I am stuck between two conflicting photography paradigms but that doesn't mean I'm not loving it!

eeyore's birthday party. 2013.

Gosh. Every time I point out what I think is happening in our markets and our art I get notes of concern from sensitive readers who think I've become morose or depressed. I'm sorry if my attempts at discourse are so ragged as to leave so much wiggle room when it comes divining to my emotional health. I'm generally giggling hysterically as I'm typing because my fingertips are incredibly sensitive!!!

eeyore's birthday party. 2013.

I get that life is in constant flux and undergoing chaos theory-style change and there's nothing I could do about it anyway. In short retrospect I think I'm making the continual journey into the unknown without too much fuss. I'm comfortable with the idea that even change is going through a non-linear, non-reccuring  metamorphosis. Really.....comfortable.....I've even got my fur lined Crocs on under my desk...

In both the film days and the digital days I've come to grips with the idea that making good images is pretty easy but making images that are really good (images I like for more than a week) is insanely difficult and I'm happy when I get one out of about 1,000 that works.

eeyore's birthday party. 2013.

I guess other people are more reticent about writing down ideas that come to them without weeks or months of turning the idea over and over again in order to be certain of its validity, its veracity. But nothing is certain and my style is to write about the things I ponder as I'm thinking of them so that what I write is fresh and, to me, topical. After all, why would you want to mull over stale thoughts?

For example, a few days ago I saw a video about Richard Avedon. As a subset of the the things I took away from the video was the way the cameras he chose to use for various projects effected the work he was doing on those projects. And who can deny that there are extreme technical and stylistic differences between his medium format images, done in the studio in the 1950's and 1960's, and the work done for In the American West project, which was done with an 8x10 inch camera on various available light locations?  

I tried to write about those differences in tools and how that relates to our work today. The boundaries of working with readily available digital tools more or less re-enforce working with much smaller formats. It's a fact that the unawareness of available tools imposes a limitation on the scope of our collective vision. It would be nice to have available----for the people whose vision skews that way---inexpensive larger formats in digital so we could replicate the OPTICAL look of the larger formats (not the grain or color or etc., etc.).

I made these statements not in an attempt to trawl for some sort of remorseful empathy or sympathy but only as a statement of fact. It would be nice to work with a traditional Hasselblad with a full 6 by 6 cm digital sensor on the back. At an accessible price. I'm looking for the visual differences that the physics of size makes, not technology!

But not having these particular tools doesn't plunge me into a funk. I'm generally quite happy to play with the full range of what's available. My discourse on the subject was meant to be along the line of "New Coke" versus "Old Coke" with the underlying hope that the camera marketers would read my blog and mark another check in a box on some marketing study form that has a box which reads, "Study subject would like bigger sensors!"  I also wanted to remind readers that the boundaries of our craft are bigger than those that we see offered to us every day by the leading camera vendors.

It's important to remember, when reading, that not everyone has the same shooting style or requirements and many have styles that do a great job leveraging the smaller sensors and the tools (lenses) available for smaller framed cameras. The photos on Robin Wong's great blog always comes to mind.....

One commenter applauded me for acknowledging my own hypocrisy but I don't think it's as much hypocrisy as it is being stuck between two conflicting paradigms that represent the best of past and present. Every person vacillates between known and unknown, tried and untried. I'm sure that if the reader was privy to the continuity of my thoughts he would see my more carefully and continually crafted rationalizations for my pendular swings of allegiance and would recognize them as contiguous parts of a saner continuum. 

After all, most photographers I knew (commercial photographers) in the glorious days of film had three systems that they used interchangeably: 35mm, 120 and 4x5. Each had it's place in the rotation and in logic. No one begrudged them the choice then and no one required an unflagging dedication to one format or the other. 

My happiness or unhappiness is scarcely ever affected by my access to various camera formats. My temporary and evanescent sadness was only for the thought that we should have.......more. But "always more" seems to be the penultimate thought of American culture and I am, after all, an American Photographer.

eeyore's birthday party. 2013.

Yes, I want a large sensor medium format digital camera! Yes, I'm having a blast shooting with a Panasonic G6 this week. Go figure.


Cpt Kent said...

As there is a difference between sensor size / optical look (stating he obvious here to pose the following question) - do people perceive 'things' differently, given that some people have there eyes close together, and others further apart? Could it be that that a larger format will give us something closer to what we see, v's a small format that will give you something more 'one eyed'.
No doubt this is already somewhere should I be bothered to google it....

Mike Rosiak said...

Thinking while on my walk at lunch break: "I'd like a 'cheap' 4x5 back."

THAT would be cool.

MartinP said...

The cheap 4x5 back exists. Costs about thirty dollars or euros new. It's called a double-dark-slide. After you've developed the film you can shoot the neg/pos over a light-box with whatever digi-cam you want.

The 'magic' is with the view and optical qualities of the (big, long) lens that squirts the image on to the (big) film, so digitising it afterwards doesn't ruin the magic completely. :o)

Patrick Dodds said...

One in a thousand images that you still like after a week - yep, that sounds about right.

I'm interested to know what the final thought of American Photographers is btw...

Ron Nabity said...

"Hypocrisy" is overused as a criticism. Life is full of contradictions and it is interesting (and fun) to hold two or more conflicting thoughts at the same time.

Thanks for saying it fresh and spontaneously. It is much more engaging to read.