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Heroique
25-Mar-2015, 12:39
If you think AA's influence on how one visualizes the landscape is stale in our day and time, what is the best way for the practicing LFer to protest?

Shoot, print, and exhibit your own way? Promote the work of other artists? Wait patiently for cultural norms to change in their own mysterious way until they're more congenial to your own?

Or do you think such efforts pointless and, well, futile, since AA's most representative images communicate eternal, classic values – and will always remain worthy models for you to follow?

-----
Based on my always-limited (but ever-growing) knowledge of art through the ages of Western Civilization, I fall into the second camp on most days; yet based on what I know of AA's life and thought, it seems he'd applaud those who fall in the first camp, say "best of luck," but continue pursuing his own influential way...

Jac@stafford.net
25-Mar-2015, 13:40
If you think AA's influence on how one visualizes the landscape is stale in our day and time, what is the best way for the practicing LFer to protest?

Protest is not necessary, neither is looking for an antithesis for it surrounds us.

Ansel's work is already documentary. Saddening, is it not?

One project in the back of my mind is to photograph the USA's aerial infrastructure - the telephone, power, and cables that will eventually be buried. Any way one perceives them they remain remarkable.

Ken Lee
25-Mar-2015, 13:43
Let the muses guide you.

Heroique
25-Mar-2015, 14:30
Early bird tally:

Camp 1 (or, "AA isn't the boss of me"): 2 votes

Camp 2 (or, "AA's work and mine seek the same, eternal ideals"): 1 vote

This might go down to the wire!

baro-nite
25-Mar-2015, 14:34
Neither embrace nor fight. Acknowledge and accept, and try to learn from it.

Ray Heath
25-Mar-2015, 14:37
Why do you assume only two possibilities, for or against AA?

Some of us are ambivalent to his work.

Heroique
25-Mar-2015, 14:48
Why do you assume only two possibilities, for or against AA?

Some of us are ambivalent to his work.

It's an oversimplification designed to attract input and elaboration.

Your point about ambivalence toward AA's work helps do that.

That's actually my experience too, just not on "most days" as I stated.

Drew Wiley
25-Mar-2015, 16:09
AA ... yes, that's what the dictionary seems to start with, but frankly, the term involved is "aardvark", not Ansel. I just wish more people could read the dictionary
past that point, if you get my drift.

Kirk Gittings
25-Mar-2015, 19:52
Do you fight or embrace his influence on your landscapes?

Don't consciously think much about it one way or another. I respect his contributions, but don't deny or ride the coattails of his influence. Like O'Sullivan or the Westons or Wynn Bullock or Caponigro or Robert Adams or Sternfeld and many others, their aesthetic is simply part of the modern lexicon of landscape photography.

Alan Gales
25-Mar-2015, 20:04
Don't consciously think much about it one way or another. I respect his contributions, but don't deny or ride the coattails of his influence. Like O'Sullivan or the Westons or Wynn Bullock or Caponigro or Robert Adams or Sternfeld and many others, their aesthetic is simply part of the modern lexicon of landscape photography.

+1

I'm sure I have been influenced by other photographers but I just try to be myself and follow my own vision for good, bad or whatever.

Oren Grad
25-Mar-2015, 20:21
Do the work you need to do, without worrying about who may have influenced it.

jbenedict
25-Mar-2015, 21:04
AA's contribution to photography is a method of making photographs with predictable results based on how a photographer views an individual scene. It's not as the Great Yellow Father once advertised:"You push the button and we do the rest". The photographer is in control of each step in the process. AA's methods are one way to control the steps in producing a photograph in a predictable, repeatable way. A person could read and follow AA's three books and make some good looking photographs which might look an awful lot like AA's photos. As a person develops proficiency, the view will become more personal and the methods may change. There are certainly other ways to think of the photographic process besides AA's but his way works for a lot of people and seems to be a good place to begin.

neil poulsen
25-Mar-2015, 21:08
Ansel Adams, among other attributes, was an educator. For me, most of his education was towards providing a methodology consistent with basic principles of black and white film for photographers to pursue their own visual imagery.

o Techniques of working with large or medium format equipment. While L or MF lends itself towards landscape, it can be applied to other forms of imagery.

o I don't think there's any better resource on processing negatives or prints. (This is not about how best to create landscapes, but how to create any kind of black and white imagery.)

o We're faced with certain kinds of constraints, when working with black and white film. Within those constraints, the zone system provides a methodology to realize a previsualized image, whether it be a landscape, a portrait, or a totally created means of self expression.

A.A. does discuss how best to visualize landscape images. But I'm pleased that he does; this was an area of strength for him. But, his teachings certainly don't lock us into landscapes.


. . . Shoot, print, and exhibit your own way? . . . Wait patiently for cultural norms to change in their own mysterious way until they're more congenial to your own?

As to your comments above, absolutely, shoot, print, and exhibit your own way. (That's the best advise I ever received.)


. . . Wait patiently for cultural norms to change in their own mysterious way until they're more congenial to your own?

What's the point of waiting for cultural norms to change? I'm thinking that, the more "congenial" our own work is to existing cultural norms, the less chance our work has of really offering a contribution. It just kind of becomes more of the same.

Heroique
25-Mar-2015, 21:14
Some great replies so far, and just to add a slight twist to the theme of influence...

I often find myself trying to capture in my landscapes what I often feel by viewing some of AA's best known images – namely (at risk of using a hackneyed phrase) the sense of the sublime in nature.

And I mean "sublime" as the 19th-Century Romanticists discuss it in their treatises and try to express it their works – literary, musical, visual. The sense, that is, of something above and beyond the merely "beautiful."

So in one sense, AA's influence is working on me. But in another, it's like AA and I are pursuing a common (if elusive) sublimity which is, in some mysterious way, integral to the land forms before our cameras – that is, we are co-participating in a pursuit with a long history, and co-motivated perhaps by an aesthetic impulse common to all people.

Randy Moe
25-Mar-2015, 21:20
This!

"What's the point of waiting for cultural norms to change? I'm thinking that, the more "congenial" our own work is to existing cultural norms, the less chance our work has of really offering a contribution. It just kind of becomes more of the same."

Lenny Eiger
25-Mar-2015, 22:06
I think I can say unequivocally that AA is not an influence of mine.. at least not aesthetically. I do use the zone system all the time, so he certainly contributed to me technologically, but he wasn't the first to say "expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights..." As a landscape photographer, I am not that interested in his approach.

Darin Boville
25-Mar-2015, 22:47
Fight, embrace, ignore, despise, adore, react to, react against, and on and on. Different reactions at different times in my life.

I did a whole photo project on just this sort of question last year. You can see it here: http://www.darinboville.com/portfolio-three-red-circles/

--Darin

Randy Moe
25-Mar-2015, 23:00
Fight, embrace, ignore, despise, adore, react to, react against, and on and on. Different reactions at different times in my life.

I did a whole photo project on just this sort of question last year. You can see it here: http://www.darinboville.com/portfolio-three-red-circles/

--Darin

+1 and always get up.

plaubel
26-Mar-2015, 00:49
I believe, it is hard or unable, not to be influenced by artists like Adams.
Even if I would say "no, I don't want to make it in Adams way" - it is an influence of Adams.

"Unfortunately", I have regarded a lot of photographers.
So, I do understand my photography as a result of a lot of influence and some own parts.
Developing an own Style needs some days, and I am not sure, if it is free of influence then.

For me, Adams gave me great ideas, a nice technical base, and of course a lot of influence.
And I am wondering that my pictures doesn't look like his pictures :-)

Cheers,
Ritchie

Doremus Scudder
26-Mar-2015, 02:51
If you think AA's influence on how one visualizes the landscape is stale in our day and time, what is the best way for the practicing LFer to protest?

Stale in what way? His works still fetch high prices at auction, so they are not "stale" with collectors, who obviously like the way he visualized the landscape. Nor is his work stale with historians; Adams has a respected place in the history of photography that few would dispute. Stale as an influence, either to emulate or reject? Not that either given the amount of discussion dedicated to exactly this topic (e.g., this thread). How Adams influences the work of contemporary photographers (and my own work) is various; everything from "kill it dead" to copycat work... but that doesn't make it stale. Adams' influence is only stale if we do nothing with it or are simply unaware of it (same with our other models/influences on us). And, why protest if you can do something...

I happen to believe that landscape photography is a valid avenue of artistic expression. I'm sure not expressing what Adams was trying to, but I don't mind referring to his work in mine, nor having an educated viewer notice the allusion. It's kind of like quoting a theme from another composer in your work... a tip of the hat and an acknowledgement of respect, but certainly not blind adherence to any particular "school." I refer to our common visual history a lot in my work; painters, photographers, sculptors, architects, etc. That doesn't mean I'm not doing my own work.


Shoot, print, and exhibit your own way? Promote the work of other artists? Wait patiently for cultural norms to change in their own mysterious way until they're more congenial to your own? Or do you think such efforts pointless and, well, futile, since AA's most representative images communicate eternal, classic values – and will always remain worthy models for you to follow?

While we'd all like to sell lots more prints, I think that we really cannot escape ourselves in the way that you suggest. We have no choice but to "shoot, print, and exhibit in our own way." If you're a genius, then you just can't help it, nor can many escape being mediocre... We tend to think we have a lot more control over our direction and abilities than is often true. I find accepting that liberating. I like influences from myriad sources; they make me what and who I am. Then, I can just go out and do what I think is meaningful without worrying about "competing" on some aesthetic level... That doesn't mean I'm not aware of "the footsteps of giants behind me," rather that I willingly participate in the footrace and I don't always stay on the track.

I can't do anything about cultural norms except to influence them to the small extent I can. After that, I don't care.


Based on my always-limited (but ever-growing) knowledge of art through the ages of Western Civilization, I fall into the second camp on most days; yet based on what I know of AA's life and thought, it seems he'd applaud those who fall in the first camp, say "best of luck," but continue pursuing his own influential way...

In the world of music, learning the works, styles and techniques of the giants is the cornerstone of a good education. No musician worth his or her salt composes or performs without an underlying knowledge and understanding of what has gone before. They forms the vocabulary and framework on which new works are woven. This is as true of rock as it is of jazz and classical and is true the visual arts as well.

Trying to deny our influences is ultimately stifling; incorporating them into our world-view, in whatever capacity (positive, negative or "I could do that better/differently," or "I like this but want to use it for that..." etc.) is the key to synthesizing something personal, fresh and relevant.

Best,

Doremus

jp
26-Mar-2015, 05:18
And I mean "sublime" as the 19th-Century Romanticists discuss it in their treatises and try to express it their works – literary, musical, visual. The sense, that is, of something above and beyond the merely "beautiful."


I don't think AA had this activity to himself. Many photographers succeeded at this. Yet today (and then too) most simply were content with superficial beauty.

To answer the question...

I don't have a geography here typical of AA. I appreciate his work but I don't get all wrapped up in it. Eliot Porter, that's a different story. I embrace the intimate landscape and a greatly influenced by it even though I don't often do his exact style. Sometimes when I have a roll of color film in the rolleiflex I can't help it though and make some photos sufficiently derivative I could slip them into a EP book and confuse someone. I think intimate landscapes indirectly work well with my more usual style of pictorialism as there is little sense to capture a grand landscape without detail.

I have little use for changing cultural norms....

Heroique
26-Mar-2015, 05:35
Fight, embrace, ignore, despise, adore, react to, react against, and on and on. Different reactions at different times in my life.

This emotional tumult sums up, I think, the "ambivalence" toward AA that Ray Heath mentioned in post #6.

Briefly – a complex reaction, over time, to a powerful influence.

To be sure, it's coming out in several posts, many of which sound like a dutiful son struggling to find and assert his identity against an overly strong (but very good) father. The son sometimes adoring, sometimes defiant, sometimes accommodating. Father vs. son, in other words, the classic metaphorical struggle.

jnanian
26-Mar-2015, 06:12
he has never really influenced my landscapes ( i don't usually gravitate to landscapes landscape imagery )
but i can see how his work influences a lot of people. if he does influence me, i don't fight it, i don't think about it
and i don't worry about it.

Corran
26-Mar-2015, 06:46
As a landscape photographer, I am not that interested in his approach.

I would be interested to hear what you would define as "his approach" and in contrast "your approach" (or another photographer's approach that differs from AA that you take inspiration from).

paulr
26-Mar-2015, 07:04
The question presumes a belief expressed by John Szarkowsky, which is that American landscape photographers can't escape the shadow of Ansel. He said this because of Ansel's a huge cultural presence in the middle of the 20th Century. First through how-to books, then through landscape pictures, then through activism and celebrity. His ideas and images were in the air, and whether you liked or hated them, were acutely or vaguely aware of them, it was perhaps impossible to avoid their influenced entirely. Of course, rebellion is a kind of influence.

All of this is 100% separate from whether you think his work is good or interesting.

My personal path went from embracing to rejecting to thinking about other things entirely. But his influence is there if you dig for it, even if it's mostly 2nd or 3rd hand. You may be more indebted to Robert Adams' work, but this work, too, exists in a conversation framed in part by AA.

Peter Lewin
26-Mar-2015, 07:06
What strikes me about the question, and the posted responses, is that none of them mention historical context. Probably because I just finished reading Alinder's "Group f.64" which is entirely about historical context, I look at the question a little differently.

Ansel Adams was one of the founders of Group f.64, one of it's two most prominent members (along with Edward Weston), and probably it's most prolific writer. So Adams, with his friends, achieved or changed many things: they shifted the photography aesthetic away from pictorialism (imitating painting or sketching or another existing art form) to a more realistic approach to imagery (based on the unique optics of the camera), they helped establish photography as an art worthy of museum exhibitions at a time when most museums considered photography "less than an art," they established an entire "West Coast" school of photographers at a time when photography was concentrated in the East, and Adams in his role as an educator wrote not only articles, but his now famous series of books on cameras, prints, and negatives, as well as being a major contributor to the Sierra Club and the National Parks System. We take much of this for granted today, but it was new and ground-breaking when Adams did it. So rather than being "stale," much of what we do today is built on foundations that Adams, along with others, pioneered.

But I think what Heroique is getting at in his question is whether Adams's images are now stale. To some extent the answer is "yes," not because Adams was not a great photographer, but because the West Coast school of landscape photography has become ubiquitous. Various posters have joked about, how when they visited Yosemite and other Western landmarks, they put their tripods in Ansel's tripod holes. When I was in New Mexico on vacation, at Rancho de Taos, I had to consciously try to avoid replicating Paul Strand's or Adams's images. They were fresh when they made them, but now they border on cliche. I remember a similar thread on this forum, which dealt with the issue that almost any image we make has already been made. The conclusion which resonated the most with me was that while our images may not be original any more, the act of making them was original to each of us at the time, i.e. it is the circumstances and emotions involved in making our images that gives them value to each of us, not the final image itself.

Michael Graves
26-Mar-2015, 07:37
I have a harder time fighting the Paul Caponigro influence.

Gary Tarbert
26-Mar-2015, 07:41
Being based in Australia Ansel had very little influence on my photography , but i have seen some of Ansels work in the flesh and i must say if i were in another place , Another time that may have been been different

John Kasaian
26-Mar-2015, 07:51
Ansel Adams is a major influence on the way I see the landscape, but I don't consider the Zone System my religion. Does that make sense?

fishbulb
26-Mar-2015, 08:26
I like Ansel's work, and own a lot of his books. If you have a copy of "400 photographs" you can watch his work evolve over time. His early stuff, 1920s and earlier is generally pretty ho-hum. The more he did it the better he got. Like most of "the greats" he spent a lot of time on his craft. But that's not all he had going for him - he was also a good writer (and also got better over time), and a keen observer of nature and humanity. His final work, his autobiography, would be an excellent book, even if it had no photographs.

So Ansel's success is a mixture of luck
* born into middle class, so he got an education and was able to write well, and could move in the right circles
* born at the right time - where photography was starting to be taken seriously as art, but the art world had not yet been flooded with it
* born in the right place - California was his backyard, and he had many opportunities early in his career (San Francisco art circles) not available elsewhere

but also skill and hard work
* dedication to photography, exploration, and travel
* dedication to writing about it extensively (few other photographers of his day were as prolific)
* willing to make the sacrifices - long hours driving, getting up early, often traveling alone, etc.

So for me, I draw inspiration from the latter list. If I worked half as hard on my photography as Ansel did, I'd consider myself a success.

Jmarmck
26-Mar-2015, 08:35
When I setup a shot I am not thinking, "what would Ansel do." I use the tools available and my own personal experience and knowledgebase to drive my decisions, not AA, Weston, or even my mother. I am fairly ignorant when it comes to the works and contributions of the "Greats". I am also inexperienced in many aspects of photography. But I do know what I like when I see it. Capturing it on film is a life's endeavor, an impossible goal. I will use the tools at hand at the time to make my attempts to capture an image, right or wrong, conventional or off the wall. AA et. al are not in my head like some disciple trying to please the master. Learning by reading and personal experience is.

John Kasaian
26-Mar-2015, 08:43
I don't quite get exactly what it means to fight or embrace Ansel Adams. I think Ansel would get quite a chuckle out of that one!

paulr
26-Mar-2015, 08:58
This question really forces us to consider what "influence" means. To what degree it has to be conscious, and to what degree unconscious influences may be even more powerful, since they go unquestioned. Consider David Foster Wallace's Fish Story (http://moreintelligentlife.com/story/david-foster-wallace-in-his-own-words):

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"

We're all swimming in water. Many waters. Some of us may be more or less aware that it's there, that it has qualities which determine our every move.

Theorists like Harold Bloom spent their professional lives thinking about the issues of influence (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Anxiety_of_Influence). Bloom's question concerned, primarily, how to be aware of the water and how to do more in our artistic lives than be swept along by it.

The weakest position of all is to say you have no influences. Simply by using a view camera you're profoundly influenced by Alberti and Columbus, and the other Renaissance theorists of modern perspective. If you're photographing landscapes at all, you're indebted to the post-17th Century European landscape art tradition. And to the 19th Century American painters who widened the possibilities of landscape to include uncultivated land. You can pretend your esthetic sensibilities are naive; that they emerged organically in the walled garden of your imagination, uninfluenced by the other pictures you've seen ... by what was presented to you as beautiful as a child. But I doubt this view will hold up to much scrutiny.

fishbulb
26-Mar-2015, 09:04
The weakest position of all is to say you have no influences. ... You can pretend your esthetic sensibilities are naive; that they emerged organically in the walled garden of your imagination, uninfluenced by the other pictures you've seen ... by what was presented to you as beautiful as a child. But I doubt this view will hold up to much scrutiny.

Yeah, I hear every now and then and always have a chuckle about it. :D We are all standing on the shoulders of giants...

paulr
26-Mar-2015, 09:26
We are all standing on the shoulders of giants...

And goofballs, and advertisers, and pulp writers, and propagandists, and pop stars ...

Bill_1856
26-Mar-2015, 10:07
[QUOTE=fishbulb;1229999]
* he got an education and was able to write well, and could move in the right circles/QUOTE]

He had an 8th grade education, (barely), and was thrown out of several elementary schools due to his hyperactivity.

Vaughn
26-Mar-2015, 10:15
All I can say is that I am kinda thankful I did not know about Ansel Adams much when I was first photographing...that influence came after I had already started to develop a way of seeing. But I grew up with two large Carleton Watkins prints on the walls...talk about influence!

fishbulb
26-Mar-2015, 11:24
He had an 8th grade education, (barely), and was thrown out of several elementary schools due to his hyperactivity.

But relatively speaking, he was decently educated. From 1910-1920, when Ansel was school-age, only 60%-65% of 5-to-19-year-olds even attended school at all. During this time, only 10-to-20% of them went on to graduate from high school. [source (http://nces.ed.gov/pubs93/93442.pdf)]

Anecdotally, my grandfather (about a decade younger than Ansel) only had an eighth grade education as well, but taught at a community college for 50 years. Education requirements and expectations were a lot different back then.

Drew Wiley
26-Mar-2015, 11:45
I never even saw a real AA print until one day when I was sneaking out of one of my own gallery openings in his own town (Carmel). So there's goes that "influence" nonsense. I had pretty much already found my own groove. Despite growing up very near Yosemite, my parents never wanted me walking into Best Studio because of all the little ceramic chipmunks and so forth meticulously balanced right on the edges of the shelves, precisely so little boys like me would knock them off. Only my older brother went in there to see prints. And when I got older, I never spent anytime in Yosemite Valley, but always headed into backcountry. I did get to see a number of authentic EW prints when I was young. But I cut my teeth on color printing anyway, and only learned black and white due a tough spell financially, because it was so much cheaper than printing color. Nowadays I kinda find myself more and more attracted to b&w.

Andrew O'Neill
26-Mar-2015, 12:25
The first book I ever read on photography was in '92, AA guide to photography, by John Schaefer. I had been taking b/w snaps with my Pentax K1000 for 4 years before buying it. I learnt a lot from that book. Had no clue that one could have so much control over the process. I never was a landscape photographer, unless there's an interesting piece of architecture in a landscape, though... but still, I am influenced a bit by him. Most of us are.
Have you ever looked at someone's work and thought to yourself, "wow, that person was obviously influenced by AA"?

Heroique
26-Mar-2015, 12:27
I never even saw a real AA print until one day when I was sneaking out of one of my own gallery openings in his own town (Carmel). So there's goes that "influence" nonsense. I had pretty much already found my own groove.

Heavens forbid that I challenge your claim, but I can't help but ask whether you might be a young fish swimming in the water? (See Paul's fishy post #33)

And what about the influence of your aunt, the artist Lucia Wiley?

Didn't she help form the groove you call your own?

Kirk Gittings
26-Mar-2015, 13:10
I never even saw a real AA print until one day when I was sneaking out of one of my own gallery openings in his own town (Carmel). So there's goes that "influence" nonsense. I had pretty much already found my own groove. Despite growing up very near Yosemite, my parents never wanted me walking into Best Studio because of all the little ceramic chipmunks and so forth meticulously balanced right on the edges of the shelves, precisely so little boys like me would knock them off. Only my older brother went in there to see prints. And when I got older, I never spent anytime in Yosemite Valley, but always headed into backcountry. I did get to see a number of authentic EW prints when I was young. But I cut my teeth on color printing anyway, and only learned black and white due a tough spell financially, because it was so much cheaper than printing color. Nowadays I kinda find myself more and more attracted to b&w.

Don't know why one would think they had to see an original AA print to be influenced by him unless you think it is all about his print quality and not his imagery. He was a major figure in the medium long before I got serious about photography in 1970. I knew all about him and his imagery long before I saw an original print.

Heroique
26-Mar-2015, 13:10
I like influences from myriad sources; they make me what and who I am.

Doremus, Forgive me for removing this sentence from the context of your thoughtful post, so I can suggest that resisting these influences is what makes you who you are, not just accommodating them.

It also allows me to paraphrase, with greater effect, what I explicitly (and implicitly) hear in about half the replies so far:

The landscape photographer's search for autonomy is impeded by the accumulated weight of tradition.

Leszek Vogt
26-Mar-2015, 13:13
Anyone who has lived here for many years would likely see AA images, whether plugging Yosemite, NG advert, bla bla bla. It's a personal decision how one reacts to that. I can't say I haven't been influenced by his work, but there has been many that played much larger role in my life. Some are photographers, some are painters, and many cinematographers.... and their approaches (technique, etc) to light and frame aesthetic differ widely. I may now think of it as "my own style", but some of that could be a subconscious reflection to prior experiences as well as being at certain space at certain time.

Frankly I don't dwell whether it's positive/negative....I find my own tripod holes and whether other greats have photographed at that space....well, that is blurred out, as I have to think at present tense. OK, where have I put that 10X ND filter ?

Les

John Kasaian
26-Mar-2015, 13:22
I never even saw a real AA print until one day when I was sneaking out of one of my own gallery openings in his own town (Carmel). So there's goes that "influence" nonsense. I had pretty much already found my own groove. Despite growing up very near Yosemite, my parents never wanted me walking into Best Studio because of all the little ceramic chipmunks and so forth meticulously balanced right on the edges of the shelves, precisely so little boys like me would knock them off. Only my older brother went in there to see prints. And when I got older, I never spent anytime in Yosemite Valley, but always headed into backcountry. I did get to see a number of authentic EW prints when I was young. But I cut my teeth on color printing anyway, and only learned black and white due a tough spell financially, because it was so much cheaper than printing color. Nowadays I kinda find myself more and more attracted to b&w. I remember Best's Studio, Drew! My folks wouldn't let me go in there by myself either

Oren Grad
26-Mar-2015, 13:24
There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"

We're all swimming in water. Many waters. Some of us may be more or less aware that it's there, that it has qualities which determine our every move.

Theorists like Harold Bloom spent their professional lives thinking about the issues of influence (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Anxiety_of_Influence). Bloom's question concerned, primarily, how to be aware of the water and how to do more in our artistic lives than be swept along by it.

This is the nub of the matter. Must an artist devote attention to identifying influences and devising responses to them for his artistic life to be worth living?

It's fine if that sort of introspection is something you groove on. It's equally fine if not.

Bloom's perspective is warped by his fixation on originality. Artists are not obligated to share that fixation.

Kirk Gittings
26-Mar-2015, 13:31
Bloom's perspective is warped by his fixation on originality. Artists are not obligated to share that fixation.

Absolutely, the myth of the heroic, individual "artist" (spoken with a French accent :) ). When encountering new work the first question I ask myself is "is it any good?" not is it unique, original, derivative etc.

Bruce Watson
26-Mar-2015, 14:00
If you think AA's influence on how one visualizes the landscape is stale in our day and time, what is the best way for the practicing LFer to protest?

But I don't think that. Mr. Adams' work is what got me into LF in the first place. But my bigger influence is undoubtedly Eliot Porter. I don't live in Adams' West, I live in Porter's East.

In any case, I don't think Adams' visualization of landscape is stale any more than I think Vincent van Gogh's visualization of landscape is stale.


Shoot, print, and exhibit your own way?

Isn't this all any of us can do? While I may be influenced by those that came before me, I ended up with a style that isn't any of theirs. It's mine. What you see is how I think photographically. It's not a protest, it's just me.

Heroique
26-Mar-2015, 14:19
Isn't this [shooting one's own way] all any of us can do?

You do realize (don't you?) that this is going to upset many people here who are very proud of their derivative and imitative work.

;^)

sun of sand
26-Mar-2015, 15:49
I think artists steal from other artists all the time
In fact
Intrinsic to art

There has never been an entirely original artist

Jac@stafford.net
26-Mar-2015, 15:51
You do realize (don't you?) that this is going to upset many people here who are very proud of their derivative and imitative work.

;^)

That is what Fine Art Photography is all about.

Drew Wiley
26-Mar-2015, 15:53
Heroique - I dunno about that "water" thing. I was happy enough that a couple of the biggest fish anyone ever heard of bought a few of my prints and went out
of their way to phone me with compliments. Not bad for a whippersnapper who didn't know what water was was yet. But definitely no, I wasn't AA-influenced. I admire his work, and over the years have coincidentally landed a few mtn shots which might have hypothetically coincided with how he could have seen something similar. But even when my tripod has literally been in exactly the same spot where his once was, and I even recognized the association with a particular image of his, my camera ended up pointing some other direction, and I shot and printed something that made me think, why the hell didn't AA even see that shot? It's a pity that the stupid web won't allow delicate imagery to be presented without utterly butchering it; otherwise, people could see how much of my own suite of even black and white work really is different. But for now, I've pulled the entire site. Disgusted with superficial surfers that confuse a splotch
on the screen for the real deal.

paulr
26-Mar-2015, 15:54
Bloom's perspective is warped by his fixation on originality. Artists are not obligated to share that fixation.

Bloom's got a lot of issues. I don't bring him up as the final word on anything; just an example of how the issue of influence is a big one that has attracted a lot of thought and debate over the years.

I don't personally believe there's such thing as originality in an absolute sense. But I think it exists in a relative sense, and has value. The artists who make the biggest impact are ones who expand our ways of looking at the world—they don't achieve this by duplicating exactly what came before them.

It's my hope as an artist to bring something new to the party. I want to offer something that's more than my version of the same old thing. While I disagree with Bloom on a lot of points, I think there's something to the dilemma he presents. We are all unique individuals, uniquely weird ones. We have experiences and perspectives not shared by anyone else. And yet we have this tendency let our creativity be bound by these oppressive, small boxes—ones that were often built long before we were born. Why do we do that? How do get out of it? Some people don't care, but some do ...

Drew Wiley
26-Mar-2015, 15:56
... or we could just switch names around and claim that AA was simply a clone of Paul Strand, but with better PR skills. Go back far enough are we're into cave
painting, which essentially copied itself for tens of thousands of years.

Vaughn
26-Mar-2015, 16:02
If there is any lasting influence that Ansel may have on photography, I believe it will not just be the images he created, but of greater importance, the number of photographers he helped to influence through his part in creating The Friends of Photography. By the time I started to participate and became a workshop assistant, Ansel had died, but the range of photographers brought together in Carmel as faculty and assistants was incredible. And the participants/students great. And I can only imagine the workshops before my time. A lot of photo energy flowing out into the world from Carmel those days!

That is a heck of a lot of influence to try to ignore or to protest.

sun of sand
26-Mar-2015, 16:04
Wqxr
A composer is accused of theft


How about john williams the famous cinescorer
Copies classical music

Corran
26-Mar-2015, 16:04
I hope one day I can see a real Drew Wiley print. I'll either laugh or I'll cry. One or the other, no in between I think. :o

lfpf
26-Mar-2015, 16:10
Adams' commitment to affecting social and political change through his chosen craft is as, if not more, important than his photos. Use your chosen craft as best you can.

Drew Wiley
26-Mar-2015, 16:15
AA was despised by the "politically correct" of his own era for NOT espousing social issues and hobnobbing with the rich (not entirely true, of course). And now he's despised by a particular extremely politically correct faction for being an evil "environmentalist" in the first place. There are plenty of biographies to deal with what he was or was not in that respect. At a gut level, one should just be able to make beautiful prints because they want to. No ulterior motive necessary.

Drew Wiley
26-Mar-2015, 16:16
Corran - you won't be the first to eat your own words. That much I can guarantee.

fishbulb
26-Mar-2015, 16:45
Corran - you won't be the first to eat your own words. That much I can guarantee.

Hmm. I tried to visit your website, but it's down.


It's a pity that the stupid web won't allow delicate imagery to be presented without utterly butchering it; otherwise, people could see how much of my own suite of even black and white work really is different. But for now, I've pulled the entire site. Disgusted with superficial surfers that confuse a splotchon the screen for the real deal.

Ah. It seems like we've got here is a case of "you can dish it out, but you can't take it".

Either put your site back up, or take down your attitude. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

EDIT: never mind, found it on archive.org https://web.archive.org/web/20131020034520/http://www.drewwiley.com/index.php if anyone is curious.

Heroique
26-Mar-2015, 17:24
But even when my tripod has literally been in exactly the same spot where Ansel once was, and I even recognized the association with a particular image of his, my camera ended up pointing some other direction, and I shot and printed something that made me think, why the hell didn't AA even see that shot?

An entertaining anecdote – exhibiting little if any "anxiety of influence."

Sounds like you broke out of the "small oppressive box" that Paul mentions above in post #53.

Your Aunt Lucia Wiley would be proud!

Jac@stafford.net
26-Mar-2015, 17:29
I am highly suspicious of posts which chant "I" frequently, in particular as the first letter of a post, and when the poster suggests that we should adopt his view. The most annoying are from that person who seems compelled to reply several times a day to the same old tune. Just this one time, just this one post let me say "Nobody cares!"

You know who you are.

Bill_1856
26-Mar-2015, 17:35
St. Ansel is a great landscape photographer. Live with it!

Oren Grad
26-Mar-2015, 18:00
It's my hope as an artist to bring something new to the party. I want to offer something that's more than my version of the same old thing. While I disagree with Bloom on a lot of points, I think there's something to the dilemma he presents. We are all unique individuals, uniquely weird ones. We have experiences and perspectives not shared by anyone else. And yet we have this tendency let our creativity be bound by these oppressive, small boxes—ones that were often built long before we were born. Why do we do that? How do get out of it? Some people don't care, but some do ...

Self-consciousness about uniqueness and originality arguably is itself a box and a flavor of conformity. If that is one's temperament, though, it might be just as well to go with the flow.

Kirk Gittings
26-Mar-2015, 19:21
As I think Robert Adams said somewhere (might be "Beauty in Photography" or it might have been in personal correspondence), photography is always new because the world we photograph is always new from moment to changing moment. But he was big on the idea that photography should be about the world and not our own petty preoccupations.

sun of sand
26-Mar-2015, 19:53
I am highly suspicious of posts which chant "I" frequently, in particular as the first letter of a post, and when the poster suggests that we should adopt his view. The most annoying are from that person who seems compelled to reply several times a day to the same old tune. Just this one time, just this one post let me say "Nobody cares!"

You know who you are.


Did this guy just abuse lff TOS?



...as well as his own dislikes?

Im suspicious of people who discount others so easily and then try to get others to join them without ever presenting anything to the contrary

Shut up is not an intellectuals method of tearing someones ideas down
Thats more an insecure person scared of saying something that anither with whom hes tried to align himself with could take issue with quickly landing outside the desired circle hes fought so wimply to attain

Kinda like a kidadult telling someone hes putting them on block


Use your buttons

Oren Grad
26-Mar-2015, 19:55
Self-consciousness about uniqueness and originality arguably is itself a box and a flavor of conformity. If that is one's temperament, though, it might be just as well to go with the flow.

Ack, apologies if that sounded dismissive. What I had in mind is that worrying about this, in this way, itself is a fashion and has a cultural history, and isn't really an escape to some privileged place where one can see the truth unvarnished.

Regular Rod
27-Mar-2015, 03:29
If you think AA's influence on how one visualizes the landscape is stale in our day and time, what is the best way for the practicing LFer to protest?

Shoot, print, and exhibit your own way? Promote the work of other artists? Wait patiently for cultural norms to change in their own mysterious way until they're more congenial to your own?

Or do you think such efforts pointless and, well, futile, since AA's most representative images communicate eternal, classic values – and will always remain worthy models for you to follow?

-----
Based on my always-limited (but ever-growing) knowledge of art through the ages of Western Civilization, I fall into the second camp on most days; yet based on what I know of AA's life and thought, it seems he'd applaud those who fall in the first camp, say "best of luck," but continue pursuing his own influential way...

We are all influenced by everything we see or experience. There is nothing you, or anyone else, can do about that, so if you, or anyone else, see Ansel Adams' images, you and they are influenced by them. This applies to everything, not just the works of Ansel Adams. Even the images of least merit (whatever that may mean) made by the lowest of the low, influence anyone who sees them. The influence may be positive or negative (again whatever those terms may mean) but the influence is there, no matter how slight it may be...

RR

Doremus Scudder
27-Mar-2015, 05:24
Doremus, Forgive me for removing this sentence from the context of your thoughtful post, so I can suggest that resisting these influences is what makes you who you are, not just accommodating them.

It also allows me to paraphrase, with greater effect, what I explicitly (and implicitly) hear in about half the replies so far:

The landscape photographer's search for autonomy is impeded by the accumulated weight of tradition.

Heroique,

The point I was making is that the "search for autonomy" is meaningless. The accumulated weight of tradition is simply the cultural milieu we grew up and exist in. The "influences from myriad sources" [I love quoting myself...] can be positive, negative, ambivalent, whatever you wish, but they still make us who we are, whether we like it or not. I don't think we're impeded by our influences, rather, our work would be impossible without them.


...
The weakest position of all is to say you have no influences. Simply by using a view camera you're profoundly influenced by Alberti and Columbus, and the other Renaissance theorists of modern perspective. If you're photographing landscapes at all, you're indebted to the post-17th Century European landscape art tradition. And to the 19th Century American painters who widened the possibilities of landscape to include uncultivated land. You can pretend your esthetic sensibilities are naive; that they emerged organically in the walled garden of your imagination, uninfluenced by the other pictures you've seen ... by what was presented to you as beautiful as a child. But I doubt this view will hold up to much scrutiny.

Paul,

This is so beautifully formulated that I had to quote it. We're all a product of our culture and its myriad influences. How we react to them is maybe less of a matter of free will than we like to think.

... Bloom's perspective is warped by his fixation on originality. Artists are not obligated to share that fixation.


I think artists steal from other artists all the time. [It is] In fact Intrinsic to art. There has never been an entirely original artist

Oren and SoS,

Indeed, an emphasis an "originality" has become the norm. For some, "original" is better than good (I heard a curator say once, "His work has too much craftsmanship, it can't be original."). What is original in art is a creative and innovative synthesis of influences and, yes, once in a while, new discoveries (technology plays a huge role here). In the past, artists, writers and composers aspired to master their craft and emulate the masters. Bach wasn't trying to be "original" in the sense it is implied today, neither was Michelangelo or Virgil; they just were, due to their "hard-wiring" and the fortunate confluence of their intellect and cultures. Even Leonard Bernstein decried the cult of "originality." He famously contended that composers were not original, the simply stole from the past and that, "If you're a good composer, you steal good steals."

Now, back to work stealing!

Doremus

paulr
27-Mar-2015, 06:27
My bigger point with all this ... that the more you're aware of your influences, the more choice you have in how to respond to them.
One choice is to actively expand the sphere of your influences. Which I think is called education.

Bruce Watson
27-Mar-2015, 07:42
You do realize (don't you?) that this is going to upset many people here who are very proud of their derivative and imitative work.

Imitating the masters is one way of learning. It can be a good teaching tool. But you do it enough and you begin to deviate from the masters. First you start walking beside their path, then you start branching off from their path because you see something that you find interesting that they would have ignored, and pretty soon you find that you're making your own path.

If you'd asked me in the beginning I would have told you with great conviction that the group-64 ideal of everything in focus was the truth of photography. But my style evolved away from that to where I was using the plane of focus as yet another tool in directing the eye of the viewer. I went from true believer to heretic. Oh well.

Drew Wiley
27-Mar-2015, 08:36
Jillions of outdoor photographers have imitated AA's technical approach - after all, he did a very good job teaching it. And jillions imitate his typical subject matter. Very few inherited his poetic sensitivity or respect for the nuances of light; and frankly, that is an aspect that quite a few people apparently can't even recognize, even when they try to mimic the relatively dramatic famous images. I personally feel a continuity with the whole West Coast tradition of fine printmaking. But my relation to mountain and coast subject matter is native, not an acquired affectation. That's where I'm from. And as far as things like the Zone System go, I merely adapt what is logically useful to me and ignore the rest. In fact, other than using it as a common-denominator communication tool on forums like this one, I never even think about it, either in the field or in the darkroom. All that became spontaneous a long time back, and a whole lot more.

Drew Wiley
27-Mar-2015, 08:52
Hmmm.... my apologies, Fishbulb. I thought I had taken the site down. Oh well. No priority either way. But it's precisely because of attitudes like yours that I despise visual web communication in general. Looking at images on the web is like trying to hear a symphony with a lawmower going next door. In other words,
its a very very poor tool for non-verbal, non-technical content. But I'll get around to at least improving my own site once I get my new copy station in place. I've
torn out the old one, repainted the floor etc etc. Got about two years of backlog drymounting before I can even think of a subsidiary project like that.

Heroique
27-Mar-2015, 11:42
Heroique, The point I was making is that the "search for autonomy" is meaningless. The accumulated weight of tradition is simply the cultural milieu we grew up and exist in. The "influences from myriad sources" [I love quoting myself...] can be positive, negative, ambivalent, whatever you wish, but they still make us who we are, whether we like it or not. I don't think we're impeded by our influences, rather, our work would be impossible without them.

I think what you're struggling to point out is the grand, general theme of the individual (or the artist) vs. society – or, as it applies to this thread, one's individual landscape work vs. Ansel Adams' influence.

It's revealing how much energy you're putting into acknowledging how you're being made by society, and how little energy into how you, as an individual, might make or influence it.

Your remark that "the search for autonomy is meaningless" is a clear symptom of this!

It's a cross-pollinating dynamic, of course, with the direction of emphasis (between individual and society) dependent on the person, the society, the historical time period, etc.

In brief, I think your remarks suggest you're feeling a great cultural load or burden on your shoulders, which naturally comes, as it should, with education. And you're not alone in feeling this in the advanced, complex, tradition-informed culture we live in. But try to shake it off once in a while! You can perform such a revolutionary act of independence, and in a socially meaningful way, if you learn about your "myriad influences" as best you can, then when it's important, resist and try to influence them for a change.

You can find the individual again. ;^)



I went from true believer to heretic.

You just said in seven words what I tried to say with a bushel!

Drew Wiley
27-Mar-2015, 12:08
I have close to zero artistic influence on anyone, and really don't care. Once in awhile it is gratifying to share images, show stuff, make a buck, etc. But artistic and social influence are more related to mass-dissemination than quality per se. AA did apply his skills to noble causes, like the creation of Kings Canyon NP. But images are also used for "swiftboating". Even the Spanish-American War was triggered at the popular level by a "photoshopped" image - in that era meaning a widely published drawing of a fictitious event; but it had the same calculated effect. Possibly the most influential photograph in history is the Marlboro Man. Hardly a work of art, but look at how many people it has killed! So by some definitions of "art", one of those billboards should land in a museum as the greatest piece of all time. But all it takes is one of my routine typos to turn the word "art" into "rat". At least a rat indicates some species of foul rodent; who the heck knows what art means, or fine art. Rat vs fine rat, I guess.

Jmarmck
27-Mar-2015, 12:18
Hardly a work of art, but look at how many people it has killed!
*Thinks of Hitler's watercolor that is for sale.*

Drew Wiley
27-Mar-2015, 12:36
Hitler's art has been ridiculed, and perhaps he was indeed frustrated in terms of a potential fine arts career. But he was good enough to have hypothetically made
a living as a commercial illustrator. The sales appeal of infamy in the sheer lack of talent would better fit someone like John Wayne Gacy. Or, for a combination of
rage as the formal response to being artistically dissed, try Charles Manson and his guitar.

Will S
27-Mar-2015, 13:01
So Ansel's success is a mixture of luck
* born into middle class, so he got an education and was able to write well, and could move in the right circles
//snip
If I worked half as hard on my photography as Ansel did, I'd consider myself a success.

To support your point, don't forget he was ADHD or possibly borderline autistic and couldn't attend school in his youth. He was extremely lucky in the father he had. Especially, I think for that time. And Adams evidently worked almost every day of the year ( except when he was hungover :-))

David_Senesac
27-Mar-2015, 13:10
No direct influence mainly because his body of work was in black and white with large format view camera equipment I knew little about. Never had formal schooling in photography because at an amateur level its nature is not so complicated or difficult to understand that one needs formal instruction.

The formative years of my photography were in 80s using early 35mm SLR cameras shooting color transparencies. I bought my camera's system thick user book which had thorough basic information about photography and read it numerous times. I was more influenced by the many photography magazines of that era like Popular Photography, Outdoor Photography, and the like. Galen Rowell's Mountain Light was probably the most influential at an artistic level. I was somewhat influenced by what I like in all manner of others work as my own sense of the aesthetic evolved. For many years I made lots of prints, hung them on my walls, and thus evolved a more advanced aesthetic sense by having to judge them repeatedly. Also as an old hi tech computer person that used Photoshop from the early days mid 90s, working at that intimate level tends to force one to really start to understand image visual aesthetics from their micro element structural levels.

paulr
27-Mar-2015, 13:43
...you're not alone in feeling this in the advanced, complex, tradition-informed culture we live in. But try to shake it off once in a while!

Well, this is one of the central platitudes of nearly every Disney movie and after-school special. Right along with "you can be anything you want to be!" and "everyone's special!"

But looking at the evidence, it seems like only a tiny percentage of people manage to shake it off in a meaningful way. Which suggests it's not so easy. The more helpful advice would concern how to go about it.

Heroique
27-Mar-2015, 14:20
Hmm, either my simplification to get the deeper point across is invisible to you, or you’re confusing our community for a group of trained philosophers?

But to address "how to go about it," and with an understanding of the audience here, I'd suggest someone elaborate upon David Foster Wallace's Disney-like fish analogy in Paul's post #33:

How would the young fishes have replied to "Mornin' boys, How's the water?" if they were to express their individuality against their watery medium – not their unconsciousness of it?

A chance to be a Disney script writer!

paulr
27-Mar-2015, 14:28
Hmm, either my simplification to get the point across is invisible to you, or you’re confusing our community for a group of philosophers?

No, a group of practitioners who might want to know.


But to address "how to go about it," and with an understanding of the audience here, I'd suggest someone elaborate upon David Foster Wallace's Disney-like fish analogy

Wallace's speech went on for another 30 minutes, dealing precisely with how to be aware of the water, although he was addressing a different set of questions than ours.

Bloom wrote hundreds of pages on the topic. Not Disney, but also not as an academic exercise.

I just think the "be yourself!" exhortations ring hollow, considering that everyone's been told this since they were babies, but so few seem to manage.

fishbulb
27-Mar-2015, 14:42
I just think the "be yourself!" exhortations ring hollow, considering that everyone's been told this since they were babies, but so few seem to manage.

"Be yourself" is lousy advice anyway...

“If you trust in yourself. . .and believe in your dreams. . .and follow your star. . . you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy.” ― Terry Pratchett

Heroique
27-Mar-2015, 14:52
No, a group of practitioners who might want to know.

Well, I think a majority of the practitioners around here want to listen to a talking fish, not to Bloom.

So, here's a fun sequel to the cartoon Paul brought up back in post #33 – but I'm not very good at this, someone else is bound to better:


Big fish: "Mornin' boys, how's the water?"

Little fish: "A friendly greeting to you too, Mister! The water's fine at the moment, and I hope you're enjoying it too, but there's more to our enjoyment than the water we're swimming in. For the breeze just above the surface – near the bank over there – is blowing insects into the water! My friend and I have just enjoyed a sumptuous breakfast, and if you have an appetite, we recommend the same spot before the morning grows long and the wind grows still..."

Or at least this is how it might start, showing a consciousness bigger than one's immediate cultural surroundings, and a first step to expressing individuality, etc.

Jac@stafford.net
27-Mar-2015, 15:13
I just think the "be yourself!" exhortations ring hollow, considering that everyone's been told this since they were babies, but so few seem to manage.

After military service of four years where I was just cannon fodder stupid, then after college in the late Sixties and into the Seventies I heard, "Look into the center of yourself, see your soul, find out who you are." I did. What friggin disappointment! I'm still that stupid.

Regarding fish and water, what about Flying Fish? They gotta be on to something.
.

Heroique
27-Mar-2015, 15:30
Regarding fish and water, what about Flying Fish? They gotta be on to something.

Love it!

And at risk of overstressing the point – what about amphibians, their dual "cultural" world, and the complexity of their response to, "How's the water?"

Yes, frogs and salamanders – not just fish – have a lot to teach LFers about their individual landscape work, Ansel's (potential) influence on it, and our illuminating efforts to distinguish the two.

Drew Wiley
27-Mar-2015, 15:58
Amphibious lenses help. I couldn't afford a real Nikonos for our intermittent snorkel vacations, so alas, had to settle for a digital underwater camera. My wife
adapted to it, even though she prefers film herself. I don't know what salamanders or frogs themselves think about this whole subject. I speak fluent cat, but not
frog. And at this point, I still have difficulty transposing the Zone System into amphibious metamorphosis. Does Zone V correlate to where tadpoles finally lose
their tail and start looking like little frogs?

Jac@stafford.net
27-Mar-2015, 16:03
And at risk of overstressing the point – what about amphibians, their dual "cultural" world, and the complexity of their response

Amphibians are so deviant. At the end of the day they never have to go home alone.
.

Darin Boville
27-Mar-2015, 16:10
I like Stanley Kubrick's quote. Everything has been done before. Our job is just to do it a little bit better.

--Darin

Drew Wiley
27-Mar-2015, 16:24
I don't know about that, Darin. Trying to upstage Kubrick himself would be a tough act. So I'll counter with another Hollywood line, "A man has to know his limitations". In other words, I have no interest in being a wannabee Ansel Adams or wannabee anyone else. He was good enough playing that part, and the sequel probably wouldn't be worth buying the theater ticket. But I learn from all kinds of people and precedents, and along the way, maybe do a little bit of tadpole metamorphosis of my own.

paulr
28-Mar-2015, 08:28
Regarding fish and water, what about Flying Fish? They gotta be on to something.
.

Flying fish might have the answer. I'm also looking into space fish.

Nodda Duma
28-Mar-2015, 11:06
I like Ansel Adams work because I used to live in the area he photographed. Since I enjoy looking at his photographs I'm sure his work subconsciously affects my picture taking.

Bill Burk
28-Mar-2015, 11:24
Do you have any famous friends that you think you talk about too much? That's how I feel about Ansel Adams.

I just bought a copy of Adams, Ansel Making a photograph: An introduction to photography. Call me a fool but it comes loaded with what might honestly be silver gelatin prints printed in his darkroom from his negatives. You can't always pick something like that up for under a hundred bucks. I'm thinking of either gently slicing out one or two pages and framing them... Or maybe I'll respect the book and get a keepsake picture frame, open to a certain page and display it under glass that way, changing pages from time to time for variety.

But my photography is my own. Influenced by him sure, but not his tripod holes.

Heroique
28-Mar-2015, 11:59
I'm thinking of either gently slicing out one or two pages and framing them…

Before you slice pages from that beautiful book, you might take advantage of an affordable alternative.

As reported recently, the AA Gallery in Yosemite was slicing images from their unsold AA calendars, matting them, and selling them for $6 each, beautifully done.

Maybe call or check the web site to see if they still have stock.

-----
And I think Bill's post suggests a related issue: Fight or embrace it, how (or how easily) does AA's influence "get out there"?

paulr
28-Mar-2015, 12:30
I'm thinking of either gently slicing out one or two pages and framing them..

Good topic for another thread. I have some books with plates that look as nice as any darkroom prints I've seen. You could decorat a whole house for $100, including the exacto knife and ikea frames.

Bill Burk
28-Mar-2015, 18:53
I think of a print's value based on the print process. Offset lithography, even fine duotone work like the Ansel Adams books and calendars, I don't think of as valuable. I'll make an exception for David Lance Goines but posters generally don't impress me.

But I do value continuous tone prints, and this is why I think this book is going to be special... to me. Some people (maybe most?) will only consider a print valuable if it comes with pedigree - like a signature. I don't care if you dug it out of the trash*. If the print came from Ansel Adams' darkroom I'd be interested in it.

*A friend left me in charge of such a print (that he dug out of Ansel Adams' trash), and while I had it I would look at it in awe. The mystery of who actually printed it and the sheer detail that only a continuous tone print from LF negative can deliver... Became part of the intrigue for me.

Ken Lee
28-Mar-2015, 19:05
I like Stanley Kubrick's quote. Everything has been done before. Our job is just to do it a little bit better.

--Darin

Thank you for that !

tgtaylor
28-Mar-2015, 20:03
I don't care if you dug it out of the trash*. If the print came from Ansel Adams' darkroom I'd be interested in it.

*A friend left me in charge of such a print (that he dug out of Ansel Adams' trash), and while I had it I would look at it in awe. The mystery of who actually printed it and the sheer detail that only a continuous tone print from LF negative can deliver... Became part of the intrigue for me.

In that case you may be interested in Ansel Adam's Moonrise that he ended-up tossing because of paper flaws. He stamped these marked "CANCELLED" in perforations. The Scott Nichols Gallery in San Francisco has several and Scott said that he was going to put them on the market soon.

Thomas

John Kasaian
28-Mar-2015, 20:42
Sometimes I feel like fighting with Andre Kerestz :rolleyes:

paulr
28-Mar-2015, 21:01
I think of a print's value based on the print process.


I'm talking about enjoying looking at it, not collecting it.

Bill Burk
28-Mar-2015, 21:02
I'm talking about enjoying looking at it, not collecting it.

Me too, me too.

Bill Burk
28-Mar-2015, 21:13
I'm a printer by trade I know how to make a good halftone, but I always appreciate a good continuous tone print. I guess it means "vive la différence" to me.

paulr
28-Mar-2015, 21:33
I'm talking especially about books like the Paul Strand book printed by Richard Benson in 4 inks, 2 tints, and 2 varnishes.
I considered it a triumph if I could get a silver print to look as good as those plates. Most silver prints I see (Strand's included) aren't as great.
At this point, the difference between continuous tone and halftone is purely academic. It's not like there are fewer visible tones with ink.

Darin Boville
29-Mar-2015, 01:15
Before you slice pages from that beautiful book, you might take advantage of an affordable alternative.
As reported recently, the AA Gallery in Yosemite was slicing images from their unsold AA calendars, matting them, and selling them for $6 each, beautifully done.


Sadly, not quite the deal it was reported to be. The guy bought a damaged one, I believe. The real price of buying a matted calendar page is a mere $135 (framed).

http://shop.anseladams.com/category_s/35.htm

--Darin

paulr
29-Mar-2015, 07:55
If you have an inkjet printer you can also download for free some great work from the Library of Congress, including all of the FSA project (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/fsa/). Resolution and quality varies, but I found a lot of Walker Evans scans that could make a great looking 8x10 (which is as big as I've seen any of the silver prints). You can also order silver prints for a relatively small charge. I'm assuming these will be workmanly prints on r.c. paper ... you'll be able to do better at home if the scan is a good one.

Jac@stafford.net
29-Mar-2015, 08:44
I'm talking especially about books like the Paul Strand book printed by Richard Benson in 4 inks, 2 tints, and 2 varnishes.
I considered it a triumph if I could get a silver print to look as good as those plates. Most silver prints I see (Strand's included) aren't as great.

Am I happy to read that! When once I mentioned that very much of LensWork's reproductions looked better than the originals I was almost crucified. Of course they are smaller; ideal for nominal normal viewing distance. (OT: LensWork is having a Scratch-and-Dent sale (http://www.lenswork.com/specials.htm) now.)

When I was young and terribly uninformed I tried coating, even waxes over the surface of glossy-dried-mat to get a wet look. It worked ... as an anti-archival agent. :)

Bill Burk
29-Mar-2015, 08:51
Those matted calendar pages from the gallery are some mighty expensive "wooden chipmunk carvings". I've got Ansel Adams calendars from the '80s and could slice them myself. They are nicely done but not masterfully-printed. I have to grant you the argument that masterfully printed work can be a joy to view. I would appreciate the Richard Benson printing of Paul Strand's prints.

I can look close at the calendar and see the halftone dots. As a printer I immediately "know" the process was standard offset lithography. True, Ansel Adams authorized the printing of my calendars while he was alive. As such, though it could have been printed by anyone, it was printed by a company that did a good job.

So the calendar pages are examples of a good print job.

The Richard Benson book would be an example of an exquisite print job.

The LOC images are interesting. You're kind of messing with my mind paulr, and I like that about you. It's close to what I want to see - but in print. I don't want the grains apparent on the negative to be overlaid with screen pattern or dithering. I want to see "those" grains on my print.

I could probably find a way to get a print that meets my standards from this original, but I think I'd want to have a Silver Gelatin print from Bob Carnie's Lambda.

paulr
29-Mar-2015, 09:14
Have you looked at a good inkjet lately? I just looked at one of the Evans prints I made from the LOC files and I can barely make out ink dots with a 4X loupe. This is on matte paper, printed with QTR. There's no grain visible, as you'd expect from an 8x10 print from 4x5. With my older piezography prints you can't even see the dots with a loupe. And this was with the old 4-ink process. The new ones use 7!

Peter Lewin
29-Mar-2015, 09:39
Since this most recent set of posts began with a copy of Ansel Adams's "Making A Photograph (1935)" I have a question: what kind of prints are those that are pasted into the text? In "Group f.64" Alinder describes Ansel tipping in those prints himself, but never (as far as I remember, it was a library book) says exactly how those prints were made, whether they were offsets, or actual gelatin, etc. Since used copies of even the first edition are not particularly expensive, I assume that although the prints were glued in by hand, they were still reproductions?

Jac@stafford.net
29-Mar-2015, 09:40
Have you looked at a good inkjet lately? I just looked at one of the Evans prints I made from the LOC files and I can barely make out ink dots with a 4X loupe. This is on matte paper, printed with QTR. There's no grain visible, as you'd expect from an 8x10 print from 4x5. With my older piezography prints you can't even see the dots with a loupe. And this was with the old 4-ink process. The new ones use 7!

I wonder if dot gain issues are what discourage current ink-jet's high resolution settings. Perhaps 360ppi is by-chance or design a good compromise with most papers. Any ideas?

paulr
29-Mar-2015, 10:16
I wonder if dot gain issues are what discourage current ink-jet's high resolution settings. Perhaps 360ppi is by-chance or design a good compromise with most papers. Any ideas?

That's the pixel resolution; the dot resolution is what's relevant to this ... it's typically 1440dpi or 2880dpi. The lower one is usually all that's available with the matte paper settings. Some combination of dot gain (as you suggest) or just paper texture. There's also the minimum size of the individual dots, which varies with the printer ... that's the picoliter number.

And then technologies like piezography allow lighter tones to be printed with lighter inks, rather than with dots that are far apart. That's how these systems maintain tonality and detail all the way into zone 9.

Heroique
29-Mar-2015, 14:27
Sadly, not quite the deal it was reported to be. The guy bought a damaged one [for $6], I believe. The real price of buying a matted calendar page is a mere $135 (framed).

Thanks for the update, Darin.

$135 seems a fair asking price to continue disseminating AA's influence through our world – and under a frame in the bargain!

A $6 price tag would have meant little chance escaping it. ;^)

Bill Burk
29-Mar-2015, 17:03
Some disjointed thoughts...

I've seen some good ones and believe state of the art inkjets are very very good.

But for reference images, examples of what silver gelatin prints can be... I'd like these reference images to be silver gelatin.

The highest resolution inkjet dots are intended for the type and line art, typically 100% black. There has always been a duality of resolution in graphic arts. Highest resolution for line and type, lower resolution for image sources that are continuous tone and which must be broken into halftone dots for press. I think it would be interesting to design an inkjet RIP that recognizes and separates the finest detail of a photograph and moves it into a linework layer and correspondingly takes that detail out of the continuous tone layer underneath.

The book I am soon to receive is said to contain "silver halide prints"... I'll let you know what I think when I get it.

If I work up the nerve I may check in on Scott Nichols Gallery. I just missed the Group f.64 show there...

Kirk Gittings
29-Mar-2015, 17:32
Thanks for the update, Darin.

$135 seems a fair asking price to continue disseminating AA's influence through our world – and under a frame in the bargain!

A $6 price tag would have meant little chance escaping it. ;^)

You could beat that price easily by buying old calenders on Ebay and matting and framing them yourself.

paulr
29-Mar-2015, 17:35
I think it would be interesting to design an inkjet RIP that recognizes and separates the finest detail of a photograph and moves it into a linework layer and correspondingly takes that detail out of the continuous tone layer underneath.

I think this is trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist. Based on printing the same body of work in silver and in ink.

Heroique
29-Mar-2015, 18:13
You could beat that price easily by buying old calenders on Ebay and matting and framing them yourself.

Material costs, yes – as for the cost of personal labor time, well, let's just say the time to write this sentence and post it already amounts to more than the material cost. :cool:

But you might be on to something...

The satisfaction of getting more AA images out there, to influence more LFers, just might be enough of a compensatory reward to justify any expense!

Kirk Gittings
29-Mar-2015, 18:47
I think this is trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist. Based on printing the same body of work in silver and in ink.

Bill Burk
29-Mar-2015, 19:46
I think this is trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist. Based on printing the same body of work in silver and in ink.

I thought someone said they were seeing jaggies...

Andrew Plume
30-Mar-2015, 07:01
it seems that we've been going slightly 'off topic' here, so as there's only been one non-North American who has posted here, I thought that I'd add my few euros worth................

landscape work is something that I now rarely do but if I still did then I wouldn't choose to be overly influenced by Ansel's work. Having said that you can't always determine where your personal influences have originated from.............

regards
andrew

John Kasaian
30-Mar-2015, 08:42
Lately I've been feelin' the urge to get in a brawl with Edward Weston.:rolleyes:

Drew Wiley
30-Mar-2015, 08:54
High-end black and white reproduction techniques already exist. People like most of us generally can't afford that kind of thing unless it's maybe a gamble on a once in a lifetime book that sucks up our entire life savings. But I wouldn't confuse this kind of reproduction with garden-variety inkjet. That in itself can be nicely done, but still fails for many kinds of images, esp those that involve simulating complex or subtle toning. The whole point, however, is that any such thing - unless it was the photographer's chosen medium to begin with - is a reproduction and not an original. The AA trust can afford to do this sort of multiple-pass things from time for high-quality copies of his famous images. Gosh ... it getting to be a stuck record, however. I can't even find decent reproductions of Carleton Watkin's work. The ones in books were so-so, and gave a poor impression of the subtlety of his actual prints. AA certainly wasn't the first notable photographer on the block, even in Yosemite. But that's marketing ...

Lenny Eiger
30-Mar-2015, 11:52
High-end black and white reproduction techniques already exist. People like most of us generally can't afford that kind of thing unless it's maybe a gamble on a once in a lifetime book that sucks up our entire life savings. But I wouldn't confuse this kind of reproduction with garden-variety inkjet.

Inkjet printers can all be outfitted with b&w inks, and can all print exquisitely. There is no "garden variety".

What we have is garden variety people who print, whether that be in the darkroom, with alt process or inkjet. There are people that have trained their eyes, and pay attention to the subtleties, and those that don't, who don't want to bother, or can't yet, as they haven't met that 10,000 hour mark, or however long it really takes to go from a mediocre printer to an excellent one.

All you have to do is compare at the work done by AA vs the same prints made by his assistants. The assistants didn't do very well. Further, most of these images printed in a calendar book, aren't fine prints. They're just offset, which can be a lot better these days, but it was just ok....

I am not sure I want any more LF photographers influenced by AA's work. I'd like to see some other influences, where we are looking at landscape, ourselves, our culture, a bit deeper.

Lenny

Drew Wiley
30-Mar-2015, 12:55
Lenny, I was referring to inkjet in general. Yes, I know that some of you can do very good work in monochrome inkjet. But there are PROPRIETARY true press techniques which can really stretch the qualtitative possibilities. These kinds of operations require expensive industrial equipment, not just a good scanner. And I do mean expensive. Not to be confused with ordinary halftone like most books and calenders etc. Yes, AA did sell numerous prints up there at Best Studios made by assistants. But you seem to forget who some of these assistants are. Some of them are highly accomplished printers in their own right. Alan Ross still officially makes silver prints from the original negs, if that if what someone wants rather than a press reproduction, and he has been making them all along according to AA's specific tutorship per image. Sadly, I've learned that Rondal Partridge is now bedridden and unable to print anymore; but he did manage to stay active in the darkroom until around 95!

Heroique
30-Mar-2015, 13:00
Sometimes I feel like fighting with Andre Kerestz. :rolleyes:


Lately I've been feelin' the urge to get in a brawl with Edward Weston. :rolleyes:

I just wanted to say I’m getting a kick out of your "fights"! They lighten all our serious talk about fishes and half-tones. My great hope is that you'll also tell us which photographer you have the urge to "embrace." Georgia O'Keeffe? Cindy Sherman?


I am not sure I want any more LF photographers influenced by AA's work. I'd like to see some other influences, where we are looking at landscape, ourselves, our culture, a bit deeper.

I wish I'd included a poll. But from my general sense of the replies, and with a lot of reading between the lines, it seems "More AA" is fairly equal to "Please, less AA." Just as many and hugs as slugs. However, I had expected more bear hugs than we've seen.

Drew Wiley
30-Mar-2015, 13:39
That's like a "more salt" or "less salt" survey, Heroique. Aren't we allowed to use any other kind of spice?

Heroique
30-Mar-2015, 13:51
That's like a "more salt" or "less salt" survey, Heroique. Aren't we allowed to use any other kind of spice?

"Dorothea Lange: Do you fight or embrace her influence on your portraits?"

(Still in R&D – but she might be the paprika to AA's salt.)

Drew Wiley
30-Mar-2015, 14:04
In this town Dorothea Lange is both revered as a photographer and still dreaded as an individual. Anti-stalking restraining orders were invented for people like her and her camera. She has zero influence on me simply because I am humanly incapable of the kind of photography she did so well. I know my limitations. I did take some grazing goat portraits Saturday. They were too busy eating to seem to mind. A relative of Dorothea comes in here almost daily. These famous photo types tend to have tangled family trees, and in this particular instance, the more-salt/less-salt influence has hybridized with the more-pepper-spray-defence canister/ less pepper survey, at least if we factor in AA's early assistants, which did not in fact all grow beards and wear cowboy hats! (Sorry to disillusion anyone).

wager123
30-Mar-2015, 14:55
your comment about AA assistants is way off base I would put several of his assistants ( Ross & Sexton ) up against anyone. I have seen one of AA prints printed by him next to the same negative printed by Alan .


QUOTE=Lenny Eiger;1231243]Inkjet printers can all be outfitted with b&w inks, and can all print exquisitely. There is no "garden variety".

What we have is garden variety people who print, whether that be in the darkroom, with alt process or inkjet. There are people that have trained their eyes, and pay attention to the subtleties, and those that don't, who don't want to bother, or can't yet, as they haven't met that 10,000 hour mark, or however long it really takes to go from a mediocre printer to an excellent one.

All you have to do is compare at the work done by AA vs the same prints made by his assistants. The assistants didn't do very well. Further, most of these images printed in a calendar book, aren't fine prints. They're just offset, which can be a lot better these days, but it was just ok....

I am not sure I want any more LF photographers influenced by AA's work. I'd like to see some other influences, where we are looking at landscape, ourselves, our culture, a bit deeper.

Lenny[/QUOTE]

Lenny Eiger
30-Mar-2015, 15:47
your comment about AA assistants is way off base I would put several of his assistants ( Ross & Sexton ) up against anyone. I have seen one of AA prints printed by him next to the same negative printed by Alan .

It's not way off base, you just disagree with me. I was up at the AA Gallery in Yosemite, and I noticed a marked difference. Hey, maybe its only the ones that they have vs somewhere else. I've met both of these guys, had nice conversations with them, and had Alan over at my house. They're nice people. However, as an example, I don't appreciate the way the John Sexton prints. It's deliberate, to be sure, he knows what he is doing. However, I don't like it. It's too much of a commercial look for me.

These people are not gods, they are humans, and artists. And, as any artist knows, if you put your work out there, there will be people that like it and people that don't.

I prefer Frederick Evans, Paul Caponigro, Watkins, Sutcliffe. Different style.

Lenny

Drew Wiley
30-Mar-2015, 16:08
Lots of those Yosemite volume AA prints are geared to tourists. When I was growing up you could purchase ten for $40 (or that's what my brother repeatedly told me, since lil' brat me wasn't allowed in there). Obviously $4 then was more like $40 today, but still several decimel points from the $40,000 fetched by a vintage print by the hands of AA himself. I don't worship AA's printing style. I can make piles of technically better prints every year. I've shown them side by side with AA originals and certainly didn't come in second. But that's not a fair fight. We've got better gear, better film and paper, and a way bigger bag of tricks, some of these tricks due to his example in the first place. But I'll never have a mountain or wilderness area named for me. History has its place. I don't terribly like the way Sexton prints either, but probably for just the opposite reason as you, Lenny. But that's not the point. People should print to render the image as THEY intend it, not you or me. Whether someone else "gets it" is secondary, though AA himself certainly attained widespread popularity. But I too
have a very high opinion of Watkins, both in terms of compositional skill and actual print rendering. Too bad so many of his remaining albumens have mildewed.

Lenny Eiger
30-Mar-2015, 16:58
People should print to render the image as THEY intend it, not you or me.

I would never suggest otherwise. I said I didn't like it, I didn't say it was wrong, or shouldn't be allowed. I just think something "more" is possible, and that's personal opinion, not a rule I'm trying to suggest.

paulr
30-Mar-2015, 17:14
No, sorry, I always print the way Drew would want it.

Corran
30-Mar-2015, 17:28
Heh.
Alan Ross gave a workshop near here recently. I unfortunately couldn't go, but, some of his prints and original Adams prints are up - I'll be going to see them soon.
Drew is welcome to send me one of his so I can compare directly. I'll send it back, of course.

appletree
31-Mar-2015, 07:41
They were fresh when they made them, but now they border on cliche. I remember a similar thread on this forum, which dealt with the issue that almost any image we make has already been made. The conclusion which resonated the most with me was that while our images may not be original any more, the act of making them was original to each of us at the time, i.e. it is the circumstances and emotions involved in making our images that gives them value to each of us, not the final image itself.
Well, I only got 3 pages in but wanted to respond to this bit. I think this is what is running through my mind while reading this. I had a conversation years ago with my best friend while we were traveling and it was about "original ideas". I mean with 7 billion of us and many of whom have had a camera in their back pocket for the past 10 years, it is difficult not to have something already done. By why fight it? Just enjoy your approach and the sense of excitement and creation for yourself in your own work.

And if we are not consciously influenced by Ansel Adams, then perhaps someone else. Or perhaps influenced by that outside of photography all together. Does this not ultimately boil down to a nature vs nurture sort of thing? Where some could argue all we do is influenced by something in our past, whether we choose to accept it or not. Occasionally maybe something completely new exists, but why does it matter? I understand the drive for people is different for everyone. Some want purpose, some want that sense of discovery, some are trying to fill that void.

For me, I openly except influence from others. Those that have beautiful works of art and great vision. For my joy is not found in creating something for myself, but just the sense of creating. Doing something that only man can do. Something God allows me to do as He works in me and through me. I find joy in just knowing I can go out and create, with eyes to see, hands to take photos, the money in my pocket to buy film, etc. The pure joy of holding a wet negative up to the light is what moves me. Even if the photo is re-hashed, not great, over-exposed, etc etc. I don't think my work will ever be "good enough" or "original." Yet if I only strive for that, I will continue to be let down.

Drew Wiley
31-Mar-2015, 08:23
I see things are still waterlogged east of the Mississippi.

Heroique
31-Mar-2015, 12:00
Well, I only got 3 pages in but wanted to respond to this bit...

I enjoyed your thoughtful remarks (though I strenuously disagree with 75% of them). For you've raised significant issues about influence that have received no attention so far, including a few that innocently and without harm frolic at the edge of forum guidelines. ;^)

From all of us here on the thread's far side (and I do hope I speak for all of us), we wish you luck on your ambitious journey, and eagerly await your arrival. To help prepare you for a wild ride, I'll only add that you're going to smile when you come across the claim that the artist's search for autonomy is meaningless – then frown, even feel a deep repugnance, to someone else's story about becoming the heretic. (When you need a place to rest, there's a magical brook with a talking fish.) Let's just say it's a shadowy forest you're about to enter, offering many chances to think, change, grow.

Good luck, Appletree! We have our binoculars trained on forest's edge, eagerly anticipating your emergence from the trees – we'll be thrilled to hear what you learned on the way.

John Kasaian
31-Mar-2015, 12:46
If Yosemite were Kauai and Ansel Adams was John Wayne and Edward Weston was Lee Marvin..?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxCDQVh89bE

Drew Wiley
31-Mar-2015, 13:12
whhhh, John? Too many anachronisms. I was watching a good ole Clint Eastwood shootout in the Alabama Hills the other nite. Nice that when he needed to bag
the enemy cowboy several hundred yards out, he had a nice Weatherby bolt-action rifle with scope sixty years before anyone else. I also like it when John Wayne rides through the Alabama Hills being chased by Apache Indians in Sioux costume that the dust clouds from the horses matches the jet contrails in the sky. But per Kauai, they do have a wonderful canyon themselves. I just didn't have the right camera along the last Spring. Too windy for the 4x5 along the rim. Should have taken the 6x7. There were some flashfloods with entire houses getting washed out to sea, and at least one tourist on the NaPali trail that got swept over the cliffs trying to cross a flooded stream. When we were snorkeling, I frequently had to clear the tube of fresh water from the sky - almost wetter above the ocean! But I bagged a couple of nice b&w shots inside nearly dark lava caves. Acros helps for those dicey situations.

appletree
31-Mar-2015, 13:16
I enjoyed your thoughtful remarks (though I strenuously disagree with 75% of them). For you've raised significant issues about influence that have received no attention so far, including a few that innocently and without harm frolic at the edge of forum guidelines. ;^)

From all of us here on the thread's far side (and I do hope I speak for all of us), we wish you luck on your ambitious journey, and eagerly await your arrival. To help prepare you for a wild ride, I'll only add that you're going to smile when you come across the claim that the artist's search for autonomy is meaningless – then frown, even feel a deep repugnance, to someone else's story about becoming the heretic. (When you need a place to rest, there's a magical brook with a talking fish.) Let's just say it's a shadowy forest you're about to enter, offering many chances to think, change, grow.

Good luck, Appletree! We have our binoculars trained on forest's edge, eagerly anticipating your emergence from the trees – we'll be thrilled to hear what you learned on the way.

I am so confused. And lost. You lost me. My apologies.

I hope I did not step on any toes nor teeter on breaking forum rules!?!

And my journey began many years ago. I just decided to pick up a camera along the way, nearly 6 years ago. A fraction of time compared to many around here and while not any LF, as of yet, I still think it transfers over regardless of medium. Perhaps it is borderline offensive or comes across as insincere to an artist or their body of work when I make the claim (re: opinion) that their work is influenced (most likely) one way or another. Regardless if it is from Ansel Adams, Manuel Bravo, Weston, Sudek, or even music, movies, experiences growing up, locations raised, beliefs, etc etc. I think it is all quite beautiful and a wonderful realization to take the weight off and just enjoy our time spent as just that. I mean do what you want, by all means. I just think you could spend a life time searching for that talking fish chasing perfection or uniqueness.

Drew Wiley
31-Mar-2015, 13:30
Nah... Ansel invented it all by himself, just like pulling a white rabbit out of a hat. Pure magic. No previous influence, even when he just coincidentally owned a soft focus lens like lots of other folks back then, and then suddenly hatched out of an egg laid in Yosemite Valley, which of course no photographer had ever discovered before. The glacier itself had just melted the week before, at the command of the Curry Company. But thanks to art history revisionists like Rudolf Hess, we now know the truth. Light was created in eight zones during the first seance of the f/64 group, when none other than Stieglitz himself appeared as a puff of smoke above the table. But we have to erase that incident from history too if Ansel invented it all himself. No, nobody is influenced by anyone else. That wouldn't be creative, would it? Everything is coincidental.

Peter Lewin
31-Mar-2015, 13:41
I keep coming back to this thread because of the many insightful comments that have been posted. But it occurs to me that I don't really understand the core question, I don't know how to define AA's "influence on our landscapes." Adams is one of the "core members" of the West Coast school, but that is primarily a function of geography. As Drew Wiley posted back on page 8, he doesn't photograph the Western landscape because of Adams, he does it because he lives there. So one cannot say that one's choice of landscape subject is or is not "influenced" by Adams, one's choice of landscape is primarily determined by where one lives. As a resident of suburban NJ, I wouldn't claim that my landscapes are derived from George Tice's images, for example, merely that we both live in NJ, and to some extent our photographic terrain is going to overlap. At best, Tice made me aware of some potential images. If I stumbled across a gas station with a large storage tank directly behind it ("Petits Mobil Station, Cherry Hill NJ, 1974") I would probably make an image, and while I don't know if it would be because of George Tice's influence, I would know that I was pretty much repeating something he had done.

If we step away from the most majestic of Adams's images (Half Dome, Winter Storm) we are left with landscapes very similar to many posted in this forum. I have my copy of "Examples" in front of me, and "Tenaya Creek, Dogwood, Rain" (page 78) is actually similar to many landscapes posted here. Is Adams's image better than most? Sure, he was an expert technician, printer, and all-around photographer. But can one attribute similar imagery to AA's "influence?" I'm not at all sure.

When I was looking on the shelves for "Examples," I was reminded that I have built up quite a collection of monographs, and maybe half of them were chosen because the photographers used large-format equipment (well, this is the Large Format site, duh!). But does that mean that any of them have influenced me, or none? I have a bunch of Sally Mann's books, and a couple of Jock Sturges's (Mann and Sturges are often mentioned together due to subject matter and their use of 8x10 cameras) but since I don't normally (ever?) shoot the same subject matter, I can't say that they obviously influence my photography. But then I took a workshop with Sally, and I still remember her comments about "quotidian subjects", i.e. finding images in the daily common-place, so maybe she has? I can extend this question to so many of the photographers in my library: William Clift (probably my all-time favorite), Paul Strand (I think I have four monographs), Joel Meyerowitz for color, two lesser-known, Bill Zorn and Stephen Harrison who dragged their large cameras to China and Tibet and published books of their travels. Yes, all of these inspire me, but how would I define their "influence?" To use another metaphor from this thread, I'm well aware that I'm swimming in the water, but I don't know how I would answer the question whether I "fight or embrace" influence of any of these photographers on my own work. In the end, I photograph those things that at some level resonate with me, that say "photograph me," but to pinpoint exactly what is pulling the trigger of my subconscious is virtually impossible. Probably the most straight-forward observation would be that they have made me aware of possibilities, just as for anyone living in the West, Adams made them aware of some possibilities.

Heroique
31-Mar-2015, 14:04
I am so confused. And lost. You lost me. My apologies.

I hope I did not step on any toes nor teeter on breaking forum rules!?!

Sorry, the apologies are mine to make – the shadowy forest is this thread, and your journey is reading through the posts after the pause you made at page three. And I don't think you stepped on any toes; if you did, I still don't think any rules were broken when you acknowledged the Great Spirit's role in your work. To be sure, I think many of AA's most famous images communicate a Great Spirit in the form of the Romanticist's sublime-in-nature. It's this age-old portrayal that many people here have expressed resistance to, while others, well, enjoy "embracing" it. (Me for one, most of the time.) As for the talking fish, it really swims inside this thread, at the magical brook, and you'll eventually meet him, if you haven't already!

Drew Wiley
31-Mar-2015, 14:08
Good photo books are expensive. So with a few exceptions I tend to buy books by photographers who see or print very differently from me. Does that change how I do things myself. Apparently not, after all these decades. I just like looking at other stuff. One can enjoy something without being influenced by it in any more specific sense than general inspiration for going out and doing something. I might fetch a couple of snarky comments from the usual suspects for even mentioning this; but the one time I did share some significant wall space with AA, the curator chose me precisely because my work was so very different from AA, yet from the same geographical area (high Sierra etc). He wasn't looking for clones but for counterpoint. But that doesn't mean I don't appreciate AA or recognize his special place in both art and environmental American history. Gosh, I hope we aren't just all a bunch of ducklings that instantly get imprinted to the first moving thing they see once they hatch! I don't even own a cowboy hat.

John Kasaian
31-Mar-2015, 14:57
We learn both technique and a way of seeing from masters. That doesn't mean we are supposed to copy them. Ansel, IIRC was pretty adamant about photographers finding their own vision. So was EW. An art student might spend hours in a museum sketching classic works to learn different techniques, but that doesn't make original Art.
If you have a chance compare John Sexton's Sierra landscapes to Ansel Adams, do so. It's the same subject matter (B&W, Sierra Nevada landscapes) but they are very different in feeling, in vision, in materials used and even technique.
I could also go to the photography exhibition at our local District Fair and spot an Ansel Adams wannabee (some are quite good at being Ansel Adams, btw) but the effect it has on me is the same as looking at a fake Rolex--not that it is bad photography(Ansel left us in depth how to instructions, after all) but I can recogniize it as a distinct genre---Ansel-oids. I think Ansel would find it all amusing and the photographers who work in the Ansel-oid genre, rather than fight against it, embrace it with all the artistry of a counterfeiter printing a C-note that cn fool the Secret Service.
They do good work and it's legal. It may even have a market---if you can't afford an original Adams you can get an original Ansel-oid for much less and if that's what floats your boat I ain't going to judge but there are still great photographs to be made of the Sierra granite and Big Sur shoreline that aren't Ansel-oids. You can see wonderfully original examples posted right here on this forum.
No need to fight with Ansel (besides it's bad form to hit a man who wears glasses!)

Bill Burk
31-Mar-2015, 16:54
I continue to learn from Ansel Adams. So I guess that firmly places me in the hugs category.

Drew Wiley talks about the importance of the toe, and this got me to seriously re-think my attitude to "overexpose to guarantee exposure in the shadows". A book by Ansel Adams I'm soon to receive has a marine example where he described taking advantage of the "foot" to maintain detail in the hull of a ship.

When I get the book I am going to look at the example and see what it means to use the toe to hold the shadows. In often-quoted stories about "Moonrise, Hernandez New Mexico" we know he despised a grossly overexposed moon. Well guess what. If I stick to my principles and expose generously, I won't be getting any decent moonrise shots now, will I? I have to change or else I won't be listening to Ansel Adams.

Ansel Adams also talked about "Dogwood Blossoms, Yosemite National Park" in The Negative. A phrase I've read before and always understood... "this negative is printed in somewhat lower values for reproduction than for visual appreciation"... Means something a little more to me today than it did yesterday because of something Lenny Eiger said.

The phrase "for visual appreciation" obviously means "not for print production" but is taking on new meaning for me today. I never thought it should be necessary to tell apart the prints from Ansel Adams himself versus the prints by assistants. I suppose today I still can't. But Lenny can. Sure I can tell the difference between a straight print and one with some dodging and burning. But thinking about print quality, while printing and judging the quality of prints that are drying... Taught me to see a little more difference this week than I could last week. I am a little more discerning.

John Kasaian
31-Mar-2015, 17:33
Technique is what AA taught best, IMHO. Your interpretation is all your own unless you want to interpret the scene as an homage to Adams.

Heroique
31-Mar-2015, 18:20
I have my copy of "Examples" in front of me, and "Tenaya Creek, Dogwood, Rain" (page 78) is actually similar to many landscapes posted here. ...Can one attribute similar imagery to AA's "influence?" I'm not at all sure.

I really liked your post, and as for your question above, I'd answer it the same way as you. I'd also suggest that a common source of influence can, oftentimes, explain these similarities (but I don't mean to imply it's easy to identify them, even if true). For example, this influence might be, say, the work of an early 20th-C photographer, or more broadly, the lessons of 19th-C Romanticism. Indeed, one might be completely unaware of AA's work, but due to these common influences, striking similarities might still happen. When I hear someone praise or condemn images for being "so Ansel," this may superficially appear to be the case, but as you've made clear, the truth of the attribution might not be clear at all – but tricky indeed. Solving the mystery of who or what's "pulling the trigger" as we create our work is enough to weary the most clever of psychologists and cultural historians.

jcoldslabs
31-Mar-2015, 18:47
I think of an influence as something that has a lasting effect on my thinking or behavior. For example, my father was out of my life by the age of ten, but I still have speech patterns and body language similar to his over thirty years later, so clearly he influenced me in ways I cannot shake.

By this definition, Zone System methods, and particularly Adams' advocacy of them, have been very influential on the way I measure and make exposures. Even when using an incident meter I am still thinking in terms of N, N- and/or N+ development. But I'm not sure I can consciously identify a similar stylistic influence, from Adams or anyone else, on the way I photograph.

Jonathan

lfpf
31-Mar-2015, 18:56
First, compile all similar/repeated views to assemble a "motion" picture of landscape change.
Then, present compilation to a botanist/ecologist.

Or ask first, then provide requested/coordinated compilations.

Who said science?

Bill Burk
31-Mar-2015, 21:03
I think of an influence as something that has a lasting effect on my thinking or behavior. For example, my father was out of my life by the age of ten, but I still have speech patterns and body language similar to his over thirty years later, so clearly he influenced me in ways I cannot shake.

By this definition, Zone System methods, and particularly Adams' advocacy of them, have been very influential on the way I measure and make exposures. Even when using an incident meter I am still thinking in terms of N, N- and/or N+ development. But I'm not sure I can consciously identify a similar stylistic influence, from Adams or anyone else, on the way I photograph.

Jonathan

Sorry to hear, as I count my blessings. I got to talk with my dad this afternoon. We talked a bit about my recent photography, the prints I made and how I wasn't completely satisfied with them.

Peter Lewin, I really enjoyed your post.

Jac@stafford.net
31-Mar-2015, 21:15
For example, my father was out of my life by the age of ten, but I still have speech patterns and body language similar to his over thirty years later, so clearly he influenced me in ways I cannot shake.

It's almost certainly genetics. I kid you not. In my family, two brothers (of four) have peculiar (but charming) physical mannerisms that are so similar to mother's brothers that it is spooky, and they had almost no contact.

I could only wish that Ansel's genes were air-borne like a virus, but I'll settle for his memes.

paulr
1-Apr-2015, 06:51
Lately I've been feelin' the urge to get in a brawl with Edward Weston.:rolleyes:

I hope pre-parkinson's.

Drew Wiley
1-Apr-2015, 08:40
The Zone System is just a shorthand technique for understanding intelligent exposure placement on the film curve, and then how to develop it for a the most useful
negative per ones chosen paper. But one still has to understand the specific film curve itself. I had my own "Moonrise" incident this fall, a literal unexpected full moon rising over Great Salt Lake when a shaft of direct sun went under some wild clouds and directly hit the salt pan. How on earth does one keep the delicate
detail in the moon in a dark sky (red filter) without either blowing that out with too much contrast, and still reign in the extreme highs of sheer white salt, at the
same time as very deep shadow details in the foreground. Very little wiggle room, and a bear to print regardless. Fortunately I have a lot of experience with these kinds of problems and bagged the negative. Forget latitude - it simply wasn't there. Well, even though I don't really think in terms of the Zone System anymore, AA's good ole basic theory books did help me understand the basics. I already knew darkroom technique, because I was printing much more difficult
color prints for some time. So yeah, I do owe him a technical debt of gratitude. And on winter days sometimes I like opening one of his big folio books just so
I can get homesick for the high Sierra. Lots of those scenes were basically my back yard growing up. That Mt Ritter and Minarets skyline was our neighborhood view. Of course, I've got lots of my own prints of those places, both color and b&w. But I don't like handling them more than necessary.

paulr
1-Apr-2015, 08:59
Zone system's a heuristic. It's way of codifying and teaching techniques photographers had been doing since the beginning. I suspect most photographers use it as a jumping-off point to something that's simpler, or more complex, depending on their needs. Unfortunately some interpret it as an esthetic manifesto, or as some deep secret of the natural world.

Drew Wiley
1-Apr-2015, 09:19
If everyone had been intuitively doing the equivalent of the ZS all along, it wouldn't have become the popular teaching tool that it did. It certainly helped AA himself get more consistent negatives. Probably some of the impetus coincided with the general shift from long-scale contact print media to the tighter contrast restraints of modern graded silver papers. Then light meters started taking a bit of voodoo out of the process. But it's really just applied sensitometry, even if a
few people want to make a religion out of it. In real world situations I rarely have the luxury to be thinking about the ZS. Often things need to be intuitive or the
light will be gone; or worse, a lighting bolt will arrive if you don't keep moving!

Kodachrome25
1-Apr-2015, 17:55
Ansel influence me?.....why heavens no.....:rolleyes:

131683

Roger Cole
2-Apr-2015, 02:11
Ansel influence me?.....why heavens no.....:rolleyes:

131683

Where did you get the mug??

I WANT ONE!

Robert Langham
2-Apr-2015, 05:58
Imagine the history of photography without Adams. Then imagine the history of your personal photography without Adams.

131710
Snail Hand.

paulr
2-Apr-2015, 06:26
If everyone had been intuitively doing the equivalent of the ZS all along, it wouldn't have become the popular teaching tool that it did.

"Everyone" was the very small number of nut-heads that did photography at all. Things like exposure and development were a bit of a black art, and took a long time to master. Adams (and Archer) codified it into something conceptually simpler and easily quantifiable. Technically, you could say they continued the work of Hurter and Drifield (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurter_and_Driffield) and their "actinograph," which I don't think ever caught on. This opened up photography to people who were merely geeky, when previously it had been the province of professional apprentices and self-taught mad scientists.

Of course, the Brownie had already opened up photography even more, but the point-n-click / send-the-film-out market was different.

Michael R
2-Apr-2015, 07:43
Adams's skill aside, I would say the primary reasons for the Zone System becoming so popular (with teachers, photographers, whoever else) is that it gave people the impression they could not only achieve a high degree of control and precision, but that they had found the secret to "real" emulsion speeds, which would give them far better results than the silly ISO standard. Much of that has to do with misreading, misinterpretation, and too many books on the subject by photographers.

Full disclosure - I'm a big Ansel Adams fan. But in reality the Zone System is just a no-flare characteristic curve, often misunderstood. People aren't necessarily getting what they think they're getting, and in any case, it is a system which was formulated when materials were very different. On the other hand, "perception is reality", and if it makes photography more enjoyable, gives people more confidence etc., I'm all for it.

Lenny Eiger
2-Apr-2015, 08:30
Imagine the history of photography without Adams. Then imagine the history of your personal photography without Adams.

131710
Snail Hand.

Arguably, PhotoHistory started in 1816, with Niepce, more than 100 years before Adams hit the scene. There has been a lot of excellent work by amateurs and famous people alike over the years. I don't think there is any one photographer that the History couldn't do without. Including Adams. Nor do I think he was the best of them. There are many who were far more productive in their lifetimes , in terms of sheer numbers of great images, or of generating an entirely new genre within photography that held its own.

This is the one thing that offends me about this. (And I'm not directing this at you, at all.) Everyone is talking about Adam's, Adam's Adams, as if there was no one else. A small percentage have actually read the History of Photography, by Newhall, or any of the other very good historical references. Timothy O'Sullivan is generally regarded as the finest landscape photographer, by many historians.

If you love AA, or his work, that's great. He did some fabulous work. Be inspired. But also be aware that there is a lot more.

Drew Wiley
2-Apr-2015, 08:34
Paul, I didn't quite get your implication of a "very small number of nut-heads doing photography at all". There were lots and lots of pros out there making a living at it all along, and they had to be fairly competent and consistent just to make a buck. Yeah, they might have sometimes been protective of what they considered some personal trade secret, or some favorite elixir of a developer. The ZS and teaching influence of AA helped open up that secrecy and allowed it to correspond to the practical applications of H&D. I doubt he was the first in this respect, but he certainly popularized it by plainly phrasing and illustrating it.

Drew Wiley
2-Apr-2015, 08:45
Lenny - all you gotta do is someone to this side of the Bay where lots and lots of great pre-Ansel images of outdoor Calif are archived. I think there is still even
a dealer in town that sells vintage prints by these earlier masters, though he is probably open only by appt now (getting old himself). Although the Oakland Museum holds a lot of Depression-era photography, it also has a lot of Watkins, Muybridge, and numerous others. I don't know how much Fiske they have. Even
Uncle Earl came to the game late. But I was lucky seeing photos of places like Yos Valley before any of that - not exactly masterpieces, but at least a reference
to what it was like when first "discovered" by Whites. But I agree with you. AA is a good conversation point because so many people are familiar with his work
and methodology. But he's just one cog in the wheel.

sanking
2-Apr-2015, 08:54
Adams's skill aside, I would say the primary reasons for the Zone System becoming so popular (with teachers, photographers, whoever else) is that it gave people the impression they could not only achieve a high degree of control and precision, but that they had found the secret to "real" emulsion speeds, which would give them far better results than the silly ISO standard. Much of that has to do with misreading, misinterpretation, and too many books on the subject by photographers.

Full disclosure - I'm a big Ansel Adams fan. But in reality the Zone System is just a no-flare characteristic curve, often misunderstood. People aren't necessarily getting what they think they're getting, and in any case, it is a system which was formulated when materials were very different. On the other hand, "perception is reality", and if it makes photography more enjoyable, gives people more confidence etc., I'm all for it.


I agree with you. Nearly everything you read about the Zone system is based on misreading, misinterpretation, and the false expectation of precision, or is written by people who understand the system attempting to explain its shortcomings. My opinion is that nearly all photographers printing with a digital work flow, or with multi-grade papers in the darkroom, would be much better off just learning to use their exposure meter, and testing materials with step wedges.

Sandy

Kodachrome25
2-Apr-2015, 09:12
Where did you get the mug??

I WANT ONE!

I created the graphic and had a couple made.

Drew Wiley
2-Apr-2015, 09:12
Sandy - I don't think VC papers nullify anything taught in the ZS, though neophytes tend to get all confused when they try to make VC paper respsond directly equivalent to grade this or grade that, as if there ever a consistent grade standard to begin with. I'm glad I learned on graded papers to begin with, along with the discipline to make film do what I want it to do. Step wedges do not help much in my opinion when it comes to learning field photography, though I have personally done a lot with them in lab applications per masking, color separations, etc. But ZS is just another potential tool to have in your mental kit. A help to visualization perhaps, and perhaps a hindrance to other people who expect too much of it, just like you said. I mostly use it just for its communication value, like on this forum. Most of use know what Zone V means, or Zone XIII, blah blah. It's the only common denominator terminology lots of film photographers now have. I outright gave away all my old AA Basics books - pretty elementary stuff in general - but did keep a copy of Examples with its anecdotes.

cowanw
2-Apr-2015, 09:32
I wonder if there was a large increase in sales, per capita, in sheet film and developing paper and chemicals and darkroom equipment after 1940.

"Everyone" was the very small number of nut-heads that did photography at all. Things like exposure and development were a bit of a black art, and took a long time to master. Adams (and Archer) codified it into something conceptually simpler and easily quantifiable. Technically, you could say they continued the work of Hurter and Drifield (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurter_and_Driffield) and their "actinograph," which I don't think ever caught on. This opened up photography to people who were merely geeky, when previously it had been the province of professional apprentices and self-taught mad scientists.

Of course, the Brownie had already opened up photography even more, but the point-n-click / send-the-film-out market was different.

Drew Wiley
2-Apr-2015, 10:34
When you take into account that a miniature camera back then meant a 4x5 Speed Graphic or something like that, sheet film was used for everything from news
coverage to weddings. It had more to do with equipment than any particular model of practical sensitometry. There were various paths to that. You can still find
plenty of old textbooks and Kodak guides explaining this or that, without reference to the Zone System at all. What was more revolutionary, in my opinion, was the
evolution of practical light meters. I still have an inherited old Weston meter, and it still works, but what a pain in the butt those things must have been!

Bill Burk
2-Apr-2015, 22:08
This is the one thing that offends me about this. (And I'm not directing this at you, at all.) Everyone is talking about Adam's, Adam's Adams, as if there was no one else.

Well this isn't the right forum for me to talk about Dr. Demento (It's his birthday today).

I get what you're saying. I'm a little sad that I can't rattle off the names of a hundred photographers whose work I love... and tell you what I like about their work... when I thought they did their best work. And how they influenced me. Because I know there are hundreds who have influenced me.

But the influence of Ansel Adams on photography is like when you think of novelty music. The first person you think of is Weird Al. Even though there are many who came before (Spike Jones, Allan Sherman, Tom Lehrer), contemporaries (Barnes and Barnes, Damaskas, Brad Stanfield, Wally Wingert) and hundreds more throughout the time since Edison first sang "Mary had a little lamb".

Not sure which list I could complete in less time. A list of a hundred comedy musicians or a hundred photographers... It would be fun to try to time myself in the act.

Roger Cole
3-Apr-2015, 01:14
I created the graphic and had a couple made.

I bet if you put them on Cafe Press you'd sell a fair number!

Peter Lewin
3-Apr-2015, 06:27
Arguably, PhotoHistory started in 1816, with Niepce, more than 100 years before Adams hit the scene. There has been a lot of excellent work by amateurs and famous people alike over the years. I don't think there is any one photographer that the History couldn't do without. Including Adams. Nor do I think he was the best of them. There are many who were far more productive in their lifetimes , in terms of sheer numbers of great images, or of generating an entirely new genre within photography that held its own.

This is the one thing that offends me about this. (And I'm not directing this at you, at all.) Everyone is talking about Adam's, Adam's Adams, as if there was no one else. A small percentage have actually read the History of Photography, by Newhall, or any of the other very good historical references. Timothy O'Sullivan is generally regarded as the finest landscape photographer, by many historians.

If you love AA, or his work, that's great. He did some fabulous work. Be inspired. But also be aware that there is a lot more.
Lenny: I think you are correct in terms of the history of photography, but are ignoring the "reality" that Ansel Adams is, due to the vast exposure his images and writings have received, still one of the best-known photographers. While O'Sullivan or Watkins may have been even better landscape photographers, they have never received the exposure that Adams has. So when people constantly refer to Adams, it is not because he was a better photographer than many others, it is because he has been more widely exhibited, written about, and in general exposed to the public.

While I wouldn't claim that Adams has influenced my images more than other photographers (I had a post on this earlier in the thread), I have a short anecdote that I think illustrates my point. In the late 1960s I was doing a lot of backpacking and some technical climbing, and usually carried my Leica with its collapsible 50mm lens with me. My "role models" were a Frenchman, Gaston Rebuffat, and later Galen Rowell, both of who photographed while they climbed. But I was exposed (pun?) to a lot of Adams's images, and they stirred my desire to try a large format camera. When I received my first raise at work in Manhattan, I walked over to the Witkin Gallery, the first all-photo galley in NYC. They had yet another exhibit of Ansel Adams prints, around $300 each circa 1970. Olden Camera (now defunct) had a Sinar F for about the same. My 21-year-old's logic said (and now of course I recognize the conceit!) that if I spent the $300 on the camera, I could make the same images as Adams, so I bought the camera instead. So while I neither "fight nor embrace his influence on my landscapes," I have to admit that it was Ansel Adams who influenced me to start my 45-year romance with large format. I suspect there are many others who could say the same.

paulr
3-Apr-2015, 06:27
This is the one thing that offends me about this. (And I'm not directing this at you, at all.) Everyone is talking about Adam's, Adam's Adams, as if there was no one else. A small percentage have actually read the History of Photography, by Newhall, or any of the other very good historical references. Timothy O'Sullivan is generally regarded as the finest landscape photographer, by many historians.

Well, yeah, I think this kind of sentiment is widespread. At least in the communities that care about him at all, which seem to comprise North American photographers involved with landscape.

Some worship Adams' work, others think he was a 2nd or 3rd rate artist, others think he was an interesting figure who sold out. Whatever the position, Adams cast a huge shadow back in the early and mid 20th century. He had a broader cultural presence than other photographers, including ones who were arguably better and more important (from a pure art-historical perspective). O'Sullivan and Weston and Strand weren't household names in the same way. They didn't have calendars and books everywhere. They didn't inspire nearly as many kids to ask for a Brownie for christmas.

Bill Burk
3-Apr-2015, 07:02
I have a short anecdote that I think illustrates my point. In the late 1960s I was doing a lot of backpacking and some technical climbing, and usually carried my Leica with its collapsible 50mm lens with me. My "role models" were a Frenchman, Gaston Rebuffat, and later Galen Rowell, both of who photographed while they climbed. But I was exposed (pun?) to a lot of Adams's images, and they stirred my desire to try a large format camera. When I received my first raise at work in Manhattan, I walked over to the Witkin Gallery, the first all-photo galley in NYC. They had yet another exhibit of Ansel Adams prints, around $300 each circa 1970. Olden Camera (now defunct) had a Sinar F for about the same. My 21-year-old's logic said (and now of course I recognize the conceit!) that if I spent the $300 on the camera, I could make the same images as Adams, so I bought the camera instead.

Peter Lewin,

Thanks for the story.

I'm going to lookup Gaston Rebuffat... Galen Rowell influenced me. Yesterday I thought about him as I was driving my kid to school. My thought yesterday "I made the right decision, I don't have the physique to pull off his distance running with a camera." I might have continued in color if he were alive today, losing him took away one of my guiding stars. In my self-reflection around the time I decided to stick with black and white.

I made about the same kind of opportunity-cost rationalization when I setup my darkroom for 4x5 and bought a camera.

I think I carried the thought to its natural conclusion... If I can please myself as much with my own prints... I will have spent the same money...

You can line up a lot of money for a camera with that kind of thought process.

And I only had to make four prints to pay it off. (In funny money of course. I sold the prints to myself haaaaa).

I get my art history from paulr.

And I wish I could name a thousand mountains by the outlines of their peaks like my friend Tom Burhenn. I bet John Kasaian and Drew Wiley could do that.

Maybe we won't get mountains named after us, but I bet there are some curves in the road that need to be named.

paulr
3-Apr-2015, 07:15
Galen Rowell is a great example. He was probably the first photographer I ever noticed as a kid, because I loved the mountains. If I'd been influenced by him and had never looked at another photographer, you could argue that I'd still been profoundly influenced by Adams. Because Rowell's work wouldn't have looked anything like Rowell's work if it wasn't part of the tradition that Adams played a conspicuous part in.

Kodachrome25
3-Apr-2015, 08:13
My signed copy of Mountain Light is pretty well worn now....

Kodachrome25
3-Apr-2015, 08:19
I bet if you put them on Cafe Press you'd sell a fair number!

If they let me make them...and then I would promptly get my rear end sued off by the AA estate, lol!

paulr
3-Apr-2015, 08:24
As the years went on I found myself more impressed with Rowell's climbing than with his photography. Like Weston's kids were more impressed with Adams's piano playing.

Drew Wiley
3-Apr-2015, 08:27
I see less than zero resemblance between Rowell and AA. Rowell was just a dime-a-dozen snapshooter who otherwise was an accomplished expedition type to exotic places, and briefly found his moment in a bit of financial sun with NG articles and when stock shots for SUV commercials were in demand, and outdoor sports featured still shots. Action cams have probably ended that forever. AA's work had a lot of finesse, craft, and poetry to it. Rowell's shots had none of that. Zero. He just turned his images over to publication or local generic printing, though his heirs have pretty well doctored up some of them with corny PS tweaks. He was an interesting fellow; but the "fine art" act was just marketing theater. In person he knew the difference - just trying to make a living, not a legacy. He'll be remembered more as a climber. We once had an interesting face-off, politely. He'd heard it mentioned that I might want to visit China with my wife, and asked where. I answered Guilin, and he returned a silent glance of contempt. Of course, Guilin is the famous area of karst towers where tons of tourist go,
hardly an exotic wilderness like he approved of. But he didn't ask why. It was because my wife had taken a degree in Chinese literature, and was given some
scrolls by a famous living Chinese calligrapher, and wanted to see the scene which inspired it. Meanwhile, Galen showed me a bunch of huge inkjets made from
his 35mm chromes, and I kinda returned that same sideways glance of contempt. To each his own.

Peter Lewin
3-Apr-2015, 08:36
I just grabbed my copy of Rebuffat's "On Ice and Snow and Rock" and realized that I "mis-remembered," the books are his, but the photographs are not. Back in the time period of my "Sinar F" anecdote, the late 60s-early 70s, Rebuffat was one of the best-known alpinists, and along with Ice & Snow, he had two other books, "Starlight and Storm," and "Between Heaven and Earth." All three of his books were well-illustrated, with some of the best color climbing photography available before Rowell came to the scene. It is a little like Ansel Adams's work, there is a lot of mountain photography available today, but at the time the images in Rebuffat's books were relatively new and spectacular. (There is another parallel to Ansel Adams, in that the illustrations in Rebuffat's books are documentation of spectacular places, while Galen Rowell, much like Adams, produced images which conveyed the emotion of what he felt, rather than simply a record of what his eye saw.)

Quick edit, since I just saw Paulr's and Drew's posts. I wouldn't argue that Rowell was a great photographer, but like Adams, he got a lot of exposure. Now, 45 years later, I can discuss photographers and the history of photography in some depth. But at the time, as a young man who loved to hike and climb, both Adams and Rowell were the models of people who shared my interests, but were superior photographers. So the issue wasn't that they were "great," it was that they showed me at the time the potential of what someone could do in places similar to those where I camped and climbed.

paulr
3-Apr-2015, 08:38
I see less than zero resemblance between Rowell and AA.

That's because we're so used to the tropes of Adams' Romantic / Sublime landscape style that we don't notice them, and are more likely to focus on the more superficial differences. The whole "ain't nature grand" ethos (to quote a mocking Weston), the emphasis on light painting the landscape, particularly on rapidly changing light, weather, and clouds, the esthetic preference for how the world looks around dawn and dusk ...

We saw this much more in painting than in photography before Adams made the esthetic popular. Popular isn't really the right word—he made it the norm in this country. Rowell is a direct inheritor of the tradition. I'd agree that he didn't bring much to the party as an artist, but he was able to go places Adams (and most of the rest of us) couldn't go, and he had a good feel for Kodachrome.

Kodachrome25
3-Apr-2015, 08:57
As the years went on I found myself more impressed with Rowell's climbing than with his photography. Like Weston's kids were more impressed with Adams's piano playing.

His work post mountain light era did not appeal to me as much. His influence of "Fast & Light" was a biggie, still have my old worn out Photoflex Galen Rowell chest pouch.....RIP Galen, Barbra and Photoflex....

Drew Wiley
3-Apr-2015, 09:12
Rowell was just a local who found a crack in the wall and got lucky. Even regular people around here referred to his work as "National Geographicky". Any comparison to AA or any other of our classic West Coast photographers is utterly absurd. With about a third of the US comprising the "West", with a lot of mtns,
that means a helluva lot of people photograph mtns and outdoor terrain just by virtue of where they live, not because of some ludicrious philosophical bent to
"Romanticism" which flatland Pontificators are always harping for lack of a more realistic explanation. Rowell was just another rock bum. Period. He lived next door to a backpacking pal of mine and had his snapshots printed down the street by another friend. There was nothing exceptional about those shots other than the interest some exotic locations provided. More like third-world travel guide photography. And with all the climbers I've stumbled into around here, some of whom had far more serious accomplishements in their dicey careers, Rowell's attempt at self-immortalizing doesn't ring totally pure either. But that personna
was for self-marketing purposes. In person he wasn't like that at all. Like I said, just trying to make a living and provide for his family. Adams, on the other hand, was a hard-cord aesthete, someone truly obsessed with pinning down beauty in the sense of a synergy between something within and without. Whole different ballgame, whether you appreciate him or not.

Lenny Eiger
3-Apr-2015, 09:20
That's because we're so used to the tropes of Adams' Romantic / Sublime landscape style that we don't notice them, and are more likely to focus on the more superficial differences. The whole "ain't nature grand" ethos (to quote a mocking Weston), the emphasis on light painting the landscape, particularly on rapidly changing light, weather, and clouds, the esthetic preference for how the world looks around dawn and dusk ...

We saw this much more in painting than in photography before Adams made the esthetic popular. Popular isn't really the right word—he made it the norm in this country. Rowell is a direct inheritor of the tradition. I'd agree that he didn't bring much to the party as an artist, but he was able to go places Adams (and most of the rest of us) couldn't go, and he had a good feel for Kodachrome.


Paul, I reject this outright. Post-moderns all want to lump landscape into one big politically incorrect genre. I heard one person ask what landscape was all about. "Is it that you are telling me you have more money than me because you can travel?" I've read a bunch of the books and I am summarily unimpressed. All the way back to Roland Barthes describing what the photographer was probably thinking when he got his portrait taken - and being totally off the mark. I read as much of David Fried's book "Why Photography Matters as Never Before" as I could before outright dismissing the idiocy. He actually said somewhere, "One should never take a picture of someone if they are looking at the camera". He insists that we should not have a connection with anything. What a world he would make. We should worship the bland.

Photography and Painting are very different disciplines. As of next year, Photography will have had a 200 year tradition, with plenty of stories and anecdotes, plenty of time to instill meaning and aesthetics into the mix. To suggest that nothing came before, that it was all commercial, thoughtless manipulation, is just poppycock.

People are saying that Photography wasn't really popular until AA hit the scene? Its ridiculous. What about Life magazine? Do you have any idea how many photo shows there were? Didn't the brownie camera catch on? There are plenty of references to cameras in the old movies, it was part of the culture. Do you think AA is responsible for Kodak's campaign to put a camera in the hands of every amateur? I think not.

One could argue that David Brower, of the Sierra Club, made Ansel Adams work popular. Its also true that AA was sent on a public relations campaign to popularize his work, and it worked. It was a good thing for many of us. But that doesn't mean that nothing existed before.

It also doesn't mean that the distinctions inside the Fine Art of Photography are meaningless. It is not correct to lump Rowell in with Adams. Adams may not have been the best landscape photographer, but he did do his homework, and he did give it a go. Rowell was after pretty things, he is not in the same ballpark as Adams, much less Weston, Watkins or O'Sullivan.

paulr
3-Apr-2015, 09:26
Lenny, you're arguing against a whole bunch of points I never made. I said nothing about "politically incorrect" genres. And I'm not lumping all of landscape into one small box.

I'm saying that it's photographers within Ansel's tradition who tend to do so. Anyone who sees the Ansel-style Romantic landscape as the norm, and every other kind of landscape as marginal, is participating in this.

Kodachrome25
3-Apr-2015, 09:30
So the issue wasn't that they were "great," it was that they showed me at the time the potential of what someone could do in places similar to those where I camped and climbed.

I'm in this camp, and to add to this they inspired me to follow my heart to the point of leaving a place like L.A. and instead, risking it all in trying to eek out a career doing the same in a place like Aspen...which I have.

paulr
3-Apr-2015, 09:30
Rowell was just a local who found a crack in the wall and got lucky.

I'm not discussing the quality of his work, just the lineage from which he drew his influence.

I'm not going to call him a hack (he was never snooty with me; there's no need). But there are plenty of hacks who participate in Ansel's tradition, just as there are plenty of hacks who participate in every tradition. It's completely beside the point.

Drew Wiley
3-Apr-2015, 09:57
I don't think the influence of "Romanticism" had much of anything to do with how AA interpreted his scenes. Strand had more influence on him than any painting
genre. That kind of label became popular when it seems to have become necessary to show an outhouse or old tire somewhere in the scene to be called a relevant landscape, back in the 70's. And that became a stuck record of its own. I think a lot of AA's way of printing things is exactly what he described, and attempt to communicate his feeling for the light. And he was damn good at it. I've spent enough time in the mtns to recognize that. Not everyone can do it, even the most fanatic Zone System devotees. You gotta feel it, as well as have the craft. It was in his blood, just like a gift for bold abstract representation was in the blood of Brett Weston. You don't go to school to learn that kind of thing. It has to somehow be inside you to begin with; and then it is a long long journey to let it out. Very very few AA wannabees had his sensitivity. Just packing up and camping in Yosemite with an 8x10 doesn't do it, though I will admit a big camera slows
people down and helps them contemplate what lands on the groundglass. I presume cell phone or DLSR previewing will destroy all that, however. Many many times I have just sat there admiring the light without even tripping the shutter. It's the experience I'm after, because that's what predicates the image, and not
visa versa. One can always take another picture.

paulr
3-Apr-2015, 10:18
Well, we have a differing opinion, but I see Ansel conforming with many of the conventions of Romanticism, particularly the subgenre of the sublime.

The whole idea of "communicating the feeling of the light" comes right out of Romanticism. For a painter who seems closest, look at Thomas Moran. I don't think Adams liked 19th century landscape painting. He said he liked Strand's work more. But his photography always looked to me a lot like Moran in terms of sensibility, and not much like Strand's.

"Romanticism" is not a pejorative; every realist genre since the mid-19th century has been in some kind of conversation with the Romantic. Including, maybe especially, the anti-romantics. This point has been made in literature as well.

Drew Wiley
3-Apr-2015, 10:32
The notion that AA got his inspiration from starting at Moran or Bierstadt paintings just seems ludicrous. Look who his cronies were. Were those other f/64 manifesto types even remotely Romanticists? Hardly. And AA printed a helluva lot of closeups and textural details that no apparent precursor in Romanticism,
as you refer to it. He did it all - portraits, products, indoor settings - not just the Gates of the Valley in Winter. But I don't want to quibble. You might have a
different nuance to the idea of Romanticism than I do, and it has been used in reference to him many times before. I just don't buy it. Kinda like pigeonholing
Watkins as a "frontier photographer" by people who don't actually understand what he was after, that is, beyond making a living himself.

Drew Wiley
3-Apr-2015, 10:36
I probably should have qualified that last post with a positive hypothesis. I think Adams was far more influenced by music than the precedent of extant painting.
I find correlations all over the in much of his work. That was, after all, his original career aspiration.

Drew Wiley
3-Apr-2015, 11:02
Then here's another key observation: If AA was trying to impress anyone other than himself, it was certainly Stieglitz. And what kind of painting was Stieglitz
championing? It sure as heck wasn't frontier Americana "Romanticism", to state it mildly.

Heroique
3-Apr-2015, 11:14
Well, we have a differing opinion, but I see Ansel conforming with many of the conventions of Romanticism, particularly the subgenre of the sublime.

The whole idea of "communicating the feeling of the light" comes right out of Romanticism. For a painter who seems closest, look at Thomas Moran. I don't think Adams liked 19th century landscape painting. He said he liked Strand's work more. But his photography always looked to me a lot like Moran in terms of sensibility, and not much like Strand's.

"Romanticism" is not a pejorative; every realist genre since the mid-19th century has been in some kind of conversation with the Romantic. Including, maybe especially, the anti-romantics. This point has been made in literature as well.

No differing opinion from me – Yes to all this; however, I'm curious why you think Ansel didn't like 19th-C landscape painting.

Did he hint at this somewhere, perhaps in a book, a letter, his autobiography?

And as for Ansel disliking one thing (I don't like 19th-C landscape painting) but showing an affinity for it in his work (approximating, say, Moran), it tempts me to introduce the psychologist's "F" word. And not just because AA's work may have conflicted with his stated beliefs, but also because there may be some "Son-against-the-Father(s)" here, including all the ambivalence that normally comes with it – symptoms of which, I think, bubble-up in Darin's old post, as I tried to explain in post #22. However, since we haven't yet reached 200 replies, saying the "F" word may be premature at this time, so I'll save my breath to cool my porridge...

Drew Wiley
3-Apr-2015, 11:31
I think it's an interesting discussion because it informs us more about Ansel's viewers than about him, most of whom have a stereotype about him based upon a mere handful of very popular images. He obviously capitalized on the popular scenes, just as his heirs have. But this is just a small part of his overall portfolio.
And rather than beckoning back to some longing for a long-gone pristine frontier, like his Eastern critics like to explain, I think he dovetails more into the nostalgia for the golden era of interstates and National Parks, right between the social upheavals of the 30's and 60's, when people rounded up their kids and went car camping. I remember that ethos well. AA's personal style was fairly imprinted well before that; but it is the season when he caught on, which became identified with his work, which contributed to his parallel advance of conservation causes. Yosemite, for example, itself got stereotypes by Ansel's images of it. That's what people expect to see (and generally don't), and that's what wannabee photographers try to emulate (and generally don't).

baro-nite
3-Apr-2015, 12:15
Post-moderns all want to lump landscape into one big politically incorrect genre.

Not just post-moderns, either. Letter from Adams to Weston, 1934:


Both you and I are incapable of devoting ourselves to contemporary social significances in our work [...] I still believe there is a real social significance in a rock -- a more important significance therein than in a line of unemployed. For that opinion I am charged with inhumanity, unawareness -- I am dead, through, finished, a social liability, one who will be "liquidated" when the "great day" comes.

paulr
3-Apr-2015, 13:21
The notion that AA got his inspiration from starting at Moran or Bierstadt paintings just seems ludicrous.

That's a pretty blunt idea of of how influence works. For most of us, our primary influence is the stuff we saw when we grew up that people told us was art.
For Ansel, that wasn't f64 work.

I'm not talking about conscious influence. I'm talking about the source of our unquestioned ideas about what's beautiful, and what makes a picture work, and what's worth making a picture of.

Looking at the whole history of art, and the whole history of photography, I see one clear antecedent for AA's esthetic, and it's the landscape painting of the previous few generations.

paulr
3-Apr-2015, 13:22
No differing opinion from me – Yes to all this; however, I'm curious why you think Ansel didn't like 19th-C landscape painting.

I read it in a late interview he gave.

Edited to add: I think Ansel really had to hold onto this view. He was part of a group of photographers driven by an anti-romantic, anti-painting manifesto. They were crusaders trying to prove that 1) photography could be art; 2) photography could be Modern; and 3) photography could be art without self-consciously imitating painting, as it had often done in previous decades.

Like a lot of people with manifestos, all these guys were sometimes blinded by them. They often shouted their ideas without checking them work against their work with adequate rigor. Photographers were trumpeting modernism (influenced, maybe ironically, by modern European painters more than anyone else) while their work was still substantially Romantic.

Stieglitz was the most obvious example. He was the impresario of this group and the most vocal and political. And yet his work was completely defined by Romantic tropes, even in his own descriptions of it, for decades.* It was his young protege Strand who eventually showed him how to actually use some of the lessons of Modernism in photography.

This wasn't unique to photography. Many of the most anti-Romantic modern poets seem pretty embroiled in Romantic ideas if you stop and look. I think this means that Modernism ... in some ways ... is less an anti-romantic movement than a critical continuation of modernism. People have said the same thing about post-modernism's relationship to modernism. People try to replace something and then end up just adding layers to it.

Look at The Steerage, or the NYC snowstorm pictures. Or read his explanations of "the Equivalents."

jcoldslabs
3-Apr-2015, 13:44
I'm neither a champion nor a critic of Adams' work, but I wonder how much his widely published writings contribute to his influence. I don't know of another 20th century photographer who wrote as prolifically (and as elegantly) as Adams did about his own work. When I wandered over to the "photography how-to" section of my local bookstore as a teenager back in the 1980s, there were a slew of cheesy "How to Be a Nature Photographer" or "Improve Your Photography In Three Easy Steps" books, and then there were Adams' books: hard-bound, beautifully printed, and written in a serious tone imbued with a reverence for the art form. As a young man I read The Camera, The Negative and The Print, as well as his autobiography and Examples, in part because they presented the technical aspects of using a camera and working in the darkroom with great solemnity and not as a get-rich-quick scheme. It was his philosophy of the craft that had a greater influence on me than his overall aesthetic approach.

Jonathan

Drew Wiley
3-Apr-2015, 14:03
Paul - I think your evaluation of Stieglitz is even more nutso than of Adams. Next thing you'll be trying to tie Edward Weston in Medieval Miniaturist influence. I'm
being sarcastic, of course. But you're probably way out in left field by most people's opinion when it comes to this. That's fine. It's your right. Just don't expect
much company out there.

paulr
3-Apr-2015, 14:33
But you're probably way out in left field by most people's opinion when it comes to this. That's fine. It's your right. Just don't expect
much company out there.

I've got a lot of company. My ideas here aren't new, original, or radical. Szarkowsky wrote about this at length in his excellent essay in the book Alfred Stieglitz at Lake George.

Maybe your ideas about Romanticism are more narrow the ones used in art historical circles. Or maybe you've been convinced by the f64 people that it's a dirty word.

Heroique
3-Apr-2015, 15:06
I read it in a late interview he gave. Edited to add: I think Ansel really had to hold onto this view. He was part of a group of photographers driven by an anti-romantic, anti-painting manifesto.

It's remarkable, the contradiction between AA's claims about personal influences and the clear evidence of his own work. And whether this contradiction is best explained by politics (as Paul suggests above) or psychology – or perhaps a mixture – is a fair question for any admirer or detractor of AA to ask. Below is an excerpt from a brief biography suggesting the possibility of unconscious motives, but still buttressing Paul's remarks:


Seen in a more traditional art history context, Adams was the last and defining figure in the romantic tradition of nineteenth-century American landscape painting and photography. Adams always claimed he was not “influenced,” but, consciously or unconsciously, he was firmly in the tradition of Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, Albert Bierstadt, Carlton Watkins, and Eadweard Muybridge. And he was the direct philosophical heir of the American Transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and John Muir.

(Source: American National Biography, Oxford University Press, displayed by The Ansel Adams Gallery, apparently sanctioned by the family)

-----
If what AA says about his personal influences is plainly not borne out by his work, then LFers who firmly believe AA's work doesn't influence them might stop and reconsider their own "independence."

Drew Wiley
3-Apr-2015, 15:15
Heroique- that quote itself is a fine example of the kind of superficial BS that some critics seem so adept at. Apparently whoever wrote that didn't look at Watkins or Muybridge with much perception either, who fortunately are beginning to be widely recognized as having been ahead of their time.

Drew Wiley
3-Apr-2015, 15:22
Fortunately, Paul, I got to view the master set of the Lake George at the SFMMA, where one of the better collections of Watkins also landed - right where they
belong, along with Atget too. Not the kind of place someone would hang Moran or Bierstadt, though they too deserve some kind of venue - just not in the tradition
of Modernism.

Bill Burk
3-Apr-2015, 15:36
I just grabbed my copy of Rebuffat's "On Ice and Snow and Rock" and realized that I "mis-remembered," the books are his, but the photographs are not...

I wouldn't argue that Rowell was a great photographer, but like Adams, he got a lot of exposure. Now, 45 years later, I can discuss photographers and the history of photography in some depth. But at the time, as a young man who loved to hike and climb, both Adams and Rowell were the models of people who shared my interests, but were superior photographers. So the issue wasn't that they were "great," it was that they showed me at the time the potential of what someone could do in places similar to those where I camped and climbed.

Ah well Rebuffat was worth a shot...

Of course that's the role model that these two set for us: Examples of what a successful photographic career in nature photography might look like.

John Kasaian
3-Apr-2015, 15:44
Using an 8x10 and shooting B&W landscapes is influence. I never would have thought of it had I not met Ansel Adams at very young age and saw something delightful in his prints(I'm talking 7 or 8 years old!) Getting my mitts on an 8x10 and learning how to shoot & print sheet film was a long time ambition. That said, nobody has ever compared my prints to Ansel Adams nor do I use the Zone System.
I cannot say Ansel Adams wasn't an influence for me and looking at Adam's prints has helped me to see from another respective, but I'm not an Ansel-oid nor was that anything I felt was compelled to fight.

Drew Wiley
3-Apr-2015, 16:13
As a kid I did enjoy reading Rebuffat, esp Starlight and Storm. And I tore a poorly reproduced copy of AA's famous Lone Pine sunrise shot out of a Sunset Magazine, not for its worth as imagery, but for the detail of Lone Pine Pk in the background, which I was plotting to climb. That's one thing I always dreaded about giving framed mtn prints to my nephew and his wife - the possibility of him drawing dotted lines on the image planning some route! Before his expedition days we did numerous mtn trips together and often homed in on the same pinnacle or ice couloir, but with different motives. His first Himalayan climb was in fact the second ascent of Rowell's route up Cholatse; but after that, he entered an era of much more extreme climbs well beyond those of the preceding generation like Rowell. Sad to see how a plane crash ended his career. I never did walk into the gallery in Bishop. Not my cup of tea.

Robert Langham
3-Apr-2015, 16:45
I'm just trying to resist the tractor-beam strength emmanations from Artie Van Blarcum.

Bill Burk
3-Apr-2015, 17:36
I just bought a copy of Adams, Ansel Making a photograph: An introduction to photography. Call me a fool but it comes loaded with what might honestly be silver gelatin prints printed in his darkroom from his negatives.

Well, for the record... The tipped in sheets are from an offset printing press. I haven't determined if it was letterpress-offset or litho-offset but the glossy photos have halftone patterns and Frozen Lake and Cliffs, Sierra Nevada has a hicky... Which proves a blanket was used.

Still a good book, I'm happy and I'm keeping it. But its not an undiscovered treasure. Nobody will get rich buying up copies and cutting out pages to sell individually. I'm not going to be tearing out pages to frame.

paulr
3-Apr-2015, 17:54
Heroique- that quote itself is a fine example of the kind of superficial BS that some critics seem so adept at.

You call it superficial B.S. because you disagree with it, or because you don't understand it.
It's not possible to judge something superficial from a 2-sentence excerpt of something larger. You're not privy to the evidence or to the argument.

Merg Ross
3-Apr-2015, 22:06
Well, for the record... The tipped in sheets are from an offset printing press. I haven't determined if it was letterpress-offset or litho-offset but the glossy photos have halftone patterns and Frozen Lake and Cliffs, Sierra Nevada has a hicky... Which proves a blanket was used.

Still a good book, I'm happy and I'm keeping it. But its not an undiscovered treasure. Nobody will get rich buying up copies and cutting out pages to sell individually. I'm not going to be tearing out pages to frame.

No, not undiscovered. However, when I found Making a Photograph in the family bookcase sixty years ago, the contents were partially responsible for my pursuit of a life in photography. Not the only influence for sure, but inspirational none the less. I checked that copy this afternoon, a bit musty but still relevant material. I don't make photographs like Ansel, but there is no denying his influence as a person and friend.

Bill Burk
3-Apr-2015, 22:34
It's fun reading a book by Ansel Adams without one word about Zone System... The first edition pre-dates John L. Davenport's Constant Quality Prints articles of 1940...

One thing that is in this book (that I think is absent from his later teaching) is advice that I would consider discouraging to a student... "only experience can determine..." and "Knowledge of theory is invaluable..."

CropDusterMan
4-Apr-2015, 06:51
I embrace every influence of Adams on me. Most of it is darkroom technique. I am not into the zone
system for instance, but do strongly practice his pre-visualization...when I look at the scene through
a rangefinder or ground glass, I am imagining printing it...what challenges will be presented in the
darkroom that I see before me.

Bill Burk
4-Apr-2015, 16:06
You call it superficial B.S. because you disagree with it, or because you don't understand it.
It's not possible to judge something superficial from a 2-sentence excerpt of something larger. You're not privy to the evidence or to the argument.

I suppose it's an opinion, or a hypothesis to be discussed.

For example... Is Adams really the last? If he was, then no wonder we continue to talk about him.

Preston
4-Apr-2015, 16:57
It is intuitively obvious to the most casual observer that Ansel did have an influence because there are 213 replies to Heroique's original post asking about it! :-)

Sorry. I couldn't resist! :-)

--P

Bill Burk
4-Apr-2015, 21:40
Well, for the record... The tipped in sheets are from an offset printing press. I haven't determined if it was letterpress-offset or litho-offset but the glossy photos have halftone patterns and Frozen Lake and Cliffs, Sierra Nevada has a hicky... Which proves a blanket was used.

Changed my opinion slightly on the print process... It's direct impression letterpress (no blanket). And varnished. Most prints are trimmed but "Marine" has a border, the drawn lines distinctly impress the paper. And you can see where the varnish ends. The varnish is slightly (distinctly) yellowed. The hicky on Frozen Lake and Cliffs is crisp and embossed the paper slightly too. The halftone screen they used is a fine one, probably 140 line (haven't measured but it's not coarse like 85 or 120).

In all, it must have been a job of good craftsmanship to produce letterpress photographs that look as good as these do.

No new thoughts about Adams himself today... I'll agree that he is the defining photographer, but I refuse to accept he was the last [figure in the tradition...].

Lenny Eiger
5-Apr-2015, 12:20
I'll agree that he is the defining photographer, but I refuse to accept he was the last [figure in the tradition...].

I would say no to the concept of "defining photographer" on any count. He is certainly influential on the West Coast but when I lived in New York, (1974-1984) he wasn't mentioned much at all. He was a minor figure in my studies of Photo-History while at college during part of that time. Much smaller than a Stieglitz who not only was a figure that also popularized Photography, but also was the first to bring Modern Art to this country. There have been many influential photographers over the years. I'd say that Walker Evans and Robert Frank both had far more influence in Photography than Adams. No, this argument does not hold water...

Lenny

Richard Wasserman
5-Apr-2015, 12:51
I would say no to the concept of "defining photographer" on any count. He is certainly influential on the West Coast but when I lived in New York, (1974-1984) he wasn't mentioned much at all. He was a minor figure in my studies of Photo-History while at college during part of that time. Much smaller than a Stieglitz who not only was a figure that also popularized Photography, but also was the first to bring Modern Art to this country. There have been many influential photographers over the years. I'd say that Walker Evans and Robert Frank both had far more influence in Photography than Adams. No, this argument does not hold water...

Lenny

Might part of the difference in who people are influenced by have something to do with the differences in being an autodidact and an academically educated photographer? I'm a bit of both and readily admit to many and varied influences. Adams I think is inescapable, although not so much from school—I received a copy of "This is the American Earth" for my 13th birthday...

Lenny Eiger
5-Apr-2015, 14:47
Might part of the difference in who people are influenced by have something to do with the differences in being an autodidact and an academically educated photographer?


I would agree. Ever since I moved out to CA in 1984 I have encountered people who are self educated. There isn't anything wrong with that at all. However the level of education many of them afforded themselves was quite limited. I met many a photographer, who called themselves a landscape photographer, who had never looked at any other work besides Adam's. It is still a great pleasure to meet anyone who is well-read, or well-versed in PhotoHistory, regardless if it was self inflicted or not.

I have always wanted to broaden the discussion, not to take anything away from Adams, but to include other important figures, their different ways of looking at things, etc. I wouldn't call myself a landscape photographer if I only knew one other artist, or even one other artist of that genre.

Lenny

Richard Wasserman
5-Apr-2015, 15:10
Yes, knowing the history of photography is vital as well as really interesting. There are many ways to make a photograph. I had a class in photo history taught by David Vestal—fascinating class as well as open and interesting teacher. I think it is also important to know something of the history of art in general. There is much to be learned from what has gone before us. There is a whole big world out there...

Bill Burk
5-Apr-2015, 17:15
I met many a photographer, who called themselves a landscape photographer, who had never looked at any other work besides Adam's.

I may have been guilty of that when I was younger*. But I had my own ideas then. Now I deliberately seek out as many diverse photographer's work as possible because I feel I may have missed something.

I can't tell my current work apart from my vintage work in terms of influence. Maybe I never allowed myself to be influenced by anybody.

David Vestal... Now there is a photographer I would have enjoyed meeting.

*This can't be true because by 10th grade I had read every single LIFE magazine in the school library.

Drew Wiley
6-Apr-2015, 09:01
I don't buy your argument for a couple reasons, Lenny. For one thing, landscape photographers of the West typically had more appeal in the East, where
there was a market for the sights they didn't have themselves. This has been largely true even past the era of AA himself, though now there's more of a global
approach to scenery. A lot of the dissing of him in photo schools and academia was deliberate; so in this respect they obviously recognized him. I heard a lot of this second hand myself. It was the despised "rocks and trees" genre (called that even back then), without social or commercial relevance. Or maybe they were
just jealous that a successful commercial photographer could also make recognized art. And you can't deny the widespread recognition of his images among ordinary Americans. He's synonymous with photography to several generations of the public. And Yosemite is synonymous with him. Call it successful marketing
if you wish, call it luck in time and place, at least for awhile. But some New Yorkers seem to think that if you contemplate anything beyond the city limits you'll
fall off the edge of the earth. I'm more worried about falling onto anything flat earth. It's all interesting in a demographic and sociological sense, whether or not
we are individually "influenced" in a direct aesthetic or craft sense.

Vaughn
6-Apr-2015, 09:19
...*This can't be true because by 10th grade I had read every single LIFE magazine in the school library.

Exactly! Since the invention of photography we have lived in a world soaked in images...all influencing how we see and the images we produce.

My influences: The two Watkins photos on the hallway wall and the two hand-colored Nutting photographs in the living room -- as well as my parents' night-stand drawer filled with loose B&W photos -- mostly square prints with scalloped (?) edges -- that I would go thru when I was sick, the stack of National Geographics from the 1940's in my grandmother's garage, assisting at Friends of Photography workshops, and being around the university darkroom for over 30 years! And of course just going out and making photographs (would that be called self-influencing?)

Drew Wiley
6-Apr-2015, 10:14
We've all been influenced by someone. I'll put my cards on the table. I was highly influenced by certain schools of painting, esp Impressionism, what might be termed Post-Impressionism and EARLY abstract painting. That certainly doesn't mean I tried to emulate Impressionism with soft blurry pictorial images. Quite the contrary! But I appreciated their perception of how light behaves. Then when I was a kid my older brother idolized Eliot Porter. So when the family could finally afford one of those big first edition Glen Canyon books, I sit there with a cardboard card recropping the images the way I would have composed them! But I was already printing and exhibiting color photography quite awhile before I even saw a real AA print, so that connection wasn't particularly in my psyche. Being from
an art family I did have certain advantages, like the excellent advice never to go to any kind of Art school !

Lenny Eiger
6-Apr-2015, 13:47
I don't buy your argument for a couple reasons, Lenny. For one thing, landscape photographers of the West typically had more appeal in the East, where there was a market for the sights they didn't have themselves. This has been largely true even past the era of AA himself, though now there's more of a global
approach to scenery.
A lot of the dissing of him in photo schools and academia was deliberate; so in this respect they obviously recognized him. I heard a lot of this second hand myself. It was the despised "rocks and trees" genre (called that even back then), without social or commercial relevance. Or maybe they were
just jealous that a successful commercial photographer could also make recognized art. And you can't deny the widespread recognition of his images among ordinary Americans. He's synonymous with photography to several generations of the public. And Yosemite is synonymous with him. Call it successful marketing
if you wish, call it luck in time and place, at least for awhile. But some New Yorkers seem to think that if you contemplate anything beyond the city limits you'll
fall off the edge of the earth. I'm more worried about falling onto anything flat earth. It's all interesting in a demographic and sociological sense, whether or not
we are individually "influenced" in a direct aesthetic or craft sense.


Drew, you're just arguing to argue. They actually have plenty of natural beauty back East. The Hudson River Valley, Adirondacks, White Mtns, Greens, most of Maine, etc. No one in my school felt any need to diss AA, he was just considered a minor photographer. When we studied the various genres, the West Coast School of landscape was only one of them. I think that's appropriate.

As a photographer, I am mainly interested in depth. AA is what I call a "shock and awe" photographer. My father, a commercial photographer would have called it "impact". I am not so interested in this. I like things that are deeper. I prefer Weston to AA any day. That's my prerogative. I get to like what I want.

For the record, I am not saying that I am not influenced, that would be ridiculous. I have lots of influences, Frederick Evans, O'Sullivan, Lewis Hine, Clarence White, Weston, Stieglitz, Steichen, Baron de Meyer, Caponigro, Sutcliffe, Arbuthnot, Struss, Coburn, Wellington, among others. They all impress me. some are deeper than others...

Lenny

Vaughn
6-Apr-2015, 13:54
Then it is a matter of figuring out what those influences really are. A friend (Suk Choo Kim) and I were talking as we hung my show this morning. In the very early 70's he volunteered at the Sunset Center (Friends of Photography) and was hired by AA as a driver for himself and his wife for that summer. At the time Suk Choo was working on his screamer series http://www.sukchookim.com/screamer and in long talks with AA, AA strongly encourage him to continue the Screamer Series.

But what was remarkable was that in the early 70's, AA and Suk Choo talked about, and AA was very excited about, digital photography. And AA predicted that images would someday be able to be digitalized and put onto magnetic tape...and that he was sorry he was born 50 years too early to see it come to be.

So I think AA is a good source of positive influence, both his imagery, and how he approached photography and life.

Drew Wiley
6-Apr-2015, 14:08
Here we go again, Lenny. I know you like relatively soft nuanced images. I do too at times, but not exclusively. But an awful lot of people seem to think all of AA's images were bold theatrical things with inky skies etc. Hardly the case. That is a stereotype based upon a handful of very popular images which were massively reproduced. But no matter what you or I think of the fellow, it's almost impossible for anyone getting a speck of recognition in landscape photography not to get somehow measured by the yardstick of AA. Even pulling out the set of MMA books on Atget the other day, I had to hop the hurdle of an Atget statue image in a side by side comparison with an AA statue image - other than the subject matter, what the heck is AA even doing in that dissertation?, I thought to myself, OTHER than the fact he is AA and it seems it's photographic dogma he's gotta be everywhere! So yeah, I was annoyed. If I wanted to look at AA stuff, there was a different book on my shelf. But that the 20th C for ya. You can't change it. But maybe the 21st will be different, and ALL still photographers will be
consistently ignored!

paulr
6-Apr-2015, 16:52
I think it's an exaggeration to say Ansel's work was solely about drama. It's also just wrong to say this reputation came from a handful of images. It's a style he often visited, and it dominated the whole late period of his career. It was a style he was actively persuaded to cultivate by his gallerists.

I like some of that work. Although when looking at groups of pictures, I'm more drawn to some the early, more subtly printed stuff.

But this is all about printing style. I think the deeper arguments against Ansel are about form and substance. Compared to people like Weston and Strand, he was not a virtuoso of form, and he did not have their knack for making images that seemed layered with possibility.

I attended a slide lecture given by Edward Ranney, comparing AA and Weston formally. We looked at dozens of images from both, in many cases of similar subject matter. What emerged was that Ansel employed a small handful of formal tricks ... simple formulas for making a picture work that could get tedious once you caught onto them. Weston showed a more steady and exploratory evolution, with surprises that never stopped.

These are esthetic arguments, so as always YMMV. But it's worth noting that the arguments are more sophisticated than just generalizations about printing style.

John Kasaian
6-Apr-2015, 17:38
WHOA! Diane Arbus could field a tied team wrestling match!

rorye
6-Apr-2015, 19:04
Screamers, wow, what a wonderful series, thanks for introducing me to it!


Then it is a matter of figuring out what those influences really are. A friend (Suk Choo Kim) and I were talking as we hung my show this morning. In the very early 70's he volunteered at the Sunset Center (Friends of Photography) and was hired by AA as a driver for himself and his wife for that summer. At the time Suk Choo was working on his screamer series http://www.sukchookim.com/screamer and in long talks with AA, AA strongly encourage him to continue the Screamer Series.

But what was remarkable was that in the early 70's, AA and Suk Choo talked about, and AA was very excited about, digital photography. And AA predicted that images would someday be able to be digitalized and put onto magnetic tape...and that he was sorry he was born 50 years too early to see it come to be.

So I think AA is a good source of positive influence, both his imagery, and how he approached photography and life.

Drew Wiley
7-Apr-2015, 08:26
Weston could get stuck in a rut at times too, or as Szarkowski pointed out, he made a lot of images that were merely neat or clinical, in other words, sterile. I've
seen a number of these. Fortunately, EW also had the good sense to cull most of these out of what he intended as his legacy, but apparently didn't actually throw
them all away, and they turned up eventually. Adams had an extremely developed poetic feel for his compositions. Not everyone is attuned to this kind of thing
as opposed to the mere dramatic aspects. I think photographers tend to confuse vision with method. They're related of course; but it's far easier to copy method
and subject matter than vision. When AA was off his game, his pictures became merely scenic. I gravitate more to someone like C.Watkins and his sophisticated
blend of structural (non necessarily manmade) and organic elements in composition; but he took lots and lots of garden-variety stereo shots as basic stock
images, which were quite popular back then. Same with Muybridge. I often admire the more open atmospheric light and grand scale of how things looked before panchromatic film.

paulr
7-Apr-2015, 10:50
Yeah, Weston had some stinkers. A lot of critics have lambasted his nudes over the years (I don't mind them). But the WW2 cat pictures, the nude with gas mask, and the whole Leaves of Grass project ... not awesome.

Still, I think AA's best work is only occasionally rises to the level of W's average work. I don't see them as being on the same level.

FWIW, among the people who shared this assessment are Edward Weston and Ansel Adams.

paulr
7-Apr-2015, 10:59
Yeah, Weston had some stinkers. A lot of critics have lambasted his nudes over the years (I don't mind them). But the WW2 cat pictures, the nude with gas mask, much of the Leaves of Grass project ... not awesome.

Still, I think AA's best work is only occasionally rises to the level of W's average work. I don't see them as being on the same level.

FWIW, among the people who shared this assessment are Edward Weston and Ansel Adams.

Drew Wiley
7-Apr-2015, 11:27
That's not what I was referring to, Paul. EW made apparently sorted out his keepers from his losers, but a number of the losers somehow resurfaced in succeeding generations and made it to a secondary market. I sometimes keep less than ideal prints myself just as a reference point for eventually reprinting the image better the next round. Then I tear up the lemons. Nobody hits a home run every time. Nobody. I think AA was exceptional at achieving the feel he wanted in an image. I don't put him at the same level of printmaking as either Edward or Brett Weston. But EW rarely enlarged, and if he did, not many negs would hold up well. A different ballgame. I was fortunate to see a number of genuine EW prints when I was young. AA came much later, when I was already on the road, so to speak. But oddly perhaps, I actually appreciate some of EW's earlier, more "pictorialist" prints better than his later f/64-style work.

Peter Lewin
7-Apr-2015, 14:51
Somehow this thread seems to have turned into a debate over the merits of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. The only comment I can make is that I have seen lots of prints by both (living near NYC museums, and attending the annual AIPAD show for quite a few years now) and they were both wonderful printers. Did they have duds? Sure. But I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't be happy with prints from either.

But the reason I'm posting is two-fold. I just found a new book at my local library (someone there must love photography!) called "Landmark: the Fields of Landscape Photography" by William Ewing, published by Thames & Hudson, 2014. Ewing groups 240 contemporary images (21st century works only, no images by Weston or Adams) into 10 categories, which is an interesting approach in itself: Sublime, Pastoral, Artifacts, Rapture, Playground, Scar, Control, Enigma, Hallucination, and Reverie.

But most germane to the initial subject of this thread, Ansel Adams's impact on landscape photography, I will excerpt from his introductory text:

"The 20th century figure most associated with landscape photography in the public mind is, of course, Ansel Adams. Indeed, it is no stretch of the imagination to say he was for many years, and still remains, a household name. ... That the first photograph of Earth from deep space would be baptized Earthrise was an indirect homage to Adams's well-known Moonrise. He gave the world a newly minted concept of the Romantic Sublime, and implied imperiously that it was all preordained: 'Sometimes I do get to places just when God is ready to have someone click the shutter.' It is fair to say that Adams dominated the worlds of landscape photography, both professional and amateur, for many years (and still has a tremendous stature among amateurs) until, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a new generation arrived with a very different mind-set. The 'new topographers' as they were called ... were decidedly not interested in the monumental and the mysterious."

Drew Wiley
7-Apr-2015, 15:27
... And now "New Topographers" are dime a dozen and monotonous as hell. That started half a century ago! Some of them could print (or eventually learned to do so), and some were utterly miserable at it. I saw a lot of their earliest work up close, right at the time before it really broke out. So the term "new" is relative, and most of those guys will soon be dead themselves, but probably with very little of their ephemeral fame intact. But it was a break in routine, and some of those experiments were certainly interesting even if poorly executed. Most of it was pretentiously artsy, just like the Pop Art that preceded it. But like any major trend, a few things still ring true and deserve a second look, even if its in books. Most of the originals have long since faded. Most of it was in Type C color. They were indeed the anti-Ansels, but even more the anti-Eliots. Desecration of nature in image form became fashionable.

Kirk Gittings
7-Apr-2015, 15:44
Desecration of nature in image form became fashionable.

more like desecration of nature recorded in image form.

Richard Wasserman
7-Apr-2015, 16:13
I think The New Topographics was an important exhibit. They were indeed the Anti-Ansels as they removed the pursuit of drama and beauty in photography and replaced it with a clean vision depicting the landscape with all its warts, and often a sense of humor (usually a dark one). Only Stephen Shore worked in color, the rest were B&W.

Drew Wiley
7-Apr-2015, 16:30
I don't know where you get that idea, Richard. Nearly all of the pioneers of that trend worked with color neg film, and quite a few originally made 8x10 contact
prints because they couldn't afford to enlarge them. Somewhat later, as some of them got noticed, they had grants and so forth allowing pro labs to enlarge their
negs.

Richard Wasserman
7-Apr-2015, 16:51
I don't know where you get that idea, Richard. Nearly all of the pioneers of that trend worked with color neg film, and quite a few originally made 8x10 contact
prints because they couldn't afford to enlarge them. Somewhat later, as some of them got noticed, they had grants and so forth allowing pro labs to enlarge their
negs.


Here you go— http://www.sfmoma.org/exhib_events/exhibitions/407

Kirk Gittings
7-Apr-2015, 17:04
Yes indeed Richard, only Shore used color in the original exhibit that defined the movement. Drew many of them were academics and certainly had the resources to enlarge and Robert Adams (who and given up an academic career in English was no longer an academic then and never had steady income from that point forward-his wife was a librarian in a smallish Colorado town) always enlarged.

tgtaylor
7-Apr-2015, 20:09
Imaging the banal is easy. Going the way is not.

Thomas

Bill Burk
7-Apr-2015, 20:52
10 categories, which is an interesting approach in itself: Sublime, Pastoral, Artifacts, Rapture, Playground, Scar, Control, Enigma, Hallucination, and Reverie.

I haven't done enough in the Hallucination genre.

Edward Weston's cats - I've been watching videos this week (listening for any vintage mention of the name "Group f.64" - so far, I haven't even heard Ansel Adams say "f stop" he said "aperture". ), Edward liked cats. It might be worth looking at his cat photographs to see if whether he handled the subject with unusual sensitivity... Or was he taking a break from it all and joining the rest of humanity with their snapshots of pets?

Ansel Adams spoke of "visualization" as it makes the difference between an ordinary snapshot and an expressive photograph. He had to fight to convince the world that photography is art. But I think the battle was won. We are all free to call our photographs art thanks to his generation. Now our photographs don't have to be straight photographs in the Group f.64 tradition to be considered art. (Are there many students of William Mortensen worth looking into?).

sanking
7-Apr-2015, 21:25
Ansel Adams spoke of "visualization" as it makes the difference between an ordinary snapshot and an expressive photograph. He had to fight to convince the world that photography is art. But I think the battle was won. We are all free to call our photographs art thanks to his generation. Now our photographs don't have to be straight photographs in the Group f.64 tradition to be considered art. (Are there many students of William Mortensen worth looking into?).

The battle to convince the world that photography is art was probably "first" won by the Pictorialists, who advocated the use of expressive pigment printing processes like carbon, gum, oil, bromoil, etc., not by Adams and the f/64 group. Adams and the f/64 group, and Paul Strand, convinced most of the art world that silver gelatin photography was a more legitimate expression of photography than photographs made with pigment processes. Strand expressed this concept explicitly as early as 1923 in an article called "The Art Motive in Photography," reproduced in a book of essays called Photography in Print, published way back in 1981 by the University of New Mexico Press.

Now, as before Adams and Strand and the f/64 group, photography does not have to be straight, or silver gelatin, to be considered art. As Yogi Berra said, or is said to have said, "It's like deja-vu, all over again."

Sandy

Kirk Gittings
8-Apr-2015, 06:45
The battle to convince the world that photography is art was probably "first" won by the Pictorialists, who advocated the use of expressive pigment printing processes like carbon, gum, oil, bromoil, etc., not by Adams and the f/64 group. Adams and the f/64 group, and Paul Strand, convinced most of the art world that silver gelatin photography was a more legitimate expression of photography than photographs made with pigment processes. Strand expressed this concept explicitly as early as 1923 in an article called "The Art Motive in Photography," reproduced in a book of essays called Photography in Print, published way back in 1981 by the University of New Mexico Press.

Now, as before Adams and Strand and the f/64 group, photography does not have to be straight, or silver gelatin, to be considered art. As Yogi Berra said, or is said to have said, "It's like deja-vu, all over again."

Sandy

I had forgotten about this book. This book is evidence that the battle to recognize photography as an art form was still being waged somewhat in the early 80's. That time was the only time I was not directly connected with UNM (as I was in Canada going to graduate school)-a student before then and an instructor after 84 into the 90's. Though significant headway had been made in the recognition of photography as an expressive art form, the debate continued and the issues raised by this book were still reverberating when I came back to teach in 84.

paulr
8-Apr-2015, 07:23
Re: Weston's cats ...
during WW2 the coastal areas where he liked to photograph were closed to the public, so spent a lot more time taking pictures at home. I wonder if some of these were deliberately ludicrous, as a form of protest (gas mask nude, etc..). The cat pictures .... well, I probably take more pictures of cats than of anything else, but I don't admit it.

paulr
8-Apr-2015, 07:29
The battle to convince the world that photography is art was probably "first" won by the Pictorialists...

Anyone have a sense of public perceptions of "art" photography in the mid / late 19th century? Where people would go to see it, if there was a critical response, if it was a niche interest or had any kind of broad appeal? I don't recall reading much about this.

The first huge win for photography (at least in the U.S.) was in 1930 when MoMA opened its department. But I don't know much about the smaller victories of the previous century, or how perceptions might have differed in Europe or other industrializing parts of the world.

Drew Wiley
8-Apr-2015, 08:09
P.H. Emerson was probably the first to make a big push for acceptance of photog as "art" on a par with traditional forms, well before any those folks mentioned above. And he proved it with his own prints.

Drew Wiley
8-Apr-2015, 09:31
Let me clarify that a bit. There were quite a few truly great photographers in the 19thC, some of whom are still revered. And there were also quite a number who
made a pretension to art, including those who emulated certain then in vogue painting genres by photocomping their images, for example, long before Fauxtoshop,
and others who fell into popular trends yet did it brilliantly with a camera, like Julia Cameron's mimicry of Pre-Raphaelite themes. But Emerson was the one who
came along and stirred up the waters with full dialectic warfare and wanted photography to stand on its own feet as a recognized medium. He did trend toward
"pure" rural themes just like Courbet and later Van Gogh did. But he was not a "pictorialist" in the sense of Coburn or White or that whole later movement. He
attempted to print things just as he saw them on the groundglass, subject of course to the limitations of his optics; but he was not a soft-focus type at all, like
the Pictorialists generally were. In fact, he would have probably consigned AA to a deeper pit of hell than even Dante put Alexander VI in, because he regarded
any kind of dodging/burning, manipulation of any form, utterly immoral. He sure would have ignited a war on any forum like this one! But he did have the proof
in the pudding. His platinum prints are among the best ever made. And yes he did publish, arrange exhibitions, and basically raise Cain to get his point across.
It was war as far as he was concerned, and a successful one, long before there was anything "equivalent" in the US, if you'll excuse the pun.

Doremus Scudder
8-Apr-2015, 10:26
Drew,

Thanks for reminding me of Emerson. It was enlightening to review his images, many of which are more well-composed and "modern" than some who call themselves modernists. Great stuff.

Doremus

MDR
8-Apr-2015, 10:41
Stieglietz and the photo secession Camera Work did more for the art of photography and its recognition as an art form than AA or any other American photographer before or after. The Europeans were faster in accepting photography as an artform than the Americans this changed after WW2. AA was a good photographer but he was not responsible for the public's acceptance of photography as an art form.