One of Atget's trees

Discussion in 'Discussing a ****** Photograph' started by tim atherton, Aug 13, 2006.

  1. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    this is one of my all time favorite photographs by Atget (if I could own one photo by him to hang on my wall - or one by almost anyone else for that matter - it would be this one)


    [​IMG]


    I titled it "one of Atget's trees", but I'm not really sure you could even call the tree the subject...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 13, 2006
  2. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Since we are all just expressing opinion, mine is:

    This is a mess.


    Michael
     
  3. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    I have always loved some of Atget's work. Looked and looked at them in photobooks of different kind. Wondered at the light and tones. So, it came to pass that an exhibition of Atget prints, together with another of my favourites, Berenice Abbot, came to my hometown.

    So, wow! This is it! Rushed off excitedly and found the exhibition. I have to say I have never been so horribly disappointed in my whole life. Fuzzy, out of focus stuff. And he just had to use the damn lens out to the limits and beyond, getting out of the illumination circle! And Berenice Abbot, while marginally better wasn't a hoot either.

    But I still love Atget. In the books. And I love the ones I love, but I can't say I can get my head around all of his work. It seems to slide precariously between pure documentation (which I like) and some kind of strange "artistry" (which I can't figure). This photograph is more "artistry" to me. Too much going on. I have to hunt for a focal point or a story in this. I am also a bit disturbed by the flarey light in the upper part, compared to the relatively darker lower parts. My eyes are constantly drawn to the flarey patch on the left side of the tree. But this is where I start to think "maybe that's the whole point, this messy, obnoxious tree standing there at the pond"?

    That's the wonderful thing about photography - what I love someone else can't figure at all. Same photo, different opinions. :smile:
     
  4. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Ditto....
     
  5. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    WOW - I'm bowled over... what a suprise :smile:
     
  6. matt miller

    matt miller Subscriber

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    I think he forgot to crop the top 1/3rd out.
     
  7. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

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    Art is the bastard grandchild of necessity. If I remember rightly, Steichen had already set up at the pictorially correct location and by the time Atget got there he had to make do with a spot in the corner behind the fence. He couldn't afford Pt over gum either and the rest, as they say, is history.

    What I really want to know is why does Berenice Abbot always get so much flak for having illustrated a Physics textbook?
     
  8. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    I know - that used to bug me at one time (especially as a LF photographer), but over time I came to realize it just didn't matter. The straight edges of the imposed frame are just as artificial an imposition. If you get the curved image circle, so what (additionally, it's actually rather closer to our own vision). If you want to fit something in an lose the corners - hey, go ahead and do it.

    Nothing about Atget's photographs is precious (in both the English colloquial sense of the word as well as the broader sense)
     
  9. mark

    mark Member

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    Never got Atget's work. It always seemed he had an idea in mind but just can't communicate it to me. I like it if it had the top half cut. That way the verticle line would break the circle.
     
  10. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    [​IMG]

    Better Matt?
     
  11. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    well, if you liked that one, my pick for second choice to go on my wall would be from a much wider field from among Atget's work, but certaily one of them would be:

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

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    My little punctum: Twas brillig.....

    I'm not sure I 'get' Atget either. Part of me is suspicious of the editors that necessarily come between me and his negatives. Atget's Atget would be fun to meet.
     
  13. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    I have come to that conclusion too. I see him in another light today than I did six years ago at the show. He's cool. Even with his too small lens circle. :D

    BTW, I like the second one you put up. Crazy, ain't it?
     
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  15. mark

    mark Member

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    Now this one is much better. I even like how it gives the feeling of leaning to the left. Accentuates the fog and how uncomfortable the weather appears to be. Like you just don't want to hang around.
     
  16. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    tim

    i really love atget's work too.
    the tree is great. i love how it is just there in this "place" atget photographed. from what i remember, atget used to get up at
    first light to make all his exposures, and a lot of his known work
    was made to document/record olde paris before the urban renewal project --- to create a sense of place so when it was all gone someone would remember it for what it was.

    i wonder what i there now ?


    john
     
  17. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Much better.

    Believe me and not trying to be a smart ass but using some of the logic or explanations you give to pieces that you like, one could easily give the same ones to virtually anything. Great, good or horrendous.

    Michael
     
  18. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    now I might consider that a slight problem if I was the only person on the planet who liked, enjoyed and appreciated them (if my drum was that far off the beat I'd either be a lunatic or a genius - probably the former).

    I think all the photos I've commented on here recently are considered at least Great or good by plenty of others.

    As I know I'm not the only one who appreciates them, it really doesn't concern me in the least.

    That you might not get them is neither here nor there. I don't happen to like grits - but apparently there are some people who do
     
  19. David Henderson

    David Henderson Member

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    I like some of Atget's work a lot, though I tend to regard his greatest achievements as being the creation of a record rather than artistic.

    But I do think he was much better at choosing buildings than choosing trees. Both of the trees in these photographs are ugly and detract from the images, especially the first. The second tree is ugly too but there's more in the composition so it isn't so noticeable.
     
  20. rfshootist

    rfshootist Member

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    I do watch Atgets work in deep admiration, he is among my four most important photogs at all and I got a load of Atget books containing many hundreds of Atget photos.
    This one tho I haven't ever seen gefore, hard to believe it is really his photo and to speak honest, this one would surely not hang at my wall. That's my personal opinion.

    bertram
     
  21. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Is your post intended to be a Jedi mind trick?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jedi_mind_trick just in case you aren't clear about the meaning.
     
  22. Artur Zeidler

    Artur Zeidler Inactive

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    This is the last photograph in Szarkowski's book on Atget. He essentially sees it as the apogee of all Atget's work. In his "meditation" on this picture he says in part:

    "One might think of Atget's work at Sceaux as a recapitulation in miniature of all his work on the culture of old France, a record of the deminishing souvenirs of a foreign country.

    Or, one might think of it as a summation and the consumate acheivment of his work as a photographer - a coherent, uncompromising statement of what he had learned of his craft, and how he had amplified and elaborated the sensibility with which he had begun.

    Or perhaps we might see the work at Sceaux as a portrait of Atget himself, not excluding petty flaws, but showing most clearly the boldness and certainty of his taste, his method, his vision. (He felt he had a kiship with trees) At sixty eight, at seven o'clock on a gray March morning, he may have felt a special kinship with this particualr pine - a tree scarred by life and slighted by time, eccentric but still vital and compelling - which should be photographed perfectly, in a way that would match, or echo, its own unrepeatable beauty..."
     
  23. Artur Zeidler

    Artur Zeidler Inactive

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  24. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    What the hell. Blansky and I are in agreement? Well, I guess its true. I do not like the photo either. Whether it is good enought to be called as mess I leave to you. Perhaps Blansky was being overly kind.
     
  25. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Because she was the first to do so, and because what she came up with pretty much defined the way it was done after her. Soap bubbles? Check. Flash-freezing the fall of a ball? Check. Iron dust over a magnet forming elegant patterns? Check. And so on. The physicians she was working with wanted first to take shots with a Brownie, considering it would be enough... You can find some pretty good info about that episode in "Berenice Abbott, American Photographer," a big folio-size book on her body of work.

    You could say that she was to physics photo what Ansel Adams was to landscape. Groundbreaking then, but so much imitated and influent that we don't always react with the same force nowadays. Ironically, she disliked intensly the work of Adams, Stieglitz, Strand, and the like.
     
  26. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    "Little is known about is life, and less about his intentions, except as they can be inferred from his work."

    These lines always bothered me. They know nothing about the guy but some "intellectual" conjured up an "inferrence" from his work and creates a biography, or at least a motivation for his work.

    I've always found those a little suspect.


    Michael