11 Comments
Jan 24Liked by Lester Picker, RWB

I think a point that is left out, at least explicitly, is being with the landscape. It sounds corny, but I can't think of a phrase that hasn't been beaten to death. Anyway, this shouldn't be work in my opinion. For me, it's sort of like listening with my eyes. At some point potential compositions may become apparent. My initial refinement is intuitive. Only when I start to worry about the edges of a composition or details of flow within it does my activity in the field start to take on a sense of formality. I generally make a single version of a composition unless it involves chaos. Then I may make several variations. I've heard of people teaching how to find order in chaos, but I think appreciating the chaos is equally important.

When I worked with transparency film in my 4x5, the final result was judged on a light table. It was either there, or it wasn't. Now those transparencies have been scanned, and I still find that I do very little post-processing when the transparency and the scan are "right." That doesn't seem to be the case with digital capture, where the process involves more steps; more choices. I may be the only wishy-washy artist (non-artist?) out there, but I have on more than a few occasions produced several versions of a single digital capture that said different things to me, and that I have liked equally. That was true even after looking at the prints on the wall for awhile. And now there is the added dimension of being able to remake a color photograph as black and white! I can't speak to what other people go through, but I think some of my images are better in color and others are better in black and white. Some I like equally in color and B&W.

So here I am, trying to respond without intellectualizing or trying to anticipate what other people would prefer. This seems natural in the field, but there are times when the digital darkroom offers too many "valid" alternatives to what I felt when I started. Am I making a photograph? I'm certainly trying.

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Feb 22Liked by Lester Picker

Les, off topic, I'm working with my new P7570, and am learning rapidly! A difficulty: when I change rolls of paper I need to pin down the loose edge of the roll removed. I've been using 'blue' painters tape, but it's too sticky. Do you use something like this and if so what brand and model?

thanks.

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Jan 24Liked by Lester Picker

Yes Les the act of selection is one the most important paths one must take to make non-intellectual photographs. Intellectualizing your subjects as opposed to visualizing your subjects will yield redundant imagery void of interest whereas visual responses to a visual stimulation will lead to other visual references in one's photography.

I don't know if you ever followed Nathan Lyons- but his treatise was to make photographs based on conscious visual stimulation and not intellectualizing visual stimulus.

My background included in the late 60's- taking only 2 sheets of film for my view camera and taking it out for 5 or 6 hours. It taught me a lot about selection and visualization concepts.

In today's world selection has gone out the window.

Thanks for your newsletter.

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Jan 24Liked by Lester Picker

Having started my photography journey in film, I was more accustomed to making rather than taking photos. There is little question that digital has changed that formula somewhat as has my transition into sports and WL photography. I still try to craft photos which capture emotion or tell stories and thank you for posting the evocative column.

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Jan 24Liked by Lester Picker

Edward Weston, on returning to his studio, is quoted as saying: "I made a negative today!" For him that was satisfaction. Admittedly he was working with an 8 x 12 camera and glass plates. But certainly he was doing all that you suggest.

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author

Hi Michael,

What you are facing we had to figure out a decade ago. What works for us is this. At Home Depot (or any other hardware store), buy a roll of cellophane . I know that's not the right name for it, but it's like Saran Wrap. It comes with a handle (usually orange) and replaceable rolls of the wrap. Every time I take a roll from the printer, I immediately turn 4-5 wraps around the roll. It adheres perfectly. Since we have many rolls in our studio, I also use a marker to put the paper name on a section of the wrapped paper. This is an incredibly cheap and effective solution. Please let our readers know if it worked for you.

Les

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I'm not a professional, but I've been serious about taking/making pictures since 1957 when I was 17. For a youngster, film was expensive, processing as well, so what I did was more about making than taking. My first film was 120 in a truly amateur camera, then 35mm and much later, back to 120 with a Rolleiflex and 35mm, too. Much, much later with a Mamiya 6x7. Somewhere in there I learned to do my own darkroom work which made processing more efficient but photos bigger. It taught me to look hard, think about what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it, compose and recompose, and finally take the shot. Then came digital and more shooting and "developing" variables to learn. Today, when I read that a professional took only 2,500-3,500 shots on a 2-day venture, I am amazed. I just cannot do it that way; it's not in my bones.

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