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Thread: Patience with the landscape

  1. #1

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    Patience with the landscape

    I was reminded recently of a story about Paul Strand, told to me by his close friend, Walter Rosenblum, many years ago. I may not have the details right, but the gist is clear. I preface it with a note on Strand's early landscape work, which is cited by photography historians for having broken ground in integrating sky and clouds more fully, that is, with more compositional unity, in the overall design than others before him.

    Strand had been given a commercial assignment for, I believe, a skyline photograph, and invited Walter to accompany him. The two set out early, Strand chose a location, set up the view camera, and waited. They spent a good part of the day waiting, but Strand never made a photo. "The coulds are not right," he told Walter. But the weather would be good the next day, so Walter readily agreed to accomplany Strand again.

    By the end of the second day, Strand had made no more images than he had the first. Same reason.

    Walter went out with Strand again the third day, but this time Strand's judgement -- remained the same. Clouds not right. After that, Walter left Strand to his own devices for that assignment.

    For those who imagine landscape photography to be easy, a lesson.
    Philip U.

    Sine scientia ars nihil est.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/156933346@N07/

  2. #2

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    Re: Patience with the landscape

    A great and instructive story. Thanks for sharing !

  3. #3

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    Re: Patience with the landscape

    indeed!

  4. #4

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    Re: Patience with the landscape

    Somewhere in the literature is a quote from Strand, as I remember it, "There is a valid moment for every cloud." No doubt he had the eye for clouds, along with many other things.

  5. #5
    Kevin Kolosky
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    Re: Patience with the landscape

    "not right" for who?

  6. #6

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    Re: Patience with the landscape

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin J. Kolosky View Post
    "not right" for who?
    Not right for Strand to take the shot.
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  7. #7

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    Re: Patience with the landscape

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sampson View Post
    Somewhere in the literature is a quote from Strand, as I remember it, "There is a valid moment for every cloud." No doubt he had the eye for clouds, along with many other things.
    That's a great quote!
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  8. #8

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    Re: Patience with the landscape

    Great story! Reminds me of one of my own from many years ago... I had hiked through the woods to get to this abandoned rock quarry and, as I approached the scene, it was awash in sunlight and was absolutely beautiful! However, it was a very cloudy day and my beautiful light vanished in an instant. Remembering a quip from my photo mentor--he said, "If you set the camera up, get ready to take a shot, and don't get it no big deal. But, if the camera is in your bag you definitely won't get the shot!" So, I picked my composition, set up the camera, loaded a film holder, pulled the dark slide, estimated exposure based on having sunlight on the scene, and waited... About 45 mins later, I could see a small slit in the clouds that, if I was lucky, would allow sunlight through for a brief moment. I watched the sky as the clouds slowly moved and, YES, in a moment my scene was awash with that beautiful light, once again. I reached up and pushed the plunger on the cable release. About 15 secs later, the sun was gone and didn't return for the rest of the day. One of my favorite experiences out photographing and a really nice photo, IMHO.

  9. #9
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Re: Patience with the landscape

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan9940 View Post
    Great story! Reminds me of one of my own from many years ago... I had hiked through the woods to get to this abandoned rock quarry and, as I approached the scene, it was awash in sunlight and was absolutely beautiful! However, it was a very cloudy day and my beautiful light vanished in an instant. Remembering a quip from my photo mentor--he said, "If you set the camera up, get ready to take a shot, and don't get it no big deal. But, if the camera is in your bag you definitely won't get the shot!" So, I picked my composition, set up the camera, loaded a film holder, pulled the dark slide, estimated exposure based on having sunlight on the scene, and waited... About 45 mins later, I could see a small slit in the clouds that, if I was lucky, would allow sunlight through for a brief moment. I watched the sky as the clouds slowly moved and, YES, in a moment my scene was awash with that beautiful light, once again. I reached up and pushed the plunger on the cable release. About 15 secs later, the sun was gone and didn't return for the rest of the day. One of my favorite experiences out photographing and a really nice photo, IMHO.
    Where can we see the picture?

  10. #10
    Pieter's Avatar
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    Re: Patience with the landscape

    Quote Originally Posted by Ulophot View Post
    I was reminded recently of a story about Paul Strand, told to me by his close friend, Walter Rosenblum, many years ago. I may not have the details right, but the gist is clear. I preface it with a note on Strand's early landscape work, which is cited by photography historians for having broken ground in integrating sky and clouds more fully, that is, with more compositional unity, in the overall design than others before him.

    Strand had been given a commercial assignment for, I believe, a skyline photograph, and invited Walter to accompany him. The two set out early, Strand chose a location, set up the view camera, and waited. They spent a good part of the day waiting, but Strand never made a photo. "The coulds are not right," he told Walter. But the weather would be good the next day, so Walter readily agreed to accomplany Strand again.

    By the end of the second day, Strand had made no more images than he had the first. Same reason.

    Walter went out with Strand again the third day, but this time Strand's judgement -- remained the same. Clouds not right. After that, Walter left Strand to his own devices for that assignment.

    For those who imagine landscape photography to be easy, a lesson.
    Impatience is my biggest problem with plein-air large format photography. I can fiddle and adjust in the studio for hours or days to set up and make a shot, but I can't seem to take the time to set everything up outdoors. Part of my problem is, I ask myself is this the right one (location, angle, etc)? Is it worth the time and effort? When I can make a nice medium-format image in (relatively) no time at all. And experiment while I'm at it.

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