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  1. #1
    David Brown's Avatar
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    Why are you drawn to decay?

    (Caveat: with tongue firmly in one cheek ...)

    I hang out with four LF and ULF photographers. We are putting together a modest exhibition, and I've noticed something that I've noticed also in the larger population of you sheet film guys. Being a roll film man myself, I just have to wonder why so many LFers are drawn to decay, destruction, or derelict sites and buildings as subject matter. (Don't derail the thread to deny it - you "know" it's true!)

    So, is it because the leather bellows on all of the old cameras smell so bad? It's just my theory ...


  2. #2

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    In my case I think it's because it takes so long to set up that the subject has decayed before the exposure is made!

  3. #3
    roteague's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Brown View Post
    (Caveat: with tongue firmly in one cheek ...)

    I hang out with four LF and ULF photographers. We are putting together a modest exhibition, and I've noticed something that I've noticed also in the larger population of you sheet film guys. Being a roll film man myself, I just have to wonder why so many LFers are drawn to decay, destruction, or derelict sites and buildings as subject matter. (Don't derail the thread to deny it - you "know" it's true!)

    So, is it because the leather bellows on all of the old cameras smell so bad? It's just my theory ...

    I've never noticed that before, but now that you mention it. I've always wondered why a lot of LF and ULF photographers seem to be drawn to what some call the "intimate" landscape; it is as if they aren't comfortable with the "grand" landscape. FWIW, I wish that "intimate" landscapes came more natural to me; I stuggle with it.
    Robert M. Teague
    www.visionlandscapes.com
    www.apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=2235

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

  4. #4
    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
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    Not all of them

    Just between you and me, and they'll never admit to this, but it's because all that gear makes them lazy. Better to wallow in decay than to sweat bullets dragging the camera to distant amazing scenes. What a bunch of weinies!!!!!

    Murray
    _________________________________________
    Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.

  5. #5
    Sparky's Avatar
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    it's kind of the nature of the medium, right (see also: Sontag's On Photography - yes, plugging it again! There's so much good stuff in there that people seem to miss - she suggests on several occasions this relationship)

  6. #6
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    I'd like to hear what everyone else says too actually. For me, I think it has something to do with the character of these things. Too many things today are mass produced and all look exactly the same and I just get tired of looking at them, where old places and old things have a more colorful appearance and a sense of mystery. Even if they are simply old it is often possible to just suspend disbelief and wonder about their past (we know about the reality, don't mess with the fantasy!). They exhibit fascinating textures and colors and shapes that are difficult to find elsewhere. Much of the machinery of the past exhibits it's own form of art, and hell, old machines are just fascinating! Or it could be that, as my wife says, I just live in the past all the time, either one...

    - Randy

  7. #7
    Monophoto's Avatar
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    Years ago, one of the regular writers in Popular Photography, Bob Schwalberg, coined the word "decrepitomania" to describe this phenomenon.

    And yes, it's very true.

    I think it has to do with the fact that old things have texture and character that meat and potatoes for LF photographers. And decaying old structures don't move - something that is a significant consideration when your average exposure time is measured in seconds.
    Louie

  8. #8

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  9. #9

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    You mean there's other things to photograph?

    Ha ha ha ha
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

  10. #10

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    For me, it seems to be a connection to the past. Someone else in history stood on this very spot and used this very tool I am photographing or worked in the building where I am photographing.

    I feel by photographing objects of decay, especially where people have worked, somehow pays respect to what they did and somehow validates their time here on earth.

    My father worked at Terminal Island in Southern California building ships during WWII. I have been trying to photograph in that area for years but never get permission to do so.


    Gary
    "He who expecteth nothing,
    Shall not be disappointed." Robert Willingham, 1907

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