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Author Topic: Cartier-Bresson article  (Read 6577 times)

Rob C

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Re: Cartier-Bresson article
« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2016, 10:06:45 AM »

Unless this has already been posted and I missed it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyhMqDfmG9o

Seems only fair to give the man himself the final word.

Rob C

John Camp

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Re: Cartier-Bresson article
« Reply #21 on: March 13, 2016, 07:44:58 PM »

I like the article -- it reminded me of what I like about Cartier-Bresson. I know I'm a little late to the conversation, but:

As to GrahamBy's original comments, (1) "Rail" can be a pun in French, though it might be a trifle obscure. "Derailler" means to run off the rails, which is sort of what the jumping man is doing...(2) I don't think the author meant to say that *that* specific boy was pre-visualized, just that the setting was, as it was with the man jumping over the puddle. H C-B typically set a kind of photographic trap which snapped on his subjects, but often missed. What we see are the successful trappings. (4) I don't think the author suggested that the moment normally veiled by the flow of time was uniquely revealed by H C-B, just that he did it here. What bothered me more about (4) is that it seems to me that I've read that before, perhaps in Sontag or Barthes?

As to Sophia's first comment, I think virtually all of H C-B's most interesting work displays the decisive moment characteristic. I find most of his explicitly journalistic work to be pedestrian; I worked with a lot of good photojournalists in my life, and from looking at his work, I wouldn't have ranked him among the best. Like much photojournalism, the interest in his photos lies in history, not in composition, and if you don't know or care about the history, then the photos won't mean much to you. His best work is all about composition.

As for Schewe's comment, I think a lot of those poor photos were the journalistic work I referenced above. When I was working for newspapers, I saw many, many very good photos printed to last just as long as it took to get them in the paper. They were *dipped* in fixer, rather than really fixed. Sometimes, they only had to last a half-hour, and when you went back to the old photo files, you found a lot of ruined photographs. On the other hand, I have an original H C-B on my wall (the one of the little girl running up the stairs between the white buildings) and it is gloriously printed and preserved. I suspect any survey of H C-B's work is going to contain a lot of pretty badly preserved stuff, because it wasn't made to be preserved.

Rob C. said, "Seems only fair to give the man himself the final word." Why is that? I often find artists lie a lot about their work. Even great artists. In fact, lie more often than not.


 
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Cartier-Bresson article
« Reply #22 on: March 13, 2016, 08:35:33 PM »

... gloriously printed and preserved...

By my countryman, Voja Mitrovic :)

Mike D. B.

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Re: Cartier-Bresson article
« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2016, 01:50:17 AM »

By my countryman, Voja Mitrovic :)
A most interesting article!  Thanks for the link, Slobodan.

GrahamBy

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Re: Cartier-Bresson article
« Reply #24 on: March 14, 2016, 07:05:52 AM »

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Rob C

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Re: Cartier-Bresson article
« Reply #25 on: March 14, 2016, 09:49:19 AM »

I like the article -- it reminded me of what I like about Cartier-Bresson. I know I'm a little late to the conversation, but:

As to GrahamBy's original comments, (1) "Rail" can be a pun in French, though it might be a trifle obscure. "Derailler" means to run off the rails, which is sort of what the jumping man is doing...(2) I don't think the author meant to say that *that* specific boy was pre-visualized, just that the setting was, as it was with the man jumping over the puddle. H C-B typically set a kind of photographic trap which snapped on his subjects, but often missed. What we see are the successful trappings. (4) I don't think the author suggested that the moment normally veiled by the flow of time was uniquely revealed by H C-B, just that he did it here. What bothered me more about (4) is that it seems to me that I've read that before, perhaps in Sontag or Barthes?

As to Sophia's first comment, I think virtually all of H C-B's most interesting work displays the decisive moment characteristic. I find most of his explicitly journalistic work to be pedestrian; I worked with a lot of good photojournalists in my life, and from looking at his work, I wouldn't have ranked him among the best. Like much photojournalism, the interest in his photos lies in history, not in composition, and if you don't know or care about the history, then the photos won't mean much to you. His best work is all about composition.

As for Schewe's comment, I think a lot of those poor photos were the journalistic work I referenced above. When I was working for newspapers, I saw many, many very good photos printed to last just as long as it took to get them in the paper. They were *dipped* in fixer, rather than really fixed. Sometimes, they only had to last a half-hour, and when you went back to the old photo files, you found a lot of ruined photographs. On the other hand, I have an original H C-B on my wall (the one of the little girl running up the stairs between the white buildings) and it is gloriously printed and preserved. I suspect any survey of H C-B's work is going to contain a lot of pretty badly preserved stuff, because it wasn't made to be preserved.

Rob C. said, "Seems only fair to give the man himself the final word." Why is that? I often find artists lie a lot about their work. Even great artists. In fact, lie more often than not.


Well, your experience hasn't been mine. If anything, I have concluded that most of the ones I actually know are possibly far too modest about themselves. In fact, isn't that one of the reasons so many of us really need agents, could we but find one to take us on? Perhaps you are reporting on an exclusively American phenomenon, tinged with vestiges of memory of the doctrine, presumably peddled to one during youth, of everyone being a winner... I suppose that could lead to attempts at over-compensation by being elastic with the truth, even of that truth as seen by and of the self.

As for why HC-B might be the best guy for the final word - perhaps because he has got to be the most talked about, written about snapper on the planet. Anything and everything that can be reported, claimed or invented about him has already been writen, claimed or invented. The most we can do here is recycle. Even if we might imagine we are being smartly inventive. In the end, we must either believe him or not. In both cases, our own lives will go on to wherever they might be bound.

Rob

hsteeves

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Re: Cartier-Bresson article
« Reply #26 on: March 15, 2016, 11:14:23 AM »

Thank-you, Slobodon.  That was an excellent read about an amazing artist in his own right.
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Rob C

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Re: Cartier-Bresson article
« Reply #27 on: March 15, 2016, 11:42:58 AM »

I would stake somebody else's ranch on this: that dedication simply can't exist today, in a digital lightroom.

Why not? Because wet was visceral, organic, and digital never is. I know both worlds well enough, the former even more than the latter.

What's the difference? Simply that with digital you just can go on and on and on until you eventually hit something - it's essentially a mechanical continuum; with wet, you hit it on the first test print in the sense that from the look of that, you just knew in your gut where you could take it and why.

Maybe some will like to claim this as a photographer's photographic lie. So be it.

Rob C

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Cartier-Bresson article
« Reply #28 on: March 15, 2016, 01:37:53 PM »

Thanks to all who enjoyed the Voja Mitrovic story. It also sheds a different light on the stance, often expressed in forums here as well, that you are not a real photographer if you do not print your own prints.

Coincidentally, my own uncle left Belgrade to work as a photographer in Stockholm, Sweden, in the late sixties. My first camera came from him (Rollei 35), as well as my first Hasselblad (500C).

Mark Lindquist

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Re: Cartier-Bresson article
« Reply #29 on: March 15, 2016, 02:47:06 PM »

That's an awesome article Slobodon.  Very nice for you to have that "countryman" association, as well.  His story is all too real, and it reminds me of the "Wrecking Crew" and Tommy Tedesco, who did the music for many of the popular bands and TV shows and movies and never got any credit for their work, until there was a documentary about it.

Same thing with Muscle Shoals.

It does make sense that the working craftsman, artist, musician (et al) would develop the best skills over years and years of putting out great work. 

It is and has long been a tradition that technicians do the finish work of artists.  Dale Chihuly is a perfect example of a contemporary artist who has competent technicians do the work.  He is fully capable but chooses to "collaborate" with his crew.

Vitrovic's work was in every sense a collaboration, but I imagine he prided himself on being the best at what he did and was happy to have the work, as in ( "good work if you can get it").

It was a different time, a different era and a time of specialists whose reputation hung on their exceptional abilities to produce quality.

To be honest, I believe that how an artist produces their work is a personal matter.  To become as great a printer as Voja Mitrovic, HCB might not have ever taken any pictures, it would have been so demanding to get that good at it, back in that time frame.  Thank goodness Mitrovic was there for all of that.

Excellent story, appreciate the link.

Mark

Rob C

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Re: Cartier-Bresson article
« Reply #30 on: March 15, 2016, 03:26:09 PM »


1.    It was a different time, a different era and a time of specialists whose reputation hung on their exceptional abilities to produce quality.

2.    To be honest, I believe that how an artist produces their work is a personal matter.  To become as great a printer as Voja Mitrovic, HCB might not have ever taken any pictures, it would have been so demanding to get that good at it, back in that time frame.  Thank goodness Mitrovic was there for all of that.

Excellent story, appreciate the link.

Mark


1.     Yep.

2.     Four to five years, full-time, in your specialty is enough: then, as with the shooting, you know if you do or do not have it.

I remember well that just before digital came into being, London had a host of processing labs, but still only a handful, of truly extraordinary black/white printers getting work from everywhere. The expertise showed. It's always the same, and for all I know, it's just the same with digital retouchers today. Seems also to be the deal with a few constant superstar shooter/retoucher teams in the fashion scene.

On the matter of a photographer (complete!?) having to do his own printing: in order to know how well or otherwise you are exposing, you need to experience the difficulties you may be producing for yourself in the darkroom. Handing those difficulties - and the resultant lack of best quality - to a professional printer solves nothing for you: it just avoids complete disaster which isn't good enough. It wasn't like with digital today, where near enough is quite often perfectly good enough - there's that much available information in a reasonable file that you have a fair amount of leeway. A film was a different beast.

Rob C
« Last Edit: March 15, 2016, 06:03:08 PM by Rob C »
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Cartier-Bresson article
« Reply #31 on: March 15, 2016, 03:33:11 PM »

Thanks to all who enjoyed the Voja Mitrovic story. It also sheds a different light on the stance, often expressed in forums here as well, that you are not a real photographer if you do not print your own prints.
I too found it fascinating.

It reminded me of an exhibit I saw many years ago of work by HCB (I can't remember exactly where or when). What struck me at the time was that many of the prints looked to me like ones intended for journalistic reproduction while many others were truly beautifully printed. Now I know who printed the good prints.

Thanks, Slobodan.
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Mark Lindquist

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Re: Cartier-Bresson article
« Reply #32 on: March 15, 2016, 04:07:02 PM »


On the matter of a photographer (complete!?) having to do his own printing: in order to know how well or otherwise you are exposing, you need to experience the difficulties you may be producing for yourself in the darkroom. Handing those difficulties - and the resultant lack of best quality - to a professional printer solves nothng for you: it just avoids complete disaster which isn't good enough. It wasn't like with digital today, where near enough is quite often perfectly good enough - there's that much available information in a reasonable file that you have a fair amount of leeway. A film was a different beast.

Rob C

Yip.

We ran a B+W Fine Art Print Darkroom back in the 70's in New Hampshire.  Nice thing about New England is the water starts out cold, all you have to do is warm it up.  Much easier to warm it up to consistency and hold it than to cool it down from hot ground water in Florida.  Once we got Fred Picker's cold lights we were able to combat the dust issues, especially with anti-static equipment.  Archival washing was a big thing for us and we did it in a big way.  Most of the work was technical, for museum furniture reproductions, particularly so for the Oval Office Resolute desk - the first time it was photographed measured and drawn.  Large B+W's were required that had to be super accurate.  Man I hated spotting. And Magazines were so picky about things.  The darkroom was a magical place but only if all the testing was correctly done and chemicals were right, etc.  Remember Portriga Rapid?  Ilford RC papers changed a lot for commercial stuff.  A photographer in the 70's with a handle on darkroom techniques and the full compliment of equipment to back it up was a rarity.  Many photographers did their own developing in the bathroom and hung film from the shower rod.  Try to explain what it was like to run a picky picky B+W service back then, these days, and people just look at you funny like....

I know one thing for sure; those photos are still as crisp and sharp and perfect today as they were 40 years ago.  As long as they didn't get thrown away.  What to do with boxes and boxes of those archival prints now....

GrahamBy

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Re: Cartier-Bresson article
« Reply #33 on: March 16, 2016, 05:31:50 AM »

Many photographers did their own developing in the bathroom and hung film from the shower rod.

Mine was in a wardrobe :-) But yeah, I have zero regrets for the inevitable dust traces, and my skin doesn't miss the chemicals at all.
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Rob C

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Re: Cartier-Bresson article
« Reply #34 on: March 16, 2016, 09:53:35 AM »

Dust? Nothing compares with the thrill of finding dust on a sensor.

Chemicals? All I ever had to do, apart from wear gloves with colour stuff, was wear clear nail varnish. That way, it wa obvious that I'd stopped smoking and had not induged in backsliding...

;-)

Rob
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