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Friday, July 09, 2004

Finally got around to printing some of the digital stuff this afternoon at 8 x 10 and 6 x 8 inches on the HP.  Guess what - I like it.  I like it alot.  Maybe somebody can find digital artifacts - but I can't.  The shot of the black door I posted yesterday - man, the blacks are just great.  Now if you shoot in b&w mode, you really just get a desaturated RGB file - which looks pretty crappy - but there are plug-ins - filters etc. to experiment with (i.e. make this baby look like Tri-x).

Another fascinating thing - though I haven't gotten any great street shots yet (that would be unlikely with any camera in one or two days) - people don't seem to care much if you stand in the middle of the block and point the camera in their general direction and look at the LCD.  Yeah, sure - there is lag and black-out - but if you are anticipating what you are after and pre-focused -- not bad.  In other words (and this is looking for trouble) you get that same Leica effect where the average person doesn't think (since it's not an SLR) that it is a "real" camera.  Unlike the Leica - you may just be using the LCD or viewfinder to do the framing - but you take your eye away to look at the subject and get the "moment." 

Don't tell anyone - but I am enjoying using this camera a lot.  Let's keep it our little secret.

What - comparing a $300 consumer digital camera to a Leica?  No - not yet.  But the little unobtrusive (totally quiet) - fit in the hand - looks like what my mom has - camera does have potential.

- - -

Well - anyway - I don't know what's going on but I'm getting more notecard orders and requests for some prints that I'm now doing digitally.  Pretty funny - as easy as it now is to print stuff - let's face it - I still procrastinate in that area.  I guess I basically just like wandering around town with the camera.  That never seems to bore me in this amazing city.

6:38:58 PM    

hade for it.

Sewer & Puddle

5:25:53 PM    

hi,

So, if I send you a picture to critique you won´t want to, am I right?

- RD

Hiya,

I'll try an experiment with you if you want to:

1) We'll both write one paragraph describing what we mean by "critique" and what we're both looking for in a critique.

2) I'll pick one of my photographs for you to critique.

I'll stick the results (if they are remotely interesting in the blog).

What do think?

Best,
Dave

NO NO NO!!

why do you always have to make a big deal about critiquing??? It's so obvious you do not enjoy doing it. I just want you to confirm what I already know to be true about a particular shot. I don't particularly like it and I'm tired of people saying they like it and I know its lacking and you just have to confirm that. And if you don´t confirm that
I won´t believe you. If you happen to think it´s a really good shot I´ll just end up confused.

you´re basically saying the whole critiquing thing is subjective so it doesn´t matter.

There are bad pictures out there and there are good pictures out there. It´s that simple. and I do believe there are objective criteria by which an intelligent person can come to a conclusion about a particular photo.

i haven´t really done what you asked but it´s getting there.

RD

- - -



It's not that I don't enjoy it -- it's neither here nor there and if you want me to I will. I guess I just don't get the usefulness of it.

And I don't believe there is any "objective" reality to critiques once you get past a certain technical level.  I have sat in (2 years of film graduate school) - 4 years taking writing classes in college -- to have arrived at the conclusion that nobody really knows what makes a good photograph - a good movie picture - or a good anything artistic - except, possibly the person who created it.

Sorry to make it a big deal - but that's how I feel.

Best,
Dave


- - -


hi,

epistemologically, i suppose, you have a strong point, what´s the real use for art criticism. all i know is people on the street buy real crap thinking it´s art and stuff that isn´t great ends up in museums (well, i believe that to a much lesser extent).

i think if you are "educated" and "insightful" you can look a photograph and point out the charateristics that make it a good photograph. so, you asked for my criteria. here´s a little.

for a Black and White photograph:

1. does it tell a story, is there "narrative" movement in an otherwise still image.

2. is there good contrast between blacks and whites, CRUCIAL to any decent BW pic.

3. Tones, which i still don´t understand. I´ll say textures. Is it tactile?

4. Composition. Is there something the astute eye can lock onto easily. Does the photograph do the guiding of the viewer´s eye (A GOOD THING), or must the viewer´s eye wander aimlessly around the image looking for something. (A BAD THING)

5. Creativity. No explanation needed. Is it a cool-looking reflection of something.

6. Emotive quality: Does the image strike an emotive chord. ok, this is admittedly subjective. Bad family photo do this, but a good picture will, too.

7. Wild Card: does the picture look like some thought went into it. Very simple.

i happen to believe that if i see what is considered to be an outstanding photograph in the world of photography, i will either
recognize that quality, or i will not like the photograph and STILL recognize why it is considered good.

ok, i´m ready to hear your rebuttal or equivalent comments :)

RD

- - -

1. does it tell a story, is there "narrative" movement in an otherwise still image.
----------------------- That is one style.  But there are plenty of other styles that have nothing at all to do with story.  Most of my pictures tend to fall into the narrative idea -- but not all of them.  Some are simply about design.

2. is there good contrast between blacks and whites, CRUCIAL to any decent BW pic.
----------- Not at all.  There are plenty of beautiful prints that have a very flat look - perhaps almost all gray.  The contrast and the overall tonality (sorry) are just expressive tools for the artist.

3. Tones, which i still don´t understand. I´ll say textures. Is it tactile?
---------- Sometimes, the tactile sense is important.

4. Composition. Is there something the astute eye can lock onto easily. Does the photograph do the guiding of the viewer´s eye (A GOOD THING), or must the viewer´s eye wander aimlessly around the image looking for something. (A BAD THING)
---------------- I have a theory about this.  I call it the two-themed theory of the mystery.  There should definitely be something - usually on a corner (the way we read photographs) that pulls the viewer in - but once in the door, it is even better if there is something else to discover.

5. Creativity. No explanation needed. Is it a cool-looking reflection of something.
---------------- Can you find a way to show something that everyone has seen before in a new way.  This is really a good sign of creativity.

6. Emotive quality: Does the image strike an emotive chord. ok, this is admittedly subjective. Bad family photo do this, but a good picture will, too.
---------------- The absolute biggest criteria.  A photograph should make you feel something - and when you are really rolling, it makes you see and feel what the photographer felt at the time.  Though sometimes even the photographer is working on an unconscious level and isn't even sure what they felt until much later in the editing process.


7. Wild Card: does the picture look like some thought went into it. Very simple.
---------------- Yup.

i happen to believe that if i see what is considered to be an outstanding photograph in the world of photography, i will either
recognize that quality, or i will not like the photograph and STILL recognize why it is considered good.


----------------- I think that one of the main secrets is pretty simple: photograph things that you care about; or are intrigued by - even if no one else is.  In other words: to your own self be true.  And this is the problem I have with critique.  I will tell you one quick story which you might have read in the journal: Spike Lee was in my class at film school.  Each week his films were
critiqued by highly educated filmmakers who had made many great films. He always was lambasted.  His films were practically torn apart.  Spike (who I worked with) had the confidence not to care and not to change based on what these so-called experts said.  He just went on doing what he wanted to do.

As far as I know, he was the only guy from that class that went on to fame and fortune. (This doesn't mean that he is a great filmmaker - which I don't think he is) - but that he had his own vision and his own style and confidence to do what he wanted to do.  If you find yourself listening too much to what anyone says about your work - then you are not that sure about what you love.  It is like love.  Suppose you are going with some girl that you are in love with and everyone says - man - what are you doing with her? What good would that do?  If you are truly obsessed - anything anyone says will be ignored.

So - I don't think that's a rebuttal - just my ideas about it.
Dave

spike lee is a great director, Do the Right Thing is an amazing movie, and I´m sure if I saw a movie by a guy named  Joe Blog called Do The Right Thing I´d say it was a great film. I don´t know what those professors were critiquing, maybe his early stuff. His early stuff may well have been lacking. If it wasn´t lacking, he could have taken the material and become famous with it, no?

here´s my fundamental problem. I have photographs that people like and yet I know, deep down, that if I had taken the SAME photographs with a"real camera" that they would look ten times better and I´d be proud of them. So it frustrates me that they still say they like the shot (or that they LOVE it) and I know it´s only at 75% of where it should be. Does this make any sense? RD


============= This makes a lot of sense.  And the fact that there is something that you feel is still lacking, no matter what anyone else says - is a good sign.  When I went back to photographing in a serious way (when I was around 40 years old) - I worked at it for many years before I had anything I liked.  I kept comparing my b&w shots with those of FAMOUS photographers.  Eventually -- I got to a point where I thought my shots, at least technically, were as good as theirs.

I really don't know how the zone system relates to digital b&w - but if you haven't thought of it yet, you might consider buying the Ansel Adams guide book to the Zone System.  Or if I can find mine - I'll send it to you.  It will explain what a technically proficient print should look like better than I can do.  It was very useful for me to study the Zone System because it gave me a sort of scale - almost like a musical scale - to evaluate tonal qualities.

I don't have much in common with Adams from an artistic point of view - he spent about ten days in New York and was almost sickened by it and had to leave and go back to the west.

But from a technical point of view (for b&w) he is just a great teacher and has written volumes - literally - that are worth studying.

Is there a "real" camera that you have in mind???

DB


sounds like those were some pretty short-sighted professors.

the thing with the "real" camera is this .... i´m going to probably get the Nikon D70 digital SLR or something similar because i feel i need a REAL viewfinder, and REAL lenses, albeit in the digital medium. Plus with a 3 megapixel camera like the one i have now, i can´t get the detail that i´d get at 6 megapixels.

i DO believe that with proper photoshop filtering and color manipulation you can great black and white images. i´ve seen them.

i´m reluctant to buy a film camera because i want to learn from my mistakes quickly. you will probably say get the film camera because i will be more careful with my shots before i actually take them and thus learn more technique in the process.

the thing about film that scares me is the ongoing costs of developing film and "paying" to see my mistakes.

great email of yours, by the way ... good to keep and refer to at a later date. I appreciate the book offer. Let me make some money first and get the equipment, then i´ll start reading up on theory. here is the picture i took that started this whole discussion.


RD

- - -

great photo :)

what makes it great: the shadows of the escape, cutting through the horiz. lines of the building and the direct straight on shooting (which i'm always in favor of).

let me write more about it later - someone is on IM with. - Dave

10:46:28 AM    

hade for it.

Portrait #013

My bathroom mirror needs serious cleaning, and I think you can see that my hands are too big for the A75. The grid above my head is a heating duct that apparantly leads up to the bathroom above me and acts as an echo chamber. On a good morning you can hear things like electric toothbrushes, and toilets flushing. In case you care about such things, the lighting is from two 75 watt blubs on top of the mirror which are of course entirely blown out. Just as well. And you can just make out some developing stuff on the left. Oh - fascinating.

9:21:48 AM    


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