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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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Old 05-05-2010   #81
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Well, from my reading of the comments, it seems that some are trying to diminish HCB's work because of its technical imperfections (e.g., "Emperor's New Clothes", "don't understand how he came to be the Clapton-like God" "When you take an out of focus photo, you throw it. When HCB did the same : it's called ART"). Clearly the fact that this thread exists indicates that some people do give a damn about his technique, or rather lack thereof. I've heard & read similar criticism of Robert Frank and William Eggleston.

That's perfectly fine, as his detractors are certainly entitled to their opinions, & maybe they're right in suggesting that his photos would have been even more awesome if he had paid more attention to technique. And I'm as annoyed as anyone @ those who see HCB as some kind of god (mostly based on the fact that he used Leicas). But some of the criticism of HCB comes across as sour grapes.

My bottom line is similar to Juan's conclusion that his lack of technique "didn't matter to HCB, it doesn't matter to MOMA, and it won't matter to history of photography." It doesn't matter if his photos could have been improved w/better technique. They are what they are.

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Originally Posted by Harry Lime View Post
Oh, god here we go.

Someone dared to say something critical about Hank Carter.

I don't think that anyone is trying to take away anything from the artistic genius of the man. And I don't think that anyone is trying to diminish his work, because of technical imperfections. You want to know how good HCB was? His artistic vision was so good that no one gives a damn about his technique. That's just about the highest compliment you can make.

But once you step back from the blind hero worship and look at his work objectively you have to speak truth to power. The man had little interest in the technical side of his art and it shows. That's simply a fact and a mature individual should be able to acknowledge that, especially in light of the fact that is takes nothing away from his artist achievements.
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Old 05-05-2010   #82
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Originally Posted by CK Dexter Haven View Post
And, to excuse technical issues because of the time period or because he was among the first to adopt a piece of machinery seems odd. If the image is the most important thing, you use whatever you have to use to get the image.
Here's HCB's first Leica, from the 1930's:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ca...irst_Leica.jpg

It had an f3.5 lens, and he was probably using 100 ISO film at the time. (film reference).

As soon as he walked into an alley or went indoors, he would have been pushing the limits of the lens and hand-held shutter speed. Faster lenses and films would have improved things, but they just didn't exist at the time.
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Old 05-05-2010   #83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparrow View Post
a quick search of google images retrieves many thousands of photos of almost every aspect of the operation, so you will understand my disagreement with your recollection.

Capa however may have got lucky to stumble into a more image rich environment than the others
I think we need to differentiate between:

- The first wave to land on the beach on June 6th (6:30am)

- The afternoon of June 6th, after the beachhead was established

- The days following June 6, known as D-Day +1 (= June 7th) etc


Capa and the other fellow went in with the first wave to assault the beach on June 6th, 6:30am.

Capa was the only photographer who actually put his boots on the sand that morning, where he left behind a brand new and very expensive Burberry raincoat. He landed on Omaha Beach, section "Easy Red" with the first wave of landing craft to hit the beach. 'Bloody Omaha' suffered the highest casualties that morning. "Saving Private Ryan" depicted a rather tame version of what went on there.

The other fellow took pictures from his landing craft. I think he took this shot, but I am not 100% sure. In any case he never did set foot on the beach, but returned with the barge to the mothership to file his negatives

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_TZ4zYEBSw1...invasion_2.jpg

There may have been some military photographers present, since there is motion picture footage that was shot from barges.

But Capa was the only one to actually set foot on the beach that morning.

=========================================

Once the beachhead was established during the afternoon of June 6 other photographers followed.

There were various photographers present that were members of the military. As an example Marty Lederhandler, who later worked for AP, was part of the US Signal Corps. He also landed on June 6 and took pictures, but he was not part of the initial assault waves, so he arrived that afternoon.

I'm pretty sure that the British, Canadians forces etc also have their own military photographers that arrived late in the day.

=========================================

The other 99% of the photographers arrived anytime after June 6 (D-Day +1, +2 etc).
Within 48 hours the place was swarming with photographers.

=========================================

On a separate note it would be interesting to know if there were any German photographers present that morning...

Last edited by Harry Lime : 05-05-2010 at 12:04.
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Old 05-05-2010   #84
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Originally Posted by furcafe View Post
That's perfectly fine, as his detractors are certainly entitled to their opinions, & maybe they're right in suggesting that his photos would have been even more awesome if he had paid more attention to technique. And I'm as annoyed as anyone @ those who see HCB as some kind of god (mostly based on the fact that he used Leicas). But some of the criticism of HCB comes across as sour grapes.

My bottom line is similar to Juan's conclusion that his lack of technique "didn't matter to HCB, it doesn't matter to MOMA, and it won't matter to history of photography." It doesn't matter if his photos could have been improved w/better technique. They are what they are.
I think you need to reread what I wrote...

Originally Posted by Harry Lime

"Oh, god here we go.

Someone dared to say something critical about Hank Carter.

I don't think that anyone is trying to take away anything from the artistic genius of the man. And I don't think that anyone is trying to diminish his work, because of technical imperfections. You want to know how good HCB was? His artistic vision was so good that no one gives a damn about his technique. That's just about the highest compliment you can make.

But once you step back from the blind hero worship and look at his work objectively you have to speak truth to power. The man had little interest in the technical side of his art and it shows. That's simply a fact and a mature individual should be able to acknowledge that, especially in light of the fact that is takes nothing away from his artist achievements.
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Old 05-05-2010   #85
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Sharp focus is such a bourgeois concept...

Tell that to an editor.
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Old 05-05-2010   #86
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So many experts here... I'm sure you guys could have taught HCB a thing or two...

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Old 05-05-2010   #87
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No, I believe my reading comprehension is just fine, though my writing may fall short.

I wasn't disagreeing w/your statement regarding HCB's artistic vision trumping his technical shortcomings, but rather your view that "I don't think anyone is trying to diminish his work, because of technical imperfections." While I agree w/your opinion of HCB ("His artistic vision was so good that no one gives a damn about his technique") for the most part, I disagree w/your assessment of what some others had posted in the thread. Again, I think it's obvious that some commenters on this thread do "give a damn about his technique" & HCB's technical imperfections do diminish his work in their eyes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Lime View Post
I think you need to reread what I wrote...

Originally Posted by Harry Lime

"Oh, god here we go.

Someone dared to say something critical about Hank Carter.

I don't think that anyone is trying to take away anything from the artistic genius of the man. And I don't think that anyone is trying to diminish his work, because of technical imperfections. You want to know how good HCB was? His artistic vision was so good that no one gives a damn about his technique. That's just about the highest compliment you can make.

But once you step back from the blind hero worship and look at his work objectively you have to speak truth to power. The man had little interest in the technical side of his art and it shows. That's simply a fact and a mature individual should be able to acknowledge that, especially in light of the fact that is takes nothing away from his artist achievements.
"
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Old 05-05-2010   #88
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Originally Posted by Harry Lime View Post
I think we need to differentiate between:

- The first wave to land on the beach on June 6th (6:30am)

- The afternoon of June 6th, after the beachhead was established

- The days following June 6, known as D-Day +1 (= June 7th) etc

BIG EDIT


On a separate note it would be interesting to know if there were any German photographers present that morning...
Yes you are probably correct if you set those criteria, but then if one defines D-Day as the first landings then the the Airborne's attack on the Orne river was the start of it, and they got the day wrong too
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Old 05-05-2010   #89
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Compared to who? I'm not into the HCB hero-worship myself, but photojournalism in HCB's era had limitations that today could be mistaken as laziness or sloppiness.
brilliant point!

slow films, scale focus and so on.
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Old 05-05-2010   #90
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brilliant point!

slow films, scale focus and so on.
Bad optics too!
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Old 05-05-2010   #91
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Why does Cartier-Bresson have to be be put on a pedestal.? He was a good photographer that pushed the limits of what was considered photography. I but so did a lot of people. I find it odd that anyone would worship any artist or photographer. Why the hype, both in the accolades and derision?
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Old 05-05-2010   #92
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and the plagiarism
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Old 05-05-2010   #93
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went TODAY to the Show...LOVED IT...Tres Fab

though I don't recall seeing "so many" Out of Focus shots

There were definitely Soft Focus and then of Course Sharp
but Todays standards of Sharp is Quite a Different sharp!

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Old 05-05-2010   #94
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Compared to who? I'm not into the HCB hero-worship myself, but photojournalism in HCB's era had limitations that today could be mistaken as laziness or sloppiness.
I don't think any of his contemporaries exhibited the same inattention to technical pursuits. And, the image characteristics/flaws we're discussing weren't limited to his early years. If other photographers had the same problems with materials or equipment, they didn't show/print/circulate those images. It reminds me of internet dialog. One camp asserts that "it doesn't matter if i spell or punctuate properly. I can be casual and still communicate my thoughts." The other (my) camp says that communication also involves a demonstration of respect for your audience. Showing flawed work indicates to me either 1) whatever i do is good; or 2) your respect isn't important to me. I don't agree with #1, and i don't appreciate #2.

I think the Capa image is an unfortunate comparison. I don't think anyone is suggesting that a single blurry photo should be an indictment of a person's career. There are always circumstances that prevent someone's visualization from becoming a realization. I think everyone acknowledges that HC-B made some excellent photographs. My issue is with the sum of his career. That the 'sloppy habits' seem too often to be ignored by the fans. And that his editing is sometimes far less demanding than that of even an amateur. What's puzzling is how often it happens when the situation is NOT difficult. His portraits, for example. We're not talking about someone evading gunfire. A lot of his assignments were pretty cushy. And, when he gets it right, the photographs are wonderful. But, then he'll toss in a hazy, lazy snapshot, and it's supposed to be good+important because the subject is famous and the photographer is famous. That's my objection.
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Old 05-05-2010   #95
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But, then he'll toss in a hazy, lazy snapshot, and it's supposed to be good+important because the subject is famous and the photographer is famous. That's my objection.
If it works, it works. It doesn't matter sometimes if it has a snapshot feel to it.
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Old 05-05-2010   #96
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CK Dexter Haven View Post
I don't think any of his contemporaries exhibited the same inattention to technical pursuits.
His contemporaries might have perfected the art of focusing, but they seem to be long forgotten for some reason...

Quote:
Originally Posted by CK Dexter Haven View Post
And, the image characteristics/flaws we're discussing weren't limited to his early years. If other photographers had the same problems with materials or equipment, they didn't show/print/circulate those images.
Take a look is this google search for 1950's pics from LIFE magazine. HCB wasn't the only photog with blurry images, lens flare, bad composition, etc.
http://images.google.com/images?hl=e..._rfai=&start=0

Quote:
Originally Posted by CK Dexter Haven View Post
Showing flawed work
Does soft focus make a photograph flawed?


Quote:
Originally Posted by CK Dexter Haven View Post
That the 'sloppy habits' seem too often to be ignored by the fans. And that his editing is sometimes far less demanding than that of even an amateur.
That's one of the first lessons of photography: technical perfection does not a good photograph make.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CK Dexter Haven View Post
What's puzzling is how often it happens when the situation is NOT difficult. His portraits, for example. We're not talking about someone evading gunfire. A lot of his assignments were pretty cushy. And, when he gets it right, the photographs are wonderful. But, then he'll toss in a hazy, lazy snapshot, and it's supposed to be good+important because the subject is famous and the photographer is famous. That's my objection.
Offhand, I can only think of 3 blurry shots by HCB, so it's not like his work was inundated with them.

Even modern photographers, like Steve McCurry, have blurry shots.
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Old 05-05-2010   #98
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sharpness can be an aesthetic or (in the wrong hands) it can be an anesthetic.

(if you don't believe the second part of what I hope is an aphorism I have coined myself and not plagiarized from anyone, have a look at some of the really, really sharp images on flickr; see if you think that sharpness makes 'em better or just makes 'em sharper.)

I think the best way to understand why HCB matters is to view him in the context of his times. if you look at what came before him, I think you can get a good perspective of why some folks think his work is a big deal. does that make him the greatest photographer of his or any era? I have no clue and I don't care. what I do know is that his work altered how others did photography and how people look at. is every one of the 500,000 (or is it a million?) images he is said to have shot wonderful? no. are some of them wonderful? I think so, but that's just an opinion. what's a fact is that before he came on the scene photography was different than it was once he made his impact.

until this guy at the show asked his question about "so many out-of-focus shots," I'd never given this much thought regarding HCB or any of the artists whose work I like (famous ones and unknowns alike, including btw, many folks on RFF... some of you are really good at this). I don't expect I'll give this much thought in the future either. to be honest, I was tickled over the question. I shared a laugh with the guy who asked it. I thought it was a fair question and I had no intent to malign or condescend to him when I answered. the interaction was silly and I enjoyed the brief conversation. there's no accounting for taste, not mine and not this fellow's and probably not yours either.
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Old 05-05-2010   #99
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I think the poster may have been referring to "Mario's Bike". It was an HCB photo someone surreptitiously submitted to the "deleteme" flickr critique group. The comments are quite hilarious:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrerabelo/70458366
That's what it was, yes. I once saw another posting on Flickr as "Luigi's Bike"...and well, the Nintendo Era does have an effect on memory recall.

"Sharpness" is indeed overrated. But so is "blur".

One of the problems is the over-exploitation of a feature to the point of rendering it ineffective.

How many people here are impressed by humans talking? Nobody. Why? Because it is generally expected for humans to be able to speak. How many people here are impressed by a dog talking?

Supply and demand.
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Old 05-05-2010   #100
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The great eyes of HCB can punch through minor technicalities like pinpoint focus, graininess, and the limits of small format 35mm.
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Old 05-06-2010   #101
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Why does Cartier-Bresson have to be be put on a pedestal.?.....
He doesn't, and from what I heard out of his mouth, he did not expect it nor demand it. However, he was a brilliant photographer who was able to meld art and reportage.

I have seen a substantial number of his photographs first hand, and of course in print.

The work is simply impressive.

Folks seem to be dwelling on the so called "technical qualities", that have somehow been granted more validity and value than they are worth, "it was not an issue", is a sufficient answer, as the technical quality of his work is in fact very good.

I will confess, that I do often think of the technical quality of work put up for exhibit, it is part of a process I have of seeing the work.

However, what we might talk about today in terms of the zenith of technical quality in terms of equipment and processing, certainly was not dominant in my vision when standing a few feet from excellent work. The subject did not overpower a sea of technical faults, there was no sea of technical faults.


I have had friends who had a good laugh at themselves as they set out to first wring all the technical quality out of their work, before establishing a vision of what they wanted to express.

Some accomplished the "greatest" of technical quality without ever coming close to a fine image. They framed the letter from Ansel Adams who said so commenting on the image they sent to him.

First, in spite of his available equipment, HCB seems to have gotten down the --where to stand and what to put in the frame --issues.

Most of what I have seen appear to have been printed full frame.

The best AF/AE/ and sharpest equipment cannot substitute for that.

He did not process his film and I get the feeling that that fact seems to somehow lessen the "credit" for the quality of his work, for some.

I would love to have a master personal printer to finish my work,
they are few in number, and expensive, but I could manage what I have much more efficiently.

I would add that the original commenter who asked the focus question knows little about photography or art for that matter.




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Old 05-06-2010   #102
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I think the big thing about HCB, whether or not one likes his oeuvre is that he turned Barnack's little innovation into an important and serious tool that gradually gained acceptance as an implement capable, in the right hands, of committing acts of art. That's a good thing, now isn't it? Nice to know we can be taken seriously whether we choose to use big boxes on big tripods or little boxes we can hold in our hands. One can't give him credit for that move, but he certainly played a role in it. I think he deserves credit for being what in modern parlance we all call an early adopter.
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Old 05-06-2010   #103
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... perhaps we'll be seeing more OOF images in the RFF gallery in the next couple of weeks (?!)
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Old 05-06-2010   #104
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Years ago when I lived in NYC I took a young lady friend that I met at a camera club to ICP for a walk around. She had been a member for about three years and competed within the club and at some inter-club shows. The first exhibit was from a photographer who did some powerful artistic images many of which were blurred from movement. Great B&W prints and she was all confused. The club really stressed technical quality, sharpness, lighting, colors, etc. She wondered how he could be exhibited. I tried to explain to her that while I did not love all his stuff some of them were wonderful and moving. Use of movement, selective focus and darkness can move viewers.

There's a shot from Alfred Eisenstaedt of Marlene Dietrich of her in a tux that captured what I think of as her essence. It's out of focus or blurred, odds are shot in existing darkness back stage or in a poorly lit hallway somewhere. Life seemed to like it enough to use it I think on a cover.

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Old 05-06-2010   #105
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eisenstadt wasn't the only to blur Marlene, nor was this limited to stills. the movies of the era certainly treated glamorous starlets to all kind of blurring techniques, from the ubiquitous hair lights to vaseline-smeared filters. it, too, was an aesthetic of the time. you have to look hard to find sharp shots of someone like Dietrich from that era. it had a reason and it worked. when you see it now in old movies, it still works. you'd blanch, however, if you saw that technique employed very often in modern flicks. it doesn't fit our current sensibilities and conventions. and, indeed, all this sharpness/unsharpness stuff really is a matter of convention, style and taste.
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Years ago when I lived in NYC I took a young lady friend that I met at a camera club to ICP for a walk around. She had been a member for about three years and competed within the club and at some inter-club shows. The first exhibit was from a photographer who did some powerful artistic images many of which were blurred from movement. Great B&W prints and she was all confused. The club really stressed technical quality, sharpness, lighting, colors, etc. She wondered how he could be exhibited. I tried to explain to her that while I did not love all his stuff some of them were wonderful and moving. Use of movement, selective focus and darkness can move viewers.

There's a shot from Alfred Eisenstaedt of Marlene Dietrich of her in a tux that captured what I think of as her essence. It's out of focus or blurred, odds are shot in existing darkness back stage or in a poorly lit hallway somewhere. Life seemed to like it enough to use it I think on a cover.

B2 (;->
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I point. I shoot. sometimes, I focus first.

Last edited by robklurfield : 05-06-2010 at 18:02.
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Old 05-06-2010   #106
Journeyman
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Join Date: Jan 2007
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While some people concentrate on sharpness, grain and other technical qualities of an image, others look at its content. Those that are more concerned with what the photographer was trying to say rarely comment on the trivial technicalities, while those that first see things like sharpness and grain rarely have anything interesting to say at all.
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