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Author Topic: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux  (Read 82704 times)

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #40 on: July 27, 2014, 07:09:14 pm »

... In terms of 20th century photography, Ansel is a footnote. Henri Cartier-Bresson was by far the most influential photographer of that century.

Ok... influential... on what? For whom? A bunch of street photographers in a genre that can be, as this thread has so amply demonstrated, be done by any MonkeyCam?

What was his influence on the world beyond his faithful? Has anyone put his image on a wall? Has he touched people's hearts and minds? The way Doisneau's couple kissing in Paris, or Eisenstaedt's sailor kissing a girl in NY did? If there is one photographer who touched other people's lives, it would be Sebastiao Salgado with his refugees or gold-mine workers series (which, coincidentally, branched into pure landscapes recently). Who's life was influenced by a guy jumping over a puddle!?

Enter Adams.

Maybe presidential medals of freedom mean nothing to you, but it is not the medal itself that matters, it is what it was for:

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"Drawn to the beauty of nature's monuments, he is regarded by environmentalists as a monument himself, and by photographers as a national institution. It is through his foresight and fortitude that so much of America has been saved for future Americans."

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With the Sierra Club, he advocated in 1936 for the establishment of Kings Canyon as a national park. His images of the Kings and Kern rivers were used effectively in Washington D.C. during Congressional discussions that ultimately yeilded the 1940 legislation founding Kings Canyon National Park.

Adams' influence on people and history goes beyond landscapes:

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In 1943, Adams boldly photo-documented Manzanar, a Japanese-American internment camp at his own expense, refusing government funding.

THAT is being influential, my friend. Not impressing art critics and the faithfuls.

RSL

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #41 on: July 27, 2014, 09:32:55 pm »

No Russ, I said famous not influential  ;)

Dave

Depends on what you consider fame, Dave. For decades HCB published widely both in Europe and the U.S. I remember HCB photographs in Life magazine time after time when I was growing up. He also published book after book: The Decisive Moment, A Propos de Paris, The Europeans, The Face of Asia, The People of Moscow, etc., etc., etc. He had books and articles written about him. Henri Cartier-Bresson and the Artless Art was one. In the meantime, Ansel was making prints that banks and other institutions could hang on their walls and writing books about photographic processes. I read all of Ansel's books, by the way, and for years I had a copy of Moonrise Over Hernandez hanging on my office wall. But to say that Ansel was more famous than Henri is more than a bit of a stretch. Ansel was famous mostly within a small community of photographers. Henri was famous around the world.
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RSL

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #42 on: July 27, 2014, 09:56:10 pm »

Hi Slobodan,

If you think street photography can be done by any MonkeyCam, let's see a few of your best street shots. Street photography is the most difficult genre of all. By comparison, landscape is an afternoon tea party.

What was Henri's influence beyond his faithful? Are you serious? Do you know anything at all about the history of photography? He was a prime mover in the establishment of Magnum, which continues to be one of the finest photo agencies in the world. But more importantly he influenced a whole generation of photographers who showed us what people around the world were like: Chim, Doisneau, Ronis, Evans, Erwitt, Riboud, Levitt, Frank, Winogrand, Friedlander, Koudelka, to name just a few of the contemporaries who admit his influence on their work.

A couple generations of street photographers have followed those contemporaries. Steve McCurry is one member of those later generations, and all have been influenced by Henri's work. It's neat that Ansel has gotten medals and has "advocated" for things like Kings Canyon. But you know damned well I'm talking about artistic influence, not political influence.

I think Ansel was a great technician. I read all his books and, at one point in my film days, even cooked up some one-of-a-kind developers based on what I learned from him. But post-processing isn't art. The art takes place at the moment that shutter clicks. It's interesting that Ansel's most famous photograph is Moonrise, and that that one happened by pure chance. When he stopped his van and got his stuff on top for the shot, forgetting his light meter and having to guess at the exposure, that whole situation was very close to what happens in street photography. And it was the best thing he ever did.
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Dave (Isle of Skye)

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #43 on: July 28, 2014, 06:47:43 am »

Street photography is the most difficult genre of all. By comparison, landscape is an afternoon tea party.

I hope you are still kidding me Russ and even though I do realise how this discussion could so easily have us all disappearing up our own arses, or reverting to child like arguments such as my dad is better than your dad etc, but I do have to say I find that statement a little OTT. I mean come on, more difficult in what way? More difficult than flying to the moon and taking a shot of the earth rising above the eclipsing shadow of the moon? Ė a landscape shot if ever I saw one and probably the most famous single image of all time.

I am no good at street photography I will happily admit that, I tried it and I just donít get it, it didnít move me emotionally, but this doesnít mean I think it is more difficult than landscape, just that I am rubbish at it. But from my experience of the genre, I can conclude that street is a submissive type of photography, you just wait or wander around aimlessly in the hope that something happens or comes towards you and that you notice it in time to capture it, a bit like fishing. Landscape on the other hand is the complete opposite, you have to go out and hunt down your quarry, it is an active type of photography where the results are totally up to you and your abilities, your eye and your skill. Good landscapes shots do not walk into your frame, you have to actively seek them out and know what you are doing (usually in a blur of heart pumping activity) when you find something meaningful to extract from everything else that surrounds it, because it is you and only you that makes and designs the picture and everything you choose to include or exclude within it. Street on the other hand is happening right now and right outside your front door, and every image you take is based on happenstance, in fact you donít even really know what you have until you scroll through your images later.

But let us argue no further Russ, HCB was as good as it gets in his genre and will probably never be rivalled and so was AA in his, each one head and shoulders above everyone else in their field and I think we would both be very happy indeed if we were even half as good.  ;)

Dave
« Last Edit: July 28, 2014, 06:50:13 am by Dave (Isle of Skye) »
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RSL

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #44 on: July 28, 2014, 11:22:45 am »

Hi Dave,

I think part of the problem we're having is the need to define what you're after in your photographs. Certainly flying to the moon is difficult, but making a shot of the earth once you're on the moon isn't. The result is technically interesting, and if that's what you're after in your photographs then you've succeeded. But if technically interesting were my objective in my photographs I'd get a job making dental x-rays.

I'm sorry you don't understand street. It's a problem a lot of people have. Even Brooks Jensen, who publishes LensWork, admits he doesn't understand street. That's a shame because the printing in his magazine is exceptionally fine, and Brooks's blind spot results in page after page of meaningless abstractions intermixed with sometimes quite good landscape and an occasional study of some interesting faces.

I don't think you can evaluate the relative difficulty of street versus landscape unless you do both. Good street shots don't "walk into your frame," as you put it. You have actively to seek them out and to know what you're doing when you find something meaningful to extract from everything else that surrounds it, because it is you and only you that makes the framing that grabs the people and the geometry which, together, make a picture that captures the peculiarity of life. The main difference between street and landscape in that respect is time. In landscape you usually have virtually all day to decide where to set up, how to frame the shot, what to include and what to leave out. You have time to think. In street, your response has to be intuitive. Usually you have a second or less to make the shot. If you depend on your conscious mind to make decisions, you'll lose the picture.

I don't have a beef with Ansel. I learned a great deal from the man, but what I learned was technical procedure. What I learned from Henri was a kind of esthetics perfectly fitted to the camera. There were a few painters who attempted street and did a fair job of it, but when the Leica came along they had to give it up. There were many painters doing landscape, and when the camera came along they laughed and carried on.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #45 on: July 28, 2014, 11:48:21 am »

... Good street shots don't "walk into your frame," as you put it. You have actively to seek them out...

The only guy who would fit that description is that New York photographer who startles his subjects by getting into their faces with a flash.

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #46 on: July 28, 2014, 12:09:59 pm »

Good [street] shots don't "walk into your frame," as you put it. You have actively to seek them out and to know what you're doing when you find something meaningful to extract from everything else that surrounds it, because it is you and only you that makes the framing that grabs the people and the geometry which, together, make a picture that captures [the peculiarity something] of [the world].

Fixed that for you.
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Dave (Isle of Skye)

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #47 on: July 28, 2014, 03:15:03 pm »

OK Russ, I think we will have to agree to disagree, because it has now become obvious, that I don't understand street just as much as you don't understand landscape.

Now you can't say fairer than that can you  ;)

Dave
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RSL

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #48 on: July 28, 2014, 03:18:01 pm »

The only guy who would fit that description is that New York photographer who startles his subjects by getting into their faces with a flash.

If you've read my "On Street Photography" article (http://www.russ-lewis.com/essays/OnStreetPhotography.html), Slobodan, you know I agree with you about Bruce Gilden. But to say that good street shots walk into your frame, you'd then have to agree that the same thing happens with landscape. In one case you're walking in a populated area with a camera in your hand looking for a picture. In the other case you're driving or moving around on horseback or on muleback or on jackassback with a ton of equipment looking for a picture. The real difference is that in the first case you'd better be ready to shoot. In the second case you have to unload all that crap, set up, and wait for the light to improve.
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RSL

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #49 on: July 28, 2014, 03:25:27 pm »

OK Russ, I think we will have to agree to disagree, because it has now become obvious, that I don't understand street just as much as you don't understand landscape.

Now you can't say fairer than that can you  ;)

Dave

Hi Dave, I not only think we have to disagree, I'm sure we have to disagree. But before you conclude that I don't understand landscape, better take a look at my webs. Maybe your definition of landscape excludes the hand of man. If so you need to check out Constable and Turner, among many others, in your art history books.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #50 on: July 28, 2014, 03:50:00 pm »

The reasons landscape photographers do not get or like street are the same reasons that attracted us to it in the first place: to get away, as far as possible, from the crowds. What landscape photographers are running away from, street shooters rush into. For the former, crowds are terrifying, for the latter, terrific. We search solitude, splendid isolation, inner piece, far away from the crowds and their misery, vanity, greed, stupidity... you are fascinated by it. We are choking in crowds, you get adrenalin rush. It is not that we do not get the " the peculiarity of life,"  or human conditions, it is that we get it only too well and thus want to find a refuge from it. Different folks, different strokes.

RSL

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #51 on: July 28, 2014, 04:07:40 pm »

Okay, Slobodan. I can agree with all of that. But I don't think the one thing excludes the other. I enjoy living near people and being able to walk down a street where there's action, but I also love going up into the mountains and enjoying the solitude and the hand of God on those hills. In my summers, when I was a high-schooler I sometimes used to take a bedroll and a rifle and go off for a couple days in the northern Michigan woods. The delicious sound of wind in the high pines has never left me.
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amolitor

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #52 on: July 28, 2014, 08:05:23 pm »

My experiments with random shooting of large numbers of frames suggest to me that you can produce fake Winogrands (of certain eras, not all) by spraying the exposures around wildly, and that you cannot produce fake Cartier-Bressons with the same method.

They're both street but otherwise totally different. Different ideas, different methods, different motivations, different aesthetics, and different results.
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RSL

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #53 on: July 28, 2014, 09:48:33 pm »

I agree with you, Andrew. For one thing, Garry didn't have Henri's grasp of geometry, which he'd learned from Andrť Lhote, who reportedly was a real nitpicker. For another, toward the end of his life and his career, I think Garry's work deteriorated badly. I don't doubt that a lot of the stuff he produced during this period could be replicated with random shooting because I think he began to shoot randomly. But even during that final period, Garry occasionally produced a gem. It was a sad denouement for a man who'd been a very fine artist.
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jjj

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #54 on: July 30, 2014, 09:17:13 am »

I'm not sure what Rhein II actually has to do with serious photography, but if money is your guide to what's great, you're thrashing about in the wrong genre. Paintings are a lot more expensive.
£3million is serious money regardless of art genre. Besides how do you make out that Gursky's isn't serious? What is serious photography anyway, does it taste different or something and should I try it?
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jjj

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #55 on: July 30, 2014, 09:57:35 am »

If you think street photography can be done by any MonkeyCam, let's see a few of your best street shots. Street photography is the most difficult genre of all. By comparison, landscape is an afternoon tea party.
I do not see any difference in difficulty, both require patience, careful observation and the ability to place camera in the right place, not to mention a lot of walking around. But above all they, as do all genres of photography require a good eye for your subject and if you haven't got one then it isn't difficult, but actually near impossible.
Besides if you are good at something then it is easy to do, not that difficulty in producing a shot should have any bearing on something's artistic worth.

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I think Ansel was a great technician. I read all his books and, at one point in my film days, even cooked up some one-of-a-kind developers based on what I learned from him. But post-processing isn't art. The art takes place at the moment that shutter clicks.
Utter, utter nonsense.
The click of the shutter is only the first stage in the creative process, unless shooting on slide and processing normally at the lab. Or these days shooting jpeg and not altering it afterwards.
Sometimes what I shoot is just a sketch or starting point for the end result, sometimes it's near as dammit the finished product. The creativity or art is there at all points until the finished product is arrived at.



« Last Edit: July 30, 2014, 10:08:38 am by jjj »
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jjj

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #56 on: July 30, 2014, 10:00:02 am »

The reasons landscape photographers do not get or like street are the same reasons that attracted us to it in the first place: to get away, as far as possible, from the crowds. What landscape photographers are running away from, street shooters rush into. For the former, crowds are terrifying, for the latter, terrific. We search solitude, splendid isolation, inner piece, far away from the crowds and their misery, vanity, greed, stupidity... you are fascinated by it. We are choking in crowds, you get adrenalin rush. It is not that we do not get the " the peculiarity of life,"  or human conditions, it is that we get it only too well and thus want to find a refuge from it. Different folks, different strokes.
You may be generalising from yourself to all other landscape photographers and I'm sure they are pretty varied in their natures. I'm equally happy doing both genres.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #57 on: July 30, 2014, 10:34:17 am »

... I'm equally happy doing both genres.

Jack all trades, master of none?

Isaac

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #58 on: July 30, 2014, 11:29:27 am »

Jack all trades, master of none?

Broader interests?
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jjj

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Re: Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux
« Reply #59 on: July 30, 2014, 11:34:19 am »

Jack all trades, master of none?
Not at all, I find I can shoot most genres as I'm adaptable/good at photography and not just a one trick pony. I also have a background in science, arts and sports, so generally not so narrowly focused as those who cloister themselves in one area.
Having an open mind is a good thing, I recommend trying it sometime.   :P
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