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Author Topic: develop ones own style...  (Read 36434 times)
alainbriot
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« Reply #120 on: September 30, 2013, 10:52:51 AM »
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What might you call my style ?

I'd say there are several different styles here: patterns of birds in flight with low color saturation (the cranes), patterns of birds in flight with high color saturation (the hummingbirds), black and white images focused on graphic qualities (the dandelion), and color 'effervescense' (the car).  A diversity of subjects as well: animals in a wild environment (the cranes in flight), nature (the dandelion), man made objects (the car) , and animals in a man made environment (the hummingbirds next to the feeder).  Each image is interesting and aesthetic in its own right but if they were not posted in the same thread I could not say they were taken by the same photographer because each has a different focus and style.  My impression is you are exploring the possibilities offered by photography rather than focus on a specific direction (?).
« Last Edit: September 30, 2013, 10:57:13 AM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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« Reply #121 on: September 30, 2013, 11:22:03 AM »
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It appears that nobody, and signficicantly (sic) not even you does what you insist that Isaac should do.  Clearly you are not demanding that because you think it would be useful, as opposed to just being nasty.

Why not just knock it off, eh?
Hi Floyd, You might want to ask somebody on here about a guy who used to post under the name "dalethorn," a couple years ago, before he got kicked off permanently.

It's interesting that you should take the position you take on Isaac's failure to demonstrate the foundation behind his critiques since you, like many of us not only post pictures, but post a link to at least one website with pictures. If you don't think I do what I "insist that Isaac should do" you can look back through some of my many picture posts, or even go to the web to which I've posted a link. I wouldn't even think of criticizing without offering a way for people to judge for themselves whether or not I know what I'm talking about. Opinions about that may vary, but at least I'm offering grounds for an opinion.

By the way, I like a lot of the pictures on your web. You're a quite competent photographer.
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Isaac
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« Reply #122 on: September 30, 2013, 11:59:19 AM »
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My impression is you are exploring the possibilities offered by photography rather than focus on a specific direction (?)

Just as we might expect from someone who declared -- "For years the mantra of developing one's style has been preached to me and I want no part of it...for it indicates, to me, that this journey has ended and that journey is what provides me the enjoyment."
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Isaac
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« Reply #123 on: September 30, 2013, 12:08:28 PM »
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I look there all the time, Isaac, but I never see any of your pictures that might back up your opinions.

You are either unwilling or unable to argue. You quarrel.

There's nothing interesting about your quarreling.

There's nothing to be learned from your quarreling.
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Floyd Davidson
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« Reply #124 on: September 30, 2013, 02:40:59 PM »
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By the way, I like a lot of the pictures on your web. You're a quite competent photographer.

Thank you.  That is one reason I will almost never post images here...

Other than just the pleasure of looking at pictures you like, they provide next to nothing of value for technical discussions.  Instead they provide fodder for fools who want to distract from anything useful.  You know, the kind of guys that make note of spelling variations in other's articles!
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« Reply #125 on: September 30, 2013, 02:45:49 PM »
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Again, Floyd, let me suggest checking out the "dalethorn" saga.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2013, 04:20:34 PM by RSL » Logged

amolitor
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« Reply #126 on: September 30, 2013, 03:00:23 PM »
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Thousands of words, and nobody has even bothered a working definition of "style". How odd.

Try this on: A style is a set of photographic made all the same way for 2 or more photographs.

You might choose a class a subject, an approach to printing, a compositional element. A style might be "landscapes, printed in b&w, with great depth of field and high local contrast" it might be "soft focus, color". A style needn't be visible at all, it might be "contains a square element someplace" but that would be an ineffective style. An EFFECTIVE style makes sufficient choices the same way to connect the set of pictures together visually, but leaves enough un-specified to permit variety and interest between the individual pictures in the set.

With this in mind, let us examine Weston and Adams:

As f/64 guys their styles overlap a lot, they differ almost entirely in the area of subject matter and composition.

Weston: modernist, semi-abstract, lots of arabesques, occasional human figures or parts of same.
Adams: traditionalist, pictorial, easily identifiable natural subjects, almost never human figures, almost always objects of nature.

Of course within each of their bodies of work there are individual periods and portfolios that refine the over-arching styles into a portfolio specific style. In Weston's case the styles sometimes included "sensual object with curves and arabesques placed centrally in the frame on a black background."

Weston's work was pretty much 100% about sex, and Adams died a pictorialist.

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amolitor
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« Reply #127 on: September 30, 2013, 03:01:08 PM »
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Isaac, I don't care if you don't post pictures, but your love of the bitchy content-free one-liner is pretty obnoxious.
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Floyd Davidson
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« Reply #128 on: September 30, 2013, 03:11:28 PM »
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I'd say there are several different styles here: patterns of birds in flight with low color saturation (the cranes), patterns of birds in flight with high color saturation (the hummingbirds), black and white images focused on graphic qualities (the dandelion), and color 'effervescense' (the car).  A diversity of subjects as well: animals in a wild environment (the cranes in flight), nature (the dandelion), man made objects (the car) , and animals in a man made environment (the hummingbirds next to the feeder).  Each image is interesting and aesthetic in its own right but if they were not posted in the same thread I could not say they were taken by the same photographer because each has a different focus and style.  My impression is you are exploring the possibilities offered by photography rather than focus on a specific direction (?).

It's so hard to see that beautiful forest, what with all these ugly trees in the way...

Choice of subjects can be stylistic, but a variety of subjects is also stylistic.  You've walked right over all of the common characteristics of those images, and missed the significance of that commonality.  He likes dramatic, eye catching subjects.  He looks for drama in natural abstractions as well as man made; with the use of high contrast and high saturation.  Plus one interesting thing about that set of images is the point of view is level, not looking up or down at the subjects.  They also all appeal to the attraction humans have to their surroundings, yet almost totally avoid any other relationship between humans and their surroundings (basically they are exactly the opposite of Street Photography).  They tend to be "straight photography", as opposed to any tendancy towards pictorial photography.  And note the very similar "background" characteristics in each!  That's a very subtle sense of what "bokeh" is all about!

Your "impression" is confused!  Exploring the "possibilities" of photography is absolutely a "direction" in itself, even though that is also a necessary part of virtually any "direction".

The fact is that style is very evident in that very small sample of  his work!

Just for grins and giggles, let me point out that his work is relatively closer to the style of Edward Weston than to the very different style of Ansel Adams.  One distinct character of his style is not the same as either though!  That level point of view as opposed to Weston who  has his viewers looking down most of the time and Adams who has use look upward most of the time.
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Floyd Davidson
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« Reply #129 on: September 30, 2013, 03:18:26 PM »
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Again, Floyd, let me suggest checking out the "daletorhn" saga.

So that I can waste a lot of time looking up something that you can't even describe or provide anything specific that would make it worth my time?

If you can't provide a logical reason, I have no need to follow any demand of yours.  Given how much you like wasting people's time with distractions I have very good reasons not to...  scratching remote parts of my anatomy would clearly be more productive.
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Isaac
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« Reply #130 on: September 30, 2013, 03:45:49 PM »
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Isaac, I don't care if you don't post pictures, but your love of the bitchy content-free one-liner is pretty obnoxious.

Please point to something specific.

And, do you also find RSL's love of the petty-bullying content-free one-liners pretty obnoxious?
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Isaac
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« Reply #131 on: September 30, 2013, 03:55:37 PM »
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Cartier-Bresson: "My photographs are variations on the same theme: Man and his destiny. No one is infinitely versatile: each of us carries within himself a paticular vision of the universe. It is this view which makes for the unity in our work and ultimately, its style."

1961 Henri Cartier-Bresson: on the art of photography an interview by Yvonne Baby, translated by Elizabeth Carmichael.
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Floyd Davidson
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« Reply #132 on: September 30, 2013, 04:43:08 PM »
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Thousands of words, and nobody has even bothered a working definition of "style". How odd.

Actually I sort of beat that subject into the ground starting at about article #61 in this thread.  And incidentally what I said was that these personal definitions are worthless because the effect is we are all talking about different things unless you use standard definitions.

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Try this on: A style is a set of photographic made all the same way for 2 or more photographs.

That's pretty good, and very close.  But isn't it 1) wrong, and 2) not standard?  Oooopps.

Here's what Merriam-Webster says is a valid definition:

   ": a particular way in which something is done, created, or performed
    : a particular form or design of something"

There are lots of other dictionaries, and many have slight variations in the way they describe it, but they all say the same thing.  There is no need for a "set" in style, and 2 or more is not necessary.  They also do not need to be "made all the same way". 

That said, your discussion is of course on target and very interesting.  Until you got to Weston and Adams... :-)

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You might choose a class a subject, an approach to printing, a compositional element. A style might be "landscapes, printed in b&w, with great depth of field and high local contrast" it might be "soft focus, color". A style needn't be visible at all, it might be "contains a square element someplace" but that would be an ineffective style. An EFFECTIVE style makes sufficient choices the same way to connect the set of pictures together visually, but leaves enough un-specified to permit variety and interest between the individual pictures in the set.

Style needs not be "effective" to exist as a style.  Any given style might be effective at this and not at that, as an example.  The "contains" bit is a really good example of how seemingly insignificant items can be part of a style.  For example I personally very much prefer "people pictures' where the subject has one eye that is for some reason much more distinctive than the other.  To enhance that distinction I might blur one eye and sharpen the  other.  What that is "effective" at is making me happy with the picture! :-)

But I agree with the fact that a style that connects a variety of images is signficant.  I personally tend to judge other photographers not on whether I like their photographs more or less, but on how able they are to impart a distinctive style into the majority of their work.  Edward Weston and Ansel Adams are two very good examples!

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With this in mind, let us examine Weston and Adams:

I'll comment on that in a different article.
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RSL
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« Reply #133 on: September 30, 2013, 04:52:11 PM »
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Hi Andrew, I question whether or not choice of subject matter constitutes a style. I know that's what several others on this thread have wanted to suggest, but they've been hesitant for some pretty obvious reasons. How would you apply that definition to painters like Van Gogh and Gauguin? Both applied their art to a wide range of subjects, but their styles always shone through.

But yes, nobody in this thread has bothered to define what "style" means with respect to photography, which is why early on I got zapped by jjj and a couple others for suggesting there's a semantic problem here. I question whether or not anybody can come up with a workable definition of what "style" means with respect to photographers. For painters who actually have a recognizable style it's easy because their personalities flow through their hands and brushes to the brushstrokes and color subtleties on the canvas. But a photographer has a camera that always gets in the way of an identifiable style.

Yes, Weston and Adams tended to concentrate on different subjects, but, if consistent selection of a single subject is what defines a style, then Jean Albus, who seems to photograph nothing but deteriorating clothing, is one of the few who could be said to have developed a recognizable style. Adams couldn't, because he had a tendency to deviate from rocks and trees and shoot pictures of Georgia O'Keefe, Orville Cox, and that woman behind the screen door, and Weston couldn't, because he tended to deviate from nude pictures of Tina and shoot cars and rocks and trees.

Yes, I agree that Adams died a pictorialist, but he also was a wonderful technician and teacher.

I have to add that the photographer who comes closest to having what I'd call a photographic "style" is Elliott Erwitt, mainly because Elliott's sense of humor shines through the vast majority of his work. His personality is there in most of his pictures.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2013, 04:58:04 PM by RSL » Logged

amolitor
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« Reply #134 on: September 30, 2013, 04:58:22 PM »
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I think I said that a style need not be effective to be a style, didn't I? I intended that, anyways.

The dictionary definitions of "style" are all clearly talking about something more general than artistic style, or photographic style, so I'm not that interested in them. What matters is not global standardization of the word, but that I at least make clear what *I* mean when I use the word and, ideally, that more than one of us should agree on what the word means for the purposes of discussion. "style" is really a technical term, for our purposes.

Feel free to propose your own definitions! Or, if you really must, you can fall back on the dictionary. It don't think those definitions are going to serve us well, though.
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amolitor
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« Reply #135 on: September 30, 2013, 05:04:28 PM »
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The point about my definition of "style" is not that it fits with how you personally feel about the word, the point is that my definition creates a useful word Wink

It's not all about subject. That's just one of the infinitely many axes you can select.

When you take a picture, and fool with it, and finally make a print, you're making a LOT of choices along the way. What to shoot, when to shoot, shutter speed and a million technical choices, what kind of exposure you want, what paper you select, anything. The point of my definition of "style" is that you pre-make a bunch of these choices. If you pre-make enough of those choices, your pictures tend to "look the same" in some ways, whether it be rotting dresses, or that you print warm, or whatever. The more of the choices you make in advance, the more that set of pictures will tend to look the same, and feel unified.

This is definitely a thing, right? When you shoot a portfolio, you make a bunch of choices, and you stick with 'em, mostly. That's what the portfolio is. When you shoot you whateveritwhatsis photos, you make a bunch of choices the same way, so those pictures tend to be a coherent set. Maybe not portfolio-coherent, but similar. It's a thing, it deserves a name. We have this word "style" lying around that doesn't seem to mean anything, why not use that?
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« Reply #136 on: September 30, 2013, 05:05:05 PM »
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That is one reason I will almost never post images here...

Really? Then why are you here?

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Other than just the pleasure of looking at pictures you like, they provide next to nothing of value for technical discussions.  Instead they provide fodder for fools who want to distract from anything useful.  You know, the kind of guys that make note of spelling variations in other's articles!

If you want technical discussions go on over the Nikonians, or the Canon version of the same thing. You can learn all about defective ten-pin connectors and other hot technical subjects.

Spelling "variations?"
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Floyd Davidson
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« Reply #137 on: September 30, 2013, 05:08:02 PM »
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With this in mind, let us examine Weston and Adams:

As f/64 guys their styles overlap a lot, they differ almost entirely in the area of subject matter and composition.

Boy, that nails it!  Weston was 14 years old when Adams was born in 1902, so their environment was essentially a similar time period, but Weston was 14 years more mature at any given point in their shared history. And until the very end of his career he was always better known than Adams.  Specifically it is worth noting that both became at least somewhat accomlished in the style of Pictorialism that prevailed at the time they learned photography as teenagers.  Weston in fact made a name for himself and achieved some level of recognition with that style.

Both absolutely abandoned Pictorialism at some point after they first met in 1927 and together were among the founders of Group F/64 which was directly opposed to Pictorialism in favor of extremely high detail images.

It's interesting to compare their path to that of Pablo Picasso!  They wanted to distance themselves from painters. Picasso in early life worked very hard to use traditional styles of painting to produce as much detail as possible, but virtually abandoned that style in about 1910, roughly two decades before Weston and Adams stopped trying to copy the look of those paintings.  Group F/64 proceeded to go where a painter never could with fine detail.  Picasso changed from poorly copying the detail of nature with paint to very sharply capturing the signficance of nature with symbols.  They exited the same house of traditon, but left though opposite doors!

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Weston: modernist, semi-abstract, lots of , occasional human figures or parts of same.

Weston did a great deal of human figure work, and of course much of what he did that was not of a human was rather clearly intended to relate to human sentuality.

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Adams: traditionalist, pictorial, easily identifiable natural subjects, almost never human figures, almost always objects of nature.

Adams was hardly a traditonalist.  He didn't follow tradition, he invented it.  He simply didn't do "pictorial" after the early 1930's.  Adams didn't do "human figures" as such, and certainly not sensually... but he did much commercial photography that was "people picture" oriented.  It's just  hard to find because he was never famous for it.  He did landscapes for fun, and people to put food on the table (at least until the early 1940's when his work began to sell for higher prices and in quantities).

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Of course within each of their bodies of work there are individual periods and portfolios that refine the over-arching styles into a portfolio specific style. In Weston's case the styles sometimes included "sensual object with curves and arabesques placed centrally in the frame on a black background."

Weston's work was pretty much 100% about sex, and Adams died a pictorialist.

Actually not true in either instance.  Weston's work was mostly sensual and only sometimes about sex.  Adams simply didn't do "pictorialist" after about 1932 when Group F/64 was formed. Adams virtually never did anything sexual (as far as I know).

Ansel Adams was not signifiantly influenced to change by his relationship with his one and only wife.  Weston was greatly influenced by each of  several women.  He wasn't quite as dramatic about it as Pablo Picasso, but it was very distinct.

A very simple exercise in the distnction between Weston and Adams is to look at the perspective a viewer has of the subject in their images.  Weston has you looking down, Adams has you looking up.  Otherwise, weston looked for abstractions in what was ordinary, and Adams was literal and sought out the already majestic to photograph it.

But...  Ansel Adams' photography, like everyone elses, has interesting quirks.  He donated more than 200 images to the Library of Congress from his 1943 work at the Manzanar Relocation Camp in California.  A quick count shows that he took 4 times more pictures of one particular nurse than he did of the next most photographed person in the camp.  He also made references to having kept track of her whereabouts after she left Manzanar.
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« Reply #138 on: September 30, 2013, 05:13:58 PM »
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Hello again, Andrew. Yes, I'll concede most of the points you made, but I'd still say that given a stash of unfamiliar pictures by various famous photographers, you'd be unlikely to identify the photographers from the pictures. On the other hand, you'd probably be able to pick out a Van Gogh or a Gauguin from a room full of unfamiliar paintings. But, of course, it all comes back to a definition of "style." If your definition is loose enough, it won't matter whether or not you can distinguish between photographers; you'll still be able to say that Adams has a "style." To me, unless there's something about an artist's work that makes it almost always identifiable as his, there's no "style" there.
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amolitor
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« Reply #139 on: September 30, 2013, 05:16:17 PM »
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Adams is an interesting case. He officially abandoned pictorialism, I guess, but in reality he seems to simply have abandoned the techniques that were in vogue among pictorialists at the time. Gum bichromate, muddy, dark, scratched negatives, etc.

In terms of pictorialism, though, we was absolutely a pictorialist. First and foremost, his pictures (his famous ones, anyways) look like paintings. They look like JMW Turner in b&w. They're mawkishly sentimental, swapping the Victorian death fetish for a more modern but no less sentimental nature worship. He manipulated negatives wildly, albeit in specific ways and not in OTHER specific ways. The pictures are awash in "repose" and "breadth". They're calming, balanced, sublime, etc etc. Everything a 19th century painter strove for.

In terms of the origins of pictorialism, in terms of HPR's descriptions of what Pictorial Effect in the latter half of the 19th century, there is arguably nobody who more completely embodies the ideal of pictorialism than Adams.

Weston.. was not. At all.

Call it what you will, but these two artists made definite choices in there work, and tended to make them the same way over and over, and the result of making those choices over and over the same way it two bodies of work which are very visually coherent, and which look nothing like one another. I call it "style" you may call  it anything you like, you may call it "badgers" or leave it un-named if you like.

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