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tourist picture / squares² # 10 / diptych # 152 ~ a tough pill to swallow for some photographers

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Kingston Brewing Company truck ~ Kingston, Ontario / Canada • click to embiggen
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The Breakers / Vanderbilt mansion ~ Newport, RI. • click to embiggen
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dirty window with shadow ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

I was recently richly rewarded when reading an article, Canon 5Ds Review Through Print Performance, on The Luminous Landscape. The title of the article was the reason I read it. Imagine, testing a camera through print performance - what a concept (duh) - as opposed to the lab testing of various technical properties of a sensor.

What I meant when I wrote that I was richly rewarded is that - nevertheless, despite the title - I was expecting to read a lot of techno gobbled gook and in that respect I was indeed richly rewarded inasmuch as my expectations were fully met, if not totally exceeded. Although, in truth, I didn't actually read the gobbledy gook so much as skip over it.

All of that written, I was rather amused when I scrolled down to what might be labeled the "conclusion" part of the article. SPOILER ALERT - After writing /explaining about all of his various print making and testing gobbledy gook minutiae, the author concludes that the Canon 5D came out on top the the test (comparison against earlier Canon cameras) in terms of ultimate resolution. He deduced that, for his professional use (read the article), the better resolution made upgrading sensible and justifiable.

However, here's the part I found amusing:

Not one of the half dozen non photographers I showed the prints to mentioned detail in the images. When asked for differences, most popular was spotting the slightly different view, next up was that the brickwork was ‘a bit redder’ in one print. Most common observation – that the council should do something more about the landlords who dump stuff from student housing when clearing houses at the end of the academic year. Even when I pointed to detail in the biggest prints, several people 'couldn’t see the difference’. One even said they liked the 1Ds print the best (I’m told the look on my face was worth seeing…)

Yes, it really is about the content of the picture to most people. This backs up my own (and gallery owners I’ve spoken to) experience that people who buy prints don’t carry a magnifying glass with them – they look at what the picture is about and what it means to them. It’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow for some photographers...

So, hmmmm, here's the deal. Is there any picture maker out there who still doesn't understand that, for the picture viewing / buying public, it's a picture's referent coupled with, at least at some level, meaning which connects the viewer / purchaser with a picture?

The answer, of course, is yes. For them, the pursuit of technical "perfection" is what it's all about. Unlike Jeff Wall, for whom the subject matter is "just the door that opens the way to the picture", the pixel-peeping resolution fetishists believe that technical matter(s) is/are the door that opens the door to making the picture. And, unfortunately, many of them, in pursuit and application of things technical at the moment of making a picture, lose sight of the art of seeing, which is the truest manner of making pictures which approach real "perfection".

tourist picture / diptych # 151 / kitchen sink # 31 ~ various things observed and then recorded without getting ethically, morally, personally or politically involved

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late evening / Lake Champlain ~ Port Kent CC / Port Kent, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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displays / red and green ~ Kingston - Ontario, Canada / New York, NY • click to embiggen
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sink sunlight ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
A couple thoughts /notions worth considering ....

… subject matter is paramount to the experience of realist art forms, Mr Wall claims that, for him, it is "just the door that opens the way to the picture." He identifies Paul Cezanne as a good role model because he "detached himself from his subjects and just painted without getting ethically, morally, personally or politically involved. ~ commentary found on the web

While the picture-maker proves himself to be an artist by the selection of a subject particularly adapted to pictorial representation, by the thoroughness with which he grasps its salient characteristics, and by the vividness of his antecedent conception, he does so also by the reliance which he places on the methods of expression peculiar to his art. How few people realize that these are abstract and make their primary appeal to the eye ! Later, in the case of certain subjects, they may reach the intellect, but even then through the passage-way of the senses. In literature, on the contrary, the words travel direct to the intellect and may later arouse a brain impression as of a picture seen. But in the actual picture of painting or photography, it is the things seen which affect us, and the artist’s skill is shown in what he offers to our sight and ours in the receptivity of our vision. ~ Charles H. Caffin

civilized ku # 2936-38 ~ life and sports

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Hugo / Can-AM camp ~ Lake Placid, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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Hugo handshake + Can-AM camp buddies ~ Lake Placid, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

As Hugo has completed a high level / high intensity 6 day hockey camp and as the end his summer hockey tournament schedule is nearing - only 2 more tournaments remaining (Boston and Philadelphia), 2 things have become very apparent ....

First - his hockey skills and knowledge has grown considerably as he has been challenged by playing at the highest level of youth hockey in North America. And, second - he has made friends with numerous 04 (birth year) kids from all over North America (to include Canada and one kid from Italy who traveled to Lake Placid for hockey camp).

And, I might add, kids he stays in touch with via Instagram, texting, and the like. One summer tournament hockey team friend / teammate from central Pennsylvania showed up on Saturday AM to watch Hugo play in the camp showcase game. Hugo will be playing with this friend in the upcoming tournament in Philadelphia.

The first result was expected, or, at least, hoped for. The second benefit is most definitely a wonderful life expanding experience which comes from his involvement in the sport of hockey. Life lessons in teamsmanship and camaraderie with a diverse group of peers is a very valuable part of team sports. And, throw in learning how to deal with challenges as well as striking a balance between victory and defeat, what you have is great summer of personal growth.

All of those benefits (and more) are the reason that Hugo will most likely be attending this school this fall where he will face both academic and life challenges. The fact that it will be amongst 4-9 graders from around the world makes it all the more valuable.
Posted on Sunday, July 26, 2015 at 12:27PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | Comments3 Comments

tourist picture / civilized ku # 2933-35 ~ Summer

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campsite ~ Hitchins Pond - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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pool steps ~ Cumberland Head, NY • click to embiggen
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pool girls ~ Cumberland Head, NY • click to embiggen
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porch / house corner ~ Cumberland Head, NY • click to embiggen

Summer is the time for camping, pools and flower baskets hanging on porches.

tourist picture / diptych # 149 / civilized ku # 2932 ~ I'm sick of it

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Ironman staging area ~ Lake Placid, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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ice rink at 5:30 AM ~ University of Rhode Island ice rink / Kingston, RI. • click to embiggen
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waxed concrete floor ~ 1980 Olympic Arena / Lake Placid, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

As most know, I have spent more than a little ink (if I used a typewriter or pen, which I don't but you probably get the idea) lambasting what I label as the Academic Lunatic Fringe. I.E., a group of educators and the educated in and spit out from photography graduate programs who have highjacked the picture making art world with their meaning-over-content fetishism.

IMO, the insidious effects of the ALF on picture making permeate the gallery and art institution world of photography inasmuch as many from the art school graduate programs have moved into positions as directors of picture galleries and institutions wherein they foster only those picture makers who ascribe to the meaning-over-content school of picture making.

FYI, just to be clear, what meaning-over-content means is, in most picture making cases, the idea that picture making is just a tool for working out some emotional issues / relationships / tracking therapeutic journeys by "exploring the intersection of" (a much favored phrase in ALF picture maker's artist statements) some part of the picture makers brain and some part of the actual world. Issues include, but are not limited to, such notions as death, interpersonal relationships, memories of places / events / persons, illness, fears, and the like. In effect, picture making becomes a part of personal therapy wherein ...

...people say they need to express their emotions I'm sick of that. Photography doesn`t teach you to express your emotions it teachs you to see. ~ Berenice Abbott

To be certain, the act of making pictures has at least a thousand and one uses and I suppose personal therapy is one of them. Nevertheless, I, like Brenice Abbott was, am sick to death of reading artist statements wherein, as Bill Jay stated:

"...it's been quite some time since I read an artist speak so eloquently and clearly about the world beyond his/(her) own asshole."

I am also sick of viewing what amounts to ALF picture cliches. One of the most pervasive of these cliches being pictures of individuals staring into a lens with sullen / dead expressions (ahhh, such gravitas) on their faces and body language - doesn't anyone smile or appear to be happy in the ALF picture world?

And, don't get me started on ALF picture makers who employ tried-and-true picture making strategies - the photo essay (always referred to as a "body of work"), as an example - or techniques - manipulation by means of distorting a picture making process to the point of abstraction - and then thinking that they have re-invented the wheel. I write this inasmuch as I have rarely read an ALF artist statement which acknowledges the work / lineage of the picture makers on whose shoulders they stand.

FYI, it is my fondest hope that, one day, this meaning-over-content too will pass - or, at least, move out of the gallery and art institution limelight so that a more well-rounded view of the picture making world will come to the fore.
Posted on Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 09:53AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis | CommentsPost a Comment

tourist picture / ku # 1302 / civilized ku # 2931 ~ take a seat

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Hugo's hockey camp / 1980 Olympic Herb Brooks Arena ~ Lake Placid, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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2 boys on rocks ~ Bog River Flow, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
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seat + shadow / 1980 Olympic Herb Brooks Arena ~ Lake Placid, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Posted on Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 10:23AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis | CommentsPost a Comment

tourist picture / diptych # 148 / ku # 1301 ~ Smuttynose, under, scallions

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Smuttynose / Between The Buns restaurant ~ Potsdam, NY • click to embiggen
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under bridge / under porch roof ~ Buffalo, NY / Thousand Islands, NY • click to embiggen
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scallions / farmer's market ~ Keene Valley, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
Jeff Wall has stated / written that ....

Maybe the "trivial" is just a failed version of the "everyday." The everyday, or the commonplace, is the most basic and the richest artistic category. Although it seems familiar, it is always surprising and new. But at the same time, there is an openness that permits people to recognize what is there in the picture, because they have already seen something like it somewhere. So the everyday is a space in which meanings accumulate, but it's the pictorial realization that carries the meanings into the realm of the pleasurable.

Wall's statement encapsulates / reiterates several of the points which I wrote about in the recent entry, arranging aggrangements. Especially so, re: ".... it's the pictorial realization that carries the meanings into the realm of the pleasurable..., and, "....the commonplace...is the most basic and the richest artistic category".

Those ideas coincide rather well with my thoughts, re: ".... a well executed arrangement of 'invisible' pictorial elements is often enough to elevate a picture of seemingly "nothing" into the realm of a very good picture".

I mention these ideas - commonplace / nothing and pictorial realization / pleasing arrangement - because, in my daily photo blog pursuing, there are 2 sites I visit regularly, one of which I visit everyday (More Original Refrigerator Art) the other (which shall remain nameless / link-less inasmuch as I have no desire to offend), much less frequently.

Even though both picture makers traffic in pictures of the commonplace, the reason for the disparity in visitation frequency is solely attributable to the fact that the former-mentioned picture maker is uncommonly adept at first rate pictorial realization / pleasing arrangement, the latter-mentioned picture maker, not so much.

IMO, the primary difference between the work of the 2 picture makers is that, one transports pictures of the commonplace into the realm of the pleasurable, while the other makes pictures of the commonplace which are distinctly, well .... commonplace or, in other words, ordinary. Although, while it should be noted that that result might just be the point of that work, it doesn't work for me.

tourist picture / civilized ku # 2928 / kitchen sink # 30 ~ how to make the next picture good

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picture maker ~ Newport RI. • click to embiggen
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Main Street ~ Buffalo, NY, NY • click to embiggen
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strainer ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

I'm aware that the subjects I choose do have meaning, but over the years I've found that understanding these meanings is less important for me. My burning issue is how to make the next picture good. ~ Jeff Wall

For the most part, ditto for me.