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Author Topic: Ansel Adams  (Read 17074 times)

RSL

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Ansel Adams
« on: April 30, 2010, 07:34:48 PM »

There's an interesting "photography" article in yesterday's (April 29) Leisure and Arts section of the Wall Street Journal about the work Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange did together at Manzanar, the "relocation center" (read concentration camp) where we sent our citizens of Japanese descent during WW II. Ansel shot pictures of the surrounding hills and included chunks of the nearly empty Manzanar streets. Dorothea shot poignant pictures of the people. According to the article: "In 1961 Lange said about Adams's taking landscape pictures at the Manzanar Relocation Center: 'It was shameful. That's Ansel. He doesn't have much sense about these things.'" In 1962 Adams wrote her: "You happen to be one of the very few who has brought enough deeply felt human emotion into your work to make it bearable to me. I wish you would try and think of yourself as a fine artist -- which you are." Bottom line: both were fine artists, but with very, very different styles.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2010, 07:51:07 PM by RSL »
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ckimmerle

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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2010, 07:59:50 PM »

Quote from: RSL
Ansel shot pictures of the surrounding hills which included chunks of the nearly empty Manzanar streets. Dorothea shot poignant pictures of the people.

That's not entirely true. Ansel shot dozens of photos of people in the camp in addition to his photos of the surrounding landscape. If Lange only remembers his landscape images, such as Mount Williamson Clearing Storm, that's her problem. As with many who consider themselves documentary photographers, Lange's issue is her assumption that faces alone tell the complete story.




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bill t.

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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2010, 08:34:32 PM »

Yes Adams shot some landscapes around Manzanar, and they are useful in explaining the desolation of the place.

Adams didn't shoot many anguished faces at Manzanar.  In general his human subjects appear rather upbeat, presented sympathetically as ordinary people at a time when mindless racism cast them as somehow malevolent.  Overall I think Adam's characterizations were of greater service to the internees than Lange's.  By the editorial standards of the time Adam's work was more presentable than Lange's somewhat amateurish point & shoot efforts.

In looking over some of those pictures I personally get the feeling that Adam's was more connected with his subjects than Lange.

http://zoltanjokay.de/zoltanblog/2009/08/a...lager-manzanar/

http://www.nps.gov/manz/photosmultimedia/d...Id=187#e_129458
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JeffKohn

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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2010, 12:22:35 AM »

What exactly makes Ms Lange's opinion "unbiased"?

IMHO "unbiased opinion" is somewhat of an oxymoron in general, but especially so when talking about something as subjective as photography.

RSL

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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2010, 06:59:23 AM »

Quote from: bill t.
By the editorial standards of the time Adam's work was more presentable than Lange's somewhat amateurish point & shoot efforts.

Yes, Dorothea often shot "somewhat amateurish point & shoot efforts" like White Angel Breadline, and Migrant Mother.

Jeff, Where did the "unbiased opinion" idea come from? Her opinion certainly was biased. And, yes, I agree that a term like "unbiased opinion" is an oxymoron -- just like the term "social science."

Actually, since these two were pretty good friends I have a feeling Dorothea was pulling the reporter's leg a bit when she said that.

My own estimation is that both of them did a reasonably good job at Manzanar, but I think Gene Smith would have done better than either of them. Of course WW II would have been over by the time Gene finished.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2010, 09:26:50 AM by RSL »
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JeffKohn

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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2010, 11:26:53 AM »

Quote
Jeff, Where did the "unbiased opinion" idea come from? Her opinion certainly was biased. And, yes, I agree that a term like "unbiased opinion" is an oxymoron -- just like the term "social science."
It came from your thread title/subtitle.

Slobodan Blagojevic

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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2010, 12:00:58 PM »

Quote from: bill t.
... By the editorial standards of the time Adam's work was more presentable than Lange's somewhat amateurish point & shoot efforts.

In looking over some of those pictures I personally get the feeling that Adam's was more connected with his subjects than Lange...
For me, both look like typical propaganda photos: smiley faces, neatly dressed people, happy children, etc.

RSL

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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2010, 01:14:09 PM »

Quote from: JeffKohn
It came from your thread title/subtitle.

Oops. You're right. I was being facetious. I'm quite sure her opinion was very much biased. You have to remember that this was a lady who could crack a joke.

patrickt

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« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2010, 05:43:06 PM »

Ansel Adams was a great photographer and apparently a gentleman.
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ckimmerle

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« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2010, 12:58:59 PM »

Quote from: RSL
Oops. You're right. I was being facetious.

And that, my friend, is what         are for.    
« Last Edit: May 02, 2010, 12:59:52 PM by ckimmerle »
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RSL

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« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2010, 04:54:04 PM »

Quote from: ckimmerle
And that, my friend, is what         are for.    

Chuck, Is it really true that we've reached that point?

Rob C

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« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2010, 07:29:39 AM »

Quote from: RSL
Chuck, Is it really true that we've reached that point?




Only if you get lazy and refuse to use the ;-) keys, which is quite understandable if using a device like this tiny one on which my world currently depends. No, not a pacemaker, a tiny computer. Which might also include a pacemaker under that heading too but I don't know for sure, not having one - pacemaker, that is, that I do not have. You see why those idiot faces can also have a role (can't find how to make the circumflex work - it gives an acute instead) in communication?

Why does it rain so much? It's supposed to remain in the plain, in Spain, not on the islands.

Rob C

ckimmerle

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« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2010, 10:52:16 AM »

Quote from: RSL
Chuck, Is it really true that we've reached that point?

Well Russ, as we cannot see the twinkle in your eye from the comfort of our barcaloungers, we have to rely on our small, yellow, round-faced friends  
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"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

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JeffKohn

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« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2010, 12:42:19 PM »

Quote from: RSL
Chuck, Is it really true that we've reached that point?
Contextual cues from tone of voice or expression don't come through on the web, that's why emoticons were invented after all.  I don't think the smiley icons work in thread titles, but some quotes around the word unbiased might have made it a little more clear. Given the context of what was written in your post it wasn't clear to me that the "unbiased opinion" phrase was meant to be facetious.

LKaven

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« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2010, 02:30:50 PM »

Quote from: RSL
...I agree that a term like "unbiased opinion" is an oxymoron -- just like the term "social science."
I bristle when I see this meme repeated endlessly.  Social science is a science.

Rob C

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« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2010, 03:49:20 AM »

Quote from: LKaven
I bristle when I see this meme repeated endlessly.  Social science is a science.



Do you mean like in the sense of genetic engineering, or even bristl(e)ing?

A rose by any name...

Rob C

RSL

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« Reply #16 on: May 04, 2010, 06:55:41 AM »

Quote from: LKaven
I bristle when I see this meme repeated endlessly.  Social science is a science.

Bristling is a human right. I'm pretty sure social "scientists" would agree... or maybe not. Depends on who's running the "experiment."

daws

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« Reply #17 on: May 04, 2010, 07:21:28 AM »

Quote from: RSL
Bristling is a human right. I'm pretty sure social "scientists" would agree... or maybe not. Depends on who's running the "experiment."
I promise to respond with a crushing reply... just as soon as they let me out of this Skinner box.
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LKaven

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« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2010, 08:46:43 AM »

I sympathize with the notion.  But just because the field is made up largely of bad scientists who do science badly doesn't make it less science.  I can't help it if analytical philosophy was made unfashionable a century ago by people who realized there was money to be made in technology.

Rob C

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« Reply #19 on: May 05, 2010, 04:08:58 AM »

Quote from: LKaven
I sympathize with the notion.  But just because the field is made up largely of bad scientists who do science badly doesn't make it less science.  I can't help it if analytical philosophy was made unfashionable a century ago by people who realized there was money to be made in technology.



Come on, even more realised there were yet greater riches to be mined in the frailties and fears within peoples' sexual doubts and identities! Science - bah! Snake oil marketing!

Rob C
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