Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2008/12/23

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Subject: [Leica] Re: Ansel Adams
From: drodgers at (David Rodgers)
Date: Tue Dec 23 07:00:03 2008


My reply wasn't directed at you, personally. I just thought Elliot Erwitt's 
comment about the Zone System being nonsense was a little ironic on his 

After all, the Zone System is just a way of explaining how film reacts to 
exposure and development. So, I read Erwitt's comment to imply that 
consideration of exposure and development -- i.e. tone, contrast, etc. -- is 
nonsense, and all that matters is seeing (which I assume he meant, subject 
matter and composition.). 

Granted, subject matter and composition are important. They may even be more 
important than exposure and development. But you can't completely disregard 
the latter. 

I love Elliot Erwitt's work, in particular all his dog shots. And yes, they 
don't seem as technically great as Ansel Adams' landscapes. But consider 
Erwitt's somewhat famous image of a scampering dog suspended over a puddle 
with a person in the background. Dramatic tonal contrast helps makes that 
image what it is, IMHO. 

So in essence I see Erwitt's statement as belittling Adams for attempting to 
explain something that makes his (Erwitt's) photographs compelling. At least 
that's the way I read it. You posted the statement without any disclaimer, 
which sort of implied to me that you agreed with it. So I challenged the 
comment. Again, nothing personal. It all makes for lively discussion.


-----Original Message-----
From: Bob W [] 
Sent: Monday, December 22, 2008 5:22 PM
To: 'Leica Users Group'
Subject: RE: [Leica] Re: Ansel Adams

> as long as you brought it here, it's supposed that you should 
> know why  
> you did,

My post from Erwitt elicited the response "Is good photography really
completely unrelated to contrast and exposure?". This is clearly a matter of
opinion, and it's not for me or anyone else to decide what is and is not
good photography. Having said that I then went on to state my opinion about
the relationship between subject matter and technique, so I quite clearly
showed why I brought that quote into the forum.

Having asked me again to define what good photography is, you've gone on in
the same post to criticise me for supposedly "overstating what photography
should be for the rest of us". Really, you must think about things a bit
before you blurt out silly emails.

Perhaps you could point me to the part of my posts where I "overstate what
photography should be for the rest of us", or even state (without the over-)
what it should be. Everything I've written is either an obvious matter of
opinion (eg finding certain types of photo boring) or an obvious matter of
fact (providing a quote from someone else). 

At the same time, perhaps you could also turn your indignation on other
people who similarly express opinions about all sorts of matters. Opinions
such as "As photography they worth next nothing." The pot should not call
the kettle black.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: 
> [] On 
> Behalf Of Luis Miguel Casta?eda Navas
> Sent: 22 December 2008 20:08
> To: Leica Users Group
> Subject: Re: [Leica] Re: Ansel Adams
> On 22/12/2008, at 20:46, Bob W wrote:
> > That's not for me to decide - email Elliott Erwitt and ask him to  
> > explain
> > himself.
> as long as you brought it here, it's supposed that you should 
> know why  
> you did, alas being able to speak at the very least for what 
> it means  
> to you, which, BTW, it was all you were asked for.
> >  which is one reason why there are so many beautifully printed
> > but boring pictures of dried up logs beside lakes, and so few  
> > exciting but
> > technically bad pictures of the D-Day landings.
> to me, as I said before, D-Day landings only worths something, if  
> anything, as historical document. As photography they worth next  
> nothing. I've seen better and more moving prints in 'found  
> photographs' sites of unknow soldiers and photographers, lots of them.
> You're falling into mistake your tastes and preferences with what  
> photography should be for everyone, diminishing the value of 
> whatever  
> you don't like. You can enjoy whatever you like, but there is 
> no need  
> to overstate what photography should be for the rest of us.
> I feel better, to hell with photography, art, women, and all
> E. Weston, 1924
> --------------------------------------------------------------
> ---------
> _______________________________________________
> Leica Users Group.
> See for more information

Replies: Reply from leica at (Bob W) ([Leica] Re: Ansel Adams)
Reply from kcarney1 at (Ken Carney) ([Leica] Re: Ansel Adams)
Reply from imagist3 at (Lottermoser George) ([Leica] Re: Ansel Adams - Erwitt's statement)
In reply to: Message from leica at (Bob W) ([Leica] Re: Ansel Adams)