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  1. #31
    Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by batwister View Post
    If we're trying to keep film alive, why do we continue to pile on the dust? ... It's simply anorakia to them ....

    In essence, film isn't the problem, it's the unattractive curiosities of the people who shoot it.
    Uh, "anorakia" isn't a word I've seen before. Could you please define it for me?

    Anyways, photography is one of those things that, at its very essence, requires something in front of the lens. You want to see the 1950s today? Not with a camera you won't. With a pencil or a paint brush, sure. But not with a camera. Walk out the door and click the shutter. What do you get? 2012. No matter what process you use, you get 2012. Maybe 2012 can be dressed up to look like 1950 or 1873, but all you'll really get is 2012.

    I've met quite a few people who have recently picked up film cameras. For a hobby, digital just wasn't doing it for them. They wanted something different.

    Film isn't going to see a brilliant resurgence, and it isn't due to where people point or don't point the lens. It's due to the fact that an easier, more convenient method of making images has taken hold. Note, that doesn't mean higher quality. Just easier and more convenient.

    Now, then: "unattractive curiosities?" What's in front of the lens is what's in front of the lens! From what I've seen, the things that have been photographed in yesteryear with film are being photographed today. What I think that you're trying to get at is this:

    "Ralph Steiner, the late, great photographer, would occasionally write me a funny, provocative letter after he had read one of my published articles. He would end with the words: 'But you still have not told me in which direction to point the camera -- and this is what matters.' And he is right."
    -- Bill Jay, On Being a Photographer, p. 31, "Selecting a Subject"

    This will always be true for photography. We can't photogaph what we imagine. We can photograph what we can get and then create something in the enlarger, but really, the medium has severe limitations.

    I'm guessing that what you want to see is a huge shift in where to point the lens. Honestly, right off hand I can't think of a totally unique direction to point a camera. Everything's been done, so that sort of comes down to the proposition of how to basically use a camera. The few really unique things that can be done with film are things like the strip (slit) camera.

    Other than that, go for 8x10 and above and wow them with a jillion tons of glorious detail with gargantuan prints.

  2. #32
    MattKing's Avatar
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    I think that if you use something like flickr as your database then the results are going to be skewed by the fact that the requirement that the images be posted on the internet is going to make the sample problematic.

    So much of the transition to digital photography has been about issues of presenting the photographic image, rather than issues about photographic preferences.

    I see a much lower percentage of digital images with a portrait orientation than when slides and prints were the presentation option. I am sure that is in part because the display options (other than prints) for digital images favours the landscape orientation. Does this mean that those who shoot and display photographs with a portrait orientation are more nostalgic than others?

    I think that it is true that those who have a tradition with film are more likely to enjoy and continue to explore that tradition, but that has little to do with the medium. It just means that people like to do things that they already know they like.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  3. #33
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian C. Miller View Post
    Uh, "anorakia" isn't a word I've seen before. Could you please define it for me?
    Try this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anorak_(slang)

    On a radio programme about the Titanic last week, one of the experts was referred to as a Titanorak!


    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  4. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by MattKing View Post
    I see a much lower percentage of digital images with a portrait orientation than when slides and prints were the presentation option. I am sure that is in part because the display options (other than prints) for digital images favours the landscape orientation.
    This is interesting to me. The fact that most digital images never leave the screen inevitably has an impact on desired presentation and orientation preference (not in that way ). Since I've had my Dell monitor, having the option to flip the screen has been beneficial in this regard. Having been influenced by a certain British landscape photographer (who composes portrait predominantly) I find myself framing my digital images this way, 90% of the time. This has more to do with awkward proportions for me, being used to square format. Many have spoke about how the 3:2 format is just a little too wide and feels difficult in landscape orientation and I would agree. Having said that, I think it's true that many digitalists prefer landscape (orientation). I believe this has as much to do with the screen their images never leave as it does cinema's impact on photography and the 'film still' aesthetic - usually wide angle, staged scenes, always landscape orientation. Usually self portraits, this has always been something of an influential fad on Flickr and the landscape orientation is vital for the filmic effect they depend on. But this is something you see an equal amount of with film photographers. Think Cindy Sherman, Gregory Crewdson, Alex Prager, Stan Douglas and so on for this aesthetic.

    Quote Originally Posted by MattKing View Post
    Does this mean that those who shoot and display photographs with a portrait orientation are more nostalgic than others?
    If we're talking about nostalgia in the sense of classic pictorialism, then no, I believe these photographers usually favour landscape orientation - which is deemed more painterly.

    On the whole though, orientation doesn't seem to have any correlation with the nostalgia I talk about, which is concerned with representation, less presentation.

  5. #35
    blansky's Avatar
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    Portrait orientation for portraits can sometimes have a "headshot" sort of connotation where if a person was to shoot portraits in a landscape mode it can take a mundane shot and sometimes turn it more of a "man in his environment" sensibility.

    Personally I don't correlate portrait or landscape with nostalgia at all.

    Both are just different ways to tell a story.
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  6. #36
    John Austin's Avatar
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    The more the merrier,

    While I will not cease smashing current attempts at C19 imagery on the stony ramparts of my aesthetic, I do accept that all those using rabid rectlinears and making sickly yellow prints are performing a great service of keeping silver jelly manufacturers in operation, in turn keeping my business viable

    To you I give my thanks

    However, to play with old media and old image forms is downright lazy, my Southern Ocean landscape work included here - As I typed above, I hold it is crucial for the continued survival of the medium, in any visual sense, for us to continue exploring its visual potential - I acknowledge this exploration is made difficult by the narrow confines of silver jelly medium itself, but this narrowness can be used to focus our work - This exploration will be hampered if we turn to C19 means in this exploration, it will take us backwards

    John

  7. #37

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    Film gives me creative control, regardless of my subject matter. The only part of my process that's not in my direct control is the manufacture of the film itself (and I'm thinking about how to change that). It's not about nostalgia; when I make a negative or print, I'm creating a physical object that interacted with the actual light from the scene I photographed.

  8. #38
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grumpy Old Man View Post
    In these enlightened days of post-modernism, which I never really grasped, photography, initially the archetypal modernist medium (Rodschenko, Molohy-Nage, Strand and some WC Americans), seems to have fallen into a neo-romantic cess pit, with some workers going out of their way to find ancient Petzval lenses, use wet-plates and make bromoil prints, a print form the pre-WWII London Salon was guilty of regularly exhibiting - There is a current thread on loving paper negs - Grow up!
    I would venture to argue that the vast majority of people choosing to use those vintage processes and tools today would A: take extreme umbrage at your chastisement to 'grow up' with regard to their interest in antique processes, and B: rebut your comment by stating that their interest in bromoil, pictorialism, petzval lenses and/or paper negatives stems not from some twisted sense of a Freudian Oedipus nostalgia complex but rather from an actual appreciation for the positive aesthetic qualities those tools posess. I print in platinum because I like the tones, textures and controls I get when using a hand-coated process.

    And you're just as guilty of that nostalgia kink as those you try to asperse - Photography is not bracket-ended by high Modernism, silver-gelatin prints and enlargements. There was a vast continuity before and after the period of 1920-1960. Just because pictorialism doesn't fit your personal aesthetic, or post-modernist work like Diane Arbus or Cindy Sherman or the Bechers, does not invalidate or reduce their importance.

  9. #39
    Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grumpy Old Man View Post
    I don't see a path out of the way still images are perceived ...
    Bingo! We live in an interactive, 3D-ish world, and perceive things based on our individual dementia. The medium has limits! Want to see a different photography? It's called a lenticular lens array, and provides a 3D effect, and maybe even a little movement. But it's still a static image. There's a utility that makes little movie loops for you, ala Harry Potter magic newspaper images. But that only exists on a computer screen. For film, you'd have to set up a little projector, which was done for an art installation. And it's nearly a static image.

    But none of that gives you the attention-getting rush of seeing an airplane smashing into a building, a dirigible on fire, a president being shot, etc., etc. A picture of ______ is still a picture of ______. (Insert whatever banality you like. Flower, mountain, naked people, abstract whatever, yadda yadda yadda yadda.) No adrenaline rush, no engagement of the fight-or-flight reflex, nothing.

    It's a picture, and it's always going to be a picture. The world is chock full of people producing art. "Professionals" have always complained about this "problem" since dry plates, and especially since Mr. Eastman introduced the Kodak camera. Yes, anybody can click that shutter! And now of course cameras are on every cell phone. If you want to see the world differently, if you want others to share that vision, then you have to imagine that vision, and bring that vision into a physical dimension. Once it is in a physical dimension, then you must propagate it.

    You want your photograph to stand out in a sea of pictures?
    Here it is:
    Big!
    Bright!
    Bold!

    If you don't want your image to stand out, do something that the herd isn't doing, or just ignore all of that and fit right in with everybody else.

  10. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    Just because pictorialism doesn't fit your personal aesthetic, or post-modernist work like Diane Arbus or Cindy Sherman or the Bechers, does not invalidate or reduce their importance.
    Pictorialism is/was great, but it's important to see past the process and aesthetic perhaps? The 'post-modernist' photographers you mention have produced images we remember - process became transparent. The hostility some craft oriented photographers show towards post-modernists might have to do with there being no apparent technique they can emulate, only strong images, which makes them confront their photographic abilities... or lack thereof. Indulging in these techniques seems to be a rekindling of the awe that is simply witnessing an image form on exotic materials and more often than not is a bypassing of any deeper connection they might experience with content. Curiosity over inspiration. This is when nostalgia becomes a brick wall and a creative cop out.

    I'm not referring to hobbyists so much, but people who use these techniques as gimmicky artistic statements - and get published doing it. This influences others who might take up the medium, in the same way a punk band becoming famous might - "if he can do it, I can." This kind of visceral becomes uninspired very quickly. This is an insult to all those great photographers devoting their lives to the exploration of seeing - these are the people producing images we will remember and cherish. We can't cherish stained materials and optical characteristics, they don't stick in the mind somehow.
    Last edited by batwister; 04-25-2012 at 11:02 AM. Click to view previous post history.



 

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