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Author Topic: Searching for Edward Hopper  (Read 25729 times)

amolitor

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Searching for Edward Hopper
« on: July 22, 2015, 10:27:10 pm »

Even though it's a plug piece, this is the most interesting thing I've seen on the LuLu front page in a while.

That guy can jolly well shoot.
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Telecaster

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2015, 11:05:14 pm »

Yes, very good photos. Some excellent. Influenced by but not derivative of…which is good.

Paint, though, is a different medium. I can't think of any photographer whose work I feel hangs with Hopper. I've been looking at/riveted by/provoked by/pulled in by Hopper's paintings since I was a teenager. IMO they're just another thing entirely, in a league of their own. They utterly transcend the man.

Purely IMO: the best painting eclipses the best photography. Also purely IMO: there's a lot more good photography than good painting.

If I could paint I'd probably rarely pick up a camera.

-Dave-
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stamper

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2015, 04:14:39 am »

Personally I was underwhelmed by the images. One or two were over saturated and one or two were over sharpened imo. The one with the guy looking out of the window was the best. I am also the guy who bought Robert Frank's book.... The Americans and was underwhelmed by that book. I am perfectly happy to accept any criticism that says that I am lacking. Sometimes I feel that a lot of photographers jump onto a bandwagon of liking someone just to be one of the crowd. I have scores of books but no "heroes".  :(

parallax-e

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2015, 09:35:44 am »

Seems like a good book.
I've been an Edward Hopper fan for a very long time. Tried to make photos that capture the feeling one gets from looking at Hopper's paintings. I've never quite succeeded in getting everything right. Either the setting isn't appropriate or the light isn't quite the right color or intensity or direction ...
I might even buy this book.
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amolitor

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2015, 10:36:04 am »

The bright colors are a bit deceptive. My first glance suggested that these were extremely ordinary urban architecture blah blah that he's simply warmed up and jammed a bunch of yellow in to, with the occasional shaft of light or whatever.

But every one of them has some fairly subtle design elements, and almost all have some interesting human figures. There's a touch of Cartier-Bresson in there, to go with the Hopper colors and treatment of light. Hopper, of course, is all about the human figures in the frame as welll. The treatment of the human figures doesn't strike me as particularly Hopper-esque, there's something more basically photographic, about dynamic moments than about static scenes. But the subtly important human elements are present in both, almost but not quite hidden by the strong graphic and color design.

Anyways. I liked 'em.
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Anthony_R_Mann

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2015, 03:24:00 am »

Great subject, I found out about Hopper in an art class long ago, and have always been inspired by his vision as well.

Richard Tuschman comes to mind regarding this subject as well. 
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joehrle

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2015, 06:52:52 pm »

terriffic shots, thanks!
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John Camp

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2015, 04:54:56 pm »

I generally agree with Telecaster's comments, influenced by Hopper, but not imitative.

Kingston is attracted to pure, bright colors, while Hopper was not, particularly -- he uses touches of warm color, but even they are usually adulterated in some way -- his yellows will have some grey in them, his reds will usually have some brown...some dirt. Another major difference is that Hopper's work almost always gives off a vibration of loneliness, while Kingston's people are almost always doing something, if only listening to music. They may be waiting, but it's for something. Hopper's often seem to be waiting for nothing, except perhaps death, and it's that sense of alienation that (IMHO) give them much of their their power. It's the composition and structure of Kingston's photos that are most like Hopper's pictures...

I paint more than photograph and it has always struck me that most photographers (including me, when I'm in photography mode) seem almost obsessed by technique and machinery, while most painters are obsessed by such things as color and structure, and that's what photographers should look at much more seriously. Try putting the camera on "A" for a year or so and forget about settings, just look at color and structure. I do disagree with Telecaster when he says the best painting eclipses the best photography, because they are simply different; I suggest he take a close look at "Inferno" by James Nachtwey, or or go to Nachtwey's website and check out the conflict images:

http://www.jamesnachtwey.com

That's the stuff that painting can't do.

I talked briefly to Rodger Kingston this afternoon, to find out where to send a check. It's my most expensive discretionary purchase since I bought a...Telecaster.
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Manoli

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2015, 05:19:59 pm »

I do disagree with Telecaster when he says the best painting eclipses the best photography, because they are simply different; I suggest he take a close look at "Inferno" by James Nachtwey, or or go to Nachtwey's website and check out the conflict images ...

That is marginally disingenuous of you. What Telecaster actually said was " Purely IMO: the best painting eclipses the best photography. Also purely IMO: there's a lot more good photography than good painting. "

I think he's right on both counts. I'd no more a hang a Nachtwey on a dining room wall than I'd use a Modigliani to illustrate a magazine article on war and strife. Photography lacks the eye to hand co-ordination that is so defining in painting and drawing. Different indeed - and a difference consistently reflected in the auction house results.

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Telecaster

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2015, 05:55:21 pm »

I do disagree with Telecaster when he says the best painting eclipses the best photography, because they are simply different…

I don't think we actually disagree on this.  :)

Quote
I talked briefly to Rodger Kingston this afternoon, to find out where to send a check. It's my most expensive discretionary purchase since I bought a...Telecaster.

If LuLa had a version of the thumbs-up emoji I'd use it here.

-Dave-
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amolitor

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2015, 07:07:07 pm »

To be fair, painters will muddy their colors to make them more realistic, but a photographer needn't!

In fact, I suppose there are photographers that seek out pure colors, because they're photographically unusual. So, is Kingston really using purer colors than Hopper, or does it just look that way because -- as a photograph -- these things have relatively pure colors whereas Hopper's paintings -- as applications of pure colored paint to a surface -- have relatively muddy colors?
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John Camp

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2015, 07:32:28 pm »

That is marginally disingenuous of you. What Telecaster actually said was " Purely IMO: the best painting eclipses the best photography. Also purely IMO: there's a lot more good photography than good painting. "

I think he's right on both counts. I'd no more a hang a Nachtwey on a dining room wall than I'd use a Modigliani to illustrate a magazine article on war and strife. Photography lacks the eye to hand co-ordination that is so defining in painting and drawing. Different indeed - and a difference consistently reflected in the auction house results.



I didn't say Telecaster was wrong, I just said I disagreed with him. I don't think the best painting eclipses the best photography; which, to paraphrase somebody else, would be like saying the best architecture eclipses the best dance. They are different things, and there are some things that painting can't do as well as photography does. If you want to be pedantic about it, I'll add, IMO. But generally, there aren't any absolute answers to these conjectures. I will add that I don't usually judge the quality of an image by auction results.

To be fair, painters will muddy their colors to make them more realistic, but a photographer needn't!
In fact, I suppose there are photographers that seek out pure colors, because they're photographically unusual. So, is Kingston really using purer colors than Hopper, or does it just look that way because -- as a photograph -- these things have relatively pure colors whereas Hopper's paintings -- as applications of pure colored paint to a surface -- have relatively muddy colors?


Hopper could use any paint color of any chroma he wanted -- I would point out that the colors Kingston is photographing IS paint. Hopper chose his colors because they were psychologically correct for the mood he was trying to invoke. And that's quite a subtle thing, because even when his colors were bright, somehow they often come off as bleak or harsh, rather than warm and inviting. IMO.

 

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rpkphoto

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2015, 08:51:37 pm »

What an interesting discussion. I feel a bit like Prufrock: "like a patient etherized upon a table." But that's more interesting than discomfiting.

I have a couple of comments to add, first off that those who see my images as too saturated or over sharpened, may simply have monitors differently calibrated than mine (I don't think that's a problem with the images in my actual book). Admittedly, I push the boundaries with saturation, although I think I'm generally quite careful not to go too far (after all, as I said in the essay, I do like that Cibachrome look).

Second, John Camp's comment that my image structure is Hopper-like is very interesting. That's an aspect of Hopper that I apparently absorbed so well that I haven't really noticed it. But I do, in fact, search out what I think of as the geometry of a scene or subject, its inner structure or framework, and compose within that. I've always attributed that to Cezanne. So thank you John for the insight.

Finally, I always (or almost always) photograph with my camera set on "Program." William Carlos Williams said, "There is the eye; there is the object. The poem is what happens in between." Change "poem" to "photograph" and that about sums up my course on how to take a photograph. Also, I'm credited with having said, "The camera is a save button for the mind's eye." What this is all leading up to is that I want my camera to get between me and what I'm photographing as little as possible when I'm taking a photograph. I want a good enough camera that I don't have to worry too much about image quality at the same time that I don't want it getting in my way. As I said, I want the camera to simply be a save button once I've gotten everything figured out in my head.

« Last Edit: August 23, 2015, 09:35:50 am by rpkphoto »
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Manoli

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2015, 04:46:51 am »

I will add that I don't usually judge the quality of an image by auction results.

Nor do I, nor did I say or imply that.
Auction results are a barometer of perceived value though. Whether that perception is dominated by scarcity (favouring paintings and drawings), artistic merit or a combination of the two is debatable - but a cursory scan of prices would show that either way 'paintings and drawings' have it.

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mecrox

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2015, 08:29:31 am »

What an interesting discussion. I feel a bit like Prufrock: "like a patient etherized upon a table." But that's more interesting than discomfiting.

I have a couple of comments to add, first off that those who see my images as too saturated or over sharpened, may simply have monitors differently calibrated than mine (I don't think that's a problem with the images in my actual book). Admittedly, I push the boundaries with saturation, although I think I'm generally quite careful not to go too far (after all, as I said in the essay, I do like that old time Cibachrome look).

Second, John Camp's comment that my image structure is Hopper-like is very interesting. That's an aspect of Hopper that I apparently absorbed so well that I haven't really noticed it. But I do, in fact, search out what I think of as the geometry of a scene or subject, its inner structure or framework, and compose within that. I've always attributed that to Cezanne. So thank you John for the insight.

Finally, I always (or almost always) photograph with my camera set on "Program." William Carlos Williams said, "There is the eye; there is the object. The poem is what happens in between." Change "poem" to "photograph" and that about sums up my course on how to take a photograph. Also, I'm credited with having said, "The camera is a save button for the mind's eye." What this is all leading up to is that I want my camera to get between me and what I'm photographing ("the eye and the object") as little as possible when I'm taking a photograph. I want a good enough camera that I don't have to worry too much about image quality at the same time that I don't want it getting in my way. As I said, I want the camera to simply be a save button once I've gotten everything figured out in my head.



Don't get etherized, get even, lol. I'd just like to thank you for your article and images which I thoroughly enjoyed. They are all ways of seeing and the only way of learning is by looking at what others do and how they do it - their eye. I like your comments about using the "Program" setting. I am beginning to think the same, especially after realizing that the P setting on my camera can be configured in fairly sophisticated ways, prioritizing on speed or aperture or ISO, etc, etc., depending on what the user requires. This makes is pretty darn adaptable to the light and/or subject matter occasion by occasion.
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GrahamBy

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2015, 12:09:55 pm »

What I found fascinating was the effect of presentation: seeing the photos in the LuLa article (thin borders, surrounded by text). I'm afraid I yawned. They just looked snap-shot-ish.

Then I went to the website and looked at the same images, laid out as double page spreads with wide white borders as though matted... and I suddenly saw Hopper. The saturation looked right in that context.

Just my impressions, YMMV, etc etc.
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Paul Braverman

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2015, 01:38:56 am »

Like yourself, Hopper has lingered in my mind. And like yourself, I may be unconsciously pursuing his example. The attached was taken with no conscious thoughts of Hopper, and with minimal processing, certainly nothing to make it more Hopper-like. But I don't think I could have come closer if this was a priority of years standing.

What next? Da Vinci? Pollack? We'll see . . .
« Last Edit: July 31, 2015, 01:41:22 am by Paul Braverman »
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rpkphoto

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2015, 12:38:51 pm »

An old friend, photographer Neal Rantoul, just emailed me in response to the LuLa article. He said, "Simply wonderful work and nicely written piece about where the pictures came from and the way you work. No BS or pretension - just the work. Perfect."

All very nice: I love getting validation from a photographer I've respected for many years, but what he said next is the crux of the matter and the reason for this post:

"I always loved the way you photographed, with a camera always with you, and just reacting to what struck you as you moved through your days."

If there is a secret to my success, it is just that: I almost always carry a camera wherever I go; it gives me a license to see.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2015, 01:19:39 pm by rpkphoto »
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RSL

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2015, 05:54:21 pm »

Hopper is one of the few painters whose paintings can give me a transcendental experience, but part of the reason for that, as John Camp points out, is his subtle use of color. You can't really do that in photography. Unless you dork around in Photoshop to change them, the colors are what they are, and if the photographer does tinker with them the tinkering usually jumps out at you. Rodger is a very good photographer. I think he's done a fine job of chasing Hopper, but I don't think he's caught him.
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rpkphoto

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Re: Searching for Edward Hopper
« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2015, 08:10:24 pm »

My, but I do like your photographs, Russ, particularly the Colorado series, including the old mining machinery. I grew up in Montana and have spent a fair amount of time in Colorado, so your web site made me feel right at home. In the “Books” folder on my web site (rpkphoto.smugmug.com) check out “The Waterworks Series” for a different (East Coast?) look at old industrial machinery.

Thank you for your comments. I’m not sure I’d say I’ve been doing all that much chasing after Hopper, although I certainly agree with you that I haven’t caught him (like the dog chasing the car, what would I do if I actually did?). More likely - with the guidance  of Hopper’s example - I’ve actually caught myself: through Hopper’s eyes I learned to see with my own.

The subject of Hopper’s color is always interesting. I think John Camp is on the right track in suggesting that Hopper could adulterate his color to tell emotional truths, while I am pretty much confined to taking my color as I find it. I was amused in his pointing out that a great deal of the color I photograph actually IS paint - kind of like the fellow who was impressed to learn that he speaks in prose. And you’re right: when photographers tinker with color, the tinkering usually jumps right out at you.
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