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Felinik
02-14-2013, 11:12 AM
As far as the 'famous' photographers go, it seems to me that such work is often treated like 'the emperors new clothes'.

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...

horacekenneth
02-14-2013, 11:18 AM
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.

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?

horacekenneth
02-14-2013, 11:22 AM
Here I found an example:

http://images1.citybreak.com/image.aspx?ImageId=1403322

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.

Felinik
02-14-2013, 11:25 AM
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.

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....

Prof_Pixel
02-14-2013, 11:29 AM
Here I found an example:

http://images1.citybreak.com/image.aspx?ImageId=1403322

It looks like something that would end up in my darkroom trash bin. I guess that's why I'll never be a 'famous' photographer (and it doesn't bother me a bit).

Felinik
02-14-2013, 11:33 AM
It looks like something that would end up in my darkroom trash bin. I guess that's why I'll never be a 'famous' photographer (and it doesn't bother me a bit).

That was my precise reaction (even if I only scan my negatives due to lack of time + space), but if a negative like that showed up on my screen, I'd find out how to refine my development process and not spend any time scanning that roll. If the entire roll was like that, send my camera + lens to service.

Hatchetman
02-14-2013, 11:33 AM
http://images1.citybreak.com/image.aspx?ImageId=1403322

There is some artistic merit there. I'm not a huge fan of the composition, but the grain and blur make me feel disoriented, like I'm very very drunk and lost or something to that effect. Most photos leave no impression on me at all. That one did to some degree.

Let me add, that most folks are used to seeing digitally-captured images, which are very very different than this.

horacekenneth
02-14-2013, 11:35 AM
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....
Correct exposure is just getting what you intended, right? How do you know?


It looks like something that would end up in my darkroom trash bin. I guess that's why I'll never be a 'famous' photographer (and it doesn't bother me a bit).
No reason to knock the guy. The photo doesn't emotionally grab you (because of what appears to be technical errors?), no big deal, what similar genre photos do actually grab you?

[Edit: I don't mean to say that beauty is altogether subjective, just that I think a comparison of photos would help us identify what our differences are.]

Felinik
02-14-2013, 12:02 PM
So, enough about the sample picture.

How come the blur and the grain finds it ways into the galleries? Is this hot as cake and comparable to Instagram but in print? Is it a reaction against the perfectionism in digital photography? Or is the blur and the exposure/grain a substitute to composition skill limitations that in the end has become an artistic expression?

When did "bad" (as in not the best achievable result) become the new cool?

:)

BrianShaw
02-14-2013, 12:06 PM
I find this kind of discussion interesting since we learn that there are all sorts of opinions, but they are fairly useless in that nobody is really going to be convinced to change their current opinions. It reminds me of the time I decided to "buck the system" and complain about all of the sliver-thin DOF portrait photos where the tips of noses are OOF. That discussion didn't get anyone anywhere. :laugh:

Mainecoonmaniac
02-14-2013, 12:34 PM
Photography is much like any craft. Just like writing, you need to know proper spelling and grammar. Once a writer has the basic down, he or she may break the rules and use bad grammar or misspellings intentionally. However, if a writer just has bad grammer and bad spelling, he's not serving the craft and it's just bad and ineffective writing. Why I'm trying to get at is the craft should serve the art. Blur and grain with photos should serve the art otherwise it's just bad technique that's is masturbatory and self-indulgent.

BrianShaw
02-14-2013, 12:36 PM
"maturbatory and self-indugent"... I'll have to use that term the next time I get into a conversation with my editor about optional commas!

Mainecoonmaniac
02-14-2013, 12:45 PM
I think self-indulgence and masturbation is grammatically redundant ;)

horacekenneth
02-14-2013, 01:12 PM
Just like writing, you need to know proper spelling and grammar. Once a writer has the basic down, he or she may break the rules and use bad grammar or misspellings intentionally...Blur and grain with photos should serve the art otherwise it's just bad technique

Agreed. I think that answers this comment as well


When did "bad" (as in not the best achievable result) become the new cool?


If it is intentional and serves the art then it isn't bad technique. It's really really good technique.

Vaughn
02-14-2013, 01:30 PM
For the record, I like the image of the truck...

Felinik
02-14-2013, 01:51 PM
If it is intentional and serves the art then it isn't bad technique. It's really really good technique.

It sure can be, intentional is of course a deliberate conscious choice, though still this doesn't approach the question, why does "bad" get appreciation and wall space at galleries and review space in media etc. ?

Felinik
02-14-2013, 01:54 PM
For the record, I like the image of the truck...

Would you say the grain and the blur affected your opinion in a positive way, do you think a less "smashed" photograph would have affected your opinion negatively?

Mainecoonmaniac
02-14-2013, 02:01 PM
Blur and grain is vocabulary in the language of photography. It's useful in certain expressions. If you reject grain and blur automatically, it like rejecting particular words that offend you. Like some of Alice Walkers writings, it contains vulgar language but it doesn't offend me. I'm not saying grain or blur is vulgar btw.

horacekenneth
02-14-2013, 02:10 PM
why does "bad" get appreciation and wall space at galleries and review space in media etc. ?

For whatever reason, I would guess they think it is good. Galleries are probably more interested in emotionally grabbing pictures than (technically correct) "beautiful" pictures. I can tell you that I'd take that truck picture over a lot of the pictures I see other traditional photographers printing.

What I learned in school was that artistic beauty is a combination of skill and background. In other words, to really appreciate whether or not a work was beautiful you couldn't merely look at it, to really appreciate it you needed to understand its intention, history, creator, etc. And this is what has been already said - what is technically "bad" can be good if it fits with the artist's intention - and how can we know the artist's intention without knowing a little bit more about the piece?

My cop-out answer is that we are sick of technical pictures that can practically (I said practically) be taken with the click of a button on ever-improving digital cameras. We want pictures that break the rules and so when we find a cool picture that breaks the rules we want to believe it is intentional because we want it to be better. Which might be why I think the truck picture was taken by a photographer who knew his trade and not by a five-year old.

Darkroom317
02-14-2013, 02:16 PM
Some of it I would attribute to a revival of Pictorialism. However, they seem to takin ghe "style" and photographing everything that way with a conceptual reason.