A Virtue of Straight Photography

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by jjstafford, Jun 5, 2005.

  1. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    In another forum "dancqu" made a clear statement regarding his position on printing - in essence a strident ZS approach to which he added 'no manipulation' in the form of contrast masks, etc..

    What dancqu proposes is not my style, but I appreciate it very much as having a special place in the art and craft of photography. This was brought home to me years ago through the work of an associate who has had many shows and several books published.

    The gentleman I will call DH is a documentary photographer, a photojournalist: a writer and photographer. His exposures and prints are carefully crafted (all MF) in very much, if not the same spirit that dancqu writes about (but I cannot say if dancqu's execution is the same because I've seen none of his worrk.)

    DH makes exposures under conditions I would walk right past; the light is not remarkable (except perhaps earlier AM/PM) - in otherwords, almost everyday in nature - but most important: his pictures show what any of us is likely to see when visiting the same place. It is a properly documented scene that shows respect for _the place itself_.

    It is also important that DH has a very long-term association with his subjects and revisits and rephotographs so that comparisons of change are more easily made. Rather than one emotionally moving photograph of a place under, for example, a rarely occuring catastrophic sky we have clear testimony to the passing of time in a series that is otherwise invisible.

    There may be nothing new under the sun, but old things are disappearing every day. Thanks to DH for making that clear for the rest of us through his 'straight' photography.
     
  2. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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  3. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    It would be helpfull if Dan could point us to some of his prints.
     
  4. hortense

    hortense Member

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    Jjstafford –
    I respect DH’s motives for his type of photography or the way he feels others should present their images. For what it is worth: I frequently use USMs and D/B masks (i.e., unsharp or dodge/burn masks) to better deal with “local” contrast and/or to provide the “edge” effect. Stated another way, the former mitigates the need to do as much burning and obviates the need for long slow development times (e.g., “stand” development) to achieve an “edge” effect in the negative. The D/B masks facilitate and ease needs for more precise burning and dodging (not to mention precise repeatability*). Bottom line, in my opinion, these processes can create an image as it was seen or perceived “in situ”. However, if the photographer wishes to render the scene with a different “mood”, these techniques will facilitate this. As you have stated DH does not want to this, no doubt, because his is Documentary Photographer. However, the masking techniques mentioned above would better facilitate or ease the craftsmanship needed to render his images as he saw them or wishes to document them.
    On occasion I’ve used Highlight Masks and Shadow Contrast Increase Masks (SCIM) – and, on rare occasions Fog Masks.
    *Alan Ross who is licensed to produce prints from Ansel Adams negatives uses D/B masks for the purpose of precise repeatability not to mention the other benefits.
    hortense
     
  5. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I must say that when someone tells me that there is only one right way to do things that my bullshit detector starts flashing and sirens go off. I have no problem with someone deciding there is only on right way to do things for themselves but when it dictating what others must dol I am almost bound to do it any other way.

    From my reading of his work Ansel Adams was very open-minded in the way he spoke and wrote. I believe the same could be said of Phil Davis.
     
  6. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    Nowhere did I represent DH as feeling one way or the other as to how others should present their images, because he wouldn't either.

    And Claire, read the above and reread the post. There was no prostelitizing on my part and DH would have given none, either.

    It not amusing to find that some people take a simple statement of appreciation turn the thread into something about theselves. It is not about you.
     
  7. David

    David Member

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    Why?

    "...proper rendition DICTATE A proper contrast. We must only..."

    The use ofproper, dictate, and must leave only one question: Is it so?
     
  8. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    Sorry jj, I edited out Dan's quote from my earlier post (but left a link for anybody interested) as it's too contentious and not relevant here. Me bad. Me still learning...

    Murray
     
  9. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    JJ my remarks were not at all in meant reply to anything you said. Rather they were in reply to the postings on the previous thread by Danqu.

    Sorry am I for making myself misunderstood.
     
  10. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    A Goad! Just what I need. A few more minutes at the
    computer and I'll be in the dark and another test underway.

    I've late summer or early fall intentions of buying a mini Mac
    and scanner good for prints. I've many rolls of developed film
    awaiting the enlarger. Dan
     
  11. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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    Seems to me that a "purist" printing approach is mainly for the benefit of the printer. The viewer doesn't know what was done unless things are carried too far. Or the printer tells the viewer what his process is in an attempt to influence him. A big factor is how you print concerning light/dark and hard/soft. Sometimes things carried to extremes work well. But personally I think that a strong image printed in a matter of fact way is best. A print that causes least attention to the printing. And I guess you could extend that to photographing in a way that uses the least drama.
    Chuck
     
  12. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    I'd say so although 'require' would have been a better
    choice of word. I think it is all a matter of establishing
    borders and working within those. I'm working toward
    prints which are representative of the subject and
    avoid impressionistic impulses. Not easy when
    working with material brought in from
    THE DEEP DARK WOODS. Dan