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  1. #11
    david b's Avatar
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    Could this be why Adams' work became more as examples of the zone system than artistic expression?

  2. #12
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    Perhaps, but I think Adams was sincere in his belief that the Zone System enabled him to create images that were representative of his artistic vision. The politics and marketing of the time strikes me as being secondary. It's entirely possible, though, that the politics, marketing and fame dulled his vision and/or passion later in life, and thus dulled his later work, as well.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  3. #13
    bjorke's Avatar
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    The contention went both ways -- if you get the big "f/64" book it includes an article or two by Mortenson about how bad they were. Mortenson was very much a prisoner of his own notion that to be Art, photography needed to be Painterly -- that is, to ape the formal characteristics of the paint medium, not just the common ideas of compositional strategies or tone. He genuinely seemed afraid to let photography just be photography. So you see him doing things like the Metalchrome image on the PSA site, looking for all the world like a knockoff of Johannes Vermeer (because it is). This obsession with credibility by aping the past is painfully nouveau and a carryover of the worst sort of Academie mentality. Good grief, he paints-on brush strokes and makes little stone-chip markings with a razor on the prints. I'm sure he thought he was the modern Alma-Tadema mixed with Frans Hals right until the end. I think his front-light strategy mostly came from a desire to have redecing planes be darker while surfaces facing the viewer are lighter, rather like pencil-sketch shading.

    All that said, I still think his ideas are useful ones to have in the available toolbox from time to time.

    "What Would Zeus Do?"
    KB • PhotoRant • PhotoPermit • APUG flickr Robot

  4. #14
    juan's Avatar
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    15-years ago, or so, after reading Picker's ideas about exposing for the highlights, I gave it a try. It didn't work for me - I didn't have sufficient exposure in the shadows. I think the previous post explaining that Mortenson had a SBR of 4 is the key to his success with the technique - here in Florida with SBRs of 7-9 I needed more exposure and less development.
    I agree that his ideas are useful to have in the toolbox.
    juan

  5. #15

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    I am not sure I understand. Can someone explain the technique to me, or point me to a place where I can read about it on the net. I have no access to a decent library and a ver small photobook collection.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  6. #16
    garryl's Avatar
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    >The contention went both ways -- if you get the big "f/64" book it includes an >article or two by Mortenson about how bad they were. Mortenson was very much a >prisoner of his own notion that to be Art, photography needed to be Painterly

    Please, which book is this- curious minds want to know.

    I think it was more of the times he was in. Mortensen came to photography out of the pictorialist training and into a Hollywood apprenticeship of D.W. Griffith. The era of epics of "larger than life" heroes, romantic plots, and grand sets.Of not portraying people as they were, but as they should be or could be- the total opposite of F/64.
    "Just because nobody complains doesn't mean all parachutes are perfect."

  7. #17
    Rocky's Avatar
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    I have started to collect Mortensen books, just to get another viewpoint. It does seem that the basis of his method is to use flat lighting and then expand the midtones as stated in a previous posting.

    I am going to experiment with his techniques and see what I get.
    "All my best thoughts I keep to myself"

  8. #18
    garryl's Avatar
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    quick correction- it was Cecil B. DeMille , not D.W. Griffith. Sorry 'bout that chief.
    "Just because nobody complains doesn't mean all parachutes are perfect."

  9. #19
    bjorke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garryl
    quick correction- it was Cecil B. DeMille , not D.W. Griffith.
    Either way, they were Alma-Tad and Leighton junkies and it shows... what we now call "Hollywood style" was clearly where that camp of Victorian-ish artists moved after their previously-ascendant styles were declared regressive with the birth of cubism/futurism/etc

    (and hence we don't see Mortenson in German photomags and their American children like LIFE and LOOK -- though I would place Karsh in the same bin with Mortenson (and later Annie Liebowitz))

    "What Would Zeus Do?"
    KB • PhotoRant • PhotoPermit • APUG flickr Robot

  10. #20
    bjorke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garryl
    Quote Originally Posted by me
    ...if you get the big "f/64" book...
    Please, which book is this- curious minds want to know
    I'm pretty sure it's: "Seeing straight : the f.64 revolution in photography" published as a show catalog by the Oakland Museum, 1992. Editor Therese Thau Heyman, Fwd by Beaumont Newhall. Been a couple of years since I looked at it, but I'm fairly certain that's the one.

    "What Would Zeus Do?"
    KB • PhotoRant • PhotoPermit • APUG flickr Robot

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