Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/08/26

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Bokeh Nokeh
Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2000 17:27:40 EDT

In a message dated 8/26/00 3:43:23 PM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

<< it would be a very slim volume. I seem to recall, but can't remember the 
 source, that he said he had only taken 2 colour photos that he liked. I 
 would very much like to see them. I'm not convinced they would merit a book 
 to themselves, but who knows?

About a year ago, I came across a volume which contained a number of examples 
of his relatively late work in color, shot mainly in New York City, if memory 
serves.  After reading what he had to say about the merits of color 
photography in general, I was mildly surprised to see the work at all.  
Overall, I did not find it nearly so effective as his black & white work.  I 
returned the book to the shelf.  
He had previously maintained that to his eye color was more often than not a 
distracting element in a photograph rather than an enhancement, and to my eye 
his color work was reminiscent in atmosphere to that of a "colorized" black & 
white movie.  At best, the color was not a distraction.  At worst, it 
reflected a self-conscious effort at minimizing a potential distraction.  
In other words, I felt that the work was rarely if ever really about 
conveying the insight or visceral power that color can bring to a photograph, 
as in truly effective color photographs.  It was simply not the artist's 
medium of choice.
As to his interest in what is termed bo-keh, I would assert that his work 
demonstrates that either he was highly aware of and concerned with the 
appearance of every square millimeter of each of his photographs or he was 
one dumb-lucky Occidental.  While it is tempting to assume that C-B was a 
rough and ready quick shot artist and nothing more, his work consistently 
exemplifies, to my blurry eye, both the art and craft of photography.  
He may not have invented or refined the zone system or carted 200 pounds of 
view camera equipment around, but this artist was in control of every aspect 
of each published photograph, including bo-keh.  I hope I am sending you all 
scurrying to find examples of his work with ugly bo-keh.  That will at least 
provide an occasion to look at great photography instead of just talk about 
it, right?

Joe Sobel

Replies: Reply from Mark Rabiner <> (Re: [Leica] Bokeh Nokeh)