Quality v Convenience
I was recntly reminded of the amazing quality some photgraphers were achieving back in the 1940's/50's, when I saw some of the work produced by the great Winston Link......remember those pictures of the old style locomotives thundering through American settlements, usually at night?
Where are today's masterpieces?...OK I know we're not comparing like with like, doubtless Winston Link carefully set up his pics. using 10x8, or at least 4x5 equipment. .....shooting these kind of pictures requires patience and a sophisticated lighting set up. ...And another thought, are the characters in terms of people, places, (and certainly trains!) no longer there to photograph?......Perhaps our world is becoming too "monotone".....Go to Beijing these days and you won't find too much that is "Chinese"...just the same "McDonalds" that you get in any major city.
A while ago a newspaper here published an ariel picture of London taken from an old bi-plane around 1920, it was from a recently discovered archive. The paper sent up one of their own photographers with a current digital camera in a helicopter to take the same picture; the idea being to document how much London had changed since the original was shot. It had changed considerably, since the area of the City originally pictured had been devastated by bombing raids in World War 2.
Not only was the originally picture more interesting with its many streets and houses and variety of churches along the old medieval street pattern., but the overall quality of the original picture was far better than the current digital equivalent.!!!! Food for thought perhaps?......With all the latest gear at our disposal, have we really progressed at all?
I understand what you're saying but it's just a matter of relative perception and - what's that German expression? Zeitgeist? - the spirit of the times? We may have a romantic view of that era, (I certainly do, having been born in England in 1944) but in sixty years time someone will be nostalgic for 2011 - "Oh Mabel, look at the ruins of those wonderful old McDonalds shops!". As for quality, there are still many photographers today doing fabulous work in film and digital; it's just a little harder to find them in the tsunami of images in our graphic-saturated world.
Having said that, in true Libran fashion, I have to confess I buy far more books of photographers from the 30s-60s than 21st century! (Case in point, recently bought Robert Doisneau's "Paris". A fabulous feast of photos from last century. Thoroughly recommended).
Where can one find the original ariel photo of London? Sounds very interesting and I agree, looking at older photos for some reason everything seems a bit more interesting. In forty years maybe we will say the same of today though.
i think part of the thing is the photographer who photographed london, or nadar in paris in the 1860s ...
were trailblazers. now, as sad as it seems, there are few trailblazers left to go where
others haven't been, so it all seems boring.
there are photographers today who have a unique vision
of the world they live in ( or don't live in but imagine they might ) you just have to open your eyes wide
to take it all in. not everything is puréed mcdonalds food, there still is some nourishment out there ,,,
I see your point. Have all the technological, economic, and social advances of the last hundred years, which have certainly imporved the quality of life for many people everywhere, made the world more interesting and vibrant overall, or instead has it in fact made it more homgenized and mundane, and therefore more photographically sterile? On the surface, progress promises to give us more variety and more to choose from, and yet ironically, it can also bring about a kind of mass produced, cookie-cutter banality as well. It's what American sociologist George Ritzer calls the MacDonaldization of our society -- Google the word for some intersting reading.
I'm not much into nostalgia or anything that's intentionally "retro" in my photography, but I do like to find subjects that I consider "funky": basic, essential and lacking artifice in an appealing way, but with a genuine flavor. It does seem to me that it's getting harder to find funky stuff out there, either to photograph or otherwise. Things get gentrified -- houses, neighborhoods, businesses, and restaurants that were once funky get redeveloped so that they can then be pimped for whatever is left of their funkiness.
Thanks for starting an interesting thread.
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Originally Posted by Dave Martiny
Agree with you entirely, particularly where you mention "getting gentrified"......There was a wonderful old network of little streets in Central London, which made up Blackfriars Village....cobblestoned, rather grimy early Victorian streets that looked decidedly "spooky" yet intriguing at night, lit by old style street lamps.
Then someone decided that some of these old Victorian edifaces should be pulled down, replaced by faceless glass and chrome, and the rest cleaned up and "gentrified"........What we now have is a kind of Disneyfied version of the remaining cobblestone streets & buildings all scrubbed squeaky clean, with the history rubbed out them. I suppose this makes the area "acceptable" for business use.