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Hiding_Pup
10th February 2008, 08:08 PM
I've been trying to capture really honest pictures of my cat at home this weekend. And this one made me tingle as I shot it; even more as I processed t in Lightroom this evening. Personally, I think it ranks amongst some of my best pictures - but I wonder whether I'm just too close to my cat to be truly objective. What do you folks reckon?

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2011/2255856566_8f224b93f8.jpg

Jim Ford
10th February 2008, 08:10 PM
Errm - it's a cat. On a windowsill!

Jim Ford

ndl0071
10th February 2008, 08:28 PM
Well said Jim, couldn't have put it better myself, looks like a very nice cat though:) Just Not sure about the dirty washing:D

Hiding_Pup
10th February 2008, 09:34 PM
Sure it's a cat - I have ambitions of becoming the world's greatest cat photographer. What don't you like about the washing, ndl?

PeterD
10th February 2008, 10:10 PM
Sure it's a cat - I have ambitions of becoming the world's greatest cat photographer. What don't you like about the washing, ndl?

Hi Hiding Pup

I am not sure you intended posting on this thread. I am a bit nervous about commenting but here goes

The sky is well blown and so too is the fur on the cats back. The problem with the washing and curtain is that they become distractions. This sort of shot against a very bright background would suit a silhouette. A bit of PP might help and cropping too.

I hope I have not offended you but my comments above are designed to be helpful.

Kind regards

PeterD

Jim Ford
10th February 2008, 10:30 PM
Sure it's a cat - I have ambitions of becoming the world's greatest cat photographer. What don't you like about the washing, ndl?

Yeah OK, the 'world's greatest cat photographer' has to start somewhere! I guess you'll learn about things like washing in your cat photos as you progress to perfection.

Jim Ford

Hiding_Pup
11th February 2008, 02:21 AM
Hi Hiding Pup

I am not sure you intended posting on this thread. I am a bit nervous about commenting but here goes

PeterD

Cheers for your comments, Peter - no offense taken - after all, this is the 'no holds barred' photo critique section of the forum!

I'm really not kidding about wanting to be a great cat photographer. I'm appalling at so many different types of photography - can't shoot a landscape to save my life; pretty so-so with formal portraiture. But I feel I'm good with cats.

I've got this book:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Classic-Great-Photographers-Jules-Farber/dp/2080304968/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=gateway&qid=1202695898&sr=8-1

And I reckon, when it comes to cats, I could give the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson a run for his money. Why? Because he didn't spend a lot of time photographing cats... Earlier this year, I even got a letter from the Chancellor's PA in 10 Downing Street telling me I'd be invited to the press conference next time his cat, Sybil, gets a photo-shoot.

So, where am I trying to go with this shot? Maybe a shade of Edward Hopper:

http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/precisionism/images/EdwardHopper-Eleven-AM-1926.jpg

With a twist of Tracey Emin:

http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/artists/artpages/tracey_emin_my_bed.htm

An image that aims to explore the boundaries between inside and outside and that, perhaps, has a touch of the confessional and intimate about it. It's too easy to take a picture of a cat looking cute.

Personally, I'm less interested in the "photographer's aesthetic" that demands a full range of tonal values, no blown highlights, zero noise, zero CA though I take your point about the buildings and might have another go developing those...

PeterD
11th February 2008, 03:27 AM
Cheers for your comments, Peter - no offense taken - after all, this is the 'no holds barred' photo critique section of the forum!

I'm really not kidding about wanting to be a great cat photographer. I'm appalling at so many different types of photography - can't shoot a landscape to save my life; pretty so-so with formal portraiture. But I feel I'm good with cats.

I've got this book:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Classic-Great-Photographers-Jules-Farber/dp/2080304968/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=gateway&qid=1202695898&sr=8-1

And I reckon, when it comes to cats, I could give the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson a run for his money. Why? Because he didn't spend a lot of time photographing cats... Earlier this year, I even got a letter from the Chancellor's PA in 10 Downing Street telling me I'd be invited to the press conference next time his cat, Sybil, gets a photo-shoot.

So, where am I trying to go with this shot? Maybe a shade of Edward Hopper:

http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/precisionism/images/EdwardHopper-Eleven-AM-1926.jpg

With a twist of Tracey Emin:

http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/artists/artpages/tracey_emin_my_bed.htm

An image that aims to explore the boundaries between inside and outside and that, perhaps, has a touch of the confessional and intimate about it. It's too easy to take a picture of a cat looking cute.

Personally, I'm less interested in the "photographer's aesthetic" that demands a full range of tonal values, no blown highlights, zero noise, zero CA though I take your point about the buildings and might have another go developing those...

Hi Hiding Pup

Thank you for not being offended by my comments.

Because I am interested in what you wish to achieve I followed the links in your last posting. I managed to access the first two links but my browser timed out on the third.

I think that I understand what it is that you wish to produce. The image on the book you quote is very powerful. Why - because it concentrates on a nicely balanced group of cats with a very simple background. This forces the viewer to concentrate on the cat composition without distracting the eye.

The image in the second link requires the room setting to provide a more natural setting to the seated nude lady looking out of the window of her flat. It removes any suggestion of an erotic image.

I suppose, what I am saying is that you should choose, with care, what you include in a image. Try to ensure that only the things essential to getting your message across are included to provide the setting. Other items add no value but can ruin an otherwise good subject.

I wish you every luck in pursuing your ambition and please think about what I have said as it is genuinely intended to be constructive.

Kind regards and best wishes

PeterD

Hiding_Pup
11th February 2008, 10:21 AM
Of course, Peter, and that's exactly how I took your comments! The third link is to Tracey Emin's famous (infamous?) "My Bed", an art installation that I found brutal and challenging when it first appeared. If the link doesn't work, a quick Google will turn it up.

PeterD
11th February 2008, 11:10 AM
Of course, Peter, and that's exactly how I took your comments! The third link is to Tracey Emin's famous (infamous?) "My Bed", an art installation that I found brutal and challenging when it first appeared. If the link doesn't work, a quick Google will turn it up.

Thanks Hiding Pup

I have now seen the third image. Again its very powerful and the image has been constructed to use many elements to portray a atmosphere. This is why the image appears cluttered with many objects but in this case it is absolutely necessary to portray disorder. Note also that walls etc have been excluded, why?, because the order of these things would confuse the viewer as they would be in contrast with the image being projected.

Going back to the comments made to your image. Can you now see why people made them? You need to decide what it is that you wish to present and carefully compose the image. If you do not do this then the message you wish to convey will be lost. Remember, any image one produces will be seen in different ways by many people. Not everyone will like or dislike them. Your objective should be to get most people to appreciate your images and by removing distractions, you will be more likely to achieve this.

Good luck and good shooting

PeterD

art frames
11th February 2008, 11:59 AM
An image that aims to explore the boundaries between inside and outside and that, perhaps, has a touch of the confessional and intimate about it. It's too easy to take a picture of a cat looking cute.


I have watched with interest as PeterD has teased out of you the motivation and the focus for your work.

Many photographers and artists have painted in the raw, intimate and sometimes insightful fashion about the world around them and the lives that they lead or see.

I can see the point that animals too have a more natural state that avoids them being just fluffy pets (fighting, killing, giving birth, dying etc). And/or that they could also have some dignity and compassion to add in to a scene of raw humanity (people in despair with a pet that shows them reciprocated love).

If that is your motivation then I'd say you have to look at a better (more dramatic and gritty perhaps) location, tighter grip on your composition and techniques to show the relationship and meaning. Those underlying stories in the images that Hopper and also Vetriano paint leap from the page. Tracy Emin, love her or hate her, shares her life openly and brutally.

Perhaps your house wasn't the best location for such a challenge.

Peter

E-P1 fan
11th February 2008, 12:14 PM
I always try to bring out a little bit of the cat's character HP - they are great subjects - infuriating - but they like being photographed!

Here's a recentish grab shot of mine. We'd recently moved and he was having enormous fun exploring the area and being 'the man!'

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/556/polo.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/2510)

With this shot I'm more interested in the image rather than the technicalities.

there's another one in my gallery which I think shows something of the re-birth of the city cat suddenly let loose in the country and loving it.

Se what you think.

andym
11th February 2008, 12:14 PM
My submarine is full of eels.

Hiding_Pup
11th February 2008, 01:03 PM
Nice shot, E-1 fan!

Peter, You mentioned "message" in a couple of your posts, and I was wondering whether you could say a little more about this. I'm broadly in agreement with (early) Susan Sontag who in "Against Interpretation" (1964) - and I think I'm reading her right - suggested that "message" was something viewers imposed on art they approached, in order to make sense of it and, perhaps inadvertently, tame it. For Sontag, "message" becomes a reduction of a work of art, a paraphrase of it, rather than a celebration of the art itself.

What's your position?

Ellie
11th February 2008, 01:10 PM
If I'm honest I have to say it's better than any picture I've managed to get of our cat.

It's nice to see what you're trying to achieve, and I think you've set yourself a hard task. Let us see how you get on.

From a composition point of view it would have been nice if your cat had been sitting a bit closer, and looking towards, the empty plate - perhaps optimistically hoping for it to be filled?

PeterD
11th February 2008, 01:55 PM
Nice shot, E-1 fan!

Peter, You mentioned "message" in a couple of your posts, and I was wondering whether you could say a little more about this. I'm broadly in agreement with (early) Susan Sontag who in "Against Interpretation" (1964) - and I think I'm reading her right - suggested that "message" was something viewers imposed on art they approached, in order to make sense of it and, perhaps inadvertently, tame it. For Sontag, "message" becomes a reduction of a work of art, a paraphrase of it, rather than a celebration of the art itself.

What's your position?

Well, we are getting deep but I shall try to explain my feelings on this.

The message I refer to is that of an artist to his/her audience. Messages can become scrambled and lead to false interpretations. It is the artist's task to provide something pleasing and clear so that the scope for mis-interpretation is reduced.

Within your interpretation of Sontag reference, the responsibility reading messages from art is with the audience. This is true. The artist has no control over the audience except for what he/she has presented. If the work is confused then the audience will dismiss it regardless of the quality of the work itself. This why what I have been saying is so important.

I note that Ellie made the following remark:-

Quote

If I'm honest I have to say it's better than any picture I've managed to get of our cat.

It's nice to see what you're trying to achieve, and I think you've set yourself a hard task. Let us see how you get on.

From a composition point of view it would have been nice if your cat had been sitting a bit closer, and looking towards, the empty plate - perhaps optimistically hoping for it to be filled?

End Quote

This sort of composition conveys a clear message also note that Ellie thought the cat image was good. I think that really sums this up rather well - unless of course you feel differently.

Kind regards

PeterD

Hiding_Pup
11th February 2008, 07:10 PM
Many thanks for your comment, Ellie, which I missed the first time round. Your expectant cat idea is a good one, one I've explored and one I'll almost certainly go back to:

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/210/477625389_e7f53cb6aa.jpg

Perhaps you'll persuade me otherwise, Peter, but, at present, I can't agree with you that art has to be 'pleasing and clear' (or that it needs to appeal to a broad consensus of people) and I don't think that's what artists should be about. High tragedy, for example, is far from pleasing, but some of our greatest plays are tragedies. Similarly, I don't think art needs to be clear to be successful either - again, some of our best plays are also some of most ambiguous. I wouldn't want to discount works of art that are pleasing and clear as art, but I wouldn't want to exclude art that isn't pleasing or clear from that definition either.

Actually, the plate in my picture wasn't for the cat at all. It was a result of food for humans and then placed there by the room's inhabitant near her clean but looking-the-worse-for-wear laundry. There's no direct relationship, of course, either between the laundry and the food, or between the laundry and the cat - in the way there might be between a cat and a plate of cat-food - but it's precisely those negative relationships that drew me to click my camera. Cats have nothing to do with laundry but the truth about cats is that they inhabit the same space as laundry; they're often seen next to it.

I wanted to underline and formalise this negative relationship - as much, in my eyes, part of cat-character as wanting food - hence my thinking behind the rather rigidly geometric "arrangement" (nothing in fact was actually positioned with intention but I did move the camera until I got what I wanted). I was going for a composition that looks very arranged but wasn't in fact so.

These are about as far as my "intentions" went, but rather than being the "meaning" of the picture, I suppose I'd like the picture to be an invitation to experience and wonder about the tensions and connections between the elements it depicts: perhaps, comparing little things with great, a little how, when one views Picasso's "Wounded Bird and Cat", one can't help but thing f the poor bird as a predator who's very similar to the cat.

http://www.abcgallery.com/P/picasso/picasso134.html

Jim Ford
11th February 2008, 08:31 PM
Yeah, right - glad to see you've abandoned the washing idea in the last image! ;^)
(Better put in a smiley to be on the safe side.)

Jim Ford

art frames
11th February 2008, 08:38 PM
Are you doing this for a bet?

ndl0071
11th February 2008, 09:16 PM
I took the original post to be a joke given the content of the photo coupled with the thread title, hence my comment re the washing, however having seen how it's developed and some of the old billy thats been written, I'm now just plain scared:eek:

Hiding_Pup
11th February 2008, 09:20 PM
No, rest assured this thread isn't the result of a bet! This is the first time I've contributed an image to either the 'Looking for Perfection' or 'Foto Fair' sections of this forum. I was prompted to do so by a comment I read (can't even remember where now) which was about how this(?) forum was so equipment-discussion-heavy and how no-one actually liked thinking about images.

One of the things I've found since participating in this and other forums is that there is a definite aesthetic to how photography forum members discuss images generally - definite criteria about what makes or doesn't make a good picture. To me, it's a rather limiting aesthetic so, after taking what I consider to be one of my best photos ever this week, I decided to start this thread, partly to see what other members thought of it (whether favourable or otherwise), but also, anticipating a certain kind of reaction, partly to see if we could open out discussion beyond the usual forum-chatter so shrewdly satirized by the following, rather entertaining post on The Online Photographer:

http://theonlinephotographer.blogspot.com/2006/06/great-photographers-on-internet.html

PeterD
11th February 2008, 10:13 PM
No, rest assured this thread isn't the result of a bet! This is the first time I've contributed an image to either the 'Looking for Perfection' or 'Foto Fair' sections of this forum. I was prompted to do so by a comment I read (can't even remember where now) which was about how this(?) forum was so equipment-discussion-heavy and how no-one actually liked thinking about images.

One of the things I've found since participating in this and other forums is that there is a definite aesthetic to how photography forum members discuss images generally - definite criteria about what makes or doesn't make a good picture. To me, it's a rather limiting aesthetic so, after taking what I consider to be one of my best photos ever this week, I decided to start this thread, partly to see what other members thought of it (whether favourable or otherwise), but also, anticipating a certain kind of reaction, partly to see if we could open out discussion beyond the usual forum-chatter so shrewdly satirized by the following, rather entertaining post on The Online Photographer:

http://theonlinephotographer.blogspot.com/2006/06/great-photographers-on-internet.html

Hiding Pup

I am glad you have said that this thread was not started for a bet as I have tried to treat your comments seriously.

I concede that my choice of the word 'pleasing' may have been misunderstood for giving pleasure. Perhaps I should have used the term appealing.

What is the purpose of presenting images that do not convey what it is you intend others to see?

I thought Ellie made a very useful suggestion given the props that were to hand in your image.

I have looked through the thread you have posted above and in general have to agree with some of the critique given. What is very clear is that there are as many opinions as there are posters but all seem to take the same theme.

I think your interpretation about the Bird and Cat is puzzling. The bird depicted is not a predator. You will note the absence of any background images in the illustration.

You are entitled to your opinions but I have not seen anything in what you present as supporting your approach. If anything, they contradict it.

Very few people are responding and this may be an indication of the interest they have in the thread.

I wish you well and hope that you are able to realise your ambition.

Kind regards

PeterD

theMusicMan
11th February 2008, 10:37 PM
Are you doing this for a bet?I know Hiding Pup has commented that this thread wasn't started for, or as a bet... but I must be honest and say I do have my doubts about this, and indeed commented to the site owner not long after it was started.

This section of the site is after all, the critique forum, and quite simply the photograph presented in the first post is not good at all, containing many of the attributes one doesn't strive for, nor wants to see in ones own images. I have viewed some of your other photographs on your flikr site, and although each of us is different, with varying tastes, experience and abilities, I cannot for the life of me understand why you feel this image is one of... "your best ever" photographs. This comment is totally beyond me, and to me you lose significant credibility by saying so.

Had I not seen some of your other images, which are quite obviously far superior to this image, then I'd possibly have been a little more understanding and would have stood back and just watched this thread for longer before posting in it. Alas not I'm afraid.

I am with Art Frames here... I know you've stated differently, but you do not help your cause and I feel this post is very likely to be a bet... or similar. Call me skeptical, or perhaps a realist - I am not particularly bothered.

Just my 0.02 penneth worth.

art frames
11th February 2008, 10:40 PM
No, rest assured this thread isn't the result of a bet! This is the first time I've contributed an image to either the 'Looking for Perfection' or 'Foto Fair' sections of this forum.

The reason I asked about it being a bet was that you appeared not to really be taking part in what was being offered but seemed to be trying to provoke a reaction and/or string it all out rather like a limp version of a candid camera stunt which lost its way.

I am sure that you have proven yourself right and hope you feel happy.

I feel you might have misjudged some very genuine people here. My first response to you took thought and time, you didn't appear to read it or if you did you ignored it.

I am not sure if it wouldn't have been better to do it for a bet rather than to see if you can expand our thinking to where you are.

Peter

Hiding_Pup
12th February 2008, 12:52 AM
Peter (Art Frame Peter) I did read your original comment and I'm sorry if you thought I ignored it, but I got a little distracted both by E-1 fan's Polo cat and by my own thoughts. If anything, I wasn't quite sure what to say in response to your suggestion that I should find another location. I can hardly transport my (very skittish) cat to an industrial estate or whatever. She lives here, in my house, with me, and that's where she'll be photographed.

I don't have a history in art history/appreciation or whatever, and I'm certainly, certainly not trying to lord it over anybody in the despicable way you suggest. In fact, I find your accusations hurtful and unnecessary.

Do I think it'd be great if every member here discovered their own unique style of photography that would be clearly identifiable as their own? Absolutely. Do I want to learn with others here what my own style and identity as a photographer is? Absolutely. BUT, so long as we - and I mean all of us here - stop at thinking a good picture is one that's a simply technically perfect one, none of us are going to get anywhere close to what we're all capable of, no matter how much we spend on the latest cameras and lenses and post-processing programs and printers.

It'd be great if this section of the forum is going to be about discovering and fostering each member's personal vision and, where necessary, helping one another with whatever technical deficiencies that we might uncover along the way. But if it's just going to be about getting everyone up to an identikit level of technical proficiency and encouraging one another to take pictures any technically proficient photographer might take, then I, myself, want nothing to do with it.

Ellie
12th February 2008, 02:36 AM
I think everybody sees different things in art, whether they are looking at photographs, paintings or other other forms.

I'm a bit confused by what you say about a unique style, everybody has that already, surely? If you take two photographers and put them in the same place for an hour you'll see a clear difference in their results. Maybe you'll like what you see, maybe you won't, it's all down to personal taste. It's well nigh impossible to make somebody do something they don't want to do, especially in the art world, and that includes the very personal field of photography.

Perhaps what you're aiming to do with your photography is to create a scene and then photograph it? It's something many current photographers do with some success, they take days and weeks putting their scenes together and then take their photographs.

It's not something I would ever imagine doing though because it's too contrived, and not my style and maybe I'm a bit of a Philistine when it comes to 'appreciating' some modern art ;)

Probably not in the least relevant, but read this recently. I think said by Rene Burri. It's -here- (http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/magnum-magnum-our-lives-our-times-399546.html) :-
"Food for thought. A young photographer in China asked me some years ago whether I knew what Chinese painters, poets or sculptors would do when they became famous. I did not know. He said they would change their names to see whether they were still any good."

Hiding_Pup
12th February 2008, 08:13 AM
Cheers for your post, Ellie, it's most welcome after some of the more unkind comments above. Actually, I agree with you completely and don't like actively staging pictures either - if other photographers have success that way, good luck to them! What I do like, though, is capturing spontaneous events in such a way that they might as well have been staged. Here's an image I've posted elsewhere on this forum which is appearing in a book on digital photography later this year. I really like the theatrical, posed feel of it though, obviously, it's the kind of shot that can't be set up at all.

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1255/1466838406_ef6c52e8c9.jpg

You're absolutely right that, if you took a couple of photography enthusiasts to the same place you'd end up with totally different pictures. But if a thousand photographers ended up in the same place I think many of their images would be quite similar. I suppose popular tourist destinations are an extreme example. In his "Small World", Martin Parr takes a very wry look at how all our pictures are, generally, quite similar:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2007/sep/09/escape.photography

Real individuality is something quite different, I think. In fact, the bit on Steve McCurry in the interesting article you linked to chimes in my mind with how difficult getting to grips with one's own individual style actually can be:

"Leading a spartan life, Steve saved enough to buy 300 rolls of film with a little cash left over. Armed with hopes and ambition, he set out for India, where he spent two years, following in the path of his inspiration Henri Cartier-Bresson. As Steve puts it: "I stayed at some of the world's worst hotels and wish I had a nickel for every time I was sick." But he survived these two seminal years, which confirmed his total dedication to the craft and gave him the kind of experience that toughens and builds character, provided it does not crush it.

His intense years of dedication and frugality paid off. Steve developed an individual style that has served him well."

E-P1 fan
12th February 2008, 08:27 AM
Hugely enjoyable egg on face conclusion Martin :)

art frames
12th February 2008, 09:42 AM
If you look at the way you approached this and what you said at each point then the plea that we are being hurtful to you doesn't quite hang together.

I don't have a history in art history/appreciation or whatever, and I'm certainly, certainly not trying to lord it over anybody in the despicable way you suggest. In fact, I find your accusations hurtful and unnecessary.
But just a few posts back you actually explained your motivation quite differently "To me, it's a rather limiting aesthetic ...I decided to start this thread, partly to see what other members thought of it (whether favourable or otherwise), but also, anticipating a certain kind of reaction, partly to see if we could open out discussion beyond the usual forum-chatter"
I'm broadly in agreement with (early) Susan Sontag who in "Against Interpretation" (1964) - and I think I'm reading her right - suggested that "message" was something viewers imposed on art they approached, in order to make sense of it and, perhaps inadvertently, tame it. For Sontag, "message" becomes a reduction of a work of art, a paraphrase of it, rather than a celebration of the art itself. What's your position?
Some might think you were being somewhat 'high and mighty' at this point...
BUT, so long as we - and I mean all of us here - stop at thinking a good picture is one that's a simply technically perfect one, none of us are going to get anywhere close to what we're all capable of.
I agree... but why would you say this "the post-processing is a little ham-fisted for my taste" to Napper when he looked for comment on his portrait just a couple of days ago?

As my mother said "Oh what a tangled web we weave...."

Peter

Hiding_Pup
12th February 2008, 10:16 AM
Talk about selective quoting. I guess you can make anybody say anything with judicious editing. Like reality tv...

If you look at the way you approached this and what you said at each point then the plea that we are being hurtful to you doesn't quite hang together.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiding_Pup View Post
I don't have a history in art history/appreciation or whatever, and I'm certainly, certainly not trying to lord it over anybody in the despicable way you suggest. In fact, I find your accusations hurtful and unnecessary.
But just a few posts back you actually explained your motivation quite differently "To me, it's a rather limiting aesthetic ...I decided to start this thread, partly to see what other members thought of it (whether favourable or otherwise), but also, anticipating a certain kind of reaction, partly to see if we could open out discussion beyond the usual forum-chatter"

*Note I've written 'we' not 'I'. The world of fine art photography is as new to me as it is to most other people and I thought that, with this being a new forum, people here, myself included, might like to think about and discuss photography in a different way. Clearly you don't so do whatever you like - whatever floats your boat.*


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiding_Pup View Post
I'm broadly in agreement with (early) Susan Sontag who in "Against Interpretation" (1964) - and I think I'm reading her right - suggested that "message" was something viewers imposed on art they approached, in order to make sense of it and, perhaps inadvertently, tame it. For Sontag, "message" becomes a reduction of a work of art, a paraphrase of it, rather than a celebration of the art itself. What's your position?
Some might think you were being somewhat 'high and mighty' at this point...

Sontag is widely acknowledged as one of the 20th century's most important writers on photography. You raised the idea of 'meaning'; Sontag is one of the most influential writers on the concept. I have no idea why you think it's a crime to mention her on a photography forum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiding_Pup View Post
BUT, so long as we - and I mean all of us here - stop at thinking a good picture is one that's a simply technically perfect one, none of us are going to get anywhere close to what we're all capable of.
I agree... but why would you say this "the post-processing is a little ham-fisted for my taste" to Napper when he looked for comment on his portrait just a couple of days ago?

I have no problem with technical proficiency. It was my understanding that Napper was going for a certain type of picture (contemporary style portrait against a black background) and I didn't think how he'd done it was the most effective way of doing it. You'll notice that, in the same post, I try to be helpful by highlighting a technique of overpowering ambient light with one or multiple flashes. What you've quoted me writing also makes abundantly clear that it's a personal, subjective opinion I'm airing and that Napper is free to make whatever creative choices he wants, including whether or not he wants those jaggedy edges on his portrait.[/I]

As my mother said "Oh what a tangled web we weave...."

[I]In the spirit of community and good will, I'll refrain from making remarks about your mother.

Scapula Memory
12th February 2008, 10:38 AM
Fellas, maybe it is just time now to agree to disagree?

Go take some pictures!:)

art frames
12th February 2008, 10:54 AM
Go take some pictures!:)

John

Absolutely, just arranging the pants on the radiator as we speak.

Peter

Hiding_Pup
12th February 2008, 10:59 AM
So glad you're finally on message ;)

Zuiko
13th February 2008, 12:21 AM
So glad you're finally on message ;)

I think the message is, "Who are we to judge what is or isn't art, or to judge what makes a good photograph or what makes a bad photograph?"

When confronted by a photograph that ticks all the boxes (rules of composition, "correct" point of focus, "correct" exposure, excluding anything that doesn't relate to the subject or "add value" to the composition, etc.) it's easy to acknowledge it as being a "good picture."

But if the image doesn't tick all those boxes, is it automatically bad? Sure, if the photographer intended a different outcome and failed through sloppy technique or lack of attention to detail then it deserves to be condemed.

But what if the photographer intended that result, every part of the image carefully planned and conciously decided by him, achieving exactly the look that he wanted? Have any of us the right to dismiss it then? We can say we don't like it, of course. But to challenge it's value, as if we and we alone are entitled to decide its merits, is both arrogant and narrow minded.

If that's how we want it we are in danger of stifling our own creativity, guilty of practicing "photography by numbers," enslaved by the accepted convention on photographic rules. Sometimes we can learn more by studying in detail an image that we don't like, particularly if we know that it is the deliberate result of someone else's creative awareness, rather than studying one that we do like, which will achieve very little other than confirm what we think we already know.

Of course, Hiding Pup may simply be having a laugh but, from what I know of him I suspect that he carefully chose that image to challenge accepted wisdom and act as the catalyst for debate.

Consider this image I took this morning of my cat:-

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/12th_FEB_065_r_s.jpg

The background (a backlit window) is totally washed out but I really like the high key effect. However, to prove my point by way of reverse arguement, it was purely serendipity. I used fill flash but overlooked the fact that the shutter speed on aperture priority exceeded the maximum sync speed by a good few stops. Luckily, the camera capped the shutter speed and seems to have adjusted the flash output so that my dear little Thimble was correctly exposed.

Now, as this picture was the output of a bungling fool totally lacking any photographic skill and failing to make any creative input, feel free to critisise it as severely as you wish. But had I visualised this effect and made concious decisions to achieve it, then I would have held the moral high ground, with my image beyond critisism and subject only to the legitimate discrimination of personal taste.

Zuiko

Hiding_Pup
13th February 2008, 01:29 PM
Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Zuiko. I think it's a great cat shot regardless of whether the end-result was intended or not! Perhaps photography is like alchemy in that respect... Personally, I think lucky accidents are equally valid. Robert Capa didn't intend the lab to mess up the processing of his iconic pictures of Omaha Beach but that accident surely adds to rather than detracts from his shots:

http://img.nytstore.com/IMAGES/NSAPMP04_LARGE.JPG

I started participating in online photography forums about three years ago now, originally to seek advice on switching from film to digital. I've gotten a lot of help over the years and made a lot of new friends, too, but I do find the distinct lack of overlap between the types of image that garner praise in photography forums and the kinds of image that capture the attention (and wallets) of galleries, curators and fine art buyers.

I doubt, for example, that the work of one of my favourite contemporary photographers, Esko Mannikko, would do particularly well on the forum circuit:

http://www.artnet.com/artwork/424557115/803/esko-mannikko-untitled.html

http://www.artnet.com/artwork/424557114/803/esko-mannikko-untitled.html

But, yet, this guy's good enough to have been nominated for the incredibly prestigious Deutsche Borse Photography Prize this year.

And, while there's often talk about dreams of becoming professional and taking family portraits or wedding photos for a living but I've never heard anyone on a forum say that they'd like to make their money by being taken up by a gallery and selling limited editions of their prints for thousands at a time.

Can anyone shed any light at all on what's going on? why does there seem to be such an apparent split between the world of photography enthusiasts and the world of fine art photographers?

Zuiko
13th February 2008, 08:26 PM
Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Zuiko. I think it's a great cat shot regardless of whether the end-result was intended or not! Perhaps photography is like alchemy in that respect... Personally, I think lucky accidents are equally valid. Robert Capa didn't intend the lab to mess up the processing of his iconic pictures of Omaha Beach but that accident surely adds to rather than detracts from his shots:

http://img.nytstore.com/IMAGES/NSAPMP04_LARGE.JPG

I started participating in online photography forums about three years ago now, originally to seek advice on switching from film to digital. I've gotten a lot of help over the years and made a lot of new friends, too, but I do find the distinct lack of overlap between the types of image that garner praise in photography forums and the kinds of image that capture the attention (and wallets) of galleries, curators and fine art buyers.

I doubt, for example, that the work of one of my favourite contemporary photographers, Esko Mannikko, would do particularly well on the forum circuit:

http://www.artnet.com/artwork/424557115/803/esko-mannikko-untitled.html

http://www.artnet.com/artwork/424557114/803/esko-mannikko-untitled.html

But, yet, this guy's good enough to have been nominated for the incredibly prestigious Deutsche Borse Photography Prize this year.

And, while there's often talk about dreams of becoming professional and taking family portraits or wedding photos for a living but I've never heard anyone on a forum say that they'd like to make their money by being taken up by a gallery and selling limited editions of their prints for thousands at a time.

Can anyone shed any light at all on what's going on? why does there seem to be such an apparent split between the world of photography enthusiasts and the world of fine art photographers?


I think that the answer is simple, but rather sad. The truth is that the majority of enthusiasts, consciously or not, tend to keep well within their comfort zone. Novices have a level they aspire to reach, which invariably is determined by what the amateur magazines and online forums chose to promote as examples of excellence. Some go on to reach that level and then......stagnate!

I'm no exception. I specialise in landscapes and have done so for many years, during which time I've developed a formular for producing results that are generally well received. Indeed I've been fortunate enough to enjoy a fair measure of success in being published. But since reaching that level some years ago, how have I progressed? The answer is very little. Sure, my style is becoming more polished and proficient all the time. But I'm not, in essence, doing anything different now to what I was doing ten years ago. I like it in my comfort zone.

As regards fine art, I'm not sure I even understand what it is. When did a photography magazine aimed at enthusiasts last publish a feature on fine art?
The truth is, in all probability I wouldn't recognise fine art if it marched up to me and slapped my face.

But maybe if I took a few risks and occasionally moved out of my zone I might learn new techniques, develope a new style, progress my skills, become more creative and in time move up a level or two. Maybe then I too could be regarded as a fine art photographer, selling my work to private buyers for thousands rather than to magazines for hundreds.

Maybe it is encumbent on us all, if we really wish to improve as photographers, to seek out unfamiliar styles of photography, including fine art, and make the effort to at least understand what the author was trying to achieve before condeming from a position of ignorance. If we still don't like it, fine, we all have different tastes and personal preferences. But at least we may have learnt something and experienced a little of the world outside our comfort zone. Over time this new awareness and ability to see beyond our own creative boundarys might distill into our consciousness and make us better photographers.