Unreal Expectations of Grandeur
Today I had a GREAT three hour chat about all things analog photography with another 4x5 photographer who lives in the same town as me. We've bumped into each other every six months or so on the sidewalk or in a local park and have always said, "We should get together some time and talk". Well, today we did and we covered so many topics I can't remember them all. It was the fastest three hours I've had in years!
At one point he talked about going to a workshop in the U.S. a couple decades ago, and his experience of seeing some Ansel Adams prints in a gallery. Just from the look in his eye and the way he asked me if I'd seen any of Ansel's prints I had to say, "I've seen lint in Ansel's skies too!!!!"
Once in a while ones expectations of grandeur are unrealized.
Where do your expectations of perfection meet with reality? Do you hold yourself to unrealistic aspirations...or in other words...would you not show an image because of flaws only you and a few others could see even though the subject matter transends your percieved flaws? I've got a few of those on the back burner.
Ansel did say (and this is a vague memory of the original quote) that he'd rather see a fuzzy image of a clear concept, than a clear image of a fuzzy concept. Clearly, he lived that motto.
Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.
As I get older (not sure I'm maturing) I have increasingly rejected perfection in what I do and with who I hang. It is the imperfections that give character and appeal to people IMO.
As far as photographs, I'm a very good printer and have been employed by a couple commercial studios in that capacity in the past. I teach photography and darkroom skills at a community college on a daily basis and so have continued my darkroom endeavors there. Until lately. After reaching a place where I could pretty much make great negatives and prints, I turned to Diana cameras and minimal printing manipulations. I found I enjoyed the process more when I recorded the image on film pretty decently, accepted the imperfections, and didn't worry about tweaking the image so much in the printing stage. And, although it may sound blasphemous here, I even dabbled in making digital inkjet negatives and correcting images in Photoshop. Those digital negatives printed perfectly in van dyke brown. And I absolutely hated the prints and the digital process after I had achieved that perfection. I have absolutely no interest in that arena now. Nor am I drawn to enlarging any longer.
That perfect digineg print was a turning point for me. Now I do wetplate collodion and each plate is uniquely flawed. Sometimes there are development streaks or "comets", sometimes the plate is fogged or veiled, sometimes the pour is too thick or thin or absent in "islands" altogether, or the developer rips part of the image from the plate, etc. None of them are "perfect." I love the flaws and the uniqueness of each plate.
My Muse walks with a limp.
Originally Posted by smieglitz
I think that has to be about one of the best responses to one of my quirky questions here in the Ethics and Philosophy Forum!! !!
With sharp and unsharp masking techniques I'm getting to a point where the possible avenues of control are becoming mind-boggling. While I don't think I can let go of that level of control in my personal work because it allows what I see within to be put on paper, I'm really close to ordering a Holga for the shear FUN of photographing.
My Muse, as I, also walks with a limp.
Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.
It is ironic that you write from BC (i.e. Canada).
My response is not nearly as elevated at those above - but sometimes you just show the pic - lint and all.
On another forum, using a different ID I initiated this thread yesterday:
It's actually a 20+ year old shot and I sure as heck should have cleaned the slide some months ago before scanning it (hence the apologies in the thread post). But you know something? The "sentiment" was appreciated and the pic carried the message!
They don't all have to be perfect.
Yes the technically correct with no imagination is the burden of the photographic World. Some of the most inspiring images are from those who aren't hung up on technique. They start out in schools with creative ideas and at the end of school technique has taken over and left them with a sterile view of the World.
A technically perfect photograph of lanscape is great and holds you for a minute until you realize that it is just a technically perfect snapshot. A not so perfect photograph of a storm in that landscape is so much more interesting that you go back to it over and over. It has movement and is not sterile.
A big challenge for me planning to go to Italy is not falling into the trap of the "Tuscan Lanscape No.8644". Look at Paul Strands view of Italy then look at some of the contempory photographs.
It's a big camera on the side of the road syndrome.
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Murray...I actually did get a Holga just to make myself let go of the lightmeter and work with inherent technical imperfections and limitations. So far, it has been a really great experience, and it has produced some great negatives. I haven't printed any of them yet...but the darkroom is almost done so I'll get to that soon...
A couple years back I took a couple of wildlife photos that seemed pretty nice. I shot four rolls of the same (or a pretty similar) image, and chose the two that had the most going for them to print. I usually work with medium format negatives, but these were 35 mm negs, as the photos were taken with a 300 f2.8, and I haven't found one of those for my Mamiya yet...and goodness knows I wouldn't be affording it even if it existed.
I made two prints from each negative, then noticed that there was a little circle on one of the negatives. Then I started looking harder, and there were two or three! And a couple of circles on the other negative as well. Not sure exactly what it was, perhaps bubbles? They were not noticeable except on close and intent inspection, but it ruined the images for me. Now, after a couple of years and a lot of rolls through a Holga, I'm thinking of going back and printing more of those images. After all, they are nice images. And just by looking, you can tell it went through a (problematic) wet process.
But I've got two huge projects to finish before I go back and mess with those...
I'll never forget a Karsh exhibition I went to a while back, where the plane of focus in a number of pictures was in the wrong place. Not, I think, artistically or deliberately so: I mean, in a portrait of Desmont Tutu, why would you want to focus on the arm of the chair instead of his face?
But part of the problem was that the pictures were too big, getting on for three by four feet/90x120cm. At a reasonable size, these shortcomings would not have been anything like as obvious. I was also underwhelmed by a too-big Ansel Adams enlargement from 6x6cm that I saw at the New York show (the show formerly known as VISCOMM) a few years back.
Since then I have increasingly believed two things:
1 Even the great masters make mistakes
2 Most people print too big.
Both have helped me be more relaxed about my own photography and the size of pictures I like. For me, the only reason in most cases to do a 12x15 inch print is if you have a 12x15 inch negative.
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks
I normally print 35mm negs to 5x7.5 inches and medium format to 8x8 inches - the tonality is glorious and you can get away with some truly shoddy technique! Besides the paper cost is less and you use less chemistry.
Just hung an exhibit this morning, and out of twenty photographers, only four of us did small images. Most of the rest were 16" by 20" or larger. A few of us had a discussion about the gaining prevalence of large and really large prints. One thing that came out was that unless you are one of the big names in photography, really large fine art prints can be tough to sell.
I almost always print 8x10 and crop heviley to see the limits of the film! its great!
Originally Posted by Lachlan Young