Fortunately we won’t all like his work, for it would be a dull world if we did, but pictorial quality, and content aside, I have had a valuable lesson in style, craftsmanship and presentation from viewing his work, which will affect my own for a long time to come.
If you're looking for Michael Kenna books and are finding it difficult, try Beyond Words, Scotland's only specialist photographic bookshop.
They have a great stock of well known and lesser known stuff, and also have a webshop with mail order. It's a great shop, be sure to visit if you're in Edinburgh.
If you're in London, any number of places off the Charing Cross Road will be only too happy to take your bees out of your Lucy -I usually go to Zwemmers, Borders or the Photogs Gallery Bookshop. The V+A one is good too. Or you could try Amazon.
"He took to writing poetry and visiting the elves: and though many shook their heads and touched their foreheads and said 'Poor old Baggins!' and though few believed any of his tales, he remained very happy till the end of his days, and those were extraordinarily long "- JRR Tolkien, ' The Hobbit '.
This week's AP has half a dozen pages on him to tie in with the exhibition. It also has a free lens wrap, so they seem to be flying off the shelves!
Went there yesterday and got a few surprises. All prints are 7x7 inches but in large frames seem to be the right size. Each print effectively says the same" toned silver gelatin" but no mention of what the toner is. All are warm looking.
Skies are superb but of course highly manipulated.
Some are minimalist especially the Japanese study but not all. There is a study of the Ford Rouge Plant in Dearborn which is pure "industryscape".There are two of his books on a coffee table with comfortable seating so you can look at both the books and prints on the wall.
He can create pictures which grab you from what appears to be very little subject matter.
His books are on sale at the desk. There were I think three - all at £50 each
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I think Kenna rarely, if ever, prints more than 10 inches square from what I have read. I think that what you are seeing in the skies is the result of very long exposures: he often exposes at night/dawn/dusk with exposures of up to several hours.
To me they look like split-toned selenium/sepia but I could easily be barking up the wrong tree as I've only seen reproductions so far and my colourblindness does not help....
I was going this week but it got too busy at work (which is a good thing, no, honest, it is...).
I saw this yesterday. I have both his "Retrospective " books, and I've seen exhibitions of his work, so perhaps I felt just a tiny bit disappointed that there weren't more prints there I hadn't seen before. And of course the thing about his books is that the reproduction is excellent by comparison with most, so seeing the "real thing" behind glass isn't as different as it would be with many photographers.
I did get the chance a year or so ago to handle some of his mounted prints that weren't protected by glass, and that was an experience I'd recommend if it ever comes your way. I don't know how he tones his work either, but it is clear that it hasn't remained the same throughout his active career. The older material at this exhibit seemed pretty neutral to me; the more recent came across as warm, sometimes vaguely cream/yellow; sometimes sofly pinkish; sometimes affecting the highlights, other times not.
For anyone with even a vague interest in his work, and who hasn't seen his prints before, I'd recommend it. His standards are high.
APUGer CrispinUK and myself visited the exhibition today along with my wife and daughter. I think that we were all spell-bound. The relatively small size of the images is perfect for Kenna's work. The size enhances the amazing way that he seems to create enormous contrast between the key elements of the scene and still manages to delivery some of the most delicate, soft-toned details elsewhere.
I found that the originals had higher contrast than the images in my copy of 'Japan' - a stunning book in all respects.
We too wondered at his methods of toning. my guess was also along the lines of selenium/sepia but whatever combination he uses he does it beautifully. I'd also love to know how he burns his images. The key dark elements are always pitch black and given their tack-sharp outlines I can only assume that he creates very accurate masks. Note that I'm a beginner when it comes to printing so others may have a much better idea of how he achieves his results.
Any insider info would be gratefully received.
If you're able to get to Banbury I'd highly recommend a visit. They'd run out of books to sell today but are expecting more soon.
Following our visit to Banbury we drove down to the Vale of the White Horse to take some black and white shots of The Manger and Wayland's Smithy. The skies had brightened for a while earlier in the day but turned resolutely grey during our time on The Ridgeway - c'est la vie - we still had a great time and exposed a couple of rolls of 120 film.
Quote from interview with Kenna in Black & White magazine (UK publication) in August 2003:
'All my prints are very slightly sepia toned. It's basically so the highlights become a little warmer and the shadows stay quite cold. It kind of inverses the way we normally see a print because usually the dark shapes come forward and the light shapes go back. Somehow it gives an extra dimension to the print. I've been toning in the same way for almost 30 years now.'
Barry - that's one of my favourite places - I've often spent the night at Waylands Smithy - would like to see how your pics turned out - I've never really got any successful pics of the area - I think it's all too "big" to capture on film.
Originally Posted by bwakel
I'm off to the exhibition this weekend - any tips for where to stay overnight? Is Banbury a nice place?