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photomc
02-05-2004, 10:44 PM
It's Offical Now! - I am throughly depressed.....

Got a brochure today in the mail for the John Sexton workshops for 2004-2005 and the reproductions of Johns images are so good!!

Have to wonder why I can't get an image that is even close to these...

Do any of you ever feel like this?

(OK - it's not really that bad, but dog gone some of you guys are really good).

Better now, got this off my chest - now if I could just get the cat off my chest.... :roll:

KenM
02-06-2004, 09:59 AM
It's Offical Now! - I am throughly depressed.....

Got a brochure today in the mail for the John Sexton workshops for 2004-2005 and the reproductions of Johns images are so good!!

Have to wonder why I can't get an image that is even close to these...

Do any of you ever feel like this?

(OK - it's not really that bad, but dog gone some of you guys are really good).

Better now, got this off my chest - now if I could just get the cat off my chest.... :roll:

I have various feelings about John's images. Yes, they are technically perfect, but I find that the majority of his images lack soul. I see much more emotion in the images of his previous business partners, Bruce Barnbaum and Ray McSavaney.

That said, I know of one fellow who took John's workshop, and was very happy with the experience. John's workshops lean towards the more technical aspects of photography instead of a more intuitive process. If you're technically inclined, a workshop with John would probably be appropriate. If you lean the other way, a workshop with Ray or Bruce would be better. (BTW: I've taken workshops from Ray and Bruce, and they're both very good. Ray is perhaps one of the most sensitive photographers I've ever met, and is an exquisite printer. Bruce is also exceptional, but some people just hate the guy. To each his own I guess).

Craig Richards, from Canmore, Alberta (about an hour west of Calgary) curates the Photography department at the Whyte Museum in Banff, is a fantastic B&W photographer. His primary subject matter is the Rocky Mountains, and the people of Guatemala. What you see in John's work, I see in Craig's. He has so many images that are just so darn good, it drives me nuts. And it's all of material that's a few hours from my home.

What I've learned tho, seeing his images and seeing how he works, is that you don't need to have a lot of fancy gear to make fantastic images. Yeah, he has a Tech V., but he tapes his glass filters to the lens with duct tape, and uses his hat to shade the lens - no fancy compendium hood for him. His darkroom is nothing special either. It has a sink and an enlarger, just like the rest of us.

Where these guys are different than the rest of us is in their knowledge of the craft, their abiilty to visualize, and their boundless energy. Keeping up with Craig would put most people in an early grave :-)

So, I guess what it comes down to is this: we just have to work harder, photograph lots, print lots, get constructive criticism, and strive to always improve.

I gotta go photograph this weekend.

Donald Miller
02-06-2004, 10:18 AM
I was once impressed with the images of Sexton, Barnbaum, Adams and those of that genre. I don't have the same impression of their work today. To me the vast majority of these images are technically good images of calendar and post card subjects, in my opinion. Grand scenic vistas that anyone can find and see and photograph or indian ruins and slot canyons that have been done ad nauseum, provided you want to travel to these locations or live there.

The technical aspects of the craft of photography can be learned in a few months...a year or so at the most. The ability to "see" is the important thing...That means something far different to me today then when I was enamored with the images of the fellows that were mentioned. There have been and are several dozen technically good photographers...there have been far fewer that have the ability to "see". By that I mean those that have the ability to "see" the remarkable aspects of the mundane.

If I were going to spend money on a workshop today I would find someone that has that ability to see and I would hook onto their coat tails and learn to do what they do and that means something completely apart from how to do all of the technical stuff.

blansky
02-06-2004, 12:18 PM
I can remember back when I was so disillusioned and jealous at the work I was seeing by other portrait photographers. They were "so good" and I pretty much sucked. With great determination I surrounded myself with great images and began to learn by osmosis. I also started taking courses and workshops from the very best that I could find, and I gradually educated myself and got to a pretty good level.

Now when I see a great portrait, I just say to my self, in the immortal words of Scarlett O'Hara, "tomorrow is another day." Dammit, I'll learn more and get better.

Now I see far less work that bring on those jealous pangs and I see the work that I had once thought was so wonderful, with new eyes. I realize that some of it wasn't as good as I had thought. Some of the "greats" may be taking technically great pictures of people but they were late when they tripped the shutter. The smile was on the way down, the eyes had lost their sparkle 1/100 of a second ago, the guy had completely missed it.Things like that.

So what I'm trying to say, keep learning, take as many courses as you can and you will probably feel the same way that I do. There will always be better photographers than we are. That, however is an opportunity to learn. It gives us goals. Something to strive towards.

Michael McBlane

KenM
02-06-2004, 01:09 PM
So what I'm trying to say, keep learning, take as many courses as you can and you will probably feel the same way that I do. There will always be better photographers than we are. That, however is an opportunity to learn. It gives us goals. Something to strive towards.

I agree with what you've said, but at some point you have to stop taking workshops, and start *doing*. By all means view other work, but don't use workshops as a crutch (I'm speaking generally, not directly about you Michael :D ). I know one guy in particular (who doesn't participate here) that is a habitual workshop-taker. Me must take at least 3-4 workshops a year, time which could be better spent elsewhere, IMHO. He's taking so many workshops, that I doubt he's developed his own visual; rather, he's adopted the vision of the instructors.

But, if workshops give you enjoyment, then by all means do it.

There are other folks where where the journey more important than the final image. That's ok too. We're all hobbyists (for the most part), and a hobby is, by definition, a pursuit outside of one's chosen occupation pursued primarily for pleasure...

Personally, I try to take one workshop a year. This year, it'll be two, but I may be assisting in one, so that doesn't count :-D

Flotsam
02-06-2004, 01:14 PM
I am sure that the frustration here doesn't come from the wish to be able to imitate the work of accomplished photographers. Becoming adept at the underlying craft and science of photography is what allows the Photographer the ability to express his personal sight just as gaining a strong command of vocabulary and grammar improves a writer's ability to express his ideas whether he intends to write technical manuals or novels.

It seems that there is always much to gain from a skilled, technically proficient teacher even if his particular choices of style and subject matter do not match your own. Once you have learned the new photographic techniques, they become valuable new tools that you can apply to expressing your own vision, whatever it may be.

photomc
02-06-2004, 01:52 PM
Thanks to everyone for your input, including the PM. There really are a lot of workshops out there, but you here most about SF/Maine/PF etc. plus the BB/HB and Sexton. I would guess that the cost of each one runs around 2K by the time you figure in the workshop+fees+place to stay, travel etc.

Now one would be great, don't think I can get my spouse to see even one a year. Then I start thinking about all the film and paper that could be purchased for that amount of $.

All of this plus, here in the metromess (as Lee calls this place Fort Worth/Dalls) we do have access to the Amon Carter to See great work (and some that is not so great).

Have been reading, working on negatives, etc..but there is a point where I feel the need to find out if what I am doing in the darkroom is correct (that still isn't what I mean)...more like is this the best a negative can be printed, then what would have made the negative better. Does this make sense?

Lee has offered his assistance and I plan to take him up on the offer (time is another problem - don't know why this working for a living has to get in the way - :^()

Not really depressed, but first wanted to let the folks here know how much I REALLY admire your work - there is some great talent here, and the blow off a little about the frustration - sometimes I can see the image, just can't seem to get it out..

Best advise so far, Go Out and Burn film, make mistakes, take it back to the darkroom - make more mistakes then hopefully things will start to - Develope (pardon the pun - but there is more truth to that than a pun....)

Thanks Everyone....This IS the best site on the net - if there is a better one, I don't know where it is.

Mike Castles

victor
02-06-2004, 02:09 PM
hi all..
i would like to replay for two points u rise here...

1. technical perfection and intuition.
having technical perfection is understanding the precess. really understanding it. from this point u can use all of your "technical perfection" as your toll with which u can express what ever u like. u r a master. when u r a master it becomes to be intuition. u sense things, u think faster u react faster, u use more creativly your knowledge. our mind is of that structure.
2. theme..
the other point is what u photograph and how. there are some how photograph rocks and canyons etc and show there perfection. ansel adams for example (i have studied the basic craft with his books and thanks and thanks to him for that). there are others who tell us stories with their imagies. the photograph so good, and they express themselves so good that we are driven by it. take an example the gypsies of kudelka. is there any one want to tell that kudelka doesnt know "technical perfection"????
he know even more than that - he knows how to use it in order to express himself and tell use story.

victor
02-06-2004, 02:15 PM
the most important thing to each of us is to develop ourselves.
to study our craft
to be more and more sensetive to things
to study arts (not only photo, but other like painting and non-visuals as well)
to develop our concepts and visualization
and to maek our perfect photos which are the combination of all these.

our "perfect photos" are the reflection of our development..

Ed Sukach
02-06-2004, 03:12 PM
Does anyone here think that their photographs are "perfect"?
I know I haven't made my first "perfect" print yet ... and to tell the truth, I don't expect to ...ever.
I do work toward perfection, but I don't think I'll make it - at least not until *I* am perfect.

Donald Miller
02-06-2004, 04:26 PM
Does anyone here think that their photographs are "perfect"?
I know I haven't made my first "perfect" print yet ... and to tell the truth, I don't expect to ...ever.
I do work toward perfection, but I don't think I'll make it - at least not until *I* am perfect.

Interesting question and supposition, Ed.

Sometimes I think that we have difficulty understanding each other because of difference in culture and language.

However, in response to your post, I have felt that at times that I have made expressive prints. Were they perfect? In whose judgement? Did it speak to me? Yes... Did it speak to someone else? Yes, quite often... However whether it speaks to another is not the purpose of photography to me.

I like what Jerry Uelsmann expressed in his interview with Robert Hirsh (Photovision Sept/Oct 2002) "I believe in the modernist proposition that each individual has his or her own personal vision and I work to celebrate that." and he goes on to say "I do not have a specific agenda, but I try to amaze myself. However the more you work the more difficult it becomes to be satisfied with things you did before".

I think that this thread began with someone addressing their own angst over failing to produce what they determined to be a result equal to someone else...I think that this point of reference will always leave one dissatified with themselves. I speak from experience when I say this because I did that at one time.

I work at producing what speaks of the vision that I have of this life that I experience...realizing always that another's vision will differ from mine. I can not express someone else's vision...because it is not mine. If I try to express another's vision then I present something not real in my experience...it will speak of imperfection...because it is.

I still return to the basis of my original response...Vision is the important thing.

victor
02-06-2004, 05:25 PM
ed
with what u say i think that none of bressons photos is perfect. they are not even focused well (bresson was using the scale before he was looking through the viewfinder, he was aproximating the exposure as well). i wish i have the reputation of bresson.
sometimes when i look at my older prints i say i would do that and that now with those prints, but it will not be the same photo cause it will reflect something else.
yes, it is not eassy to define picture as perfect wether it is yours or others, but with some fight with own-self and work u can do it finally. i usually critisize my own works more than others, and in this flow of self critisizm i define to myself a new levels and a new paradigms of perfection. i think that this way every one who wants to create something, especially arts, should learn to respect his own self.
besides... when i say perfect i dont mean to platonic "ideas" perfection, i dont belive in it.

victor
02-06-2004, 05:29 PM
don
i like what u say...
mainly about the vission. without the vission all this arts doesnt worth anything.

Francesco
02-08-2004, 09:57 AM
Currently I am participating in my own workshop, that is, a visual exploration (and capture) of the Alfred Noble Park which lies 5 minutes from where I live in Stockholm. It is a small hill which is a visual feast of details and shapes, especially during winter where the snow affects a new scenic favour every day. I use this place to see, to practice, to experiment and ultimately to have fun. Until not that long ago I was of the belief that I need a GRAND CANYON to match my 8x10. Not anymore - thanks to the inspirational work I see from lesser known photographers (thought definitely not lesser photographers). We should strive to be in our own workshop as often as possible.

lee
02-08-2004, 10:16 AM
Ed said, "Does anyone here think that their photographs are "perfect"?
I know I haven't made my first "perfect" print yet ... and to tell the truth, I don't expect to ...ever.
I do work toward perfection, but I don't think I'll make it - at least not until *I* am perfect."

One should try to achieve a level of printing that is consistent with the vision that the artist has. I don't think that it is a question of "Am I perfect?" No, For me, it is "does this print I am holding and looking at achieve the goals that I had when I set out to make the photograph?" In my eyes, over printing is as big a sin (photographically) as not printing it well enough in the first place. One should strive to make the best print they can, but one should realise that making good negatives makes that process easier.

lee\c

Jim Chinn
02-08-2004, 10:46 AM
Francesco,


I think one of the greatest misconsceptions ever to come out of the cult of Ansel is the idea that the "grand landscape" is the only true calling for those who aspire with a LF camera.