What's up with the blur and grain?

Discussion in 'Photographic Aesthetics and Composition' started by Felinik, Feb 14, 2013.

  1. Felinik

    Felinik Member

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    Okay, with the risk of starting a flame war and make myself look like a complete bore.

    After looking at several exhibitions from "famous" photographers, it's apparently not uncommon with what I have to assume is deliberately blurry black and white football size grain photos...

    I don't get it, WHY on earth would anyone opt in for downgrading the quality THAT much, sure, I am aware of the emotional expression and ambience that can be achieved by using deliberate blur under certain circumstances, and of course sometimes some grain gives a certain style to a picture, but still, I've seen SO many pictures from a range of different artists where it is way over head (imnsfho) that just made me think "doh, why, oh why, did they have to ruin these else VERY interesting photographs" ?

    Is it a fashion thing, and I am the old grumpy man, again.. ?

    :tongue:



    Cheers
    JF Felinik
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 14, 2013
  2. kanzlr

    kanzlr Subscriber

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    It is a fashion thing.
     
  3. Felinik

    Felinik Member

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    Just like I suspected.... I think it's sad, and it sends strange signals to the world about photographic arts and about shooting with film instead of digital.
     
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  4. Rudeofus

    Rudeofus Subscriber

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    Warren Buffet once stated that in every business you have the three 'I's: innovators, imitators and idiots. When you see a style done over and over again without merit, you know that style has moved from the first 'I' to one of the latter ones. It'll go away eventually ...
     
  5. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    no, you are just a grumpy old man.

    Live and let live.
     
  6. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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  7. Chris Lange

    Chris Lange Member

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    Daido Moriyama and Takuma Nakahira are two of the most influential photographers of our time, I think grain/contrast as a tool has long been accepted as an aesthetic choice. I personally find totally smooth, full ranged images to be rather...tepid.

    Go look up the Provoke school.
     
  8. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

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    Some photographer examples would be nice, because I only know of older photos when it comes to this.
     
  9. Felinik

    Felinik Member

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    I don't want to "out" any specific artists here and start a flame war, but think blurry and bad exposed (under/over, most often under), with a dev process giving HUGE grain...
     
  10. horacekenneth

    horacekenneth Member

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    No doubt similar things were said about the Impressionists.

    Shouldn't the question be "Does it work here?" And not: "is it innovative or imitative?"
    I'm sure it would be an interesting exercise though to question artists' choices, like would Claude Monet's Waterloo Bridge have worked better in a classical style? (and I think the answer is no, and not because he was the first one to do it)
     
  11. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I think blurry and grainy can be beautiful. I try to have an open mind and try not automatically reject something based on preconceived notions.
     
  12. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Reminds me of the old West saying -- "We'll give him fair trial, then we'll hang him." :D

    But I agree, the first question to ask -- "Does it work?"
     
  13. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    Ah!
    Warren Buffet, the epitome - ne plus ultra - of aesthetic philosophical enquirers ...
     
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  15. Felinik

    Felinik Member

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    it's a philosophical discussion regarding the evolution (or not) of photographic arts. If you're not interested, seek other threads please.
     
  16. horacekenneth

    horacekenneth Member

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    While I disagree with the notion that grain & blur is necessarily bad (nobody's gone that far yet), I appreciate a discussion on art. Maybe you should live and let live those who would like to critically consider artistic methods.
     
  17. Rudeofus

    Rudeofus Subscriber

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    Yes, they were attacked a lot in their time, and the term impressionist itself was meant as derogatory term for their style. But impressionists added a lot more to visual arts than just blurry images, and that's why they are still respected today. Hastily painting a Rembrandt image would likely not pass the test of time.
    This ties straight into Eric Rose's rant about lith printing. Fact is that grainy/blurry b&w images are unusual views these days for most people, so by their unusual appearance they catch interest with the unwashed masses.

    There is a good chance that quite a few of these images are not exhibited for their artistic value but for the apparent novelty of their appearance. And I guess that is what this thread and Eric Rose's rant are all about.
     
  18. Felinik

    Felinik Member

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    Good question!

    One of the specific cases I am referring to, imho, is a series of photographs telling a story about a group of people in a specific area on this planet, a small countryside village outside a larger western city. The artist has chosen to work with film, looks like t-grain, and for some reason underexposed most of the images a fair bit, and many of them are, hopefully intentionally, blurry (as in the camera was not sitting entirely firm/still). Then the development looks like it's done in Rodinal using stand dev or something, the grain is HUGE and it does NOT help the underexposure at all. If it was abstract or surrealistic, or any other kind of non storytelling/journalistic category/genre, I would probably not react on it.
     
  19. horacekenneth

    horacekenneth Member

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    can we see them?
     
  20. Felinik

    Felinik Member

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  21. Prof_Pixel

    Prof_Pixel Member

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    As far as the 'famous' photographers go, it seems to me that such work is often treated like 'the emperors new clothes'.
     
  22. Felinik

    Felinik Member

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    Big +1 on that!

    Though I am most often the grumpy old man, but sometimes I get a feeling when I visit certain exhibitions, that they are hanging the artist's stuff just because it's an attractive name to announce in media, and doesn't give a damn about the quality of the work... Too often, way too often...
     
  23. horacekenneth

    horacekenneth Member

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    Call me unwashed, but the grainy (I rarely like blurry) b&w street images that are quite popular - when matched with the subject well - I find to have a surrealistic quality, what I mean is, the style seems to emphasize the universal event pictured, and not the particular subject pictured. There's probably a better word for it. For instance, Moriyama's Misawa makes me think about dogs in general and not that dog in particular. Gary Winogrand's Los Angeles, with the guy and gal in the convertible, makes me think the kind of city LA must be more than about the people in particular. I think if the picture were sharper and in color, it would be different.
    Bruce Davidson's color photograph Untitled, Subway, NY, 1980 of the two girls at the subway stop gets me thinking more about the story of the girls and less about the nature of subway stops.

    Thoughts? Is that just me?
     
  24. horacekenneth

    horacekenneth Member

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    Haha, I actually really like that photo. The b&w, grain and blur all make me feel like I'm there and like this is what it always feels like to be out on the road for a long time early in the morning.
     
  25. Felinik

    Felinik Member

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    I react more on the bad exposure/development than the actual blur, even a blurry picture can indeed tell a story, but why make things worse....
     
  26. Prof_Pixel

    Prof_Pixel Member

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