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  1. #21
    copake_ham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerik View Post
    OK, I'll bite. I think hard-core f64-ists would consider the image below as pictorialist. What other medium am I trying to imitate here?? It is pure photography - albeit with a soft-focus lens. The optical (ie photographic) qualities of this image are not something I associate with painting or anything else.
    Graphic art? Illustration?

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck1 View Post
    "Pure photography is defined as possessing no qualities of technique, composition or idea, derivative of any other art form."
    I'm pondering the fact that this statement seems absurd to me and obviously did not to them.
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  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Brewer View Post
    'The type of photography denoted by the term "pictorialism" is well established, and has no more bearing on the abstract concept of photography than the media used.

    Belaboring the definition of pictorialism is semantic.'..............................

    .................I don't don't agree w/that, 'well established by who?', I don't agree with what some folks call pictorialism versus what they insist to be a straight style, which is why were having this kind of discussion.

    There's been an undercurrent in all of this, a 'dismissive' quality to the tone in which a lot of folks discuss the so-called Pictorialists versus the straight folks. Most of what Ansel Adams and Weston shot, versus what Steichen and Coburn shot, and many paintings, were more similar than they were different, because they shared common technique. The difference in style of the folks mentioned above wasn't a whole helluva lot particularly when discussing landscape photography, and shooting a landscape, closing way down to increase dof, in b&w doesn't make it any less of a pictorial or straighter or closer to the truth.

    I don't care who else has some well established belief, I don't agree w/the original premise.
    When a tome refers to "pictorialism, or the "west coast school", or "pure photography" I have no more difficulty discerning the difference, than I would where the words "watercolor" , and "oil painting" The existence of one hardly demeans the other. "Truth" has nothing to do with it, but might be used as an expressed concept regarding one particular style.

    These are names used to denote certain styles of photography.
    A simple perusal of any serious minded book on the history of photography as art will aptly illustrate that. Jstraw has aptly explained his point, and it is well taken.

    Beyond Jstraws provincial position, debating the application of the term "pictorialism" as the term applies to photography and photographic history is is quite frankly ridiculous.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by copake_ham View Post
    Graphic art? Illustration?
    No and no.
    Kerik Kouklis
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  5. #25

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    You have to be kidding!!!???? The whole reason why people disucss Adams or Weston, was because of their HIGH DEGREE of technique, their skill, at things like composition/manipulation of subject matter.

    I'll go you one better, put up some AA shots, or Weston's shot of his 'Bellpepper', I suggest that it's impossible not their to scrutinize that or their other work and NOT FIND technique which is shared with painting.


    "Pure photography is defined as possessing no qualities of technique, composition or idea, derivative of any other art form. The production of the "Pictorialist", on the other hand, indicates a devotion to principles of art which are directly related to painting and the graphic arts."

    The above statement by these folks is great for a pep talk, great if it gets them going, great if it stirs them on to great things, but photography and painting share a lot, to try to say that they don't, I suggest, is impossible.

    Painters establish a light source, and how it affects tonality, so did Steichen, and Coburn, and so did Adams, talking about technique, he developed that to a HIGH degree, or else what do you call the ZONE SYSTEM.......and he MANIPULATED the zone system in shooting images to where the image ended up not necessarily representing what was really there, that's the same thing you do with a painting.

    Painting and Photography share a lot, the idea of the reference of the above statement about what's 'derivative', is off to me, because one came before the other, and the idea that by some degree that their photographs don't look like those of the Pictorialists, well they do. Steichen had shot landscapes that look pretty close to some the landscapes AA shot, check out his book.

    The F64 folks were good at compositon and technique, in fact they were great at it, even if they inisist that's not what they really did.
    Jonathan Brewer

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  6. #26
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    I don't think it is a coincidence that the rise of 'straight' photography as an intellectual force occurred during the same time period that socialist political philosophy became au courant in many intellectual circles. The conceit that worldwide marxism was an inevitable historical force based on scientific concepts rears its head in many of the arguments put forward by the f/64 group. They made appeals to purity of process and the superiority of depicting objective reality without 'artifice', and the inevitability of this changing view of photography. I'm not necessarily suggesting that all of the f/64 group were marxists (although some certainly were), but rather that their modes of argument and their teleological view of the progress of art had a lot of similarities to the arguments being bandied about among the intelligentsia in many social circles in the early 1900's.

    Of course, you can demolish one of their basic premises right away when you notice that black and white photographs in no way resemble the world we experience visually, unless, of course, you happen to be a dog. It has, however, been said: On the internet, no one knows you're a dog.
    I just want to feel nostalgic like I used to.


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  7. #27

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    I'm in favor of both, and do both, although primarily "straight" photography. It really depends on the intended purpose of the photo. For example, portraits of adults come out too sharp--unflattering--unless diffused. But rather diffuse the lens at the time the photo is taken, I prefer a sharp image and then diffuse it in the print. Same with other shots--I prefer to shoot them straight and then I might occasionally "fuzz"/maniupulate them if it suits my purpose.

    I also enjoy either style in other people's work, so I'm not committed to absolutes here.

  8. #28
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck1 View Post
    Ok, I have heard several references to Adams, Weston, and others of the Group f/64 that were also pictorialists in how they shot some photographs. Someone provide me with an example of one of their "pictorialist" photos.
    There is Pictorialism, as in the historical movement, of which Stieglitz was an important practicioner during his Photo-Secession and Camera Work years. There is pictorialism as a more general term to signify "plastic/painterly." Stieglitz stopped being a Pictorialist around 1914, but he remained a pictorialist all his life. Adams has always been a pictorialist.

    These terms are not easily separable during the early 20th century (read my previous post carefully if it does not bore you to tears, or visit http://www.tfaoi.com/newsm1/n1m372.htm for some infos). In a weird way, the people who argued for the autonomy of photography as an art form, also aped painting. What we tend to forget is that the f/64 school is not a rupture with this attitude. In fact, instead of aping pre-Raphaelite or Impressionist painting, the f/64 school apes cubism, abstraction, and other forms of modern art then prevalent.

    Jstraw's argument sums up in a pithy way the problem of photographic "independance." The fundamental problem is, that there is no such thing as a straight photography. All photography is pictorialist because all photography functions within an aesthetics of 2D representation, of imagery.

    So when photographers decided that they wanted to stop being Pictorialists, I can only assent: they just changed their artistic medium, their conventions of representation. They changed taste, but they never ditched away the pictorialist aspect.
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  9. #29
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    The image Kerik posted is about as uniquely "photographic" as one can possibly get. The effects and style of the image did not exist and had not been seen in any previous medium before the arrival of photography. I would say that actually, the f64 crowd were more derivative of painting than folks who did work like Kerik's, because photorealistic genre, portrait and landscape painting existed centuries before anyone ever made a wet-plate collodion image. Take a look at some of the Bronzino portraits (16th Century), Caravaggio's early still lifes (late 16th/early 17th), or any number of 18th century landscape painters. The infinite depth of field, excruciating detail, and selective composition of the West Coast school has been around in western art for centuries. With the arrival of wet-plate, selective focus lenses in different focal lengths, and platinum/palladium papers, you finally have media that provide a distinctive and uniquely photographic representation of reality. Prior to wet processes, there was nothing truly exceptional about photography. Even the Daguerrotype was a derivative process- it was intended as a more efficient and accurate replacement for lithographic printing, nothing more.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by billschwab View Post
    The first print in a recent exhibit of Ansel Adams' that I saw was an image done in 1919 in the tradition of the "pictorialists". Quite beautiful, it had that common, out of focus look of the time and genre. Many of his early, non-pictorialist prints had a softer, warmer feel to them as well. It made me wonder what would have happened if he had stuck with that approach. It is just an opinion, but I think it was in a way even more striking than the cold, contrasty, sharp as a tack look most of the world knows him for.

    Bill
    Yeap, AA was also using matt paper in those days too.

    Those early days were not of the f/64 period, so I should have asked for examples since that group formulated itself. It would be hard for me to see that any work after that period could be called pictorialist, IMO.

    Chuck

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