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Author Topic: 'Old School' Photography.  (Read 11344 times)
dbell
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« Reply #20 on: November 19, 2013, 02:40:32 PM »
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A computer with a lens on the front of it can make sure that an image is focused on something and exposed within some modicum of correctness.

It can't pick a subject. It can't choose leading lines. It can't decide what to keep in the frame and when to zoom or move. It can't decide where to focus. It can't decide how much depth of field to have. It can't decide what the overall tonality of the image should be. It can't decide to expose for high-key or low-key or maximum dynamic range.

In other words, it can handle some of the technique but none of the art.

We need to be teaching students the art. The important question is: what tools are best for that? Students are probably not learning much of any use if they're spending their time mucking about in changing bags and mixing chemicals. However, they're also going to have a problem (for example) understanding the relationships between aperture, shutter speed and ISO or between focus and depth-of-field if their only exposure is to cameras with terrible or missing manual controls. The instant feedback of digital is compelling. So is the simplicity of a basic camera. Is it better to learn to understand local contrast by burning and dodging in the darkroom or by doing their analogues in photoshop? It probably doesn't matter, as long as the lesson is learned. Maybe the real answer here is that no matter what tools are used, we need good instructors who have full command of the concepts and the ability to impart the same to their students (and indeed, to require mastery).

I'm not sure I buy the notion of a generation gap. Before digital, 90% of images were crap. In the digital world, 90% of images are STILL crap, it's just easier to make them. Most people didn't care then and don't care now. Photographers are those of us who care about making good images, no matter what medium we work in.
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RSL
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« Reply #21 on: November 19, 2013, 06:17:33 PM »
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Photographers are those of us who care about making good images, no matter what medium we work in.

Hear, hear! And the important thing isn't whether or not the picture is technically good, but whether or not its emotional impact is significant. That's one of the many things you can learn from HCB.
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DennisWilliams
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« Reply #22 on: November 21, 2013, 12:54:11 AM »
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Hear, hear! And the important thing isn't whether or not the picture is technically good, but whether or not its emotional impact is significant. That's one of the many things you can learn from HCB.

I disagree. I believe technically good  should always be the baseline expectation,  and that technical excellence, emotional impact or  professional success is to be aspired to.
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jjj
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« Reply #23 on: November 21, 2013, 06:41:19 AM »
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I disagree. I believe technically good  should always be the baseline expectation,  and that technical excellence, emotional impact or  professional success is to be aspired to.
You'd better go and tell that Picasso fella off then, perspective was all over the place and then there's those classic Capa photos at Omaha Beach, not only blurred but badly processed.
Technically good is so very easy to achieve, that it isn't really relevant compared to emotional impact. Which is the actual hard part.
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petermfiore
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« Reply #24 on: November 21, 2013, 06:55:48 AM »
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You'd better go and tell that Picasso fella off then, perspective was all over the place and then there's those classic Capa photos at Omaha Beach, not only blurred but badly processed.
Technically good is so very easy to achieve, that it isn't really relevant compared to emotional impact. Which is the actual hard part.

The issue is after mastering the rules, one  needs to master how to break the rules. That's entering the world of fine art.

Peter
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #25 on: November 21, 2013, 06:59:16 AM »
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Technically good is so very easy to achieve, that it isn't really relevant compared to emotional impact. Which is the actual hard part.

Yup. But when I see someone doing something in art and being sloppy it pulls me off - be it emotionally interesting or not. Its simply because sloppiness is an attitude not acceptable, when someone wants his stuff to be seen and is wasting my time. I am sloppy enough myself - don't need an artist to be sloppy for me. Tongue
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jjj
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« Reply #26 on: November 21, 2013, 08:02:44 AM »
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The issue is after mastering the rules, one  needs to master how to break the rules. That's entering the world of fine art.
Being technically good is not the same as mastering the rules. Because if you've done that then you are good anyway.
And many cameras can take a technically good pic these days with no input other than pushing shutter.
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jjj
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« Reply #27 on: November 21, 2013, 08:13:38 AM »
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Yup. But when I see someone doing something in art and being sloppy it pulls me off - be it emotionally interesting or not. Its simply because sloppiness is an attitude not acceptable, when someone wants his stuff to be seen and is wasting my time. I am sloppy enough myself - don't need an artist to be sloppy for me. Tongue
Hard to answer this as sloppy is hard to quantify. As it art.
Possibly....Well if they are being sloppy, then they are not doing it well then.
Possibly....That is part of the style and you simply don't like it.

Take Fine art photography which often seems technically or compositionally lacking. Sometimes that's a stylistic choice, though sometimes it's simply because the person has no actual ability so is passing off crap as art and what they are actually good at is bullshitting.





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amolitor
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« Reply #28 on: November 21, 2013, 09:14:31 PM »
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Fine Art is barely about the work at all these days, regardless of medium. Quite explicitly. It's about process and narrative surrounding the work as much or more than the work itself.

That is to say, it's explicitly and openly about the bullshitting, not the work.

The market for art that falls between decor and Fine Art is remarkably narrow these days. That is to say, work that we the public think of as Art: creative work that inspires, enriches, provokes, reveals, and so on, and which does so on its own merits, is pretty much a non-entity. It's all pretty much technically brilliant and emotionally dead decor, or pictures of poo with a paragraph about playing with the dialectics of space attached.

Here's a fun game:

Go find a popular and successful contemporary landscape photographer. Go find a portfolio of work. You will find that virtually all of it has a color palette made up either of 1 very narrow swathe of colors, or 2 very narrow and complementary swathes of color. These things are shot to match the couch, and that's why people buy 'em.

The majority of Fine Art photographers are shooting insanely repetitive and boring portfolios around a single not very good idea, and then supplying a raft of text to prop it up and explain why it's important and good. Usually they're shooting with crazy expensive gear and making gigantic prints, to further obscure the fact that they haven't actually got any ideas.

Both of these schools are giving technically excellent photography a bad name. They make me itch. They make me want to drill light leaks in all my cameras and spin the focus ring at random before every shot.


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- Andrew

My awesome blog about photography: http://photothunk.blogspot.com
Rob C
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« Reply #29 on: November 22, 2013, 03:04:53 AM »
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That's all well and good, Andrew; spin and drill to your heart's content, but you'd still need an agent.

Rob C
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amolitor
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« Reply #30 on: November 22, 2013, 05:39:01 AM »
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If I was gonna to put up with an agent, there's only one thing I'd shoot: nudes!
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- Andrew

My awesome blog about photography: http://photothunk.blogspot.com
Peter McLennan
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« Reply #31 on: November 22, 2013, 11:23:46 AM »
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Excellent rant, Andrew.

"That is to say, it's explicitly and openly about the bullshitting, not the work."

Zacly.

I sold two large canvas prints recently.  The wife made the decision based entirely on the colour swatches of couch material she brought to my studio.

I carefully avoided bullshitting, cashed the checks and bought more ink. : )
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RSL
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« Reply #32 on: November 22, 2013, 11:35:00 AM »
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The issue is after mastering the rules, one  needs to master how to break the rules. That's entering the world of fine art.

Breaking the rules does not, repeat not, produce fine art. What the hell IS fine art? It's not necessarily what's going out the doors at Sotheby's or Christies.
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #33 on: November 22, 2013, 11:45:30 AM »
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Breaking the rules does not, repeat not, produce fine art. What the hell IS fine art? It's not necessarily what's going out the doors at Sotheby's or Christies.

Art is not "fine".
"Fine Art" is an Oxymoron.
Tongue
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petermfiore
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« Reply #34 on: November 22, 2013, 12:22:12 PM »
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Art is not "fine".
"Fine Art" is an Oxymoron.
Tongue

Sounds like you come from the world of compromise.

Peter
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #35 on: November 22, 2013, 12:28:32 PM »
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Sounds like you come from the world of compromise.

Peter

The opposite is true and the base of my statement. Smiley
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petermfiore
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« Reply #36 on: November 22, 2013, 12:31:41 PM »
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The opposite is true and the base of my statement. Smiley



That's good to hear.

Peter
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #37 on: November 22, 2013, 12:46:50 PM »
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Maybe I need to explain my slightly provocative statement a little.
I hope my somewhat limited English doesn't get in the way here.

Art, IMO has something to do with conflict, with debate (more emotional debate) and an relation to the conditio humana in a broader sense.
Beauty, as often produced in various forms of art would be flat and dull if there weren't the ugly, the nasty and evil - the things that are not "fine".
I believe we can only produce meaningful beauty if we know about these things from experience and take this experience into account when producing art.
Greed, hatred, envy, ignorance, torment .... art if it wants to be deep needs to know about these very well.
As you know in Germany, during the Nazi reign lots of art got forbidden, artists harassed and prosecuted when they didn't fit into the narrow scheme of nazi racism, hatred, bigotery and hypocrisy.
Much of nazi art reflects this and looks stupid, primitive and flat.
Similar destruction to art happens when it gets commercialized in a certain way or otherwise abused.
I picked that up and thats why I wrote this statement which might have sounded provocative.
To remember and remind.

Cheers
~Chris
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Rob C
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« Reply #38 on: November 22, 2013, 02:23:56 PM »
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Sounds like you come from the world of compromise.

Peter


I love delicate leg-pulling!

;-)

Rob C
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dbell
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« Reply #39 on: November 26, 2013, 11:47:35 AM »
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I disagree. I believe technically good  should always be the baseline expectation,  and that technical excellence, emotional impact or  professional success is to be aspired to.

Note that absolutely nothing I said should be construed as a tolerance for poor technique. I believe quite the opposite: solid technique is the foundation of everything else. Technique isn't a set of rules, it's a set of skills which, once mastered, can be employed to realize an artistic idea. If you want to write an novel, you first need to learn to speak the language. The question posed by the original post had to do with what tools and methods are best for teaching the basics (both technical and aesthetic) of the photographic art form.
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