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Author Topic: Everything that's Most Important in Photography I Learned from Classical Music  (Read 16030 times)

Dohmnuill

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"I'll start:
Ken Rockwell: Barry Manilow."


Roy: Poor Form


No doubt the KR smart-arse comment is designed to dog-whistle, and curry favour with, the pound-pack. What a pity you think this forum
is such a venue.
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OldRoy

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"I'll start:
Ken Rockwell: Barry Manilow."


Roy: Poor Form


No doubt the KR smart-arse comment is designed to dog-whistle, and curry favour with, the pound-pack. What a pity you think this forum
is such a venue.

I'll go further. Not even a terribly funny analogy: whether it's offensive however, depends  bit on whether you think Barry Manilow or KR is the victim. Anyone who puts up for public scrutiny (ie approval) the stuff which KR emits is offering up hostages to fortune, amongst them his own children. So whilst I agree it wasn't particularly appropriate I find it hard to summon up anything as profound as guilt.
How about Ansel Adams: Mahler?
Roy
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ednazarko

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How about Ansel Adams: Mahler?
Roy

Actually, I was thinking Ansel Adams and Sibelius, or Ansel Adams and Dvorak.

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OldRoy

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Actually, I was thinking Ansel Adams and Sibelius, or Ansel Adams and Dvorak.


You won that one. Must think more before typing...
Roy
I really must.
Dvorak is a bit literal though.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2012, 06:34:07 AM by OldRoy »
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dreed

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...
The meta message is about the value of analogies as a learning tool.
...

Interesting that you say that. For various reasons I've come to abhor the use of analogies - especially by folks on the Internet. This is because there are always subtleties that make it not work.

I find much more value in an explanation of something that doesn't require an analogy even if it means I need to read twice as much text. For me this is because the person that can explain something without using an analogy quite often has a deeper and more thorough understand of someone that does.

However I would not place the use of classical music in this story as an analogy.
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Rajan Parrikar

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I, too, have thought about classical music and its correspondence to photography, but it is not the classical music most on this group are accustomed to. Raga, the fundamental idea in Indian classical music, literally means colour, and in the context of music, that which colours the mind. The constituent units of raga are swaras (there is no English equivalent; note is a crude approximation). There are interesting observations to be made between raga and photographic composition.

NikoJorj

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I have to make another quotation from the notes (as in letters!) of St AA.

To Alfred Steiglitz, El Paso, November 27, 1936 (and to think I didn't even exist at that point!):

"I can see only one thing to do - make the phoptography as clean, as decisive, and as honest as possible. It will find its own level."
I'm quite surprised neither the article nor anyone here brought the counterpoint from St. EW, from approximately the same period :
“Whenever I can feel a Bach fugue in my work I know I have arrived” (Daybooks)

I found the examples discussed in the article quite interesting, with repeating lines in the pictures echoing themes and lines of the music, but feel this "fugue feeling" can also describe the particular imbrication of visions, or emotions, one can encounter in a richly composed photograph - see eg the first illustration (and main theme) of http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2012/06/in-defense-of-depth.html for an example.

A final quote in defense of artistic analogies : http://fleursdumal.org/poem/103
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Thank you, Niko, for that wonderful post! The quote from Saint EW is one of my favorites, and the piece from the Oneline Photographer exactly fits my own feelings.

Actually, OldRoy's connecting of Ansel with Mahler is not too far-fetched. Having recently heard excellent orchestral performances of works by Ravel and Mahler, I was struck once again by the clarity and control that Mahler used in his orchestrations, even with a huge orchestra. That clarity and control feel to me very similar that of AA. To my ears, Ravel's big orchestra works sound muddy by comparison, a little like the currently popular selective-focus photographs with lots of blur.

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Rob C

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Thank you, Niko, for that wonderful post! The quote from Saint EW is one of my favorites, and the piece from the Oneline Photographer exactly fits my own feelings.

Actually, OldRoy's connecting of Ansel with Mahler is not too far-fetched. Having recently heard excellent orchestral performances of works by Ravel and Mahler, I was struck once again by the clarity and control that Mahler used in his orchestrations, even with a huge orchestra. That clarity and control feel to me very similar that of AA. To my ears, Ravel's big orchestra works sound muddy by comparison, a little like the currently popular selective-focus photographs with lots of blur.



Interesting take, Eric: for me, shallow depth of field does anything but create mud; it focusses the attention very firmly (and crisply?) on the subject and frames it from within the frame of the actual format, giving it context by suggestion. If anything, I think it requires a better eye to do that well than simply to get all that's in the frame in focus.

Rob C

Eric Myrvaagnes

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Rob,

I think that's a metter of personal preference. Selective focus is appropriate, IMHO, for simple photos that have one center of interest. This, of course, includes many portraits, product phots, etc. But it isn't appropriate in most landscapes or other complex images in which one might want to let your eye wander around through various parts of the image, just as you would if you were in the place where the landscape was taken.

Most of the time I tend to prefer pix in which I can wander freely through the image without feeling that my aging eyes are making it hard to see detail.

I will have to admit that I don't recall being bothered by unnecessary blur in any of your photos, either posted on LuLa or on your website.

Eric
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

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Rob C

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Rob,

I think that's a metter of personal preference. Selective focus is appropriate, IMHO, for simple photos that have one center of interest. This, of course, includes many portraits, product phots, etc. But it isn't appropriate in most landscapes or other complex images in which one might want to let your eye wander around through various parts of the image, just as you would if you were in the place where the landscape was taken.

Most of the time I tend to prefer pix in which I can wander freely through the image without feeling that my aging eyes are making it hard to see detail.

I will have to admit that I don't recall being bothered by unnecessary blur in any of your photos, either posted on LuLa or on your website.Eric



That's the trouble with cellpix: everything ends up sharp! In fact, I sometimes spend ages doing Gaussian fakery to remove some background sharpness! Actually, I don't really mind that at all: I do it for fun and to see if I can convince myself that it worked. Sadly, no PS computer around at the moment, and when I left it with the shop, the moment they heard that, apart from other things, the mouse was freezing, other than offer a sock to keep it warm, they began to hum and haw and tell me how expensive replacement parts can be...!

The computer needs a fix; I need a fox fix!

Rob C

Eric Myrvaagnes

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Good luck with the PC.
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Ray

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That's the trouble with cellpix: everything ends up sharp! In fact, I sometimes spend ages doing Gaussian fakery to remove some background sharpness! Actually, I don't really mind that at all: I do it for fun and to see if I can convince myself that it worked. Sadly, no PS computer around at the moment, and when I left it with the shop, the moment they heard that, apart from other things, the mouse was freezing, other than offer a sock to keep it warm, they began to hum and haw and tell me how expensive replacement parts can be...!


Oh, Dear me! Life is such a trial! Spending hours doing Gaussian fakery in order to remove the beautiful, the God-given resolution surrounding a subject.  ;D
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Rob C

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Oh, Dear me! Life is such a trial! Spending hours doing Gaussian fakery in order to remove the beautiful, the God-given resolution surrounding a subject.  ;D



It'll never replace life in a warm, fuzzy glow, your priorities firmly delineated as to avoid confusion and distress!

Rob C

Ray

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It'll never replace life in a warm, fuzzy glow, your priorities firmly delineated as to avoid confusion and distress!

Rob C

I wasn't drunk, Rob, when I wrote the above, though I may have had a couple of glasses.  ;)
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Tony Jay

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Having read the entire thread I am surprised that no-one has mentioned the late, great Galen Rowell who clearly saw (heard) the connection between music and the visual arts.
It is also true that he was severely criticized in some quarters for daring to 'connect the dots' as it were.
His comments and writings are just as relevant, and contentious, now as they were when originally penned.

Regards

Tony Jay
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Patricia Sheley

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Needed to go back to notes kept in the sixties while trying to sort Nietzsche as he related to my explorations during a time in life when everything was being transfigured before my eyes with no opportunity for to change the paths it seemed. He wrote of tragedy being the representation of pathos and also born from music... for some reason my notes refer to his question of how one is to distinguish between music and tears...in reflective thought especially during long night exposures there are always the distinct presences of all of the above, for me...

I have tried to find what may have informed the question I thought he expressed...possibly just in dream during a turbulent time...all seemed to flow into one stream...but yes, music...always, once past mundane reality.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2012, 10:28:45 PM by Patricia Sheley »
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Rob C

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In the studio, the music was never off; pirates Radio Scotland as well as Radio Caroline North kept me sane through many long, weary, overnight stays in the darkroom, fingers frozen from turning over sets of batch prints in the wash, wondering how in hell to get them all glazed for mid-morning delivery in Glasgow's city centre. Those were the days - or nights. But I'll never forget the Mamas and the Papas immortal and oh so relevant line: And the darkest hour is just before dawn.

Shooting was exactly the same: music non-stop.

I appreciate that this isn't at all on the esoteric level that some would wish it to be; but, it was real and not part of some bullshit mental game of spiritual self-deception. It made everything possible, made everything work. Not so bad, really, even if Chopin never earned his way into the studio...

;-)

Rob C

NikoJorj

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I appreciate that this isn't at all on the esoteric level that some would wish it to be; [...]
Oh, but the question is very practical and real, indeed : does the way music makes you feel relate to the way photography makes you feel?



As far as I am concerned, I tried (just for the fun of the experiment) to listen to Bach while post-processing.
As long as the music was somewhat light, or at least not too charged (Glenn Gould comes to my mind), it was only a minor disturbance and an incitation to reverie instead of concentrating on LR's cursors and tools. Counter-productive, in a word.
I did not dare to try Herr unser Herrscher (St-Matthew opening) as, notwithstanding being a complete atheist, it always brings me on the verge of tears (some other sacred cantates are also good at this). Not much to do with the tears of tragedy and pathos by the way, more some emotive surexcitation.

In a way, it is quite reassuring : my photography is the one of a mere mortal, and is mundane enough not to threaten to turn my mind upside down.
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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