PICTURE ONLY GALLERY LINKS
The life without the APA pictures are here
The The Forks ~ there's no place like home gallery is here
The ART ~ conveys / transports / reflects gallery is here
The Decay & Disgust work/book is here
The single women selects/book gallery is here
The picture windows selects/book gallery is here
The kitchen life selects gallery is here
A 10 picture look at Tangles, Thickets, and Twigs ~ fields of visual energy is here
If photography is about anything it is the deep surprise of living in the ordinary world. By virtue of walking through the fields and streets of this planet, focusing on the small and the unexpected, conferring attention on the helter-skelter juxtapositions of time and space, the photographer reminds us that the actual world is full of surprise, which is precisely that most people, imprisoned in habit and devoted to the familiar, tend to forget. ~ John Rosenthal
IMO, 'most people' in our modern culture - especially so in the good ole USofA - have not forgotten about 'the deep surprise of living in the ordinary world'. In fact, most people are hard at work avoiding the ordinary world. The pursuit of consumerist diversions, in which they invest their meaning of life, is what they believe the world should be. For them, the next big thing is where it's at - next up, wearable computers.
This predilection also manifests itself in the picture making world. For most serious amateur picture makers the pursuit of the grand and glorious takes precedence over the 'merely' ordinary. And, even when encountering the grand and glorious, they tend to trick it up beyond all recognition, aka: the world as it actually is. In their heart of hearts they want everybody to feel good (not a bad thing, per se) - don't worry, be happy. Ain't life grand.
While, I would not try to deny those picture makers their picture making happiness, I do, nevertheless, believe they are sending the wrong signals. Sure enough, life can be grand for some, but, for me, the grand life - and good pictures - is found in other quarters.
A picture should draw you on to admire it, not show you everything at a glance. After a satisfactory general effect, beauty after beauty should unfold itself, and they should not all shout at once . . . This quality [mystery] has never been so much appreciated in photography as it deserved. The object seems to have been always to tell all you know.. This is a great mistake. Tell everything to your lawyer, your doctor, and your photographer (especially your defects when you have your portrait taken, that the sympathetic photographer may have a chance of dealing with them), but never to your critic. He much prefers to judge whether that is a boathouse in the shadow of the trees, or only a shepherd's hut. We all like to have a bit left for our imagination to play with. Photography would have been settled a fine art long ago if we had not, in more ways than one, gone so much into detail. We have always been too proud of the detail of our work and the ordinary detail of our processes. - Henry Peach Robinson
I agree with the above, but .... even if a picture gives the viewer great detail, that detail, in a good picture, can still leave the observer with a mystery - the mystery of why this?
That mystery alone can leave the viewer with a reason to engage with a picture beyond the 'mere' detail. In a good picture there is more than a bit left for our imagination to play with because a good picture maker always leaves a viewer with something beyond the visual to explore*.
Of course, it is always up to the viewer to be curious. Without curiosity, a picture is always just a picture - surface detail and no more.
*You might think of the desire to explore / curiosity in artspeak terms - developing and stretching your observational parameters for the perception of images.
Sometimes - and it is of course a rarity, something to be treasured and remembered - a landscape becomes in front of your eyes everything you ever hoped a landscape could be. This is difficult to describe as an experience, let alone say how one might arrive at it. It is, of course, not something that can be engineered. Partly perhaps it is valuable because it is rare and can only be given, not sought or deliberately looked for. It is highly personal. All one can think is "Yes, for me, what I see in front of me, what I am attempting to record, is what seems to me like a sort of revelation. ~ Charlie Waite
Encountered, observed, and pictured while driving home from a get together on Sunday evening past.
Recently, I encountered a series of pictures which were all made out of focus. A few of the pictures were nice enough to be visually interesting, others were little more than diffused (soft focus) variations on Mark Rothko paintings, albethey made with the tools and techniques of the medium of photography. After viewing the pictures, the primary impression imprinted upon my eye and sensibilities was one of a ho-hum variety.
The fact that the pictures are exhibited in a large-scale architectural installation which creates what one writer describes as "a seamless transition between both 'spheres' — the pictorial space and the exhibition space, between the installation in the center of the room and the classical presentation of the works on the outside. Visitors can enter the work to become part of an 'unpredictable' universe" strikes me as a kind of carnival fun house cheap trick - providing a venue in which the Academic Lunatic Fringe, Photography Division, can have their art sauce cake and eat it too.
And, writing of art sauce, dip your utensil of choice into this heaping serving of the stuff:
Through his use of extreme soft focus as an artistic device, he searches the observational parameters for the perception of images .... he questions the basic principles of photography: sharpness and recognizability. By leaving these parameters out of the image content, he breaks with conventional ways of seeing .... The photographic medium is distilled into light and darkness, confronting the viewer with infinity. A paradigm shift is occurring in fine art photography, from the documentary and representational to a new abstraction that radically questions the medium. With his resolutely blurred photographs, he is positioned at the crux of this contextual and aesthetic renunciation of apparatus-led seeing in favor of a nonrepresentational perceiving of the world. He has succeeded in creating a photography that goes beyond pictorial representation.
After reading the above, I was immediately reminded of Susan Sontag's quote which states that interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art. Placed in a fuller context, that quote is an excerpt from:
Today is such a time, when the project of interpretation is largely reactionary, stifling. Like the fumes of the automobile and of heavy industry which befoul the urban atmosphere, the effusion of interpretations of art today poisons our sensibilities. In a culture whose already classical dilemma is the hypertrophy of the intellect at the expense of energy and sensual capability, interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art ... Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world - in order to set up a shadow world of 'meanings.'
Now, to be perfectly clear, the out-of-focus pictures made by the artist are are exactly what they appear to be - out-of-focus pictures - and that's OK with me. If making and/or viewing such pictures suits your eye and sensibilities, I say/write, "Have at it." And I mean just exactly that. As Julian's grandmother often uttered, "For every pot there's lid." Follow your own picture making path and be happy. But ...
... enough already - leave the lid on the pot - with the he searches the observational parameters for the perception of images .... he questions the basic principles of photography: sharpness and recognizability. Really? It seems to me the picture maker is simply making out-of-focus pictures and - note to ALF - there is absolutely nothing new in that. And, guess what ALF, every picture maker searches the observational parameters for the perception of (their) images to one degree or another.
RE: searching for the observational parameters for the perception of images - Seriously? Who doesn't recognize the simple fact that some observers of pictures have severely attenuated observational parameters for the perception of images while others have expansive observational parameters for the perception of images. All of which leads to a very simple conclusion - some observers will 'get it', some will not. Duh.
And the idea that this picture maker may be testing and trying to expand the limits of 'getting it' or not, is neither ground breaking nor paradigm busting. It is, in fact, SOP for many picture makers, especially so, but by no means limited to, in the fine art world of photography.
In any event, those who have employed out-of-focus picture making were rarely, if ever, (paraphrasing) radically questioning the medium. They were, to repeat, simply making out-of-focus pictures as a means of expressing their particular manner of seeing. Nor were they questioning the basic principles of photography. They were, in fact, employing one of the basic principles of the medium - the ability to bring the object of their attention into focus or not.
That particular "artistic device" has been around since the dawn of the medium. The idea that he has succeeded in creating a photography that goes beyond pictorial representation is utter shit on a shingle. That notion belies the history of the medium and all of those who have strived and succeeded in going beyond pictorial representation. And the idea that he is positioned at the crux of this .... renunciation of apparatus-led seeing merely adds to the pile on the shingle - as far as I can tell, he made his out-of-focus pictures with an apparatus (as indicated, a large-format apparatus) which, in fact, allowed him to make out-of-focus pictures (either in camera or with after-the-fact processing).
If he or a critic need to turn all of the aforementioned use of the simple basic principles of photography into a steaming heap of flapdoodle and green paint, so be it but it annoys the living hell out of me. Nevertheless, there it is in all its glory - the revenge of the intellect upon art .
Again, to be perfectly clear, the pictures are what they are. Period. Use all of your observational-parameters-for-the-perception-of-images powers to determine whether you should like 'em or leave 'em. The choice is yours.
As for the ALF-led commentary surrounding the images, I leave you with this from Sontag:
The aim of all commentary on art now should be to make works of art - and, by analogy, our own experience - more, rather than less, real to us. The function of criticism should be to show how it is what it is, even that it is what it is, rather than to show what it means.
The Landscapist / Cinemascapist families went on an island camping trip this weekend. The island location was on Lower Saranac Lake, home to 50 islands and 80 campsites. Weather was great and the bugs almost non-existent.
The wife, as pictured above, was able to indulge her ongoing fascination - unnatural? - with locks. Both the lock master's dog and I were/are very curious about her behavior when encountering a lock.
It is both amazing and, at times, very surprising what you learn after living with a woman for 20 years.
Last evening I attended the Beer, Bourbon, Barbeque and Stogies event at Freestyle Cuisine in Lake Placid. The gathering featured an 8 course meal (small plate) with a bourbon and beer pairing for each course followed by a good cigar. The food was excellent, the bourbons and beers were much above average and 80% of the attendees were women - a good time was had by all.
I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times...I just shoot at what interests me at that moment. - Elliott Erwitt
Yesterday, I played a late day round of golf. I had the course all to myself and +/- 10,000 black flies. When the breeze picked up, the black flies disappeared, when the breeze died they were back in full force. It was also very humid which in combination with the 1/8 inch of black fly repellent made my skin quite slimy. Nevertheless, I survived without a single bite and I managed to card a very good score.
The light and cloud cover were constantly changing, which made for some good pictures. All in all, it was a nice 4.5 mile walk. - which stand in contrast to the adage (attributed to Samuel Langhorne Clemens / aka Mark Twain) that golf is good walk spoiled.
Another part of my current journey into the future has been the acquisition of 2 new Olympus E-P5 bodies. I had been delaying the purchase until; 1) the price was right, and, 2) I was upgrading the computer.
Re: the right price - early last week I came across 2 factory refurbs with factory warranties for about 1/2 the regular price of a body. So, always wanting a backup, I grabbed 2 for the price of 1. Re: computer upgrade - needed to upgrade to a machine with the OS which could run the current RAW software - Iridient Developer (formerly RAW Developer) - for the new cameras.
The new computer switch over has yet to happen, so I am making some 'test' jpeg pictures with the E-P5 even though I am not a fan (understatement) of making in-camera jpeg pictures. Accordingly, the reasons are many - 8bit color (not 16bit), in camera sharpening (ok but not the best), no highlight recovery, to name just a few. That written, the jpegs are quite decent and they give a pretty good indication of what's to come, RAW wise.
WARNING: gear talk alert: In fact, this is more of a the-current-state-of-the camera-making-art critique than it is gear speak. To wit ...
I have using Olympus Pen cameras since nearly day one of their introduction (E-P1) and I must write that I really like the form factor, design wise, of these cameras - small, light, unobtrusive, robust construction, and, in the manual mode, easy to use and operate. All in all, a very nice package, and a true revolutionary trend setter in the now robust ICL mirror-less camera segment.
Admittedly, the µ43 sensor, in its first incarnation, was 'good enough' but not stellar. However, I was able, with good sharpening technique and highlight blending techniques, to produce very high IQ results. Results which allow for very nice - much much better than 'good enough' - 24×32 inch prints (or in my case, 24×24inch). I am certain I could go even bigger but I haven't given that possibility a try.
Over the years, I have added a couple back up bodies (E-P2/E-P3) to the ensemble while I waited for what I was certain would be a significant sensor upgrade. That upgrade finally arrived in the O- MD E-M5 camera. Tempting as it was to acquire that camera (or, even more so, the same-sensored but less espensive E-M10), I was also fairly certain the upgrade would arrive in a new E-P series camera. And even though it took a while, it did, in fact, happen.
All of that written, I acquired the new bodies for one single reason - the new and improved sensor. That's it, period - the sum total of my new-camera lust (such as it is). I could care not a bit for all the other 'improvements' and 'upgrades' and, consequently, I was a bit concerned about coming to grips with all of the added-on features of the new camera. That concern was the result of a number of reviews which complained about the new and complex menu system.
I now know, as the result of being a dedicated and unrepentant manual camera operator, that the 'complex' menu on the E-P5 is, for me, the same as it ever was. Within 5 minutes of removing the body from the box, I was up and running in exactly the same manner as with my other E-P series cameras. It helps that the menu system, expanded options excepted, is exactly the same as it is/was on previous E-P series variants.
Sure, there are menu items and options / settings galore. In fact, dizzyingly so. A fact which must make dealing with it incredibly complex and confusing for average amateur. It's no wonder that so many amateur picture makers find the digital picture making realm so intimidating. And that confusion / intimidation is, IMO, extremely exacerbated by the fact that the printed manual which comes in the box is a very distilled version of the complete telephone-book-sized manual which is only available online.
So, if one is out in the field making pictures and questions / problems arise which can only be addressed by accessing the full manual, one is screwed, so to write. That is, unless one has a smart phone and internet access with which to view the online manual. Of course, one could download the pdf version of the complete manual and take the time, effort and paper to print it out and take that cumbersome paper wad with you whenever one is out and about.
In any event, and in the interest of complete and accurate disclosure, I have used and appreciated one other upgraded feature on the E-P5 - the articulated LCD. In fact, I used it to make the birch fragment on colorful rock and forest floor with raindrops pictures in this entry. Other than that (and the new sensor), it's pretty much picture making business as usual for me - 5 minutes of camera set-it-and-forget-it setup and I'm on the road again.
Which causes me to wonder, will I ever see an Olympus µ43 camera set up for a dedicated manual camera user? That is, a camera with just the bare bones needed for still picture making?