Where Did All The Flowers Come From

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by blansky, Mar 10, 2003.

  1. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    So there you are. 8x10 all set up. Shot composed. Needs maybe a half and hour before the sun settles down to the horizon. The stream is right, the woods are right, the mountain is right. The angle is right. All is right.

    Suddenly you hear a noise behind you and some little snot comes and set up the same shot. At least he has the decency to stay behind you. You are fuming but you say nothing. You hear him take a couple of shots and he leaves. Good.

    A moose wanders cautiously into your shot and down to the stream. He takes a drink. The light is right. IT IS PERFECT. You take your shots and think of that little snot, he left before he even had the shot. What a moron.

    A couple of months later you're walking by the newstand and are suddenly taken aback by a picture on the cover of a magazine. It's your shot. Well almost. This picture had a mother deer and her fawn drinking from your stream. And lo and behold there you are in silhouette, photographing the scene. The light is right, the angle is right, everything is right. The photograph is named "Photographer at Sunset" THAT LITTLE SNOT. You rush home to look at your picture and sure enough, his is better. You are livid. After years of study and discipline you are at a point where your images are of a very high quality and some kid comes by and snaps a couple of shots, goes home, photoshops the hell out of them and they are superior to yours. You start to fell like a dinosaur.
    -----------------

    I saw an ad in a photography magazine the other day showing the work of a photoshop retoucher who was advertising his work. He took bad photographs and made them look very good. He can even retouch them and take them back to negative form so they can be printed on fibre based paper.

    As a portrait person, they have been doing this to us for a while now. I wonder how the LF landscape people feel about this.


    Michael McBlane
     
  2. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    Michael,

    That DID happen to me, last year. I was in Elko NV, photographed a very cool Norman Rockwell era church, then two months later saw the same photograph I made, from the same vantage point, but either framed or cropped a little tighter, in Lenswork. I wasn't livid but I thought my photograph was better and it made me wonder about how one gets published, etc.

    And it seems to happen to me more and more often that I am set up somewhee, and just the fact that I have the 8x10 and the pack and the big wooden tripod draws tourists like flies. The buzz in, whip out the digiwhatsit of the point and shoot, and kind of blindly photograph in the same general direction my camera is pointed. Like they have no idea what's there, but if they just point where I am pointed some brilliance will appear on the their film or memory card.

    dgh
     
  3. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  4. steve

    steve Member

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    I don't care about photos from the same vantage point, "little snots," etc. My theory is that all of the photos have already been taken - we're all just repeating them.

    But, I will relate a story of "Steve's revenge." I was in Teton National Park taking a photo & waiting for the light to get "just right." I setup two cameras and got back into my truck because the mosquitos we're trying to take me home for dinner.

    Up walks a "professional photographer" and sets up his cameras in the middle of my shot. Okay, I wasn't outside my truck standing at the cameras - but, unless you were the "compleate moron" - you'd realize you were STANDING IN MY FIELD OF VIEW.

    So, I blew off the sunrise shot & decided I'd be back at sunset the next morning. I also knew he'd be back at sunset. There was a little point of land that extended out into the river, and I knew that if I stood on that point of land I'd get the shot I wanted and, most importantly - I'd be in his field of view. The rest is history as I got there about 15 minutes before he did.

    Two days later.....I'm at the horseshoe bends in the Snake River by Jackson, WY. I've spent a year waiting for this moment and have calculated that you can get the full moon over the mountains at sunrise. I get to the spot at 4:00 am. No one else is there.

    I hop over the wall and setup three cameras. My wife is in the camper making hot cereal for me & some coffee (just got to love that girl). So, I'm standing by my camera and at about 5:10 am "the herd" starts to show up to take a photo of the Teton's at sunrise. Ooops...Steve has the prime spot. Guess who walks boldy up to the edge of the wall looks down and groans? That's right - my little buddy from two days earlier.

    BwwaaaaahaaaHhhhaaaaHhaaahhaaa.
     
  5. cruiserparts

    cruiserparts Member

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    >I don't care about photos from the same vantage point, "little snots," etc. My theory is that >all of the photos have already been taken - we're all just repeating them.

    I hear this from some photographers and wonder if it's just a cliche that gets repeated ("yeah, all the good songs have been written" type thinking) or if some people really believe this. Are people mainly talking about this phenom in landscape (on the grand scale) photography? I agree that many shots are over done, especially National Park shots, but it seems to me like there's a lot left to be said. I couldn't imagine having motivation to continue pursuing an endeavor where I thought that all I was doing was repeating what other people have already done. Seems a bit fatalistic to me. Then again, just like people enjoy playing in "cover bands," maybe there are "cover photographers."

    anyway, my two cents.
    jon
     
  6. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    About 10 years ago I was photographing the sunrise from the car park at the entrance to Monument Valley, you know the one with the two rocks in the foreground that Ansel has on the cover of his colour book and everyone who goes there takes it. I know I'm a sad man for doing so but I'm totally besotted with John Wayne westerns and just had to make the exposure having travelled many thousands of miles to get there. On the morning in question I got out of my sleeping bag at about 3am to get there and set up the tripod to get the angle that I wanted, not exactly the sames as Ansel's but near enough for it to be my homage to the man. Just as the light was getting interesting the "little snot" appeared and set up immediately in front of me and by the time I had persueded him to move the best of the light had gone.

    I stood around for a while after the sunrise just looking at what is for me a very magical place when the "snot" walked up to me, handed me a 35mm Canon and instructed me to take his photograph as he stood astride the two rocks, insisting that I place his head above the Mitens in the background. I did but I cut his head off at the top of the frame and smiled sweetly as I handed back the camera. After a bad start to the day because of him I was quite bouyant for the rest of the trip whenever I thought of his fury when he had his 35mm film processed, and would you believe that I've never felt any guilt for doing it.
     
  7. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    Michael,
    Great post! It covers most of the angst. I feel your pain, what ever it is. Meaning that all the responders, so far, have found something slightly different in your post to identify with. (most of course, related to the LITTLE SNOT.)

    I'll skip all the stuff about "tripod hole photographers" and trophy pictures and even those annoying tour buses full of senior citizens who show up just when the light gets good to ruin your shot and heap irony on it by using disposible cameras. (not only have they ruined your shot, but they'll have nothing to show for it either.)

    I think you're really touching on the purist vs. manipulation debate. Particularly with landscape photography, we're mostly trying to "romanticize" what we see, by shooting in warm light with saturated color film. As you point out digital makes this much easier for romantic portrature or landscape.

    I disagree with your statement tha his picture is "better" than yours. It is probably more striking, not better. He has juxtaposed more (a greater number) of interesting elements into his picture, but it lacks the subtlety of your 8x10 shot. to the trained eye he either had the most serrendipitous friggin' moment of his photographic career, or his picture is fake. striking, but fake.

    It reminds me of those articles about which 4 filters (I'm not exagerating) were placed in front of the camera lens to even the exposure, enhance the reds, eliminate the horizon line and BTW give everything a nice rosy glow. After a moment of envy, I realize that this really isn't the kind of picture I'd want to take, anyway.

    I think you have to care about what you photograph (carrying an 8x10 shows you care) and realize that 90% of the viewers (including most editors, who are trying to sell magazines to those same viewers) will prefer digital guy's picture. I think it's very easy to fall into the trap of photographing what everyone says, "OOOH and AH" about. It's self reenforcing, i.e., I'll photograph more of the kinds of pictures people like when they see my pictures. As long as you're not photographing professionally, you should photograph for you.
     
  8. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Tom Duffy @ Apr 10 2003, 09:08 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>... heap irony on it by using disposible cameras. (not only have they ruined your shot, but they'll have nothing to show for it either.)

    I think you're really touching on the purist vs. manipulation debate. Particularly with landscape photography, we're mostly trying to "romanticize" what we see, by shooting in warm light with saturated color film. As you point out digital makes this much easier for romantic portrature or landscape.
    </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    "Disposable" I don't mind. It could be a realy serious photographer freeing him/herself from too much dependence on really advanced, fine systems. I have an old Agfa box camera - thankfully in 120 format, that I'm going to give a "go" one of theses days.

    What *really* FROSTS me is the all-too-prevalent "Digidolt" prattling about his "wunnerful" automatic everything special", out there taking photographs of the sunset and firing GN2 (@ ISO 100) flash to do it.

    Now, "manipulation". We're mostly trying to "romaticize" what we see... ?

    Certainly. I've been doing exactly that for years. Unless it is "News" or "Industrial" or something like "Driver's License" photography - what else are we supposed to do?

    Easier to do that with "digital"? I don't think so ... comparing the work I see from both media. I don't think it is an insurmountable burden to work "digitally", but I can't see, at least from the results, where it is anything like a great advantage, either.

    Good work takes a lot of ... I need a good label. In athletics, there is such a thing as "muscle memory" where, after a great deal of practice and positive reinforcement from repeated successes, one "does things right" without conscious thought to the minutia of the process. So it is with photography, after a while, one "does", without conscious thought, those things that make a "good photograph. Maybe that label should be "Aesthetic Memory"?

    Anyway, I would suggest that we all "romanticize" away -

    Picasso once said, "The moment you lie for the sake of beauty - you are an artist."
     
  9. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    I laughed very hard on reading the little snot post. I was just up in a nature conservatory with my 4x5 and the little snot had a really nice Mamiya 67 - He looked like he had earned the right. Of course I was doing the view camera dance and he stayed and talked a while. He was shooting Velvia (a favorite of mine) and I am srtrictly B&W (most of the time) I don't get too cocky though - so many of these guys are much better than I am although I would like to think I am getting better at it every year. That is the nice thing about this hobby - I don't think you can really stop improving or get to the end of it. I have several other hobbies that I feel I have mastered and there is little room for growth. I don't think I could get to the end of photographic possibilities in several lifetimes. Yes - all the photos have been taken - but - not at this angle - with this twist or addition or whatever. I saw a photo of a church in Brodie, CA that I have exactly - It is fine with me - mine is at a more interesting angle - the one I saw spoke a little differently. There are certain shots I think everyone takes because it is a milestone in the journey. It is not these cliche shots that define a photographer - the skill or the style. It is seeing what you feel is unique and using the subject to speak that message. I figure in another few years I'll understand what my unique style is and isn't. In another few decades I should have made some achievment in that style if I work it three or four days a week diligently. On the journey, I have some hanging in the local art museum (I think they lowered the bar a little for me) and I feel I am making some headway. It is frustrating though to see a perfect shot taken in 5 seconds with a minidigi that looks better than a shot I have invested 20 hours and $$$ on materials. I am not discouraged because I know that in the end I will have a flawless permanent work of art and the CD that stores the minidigi pixels will leak bits and the plastic coated wonder papers that ink gets sprayed on will look like dogmeat in 20 years. At least I comfort myself with this idea anyway.
     
  10. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Michael,
    I have read and reread your post several times since it's insertion. I hestitated in responding because you posed an excellent question and I initially didn't know how I felt about the example that you gave.

    I was disturbed, obviously. However, I really couldn't determine what the basis of that disturbance was other that at some level the photographic process that I think that I am engaged in was violated by the manufacturing of an image apart from reality. Composing the image, in the exposing of the negative, or printing that image in the manner that I want seems a marked departure from inserting objects that did not exist at the moment of the exposure.

    Perhaps, Picasso said what has been reported here. I can not argue with the fact that many have found enjoyment in his work. However, I have not found much in the way of the deep emotional movement, present in his works, that I feel when I view a photograph by Paul Strand, Edward Weston, or Brett Weston...not now, nor ever to this point.

    In fact I am not nearly as appreciative of Ansels works as I once was. His images, by and large, are beautiful. But they seem almost too beautiful to be realistic at times. However they were not manufactured in the manner that you described in your post. If all that we are about is the creation of beauty, whatever in the hell that is to each and every one of us, then I would guess that we will depart from reality fairly consistently. Will that manufactured beauty move me deep inside where I live...I think not.
     
  11. docholliday

    docholliday Member

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    Here one with a twist....

    I was asked to do a model/portrait shoot for a friend at a local park. She wanted the shot to show the hills in the background, during sunset. She also wanted some "standard" shots for her portfolio.

    So, I plan for a great Saturday, weather looking nice and it's a date. When the day approaches, I grab my gear, a few tripods, a whole set of stands and my studio lights, and a long extension cord set (the park has power outlets!). I grab 3 assistants, a ton of film, and head out to the park. Getting there about 3:00p or so, I set up and she shows up. We start shooting. (It's a public park...)

    About 5:15 rolls around, and some clown (straight-outta-the-local-college-photo-class) shows up with a small camera bag, about 30 people, and a few tables and folding chairs. He heads down to the little valley "outdoor theatre" area and stops short of the steps. He moans, bitches, and slams his gear bag down.

    He comes up to me and lets go with "I hope you can move, I have to shoot a WEDDING here shortly. The bride wants the sun to be setting behind her when they are exchaning their vows."

    Oh, I reply. I was planning on doing a shoot too. Maybe you can take one side of the meadow and I can take the other?

    "NO. That is unacceptable. Do you have any idea how much more important a wedding is???" (Obviously, he didn't know I was a wedding photographer too)

    "How much room do you need?" I ask.

    "The whole valley. She doesn't want anybody behind, or around them while she is getting married. AND, I don't want to shoot with your junk around."

    "Junk?"

    "Those lamps and things."

    "You mean my Elinchrom strobes??"

    "whatever. NOW, if you could hurry up and move them, I'd like to start soon."

    So, I hang around, smoke a cigarette, charge my power packs up, and grab my camera for MY shoot...

    About 5 minute later, he came back up. "How much longer is this going to take?"

    "Uh, about another 3 hours." I replied. "This is a public park, and it doesn't close until 10pm"

    He was fuming. He waves the N90s in my face. "This is a PRO job, you know, I have more right than you."

    That was when I went ballistic. I grabbed my Hassy, waved it in his face, and replied with a short "Mines BIGGER" (350mm lens). Then, I went back to shooting.

    Well, the wedding started, I got a great set of sunset pictures for my model, she has about 10 of them at 16x20. And, their whole wedding had about 8000ws going off all around them, all night. When it was all said and done, they never got the sunset shot.

    BUT, I gave the bride (one of my friends knew her) a great 16x20 of her and her husband against the sunset from my angle after the other idiot took the film to Walmart and the local microlab moron completely misprocessed the negs to be film-base only...when she showed me the negs, it looked like the film was never exposed...hmmmm. Karma?
     
  12. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (docholliday @ Apr 11 2003, 02:04 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>Here one with a twist....

    He was fuming. He waves the N90s in my face. "This is a PRO job, you know, I have more right than you."
    That was when I went ballistic. I grabbed my Hassy, waved it in his face, and replied with a short "Mines BIGGER" (350mm lens). Then, I went back to shooting.

    ...hmmmm. Karma?

    </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    "I have more rights than you" ... I damn near wet my pants reading this one.


    Here's one from my "book". I don't think I've written about this one before.

    Last autumn, I set out to do an outdoor figure study, using IR film. The location was a "Reservation" - a public "wildlfe conservation" area, here in overcrowded Ipswich, Mass. We arrived early, checked out the parking lot - empty - and from where we were going to shoot we could see anyone coming in. Secure enough - or so we thought.

    We started ... me firing the 'Blad with Konica 750 - and the model dutifully fabric-free.

    After the first roll of film, or so, I heard a noise from my right - it sounded like a children's Birthday Party - voices, and party noisemakers. Nothing to be concerned about - or so I thought.

    Suddenly, over a ridge to my right, STREAMED a pack of dogs - must have been fifty or sixty of them - followed by - The Fox Hunting Crowd - decked out in their jackets and tight fitting pants, blowing horns and shouting "Yoiks!!" or whatever it is they shout.

    I dodged out of the way. The model grabbed her dress and held it tightly against herself.

    The crowd thundered by - except for one mounted rider who stopped in front of me, as if to say something. Before he could, I pointed to one of the "regulation" signs, - clearly in large type -, "Absolutely NO dogs Allowed". I said, "Doesn't say anything about photography - does it?!" He paused for a second or two, and said, "I won't tell if you don't". I replied, "Deal!" and he rode on.

    It took a few minutes to recover - and the rest of the session went well.
     
  13. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Ahhhhh...the outdoor figure study...Always a conundrum of sorts.

    I thought I had this figured out. I shoot any outdoor figure studies up in the mountains on public land. Either well away from anything or just below an area where nudists tend to congregate (I mean THEy won't complain....)

    One time though this back-fired. I was shooting below the nudist area and there was NOBODY around.

    Or so it seemed. This area happens to be in a canyon below a waterfall. Above the waterfall is the nudist area.

    So we are shooting. The model is in the buff. Everything is fine. Nobody is around.

    I go to change my film back when I hear this loud "CLICK". In fact it was the exact sound you get when the mirror activates on an SLR. See canyons are GREAT at amplifying sounds. I look up and see a camera lens duck behind the top of the waterfall.

    So I tell the model to wrap herself up for another shot in a sheet, and shoot a few junk frames. All the while looking out of the corner of my eye.

    Yep. Somebody was up there poking a camera over the rocks for their own shoot!

    So I say "Hey, I gotta take a piss. Why don't you take off the sheet so we can do those other shots."

    I walk to the base of the waterfall (dry at this time of year), wait a second, and then launch myself up it. It is only about 12-18 feet high and easily climbed. Plus I was PISSED.

    I pop over the top right into the face of some schmuck with a low-end SLR (Rebel?) and one of those XX-300 zoom lenses.

    Which he promptly dropped. Probably because I was running at him screaming like a drunken Viking.

    I stopped.

    Looked at the wreckage.

    And climbed back down to finish my shoot.
     
  14. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Robert Kennedy @ Apr 13 2003, 08:03 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> Which he promptly dropped. Probably because I was running at him screaming like a drunken Viking.
    </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    I love this story.

    Do you think Aggie might identify with this "Drunken Viking" bit?
     
  15. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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