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Thread: Masters

  1. #21
    Mateo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikewhi
    4) Pepper #30 wasn't called that because EW liked the number 30. It was at least the 30th pepper he had photographed. I haven't even gotten around to Pepper #1 yet.


    -Mike

    Please excuse me for being impertinent, but I don't think it had anything to do with the number of peppers. I think the name had allot to do with the number of years since 1900.

  2. #22
    Fintan's Avatar
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    I've been following this thread with interest although I'm none the wiser as to what a master really is.
    I love to follow the Hasselblad Masters on their website

    And to quote hasselblad.se
    "The Hasselblad Masters represent photography at its finest; at its most inspired, most communicative, most beautiful. They are young, old, western, eastern, classical, experimental, traditional, modern, and futuristic. They have perhaps but one thing in common: they are masters at conveying an instant, an emotion, with images. Masters of the art and craft that is photography."

  3. #23
    Art Vandalay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikewhi
    Eugene Smith made horrible negatives (an old girlfriend was a student of his, this according to her), but he should could print well from them.

    I had made a comment earlier about this very man and his methods, that I read in a book on darkroom techniques. From what I gathered (EWS himself) this was on purpose and not because he didn't have a clue as to what he was doing. From your comment it sounds like he was perhaps just inept? Could you clarify?

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikewhi
    Just a few notes:

    1) In my experience the more darkroom 'tricks' one knows implies that the photographer routinely produces negatives of, shall we say, widely varying technical quality. They often expose in a haphazard way and work in the darkroom later to pull a good print from the negative. Others have no idea what they wan t in the final print when they expose, make exposures that will provide some information in the negative and then 'post-visualize' in the darkroom. To pull good images from these negatives can require all sorts of manipulaations (including nose oil). I know very few darkroom tricks and techniques.

    2) In the past, I had done so much Zone System testing and material standardization that all my 4x5's could be printed at a standard printing time of 12 seconds. I'd just plop the negative in, set the standard aperture, standard enlarger head height, give the paper 4 3-second exposures and there would be a very well, if not dead-on print.
    I'm a lot looser today, but I still work at producing the best negative that I can. I look a negative as being like a mold, the fewer imperfections in the mold, the ferwer things I have to repair in the copies that come out of the mold.
    -Mike
    May we all aspire to reach your lofty height, For you have surpassed the masters. You, alone, have achieved perfection. Please offer some of your greatness to the rest of the world. I am sure, if they were alive, Adams and Weston would have been slobbering for the chance to be your students.
    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

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fintan
    And to quote hasselblad.se
    "The Hasselblad Masters represent photography at its finest; at its most inspired, most communicative, most beautiful. They are young, old, western, eastern, classical, experimental, traditional, modern, and futuristic. They have perhaps but one thing in common: they are masters at conveying an instant, an emotion, with images. Masters of the art and craft that is photography."
    Isn't this a bit like asking TDK to define good music, or Panasonic to decide what's good on TV?

    Mastery of craft is fine and good and can be quite impressive. It can also lead to disturbingly narrow notions when it's mistaken as a definition for something else. Perfect negatives are great, but not always needed for many purposes -- say, a driver's license photo, or a museum show.

    Example: consider Nikki S Lee, who doesn't even shoot her best-known photos -- she appears in them. They are usualy made with P&S cameras, though for a series like the Bourgeousie she chose commercial shooters with the appropriately "polite" larger cameras and technically-flawless negs.

    Whether you like Lee's work or not, the truth is that we live in a world full of many different images. Every type of technical process leads to a slightly different image and all of those differences have potential for meaning and artistic usage. Highly crafted or completely uncrafted, in some respects the two are EXACTLY EQUIVALENT to an artist who is interested not in process but in image. Both methods have a potential for meaning, or potential for simply getting out of the way of the image's Real Business.

    Where craft is useful to art, imo, is in two general areas: often non-art is distinguished from "Art" simply through INTENT (extreme case already mentioned: Duchamp readymades). Craftsmanship is a way of signalling intent to the viewer. A family snap can display lots of intent if it's printed 40x60 inches across. There are many ways to signal intent, such as controlled lighting, B&W, etc. Secondly, from a practical standpoint, craft can give the artists more control and allow predictability into the equation. This is actually (again, imo) of more value to clients than to the artist themselves. The artist does have to eat, however.

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  6. #26
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    If you look at the type of photography that he did and the conditions that he took them under, there was no way that he could carefully meter every exposure. War photos, quick shots that he had to fire off, really low light situations, etc. He was a photojournalist and he just couldn't take the time to meter accurately for every shot. Also, he shot roll film and had to develop each negative the same amount of time so he couldn't control development for each individual shot. In fact, he would roll 2 rolls of film at once onto a reel and develop more film at once that way. He wasn't interested in producing a technically perfect negative and, given the way that he worked, he couldn't do it even if he wanted to. He was able to pull great prints from these negatives, however, and that is what really matters. I'd say his real craftmanship was in the darkroom. EWS also had personal issues with alchoholism and he might have had a mental disorder given his constant emotional agitation. He was self-desctuctive. This just doesn't sound like someone who would stand behind a view camera carefully calculating exposure and development times before taking a picture. Sticking his head up from behind a rock to capture an image of some marines setting off an explosive nearby sound more like his style.

    I have seen a fair number of his original prints and they are beauitful, so whatever his technical approach to exposing\developing negatives was, it worked for him and that's all that matters.

    -Mike

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Art Vandalay
    I had made a comment earlier about this very man and his methods, that I read in a book on darkroom techniques. From what I gathered (EWS himself) this was on purpose and not because he didn't have a clue as to what he was doing. From your comment it sounds like he was perhaps just inept? Could you clarify?
    Get the interview about Morely Baer from Lenswork. His wife Francis talks about Morely and Edward Weston whom she worked for. She talks about the pepper in that interview. Edward was a person that would if he didn't like the results would keep shooting until he did get it right. This not from a book written by someone else, but the person who cleaned and cooked for him. As they say direct from the actual horses mouth.
    Non Digital Diva

  8. #28
    Cheryl Jacobs's Avatar
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    Interesting. Try to apply some of this logic to what I do, and it's impossible. I don't have the luxury, in the kind of work I do, to set up thoroughly and completely, analyze every point in the image, check the contrast of the light, etc, etc, before each shot. Ain't gonna happen. Light can change every five seconds on some days. Kids don't stay put.

    And since I'm not LF, I don't have the luxury of perfectly processing each neg according to the condition in which I shot each image. The beginning of a roll might be indoors by window light, with lots of contrast. By the end of the roll, we may be on the front porch in diffused, relatively flat lighting. I can certainly meter accordingly, but I obviously can't develop the roll to suit each image.

    I think that the implication that those with innovative darkroom technique, or the knowledge of how to pull a great print out of a less-than-optimal neg are doing it to cover sloppy technique or inability to shoot properly -- well, that's just bullsh*t, to be blunt.

    - CJ

  9. #29
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    He was able to pull great prints from these negatives, however, and that is what really matters.
    Just saw your follow-up post, Mike. Sorry, but this doesn't seem very consistent with your first statement.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikewhi
    Just a few notes:

    1) In my experience the more darkroom 'tricks' one knows implies that the photographer routinely produces negatives of, shall we say, widely varying technical quality. They often expose in a haphazard way and work in the darkroom later to pull a good print from the negative. Others have no idea what they wan t in the final print when they expose, make exposures that will provide some information in the negative and then 'post-visualize' in the darkroom. To pull good images from these negatives can require all sorts of manipulaations (including nose oil). I know very few darkroom tricks and techniques.
    -Mike
    This is the biggest lump of doo doo I have ever read here. Mike get a grip old buddy.
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