Discussing a James Ravilious Photograph

Discussion in 'Discussing a ****** Photograph' started by John Bragg, Sep 13, 2006.

  1. John Bragg

    John Bragg Member

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    Hi Folks, This is one of the many pictures taken by the late James Ravilious. He loved using older Leica lenses and mastered the wonderful nature of uncoated optics in skilled hands. (He fashioned his own lens hoods to prevent fllare).


    http://www.jamesravilious.com/gallerypic.asp?gallery_id=12
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 13, 2006
  2. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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  3. John Bragg

    John Bragg Member

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    Sorry David. It is on the Corbis site, and I can not get the link to work. I have posted an alternative from the site you suggested, equally as good.

    Regards, John.
     
  4. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    My main feeling about JR's photography is the way in which he is apparently totally in tune with his subject matter. As John says, he sought out good examples of uncoated Leica lenses, in no way as a collector but simply because they gave a unique image quality which was just right for him.
     
  5. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member

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    I love his work! I have never heard of him before, but there is a wonderful quality to his images, and he has captured rural life with such dignity. His work also reminds me of the French painter Millet. Thank you for pointing this work out. It's just wonderful!
     
  6. John Bragg

    John Bragg Member

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    Hi Suzanne,

    He had a very strong affinity with painting, since his father was the painter Eric Ravilious.

    Regards, John
     
  7. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    It must be the light there, but I find it fascinating the lack of contrast between the highlights and the shadows.

    It's almost a 3:1 ratio in broad daylight, with the pattern of the trees creating shadows on the ground. In most places I've been the ration is far far higher.


    They must have a very subdued partial cloudy/sunlight there.


    Michael
     
  8. Juraj Kovacik

    Juraj Kovacik Subscriber

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    Light on his pictures is different from normal light. I don't know if it is only about lenses or something different - soft developer or what.

    What I love on his pictures is his choose of scenes - everyday simple life. And yes, he can how to find and show beauty of it. Maybe I like his "point of view" more then that special light.
     
  9. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    It's very fine and could have been 1882. Are the members aware of the "Corbis" business? A certain billlllionair started the business to buy the rights to as many pictures as he can. Then for a fee you can rent a look at them under rigid conditions.
     
  10. Gay Larson

    Gay Larson Member

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    I lso had not see his work before but really love it. I had to check the dates myself because at first I thought is was much earlier. They make me want to visit there myself.
     
  11. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    This was in fact the reason why he used the old uncoated lenses - makes quite a difference. I knew someone once who did a series of pictures of a village in the South of France at midday, normally a total no-no because of the screaming contrast of the overhead sun, but he used an old Nikon F and original lens, which shortened the tone scale considerably and gave a very pleasing effect. I use an uncoated 5 cm Elmar myself from time to time for the same reason.

    Regards,

    David
     
  12. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    David, I'll take your word for it but I think it is more than just a lens that creates this effect. I think he worked in a softbox type of diffused thin layer of clouds.

    Granted the lens may have had an effect but I doubt this much.


    Michael
     
  13. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Member

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    John,

    Thanks for posting this!
     
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  15. John Bragg

    John Bragg Member

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  16. Jeff Voorhees

    Jeff Voorhees Member

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    I happened upon "An English Eye" in a used bookstore a couple years ago. Funny enough, I've been going through for the past week. His mastery of uncoated optics and his development techinque make for beautifully produced photographs. What I'd like to see is how he masked "a proprietary Leitz" model hood so he could shoot into the sun.
     
  17. tom_micklin

    tom_micklin Member

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    It's beautiful work. I love the softness.
     
  18. childers-jk

    childers-jk Member

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    Forgive me if I am wrong, but it looks like two of these picutures were taken either into the sun or with a very strong side light. (I'm juding by the shadows.) With an uncoated lens and even an impovised hood, would this tend to cause the very soft feeling and lack of harsh contrast? Either way, I really like these a lot, thanks for posting.
     
  19. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I noticed that too. I also checked the gallery and noticed that many other shots have similar "soft shadows". So I'm inclined to think that it does have to do, in part, with the uncoated nature of the lenses (wouldn't coating result in some degree of polarizing?).

    But I did notice that some of the shots that included "sky" showed partly cloudy conditions....so maybe he did favor "supple" conditions?

    Oh, btw, the shots and subject matter are great - as I watch the Copake countryside slip away into exurbian sprawl - I wonder how idyllic these shots are and how much they were "selectively rural"?
     
  20. catem

    catem Member

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    I completely missed this thread!

    Thanks for posting it, John. Wonderful work...

    Cate
     
  21. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    I had never heard of Ravilious the photographer, his work is in my opinion very, very good. I appreciate your posting his name etc.


    Charlie...............................
     
  22. Pastiche

    Pastiche Member

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    Part of what's so strong about his images is the tight unity he's achieved by keeping certain elements in line... ( if the body of work were to cover a broader range of emotion the impressions we would gather from it would also not be so pristine... and so, we might end up with a "mixed" bag of feelings for the totality of the portfolio... as it is, the message is clear... which, I think, is part of what a good portfolio should do for the viewer... BE CONCISE)

    Most obvious is the control of tones throughout... it's beautiful to see a oeuvre where you can tell the man's mastered what he does...

    Some other things that struck me -
    His use of space.... unless an individual in the focus, he gives them some room up front.... he's careful to compose such that he never looses the illusion of space.. he's shooting from the same POV throughout .. . his compositions are well resolved... I don't remember any images where the subject was either entering the frame or leaving the frame (half way though it)... he's got everyone IN the picture....

    Another element that I think is emotive, is that whether we like it or not, there is a certain romanticized image of rural life.. and these images play to that concept... Many of the images depict "perfect" examples of this or that "character" from the farm-mythos....

    It seems JR was a man in love with his surroundings, and it shows in his images... not only in the tonal and compositional qualities he's expressing.. but also in his careful editing of character and narrative content...
     
  23. RH Designs

    RH Designs Advertiser

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    If you like Ravilious' work and can find a copy, "An English Eye" (ISBN1855226286) is well worth getting. 113 beautifully reproduced photographs and an insightful commentary by Peter Hamilton which includes an account of James' working methods. "Down the Deep Lanes" is currently available from amazon.co.uk and while billed as a paperback, mine arrived as a hard cover. In this case there is nothing in the text about James' methods and philosophy however.
     
  24. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Nice representation of rural France. As it's winter or early spring, the shadows from the trees are soft and the light looks right for the time of year and wintry sun. However, unless its the scan or my monitor the lead cow has lost all detail in its face which in the light conditions doesn't feel right. Yet his picture of Cheddar Gorge which is more contrasty has retained detail even in the rockfaces.

    I have just been reading Barry Thornton's "Elements" and while his subject matter doesn't always do something for me, his tonal range tends to spoil other prints I have seen.

    pentaxuser
     
  25. bruce terry

    bruce terry Member

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    Good Lord! I too had no clue of James Ravilious' work. What an eye, what patience, and how, how, did he bag scene after scene with his little Leica, any of which a large format photographer would immediately adopt as his or her signature print - limited number of zones be damned.

    The second I hear of an exhibit of Ravilious' original images, I'm there, for they are ... inspiring!

    Thanks John for this magnificent eye-opener (I'm gushing I know but WOW).

    Wow. Wow.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2006
  26. RH Designs

    RH Designs Advertiser

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    It's blocked up on my screen too but there's plenty of detail in the repro in "An English Eye". I saw an exhibition of his photographs a few years ago in Devon and they really are superb. I wish I'd bought a print there actually ...