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Photogs / Photo Exhibits This is the place to discuss a particular Photographer (work, style, life, whatever), as well as to post Gallery and Museum Photo Exhibitions and your own impressions of them. As we march on in this new digital world, it is often too easy to forget about the visual importance of the photographic print, as well as their financial importance to the photographer. It is also interesting to remember that some guy named Gene Smith shot with lenses that many lens test reading "never had a picture published in their life" amateurs would turn up their their noses at, as being "unacceptable."

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Lartigue
Old 06-03-2016   #1
FPjohn
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Lartigue

https://www.theguardian.com/artandde...red-the-moment

yours
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Old 06-04-2016   #2
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Until I saw a major exhibition of his work at Arles a few years ago, I used to subscribe to the widely held view that he was a genius. Then I realized that I had mostly seen the same carefully selected pictures again and again, in books and magazine articles, and that a much closer appreciation would be that he was a financially overprivileged amateur whose passion for photography far exceeded his talent. His reputation was much enhanced by the glimpse he gave of the extremely rich at a time of great inequality: the Downton Abbey effect.

His great pictures (and some of them are great) were to a large extent a result of the law of averages: take enough pictures, and you need to be REALLY incompetent and unadventurous if you cannot take a few good ones.

For me, he is one of the most wildly overrated photographers in the world; and I say this as an ex-fan, not as someone who never "got" his pictures.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 06-04-2016   #3
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I'm inclined to agree, Roger. My daughter has bought me a series of books by photographers, and Lartigue doesn't seem so great when you look at a whole book of his work. I much prefer books of HCB's or Thesiger's photos, for instance.
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Old 06-04-2016   #4
David Hughes
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You can say that about most photographers, including me. The PR has a lot to do with it.

Regards, David
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Old 06-05-2016   #5
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I think the reason many think the work is good is it is a glimpse in a world most will never know and it is really rare given the time it was created. I don't think there are many other photographic glimpses into that world from a kids perspective from the era.

Is it important how many sketches a painter makes and how many times he changes a painting before it's finished? I don't think so. All that matters is what he decides to show. I agree with Winogrand when he said that art is not a product of industrial efficiency.
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Old 06-05-2016   #6
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The law of averages can't account for the exceptional quality of his great pictures, and there were a lot of them. It was simply that he had the eye for superb composition and beauty. And whether or not he had a privileged background has nothing to do with it except insofar as it gave him the time and opportunity to photograph elegant people in beautiful places.
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Old 06-05-2016   #7
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Could it be that Lartigue was just like the celebrity photographers of the 60s,70s,80s,90s? Maybe just because their subjects were rich and/or famous we think these photographers are geniuses.
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Old 06-05-2016   #8
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I don't think he set out to be a great photographer:
but he did not let the opportunity pass, had the enthusiasm, the technical skills, a good eye and most certainly mastered the snapshot and more.
I think that stands the test of time and deserves praise.
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Old 06-05-2016   #9
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In my opinion his best work he took when he was a kid documenting the very wealthy class and how they played.
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Old 06-05-2016   #10
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Smiling JFK hiding his groin while surrounded by babes is an interesting photo but not a great photograph by any means.

He must have did very well that day, but that is the famous JFK magic at work.
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Old 06-05-2016   #11
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According to the article, Lartigue lived into his '90s. (Have) you ever noticed how many famous photographers lived to a ripe old age? I wonder if it is something in the chemicals. Maybe it is just wishful thinking on my part...
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Old 06-05-2016   #12
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Many died young to. Winograd, Francesca Woodman, Diane Arbus, to name a few though a couple were at their own hands.
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Old 06-05-2016   #13
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"The law of averages can't account for the exceptional quality of his great pictures, and there were a lot of them. It was simply that he had the eye for superb composition and beauty. And whether or not he had a privileged background has nothing to do with it except insofar as it gave him the time and opportunity to photograph elegant people in beautiful places."
Couldn't agree more.
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Old 06-05-2016   #14
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Thanks for the link.

I think Lartigue's contribution has less to do with documenting his world and more to do with aesthetics. Didn't his recognition of the camera's unique vision help to differentiate photography from the other arts. I don't think anyone would have painted that girl flying down the staircase, nor could they ever have painted that distorted race car. Many of his pictures are uniquely photographic and many later masters like Friedlander and Winogrand owe a debt to him in my opinion (and would probably acknowledge as much).
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Old 06-05-2016   #15
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Gns and Luis you sum up Lartigue's contribution very well. Having seen the exhibition of his work at the Hayward Gallery a few years ago, I would very much agree.
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Old 06-05-2016   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airfrogusmc View Post
I think the reason many think the work is good is it is a glimpse in a world most will never know and it is really rare given the time it was created. I don't think there are many other photographic glimpses into that world from a kids perspective from the era.

Is it important how many sketches a painter makes and how many times he changes a painting before it's finished? I don't think so. All that matters is what he decides to show. I agree with Winogrand when he said that art is not a product of industrial efficiency.
When you consider the equipment Lartigue was working with, I think you'd have to concede he did better than average with it. People would be quick to write off Atget too, if they had no appreciation for what he was working with. These days I don't give much credit for "tryhardability" because it is so easy to make good photographs these days, but one has to keep things in perspective for those who were working in an era when making good photographs not only required a keen eye, but also hard work.
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Old 06-06-2016   #17
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He had the time and money to take thousands of photographs and I bet a lot were duds. The novelty of a bygone age and the rarity of the camera then (and his subjects) means they get a lot of coverage.

I'd like to see all his shots before deciding. In the meantime I'll assume that only the best or most interesting are on show and the basis of the judgement.

Regards, David

PS I get thousands looking at my photo's on my website every month; does that make me a great photographer? And if I showed the most popular you'd think yuk!
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Old 06-06-2016   #18
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Quote:
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I'd like to see all his shots before deciding. In the meantime I'll assume that only the best or most interesting are on show and the basis of the judgement.
Of course only the most interesting would be on show. Even Picasso's dealers would reject some of his paintings. That's just how it goes. Practice makes perfect, and everything that's not perfect is just practice.
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Old 06-06-2016   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airfrogusmc View Post
In my opinion his best work he took when he was a kid documenting the very wealthy class and how they played.
Yeah, let's not forget that this was very early in photography's history, he was very young when he made some of the photos, I can't think of anyone who photographed what he photographed before him, he used various different methods, and there is early action photography (cars / planes) in the mix. I don't think we should trivialize the contribution. I'm not going to hate him because he came from a wealthy family. Most photography was expensive to do at the time.
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Old 06-06-2016   #20
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"According to the article, Lartigue lived into his '90s. (Have) you ever noticed how many famous photographers lived to a ripe old age? I wonder if it is something in the chemicals. Maybe it is just wishful thinking on my part..."

I think it has more to do with the sense of purpose. Many photographers who continue working till the end live long lives, because they never "retire".

As to Lartigue, he was a competent "enthusiast" and he rode the first wave of handheld cameras, making good use of them. The photographs followed.

FWIW, if you are interested, there will be an exhibition of his works now in Nice, France: http://www.tpi-nice.org/expo/
so all you plaboys planning your yearly holidays on the Cote d'Azur have an opportunity to visit...
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Old 06-06-2016   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfogiel View Post
"According to the article, Lartigue lived into his '90s. (Have) you ever noticed how many famous photographers lived to a ripe old age? I wonder if it is something in the chemicals. Maybe it is just wishful thinking on my part..."

I think it has more to do with the sense of purpose. Many photographers who continue working till the end live long lives, because they never "retire".

As to Lartigue, he was a competent "enthusiast" and he rode the first wave of handheld cameras, making good use of them. The photographs followed.

FWIW, if you are interested, there will be an exhibition of his works now in Nice, France: http://www.tpi-nice.org/expo/
so all you plaboys planning your yearly holidays on the Cote d'Azur have an opportunity to visit...
Your theory on longevity is likely right. As with musicians particularly conductors.

I do think we are giving Lartigue the Vivian Maier treatment in this thread. I think it's irrelevant what his hit rate was. He had a vision and a natural response and the photographs are the result. How easy or likely was what he did? I think he's one of the greats.
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Old 06-06-2016   #22
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I've been to one of the exhibition of some of his work a few years back, it immediately strike me he's a little OCD of a kind, picture that he takes he also scribe it down in a notebook (ok granted he wanted to be a painter (since being a painter is being view as a "proper" profession instead of "gimmick" picture taking)

What attracts me (ok, other than all the fine pictures of nice ladies around him) to his pictures are the period of time he begin to "experiment" with picture with motion (people jumping/running/diving etc), now to think of it, maybe he is one of the original "travel-photography" guy
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Old 06-06-2016   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfogiel View Post
"According to the article, Lartigue lived into his '90s. (Have) you ever noticed how many famous photographers lived to a ripe old age? I wonder if it is something in the chemicals. Maybe it is just wishful thinking on my part..."
Hi,

I can't help thinking he was a rich photographer and the rich tend to outlive the poor. And when we talk of conductors we tend to talk of the famous ones and they are usually rich too...

Just my 2d worth.

Regards, David
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Old 06-07-2016   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Hi,

I can't help thinking he was a rich photographer and the rich tend to outlive the poor. And when we talk of conductors we tend to talk of the famous ones and they are usually rich too...

Just my 2d worth.

Regards, David
20s and I might concede you a point or two.

But seriously, I've seen lots of hard working people with fulfilling lives but not much money who lived to a great age. Being active mentally and physically is important for health: photography and music offer that. True, chronic stress and poor conditions and poor nutrition and smoking and drinking can shorten your life. That's different to not being wealthy.
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Old 06-07-2016   #25
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True but I figure luck plays a part in it; if you've poor luck with your health then being rich is a great help. I guess that was my main point.

Regards, David
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Old 06-08-2016   #26
Daryl J.
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Smile

Lartigue captures happiness and boyish enthusiasm. Too many instead capture trauma, dissonance, sadness, etc. Lartigue makes me feel that it's good to be alive.
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Old 06-08-2016   #27
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Back in the 1960s when I studied photography he was one that we looked at. Of course, since then many others have come to light and new ones added. Tastes and times have changed.
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Old 06-08-2016   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daryl J. View Post
Lartigue captures happiness and boyish enthusiasm. Too many instead capture trauma, dissonance, sadness, etc. Lartigue makes me feel that it's good to be alive.
Dear Daryl,

Well, it's certainly helps to be free of money worries.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 06-09-2016   #29
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Lartigue captures happiness and boyish enthusiasm. Too many instead capture trauma, dissonance, sadness, etc. Lartigue makes me feel that it's good to be alive.
I think I prefer Bert Hardy. But both of them took a lot of pictures of pretty young ladies and that might account for their popularity...

Regards, David
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Old 06-09-2016   #30
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When you consider the equipment Lartigue was working with, I think you'd have to concede he did better than average with it. People would be quick to write off Atget too, if they had no appreciation for what he was working with. These days I don't give much credit for "tryhardability" because it is so easy to make good photographs these days, but one has to keep things in perspective for those who were working in an era when making good photographs not only required a keen eye, but also hard work.

Quite. Interestingly, Szarkowski, and MOMA under his directorship, played a pivotal role in bringing both Atget and Lartigue to the attention of the public eye. Without actually discovering them, Szarkowski was instrumental in elevating their status and turning them into canonical figures in modern photography. (Much more so for Atget, for after all Atget was Szarkowski's favourite photographer over any other.) The reason why he championed them was that they provided a historical background to his theory of photography, with notable contemporary representatives like Winogrand, Friedlander, Eggleston and Arbus. It wouldn't be possible to do so if they were not interesting photographers in the first place, but Szarkowski had the theoretical grounding and vision to do much more than just "discover" them: he explained them.

As for Lartigue, he was born to privilege but that wasn't the only thing he had on his side. His father was a photo-enthusiast and almost surely taught him all the quirks of the nascent technology and art of photography. He had access to a number of activities that most people outside his station wouldn't. And he rode a wave of amateur interest about the new technology of photography that gripped many people in his day and age. For all the privilege and luck in his part, the pictures he took reflect his interests, and these were unmistakably his own. The fact that some of the pictures carry with them connotations that go far beyond what an 11 y.o. could comprehend is just an added bonus. The first thing that strikes me when I see Lartique's photos, for example, is the frivolity of the French upper class, just before the outbreak of the First World War. They are brimming with joy and naughtiness but they are also sad (to me), because you know where this is all going. But that's the force of photography as a whole. It is documenting -- and then again it isn't.

.
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Old 06-09-2016   #31
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Exactly, and the equipment used wasn't so primitive; a lot of us are still using it with roll film now and then.

As for composition, we are looking - always - at a selection of pictures and selection for their composition would be due to the eye of the selector more than the photographer. So I regard them the same way I regard sound bites...

Regards, David
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Old 06-10-2016   #32
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Surely the same for most "great" photographers. The Magnum Contact Sheet book is instructive in this regard.


This is their archive - they can't all be great photographs.



http://i1.wp.com/erickimphotography....size=500%2C670







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Exactly, and the equipment used wasn't so primitive; a lot of us are still using it with roll film now and then.

As for composition, we are looking - always - at a selection of pictures and selection for their composition would be due to the eye of the selector more than the photographer. So I regard them the same way I regard sound bites...

Regards, David
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Old 06-10-2016   #33
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Exactly, and the equipment used wasn't so primitive; a lot of us are still using it with roll film now and then.
I think that's a rather naive thought. Cameras aside, film and paper are far easier to handle today than they were then. And I don't know anybody here who's exposing glass plates with a large format SLR. Or who thinks 50ASA is incredibly fast. I think 90% of the people here couldn't even set the shutter speed on some of the cameras he used.

Quote:
As for composition, we are looking - always - at a selection of pictures and selection for their composition would be due to the eye of the selector more than the photographer. So I regard them the same way I regard sound bites...

Regards, David
Most photographers are their own "selectors" and even when they're not, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say less than 10% of their total output ever gets seen by the public (and in the digital age it's probably less than 1%). Then you also have to keep in mind that the vast majority of Lartigue's work was never intended to be shown to anybody but family and friends. He didn't set out to be a professional. They're just photos he took because he had fun taking them.
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Old 06-10-2016   #34
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Accusing Szarkowski of "explaining" anything is generous. I've just been re-reading "The Photographer's Eye". He could have cut the text by 90% and made the same points better.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 06-12-2016   #35
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I think that's a rather naive thought. Cameras aside, film and paper are far easier to handle today than they were then. And I don't know anybody here who's exposing glass plates with a large format SLR. Or who thinks 50ASA is incredibly fast. I think 90% of the people here couldn't even set the shutter speed on some of the cameras he used.

Most photographers are their own "selectors" and even when they're not, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say less than 10% of their total output ever gets seen by the public (and in the digital age it's probably less than 1%). Then you also have to keep in mind that the vast majority of Lartigue's work was never intended to be shown to anybody but family and friends. He didn't set out to be a professional. They're just photos he took because he had fun taking them.
Hi,

How can you talk about his equipment and ignore the camera?

And there was one advantage then, with individual orthochromatic film/plates each one could get individual attention under a red safelight. And enlarging and printing haven't changed much, as I said, because there are still a lot of people using 'wet' printing and enlarging. Many prefer it for B&W...

As for who they were taken for, it seems irrelevant to me, I'm merely pointing out that you cannot judge someone's photography without looking at all or most of their output. A small selection of anyone's output over their lifetime is going to distort matters.

BTW, I happen to like those of his photo's that I've seen and regard them as a useful source but I would call him a craftsman rather than a genius. And that was my main point.

Regards, David
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Old 06-12-2016   #36
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Hi,

How can you talk about his equipment and ignore the camera?
My point was that beside how primitive the cameras he used were - every other part of the process was very different from how we would do it today, even if we picked up the same cameras he used.

Quote:
And there was one advantage then, with individual orthochromatic film/plates each one could get individual attention under a red safelight. And enlarging and printing haven't changed much, as I said, because there are still a lot of people using 'wet' printing and enlarging. Many prefer it for B&W...
Sure, but the papers that were available then were very different from what we use now, and the technique required to get good prints was correspondingly different.

Quote:
As for who they were taken for, it seems irrelevant to me, I'm merely pointing out that you cannot judge someone's photography without looking at all or most of their output. A small selection of anyone's output over their lifetime is going to distort matters.

BTW, I happen to like those of his photo's that I've seen and regard them as a useful source but I would call him a craftsman rather than a genius. And that was my main point.

Regards, David
Well it depends on what you're judging. Are you judging photographs or art? If you're just judging photographs, then looking at all of the photographs would be reasonable. But if you're judging art, there'd be no reason to see any more of them than were presented as art.
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Old 06-13-2016   #37
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Culling 90% of the Intro to the Photographer's Eye would be a tad drastic methinks. It would be undeniably perfect for wiring the text from a war zone. With plenty of time left for drinks with Hemingway (or someone like him).

.
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Old 06-13-2016   #38
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My point was that beside how primitive the cameras he used were - every other part of the process was very different from how we would do it today, even if we picked up the same cameras he used...
Hi,

I don't think the cameras were primityive; simple perhaps but, perhaps, we all have used simple cameras with just a speed and aperture to set by hand after focussing (Leica Standard, f'instance). A lot swear by the sunny 16 rule as he did but don't have the luxury of doing each plate individually and watching it develop.

Lens quality was high if you had the money. I've spent some time in the back rooms of a couple of aircraft museums looking at original photo's and was impressed by the quality of one of the cameras used. I've also inheirited family photo's from the 1900's and some of the studio ones were just excellent.

OK, I accept the fastest lenses were slow but we don't all use f/1 all the time and most of us could cope with an Elmar of f/3.5 which is only a stop or two faster and might not use it at the widest.

As for film speed, I used dreadfully slow slide film for some time in my youth and a (gasp) fast f/4 lens with just 3 shutter speeds and managed doing the sort of shots Lartigue did. In those days it was a version of sunny 16 and guessing the distance...

Regards, David
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Old 11-05-2016   #39
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I just bought a book, Luigi Ghirri, The Complete Essays, 1973-1991. Ghirri is/was a photographer and wrote on photography from the outset too. I've only opened the book once, at the essay on Lartigue. Ghirri makes a fine case for the greatness of Lartigue, citing his travel across time, his evocation of memory, his revelations of men and their toys. He reminds us that Lartigue is the most loved photographer of other photographers. Szarkowski did not champion him and his work because it was cute, but because it was great.
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