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  1. #21
    jd callow's Avatar
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    The author of the article makes some valid points, but muddies his argument by contrasting his style with f/64 and by insinuating that it is helpful if the photographer to have a traditional art discipline in their background to be justified as an artist,.

    Some things that can be pulled from his essay that I fully agree with are that the methods used should be a vehicle for producing the results and that there is not a single right way; the artist should have his fingerprints all over the process;and when some step of the process is handled by another there should be some acknowledgement made. I disagree that setting up ridged parameters negates the art, as in the f64 example.

    I was a bit harsh regarding his work. Technically it looks good and it is consistent. I found his process, or maybe his presentation, made the prints look somewhat muddy. This is a pretty subjective view point. I found the poses coupled with the process were over the top. This too is subjective if not a pretty arrogant comment.

    David G. made a comment that 'Fine Art' is a technical term that can be/should be ignored and that we shouldn't worry about the art/non art of our work and strive to make work that is emotive. I wholeheartedly agree with the first part. You don't start hearing the term Fine Art with any regularity until you start talking to photographers. I suspect that this is because photographers are somewhat sensitive about their place and or standing in the art world.

    The second part of David's comment is contradictory. Art is emotive and if we want our work to make the viewer think and or and feel than we want our work to be art.
    Last edited by mrcallow; 12-07-2004 at 10:05 AM. Click to view previous post history.

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  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by photomc
    Donald, would not disagreee at all - in fact I applaud you for taking the next step in 'seeing'. However, I do not think the link, at the start of this thread, does anything new - IMO. It could be that I just do not 'see' his vision, but for me they are just more of the same..work that feels like I have seen it before. Now, Michael Kenna and Rolfe Horn have done some work that IMO has moved out of the crowd and stands on it's own. W. E. Smith did some of the best artistic photojournalism work I have ever seen. So, this work just did not do it for me, it could be my own vision did not accept the work the way you did.

    Mike,

    I understand your feelings about this photographers work. You reaction is very similar to my initial reaction to the work by Brett Weston. What I observed in the work on this post is that the photographer stepped away from the drumbeat of the masses not so much in his subject matter but in his technical approach to the presentation of this subject matter.

    It is interesting to me that we human beings have a "herd instinct". This is observable in the F64 groups influence that extends into this day. It is more recently observable in the influence of those that are moving into the older alternative processes simply because someone else is currently doing them or they happen to be in vogue at the moment. It applies as much to those who believe that contact printing with Azo and Amidol is the only true silver expression worthy of note. I must admit that I have been party to this herd instinct. I think that the truly accomplished artists are those that plough new ground. Who use the common materials in new ways. It also applies to those who see the uncommon in the common and then go about presenting that.

    As I observe the output of most "photographers" today (and I do include myself in this grouping), I see nothing new. I see images about things. These are sterile representations of the commonly recognized. These are nothing more then representation. Art is not about representational depiction alone, it must have a human componant. What is missing, in my opinion, is the human componant of the individual interpertation. O.K. so I have a photograph of the interior of an abandoned cathedral. It is beautiful...what the heck does it mean to me? How do I go about presenting this meaning in a photograph? That I think is what I observe in the work of this photographer in the link that was presented. Human faces are old and they are new...they are with us always...how does one present this commonplace object in the manner that has meaning to the photographer?

  3. #23

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    He seems to be able to accomodate a lot of conflicting views as part of his philosophies and truly doesn't understand f/64 aesthetics at all.

    f/64 was a reaction to the vogue at the time for soft focus photography. The group was anti soft focus, therefore, they were accused of being anti-Mortensen - mostly by Mortensen himself - and, of course his admirers. This continues to this day, and when asked to give specific examples on how they stifled Mortensen, I have yet to hear a clear explanation other than lots of conspiracy theory level hyperbole.

    How did the f/64 group keep him from getting a Gugenheim grant for example? f/64 was only a formal group for a brief period of time. Yet, Mortensen and his devotees have lots of theories about how they continued to supress him for decades. Give me a break. This implies that Mortensen was so important that these people took valuable time from their careers and life to expend energy on a plot to keep Mortensen from being all that he could be - give me an F'ing break.

    Nothing was ever said by members of f/64 (that I can find) about NOT manipulating negatives or prints. As we all know, AA was famous for manipulation of negatives and prints. Weston developed his negatives and prints by inspection. Weston was not above using retouching on commercial portraits - and made no bones about doing it.

    Mr. Balcomb likes systems. "And now, for over forty years I have successfully enjoyed a practice employing a system."

    If you have a system, you don't really have attempt to be creative as the system does that for you. That goes directly to his admiration of Mortensen looking at prints for a show and choosing images, not on how they look, but rather if the photo was "Schnitt," or "not Schnitt" composition.

    Yeah...that's the key to creating art - use a formula. That way, if it fits the formula - bingo! It must be art.

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve
    He seems to be able to accomodate a lot of conflicting views as part of his philosophies and truly doesn't understand f/64 aesthetics at all.

    f/64 was a reaction to the vogue at the time for soft focus photography. The group was anti soft focus, therefore, they were accused of being anti-Mortensen - mostly by Mortensen himself - and, of course his admirers. This continues to this day, and when asked to give specific examples on how they stifled Mortensen, I have yet to hear a clear explanation other than lots of conspiracy theory level hyperbole.

    How did the f/64 group keep him from getting a Gugenheim grant for example? f/64 was only a formal group for a brief period of time. Yet, Mortensen and his devotees have lots of theories about how they continued to supress him for decades. Give me a break. This implies that Mortensen was so important that these people took valuable time from their careers and life to expend energy on a plot to keep Mortensen from being all that he could be - give me an F'ing break.

    Nothing was ever said by members of f/64 (that I can find) about NOT manipulating negatives or prints. As we all know, AA was famous for manipulation of negatives and prints. Weston developed his negatives and prints by inspection. Weston was not above using retouching on commercial portraits - and made no bones about doing it.

    Mr. Balcomb likes systems. "And now, for over forty years I have successfully enjoyed a practice employing a system."

    If you have a system, you don't really have attempt to be creative as the system does that for you. That goes directly to his admiration of Mortensen looking at prints for a show and choosing images, not on how they look, but rather if the photo was "Schnitt," or "not Schnitt" composition.

    Yeah...that's the key to creating art - use a formula. That way, if it fits the formula - bingo! It must be art.

    Hmmm...where does "The Zone System" fit in this view that you have?

  5. #25
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    As with most things, I don't really have an opinion.

    It did strike me that in every portrait he used a "broad light" as a lighting pattern.

    It has no great significance, just that in most people's body of work you will find many different patterns of lighting.


    Michael
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  6. #26

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    What do you mean Donald?
    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

  7. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by mark
    What do you mean Donald?
    I was simply asking a question based upon Steve's viewpoint in which he seemed to apparently indicate that a system has no validity in the creation of art.

  8. #28

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    The main objection seems to be that it is primarily a mechanical process that handles most of the work—that the photographer has nothing further to do with it, other than some manipulation in the printing of the picture
    I don't find that to be entirely accurate.

    Some photography is intended as art, and some of that which is intended comes across as art while some it is completely lost on the viewer. Some photography has a purpose other than being art.

    Photography, art or not, is not merely a mechanical process. Why does the writer brush aside the work that is done in the darkroom as though it doesn't count as part of the creative process? What about setting and chosing lighting? What about multiple exposures? Exposure isn't just about getting the right light to produce a photo, it's about manipulating or using light to an end. The lighting, the subject and the layering of exposures isn't something the camera chooses, it's something the photographer envisions and sets out to do. Art photography doesn't even have to be that involved - the vision is still the photographers and the photographer must use his knowledge and skill to transfer the vision to film and then to print.

    I think a lot of it is a matter of perspective. In general you can refer to almost anything as art, including my nature photos, but I personally don't see a purpose to it. It's not intended as art, neither are a lot of my drawings. Some things just are. I consider photography that's intended as art to be fine art, everything else I consider as photographs.

  9. #29

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    Oops. I can't concentrate with a 2 yr old under my chair. I failed to address the issue of whether you need to be trained as a fine art painter to be a fine art photographer.

    Simply put - no. The only reason I can imagine people would think so is simply because man has been painting centuries longer than he has been photographing. Training in fine art painting or drawing or any other medium may enhance a persons ability as a fine art photographer but I hardly think it's a prerequesite.

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Miller
    I was simply asking a question based upon Steve's viewpoint in which he seemed to apparently indicate that a system has no validity in the creation of art.
    Okay. I get it. Interesting thought.
    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

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