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  1. #21
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlbertZeroK View Post
    Content over Quality. ...
    So to me, I shoot with everything from 4x5 and Mamiya 7's to box cameras and Hawkeye Brownie cameras (one with the lens reversed of course) and I use the strengths and weaknesses of each camera to give me what I want.
    I think the important observation here is not just Content over Quality. Yes, Content should be king and Quality should be subservient to Content, but the true craft of an art is to know how to match Quality to Content so that Quality enhances content, rather than stands aside from Content. There's no reason not to shoot with a box Brownie, so long as you're consciously aware of the properties of the tool and how it will shape the image you're making so that those properties add to rather than detract from the image. A Mamiya 7 might well be too sharp and clinical for certain portraits and the box Brownie the better tool... and so on.

    Conversely, don't let Content override Quality to the point that it is used as an excuse for lack of quality, especially when you know better. It's fine when Aunt Sally who has never used anything better than a disposable camera sends you a haphazardly composed, precariously exposed snapshot of the family get-together last Christmas, but from someone who has real photographic skill and knows how to compose and light a picture, it's almost an insult, as if they didn't care enough to try.
    Last edited by TheFlyingCamera; 09-17-2012 at 12:59 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    I think the important observation here is not just Content over Quality. Yes, Content should be king and Quality should be subservient to Content, but the true craft of an art is to know how to match Quality to Content so that Quality enhances content, rather than stands aside from Content. There's no reason not to shoot with a box Brownie, so long as you're consciously aware of the properties of the tool and how it will shape the image you're making so that those properties add to rather than detract from the image. A Mamiya 7 might well be too sharp and clinical for certain portraits and the box Brownie the better tool... and so on.
    Exactly, I attached the two extremes from a recent shoot I did. For me, both have an amazing feel and quality to them because of the camera used But trying to get new photographers who have only ever shot digital get this, it's nearly impossible.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 217179_461604123880532_744876951_n.jpg   488333_460050137369264_1062158864_n.jpg  

  3. #23
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    Adams was a trail blazer in that regard

    Quote Originally Posted by RalphLambrecht View Post
    ansel adams, a fanatic about sharpnessnailed it when he said :there is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.
    During Adam's time, didn't photographers tried to imitate painters ie Pictorialism? But 15 years ago, blurry was the new again.
    "Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
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  4. #24

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    There is an interesting effect noted by researchers in the '40s. The eye (and visual system) is much more willing to accept out of focus closeup photos of the human face as acceptable than other out of focus content.

    It has something to do with the face that as babies, with eyes that won't focus, we see close up human faces and the visual system learns to supply the missing detail. Kodak used that in the Near/Far two focus position cameras. The assumption was that closeup photos were faces and therefor a larger blur circle would be tolerated. If you were taking photos of flowers, I guess you were out of luck.

  5. #25
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Pictorialism began 40 years before Ansel Adams started formulating his ideas that culminated in the Modernist/f64 school of thought about sharpness. In various ways and forms, Pictorialism lasted into the 1940s, but it peaked in the first decade of the 20th century and was on its way out by the 1920s. Edward Weston began his career as a semi-pictorialist, printing in platinum. And there are platinum prints by St. Ansel out there as well, but they're rare birds. Not that printing in platinum per se makes an image pictorialist. Adams, Weston, the f64 school and the Modernists were all reactions against Pictorialism because they felt photography should revel in its own inherent qualities instead of rejecting them to try and be more like another medium.

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    Pictorialism began 40 years before Ansel Adams started formulating his ideas that culminated in the Modernist/f64 school of thought about sharpness. In various ways and forms, Pictorialism lasted into the 1940s, but it peaked in the first decade of the 20th century and was on its way out by the 1920s. Edward Weston began his career as a semi-pictorialist, printing in platinum. And there are platinum prints by St. Ansel out there as well, but they're rare birds. Not that printing in platinum per se makes an image pictorialist. Adams, Weston, the f64 school and the Modernists were all reactions against Pictorialism because they felt photography should revel in its own inherent qualities instead of rejecting them to try and be more like another medium.
    Burtynsky and Kander are two of the biggest names in photography today and their work is unashamedly pictorial - oh, and sharp (!). It's really strange/worrying how many still think the two have to exist in separate spheres of image making. Photography today is largely about appropriating the strengths of movements long exhausted. Which is actually a disconcerting thought for those who are convinced photography is dead.

    "There's nothing worse than a sharp picture of a fuzzy concept."
    For those who believe the last word on photography is The Print, I think the concept of sharpness is what remains elusive.

    It's really not that difficult to make a sharp picture, whatever your gear! To make a good one, pictorial or not, is... a bit harder. Let's concentrate on this. Step 1: know where to stand
    Last edited by batwister; 09-17-2012 at 03:05 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  7. #27

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    The limited resolution/sharpness of the 110 format doesn't automatically mean you have to be a pictorialist. If this was the case, everyone other than large format photographers might still conceivably be practicing pictorialism. In actual fact, in contemporary photography, it seems to be the other way round.

  8. #28
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    I remember years ago while still in college when a student that was retired taking a photography class. She was in the lab taking scissors cutting her 4x5 negatives in half from a photo trip in the American Southwest. I was horrified and asked her why. She said "They weren't sharp". She puts a loupe on each neg to see if they're "tack" sharp. She's a great admirer of Ansel Adams and a f/64 practitioner. In my opinion, she's too rigid in her view on what is good shot. To me sharpness is just another creative tool like lighting. I don't use it all the time. It depends on what I shoot.
    "Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
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  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mainecoonmaniac View Post
    I remember years ago while still in college when a student that was retired taking a photography class. She was in the lab taking scissors cutting her 4x5 negatives in half from a photo trip in the American Southwest. I was horrified and asked her why. She said "They weren't sharp". She puts a loupe on each neg to see if they're "tack" sharp. She's a great admirer of Ansel Adams and a f/64 practitioner. In my opinion, she's too rigid in her view on what is good shot. To me sharpness is just another creative tool like lighting. I don't use it all the time. It depends on what I shoot.
    She wasn't sharp as well
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  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mainecoonmaniac View Post
    I remember years ago while still in college when a student that was retired taking a photography class. She was in the lab taking scissors cutting her 4x5 negatives in half from a photo trip in the American Southwest. I was horrified and asked her why. She said "They weren't sharp". She puts a loupe on each neg to see if they're "tack" sharp. She's a great admirer of Ansel Adams and a f/64 practitioner. In my opinion, she's too rigid in her view on what is good shot. To me sharpness is just another creative tool like lighting. I don't use it all the time. It depends on what I shoot.
    It sounds like she never saw an original print by Adams. Many of them are less sharp than one might imagine - even contact prints. Let's also remember as much as we tend to think of him as a stickler for the kind of quality seemingly only possible from large format negatives, he was certainly not afraid of making 16x20 (or larger) prints from cropped medium format negatives (eg Moon and Half Dome).

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