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

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Subject: [Leica] Re: Ansel Adams - Erwitt's statement
From: imagist3 at (Lottermoser George)
Date: Tue Dec 23 16:06:08 2008
References: <> <> <> <96CFB658B3B14174A1964152F6E0B795@precisionm50>

Hasn't this opened up
into a wonderful reflection
on the history of our beloved art and craft.
Thanks Bob - very cool addition.

Fond regards,

On Dec 23, 2008, at 5:27 PM, Bob W wrote:

> Worth remembering, though, that in their time the pictorialists were
> cutting-edge, and realistic. PH Emerson's photos are well worth  
> looking at
> from a documentary point of view. They were in revolt against the
> establishment of the time and the practice of photographers such as  
> Henry
> Peach Robinson, who constructed their photographs, in much the same  
> way that
> some people do now with Photoshop. There's a very, very good book  
> about PH
> Emerson called The Old Order and The New which I can recommend very  
> highly
> for a reappraisal of Emerson, a great photographer.
> The problem with pictorialism was that it went much the same way as  
> the
> rocks and logs school of f/64 with a mass of untalented people  
> following
> slavishly to the point where any originality or creativity was long  
> gone and
> all that came after was trite cliche.
> Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
> Bob
>> Very nicely articulated Peter; great context.
>> The only piece you missed: Adams and Weston et al
>> also worked (somewhat in harmony as the f:64 group)
>> revolting against the pictorialist's romantic view
>> of people, places and things; making them
>> cutting edge and going against the current trends.
>> Fond regards,
>> George
>> On Dec 23, 2008, at 3:22 PM, Peter Klein wrote:
>>> George, you're right, Erwitt's jab *is* ridiculously glib. Let's
>>> try to
>>> put it in context.
>>> We have to remember that Adams was a generation older than
>> Erwitt.
>>> In the
>>> 30s and 40s, both Adams' almost Wagnerian interpretation of the
>>> American
>>> West and the level to which he quantified the process of
>>> photography were
>>> relatively new and unique things. By the time Erwitt came of age,
>>> an Adams
>>> landscape was an established norm that newer artists were reacting
>>> against.
>>> The Zone System was just a codification of things Adams had worked
>>> out in
>>> practice. His followers turned it into a One True Faith. Of course a
>>> photographer like Erwitt would find that nonsense--by the time you
>>> could
>>> think "N-1," the moments that most Erwitt images captured would be
>>> gone.
>>> Plus, Erwitt wasn't interested in grand landscapes.  He was
>>> interested in
>>> people, dogs, oddball moments and quirky juxtapositions.
>>> Lots of photographic trends become ridiculous at the hands of the
>>> faithful. Remember the "I never crop" fetish of the HCB followers,
>>> which
>>> included filing black border space into your negative carrier?
>>> Then we
>>> found out that HCB did in fact crop.
>>> My own way of photographing is much more like Erwitt's than like
>>> Adams,
>>> but I appreciate Adams, too.
>>> I had the good fortune to see an exhibit of Adams' prints (in Las
>>> Vegas,
>>> no less!), along with some of his equipment and letters.  In his
>>> letters,
>>> I found a man who was as much an emotional artist as the most
>>> unablashed
>>> Romantic.  It's just that he developed a painstaking method that
>>> gave him
>>> the best chance of capturing what he saw.
>>> Here's a good article placing Adams in perspective:
>>> <
>>> is-it-art-749574.html>
>>> I remember an article in the old "Camera 35", probably by David
>>> Vestal. He
>>> had a dream where he was trying to photograph a subject with
>>> particularly
>>> challenging dynamic range.  The Adams' ghost appeared to him and
>>> whispered
>>> in his ear:  "Bracket."
>>> --Peter
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Replies: Reply from hoppyman at (Geoff Hopkinson) ([Leica] Re: Ansel Adams - Erwitt's statement)
In reply to: Message from pklein at (Peter Klein) ([Leica] Re: Ansel Adams - Erwitt's statement)
Message from imagist3 at (Lottermoser George) ([Leica] Re: Ansel Adams - Erwitt's statement)
Message from leica at (Bob W) ([Leica] Re: Ansel Adams - Erwitt's statement)