Discuss a Minor White Photograph

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by Jim Chinn, Aug 1, 2006.

  1. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    Last week I posted a link to a Gary Winogard photo and invited discussion. This week I thought I would link to one of my favorite Minor White images.


    Two Barns and Shadow, in the Vicinity of Naples and Dansville, New York
    1955
     

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  2. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Great! I feel it's the shadow of the telegraph pole that takes the picture into another dimension. Abstract landscape at its best!
     
  3. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    David,

    I don't know if I would term it Abstract Landscape so much as using the telephone/telegraph poll shadow as a lead in line that fills an empty space in the image. Wonderful use of line in a superbly lit and composed image.

    Rich
     
  4. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    As David just said, the telephone pole makes the image for me, but without it, the picture is a very competent landscape without much appeal to me.

    What saddens me about this picture, even though there is "darkroom work" here, is that I know (or think I know) the author "stumbled" upon this scene and captured it.

    What saddens me is that any never version of this type of scene will have been (probably) photoshopped to add in the telephone pole.

    What I'm trying to say is my innocence is lost. Now every "great" picture I see, I automatically think it was photoshopped together.

    This is not an anti digital rant, just the sad fact that digital has made it so easy to add and subtract elements that pictures like this in the future will hold no awe.

    I know, someone will add, yeah but they could have added the pole in the darkroom. Well my answer is that I've mucked about in the darkroom for a long time and I couldn't do it, but I've messed around with photoshop for less than month and I could do it there.


    Michael
     
  5. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    Well - Strand removed manhole covers etc (or was it added them?) to improve images - may not have been so easy (just needed a skilled retoucher), but it's not exactly new

    (BTW - my feeling is that most these days would use PS to remove the telegraph pole?)
     
  6. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I like the sky and how it swirls around the top of the barns as well as the way the very dark roofs contrast with the light, almost white doors. Th shadow also gives a clue to the time of day (early morning or late afternoon) and the field looks like late fall or winter.

    I also like how the lightness of the sky conterbalances the bleakness and desolation of the shadow and field.

    White was a proponent of images having meanings beyond what was readily apparent on the surface of the print. I never have been able to dechiper this one.
     
  7. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    I would tend to agree with you there because I don't think most people these days have the artistic background to understand it's value. If it were included it would be by accident, and someone would surely say something about cloning it out to make the picture 'better'.

    I would also add that I too have the problem that Blansky stated - my default reaction is to wonder how much work was done on the image. I understand that altering negatives was done in the past, but is seems pervasive these days where in the past it was done mostly due to necessity - and even then, it required craftsmanship...

    - Randy
     
  8. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I guess I never noticed it before, but there are no lines attached to the utility pole or else they are to thin to show against the field. I guess any good photoshoper would remove the utility lines that can ber seen on the middle left of the image.
     
  9. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I sometimes think that it is the seeming insignificant aspects that bring an image together... I think that the line in the lower right hand corner plays a vital part in this image. In my opinion, it balances the image.

    The other thing that adds to this image is the distant fence posts and low clouds on the right hand side of this image. These impart the aspect of distant space to the composition.

    I agree that this is a great photograph and everything that others have said is certainly valid.
     
  10. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    What appeals to me is the simplicity of the image: there are repeating shapes in the barn doors, and the tonal values give a strong sense of depth, which is augmented by the leading line of the poles' shadow. The clouds present a nice circular movement and keep my eye from going off the top of the picture. I don't get any specific meaning out of it though, other than the sensation of a simpler lifestyle.

    - Randy
     
  11. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I have noticed that line also, looks like a tractor tire path. It does help to hold that corner together and if taken along with the wires and fence in the middle left and the shadowed pole, adds a nice repetition and framing for the field.
     
  12. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    Given Minor's Catholic/religious inclinations, wonder if its the shadow of the 20th century version of the cross.
     
  13. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    The other thing that I noticed about this image is that if one takes and follows the line of the left hand fence through the buildings and the line of the shadow, they both impart a triangulation with it's apex terminating in the buildings but continuing on toward the distant right hand fence posts and low clouds. The use of lines plays a vital part in this image.

    This image has foreground (field) midground (barns) and deep space (distant fence posts and low clouds)
     
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  15. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Ok. Ok. If you really want to get all artsy fartsy philosophical about the whole thing here is what it means.

    The barns and open space (fields) around the barns relate to the idyllic era of the family farm.

    The ominous darkened sky foretells of unwelcomed change and warns of danger.

    The phallic telephone pole juxtaposing into the scene demonstrates the encroachment of technology and progress that will soon change this lifestyle forever.

    Michael
     
  16. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    O.K. Michael, approaching this from your orientation, I think that this image was an outgrowth of a bad sexual experience the evening before. The shadow of the pole indicates that while the artist may have dreamt of being heavily endowed it was only a shadow of his psyche and not evidenced in reality. The barns are representive of the sexual recepticles that he wished to experience...unfortunately reality was not such. The evidence of sexual frustration is rife in this image.

    Clearly a freudian complex.
     
  17. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    Michael,

    You may have said that in jest, but the way I see the phone pole has changed. I get a strong Sword of Damocles feel from it now. I had never considered that before you mentioned it...

    - Randy
     
  18. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    great concept there, good eye!
     
  19. jovo

    jovo Membership Council

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    I've always liked this photograph, but recently heard that it was made on IR film. When I found that out, I was disappointed. If it had been photoshopped...I'd probably dismiss it altogether. Just to be consistant though, I feel the same way about 'implants' :wink:
     
  20. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Yeah but check out those french ticklers on the end. It all about the sides.....

    Michael
     
  21. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Good point...our minds run in the same rut...LOL
     
  22. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I find it boring. There is nothing to anchor the image, and there is nothing about the barns themselves to catch and hold my attention. This images only saving grace is the shadow of the telephone pole.
     
  23. Jose A Martinez

    Jose A Martinez Subscriber

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    What's wrong with IR film?

    Is obvious that is IR film, you don't have to think to much about it. The small sprouts of whatever is growing in the field are that white because the great reflection of IR light, and the sky is that dark for the same opposite reason, I mean, the lack of IR light. That may be the explanation for the missing utility lines.
     
  24. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    I don't know what his concept was, but I think the image failed. Too "busy," too "geometric." Almost like it was made to show how to follow all the rules of composition and still have a bland result.
     
  25. Jose A Martinez

    Jose A Martinez Subscriber

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    I found it boring too. With the IR film it's an easy shot. Minor White have a long way better images.
     
  26. jovo

    jovo Membership Council

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    There isn't anything 'wrong' with IR film. It's just that similar values to those in this picture could have been found with regular film and filters, but with far greater difficulty. For me, IR is often a bit of a cheat....scenes that are really not very interesting are made somewhat less so using it. Just my bias, but it's a very rare IR 'graph that impresses me.