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Entries in civilized ku, manmade landscape (1165)
The recently concluded PhotoPlus Expo in NYC has apparently ignited a kerfuffle (V23) replete with a new round of accompanying wailing and gnashing of teeth. The results are in and, as a result of the fact that sales of mid>top-tier dslrs and lower-end P&S cameras are dropping like the top of a 170 million year old rock formation in Goblin Valley State Park, the end of "traditional photography" is right around the corner, or so some might think.
However, IMNSHO, that thinking is pure poppycock supported by little more than a bathtub filled to the brim with flapdoodle and green paint.
While there is little to dispute regarding the idea that sales of mid>top-tier dslrs are in a sales tailspin from which they most likely will never recover and that the low-end of the camera market is being driven to an early grave by camera phones (or is it "phone cameras"?), what if anything this has to do with an impending photogeddon, "traditional photography" ("TP") wise, is beyond my scope of comprehension or gullibility.
A big part of the specious reasoning (if that word is appropriate here) behind the end of "TP" (as embraced and loved by a quite literally dying breed of graying old coots - you'll have to pry my full-frame dslr from my cold dead hands) is that the younger twitfacetumblr social network picture making crowd (aka: young whippersnappers) just plain don't give a crap about IQ (Image Quality). After all, who needs a billion megapixels or the machines which make them if all you're doing is making with, sending and looking at pictures on your smart phone or some other electronic device?
OK, taken at face value I can get down with that fact, but to use that paradigm as the foundation for the demise of "TP" is ridiculous. To buy into that reasoning, one must also accept the idea that the hordes of analogue/film snap-shooting picture makers, toting their Brownies, Instamatics, Polaroids, and other such "amateur" cameras (not exactly high IQ picture making machines) were, in their day, also destroying "TP" because, quite frankly, not a whole lot of them gave a crap about IQ. And, if they were tearing down the hallowed halls and walls of "TP", then it's a wonder how anything resembling "TP" ever made it to this late date.
In either case, I am not all that certain that, percentage wise, the number of defilers of "TP" vs practitioners of "TP" is all that different from what it was in the "golden days" of "TP". The number of casual picture makers have and always will vastly exceed those of the more dedicated / serious persuasion. And, just as Kodak did, the big boys, camera making wise, will always pursue the biggest market segment and leave the smaller segments to the boutique camera makers.
The fact that many of those boutique camera makers are currently facing shrinking sales - which, I might add, is very different from shrinking markets - has little to do with an assault upon, or, at the very least, an indifference to "TP". IMO, the diminishing sales have much more to do with the fact that the dedicated / serious picture making crowd has come to the realization - IMO, rather belatedly - that one does not need to climb to the top rungs of the picture making machine ladder (nor does one have to pay the price of walking around with the camera equivalent of a millstone around one's neck) in order to make pictures with a remarkably high level of IQ, technical wise.
For a large segment of the dedicated / serious picture making crowd, the megapixel race to the top has run its course and camera makers need to come to that realization as well. The boom market for mid>top tier digital picture making machines has ended. The majority of serious / dedicated picture makers who wished to move from film to digital have done so and have subsequently settled into a gear paradigm with which they are quite content and no amount of "innovation" will motivate them to keep on spending-and-getting in pursuit of the next big thing.
IMO, it's that simple. There will always be a very small market segment that demands ultra-high IQ - advertising picture makers, IQ obsessed amateurs, and fine art pictures makers whose stock in trade is 40×60 (and up) prints - which can only be delivered by ultra expensive picture making machines and related gear. For the rest of us dedicated / serious picture makers ... well ... unless one is a status conscious boob who needs to carry around a high-end camera for some kind of personal image validation or is still clinging to the idea that bigger is better, there are lots of mid-level picture making machines which, if one is honest with him/her self and has a grip on her/his actual picture making needs, more than fit the bill.
After all, if making pictures is one's goal, how much "innovation" can there be re: the bedrock fundamentals of picture making? Think about it - aperture, shutter speed, focus, and shutter release. What else does one need?
FYI, my 2 dslr behemoths have sat, mostly unused, on top of a bookcase in my living room for the better part of the past 4 years. Not unlike my 2 Nikon F-series film cameras have (on a different bookcase) for the 6 years preceding that. I jumped onto the diminutive µ4/3rds train within a few months of the introduction of the Olympus E-P1 and I have never looked back.
About the only time either of the dslrs are used is when I have a new client shoot and I bring them along only to "prove" I am a pro picture maker even though I always end up using my Oly Pens for the assignment.
Long live traditional photography. All the rest is just window dressing.
Another weekend has passed and so has another getaway. This time it was a trip to the Catskill PARK - a down-state mini Adirondack PARK of sorts - and the village of Phonicia. The purpose of the trip was to attend a birthday party for one of the wife's brothers.
That purpose aside, one of the things I like about Phonicia is the fact that the village is art oriented - live theater, galleries, craft shops / boutiques and the like, not to mention several excellent small eateries and a classic diner. And add to those features the fact that there is a rather large contingent of past-their-prime hippies (lots of white hair, beards, and pot). Suffice it to state, it's a very mellow place to be.
When staying in Phonicia, the wife and I never know what our sleeping accommodations will be - a bedroom in main house, a tent in the backyard or the Magic House. On this visit we were surprised and quite pleased with a new option, the art studio - a detached art studio with a bedroom. A place I found to be a rather inspiring place to sleep and dream.
All of that written, there is no question, in my mind at least, that an art oriented community is an all together pleasant and somewhat inspiring place to be. And, I might add, a the wife's family get together without the 100˚ heat and 100% humidity of the South Jersey Shore is also quite enjoyable as well.
There is a difference between looking at photographs - which has become a common cultural practice - or seeing the image. The latter refers to reconstructing the photograph by exploring the deep structure of the image--which involves the application of practical knowledge and creative insights and relies on the cultural or historical consciousness of the reader. Looking is the visual routine of readers, seeing is the visual practice of the literate. ~ Hanno Hardt
After a couple stress filled weeks for the wife and I - family and work related issues - we decided, at the last minute, that we needed the soothing tonic of a quick getaway and our anniversary provided the perfect excuse.
As always (except for those rare occasions on which we don't), we thoroughly enjoyed each other's company. And, since we always stay at the same outstanding, comfortable, and extremely friendly hotel when visiting Old Montreal - Auberge du Vieux-Port, recipient of a Travel+Leisure World's Best Award - our relaxation was virtually guaranteed.
One of my many candidates for my Best-Moment-of-the-Weekend Award was on Sunday morning when I was relaxing in bed reading the NY Times and the wife, who likes to take a morning walk, was out and about seeking a couple Tim Horton donuts for my morning pleasure. Needless to write, since she rarely disappoints, her mission was accomplished.
Consequently and amongst a host of other reasons, my advice is simple .... marriage to a good woman is highly recommended. And of course, as the wife will attest, the inverse is also highly recommended.
In the interest of complete disclosure, picture viewing bias wise, let me write that both Colberg's opinions regarding Wittmar's pictures and the pictures themselves are well within the wheel house of my picture viewing preferences of that which constitutes and defines good / interesting work. To be certain, not the only type / genre of picture preferences in my wheel house, but one that ranks in upper reaches of my picture making / viewing hierarchy.
That written, here are some excerpts from Colberg's essay:
.... If you look at photography to get first and foremost entertained, to get a quick and easy thrill, then it’s incredibly unlikely that Medebach is your cup of tea. It’s incredibly likely you will find these photographs “boring" .... I vehemently reject the correlation between a lack of visual drama and something being boring. Phrased alternatively, photographs with a lot of visual drama can still be incredibly boring, while the most minimalist pictures can contain large amounts of wonder (however you want to define that “wonder”) ....
.... The photographer’s approach...conforms to what most non-Germans typically think of as “German photography”: Carefully organized and seemingly distanced from its subject matter, using muted colours .... The photographs’ compositions are carefully considered, allowing the viewer to study the images carefully, looking for traces of what might be going on here.
No surprise, I'm in complete accord with those general thoughts and opinions. However, in an even more specific manner, I also agree with Colberg's thoughts and opinions on the depicted referents:
.... Given that so many of us live in places that have a Medebach feel to them (ed. - "dreariness, neatness", and the lack of "any kind of visual drama") – isn’t America’s Suburbia an even more extreme form of Medebach? – why would we want to look at pictures of them, when all we’d have to do is to look out of the window? For a start, we usually tend to not engage with the places we live in all that deeply. We do not look outside of the bubbles of our homes ....
One of the types of pictures which I especially like to look at (and "study" / contemplate) are those made by picture makers in relatively close proximity to their home environment - a referent with which they are very familiar and know in a manner that the casual observer / visitor does not. I consider the resultant pictures to be a visual form of insider information - perhaps more appropriately labeled as "in"sight - which, in the best of cases, imparts a very personal way to see a place / thing / people / event.
A manner of picture making which Colberg describes quite well:
As a photographic artist, you pluck certain notes from the world, and you then let those notes work together, to create your own sound.
IMO, hearing or being attuned to those "sounds" made by others can help one to be better attuned to the notes found his/her own world and consequently enable him/her to make their own very personal (and melodic) sounds.