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  1. #21

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    Donald, which pictures are they? I intentionally don't go to galleries very often because I often find myself seeing those images in the compositions I make. I don't know why. Mybe because, as Jorge said, I see that it has been done before. By not looking at those images i am free to concentrate on my images. When images are mentioned I think hmmm...I would like to see that and then I can't find it.

    You draw a pretty rigid line between what you call a pretty picture and an abstract. You give the abstract much more importance than you do the pretty picture. I cannot agree. In my opinion they are both the same in weight and meaning, and importance. It just depends on who you are talking to. I cannot imagine you wasted your time taking and printing a picture just so you could start this thread. You do not seem like that kind of person. Just as the objects in the abstract drew your eye so did objects in the stream. What was it that did that? I assume you had entirely different reasons for exposing the different shots, there fore they would each be viewed differently.

    The matter of the question of a mountain stream...other then the location and other matters pertaining to the objective reality, what question could be posed?
    What question(s) could not be posed?
    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

  2. #22

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    The challenge for me right now is to take what "has been done before" (I believe that, on the basic level, most things have been done before) and to execute it "perfectly" as to become my own - and in so doing others no longer see it as contrived or derived but as coming from me and is therefore original.

    On a side note: it is surprising how much is around us for the taking and in such a very small amount of space.
    Francesco

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by mark
    Donald, which pictures are they? I intentionally don't go to galleries very often because I often find myself seeing those images in the compositions I make. I don't know why. Mybe because, as Jorge said, I see that it has been done before. By not looking at those images i am free to concentrate on my images. When images are mentioned I think hmmm...I would like to see that and then I can't find it.

    Mark, The images were removed several days ago.

    You draw a pretty rigid line between what you call a pretty picture and an abstract. You give the abstract much more importance than you do the pretty picture. I cannot agree. In my opinion they are both the same in weight and meaning, and importance. It just depends on who you are talking to. I cannot imagine you wasted your time taking and printing a picture just so you could start this thread. You do not seem like that kind of person. Just as the objects in the abstract drew your eye so did objects in the stream. What was it that did that? I assume you had entirely different reasons for exposing the different shots, there fore they would each be viewed differently.

    My designation of a "pretty picture" is a broad stroke to illustrate what I have observed as emulations and duplications of images that have been done over and over again. Other terms used to describe this is "looking for the tripod holes". I sense that you disapprove of my posting this discussion by your comment about the type of person that I seem to be. I did not post these images to illustrate a point.

    My realizations and the origin of this thread arose out of a wide disparity of not only the comments related to these images. But more importantly the number of views that each received. To bring you up to date on these images...both were made in the time frame of 1988 and 1989. I had not previously printed either image at any time. I probably give the abstract more importance in this particular discussion because the "pretty picture", if I am being honest, arose out of a desire to emulate the work of other landscape photographers. The second image depicts a streaked plaster wall with a window opening that frames another window opening. This image occured during a period of immense personal struggle in my life. I would say that out of this struggle and the angst of that time that this image is more genuinely arising from myself. Thus I feel that I have a valid position from which to draw a personal comparison and also to draw a comparison of the interests of other viewers.


    The matter of the question of a mountain stream...other then the location and other matters pertaining to the objective reality, what question could be posed?
    What question(s) could not be posed?

    When the whole of a contrived and oft duplicated scenic composition is presented, beyond the actual location and technical matters...what meaning does the image convey?
    As I have previously stated...there is no right or wrong answer to this matter. My interest from the outset was to kick the "walls out a little bit". To challenge the basis of my and our photography. As my friend Jim Shanesy (C6h6O3) said last week when we discussed this matter among ourselves "If we don't stir it, it won't stink".

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  4. #24
    glbeas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Miller
    Quote Originally Posted by glbeas
    My guess is not all folks heard or understood there was a question. I saw it as an abstract design myself.
    Who's to say the mountain stream had no questions to ask?
    I purposely did not identify either image for that reason. I always want an image to be a personal experience (primarily for myself and additionally for others).

    The matter of the question of a mountain stream...other then the location and other matters pertaining to the objective reality, what question could be posed?
    As an inveterate explorer I am always intrigued by places and things like where does it go, where does it come from, what's in it, etc. I guess the abstract was just another pretty picture to me :-)
    Prior to the post this evening, I visited with another well recognized photographer last week about this same matter. I asked this question of him..."What am I missing?" when I observed the variance in the number of views. His response was "you are not the one that is missing the point". I guess that this is a matter of different places in our view of life and of the place that photography can play.

    Bruce said:

    "The abstract I can remember today. My response to it at the time was 'why is he showing me this? What am I to take away?'...I would say in response that apparently the question that you posed "

    I would respond by saying that apparently the mountain stream was not of a lasting impression. I am heartened by that because apparently the abstract engaged you. The question of the image is one for you to pose to yourself and one for you to answer.

    Thanks to both of you for your views.
    Food for thought, thank you!

  5. #25
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mark
    I cannot imagine you wasted your time taking and printing a picture just so you could start this thread. You do not seem like that kind of person.
    What the ...???

    .... And just WHAT "kind of person" is he ... or anyone else here - "Supposed" to be?

    Take photographs .. start threads ... mat and display them ... mount them on balloons and float them over Boston -- or do whatever the @$%@ else you want to do with them. ALL of it is OK with me.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  6. #26

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    I think that this thread goes to the heart of the question: what is it that makes B&W photography special? What is there about it that speaks to people? Because it does speak, in a special way.

    Maybe the unseen and unknown is this: it’s the light. I’ve had discussions, some heated, both here and over at ph*t*.net, about the quality of light. Many people express the opinion that there is no “good” or “bad” light. I heartily disagree. My favorite prints are the same ones that friends and family like, and are the same ones that have sold the best. The common denominator: they were taken in beautiful light, and I got lucky and managed to translate it first to the film, then to the paper.

    I hate to always go back to old Ansel, but he said it well: “I was suddenly arrested in the long crunching path up the ridge by an exceedingly pointed awareness of the light.... I saw more clearly than I have ever seen before or since the minute detail of the grasses, the clusters of sand shifting in the wind, the small flotsam of the forest, the motion of the high clouds streaming above the peaks."

    I think that in those moments of light, something of the Divine is revealed to us, and if we are technically adept and/or lucky, that moment can continue to speak to us from a print hanging on a wall.

    So I’m fine with either a “pretty picture”, or one of paint peeling off a plaster wall. Either one has the potential to reveal the unseen and unknown. As I posted previously, though, I think that this medium that we are using, i.e. viewing a scanned and compressed digital approximation, on a computer monitor, makes it tough to really “see” what is going on in a print.

    Also: Ed, I totally agree with you about the worry of being “derivative.” That has to be the most useless, self-defeating path that an artist can go down. For crying out loud, blues musicians have been using the same three chords for decades. Yet I heard a new Charlie Musselwhite song the other day, with those same chords, yet it was fresh and original.

    What a liberating thought: every photograph is different, indeed has to be different.
    "If You Push Something Hard Enough, It Will fall over" - Fudd's First Law of Opposition

  7. #27

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    Lets go backward and bear with me.

    When the whole of a contrived and oft duplicated scenic composition is presented, beyond the actual location and technical matters...what meaning does the image convey?
    Maybe it portrays beauty, serenity, ruggedness of nature, The ever changing scene. Maybe it conveys the wonderment of not knowing what is just beyond the trees, or it could be the joy of a destination or the start of a new journey. Maybe the meaning is the absence of thought and the enjoyment of being.

    Your really big bold letters do not answer my question. What questions do you want asked? And what questions do these pretty pictures not ask or answer, and why is it necessary? How do they not make someone think? Or do you mean they do not make you think? Before you say "they have already been done and we see them everywhere" stop to ask yourself how many windows have been shot through and portrayed in an abstract fashion? I am looking for specifics. You ask if people are afraid to think, I am asking what are we supposed to think about? If we are supposed to think about the meaning of life then why can't I, or someone else, do it while looking at a stream with trees and rocks.

    I remember hearing somewhere that life death and all that happens between can be seen in one blade of grass. One blade of grass, one tree, one valley, one scene of streaked plaster with a broken window framing another window, what is the difference? What all important questions can be asked or answered in the latter and not the former or those inbetween? Not having seen the photos in question I cannot say for sure but isn't a shot through a window an "oft duplicated composition." In many ways that type of composition can be considered much more generic because it has no specific place, or time, it could be anywhere.

    It would take a really big camera and unbeleivabley wide lens to take the whole of a scene. The curvature of the earth and big mountains would make things problemeatic as well. There is always going to be something unseen outside of the frame. by definition, as has been said before, every photograph is an abstraction of reality. A BW photograph is even more abstract because it removes the familiarity of color from the scene. It forces the viewer to see the texture, the parts.

    I probably give the abstract more importance in this particular discussion because the "pretty picture", if I am being honest, arose out of a desire to emulate the work of other landscape photographers. The second image depicts a streaked plaster wall with a window opening that frames another window opening. This image occured during a period of immense personal struggle in my life. I would say that out of this struggle and the angst of that time that this image is more genuinely arising from myself. Thus I feel that I have a valid position from which to draw a personal comparison and also to draw a comparison of the interests of other viewers.
    I cannot imagine why trying to emulate the masters is a problem. You did not learn to walk and talk without emulating the masters. What is the problem with learning landscape photography this way? Isn't that why photo workshops exist? Watch a young child. They walk like the parent they have the closest relationship to. As they grow they step away from their parents and have their own walk. There may linger a hint of that master's style but the walk has become theirs. This is true of photographers as well.

    Yes YOU have a valid reason to draw a personal comparison, and you have a reason to compare the interests of the viewers. But You are not WE. The Author of the photo has no control over the baggage, or lack of baggage the reader/viewer of the photo brings with them to the photograph. You find much more importance in the window picture because as you say it is most representative of coming from the real you. Could it be that the viewer just saw a window, some messed up plaster and nothing to provoke thought what so ever because they had nothing of importance to tie to it.

    Could it have been that the stream was more familiar to a person and thus they could attach meaning to it. Maybe a fond memory, or the memory of a bad time. Maybe they were hiking along and found their significant other in the arms another person in a scene such as your rocks and stream? Could it be that the familiar sparks an emotion and is not necessarily a thought, or an earth shattering revelation, but just as important. It is possible to view a piece of art without using your brain. Sometimes it is preferable.

    I have no problem with you posting this thread, I never said I did. I was saying that you obviously did not post them to say Pretyy pictures suck and abstract thinking pictures don't. You did not say "see, here is a sucky picture and here is a good one. This is why the good one is good. You are obviously deeper than that. Sorry if I was not clear.
    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

  8. #28
    Cheryl Jacobs's Avatar
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    Really interesting, all of this. OK, most of this.

    I usually don't respond much to these types of posts, but what the hell. I'm in a philosophical mood tonight, so I'm just gonna ramble. I don't guarantee you'll get anything out of reading this.

    First, I think there's a difference between a 'pretty' picture and a 'beautiful' one. 'Pretty' to me implies a surface aesthetic appeal, whereas 'beautiful' implies much more. Physically unappealing things and people can be beautiful, but you wouldn't call them pretty.

    Doesn't 'pretty' just completely depend on your personal tastes? And is it shallow to appreciate something that is simply (to your taste) pretty? I don't think so. I think that a simple 'pretty' is sometimes exactly what is needed. Personally, I tend to think and analyze far, far too much. More than I should, definitely. Images that make me think are good, but I need 'pretty' to make me lift my eyes and see that there is something outside of my own head.

    Abstracts..... hmmm. Yes, I do like them at times. They make my mind work, they make me ponder, and at times, they make me question (things, myself, the world, whatever.) I'll confess that I am not generally a lover of abstract imagery. It usually leaves me a bit cold. I like to think, but I love to feel. An image that makes me do both is perfect, but if I have to choose, I choose to feel. It's rare for an abstract to make me feel.

    Still life can very often make me feel. Not always. But really, when I analyze that (see??!!) it's probably because I am very much a people person, and still life more often than not suggests a human presence. There was a portfolio in LensWork recently with still life images from the photographer's mother's home after she passed away. One in particular, a brush with strands of her hair still tangled in it, hit me hard. It was incredibly emotive, yet thought provoking to me. The human presence. It was a very simple image. I wouldn't say it asked a question in any way. It just showed a fact and allowed me (the viewer) to interpret it, both within the context of his other images and the range of my own experiences and emotions.

    Am I saying anything so far? I think I'm probably not.

    I like what John (jovo) had to say. It is easier for most people to relate to what might typically be considered a 'pretty' image. Abstract (or whatever you want to call it) can be much more difficult for many people to appreciate because it is from a tighter perspective. I did some pretty whacked-out holga images a few years back. Tree roots close-up, double exposed and toned. To me, I saw bones and skulls in the roots, and it spoke to me of the circle of birth, life, and death. It spoke to.... oh, maybe one or two other people, and that's about it. Does it really matter? Is it my responsibility to worry about speaking to the masses through my work? Or to judge what should speak to viewers? Or to interpret their responses or lack thereof? I don't think so. It's my responsibility to make what moves me, and to appreciate the work that I appreciate.

    That can change pretty frequently, by the way -- what kind of images speak to me. Hourly, sometimes. Sometimes I like dark and pensive 'deep' images, and sometimes I respond more to light, lacey 'pretty' stuff. I'm glad. It would be terribly limiting to only appreciate one kind of work.

    OK, that's about enough of that.

  9. #29

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    Mark,

    I would interpert from the tone of your posts that I have struck a nerve. While that may or may not be true...by the tone of what you have said I would normally assume that to be the case.

    My purpose as I have repeatedly stated was not to have a right or wrong viewpoint debate. My point was to examine the basis of one's photography...mine in this case. If you feel uncomfortable about that I am sorry, but that really is your problem.

    Cheryl,

    I appreciate what you said. A very balanced perspective as I receive what you have written. Yes sometimes images are best "felt" rather then "thought" and I think that there is certainly room for both.

    As I view your images, there is one thing that comes through in "spades" and that is the conveyance of emotion. In fact I envy your ability to convey emotion through imagery.

    I would ask this question, are emotions objective reality? I would think not...they are abstract. When someone tells me that they are happy or sad or angry. I have to extrapolate what that must mean out of my own personal experience. We can see another person's tears, but are they tears of joy or tears of sadness? The objective depiction of the tears in a photograph tells me none of that. The interpertation is up to me. In fact the absence of information of which motivating factor existed for the tears is what probably engages me to the greatest degree.

  10. #30
    Cheryl Jacobs's Avatar
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    I would think not...they are abstract. When someone tells me that they are happy or sad or angry. I have to extrapolate what that must mean out of my own personal experience. We can see another person's tears, but are they tears of joy or tears of sadness?
    I'm not sure I follow you here. If someone tells me they are happy or sad or angry, that is not abstract. I agree with that, if I've understood you correctly. If I simply see a person crying, I do have to interpret the tears based on my own experience. I agree there, also. I don't agree necessarily that emotions are abstract. I would say that they can be depicted abstractly by removing (or avoiding) context. I don't generally worry much about semantics, but I think this one's worth discussing.

    I think it's important to note that tears of any sort for any reason are inherently emotive. I can't say the same for a window, or a rock. It's the human element. People are inherently emotive. (Duh. LOL) Objects are not (usually) inherently emotive, but can become that way because of human experience. (i.e. a crying person is emotive to (nearly) everyone, while a hairbrush is emotive only if my experiences and memories make it so.)

    Too much heavy thinking. The merlot is crying out to me.

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