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Author Topic: "What are the rules?"- Fantastic essay Harold!  (Read 3929 times)
Eli Burakian
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« on: January 31, 2012, 09:54:27 PM »
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Every once and a while I read an essay that truly resonates with me, both by being a well written and well thought out piece, as well as  truly mirroring my own feelings about the practice of photography.

The only rules of photography are really just the rules of how the image is used. And when I'm shooting for just myself I don't have to worry about that second part. Hell, I enjoy the process of photography so much that oftentimes the end product, if I ever look at it is incidental!

Just wanted to say thanks for a great essay and I look forward to more in the future.

Eli
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2012, 10:30:24 PM »
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+1.

Great essay, partly because it seems that Harold's rules largely overlap my own rules.

Eric
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

http://myrvaagnes.com  Visit my website. New images each season.
dchew
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« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2012, 10:57:40 PM »
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I love the outdoors.  I photograph stuff because the process of photographing stuff makes me notice, appreciate and celebrate things that I used to walk by without noticing. 

Those are my three rules:  Notice, appreciate, celebrate.  Actually they are Dewitt Jones' rules. I'm copying them with unabashed excitement.

Great article.

Dave
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John Camp
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« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2012, 11:08:02 PM »
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Possible natural rules of composition:

For any photograph, electromagnetic radiation is required.
Any unmanipulated photograph shows the effects of gravity, and this should be taken into account.
Shadows fall on the opposite side of the object from the light that creates them.
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2012, 12:21:11 AM »
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Another +1 from me...

Mike.

So, if you learn the rules so that you can break them, are you creating new rules in breaking the old ones?
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If your mind is attuned to beauty, you find beauty in everything.
~ Jean Cooke ~


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C Debelmas
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« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2012, 01:01:50 AM »
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I had a dream, that people understand that photography is about object (the part of the real world that is put in front of the camera), medium (the whole chain of tools) and subject (the photographer), all together intimately bound together, each one acting on the other two. And not only about one of the three components, and not about copying a so called reality, and cheating or not.
I had a dream that people would rather comment on the photographs and why a photographer had made such and such choice to produce such image. And why such nimage is worth spending some time on it.
The rest is (for me) endless and egocentric debates and a waste of time. Except if spending time on the forum is a goal in itself.
BTW, this articles is interesting even if triggered by the boring question of "cheating".
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Fips
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« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2012, 04:16:04 AM »
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I like what Gary Winogrand said: "All a photograph does is to describe light on surface. That's all there is."
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fgorga
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« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2012, 08:48:40 AM »
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Three quick comments...

Regarding the original essay... BRAVO!

Regarding this specific statement...

      PERSON 1: Can't the camera do that for me automatically?

      PERSON 2: The camera doesn't know what you are trying to do. Modern cameras are quite smart, but   
                       they can only make a guess about what you are trying to do.

When talking with folks about these issues, I take a slightly different approach. My response as "Person 2" would be more along the lines:

 "Cameras do not do anything automatically. All the camera does is process data according to the decisions made by some engineer (or worse some committee of engineers and marketing folks) at <insert camera company name here>.

Wouldn't your photographs better if you made the decisions?"

Regarding John Camp's "Possible Natural Rules of Composition"...  Those are rules laws of physics! Wink

--- Frank (www.gorga.org/blog)
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Hans Kruse
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« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2012, 09:42:31 AM »
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Nice article. Some thoughts on it:

Here is an interview with Ansel Adams http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZND3eczqoIA
and he expresses very well, I think, how he deals with what Mark Schacter discuss in this article.
Ansel also express a fascination with the possibilities inherent in the digital capturing and editing of pictures.
This is not cheating, this is creating art. Not so much rules although I guess every photographer has his own rules.
Andreas Gursky has other rules than what Ansel seemed to have, but the end result in mind is the same, to create interesting art.
In some cases Andreas combines several exposures into a single image where Ansel, as far as I know, never did this.
From what I have seen Andreas combines different exposures and selection from the same scenes but a few exceptions like his photo of the miners clothes where he even have a separate shoot of some workers to put behind the chains that are used to hoist the clothes up while the men are working in the mines.
Is this cheating? Yes, certainly if your rule is that what's in the photograph all existed together at one precise moment in time. Does it matter? Not really as it could have.
Where is the limit to this? Collages of totally unrelated pieces in time and space to create pictures? Well for me I don't go any further than Adams did, but I have enjoyed an exhibition of Andreas pictures in large print. I think only you A  photographer set the limit and it does not really matter what the rules are for other photographers or viewers.
One example of a photographer who seems to be very popular on 500px http://500px.com/Alshain composes his images quite freely from different sources.
Is this cheating? Not exactly my cup of tea, but as an art form it isn't.
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Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2012, 10:42:48 AM »
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Hell, I enjoy the process of photography so much that oftentimes the end product, if I ever look at it is incidental!Eli



That's one of the few points of view, ever, with which I can totally identify.

It was pretty much the same with my pro life, the difference being that I obviously had to follow through, if only to finance the continuation of the game. I consider myself damned fortunate to have been able to play for as long as I was able.

Well said, Eli!

Rob C
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Isaac
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« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2012, 11:46:53 AM »
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Here is an interview with Ansel Adams http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZND3eczqoIA and he expresses very well, I think, how he deals with what Mark Schacter discuss in this article.
Ummm, this article is by Harold Merklinger - the essay Harold Merklinger is responding to was written by Mark Schacter.

"Whether a painting or a photograph, an image is necessarily an abstraction."

Ansel Adams interview 8:00 - "Well you bring up an interesting point there as to whether you can actually have abstraction in photography, because you do have the evidently realistic image in the lens. ... I like to use the word extract ... It can't be abstract, it can be highly selective."
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Isaac
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« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2012, 11:48:31 AM »
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> I imagine Mark Schacter's conversation going something like this

How much easier everything is when you control both sides of a conversation :-)

PERSON 1: (with furrowed brow): Isn't that sort of cheating?

   PERSON 2: In order to cheat, there must be rules. What are your rules?

PERSON 1: We could start with - Don't lie to me.

   PERSON 2: I didn't! I had to use a camera and then somehow move what the camera recorded to the screen or sheet of paper that you saw. I simply did that the best way I know how.

PERSON 1: You've presented the image as-though it were simply what the camera recorded, but you know that you've hidden parts of what the camera recorded - How am I supposed to trust your images or you?

   PERSON 2: I changed the image a little to make it easier to see what was true about that situation.

PERSON 1: When you silently add or remove things I can no longer trust that what you show represents the situation at all.

   PERSON 2: It's Art!

PERSON 1: (with furrowed brow): Weren't you able to take a better photo?


> people will say "An image from this period should show above-ground utility wires..."

Today, the ugliness of above-ground utility wires is something visitors to the US notice immediately. Today, residents are so inured to those ubiquitous wires they'll probably feel that there's something missing from that photo without being able to identify quite what.
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graphius
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« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2012, 12:55:07 PM »
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I just want to pipe in and add that this is one of the best photo essays I have read in a long time....

Thanks
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Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2012, 01:50:32 PM »
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Today, the ugliness of above-ground utility wires is something visitors to the US notice immediately. Today, residents are so inured to those ubiquitous wires they'll probably feel that there's something missing from that photo without being able to identify quite what.
Most all new building development in the US is requiring underground utility cables and even in communities where there are above ground wires, there is a movement to replace them because of severe weather causing tree limbs to fall across power lines leading to massive disruptions.  We are going through this where I live and there have been crews around for the last week in my neighborhood pruning any tree that is impinging on a power line.  70% of our county lost power last year during a particularly bad storm and there were homes without electricity for up to a week.
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Isaac
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« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2012, 02:13:34 PM »
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severe weather causing tree limbs to fall across power lines leading to massive disruptions
In the San Francisco Bay Area it doesn't seem to take much more than half an inch of rainfall and a light breeze - enough trees will have been weakened by the long dry summer-fall-winter that the extra weight from the rain will bring some tree limbs down. (And if that doesn't the land-slips will.)
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Rob C
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« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2012, 02:17:21 PM »
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Same problem here in Mallorca, but as it's a rock, not much chance of burial...

Rob C
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Robert55
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« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2012, 04:26:32 PM »
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Here in the Netherlands overhead wires are so rare now [only still being used in places where the muddy peat we stand on is so soft that underground is not feasible] that they have become a subject in themselves for me. I used to have a sort of rule of either trying to exclude them from the shot or PS-ing them out. Now I have a sort of rule of leaving them in, unless I want to spend some quality time with the mouse, which is not often, so mostly it is rule 1 [or was that 2]. Grat article
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Isaac
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« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2012, 05:26:07 PM »
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they have become a subject in themselves for me
In some of Robert Adams' landscapes phone wires and utility wires across the sky are enough to show that land is changed.
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Cardinal16
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« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2012, 10:54:08 PM »
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Great essay indeed, except that René Magritte was Belgian, not French...
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Hans Kruse
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« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2012, 05:06:17 AM »
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Ummm, this article is by Harold Merklinger - the essay Harold Merklinger is responding to was written by Mark Schacter.

"Whether a painting or a photograph, an image is necessarily an abstraction."

Ansel Adams interview 8:00 - "Well you bring up an interesting point there as to whether you can actually have abstraction in photography, because you do have the evidently realistic image in the lens. ... I like to use the word extract ... It can't be abstract, it can be highly selective."

Yes, it's clear who wrote what Wink I was referring back to the article of Mark in my beginning note.
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