably sure to be wrong, here, but has anybody pondered the paucity of b/w landscape painting?

I guess that's because b/w landscape photography would beat it hands down. So no, being the "et al." probably referred to by Slobodan, I don't denigrate b/w landscape as a lesser medium than painting, and I have congratulated Chuck privately in the past, but that, at the same time, is the Achilles heel: it has to be black/white (IMO) to stand up to good paint. But as to either photo genre being 'creative', that's something else; but as we end up saying, that's a negative take of mine.

As for the context, LuLa. Why ever not? It's landscape photography we are discussing.

I plead guilt too, if I can find some, one of which has a tiny bit of colour but is, essentially, b/w. I don't like tints, either, which I see as a sort of truss to contain the other collapses. ;-(

Rob C


PS To get something positive out of all this, can anybody identify the tall weeds in the coloured shot? They are about two metres tall.
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« Reply #57 on: May 29, 2011, 05:57:35 PM »
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IMHO comments that Subject Matter X is {unsuitable, less valuable, whatever} than Subject Matter Y is always unhelpful, dogmatic, and I would rather childish. I still believe that if you don't care for the subject matter of a post in the Critiques section, you should refrain from making any comment at all, unless you have something constructive to say.
 

Eric, Ah ha!! You actually came right out and said what I suspected you were working toward: In your estimation it's wrong to criticize subject matter here on "User Critiques." So, like Nikonians and LUF, where the only thing you can talk about is cameras, here on "User Critiques" we're prohibited from "critiquing" subject matter -- unless, as you say, we "have something 'constructive' to say." Would that include "I like it?" How about "me too?" "what he said?" or "+1?" But "I think the subject of the photograph is banal" is a no-no? How about "-1?" Maybe Michael or somebody ought to post a list of legitimate critique subjects.

Subject matter is probably the most significant thing you'll find in a photograph. Since you can't do the kind of allegorical interpretation in a photograph that you can do in a painting, the subject matter always is iconic -- a representation of the real thing. So, in most cases the real thing is the whole point of the photograph. Which is exactly why Walker Evans said to his student: "It's a beautiful sunset. So what?" No subject matter is off limits for painting or photography as long as the painting or photograph makes its point, which is exactly what I indicated when I mentioned the professor's comment on Cézanne's painting of the valley near Pontoise. I avoid commenting on a lot of posts on User Critiques because they're put there by people just fooling around, not trying to make a serious point in a photograph. But when someone who's demonstrated his capability as a photographer comes up with a "so what?" photograph I think pointing out the flaw is a reasonable criticism.

Frankly, I'm surprised that any visual artist, which includes photographers, would be unwilling to examine and discuss the relationships between photography, painting, engraving, etching, lithograph, etc., etc., etc. Seems a pretty narrow frame of mind for an artist.
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Rob C
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« Reply #58 on: May 30, 2011, 02:55:55 AM »
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I agree with your points, Russ, and the problem that faces photography really is about interpretation and representation. And perhaps it’s something not confined to landscape only.

In my own field of greatest interest – women – there used to be (no longer know because I stopped buying), in Playboy, an artist called Vargas, who was given a page each month for his classic paintings of girls. Now, you could be forgiven for thinking that in Playboy, of all showcases, the photography of the centrefold would knock the paint into a cocked hat (hmmm… careful Rob), but no, it didn’t. The reverse: the Vargas Girls were better because they allowed for an artist’s exaggeration and/or compiling of given ideals and the putting of them all together in a single image. All the centrefold could do was over-light.

However, where photography scored was in the other, freer photography styles, where the happy play of light and breeze on hair, the flashing expression on a girl’s face was uncatchable on canvas.

And those two photographic extremes, of the same subject, illustrate how the same medium has problems even within the same genre, never mind when facing comparison, which in life, fairly or otherwise, everything does: apples, oranges, pears and cactus. Why should landscape photography believe itself superior or immune from similar challenges?

But yes, there is the clear fear of criticism, so obvious in this thread, that somehow another’s opinion can bring the cosy inner world tumbling to its knees. My, my, darlings, welcome to just another day in the life of the professional.

And in case any of you wonders why this thread has been permitted to remain breathing, I’d suggest that it’s because Michael has been there, done that and understands the nature of the water.

Rob C
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stamper
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« Reply #59 on: May 30, 2011, 03:14:27 AM »
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Quote

Many of history's best known photographers studied painting. Henri Cartier-Bresson, certainly the most influential photographer of the 20th century

Unquote

Considering Henri was a primarily a street photographer then the connection to painting would be tenuous? A connection between landscape and paintings less so. What I won't do is go into a gallery and look at the paintings for a while and then go onto the street and look for scenes that resemble the compositions in the paintings. The world is ever changing and the paintings aren't. The paintings are a work of someone's imagination and the street isn't. Russ as you have pointed out in the past the street is the only ever changing subject. Painters are more likely to study photographs and use them in their imaginative interpretations rather than the other way around. I think you have reversed the logic?  Wink
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