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  1. #171

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    Apologies for being somewhat rude. It's just that you can't imagine how many times someone has posted a technical question, only to have the discussion derailed by someone eventually chiming in with the old "nothing is worse than a sharp print of a fuzzy concept" thing. It never fails. So my furstration got the better of me.

    I would say I'm mostly on the same page as you, after having read your explanation.

    All I'm saying is there seems to be this notion out there that an interest in the theory and science of photography necessarily precludes artistic vision - and worse, that ignorance of technical matters necessarily makes one a better artist. This kind of thinking is utter nonsense. It is also one of the reasons why there is so much bad technical information out there when it comes to photography.

    So I tend to get upset when issues of substance vs technical quality are raised. It is a false dichotomy. A red herring. Substance and technique are not mutually exclusive. It is perfectly possible for a photographer to be both a creative artist and obsessive about the minutiae of the photographic process.





    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Cherry View Post
    My apologies, Michael, I will do my best to refrain from such comments in the future.

    However, I would like to point out that others before me most certainly made this about more than the mere technical, by discussing (to put it kindly) the aesthetic value of work that may not meet their technical standards. I am of the opinion that to divorce the technical from the aesthetic, and therefore the artistic, is a huge mistake that has gone on far too long, not only in the photographic community in general, but in photographic education in particular.

    If you'll be so gracious as to indulge me for a moment...

    For quite some time now, the aspiring student of photography, when deciding upon a course of education, is asked what at first seems like a simple question: "Do you want to be a commercial photographer or do you want to be an artist?"

    If the answer is that you would like to be a commercial shooter (you know, a complete sell-out whore like myself) who charges folks to take photographs, then you are routed to a predominantly technical curriculum, with very little education in the arts, even, if it can be believed, the canon of art photography. If the young student says they want to be an artist, then they are sent down the path of the MFA where they get an amazing education in the arts - unfortunately, when they graduate, they don't even have the technical skills to assist a working photographer.

    I see this in students all the time.

    It is my contention that the pedagogy is wrong, and that this view permeates our views of photography, as evidenced by this discussion. If one views themselves solely as a technician, devoid of artistic intent, or solely as a creative with no ability to produce the work the envision, then I suppose this world view is fine. However for anyone who see themselves as both a competent craftsman and an artist, then it is as ridiculous as the tangential debate going on here.

    You say we all know that content is the purpose of making a photograph, however, I'm not sure if that's true. I'm not basing this statement on this thread, or on those in this thread, merely by having spent years helping to educate other photographers. There are many who give very little thought to content and who only seem to appreciate the technical.

    But then what do I know, I enjoy Avedon's work... I'm sure I (along with my clients and the galleries that represent me) am a total hack who should just keep his opinions to himself. Apparently my time would be much better spent plotting a paper curve...

  2. #172
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    I obsess over technical details , always have and always will, but I also am as obsessive about the aesthetics of photography.

    I find that they work well together in my solarization work as I can push the boundries with process to get an image that pleases me. Because of the technical testing I know how to push the envelope and understand what is going on, which allows me to the make creative adjustments to please my eye.
    Both are critical in my view, and equally worthy of discussion.

    technically pushing a 35 mm negative to 40 x60 inches is technically challenging. If done well is a thing of beauty, aesthetically speaking of course.

  3. #173
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    Quote Originally Posted by richard ide View Post
    It is 100% technical. Aesthetics should not enter the discussion at all.
    Again, my apologies. I'm somewhat new here, however this very concept is mind boggling to me. In twenty years of image making I have never had to divorce the two before, so it is somewhat unnatural for me. In fact, I'm not sure I know how to do it. But I will do my best to adhere to the standards of the community. I'm sorry if I caused a ruckus.
    Last edited by Matthew Cherry; 07-18-2013 at 09:01 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  4. #174
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    Apologies for being somewhat rude. It's just that you can't imagine how many times someone has posted a technical question, only to have the discussion derailed by someone eventually chiming in with the old "nothing is worse than a sharp print of a fuzzy concept" thing. It never fails. So my furstration got the better of me.

    I would say I'm mostly on the same page as you, after having read your explanation.

    All I'm saying is there seems to be this notion out there that an interest in the theory and science of photography necessarily precludes artistic vision - and worse, that ignorance of technical matters necessarily makes one a better artist. This kind of thinking is utter nonsense. It is also one of the reasons why there is so much bad technical information out there when it comes to photography.

    So I tend to get upset when issues of substance vs technical quality are raised. It is a false dichotomy. A red herring. Substance and technique are not mutually exclusive. It is perfectly possible for a photographer to be both a creative artist and obsessive about the minutiae of the photographic process.
    I think we are very much in agreement. Every year I make the rounds at the large art fairs (Art Basel, The Armory Show, etc) and each year I am more and more amazed by the lack of technique when it comes to photographic print making. People can say whatever they want about the content of Robert Mapplethorpe's work, for example, but his prints were spectacular and on par with Weston, Penn and the like. So yes, content and technique should certainly support one another.

    However, there is some truth to those notions, which is why I believe the pedagogy must change. One can get so mired in the technical that they fail to think creatively (or, more correctly stated, they fail to exercise their creative vision and how it fits in to the canon of photography) and one can produce work that has artistic merit while lacking technical skills.

    I was originally educated as a classical musician (though my love is jazz). No one would ever hand you a violin and expect you to create art with it, without first spending years, if not decades, mastering the instrument itself. The art, comes out of mastery of craft. At the same time, it is important to expose the student of music to different kinds of music, to force them to practice improvisation (no matter how bad they may be at it at first) and to embrace genres that they might not "get" at first.

    I've rambled long enough. Again, to yourself and others, I'm sorry. I'm somewhat new here and still learning the terrain.

  5. #175

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    classical trumpet player here, so we're all good!

  6. #176

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    I'm an engineering manager, so I'm all about defining a process and properly controlling it to achieve the desired output. The technical issues involving the production of a black and white print that meet the photographers pre-visualized image were defined decades ago. The steps are known. Now what to shoot is a whole other story. That's my current problem, misplaced mojo.

    I can't imagine a 40x60 enlargement from a normal 35mm negative that would satisfy me technically. However, I would love to see them as they may kickstart my dormant artistic side. The Kodachrome of that green eyed Afghan girl at that enlargement would be stunning. I have projected slides (of a technical nature) where the detail was impressive at 48x72, Nikon F3 and a 55mm Micro Nikkor. I'd love to see something that size that moved me artistically.

  7. #177
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    jerry: It's all about viewing distance. Of course when one looks close at a 40x60 print they're going to see grain. Well if they break out a magnifying glass on a 5x7 they're going to see grain too.

    As long as the lens is decent, the skies the limit when it comes to ultimate enlarged sized as viewing distance is proportional to it.
    Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.

    http://www.flickr.com/kediwah

  8. #178

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    Quote Originally Posted by clayne View Post
    jerry: It's all about viewing distance. Of course when one looks close at a 40x60 print they're going to see grain. Well if they break out a magnifying glass on a 5x7 they're going to see grain too.

    As long as the lens is decent, the skies the limit when it comes to ultimate enlarged sized as viewing distance is proportional to it.
    I was only wondering what it would look like, viewing distance not withstanding. Have you or anyone else here ever printed that big?
    BTW, McCurry's selling them for 10k.

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