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...
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 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.
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.
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).
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 ...
Originally Posted by pentaxuser
South coast of England ... the light ... you have to be there to believe its evanescence.
Space and ...
Originally Posted by Pastiche
I too observe Ravilious' space as painterly.
Oddly, the other English photographer whose work strikes me in this way is Larry Burrows.
There is a very good youtube vid .
Originally Posted by michael markey
Thank you for that link... is there more to this documentary about Ravilious?
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.