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Thread: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

  1. #61

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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pieter View Post
    A good photograph or piece of art should transcend the medium. All the art books I studied in school had at best mediocre reproductions of paintings, but one got the point nevertheless.

    Seeing an actual print, painting or sculpture vs a reproduction, there is no comparison, yet you can still appreciate what makes a masterwork. Hearing live music played well in an acoustically decent venue is very different than listening to a compressed mp3 on crappy speakers, but Beethoven still shines through.
    But, a lousy performance of a great piece of music is not only dismal, but can effectively hide the content and beauty of the work. History has countless instances of works being initially relegated to the trash heap due to poor performances at the premier only to be resurrected later and become recognized for the masterful works they are.

    I can imagine reproductions so bad that the point of an impressionistic painting is lost. I hated my art history books that had only black-and-white reproductions of works in which color was one of the main expressive elements. All that went lost... Sometimes it's really hard to see through the bad reproduction or listen past the bad performance; it's like not being able to understand the text in a play or reading a novel in a language you only have a very rudimentary knowledge of. You only understand what you can perceive.

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    Doremus

  2. #62
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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    No more than learning a novelist used a typewriter vs. a word processor would change my view of the novel.

    I can of course recognize different photo techniques when looking at actual prints, but I'm pretty sure novelists could comment on writing methods also.

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  3. #63
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    Doremus - I remember looking at certain famous Rembrandt paintings in numerous art books, actually some very well printed ones, and wondering, what's the big deal? Then when I finally saw a few of the real deal close up in the National Gallery, I was almost floored. The sheer mastery of pigments and subtle impasto! Buttons on the suit in his self-portrait weren't yellow, but looked like actual gold. No real gold was in the pigment itself; but even more remarkably, he had replicated the quality of the specific light involved.

    I've seen analogous photographic prints. I can't imagine Sheila Metzner's portraits in any medium other than Fresson. Sure, it's grainy as hell and uses off-colored process pigments. But that's what works in her case. The golds are gold, not yellow; the reds are crimson from old-fashioned Alizarin Crimson pigment, the greens are subdued chromium oxide. That wouldn't work well in my case; but I'm after a different look, my own. So yes, the medium does matter. Can you imagine Pablo Cassals playing a gut bucket instead of a cello?

  4. #64

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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    Pieter and Doremus, yes and yes. That is to say, if you'll pardon the expression, all is not black and white only. I suspect-- no, I am sure both of you would agree that there is considerable room for the in-between. This is a truly wonderful state of affairs. The beauty of the human mind is such that, in it's natural search for cause, coherence, truth, beauty, it may discern an idea obscured by a bad presentation. Indeed, this is the same human mind that created the masterpieces of art that so inspire us.

    It is quite possible, in some cases, for a person to see through a bad print(ing) of a superb image, just as for one to hear a terrible performance of a great musical work. True, if he or she lacks the aesthetic education to know how the print/performance might be, the challenge may be greater, as the person is left without knowing what the solution might be. Fredric Schiller, the author of the famous Ode to Joy (among many things) wrote at length about the centrality of aesthetic education in social advancement.

    Great art inspires us to higher purpose. We need more of it, and just as surely more opportinities for more people to see the originals.

    Fortunately, human beings have complexity. Though it perplex us, how boring and potentially meaningless life would be were we deprived of it.
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    Sine scientia ars nihil est. (Without science/knowledge, art is nothing.)
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  5. #65
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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    I recall listening to a music producer who handled the technical part of creating music on DVDs. He used equipment worth thousands and applied all his technical experience to make a master album. Then he explained how 99% of the listeners of his productions downloaded the songs in abbreviated bandwidth and played them on their cellphones with crappy little speakers. Yet, they were inspired and ecstatic over the music. Often, it is possible to get a great experience from the art without all the bells and whistles. The music producer was happy that the people were just listening to his music and dropped his criticism that people weren't listening on thousand-dollar speakers.

  6. #66
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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Davis View Post
    My thinking/feeling on this has been evolving. I used to be an absolute purist about no digital anything. To be fair, in the early days of digital imaging (1990s/early 2000s) when digital prints had a life expectancy of years to at most decades, and the quality of the source material was extremely limited, there was legitimate reason to be a skeptic and disparage that output. But in the intervening 20 years, the technology has caught up to the promise, and now you can make pigment ink prints that are, if not on the same level of archival stability of a platinum print, at least on a par with a silver gelatin fiber print. So that has eliminated my concerns as a collector/investor in photographic prints. And I've come to appreciate, as a photographer, what digital technology can provide to ME as a tool. There are negatives I made 20+ years ago that have for whatever reason suffered, and now I can bring them back to life and make images from them again that I would not have been able to were it not for digital technology.

    So, with those new appreciations, I really don't care what tool(s) you use to produce the image - I care only about the image I'm seeing. Does the tools used add to the image or detract from it? If it adds, then great. If not, then look at it as a learning experience to figure out what change(s) you need to make to match the intent with the result. But I am still primarily interested in photographs that have been completed (that is, physical prints). If I can only access it virtually, then to me it isn't a finished photograph.
    It might not be a "final photograph", but without being able to digitize it and post it on the web, very few people would get to enjoy it.

  7. #67

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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    Doremus,

    Thanks for the clarification.

    I hope you enjoy a re-read of Crawford's book, especially the part about photographic syntax. It is in my opinion the best read ever that touches on the importance of the physical characteristics of prints. Crawford studied with some extraordinary minds, including Richard Benson and James Borcoman, and it shows in this wonderful work, which is derived at least in part from his doctoral dissertation.

    Interestingly, Crawford did not write any more about photography and had a career in another field. I had the opportunity to meet him and talk about the book over lunch at one of the APIS conferences sponsored by Bostick & Sullivan in Santa Fe in the early 2000s. He was somewhat surprised to learn how important the Keepers of Light had become for students of alternative and historical printing processes.

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  8. #68
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    Alan - a web shot might be interpretable as an entirely different kind category of photographic media, but it's not even remotely a substitute for any kind of print. Someone like me is far more interested in the quality of the viewing than the quantity of people who see it. I made the mistake of going down that road parallel at the same time a long time ago. It was counterproductive, and just attracted the wrong kind of viewers in my case - web surfers. Every single person who ever bought a print from me did so because he saw the actual thing and wanted it as such.

    The web might be an exceptionally democratic medium, which is important in that respect; but it's an extremely crude tool for communicating visual nuances. There's no shame in presenting images on the web if that is what one enjoys doing. Millions obviously do. But it's not my game personally. I'm a printmaker per se.

  9. #69

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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Davis View Post
    ...now you can make pigment ink prints that are, if not on the same level of archival stability of a platinum print, at least on a par with a silver gelatin fiber print...
    I know of no credible data to support that assertion. All inkjet prints, whether pure dye or pigmented, fade. Then, if displayed and taken off display, they yellow. See Aardenburg's results to find out how fast different combinations do.



    Properly processed silver gelatin fiber prints do not fade. I make inkjet prints more often than wet process prints these days, but have never sold any and never will.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Davis View Post
    ...that has eliminated my concerns as a collector/investor in photographic prints...
    I've purchased a small number of silver gelatin prints, most around four decades ago, and continue to enjoy them framed on my walls, with no detectable diminution of their brighteners' effectiveness. They're behind AR, not "museum," glass and subjected to daily doses of room light, but no direct sunlight. I don't "collect" them or consider them "investments."

    If I ever felt motivated to purchase some else's inkjet print(s), I'd consider them to be well-made posters, and value them accordingly.

  10. #70
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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Alan - a web shot might be interpretable as an entirely different kind category of photographic media, but it's not even remotely a substitute for any kind of print. Someone like me is far more interested in the quality of the viewing than the quantity of people who see it. I made the mistake of going down that road parallel at the same time a long time ago. It was counterproductive, and just attracted the wrong kind of viewers in my case - web surfers. Every single person who ever bought a print from me did so because he saw the actual thing and wanted it as such.

    The web might be an exceptionally democratic medium, which is important in that respect; but it's an extremely crude tool for communicating visual nuances. There's no shame in presenting images on the web if that is what one enjoys doing. Millions obviously do. But it's not my game personally. I'm a printmaker per se.
    I used to have around thirty 16x20 color prints mounted in 22x26" aluminum frames around the house. When we moved to NJ, the Mrs. insisted there were too many for the walls. So now I'm "allowed" three. Since I'm not a pro, just printing without mounting seems like a waste of time. So I pretty much have left my shots on the web or made scanned digital slide shows to play on my 75" TV. I'm also looking into these TV-like panels that automatically display slides and looked framed as if they are prints. Of course none of this presents as prints. But some of us are limited to what we can do.

    Recently, I have been going through my pictures to select some to be part of a couple of coffee table books, which are printed of course, but in a smaller size. KInd of makes shooting 4x5 in a way silly although I do like the process of shooting with large cameras like 4x5 and 6x7. The coffee table book would be a solution to my wife's "problem" and I could give a copy as a gift to family and friends. So that's another solution to the "print" problem.

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