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Pastiche
10-08-2006, 01:59 AM
Part of what's so strong about his images is the tight unity he's achieved by keeping certain elements in line... ( if the body of work were to cover a broader range of emotion the impressions we would gather from it would also not be so pristine... and so, we might end up with a "mixed" bag of feelings for the totality of the portfolio... as it is, the message is clear... which, I think, is part of what a good portfolio should do for the viewer... BE CONCISE)

Most obvious is the control of tones throughout... it's beautiful to see a oeuvre where you can tell the man's mastered what he does...

Some other things that struck me -
His use of space.... unless an individual in the focus, he gives them some room up front.... he's careful to compose such that he never looses the illusion of space.. he's shooting from the same POV throughout .. . his compositions are well resolved... I don't remember any images where the subject was either entering the frame or leaving the frame (half way though it)... he's got everyone IN the picture....

Another element that I think is emotive, is that whether we like it or not, there is a certain romanticized image of rural life.. and these images play to that concept... Many of the images depict "perfect" examples of this or that "character" from the farm-mythos....

It seems JR was a man in love with his surroundings, and it shows in his images... not only in the tonal and compositional qualities he's expressing.. but also in his careful editing of character and narrative content...

RH Designs
10-10-2006, 07:37 AM
If you like Ravilious' work and can find a copy, "An English Eye" (ISBN1855226286) is well worth getting. 113 beautifully reproduced photographs and an insightful commentary by Peter Hamilton which includes an account of James' working methods. "Down the Deep Lanes" is currently available from amazon.co.uk (http://www.amazon.co.uk) and while billed as a paperback, mine arrived as a hard cover. In this case there is nothing in the text about James' methods and philosophy however.

pentaxuser
10-10-2006, 01:49 PM
Nice representation of rural France. As it's winter or early spring, the shadows from the trees are soft and the light looks right for the time of year and wintry sun. However, unless its the scan or my monitor the lead cow has lost all detail in its face which in the light conditions doesn't feel right. Yet his picture of Cheddar Gorge which is more contrasty has retained detail even in the rockfaces.

I have just been reading Barry Thornton's "Elements" and while his subject matter doesn't always do something for me, his tonal range tends to spoil other prints I have seen.

pentaxuser

bruce terry
10-10-2006, 02:38 PM
Good Lord! I too had no clue of James Ravilious' work. What an eye, what patience, and how, how, did he bag scene after scene with his little Leica, any of which a large format photographer would immediately adopt as his or her signature print - limited number of zones be damned.

The second I hear of an exhibit of Ravilious' original images, I'm there, for they are ... inspiring!

Thanks John for this magnificent eye-opener (I'm gushing I know but WOW).

Wow. Wow.

RH Designs
10-11-2006, 02:57 AM
unless its the scan or my monitor the lead cow has lost all detail in its face

It's blocked up on my screen too but there's plenty of detail in the repro in "An English Eye". I saw an exhibition of his photographs a few years ago in Devon and they really are superb. I wish I'd bought a print there actually ...

Samuel West Hiser
10-17-2010, 02:06 PM
South coast of England ... the light ... you have to be there to believe its evanescence.

Samuel West Hiser
10-17-2010, 02:15 PM
snip

the message is clear... which, I think, is part of what a good portfolio should do for the viewer... BE CONCISE)

snip

Some other things that struck me -
His use of space....

snip



Wonderful assessment.

I too observe Ravilious' space as painterly.

Oddly, the other English photographer whose work strikes me in this way is Larry Burrows.

michael markey
10-17-2010, 03:12 PM
There is a very good youtube vid .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq2iZmEmF8A

Michael

SuzanneR
10-17-2010, 07:13 PM
There is a very good youtube vid .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq2iZmEmF8A

Michael



Thank you for that link... is there more to this documentary about Ravilious?

lxdude
10-17-2010, 09:21 PM
Yes, Suzanne, there is. I saw it online some months back. But dang it, I can't remember where! Like his work, a real treat.

michael markey
10-18-2010, 02:20 AM
Yes, Suzanne, there is. I saw it online some months back. But dang it, I can't remember where! Like his work, a real treat.

Is there really.
I`ve only ever seen the youtube extract which is a firm favorite of mine.

Michael

Steve Roberts
10-18-2010, 08:44 AM
Another element that I think is emotive, is that whether we like it or not, there is a certain romanticized image of rural life.. and these images play to that concept... Many of the images depict "perfect" examples of this or that "character" from the farm-mythos.... ...

As someone who was born and has always lived in Devon, not far from where many of Ravilious' photographs were taken, I'd respectfully suggest that the subject matter of the images itself is not born of romanticism. The way of life he portrayed did and still does continue in the county, and his characters are still plentiful in the farming community. That's what it's like here, with many small farms that would be said by many to be in a time warp. Ravilious only told it like it was. He certainly didn't have to look very far or hard for his subjects, but the difference was that he was there in all winds and weathers, very early and very late, when the rest of us were still tucked up in bed, and did such a fine job of capturing the essence of those scenes and people around him.

Steve

michael markey
10-18-2010, 04:52 PM
That`s an interesting comment Steve.
I was going to add to my comment that times had not changed that much down there.
I deleted it because its been a few years since I was last in Devon feared that I was out of date.
I was always a summer visitor but I know ,and its apparent from the photographs ,that the weather can be harsh.
I`d not want to be out and about with a camera like he was at times like that.

Steve Roberts
10-19-2010, 04:48 AM
That`s an interesting comment Steve.
I was going to add to my comment that times had not changed that much down there.
I deleted it because its been a few years since I was last in Devon feared that I was out of date.
I was always a summer visitor but I know ,and its apparent from the photographs ,that the weather can be harsh.
I`d not want to be out and about with a camera like he was at times like that.

No, you're not out of date, Michael. Whilst there are of course some larger farms that are run along modern lines, there are plenty of examples of things not having moved on very much. Until only a couple of years ago, a farmer I knew used a shire horse to work his farm for the simple reason that most of his land was too steep to work by tractor. (Curiously, when the farmer died, the horse died not long after!) Only a mile away from where I live is a farm that still doesn't have mains electricity and you wouldn't have to look too hard to find other examples of that.
One more aspect that Ravilious would have had to overcome was to gain the trust of those he photographed in order to get the results he did. The farming community can be protective of itself and suspicious of anyone pointing a camera. Farming has always had to 'work around' the law here and there (it's not all like that chap Adam's farm on Countrywise!) and I can well imagine that a farmer might worry that any misdemeanours captured for ever on film might find their way to the authorities. The standard joke around here used to be that when the Ministry man came around, a certain number of sheep had to shipped from farm to farm so the count-up in the fields would tally with the number claimed for on the subsidy paperwork!

Steve

michael markey
10-19-2010, 02:17 PM
Steve
Yes that is the other aspect that comes over in his work...he gained the trust of the farming community.
I`ll declare my hand here...since retiring I look after my daughters horse and other horses so spend my day on a farm.
Also involved with the local drag hunt.
Grandfather was a farmer so guess there`s a genetic link at work :)
These communities are often as you describe.
Not to long ago I met up with a prof photographer who was attemping to emulate Ravilious and had lined up some possible farms.
He was looking for an introduction but unfortunatley I didn`t know any of the families.
I`m surprised that he got the shots he did.
I don`t think that a street shooting approach would have got him far.

Michael

Steve Roberts
10-20-2010, 06:22 AM
I don`t think that a street shooting approach would have got him far.

Michael

A street shooting approach to a farmer down this way might provoke a two-word invitation to depart, a flea-infested collie sinking its teeth into his ankle, a close-up view down a pair of slightly tapering, rusty steel barrels or even a permutation of these!

Like your daughter, my sister is very keen (putting it mildly!) on horses, and I'm frequently subjected to long diatribes about how Dobbin's martingale needs adjusting so that his fetlock doesn't develop a bad case of the glanders or something similar. I nod sagely and try to look as if I know what she's on about!

Steve