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Thread: 10x8's of the Hollywood Greats

  1. #1
    alanps
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    10x8's of the Hollywood Greats

    Just wondering if anyone else here collects the work of Clarence Bull, Eugene Richee, George Hurrell etc?

    To my mind they defined large format photography - and the prints that can be bought today (originals) are something to behold (technically/silver weight/subject matter)...

    Anyone else out there?

    Best
    Alan

  2. #2

    Re: 10x8's of the Hollywood Greats

    I've got an 11x14 of Jean Harlow on the bear skin rug.

  3. #3

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    Re: 10x8's of the Hollywood Greats

    You can still order some classic blow ups from Peter Gowland.
    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.

  4. #4
    alanps
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    Re: 10x8's of the Hollywood Greats

    I actually like to get my hands on the originals - it is amazing how much silver there is in the original paper - the tonality on the skin tones is out of this world.

    I don't know if they were just contact prints (though I guess most were) - but I honestly think we would struggle with today's materials to match this quality.

  5. #5
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Re: 10x8's of the Hollywood Greats

    Quote Originally Posted by alanps View Post
    I actually like to get my hands on the originals - it is amazing how much silver there is in the original paper - the tonality on the skin tones is out of this world...
    That's because most of the negatives contained more graphite than silver by the time retouching was finished, I feel...

    I'm also sceptical as to whether "we would struggle with today's materials to match this quality" - at least I don't think the materials would be the main obstacle!
    Last edited by Ole Tjugen; 31-Oct-2007 at 13:49. Reason: Spellling...

  6. #6

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    Re: 10x8's of the Hollywood Greats

    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Tjugen View Post
    That's because most of the negatives contained more graphite than silver by the time retouching was finished, I feel...

    I'm also sceptical as to whether "we would struggle with today's materials to match this quality" - at least I don't think the materials would be the main obstacle!
    You said it, Ole

    The old "Masters" studio portraits were heavily retouched, and shot under very controlled lighting conditions, so as to produce easy to print contact prints on readily available standard (at that time) photo paper. Just plain ole contact paper, nothing special. It is amazing how nice a print on "plain old everyday" photo paper can look when you tailor your negative to it.

    These prints were churned out by the hundreds of thousands.

  7. #7
    Andy Eads
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    Re: 10x8's of the Hollywood Greats

    I'm too poor to collect originals but I have a few books of Hollywood masters. I've also had the privilege of seeing exhibits of original prints. What I see in those images that was true then and is true now; if you get it right in the camera, everything else downstream looks better.
    Andy

  8. #8

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    Re: 10x8's of the Hollywood Greats

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Eads View Post
    I'm too poor to collect originals but I have a few books of Hollywood masters. I've also had the privilege of seeing exhibits of original prints. What I see in those images that was true then and is true now; if you get it right in the camera, everything else downstream looks better.
    Andy
    As said before, those negatives were commonly very heavily retouched--in many cases with women you're not seeing a single square millimeter of the actress's own skin.

    Moreover, the negatives were commonly extremely underexposed by modern standards to make the retouching easier (adding graphite is much easier than scraping off silver). The negatives were "right" as far as what the photographers wanted from them, but they were certainly not printable right out of the wash.

    But I will point out that the images themselves--the lighting and posing--are uniquely photographic. The photographers by the 30s had broken away entirely from the painterly modes of portraits.

  9. #9
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Re: 10x8's of the Hollywood Greats

    I never knew what all the fuss was about with Hollywood portraiture until I'd seen some original Hurrell prints in a gallery. They have a shimmering quality that is just stunning, and great tonal separation--a product of lighting, retouching, big negs, and much of Hurrell's work was printed on Azo. I don't own any original prints myself, but for those who have only seen them in books, it's very much worth taking the time to see some of these in person.

  10. #10

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    Re: 10x8's of the Hollywood Greats

    I vaguely recall that Whatshisname Henry (can't remember his first name), the one who wrote the book "Controls in Black and White Photography" or "Controls in Black and White Printing," something like that, performed tests to see what effect a higher silver content had on tonality or tonal range and concluded it had no effect.
    Brian Ellis
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