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Author Topic: Yeah Cartier-Bresson couldn't crop for........a member's comment  (Read 83809 times)
Isaac
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« Reply #180 on: February 21, 2013, 03:55:24 PM »
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That's hardly claiming oneself artist; it's one thing to say that you might think of the genre as artistic in nature (especially, as you indicate, when young) but putting oneself into the rôle of artist is another, which I don't read that quotation as declaring.

I wonder how many whom you do regard as artists would be disqualified by the criteria you apply to M. Cartier-Bresson :-)


Quote
Interviewer: Why did you choose photography?

Cartier-Bresson: Photography enables me to grasp the world directly through the medium of a particular and significant detail. There is no such thing as an art of generalities. It's a way of understanding and a way of living more intensely. ... I have a great time and I work for the love of the subject not for the sake of the magazine that ordered the pictures. ... once I start working, I work for the subject only. I don't refuse assignments, if they are not gimmicky. What Renaissance artist would have thought of despising a commission?"

"In photography, as in the other arts, talent only gives us the right to work even harder."

"Ours is a very small profession. While literally speaking, there is no competition, the market is very limited. Yet the contrived stories which magazines so often ask for become handicaps to photography as an art."

1961 Henri Cartier-Bresson: on the art of photography an interview by Yvonne Baby, translated by Elizabeth Carmichael.


Given how this discussion began, I'll include this quotation from the same interview:

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"My greatest joy is the surprise of facing a beautiful organization of forms, the intuitive recognition of a spontaneous -- not contrived -- composition; naturally with a subject that moves. I think it's only when handled this way that a subject takes on its full significance.

I never crop a photograph. If it needs to be cropped I know it's bad and that nothing could possibly improve it. The only improvement would have been to have taken another picture, at the right place and at the right time."
« Last Edit: February 21, 2013, 03:57:08 PM by Isaac » Logged
LKaven
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« Reply #181 on: February 21, 2013, 06:28:50 PM »
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You seem to be thinking of what came later -- the later photojournalism and the photos from '29-'33 Spain Italy Mexico France which were for sale at Julien Levy's New York gallery in 1933.

I think you're right here.  Thanks for the added qualification.
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RSL
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« Reply #182 on: February 21, 2013, 07:27:10 PM »
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Hi Isaac, I'm out of this thread as far as the primary topic is concerned, but I have a couple questions for you:

(1) It's pretty obvious that your research on HCB and your knowledge of the subject is pretty extensive. But why are you so concerned about whether or not he saw himself as an "artist?" Without question he was one of the most effective artists of the twentieth century, but why does it matter to you whether or not he identified himself that way?

(2) Are you as interested in his pictures as you are in whether or not he saw himself as an artist? The pictures themselves never seemed to come up in the discussion.
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Isaac
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« Reply #183 on: February 22, 2013, 03:46:26 PM »
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It's pretty obvious that your research on HCB and your knowledge of the subject is pretty extensive. But why are you so concerned about whether or not he saw himself as an "artist?"

I'm not; the question simply provides an excuse to look purposefully at the photographs, and listen purposefully to what M. Cartier-Bresson had to say for himself.


(I think my research on HCB and knowledge of the subject is very preliminary, and strictly limited by lack of access to French language material and my lack of fluency in French. From what I've seen the French language material professionally translated into English is far more coherent than M. Cartier-Bresson's English language statements.)
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RSL
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« Reply #184 on: February 23, 2013, 01:32:54 PM »
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(I think my research on HCB and knowledge of the subject is very preliminary, and strictly limited by lack of access to French language material and my lack of fluency in French. From what I've seen the French language material professionally translated into English is far more coherent than M. Cartier-Bresson's English language statements.)

I'd be quick to agree on that point, Isaac. But though I'm very interested in what he said, I'm a lot more interested in his photographs. Of course I can say the same thing about a bunch of other people, with Walker Evans probably at the top of the list and Elliott Erwitt a close second.
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Isaac
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« Reply #185 on: December 08, 2014, 02:10:03 PM »
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Remember, though, that the book that became "The Decisive Moment" in the U.S., started out, as Kaven said, as "Images ŕ la Sauvette," in other words (more or less) "Images on the run."

Incidentally, the translation for ŕ la Sauvette provided by Babelfish and Google Translate is on the sly, which seems a very expressive description of the photography.
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RSL
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« Reply #186 on: December 08, 2014, 04:06:30 PM »
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Fair enough Isaac, but I don't like the word "sly." If you become comfortable enough with street shooting you're not actually making pictures on the sly. You're right out there in the open, but like The Shadow, you've learned to cloud men's minds. You do that by being totally non-threatening and, somehow, subliminally transmitting that understanding to your subjects. I know Henri was chased a time or two, but I think the original title referred more to the quickness of the whole process. Another problem: as near as I can tell, "ŕ la Sauvette" isn't precisely translatable into English.
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Isaac
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« Reply #187 on: December 08, 2014, 06:46:20 PM »
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As-if a furtive pick-pocket is a thief but a bold pick-pocket is an honest man! :-)

"on the sly": secretly

Perhaps the original title expressed Cartier-Bresson's opinion and a sly sense of humour.
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amolitor
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« Reply #188 on: December 08, 2014, 06:51:53 PM »
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<i>ŕ la sauvette</i> is an idiomatic expression, "on the sly" is a terrible translation. HCB was probably NOT making some complicated multilingual pun. He was surely just using an idiomatic expression to mean the thing it means.

It means "in the manner of an unlicensed street vendor" and as such as a bundle of connotations, "sly" figuring small among them. A sense of motion, a sense of quickness of transaction, a sense of blending in and being part of the scene perhaps.

A sense of the illicit, sure, but that is by no means all of it.
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- Andrew

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If my comments lack flow, it's probably because I am ignoring someone I think is dumb.
LKaven
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« Reply #189 on: December 08, 2014, 08:56:43 PM »
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<i>ŕ la sauvette</i> is an idiomatic expression, "on the sly" is a terrible translation. HCB was probably NOT making some complicated multilingual pun. He was surely just using an idiomatic expression to mean the thing it means.

It means "in the manner of an unlicensed street vendor" and as such as a bundle of connotations, "sly" figuring small among them. A sense of motion, a sense of quickness of transaction, a sense of blending in and being part of the scene perhaps.

A sense of the illicit, sure, but that is by no means all of it.

Glad you came in with this.  One should not trust google translate for colloquial idioms.  Some things just do not translate, and you have to be among the community of people who uses the idiom to understand it.
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Isaac
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« Reply #190 on: December 09, 2014, 01:15:16 PM »
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It means…

Are you a native French speaker?

Are you saying that's what it means now, or that's what it meant in the 1950's?
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #191 on: January 09, 2015, 12:52:06 PM »
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IMO, cropping for reasons other than the necessity of fitting an aspect ratio represents a failure to capture the image properly in the first place.

Obviously, if an image works best cropped square and your camera is 4:5, you will need to crop. But if you have to do more than crop the :5 down to :4, you screwed up the capture.

What people do to an image to make a square peg fit in a round hole in a layout after the fact is a separate issue entirely, and out of the photographer's control.
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amolitor
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« Reply #192 on: January 09, 2015, 01:04:03 PM »
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Arguably, if your camera is 4x5, you would do well to find pictures that work best in a 4:5 ratio.

This is the essence of the anti-cropping argument. Work with the camera, not against it.
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If my comments lack flow, it's probably because I am ignoring someone I think is dumb.
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« Reply #193 on: January 09, 2015, 01:26:10 PM »
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What people do to an image to make a square peg fit in a round hole in a layout after the fact is a separate issue entirely, and out of the photographer's control.

Unless you're HCB, who insisted on having his pictures printed with their irregular black borders intact. If you can get away with that, you've arrived.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #194 on: January 09, 2015, 02:57:45 PM »
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This is the essence of the anti-cropping argument. Work with the camera, not against it.

To which I would say that using your camera's native aspect ratio to dictate what you shoot is bass-ackwards.

Which aspect ratio is superior? 1:1? 4:5? 2:3? 16:9? 11:51? How can you know which aspect ratio will be best when buying a camera? Wouldn't that require some psychic ability?

I would argue that the composition dictates (final) aspect ratio, not the other way around. If you're standing in front of a capture-worthy scene, figure out what the best composition is, including aspect ratio, and then use the tools you have to capture that with the least post-capture cropping possible.
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amolitor
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« Reply #195 on: January 09, 2015, 03:30:20 PM »
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... and that would be where you differ from the anti-cropping side of the debate. Some people find limitations, artificial or otherwise, to be quite stimulating.

Horses for courses.
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- Andrew

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If my comments lack flow, it's probably because I am ignoring someone I think is dumb.
LKaven
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« Reply #196 on: January 10, 2015, 01:01:40 AM »
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To which I would say that using your camera's native aspect ratio to dictate what you shoot is bass-ackwards.

Which aspect ratio is superior? 1:1? 4:5? 2:3? 16:9? 11:51? How can you know which aspect ratio will be best when buying a camera? Wouldn't that require some psychic ability?

I would argue that the composition dictates (final) aspect ratio, not the other way around. If you're standing in front of a capture-worthy scene, figure out what the best composition is, including aspect ratio, and then use the tools you have to capture that with the least post-capture cropping possible.

So the core of the "does not crop" stance is underwritten by the idea that there is a special significance to the moment in which you committed to the picture, the moment in which the photographer's reasons for committing were realized.  One could argue that this is the moment that confers meaning on a photograph.  And actually this line of argument gets pretty good support in contemporary philosophy.

Another part of the stance involves the idea that the odds of finding "the picture" as a proper subset of another picture are astronomically small.  Surely one would have moved an inch here or there, or more, had one known what was really there to explore within that subject space. 

To those ends, one will work with the tool in hand accordingly.  The exact crop that matters is the one your camera will permit with a finder mask.  [And yes, you could envision a "crop" at the moment of capture as well without the aid of a finder mask, but it is harder.]

I personally would love it if my Nikon would offer a square crop mask.  Some things really look good in a square.  But the same could be said for any crop.  The X-Pan 24x60 format looks very nice for many things.  There is no limit.  The real issue here is what the photographer is doing at the moment s/he commits to tripping the shutter, and that includes the "seeing it" part as well as the "knowing why" part.
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stamper
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« Reply #197 on: January 10, 2015, 03:13:30 AM »
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IMO, cropping for reasons other than the necessity of fitting an aspect ratio represents a failure to capture the image properly in the first place.

Obviously, if an image works best cropped square and your camera is 4:5, you will need to crop. But if you have to do more than crop the :5 down to :4, you screwed up the capture.

What people do to an image to make a square peg fit in a round hole in a layout after the fact is a separate issue entirely, and out of the photographer's control.

If you are an architectural photographer shooting a scene with sloping verticals and you frame too tightly then you can't straighten them in post processing. With a moving subject it's better to have a loose crop than a tight one which means that you might frame into to the subject? Be flexible in your approach rather than dogmatic? Jonathan it didn't take you long to stirs things up? Just like the "old days" Wink Smiley
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FranciscoDisilvestro
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« Reply #198 on: January 10, 2015, 07:36:41 PM »
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O LORD, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have cropped my pictures
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RSL
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« Reply #199 on: January 11, 2015, 08:27:45 AM »
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Right, Peter. Two for sure that I can think of: Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare because the plank in the fence cut off part of the picture and Cardinal Pacelli at Montmartre because he had to hold the camera over his head and shoot by guess. There's a third one, but I don't remember which one it was at the moment. But these were far from the rule for him. I've gradually moved away from the idea of never cropping, though I never was an absolute stickler for that. Still, it's much, much better to frame what you want when you go click.
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