Clyde Butcher

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by glbeas, Jan 13, 2004.

  1. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Georgia APUGGERS!
    Clyde Butcher has a exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon.
    http://www.masmacon.com/


    Clyde's Traveling Exhibit:
    Visions for the Next Millennium
    Museum of Arts & Sciences
    Macon, GA - (478) 477-3232
    December 21-February 15, 2004
     
  2. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    It's a very good exhibit. I saw it over Christmas. I'm still amazed at how huge his prints are.

    Also, there is a photo exhibit there by the head of the art department at Mercer University in Macon. I was not impressed at all. Most of the photos on this site, IMHO, are much better. Saying something for this site.
    juan
     
  3. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Saw an article in the past year talking about those monster images, even showed the darkroom and Clyde and his assistant processing those huge prints..would love to see one in person, they look great. Did see one of AA's Moonrise at Andrew Smith in SF that was huge..don't know how those guys do it. Working with 16x20 is a pain for me.
     
  4. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    Saw Clyde Butcher's exhibit while it was at his Big Cypress Gallery - very impressive, with fairly good detail despite size of prints. Does help when you start with large negatives.
    If you want to see his darkroom operations, he does have frequent open house showings as well as some workshops at his Big Cypress & Venice, FL galleries. Check out his site for more info http://www.clydebutcher.com/
     
  5. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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    Does anyone know why most if not all of Mr. Butcher's pictures, at least the one on his site, has this disturbing darkness on all four corners of the image? Is this intentional on his part to either use lenses that do not properly cover the negative or does he burn the corners for this strange effect? I find his photos so dark somehow because of this - "black" even.
     
  6. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Not having seen an actual print, other then reproductions, I don't know why his corners are darkened. I guess that it could be for either of the reasons that you mention. I do believe that Clyde does have the ability to enlarge up to 12X20 negatives now. That would require some serious coverage from a lens.
     
  7. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    A number of years ago, Paula and I saw an exhibition of Butcher's photographs. Large enlargements. Without a doubt, they were the least satisfactory prints we had ever seen, with blown out highlights everywhere, and blocked up shadows most everywhere else. here's hoping his printing has improved--sounds like it from the postings.
     
  8. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Hard to say Michael, it's not on Azo so it has it's limits. I'm going to see it sunday, I'll let you know how it compares.
     
  9. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    Oh I don't expect his prints to be like Azo prints, just not "soot and chalk" prints.
     
  10. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    What springs the trap door for me with this guy is the tunnel vision. No end to clutter in the corners and edges. No understanding of space. Just snapshots of cool places in Florida with a big camera. Or, as Saint Ansel put it: "The complete engulfing of photography as you and I and N see it and feel it into a vast picture archive of subjects." Butcher's work is a vast archive of vast illustrations of the subject of Florida. Art? It is to laugh.
     
  11. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Well I saw the exhibit today, there are some really cool shots there. Michael you were right about the burned looking highlights, mostly on the ones shot in the swamp. At a guess I'd say the film highlights were blocked, the print had tone but no detail there. Some few had almost blank shadows but still looked good. Probably had something to do with contrasty light on top of reciprocity issues from exposure up to 10 minutes.
    There was one that I'd seen on the web of the clumps of trees surrounded by open water that was really good looking but when I saw the wall sized picture I was astounded and tickled to see the trees were full of pelicans! Added a bit of dimension to the shot.
    Over all I thought the exhibit was pretty good, I just wonder how difficult those negatives were that had the blocked highlights and if he was even worried by them.
    Maybe one day I'll have a show there too ;-)
     
  12. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    If you know what you are doing and care about excellence, you won't make prints like that. But he has a different agenda--and there is nothing wrong with that--it is just not art, with all that implies.
     
  13. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    From what I could see the exhibit wasn't about art so much as an environmental exhibit. There are images in the exhibit worthy of being art though, just not all of them.
     
  14. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    To quote from a wonderful article I read a long time ago:

    "A characteristic that is required to create a third reality [connecting to the worls and to each other] is care. care is itself an artistic statement that expresses love."
     
  15. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Just out of curiosity ...

    Is there a "gating criteria" that *every* photograph that has "blocked highlights" or "no shadow detail" is automatically barred from the being called *ART*?
     
  16. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    No, of course not. That would be silly. And I am not silly. There are no rules. However, when the intention is to make photographs like Butcher's, which deal with the natural landscape in a traditional way, prints that have a full tonal scale will be more resonant and will be BETTER pictures. What is "better"? Those that will cause a deeper response in the knowledgeable viewer--that's better. Not to take the care to try to achieve that is, to me, inexcusable.

    To go for the big print, no matter how poorly printed, for supposed "emotional impact" is a cheap (emotionally cheap) way to get a reaction. No serious collector or curator of photography gets sucked in by that stuff. That is not to say that these collectors and curators do not get sucked in by big prints. They most cetainly do, but only by well crafted ones.
     
  17. kudzma

    kudzma Member

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    I’ve visited Clyde Butcher's gallery in Big Cypress and found it a mixed bag. Some of the images were very striking even in smaller print sizes and IMHO well executed. Others were less so. I was left with the impression that the dark sky at the edges of some prints was intentionally burned this way. I would personally never do this so obviously, but this is Butcher’s call. Yes, there were often blocked highlights as the sun filters through the canopy into deep shade, but many of these shaded swamp images worked beautifully despite “imperfect” negatives. Does a blocked highlight or black shadow in very difficult lighting necessarily mean that his best images are not art? A subjective judgment in any case. If you visit some of these areas (I have), and your eyes have adjusted to the shade, if you look up the highlights blow out in your vision the same way. This is exactly what it really looks like. I think that comparing every print to the spectacular best that can be achieved with "perfect" negatives and azo or Pd/Pt contact prints is not always appropriate. I say this even as a committed Pd/Pt printer.

    The Butchers recently opened another gallery in Venice, FL. It would seem someone must be collecting his work at pretty healthy prices.
     
  18. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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  19. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    If any of my images of Florida were as good as Clyde Butcher's, I'd be a happy man. I don't believe his mural-sized prints are directed to the art collector group. Rather, they are meant to draw you into the world of florida in order to make you more aware of its environment. I personally prefer his smaller sized prints for they are better as prints. Would a printer think highly of them? Probably not, but printing is a specialty that may attract detail-oriented people.
     
  20. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    Ed, anyone can print however they like.

    Doug: I'm not interested in detail, but in a fineness of experience. And this is in everything I do--from making photographs and books, to building my house, to cooking, and everything else.

    Some analogies: I'd prefer to hear a live concert than to listen to a CD of the same music. I even prefer listening to a vinyl record over a CD. I'd rather eat in a good restaurant, if I could afford it, then a mediocre one.

    To some, these things don't matter: music is music, food is food, and a photograph is a photograph of whatever it is of and who cares about something as esoteric as "print quality." Fine and dandy. But that is not my way.
     
  21. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    I don't think so, but if it's there there needs to be a good reason for it and not just being lazy in the technique department. I got the impression from some of Clydes pictures in the swamp that the blocked highlights created the feeling of the intense sun overhead filtering into the shadowy realm under the trees. Experiencing this in reality is very similar, the light is formless and painful to look at overhead. So it did make a virtual bridge to the experience from the observers point of view and were pleasing to look at and experience. Others didn't quite get there, oh well!
    One point is he did bring back unique images from some places few try to shoot. I'm not going to quibble about a few spots going beyond anyones ability to print perfectly.
     
  22. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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    I find that CB's compositional technique is fantastic. I wish I could see the way he sees. But what I find disturbing is the feeling that he prints "without care", exposes "without care". This is a personal feeling that I have concerning my definition of what a Respected Artist is - i.e. one who takes care. CB is a respected artist. But I feel that his prints are executed carelessly! I am glad though that there are those who feel that this is his intention. That may be the case but it does not change the impression it gives me.
     
  23. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    There are Master photographers & there are Master printers. Frequently, they are combined as with Ed Weston & Ansel Adams. They exemplify photographers who are interested in detail or "the fineness of experience". After all, it took Weston 30 trys with a LF camera to get the right pepper. It may depend on how one enters the photography profession. People like Sexton & Michael Kenna got their professional start thru printing the works of others; and their attention to the quality of the print shows. Butcher started as an architectural photographer, expanded to color prints of California images; but not till some time after coming to florida did he develop as a B&W photographer. I suspect he exemplifies a Master photographer who is not also a great printer.

    But could a good printer spoil the work of a good photographer? As suggested in some of the above comments, part of the impact of Butcher's images may derive from having blown out highlights. It does capture the Florida ambience where light can be overpowering. So, it may also depend on one's environment as to the characteristics of your image. A good analogy is landscape design. The English & New England gardener works in pastels, while gardeners in the tropics use bold colors.
     
  24. Mark_Minard

    Mark_Minard Member

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    This opinion is fine - as long as you understand, Michael, that just because you say "it's not art" doesn't necessarily mean that it's not art...