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Thread: Masters

  1. #51
    mikewhi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doughowk
    Vision without technical abilities is an un-realized image.
    I, too, really like this quote. It says a lot in very few words, doesn't it.
    I wonder if there is not a corrolary...

    "Technical abilities without vision should be an un-realized image"? Perhaps someone could offer something better to add after the word 'vision'...

    -Mike

  2. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikewhi
    I, too, really like this quote. It says a lot in very few words, doesn't it.
    I wonder if there is not a corrolary...

    "Technical abilities without vision should be an un-realized image"? Perhaps someone could offer something better to add after the word 'vision'...

    -Mike
    How 'bout -- "Technical abilities without vision falls well within the defined parameters of photography."

    pho·tog·ra·phy ( P ) Pronunciation Key (f-tgr-f)
    n.
    The art or process of producing images of objects on photosensitive surfaces.
    The art, practice, or occupation of taking and printing photographs.
    A body of photographs.
    Imitation cameras come with big egos, real cameras do not include accessories.

  3. #53
    mikewhi's Avatar
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    >>So who determines whom is a "master" of any craft or fine art, or whatever we choose to call it?...(it's just a matter of semantics.)

    It's a matter of concensus arrived at over time, I'd say. Critics\curators, etc can try to declare someone a 'master' but the title won't hold if the work doesn't hold up over a lifetime of one's work. And the title of master in photography definitely refers to the level of imagery AND technical skills - the craft part.

    >>but what difference does it make if the negative was easy or hard to print? No one looks at the negative! They look at the print! So I guess I'd have to say it's a moot point as to whether the 'master' photographer spent 10 minutes or 5 hours making the print.

    It makes all the difference in the world. If your exposure was too short and you have lost shadow detail, then no darkroom technique will print what isn't in the negative. If there is some detail there, then you end up doing some or a lot of dodging. Wouldn't it be much better to have exposed the negative correctly in the first place so that the shadow areas print perfectly in a straight print? In my opinon, that is an easy answer - yes! That's why I learned the Zone System in the first place.

    If you overdeveloped the negative and the highlights (e.g. a cloud) are too dense and fall too high on the shoulder of the film, you have to burn thru that density. But when you do, you'll lose tonal qualities and contrast that would have been there had you developed the negative correctly. Again, it would be much better to have the densities of the highlights be in correct correlation to the values you want them to have in the final print. Burning in is no substitute for a correct negative. Burning in a cloud that has the correct densities but requires some tweaking is a different matter altogether - that's not what I'm talking about here.

    There is no doubt that there are many great images out there that are printed from difficult negatives, but I'm quite sure if you asked the 'master' if they prefer to a more technically perfect negative to print from to produce the same image, I'm quite sure they would prefer to! For instance, Paul Caponigro's Running White Deer is a great image, but the negative is very difficult to print from. He is a great printer, but even he does not like to print from it. Given that they fetch $5000 for a print, you'd think he'd love to print from it<g>. As for the famous Moonrise by AA, even AA laments that it wasn't a technically better negative, but he certainly was able to make great prints from it. Even so, I hope noone would argue that AA wouldn't have prefered more time to expose the negative and make a better negative from the scene.

    If technique isn't important, then why are there web-sites, books, videos, magazines, etc. devoted to nothing but technique? In fact, APUG is mostly about technique. Even though there are galleries, have you read the comments? Most are "I really like\dislike this". Not very insightful comments about the imagery. There are a lot of comments about technical issues, but not too deep. If imagery is so important, why isn't the gallery feedback more focused on helping members improve their level of imagery? If some readers on APUG are image-focused and 'technique be damned' oriented, then get into the gallery areas and try to make useful comments about images and don't be afraid of insulting someone - so long as the comments are instructive.

    Start with me if you want to, I can take it. One APUG member told me I had too much negative space in one of my images - that was pointed and useful. I've had 'masters' tell me they hated my work. I learned from that. I didn't get better by my mentors telling me black grass and blank white clouds were ok because they fell within the acceptible bounds of the definition of photography. I was told grass isn't black, clouds aren't formless and shapeless - get it fixed!

    One final point, and here I will try to correctly quote a 'master', Duane Michals. Early on in my photographic experience I read something from him to the effect "If on the path you meet Buddha, kill him!". I gave up master worship a long time ago, but I did suffer thru it early on. I would attend workshops by them and find out that what they had that made them a 'master' could not be taught. The best I could do was refine technique and then go out and use that to make my own images. And technique I could learn on my own or thru technical workshops led by non-masters.

    -Mike

  4. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by JD Morgan
    How 'bout -- "Technical abilities without vision falls well within the defined parameters of photography."

    pho·tog·ra·phy ( P ) Pronunciation Key (f-tgr-f)
    n.
    The art or process of producing images of objects on photosensitive surfaces.
    The art, practice, or occupation of taking and printing photographs.
    A body of photographs.
    The dictionary definition of photography is useless. Go look up the definition of wine. Does it say anything about quality? Is all wine, because it conforms to the definition of wine, good wine? Does it say how wine SHOULD be made?

    Technically good images without vision is like bland wine. I don't know about you, but I prefer to drink good wine. And I certainly won't dring bad wine and say 'well it must be ok because it falls within the defined parameters of wine as stated in the dictionary.

    -Mike

  5. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by JD Morgan
    Imagine for a moment the snickers this thread evokes from those with books filled with perfectly composed and exposed chromes. :rolleyes:

    The perfect negative might be a positive
    Great point<VBG>. Talk about sneaking one in! But I do note that you refer to 'perfectly exposed' chromes. When I talk about 'technically perfect' b&w negatives, people pull out sticks and start beating me. Why do you get off so easy? Why isn't a weak, overexposed chrome ok?

    Thanks.

    -Mike

  6. #56

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    In a column David Vestal said something very true "there is no virtue in hard photography." Whether this is a print that is hell to print or a negative that takes you 8 hours "waiting for the light" or required that you walk 25 miles uphill both ways. People looking at the print, could not care less how much one suffered to make it.

    I am surprised at the animosity Mike has experienced by saying that it is preferable to have the best possible negative and that it is something to strive for. I would rather see a print from a photographer with vision who is also technically competent, than one with vision but cannot make a print to save his/her life. In many cases I have seen prints where the photographer has a very interesting subject and vision but the print is so bad that it actually destroys or diminishes the content of the image.

    IMO it is preferable to have a "perfect" negative with great content and be free to explore the possibilities this negative offers than one with great content but that is so bad that one has to fight it just to get an adequate print. At least this has been my personal experience and the reason why I anted to learn to control my materials.....

  7. #57

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikewhi
    Great point<VBG>. Talk about sneaking one in! But I do note that you refer to 'perfectly exposed' chromes. When I talk about 'technically perfect' b&w negatives, people pull out sticks and start beating me. Why do you get off so easy? Why isn't a weak, overexposed chrome ok?

    Thanks.

    -Mike
    Because it IS the image and doesn't possess the latitude for error that all the 'artists' have Manipulate exposure for effect with glamour, fashion, etc. fine. Too much manipulation of exposure except for going a bit under for more color saturation in nature -- flowers, birds, etc. is not generally a very good thing if you are hoping to get it published.

    WYSIWYG... One shot-one chrome... Have trash can, will travel...

    Chromes have an intriguing sort of curve architecture...
    Imitation cameras come with big egos, real cameras do not include accessories.

  8. #58
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    In my opinion this is all just an exercise in verbal masturbation. Obviously there is no definitive answer, just as we can't agree on what is art.

    To you someone may be a master but to others he is a hack.

    There are "master printers" who never do their own photography but print the work of others. Are they not a "master" because they manipulate a negative to get their "vision" or the "vision" of the photographer on the paper irregardles of how well it was exposed.

    As for the concept of chromes. A chrome is a often the finished product (not always) therefore it should be placed in the same regard as a print, in terms of a finished work. As others have stated that the quality of the negative has no real bearing on the definition of whether a print is called a "master work".

    In the end we just sort of come to a nonverbal consensus that certain people are "masters" of their medium and even though we can disagree occasionally. It is a term that often means little to the recipient, because usually they are dead.

    We have argued the whole concept of "art" vs "craft" to death and now we can place "master" proudly with these other two as loaded words that can't convey the same thing to everyone.


    Michael McBlane
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  9. #59
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    I am surprised at the animosity Mike has experienced by saying that it is preferable to have the best possible negative and that it is something to strive for.
    Um, that ain't exactly what was said. LOL. What he said was:

    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.
    I don't think that's quite the same thing, do you? I'll let this thread go after this, I promise, but I find it odd that anyone would wonder why Mike's post would stir up some animosity.

    CJ out.

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    I dont know Cheryl, perhaps it was not put in the best way, but I am not sure the assumptions he made are incorrect. In my case I know that when I have to resort to bleaching or intesifying a negative, it was in most cases a result of an error I made in the field. Of course, there are the few instances where no matter how careful you where you would still have a negative that requires some salvaging.

    In essence, although perhaps he was not right to assume that most people doing extensive darkroom work do so because they were careless exposing their negatives, I have to think that if someone got offended by his remark he probably touched a sore spot....I can only speak for myself and I know what he wrote did not apply to me, so it did not matter.



 

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