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Thread: Is b/w LF photography a"tradition"?

  1. #1

    Is b/w LF photography a"tradition"?

    You are doing OK until you start titling your photos "Homage to....."

  2. #2

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    Is b/w LF photography a"tradition"?

    I think we get too caught up in worrying about "things." We worry if we are copying other photographers. We worry about d-max. We worry about shadow detail. We even worry about danged shadows. If Edward Weston had allowed his obsession about that shadow on Charis' nude to dominate his thinking, I would have missed out on one of my favorite photographs. I'm sure that image has been used intuitively in some of my efforts, but I never set out to duplicate it. We are a product of our environment, and we can't escape that fact. Who knows what influence classical music had on Ansel Adams' intuition while peering through ground glass. Songwriters constantly talk about borrowing ideas, themes, etc., from novelists, and they aren't castigated for following in someone else's foot steps. I say stop worrying so much about tiny details. (Although I agree about making homage in your titles.) Enjoy your work, learn from mistakes and persevere. If you are satisfied with your efforts, carry on. Eventually, your vision will mature into an individual style.

  3. #3

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    Is b/w LF photography a"tradition"?

    I agree with Bruce. If we get too caught up in whether or not we're doing this or that, I think it can stiffle creative energy. Everyone is a unique entity and can see the world in a special way. Sure, some photos might look a bit like this person's or that person's, but that's cool. I think if we just keep doing what we want, proceeding intuitively, and having a good time (except maybe when you have to finally start tackling that growing pile of undeveloped film!), good stuff just kind of happens.

    Chris

    www.jordanphoto.com

  4. #4
    Photo Dilettante Donald Brewster's Avatar
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    Is b/w LF photography a"tradition"?

    You're just too dad gummed edumacated. Don't think too much. You've obviously done your scales so, as Louis Armstrong said, "just blow, baby!" There are too many variables involved in the process of making a good photograph. All the things you mention should and should be allowed to inform your vision and process. Critiquing yourself is healthy. Don't reverse engineer yourself or censor yourself into entropy. Ground breaking and paradigm shifting work still relies on antecedents.

  5. #5

    Is b/w LF photography a"tradition"?

    After you've read enough art and photo books, and enough years have gone by, you'll find it difficult to look at *any* image and not see connections and similarities with something else. I'm not saying every photograph has already been made, but the "prior art" is damn substantial. Odds are that whatever image you make, there's some form of clone somewhere. You may never see it, but it's out there. So what to do? I gave up worrying about it. Shoot what you feel like shooting. Wanna copy a shot you admire, fine. You're subconciously using ideas from other images for every shot you take anyway. True creativity doesn't mean that every image is completely unconnected with anything that's come before.

  6. #6

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    Is b/w LF photography a"tradition"?

    Nick -

    You're obviously a college professor: too much analysis! Zen approach: don't think, do! Agreed: forget Homage! Finally, to paraphrase Ellington: "if it looks good, it is good."

  7. #7

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    Is b/w LF photography a"tradition"?

    Let me pipe in with an opposing point of view. I think it's good to 'analyze', or at least think about issues like this - if nothing else, its a pleasant change of pace from 'analyzing' resolution numbers....

    In general, being totally original is pretty hard - we start with what's inside our heads, that's what gets used to interpret and understand (and at a more basic level, it influences what we pay attention to). Even truly, startlingly original work is often pretty much a pastiche of different things that have been floating around (and that is hard enough to do). All those sci-fi horror creatures are pretty much a mixture of creatures that we have seen (sort of like 'alright, let's mix a spider and an octopus and see what we come up with').

    I don't think that is problematic - we build on what we've discovered before. The achievements of any lifetime are pretty modest compared to what we achieve as a species, and that is pretty much because we build on what others have done. The 'let's break things apart and put them together in a different way' approach does yield new insights but we are still working with things that have existed before.

    I think the greatest problem I have is in getting my mind to shut up. Like I said, we respond to things we 'recognize' - over time, that means our work becomes stale and repititve. I've worked in a particular area for a long time, and I found that I kept goinending up at the same viewpoints. It was almost as though my mind was elbowing its way into my 'seeing' and saying, "Why are you wasting your time - here, let me show you how to make sense of this..." Part of the trick seems to be in training ourself to respond to 'new' stuff. I'm afraid the only way I have found is to keep working - force yourself to find 'new' things even in the 'old'. Its frustrating and hard (especially when you don't see anything new), but till I find some other elixir, it's the only one I've got.

    Cheers, DJ.

  8. #8

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    Is b/w LF photography a"tradition"?

    No man is an island - John Donne. Do what looks and feels right to you - originality is way overrated.

  9. #9

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    Is b/w LF photography a"tradition"?

    Nick, there's a fantastic article written on the very subject you're addressing here, which was the text of a speech recently given by the director of a new movement called the Art Renewal Center. It's an artistic life-changer of a piece-- I highly recommend it to all. See link below.

    ~chris jordan (Seattle)

    http://www.artrenewal.org/articles/2001/ASOPA/bad_art_good_art1.asp

  10. #10
    Photo Dilettante Donald Brewster's Avatar
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    Is b/w LF photography a"tradition"?

    Oh Chris. Yes, it is an interesting article in a certain reactionary sort of way. However, I don't think even Hilton Kramer would subscribe to the sentiments of this article. I have a degree in art history (which is a "world's tallest midget argument I know). I was exposed to the 19th Century academists in more than a couple of classes and seminars. But for Mr. Ross to put them on the same pedestal as the renaissance and baroque masters while calling modernists nihilistic is completely over the top. This is the Thomas Kinkeade argument removed by 150 years. Saint Ansel and Saint Edward are spinning at high RPM. There is more to artistic vision than slavish and formulaic technique.

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