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  1. #31
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Thomas, I understand your view and I think you understand mine. Perhaps we should leave it there.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  2. #32
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    I borrowed a CD demo which illustrated the compression ratio of MIDI technology and predicted one day MIDI technology might give a music student on one chip, a collection of all recorded music history. This predated current MPx technology that comes pretty close to realizing that prediction, but they weren't thinking lossy sound recording technology. Instead they were predicting sophisticated synthesisers. I'd rather hear a wire recording of a concert than listen to a synthetic reconstruction.

    I nibbled on my son's fresh-roast turkey sandwich today (from the only local deli that still serves it) and was impressed with the fresh, dry texture of the meat. I don't know why the technology doesn't exist to preserve that fresh quality in prepackaged or deli counter turkey meat. They are always soggy and tasteless. The closest I can come to it is the day after Thanksgiving making leftover sandwiches.

    When I visited the local Egyptian culture museum I was awestruck that they had the Rosetta stone on display where I could examine it up-close and touch it. It didn't take long for me to realize it was a casting, which I could appreciate as a reproduction of the original. But since it was not the original, I was no longer in awe.

    Printing technologies used for art can give a reasonably low number of prints that I would value as originals, serigraphy, lithography - even, in the case of David Lance Goines, low-end offset lithography.

    Even a lowly flyer printed letterpress by Jose Guadalupe Posado on crumbling newsprint, would strike me with awe. The value in my mind far in excess of a contemporary rubber stamp or finely printed reproduction of his work, maybe a hundred dollars to me.

    So a local museum can't reasonably have original Rosetta stones. But when I see an Edward Weston print on the wall of a local museum, I don't have to suspend disbelief. I can relate as a photographer, to the pencil lines and slightly yellowed mat board before me, that this was done by his hand.

    I value less-well-known photographers, and proudly display prints from 1884 by George Fiske as inspiration for a lasting quality. (Vaughn, look closely at your Three Brothers, I think it may be Fiske's work, it looks an awful lot like his #315). Again, value to me about a hundred dollars.

  3. #33
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Burk View Post
    ...(Vaughn, look closely at your Three Brothers, I think it may be Fiske's work, it looks an awful lot like his #315). Again, value to me about a hundred dollars.
    No -- definitely Watkins. I do not think Fiske worked with mammoth plate (the print is about 16x20) and has appeared in cataloges as Watkins. Also I showed the print to Peter Palmquist and he believed it to be Watkins. Fiske's winter Yosemite work is wonderful.

    Vaughn
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  4. #34
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Which people buy an image on a screen? Which people buy a print? Which people buy a book with the print in it. Which has more value? And to whom?

  5. #35
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn View Post
    No -- definitely Watkins. I do not think Fiske worked with mammoth plate (the print is about 16x20) and has appeared in cataloges as Watkins.
    Ha, another victim of the computer screen. Fiske's work is usually 4 3/8 x 7 3/8 inches. When I examine it under a microscope even more detail is revealed than I get with 11x14 prints off 4x5. Makes me envious.

  6. #36
    Mustafa Umut Sarac's Avatar
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    I did not see a real Ansel print in my life and may be will never be. But even his books are amazing. Will I not give to these books a dime , no I will. I think if the subject is fine , technique is fine , there is no importance how you did see it. Look at magnum website , pictures are small but I feel great things like listening Beethoven .
    If a horse turd on gold , its still gold.

  7. #37
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    My brother in law has a real Ansel Adams print, and he also has a large poster of Clearing Storm.

    Which do you think I look at when I go to his home? Ah, trick question since you know my preference for silver gelatin.

    Some photographers work in ways that produce illogically more information than is required. That is, logically you only need 150 DPI of information for print production, anything excess is "headroom" for cropping or wasted. When printed by silver gelatin, a great deal more information is recorded on the print and can be seen on closer examination. Interesting work that is executed this way is best seen as originally expressed by the artist.

    That which is beautiful by its idea, can be appreciated in lower fidelity. Mustafa and Cliveh, you are idea people. Your ideas are the kind which, if I took the idea and made a picture of it, it would be clearly your idea.

    I work with ideas at a different level. If I took a picture of a certain tree, and you took a picture of the same tree at the same time, our pictures would reflect our approach to the subject and could stand independently. Mine would have an insane amount of detail and would be a portrait of the tree that would look OK. Yours might include a family running with their dog. Yours would look great on computer screen. Mine would just look like a tree until you got up close to the silver gelatin print.

  8. #38
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Burk View Post
    I work with ideas at a different level. If I took a picture of a certain tree, and you took a picture of the same tree at the same time, our pictures would reflect our approach to the subject and could stand independently.
    I stand by this statement.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Burk View Post
    Mine would have an insane amount of detail and would be a portrait of the tree that would look OK. Yours might include a family running with their dog. Yours would look great on computer screen. Mine would just look like a tree until you got up close to the silver gelatin print.
    This sounds like resolution-elitism which I did not mean. Every time I try to say how much I appreciate high resolution black and white images, it comes across wrong.

  9. #39
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Burk View Post
    I stand by this statement.



    This sounds like resolution-elitism which I did not mean. Every time I try to say how much I appreciate high resolution black and white images, it comes across wrong.
    Bill, I think I understand, but if a printing method with higher resolution than a silver chemical image was offered would you change?

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  10. #40
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cliveh View Post
    Bill, I think I understand, but if a printing method with higher resolution than a silver chemical image was offered would you change?
    Ah, I have had my perception of value challenged over the past few years. Yes, I value silver gelatin irrationally. I value it even more if the printing is done by the photographer who took the shot.

    I won't change my own printing at this point. For my own work I am committed to making the best prints I can with traditional analog workflow, without striving for perfection.

    I believe new printing technology exists that can simulate silver gelatin very effectively, even to the point of museum quality. But I also think it is harder to make beautiful prints using the new technology than it is to make actual silver gelatin prints.

    At a gallery, not far north of me last weekend, I saw a large framed print by a local photographer. This print has potential to be better edited and printed. The high contrast and sharpness artifacts bothered me.

    Last summer I saw Robert Frank photographs at the LA County Museum of Art. Only the tags next to the prints gave away which were silver gelatin prints.

    The weekend before last, at the de Saisset Museum in Santa Clara, I saw photos by Rick Nahmias. Black and white work captured on 4x5, scanned and printed by The Icon LA. These large prints were all beautifully created and mounted.

    But downstairs of the de Saisset Museum I faced the greatest challenge to my perception of value. Andy Warhol's work is on display. Faded Polaroids that were once physically in his hands as they came out of the camera. I looked for his fingerprints. I know they are original artifacts but could not bring myself to feel their pricelessness. There were silver gelatins too, I assume taken with Minox C. Probably not printed by him. They are "prints" where the Polaroids are "originals". Graphically, compositionally, I think his Minox work is better. The Polaroids have a consistent, poor quality, limited by the stark flash which he seemed to use on every shot.

    In all the work described, I would have to say I would rescue the Andy Warhol Polaroids if there was a fire. Even though I can't feel the value, I think that's the irreplaceable work.

    Now if there were a similar tragedy at a museum where Ansel Adams or Edward Weston's prints were on display, I would save all the oldest vintage prints of theirs that I could carry. If two museums were engulfed, and Andy Warhol's work was next door, I'm afraid the world would lose a few Polaroids.



 

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