Clive it was so perfect that it had to be cropped etc... whic doesn't bother me what bothers me is that a mediocre yes mediocre image is made into something by pseudo intellectuals and some photo historians that it isn't (I have a degree in the latter as well as in Art BS). HCB was never that good he was extremely well marketed and produced good work but that's it. I also honestly like his work but I don't parrot everything someone like Szarkowski or the Newhalls said.
Just to tell you a funny anecdote last year I went to a lecture about Atget the lecture was held by one of the more famous photo historians in the german speaking world. He showed a few photos and said something along the lines how great and really creative Atget was, amongst other things of course, because the included the arches of the corridor he was taking the photographs from. Well to make a short story long the room was not only full of photo historians but also full of LF photographers who prombtly pointed out that these arches are not arches at all but lens vignetting caused by using a Wide Angle lens that didn't cover the format with movement. That a large amount of the photo historians was surprised about this revelation is an understatement. But what it clearly showed was that in the academic world of european photo historians there are a lot of preconceived ideas and views, very little technical understanding and way too much philosophy. A process historian like Mark Ostermann who not only has the historicalbut also the technical knowledge would have seen the vignetting for what it is. One of the reasons of the shortsightness of a lot of photo historian is caused by overreliance on texts by amongst other things the above mentioned Newhalls and Szarkowski. Both the Newhalls and Szarkowski had an agenda and were everything but objective.
I'm sure there is a lot of truth in what you say about historians, just as there is probably the same amount of BS coming from people who are more concerned about technical perfection and little regard for aesthetics. I have heard it said that HCB is a photographer’s photographer and probably more appreciated by those of us struggling with the same media. I enjoyed the Atget anecdote, but find it difficult to believe they didn't recognise vignetting.