Go Back   Rangefinderforum.com > Cameras / Gear / Photography > Coffee With Mentors > Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks is a well known photographic writer, author of The Rangefinder Book, over three dozen other photographic books, and a frequent contributor to Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer. Unusually in today's photographic world, most of his camera reviews are film cameras, especially rangefinders. See www.rogerandfrances.com for further background (Frances is his wife Frances Schultz, acknowledged darkroom addict and fellow Shutterbug contributor) .


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes

Old 09-17-2011   #201
Chris101
Lazy Lytro Shooter
 
Chris101's Avatar
 
Chris101 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Arizona
Posts: 4,133
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparrow View Post
I was using the physicist as an allegory, I wasn't claiming he and the critic were congruent.

I think "relative" and "hierarchical" are being conflated, perhaps ... I am rejecting the relative value of opinion, that is the idea that all opinions are of equal value regardless of the education of the bloke holding them ... an idea that gained traction with the advent of Pop Art in the early 1950s and seems to fit right in with Postmodernism now

I agree completely that the art establishment is hierarchical, where reputation trumps almost everything else, but I understand those reputations are built on much education ... I had assumed other disciplines were the same
__________________
Some disciplines may be the same. Perhaps economics, but for the most part art is unique. Science especially is different. An 'opinion' is either observable in its correctness or it is not. Until tested (often by those without reputation, and occupying the lowest order of hierarchy) hypotheses are equal, as long as they conform to the known universe.

Art is different. Since art need not relate to the known universe, it is impossible to test it in an objective manner. Opinion is the only way to differentiate great works from the truly awful. Correctness of opinion is built upon consensus. Academic halls are there to provide that consensus. By studying the past, and writing about it, one builds consensus by convincing others of the correctness of their opinion.

This leads to problems however when an academic expert encounters something new. They tend to compare it to something they have studied and judge it as if it were that thing. Art itself however, only thrives in a constant state of re-invention. But without critics to explain the new art, a vacuum is left and substantive work flounders.

This is where the excitement and enthusiasm of the untrained comes into play. Truly good art is harder to recognize then is the truly awful, so we can only gauge the new by our untrained feelings that it generates. And so new art must be relative. It is only after the learned have had time to study, compare and analyze a body of work are they able to present a consensus opinion. Unfortunately by then the artists have moved on and are inventing yet another round of new stuff.

ps, postmodernism has been over for a decade or so. "They" haven't ad a chance to name where we are now.
__________________
101-365
  Reply With Quote

Old 09-17-2011   #202
patois
Registered User
 
patois is offline
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 146
I don't know how I feel about calling art "bad." A lot of photography just doesn't inspire me and I don't comment because I don't feel engaged at all. I tend to dislike derivative work that looks like "good photography." Poor person suffering, naked woman, etc.

If I really dislike or like something I usually comment and feel that the artist's goals have been achieved because the resulting work produced a response even if it was a negative one.
__________________
BelieveInFilm!
  Reply With Quote

Old 09-17-2011   #203
zauhar
Registered User
 
zauhar's Avatar
 
zauhar is offline
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 2,092
Sorry if this point has been made above and I missed it:

I would be willing to bet that there is no person who has made a significant contribution to nuclear physics without years of formal training. If you can dig up an example I will be truly grateful. (I heard a story years ago about a car mechanic who mysteriously took up quantum mechanics after a head injury, but even he eventually went to college.)

I think one can identify pretty quickly artists who do not have a lot of formal training in critical theory or even art history. One can certainly identify musicians who have no training in music theory or critcism.

So, Art and Science are in different categories when it comes to importance of formal education.

How did this come up again?

Randy
__________________
Philadelphia, PA
Leica M3/50mm DR Summicron/21mm SuperAngulon/
90mm Elmarit
Canon 7/50mm f1.4
Leica IIIf/Summitar/Collapsible Summicron
Yashica Electro 35
  Reply With Quote

Old 09-17-2011   #204
Gabriel M.A.
My Red Dot Glows For You
 
Gabriel M.A.'s Avatar
 
Gabriel M.A. is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Paris, Frons
Posts: 9,946
Quote:
Originally Posted by zauhar View Post
I thought that those phrases were shorthand -

Great capture = 'you were smart enough to recognize something interesting', OR 'you pushed the shutter at the right moment'

Nicely seen = 'well composed'

That last one would be hard to express otherwise - I know a good composition when I see it, but clearly there are many ways of making an interesting composition.

Precisely: they are not helpful because it's "shorthand". As a critique, it is useless.

I really don't know how elaborate my explanation about something that is not explained is not an explanation...but I hope that re-stating that one-liners don't explain are by their own definition not explanatory.

A good critique explains why something works or it doesn't. Why something is bad. Saying that it is doesn't say why it is. And that is why, as positive it may be, is a whole bunch of empty calories.

For the power-readers: I am not saying that saying nice things is bad. I am saying that as a critique, it is not helpful, because, as I stated above (and earlier), it does not explain why.

If you ask a student how much does 2 + 2 make, and if they say "4", saying "good" isn't good enough: if they want to learn, and you want them to learn, you say why it's good. "Good" may mean, as a shorthand, you understood the problem and have resolved it correctly by applying your knowledge of arithmetic. But that is meaningless if the student didn't even know how he/she arrived at that answer...as a guess.


"Good capture" is not a critique. "That's ugly" isn't either. It's just a "shorthand" which may mean anything and is not, in most cases, self-explanatory. It is a good (or a bad, as the case may be) comment, not a critique.
__________________
Big wig wisdom: "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" --Harry Warner, of Warner Bros., 1927

Fellow RFF member: I respect your bandwidth by not posting images larger than 800px on the longest side, and by removing image in a quote.
Together we can combat bandwidth waste (and image scrolling).



My Flickr | (one of) My Portfolio
  Reply With Quote

Old 09-17-2011   #205
tunalegs
Pretended Artist
 
tunalegs's Avatar
 
tunalegs is offline
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 1,756
Quote:
Originally Posted by zauhar View Post
I think one can identify pretty quickly artists who do not have a lot of formal training in critical theory or even art history. One can certainly identify musicians who have no training in music theory or critcism.
Because they tend to have made the most money?

Let's not go down the physicist and education mumbo jumbo path. It's a red herring.

We could consider for instance that George Stephenson a more or less completely uneducated man, and Sir Humphrey Davy a well educated scientist (for the era) both invented miner's safety lamps that operated on the same principles within a month of each other (Stephenson was in fact first).

A good idea is a good idea not because of a person's background, but on its own merits. Period. It is the same with art.

Last edited by tunalegs : 09-17-2011 at 12:18.
  Reply With Quote

Old 09-18-2011   #206
Sparrow
Registered User
 
Sparrow's Avatar
 
Sparrow is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Perfidious Albion
Age: 64
Posts: 12,520
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris101 View Post
Some disciplines may be the same. Perhaps economics, but for the most part art is unique. Science especially is different. An 'opinion' is either observable in its correctness or it is not. Until tested (often by those without reputation, and occupying the lowest order of hierarchy) hypotheses are equal, as long as they conform to the known universe.

Art is different. Since art need not relate to the known universe, it is impossible to test it in an objective manner. Opinion is the only way to differentiate great works from the truly awful. Correctness of opinion is built upon consensus. Academic halls are there to provide that consensus. By studying the past, and writing about it, one builds consensus by convincing others of the correctness of their opinion.

This leads to problems however when an academic expert encounters something new. They tend to compare it to something they have studied and judge it as if it were that thing. Art itself however, only thrives in a constant state of re-invention. But without critics to explain the new art, a vacuum is left and substantive work flounders.

This is where the excitement and enthusiasm of the untrained comes into play. Truly good art is harder to recognize then is the truly awful, so we can only gauge the new by our untrained feelings that it generates. And so new art must be relative. It is only after the learned have had time to study, compare and analyze a body of work are they able to present a consensus opinion. Unfortunately by then the artists have moved on and are inventing yet another round of new stuff.

ps, postmodernism has been over for a decade or so. "They" haven't ad a chance to name where we are now.
Ah, well, we differ there; I don't make that distinction, from an artists point of view science doesn't look that different. Both, at their best, are an attempt to understand the human condition, and some of art is testable and repeatable, I'm thinking of gestalt illusions or colour theory here. However when we get closer to the edges of our knowledge both disciplines require us to trust reasoning and opinion, personally I find Young's experiment and the quantum stuff require of me an act of faith rather than reason.

As for the tendency of an establishment to reject the avant-garde I suspect that particular cap fits every established group, and has for all of our history, is the rejection of the big-bang by the steady-state people that different to the Les Immortels refusing to recognise the Impressionists?

The idea that new art can only appreciated by the untrained seems perverse, would one expect an electrical engineer to be unable to appreciate listening to the radio, or a physicist be oblivious to electric light simply because they understand them? I agree that a new genera needs some time to be fully understood, but I would contend that those with an understanding of the history of the new are in a better position to judge it.
__________________
Regards Stewart

Stewart McBride

RIP 2015



You’re only young once, but one can always be immature.

flickr stuff
  Reply With Quote

Old 09-20-2011   #207
print44
Registered User
 
print44 is offline
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Birmingham UK
Posts: 206
ps, postmodernism has been over for a decade or so. "They" haven't ad a chance to name where we are now.

Believe it or not we are now in the Post Digital era! I heard that on the radio yesterday morning and thought, blimey I'm at the forefront of art by accident...
__________________
James
  Reply With Quote

Old 09-20-2011   #208
Gabriel M.A.
My Red Dot Glows For You
 
Gabriel M.A.'s Avatar
 
Gabriel M.A. is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Paris, Frons
Posts: 9,946
Post Digital era? Self-fulfilling, it's already obsolete.

So people can't spell, can't read, and won't talk --ironically because of (misspelled) text messages. How will we ever communicate in this Post Digital era? Hydrogen cells?
__________________
Big wig wisdom: "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" --Harry Warner, of Warner Bros., 1927

Fellow RFF member: I respect your bandwidth by not posting images larger than 800px on the longest side, and by removing image in a quote.
Together we can combat bandwidth waste (and image scrolling).



My Flickr | (one of) My Portfolio
  Reply With Quote

Old 09-20-2011   #209
print44
Registered User
 
print44 is offline
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Birmingham UK
Posts: 206
Asking for work to be critiqued & critiquing work seem to be two very different things. I understand the desire to have opinion passed on ones work rather than it standing unnoticed. The need to be praised may be underlying this but then again perhaps any nugget whether complimentary or not might be useful in that photographer’s development? I was taught by a pro I assisted briefly to look hard at my work and try to see where improvement could be made technically. I was also taught to look at the work of others and to try to figure out how they'd achieved what they did. But this was teaching not critique. His critique of my pictures would have been words of one syllable or grunts. But the teaching translates only so far into producing images and I keep trying to improve my own irritatingly flawed work and struggle even more to understand what it is that makes the work of the people I like good. I'd rather read a photographer describing their own journey to make a good image than worry too much about their view of my own pictures even though I like praise as much as anyone. I like to be viewed. And I think the act of sharing an image- allowing it's weaknesses to be exposed alongside the images of others is probably the most useful thing about the Internet. Putting them out there removes them instantly from the narrow confines of ones own subjectivity. I find the scales fall from my eyes straight away. Once they're out there I can be a much harsher critic of my own stuff than I am when it's just on the pc or printed out.The motivation to offer a critique someone else's work seems to be about something quite different though. If it is a crit and not simple encouragement/discouragement.
Roger started all this with a question about how and when to respond to ‘bloody awful shots - oversharpened portraits that look like skin diseases, appalling shadows and incredibly busy backgrounds’. I’d say if you’re motivated to respond to these shots and feel like telling the person who submitted them that they are bloody awful then that may not actually be critique! I am definitely guilty of all the above faults. In fact I’d be surprised if I couldn’t find images I’d made which tick one or more of every single ‘bad photo’ boxes you could think of. But I carry on because I love that moment when you expose that frame. The excitement of discovering what was captured as well as the disappointment when it didn’t turn out as well as had been hoped. Every so often among the bad ones is a good one. And the more we practice the more good ones we hope to get. I post some duds and hardly anyone looks at them – so not many people have been wounded by my poor artistry. I say to the critics – turn a blind eye and be like my old technical drawing teacher who always said, no matter how good your work, ‘keep striving for perfection laddie’
__________________
James
  Reply With Quote

Old 09-20-2011   #210
Paul Luscher
Registered User
 
Paul Luscher is offline
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 649
Well, I just remember that art is subjective, and the people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. I.e., I have to be aware I do not have the talent of a Capa or an Eisenstadt or a Turnley, and that a picture I think is pretty good might be a real piece of crap as far as the rest of the work is concerned.

So generally, I bite my tongue as far as knocking other people's work. Only time I've said anything was when a certain member posted a pic I considered rather sleazy skankiness.....
  Reply With Quote

Old 11-14-2011   #211
Carlsen Highway
Registered User
 
Carlsen Highway is offline
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Port Chalmers, New Zealand
Age: 45
Posts: 219
When people like photos that I have taken that I dislike...I get upset. Why do you like that? I keep asking and they dont really know. This upsets me because if I judge a picture so completely differently then what I am left with? It means I am all at sea. That is worse than someone saying they dont like one of your pictures...
Lately I got out of photography, because not only was I convinced that I was not going any good work, but also, I could no longer get anything out of anybody elses pictures either. Bascially, somehow, by some form of complete emmersion for years in teh medium, I managed to lose a connection with it entirely.
  Reply With Quote

Old 11-15-2011   #212
jsrockit
Moderator
 
jsrockit's Avatar
 
jsrockit is offline
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: NYC
Age: 42
Posts: 16,941
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlsen Highway View Post
Lately I got out of photography, because not only was I convinced that I was not going any good work, but also, I could no longer get anything out of anybody elses pictures either. Bascially, somehow, by some form of complete emmersion for years in teh medium, I managed to lose a connection with it entirely.
It happens... I had to leave it alone for 10 years after getting burnt out. Just getting back into it completely in the last two years.
  Reply With Quote

Old 11-15-2011   #213
Roger Hicks
Registered User
 
Roger Hicks is offline
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Aquitaine
Posts: 21,973
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlsen Highway View Post
When people like photos that I have taken that I dislike...I get upset. Why do you like that? I keep asking and they dont really know. This upsets me because if I judge a picture so completely differently then what I am left with? It means I am all at sea. That is worse than someone saying they dont like one of your pictures...
Lately I got out of photography, because not only was I convinced that I was not going any good work, but also, I could no longer get anything out of anybody elses pictures either. Bascially, somehow, by some form of complete emmersion for years in teh medium, I managed to lose a connection with it entirely.
That is one advantage of professional photography. If they like it and pay me for it, I'm happy.

Then again, I don't show people pics I don't like. Why would I do that? It surprises me when someone picks a 'makeweight' as a lead pic or whole-page (or worse, double-page) but then I reflect that if I thought it was all that bad, I'd not have submitted it along with the others: it must have had something.

Cheers,

R.
__________________
Go to www.rogerandfrances.eu for a whole new website
  Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 18:09.


vBulletin skin developed by: eXtremepixels
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

All content on this site is Copyright Protected and owned by its respective owner. You may link to content on this site but you may not reproduce any of it in whole or part without written consent from its owner.