Paul Strand

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by sergio caetano, May 24, 2005.

  1. sergio caetano

    sergio caetano Member

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    Ansel Adams said he was impressed with Strand's negatives first time he saw them, and because of that he could improve his work. He didn't mention what this meant considering film/exposure/developer techniques. Does somebody have some info about it?
     
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  2. Will S

    Will S Member

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    Adams first saw Strands negatives in Taos, New Mexico. I suspect that they talked very little about issues related to film/exposure/developer...
     
  3. mark

    mark Member

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    I wondered about that myself until I looked a person's negs whom I was introduced too. There was more information in those negs I saw than I was ever getting. I finally understood what a properly exposed neg looked like. I think that is what he might have meant. Just guessing though.
     
  4. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    1. A developed awareness of abstract components. cubist

    2, Adams was introduced to Weston in 1928-Weston introduced "straight Photography" as opposed to pictorialism. Modernist work, using the camera frame and razor sharp focus...it is interesting to view Adams work before 1928.

    3. Adams met Strand in 1930-Adams was in Taos to work on Taos Pueblo and was visiting Mabel Dodge....Strand and Stieglitz since 1915 were promoting cubist principals to photography...Adams at this time was a virtual beginner on his second project with his patron Albert Bender who sponsored Adam's first portfolio "Parmalian Prints of the High Sierras" 1927

    4. It was upon viewing Strands negatives in 1930 that Adams said "it was this experience that prompted him to cast off the fancy papers,soft focus, tw0-dimensional composition and grayer tonalities characteristic of Pictorialism and become a modern photographer.

    5. Adams first show at Stieglitz "American Place" Oct 27-Nov 25 1936 was not representative of what he has become known for, pictures of wilderness mountains and sky....they were for the most part representations of buildings , fences, gravestones, ships, and city streets.

    Pictures of culture rather than nature.

    See magazine Art in America Jan 2005 page 63 for a must have in your file article "Adams and Stieglitz: A friendship bySandra S. Phillips senior curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of modern Art.....I feel Sandra Phillips has a good handle on Adams place and contributions in history...the above are paraphrases from Sandra S. Phillips article...

    Dave in Vegas
     
  5. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    Too bad he never did it.
     
  6. mark

    mark Member

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    What do you mean?
     
  7. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    I mean that it's too bad he never cast off Pictorialism to become a modernist photographer. Ansel Adams is to photography what Albert Bierstadt is to painting.
     
  8. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    c6h603 I would have to agree with that.
     
  9. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    C6h603,

    You and I are on the same page on this.
     
  10. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    Is denigration of Ansel Adams a rite of passage to some higher plane of photographic existence? I'm a mere mortal & continue to admire him for his work, what he accomplished given the state of the craft, and his commitment to the environment. The level of work of Strand, Minor White, the Westons and Adams are still far beyond my grasp.
     
  11. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Excuse I? Adams was a pictorialist??? Adams and the rest of Group f/64 were arch anti-pictorialists and roundly criticized for the fact, then and now...

    Bob.
     
  12. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I don't think that it is a matter of denigration to be realistic about the type of work that Adams produced...about the only thing that Adams did to move away from the pictorialistic influence, and his personal output attests to this, was to move to a sharper focused image and having everything within the image sharply focused. Now some of his work produced in New Mexico was probably his best work. His work produced in Yosemite was a pictorialistic as anything that I have ever seen. For the most part, he did not move very far from his pictorialistic roots.


    Now if his type of photography is moving to someone, so be it...However for myself and for a number of others, it seems that we don't find his work to be as moving as it once was.
     
  13. rhphoto

    rhphoto Member

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    Before this becomes a rant about the failings of AA, let me thank Dave Wooten for his background info. I too have wondered what was in those Strand negs that made AA change his approach, and now I think I understand - it wasn't so much that there was something "magical" about Strands negs, it was just that they were in sharp focus, probably very full-scale, with tons of detail. Hey, I would give a couple days' pay to see one of those negatives in person.

    And about AA, I think he's misunderstood all around. Most critics agree he was not a real mover and shaker in the "art" sense of photography. But he contributed a vast storehouse of knowledge to the medium. Plus, he was a hell of a great printer. And it doesn't hurt that he was instrumental in getting some of the national parks established by virtue of the power of his nature images.
     
  14. mark

    mark Member

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    Probably because he got a hell of a lot of press and his name is invoked far more than any other photographer.
     
  15. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Meh. Photography as conceived by the f/64 type of people was supposed to be a way to create a language that's indigenous to photo, besides getting away with the 19th C fluff; but in the end they borrowed heavily from cubist art (as evidenced by Stieglitz himself), so they more or less displaced one sort of painting for another as their aesthetics referent. Surprising thing is that when you look at more "modern" or even "post-modern" photography, we see a lot of that pictorialist approach coming back: fuzziness, grain, diaphane textures, classical composition.

    I think the best thing I read so far on looking at what could be different between photography and painting/drawing is an article in this month's Harper's about David Hockney. The guy spent most of his time recently showing the influence of camera obscura and optics in general on Renaissance painting, and he shows the difference between a camera-based drawing and an sketch by Rembrandt of a similar subject made with only direct observation. The biggest difference lies in the fact that Rembrandt's drawing is drawn with the mind, so to speak: the representation of contours is eschewed for a more symbolic way of rendering objects. Instead of drawing the contours of leaves, Rembrandt draws a tight zig-zaging line suggesting the tree foliage, rather than showing it*.

    So painting had to borrow from optically formed images; in the end, early photography was maybe only copying itself. Trying to make very clear cut distinctions between the art of photography and the art of drawing is not so easy: I believe one should rather distinguish between the optical approach and the symbolic approach to representation.





    * Of course, like any big talker, Hockney shoots himself in the foot: the article is illustrated with his aquarelles--that he did because he was tired of "seeing" in a photographic way--that have heavy optical effects, and are not the least "drawn with the mind". Sheesh.
     
  16. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    Bob F.,

    I really like your castleriggs photos!

    It is interesting also that in Ansel's first show Parmalian Prints of the High Sierras, the name Parmalian was used to deliberately obscure the fact that what was being shown was in fact photographs!

    Another interesting note...we often feel for some reason we have to justify photography as art.....

    Jan issue of "Art in America" mentioned above in addition to the excellent article on Adams, contains an article by Eleanor Heartney, "The Forensic Eye" on Sallly Mann.....is there any discussion out there on this article?
     
  17. Earl Dunbar

    Earl Dunbar Member

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    Depends on your definition of pictorialism, and on how you view/interpret Adams' work. To each his own, but IMO, I totally disagree.
     
  18. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    "Good artists borrow. Great artists steal"....who said that? Picasso. (Funny isn't it, how he *invented* cubism after seeing West African masks for the first time).

    Artists are a continuation of all that has preceded them, that's why we should try to look at Ansel's work in a historical context and compare his work to his peers. It's unfair to judge his work against the work of modern photographers...they hit the ground running at the beginning of their careers with total access to all the technical knowledge Ansel had to assemble/discover on his own. They also can stand on the shoulders of all the artists since Ansel.

    Murray
     
  19. sergio caetano

    sergio caetano Member

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    Dave
    Thank you for relevant information.
     
  20. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    Your'e welcome,

    Of interest is to google "Carlton Watkins" then go to history of Yosemite.....there are many photos on line Carlton took in Yosemite in the 1860's !!! 80 years before Adams. Using glass plates and ULF cameras (18 x 24 I believe), of interest is Carlton's "Entrance to Yosemite"

    Adams did a beautiful rendition of this...maybe called Clearing Storm, one of my favorite Adams photographs, I have it on a brass quintet album cover (vinyl) ....it is interesting to see the same scene nearly 100 yrs later, by Adams!

    Possibly, Adams was able to view these remarkable Carlton images. They are archived in Yosemite. Ansel's father in law was a painter and worked and sold his paintings in Yosemite.....

    historical observations are not criticisms, it is often only after the passage of time that we can somewhat be able to place historical contributions and study influences on and by various artists...

    Personally, It was upon viewing Adams photography in the late 60's while in college and doing 35mm street photography in Chicago, that I became interested in large format and Weston, O'Keefe, Stieglitz, et al. I do have original Adams prints in my home......I also wish I had one of those Weston Peppers or a Watkins, or a Rodchenko, Steichen, Atget, Riis, Hine, Evans, even Demachy, and on and on, all a place in history....not a saint among them.

    Check out Carlton Watkins he is the pioneer photographer of a pristine Yosemite.

    Cheers
    Dave in Vegas
     
  21. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    Estelle Justim has said that Adams was a 19th Century artist who used 20th Century materials whereas Weston was just the reverse.

    I'm not denigrating him. I'm just stating the facts, ma'am. Most of Adams' work is the most carefully crafted illustration work ever done. Some of it is a modernist aesthetic, but not much of it. The Group f/64 Manifesto notwisthanding, most of Adams' work is about the subject of the photograph, Clearing Winter Storm being a good case in point. It's about clouds over Yosemite Valley, not about form and spatial relationships.

    BTW, if you ever get a chance to see those Parmalian prints in person, don't pass it up. They're breathtaking.

    Jim
     
  22. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    Once again,

    I completely agree with you Jim.....and a very good Weston observation. If I had the computer skills I would display the Clearing winter storm Adams) side by side with Carlton's Entrance to Yosemite....

    Now, If given a choice to own only one print in my personal collection and had to choose from Weston or Adams... not both, I personally would choose Weston's Pepper 1930.

    I would also however, like a Carlton Watkins or another of the early pioneer photographers who so laboriously documented Yosemite and the west in the 1860's-1880's.

    No one ever seems to mention Adams interrment documentary photographs?

    Cheers
    Dave in Vegas
     
  23. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    Parmelian prints....yes Adams in later years pointed to 2 of them as a turning point in his career "artistic breaktrough" Monolith, and the Face of the Half Dome, - although 2 dimensional-planar-paper used then produced a flattened quality...refer to article mentioned above...

    it was Weston who inspired "straight photography" razor sharp focus...lens close to subject....abstracted component parts...full tonal range...
     
  24. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    one more note....early in Weston's career....look to 1920 Nude...example on page 148 "Great Photographers" revised edition Time Life books....
    1. Submerged detail

    2. Soft focus-very diffused

    3. but emphasis on shape and shadow
     
  25. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    which were the parks? I'm not aware of the history of some of the other parks, but the process for Yosemite to be "set aside" for the nation was started by Lincoln in part as a result of Muybridge and Watkins photographs. A but before Adams' time (even if he did use their tripod holes)

    Along with Muir