Kirk is an entertaining writer and I agree with him most of the way. Just look at my cameras. Same as his. So I must be a photographer then...
Ripe Camera: All the cameras are better than you are...
Kirk is an entertaining writer and I agree with him most of the way. Just look at my cameras. Same as his. So I must be a photographer then...
Ripe Camera: All the cameras are better than you are...
Interesting article and I enjoyed reading it but... I think the notion of "enough" is irrelevant, life is all about wanting more or bettering yourself, if we never bought things that were beyond our ability then the world would be a pretty boring place!
I personally don't think anyone needs to justify anything, if you want something and can afford it without robbing a bank or letting your kids go hungry then why the hell not get it? Marketing, new products, desire, all these things keep thousands of people in jobs and run economies all over the world.
It would be refreshing to read more people saying that this camera or that camera looks cool so they're buying it, celebrate the latest and greatest if you want, if owning it means you are motivated to go out and take shots then it has done its job.
http://matrichardson.com/1 Member(s) liked this post
Great article. More true than many of us want to believe.
Valid points, Mat. Unfortunately, most seem to buy new cameras because they believe their photos will look better, not because they are cool cameras. Just look at the discussions over at dpr. They represent the majority. We don't.
I buy cool cameras all the time, particularly those that I couldn't afford in the past, but that now sell for a pittance. I'm as guilty as anyone
I agree with Mat.
1) art = form
2) craft = function
If there is one thing that vast internet conversation should have taught us all by now it's that not everybody gets into photography for the same reasons. The folks that are practical and OK with "good enough" are functional. They may be highly successful professionals, but that doesn't change the fact that they are pursuing a different goal (whether they're even aware of it or not) than others.
Pierre Bourdieu observed that the insecurity photographers have towards gear is related to the fact that cameras can be operated by anyone. Photographers compensate for this by downplaying the importance of gear and technique while emphasizing pre-visualization and talent. In other words, they essentially advocate the view that the difference between a good photographer and a bad photographer is a mental thing rather than a physical thing. They separate the mind (talent) from the body (gear/technique).
Unfortunately, art doesn't recognize any separation between the mind and body. Painters and sculptors understand this when they claim that a good artist creates with "ease." His mastery of the use of physical tools is directly connected to his talent and ability of mind.
Ironically, photographers actually undermine the status of photography as an art by denying the importance of tools. Bourdieu believes that this is the fundamental reason why a formal method hasn't yet been developed. In the absence of a formal method, photography continues to struggle as a "middle-brow" art (aka craft).
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Great post Mike!
Art isn't easy or difficult. Those of us who don't understand how to make good art will rarely make better art if they work harder, unless we spend time to understand the concept of art first.
There's a threshold somewhere. While a selected few are born above the threshold, most of us must spend time studying and trying to understand the concept of our chosen art as well as our tools. But the tool itself rarely changes the visual impression of the art. It only makes it easier to achieve the goal from a technical point of view.
Technical progress has made it easier for photographers to make photos that look better from a technical point of view, but their value as art, or storytellers for that matter, doesn't improve one iota.
I spent a couple of hours looking through a book with classic images from Life Magazine a few weeks ago, all of them taken with film and obviously with much simpler equipment than most of us have access to today. I asked myself the question if any of those photos would have left a stronger impression if modern, digital gear had been used. My own answer to that was a unconditional "No".
Funny that - I just came here to post a link to that Article (Bill Gordon pointed me to it) . . . and Jorgen had beaten me to it.
First of all, I really enjoyed it.
Jorgen - whilst I quite agree with your Life Magazine point ("I asked myself the question if any of those photos would have left a stronger impression if modern, digital gear had been used"). Surely it would be better to look at a modern copy of Life Magazine and see whether the images printed there are better?
Personally I feel that I have two entirely different activities:
1. fiddling about with photo gear
2. Taking photographs.
I think it's a fascinating article - but there are so many other ones which could easily be written!
Just this guy you know
Kirk's a great guy, I follow his blog all the time. I liked this post, it says some truths, although even Kirk regularly does not follow his own advice. That endears him to me even more. :-)
Because photography and art are all about passion, all about a relentless pursuit of something quite rarified and difficult to define. Trying to be sensible all the time is hopelessly bereft of the illogic and passion that drives the art.
By analogy: Of course I wanted a LEATHER case for my iPad mini. It doesn't make the iPad work any better, the leatherette case I had for it actually does a better job, and of course the leather case is quadruple the price. But damn that leather case feels nice when I pick it up.
such it is.
Godfrey - GDGPhoto Flickr Stream1 Member(s) liked this post
I love his blog but this article is very much a studio photographers perspective. Yes of course in the studio you can make any camera shine, any sensor and any lens. Where you never need over iso 400. However in the real world, these new cameras are enabling an entire world of photography far divorced from the fully over controlled and over lit styles of yesteryear. As a wedding photographer I did need high iso, I couldn't light everything and my pictures were often printed as a 20X14" spread in a storybook album, at least two per wedding, viewed from lap to eye distance. That's just one genre. I also object to the 'good enough' concept and the fact that if it's as good as 35mm slide film, why would it need to get better. Sorry but I rarely shot 35mm slides but I did shoot them in MF and neg film in LF. My criteria for 'good enough even to match what we used to do' is therefore by necessity far removed from his and that's before I start to move on and do work which I could not begin to have done with film.
I am torn about whether or not to buy into an alternative mirror less system
but I do KNOW that I want Kirk's T-shirt
Ian.2 Member(s) liked this post
Very interesting post Jorgen, and a subject that's been top of mind recently.
My friend Irakly and I were just discussing some related aspects of photography yesterday. The lament (for lack of a better word) is not the state of photographic art, nor the obsession with the craft of it (technical). It is the lack of discrimination that allows artistic achievement or insightful humanistic observation (and even technical achievement) to be raised to some level of recognition when that achievement is realized.
For example, technical achievement can and has resulted in what became something of an art form, because it revealed a world not with-in the scope of normal vision. Egerton is a prime example of this. Many Life Magazine images were the result of a collaboration between the Life Tech people and a photographer wishing to do something never seen before. This type creative team work is still very evident in the Movie Industry … because there is an outlet for it … an audience so to speak.
IMO, still photography isn't devoid of art, it is devoid of an audience. By being so accessible, so promiscuous, so obnoxiously prevalent … it has had an opposite effect … good work is like a candle in the wind.
Deeply meaningful content is often like a good joke, if you have to explain it … well. That would beg the question as to whether the content was actually all that meaningful. Yet, we observe powerful images that provoke deeper thought go unheralded, even ignored, because they are drowned out by the hurricane of shallowness. Warhol's quip about 15 minutes of fame has become 15 seconds of fame … next … next … next …
IMO, obsessions with gear and all that stuff, is just a surrogate for no audience … a photographer can get a bunch of "likes", be recognized by a small circle of the like minded, by being the first with the latest. That this sort of interaction has become a blizzard of messaging that just funds the clutter.
[I]Interesting side note on technical matters … RE: Kirks reference to lighting … I was quite surprised to see a video of Mary Ellen Mark shooting some of her insightful and very humanistic images … using Profoto strobes.
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Marc, wonderful way of putting it! I'm rather looking forward for the digital steamroller to move on to video, for that to become the newest great thing that everyone does ad nauseaum. Might give a chance for photography to start being listened to again.IMO, still photography isn't devoid of art, it is devoid of an audience. By being so accessible, so promiscuous, so obnoxiously prevalent … it has had an opposite effect … good work is like a candle in the wind.
When I look through NG photos from the last decades, I see little or no progress in the quality of their photos. If anything, they have become more mainstream and the magazine more commercialised. While I'm sure that many of the photos published in NG these days wouldn't have been taken 50 years ago due to technical limitations, I'm also sure that those technical limitations forced photographers to work harder and with more dedication to achieve their targets. And while technical progress makes us able to take photos that couldn't be captured during the sixties, I believe that strong dedication can make us see opportunities and motives that might have gone unattended during a faster, digital process.
My "go to" camera at the moment is the F6. After nine years of mainly digital photography, I see to my surprise that the main challenge when becoming serious about film again is not what I thought it would be: the ability to take endless numbers of images. My main, and only serious challenge, is not to be able to change ISO on the fly. If I shot with film commercially, there are other aspects as well (which won't prevent me from doing just that, but that's another story), but with access to improved, relatively low cost film like Ektar 100, Portra 160, I'm very impressed with what can be achieved and how it influences my photography in a positive way. Photos will start appearing in a couple of weeks
If you google Philippe Halsman, you'll get 33,700 hits, or at least, that was what I got. Try googling Joey L. (Joey Lawrence), one of the latest, greatest photographic wiz kids of the Facebook generation and you'll get a whopping 67,400,000 hits. Joey is well known to use all the gadgets in the book (he lists most of them on his website). One can like or dislike his photography, but there is not much doubt that he's a worthy representative of the new, high tech photography generation.
In 1952, Philippe Halsman made a portrait of Senator John F. Kennedy. Here is the portrait:
Recently, Joey took a photo of another American, the rather famous actor Robert De Niro. Here is his portrait of the actor, a portrait that is featured on the front page of Mr. Lawrence's website:
Between those two portraits, there is 62 years of technological progress. Has this progress resulted in better photographs?
Last edited by Jorgen Udvang; 8th March 2014 at 17:58.
I have little doubt that if the greats of yesteryear were still alive to promote their greatness (which they didn't to that extent thank goodness) then they too would have as many hits. I'll be honest, wizzkids with a lot of daddy's money and being very smart-media savvy can generate a huge amount of publicity without actually being innovative, ground breaking or even all that good. The wedding business I used to live in is full of this. One only has to mention the name Jasmine Star to realise that success and fame in photography these days is more about your ability to twitter than your ability to light, compose or capture the moment.
I wonder if the notion of "popularity" has poisoned the well?
I understand people like Jasmine Star or Joey L wanting to be popular in their respective categories, there is money in it for them.
I wonder to what degree the makers of images in past were even known outside of a narrow band of knowledgable people? Their images had an audience and were popular in that they affected the hearts and minds of millions of people. But how well known were they themselves?
Ben, weddings are an interesting example because they are part of the fabric of everyday people's lives.
I started doing weddings because I had an audience … other art directors, designers, writers etc. in advertising. I loved the whole decisive moment humanistic approach to photography, and did it for myself. They recognized it as such, and asked me to shoot their weddings that way. I never set out to shoot weddings, I was asked to do them.
Flash forward to years later when I had made a business of it and started catering to a more diverse audience. Bad move. I should have let the business die a natural death.
Today, most insightful work with a more socially relevant depth, blows 5 miles over the audience's head. If they even recognize it, they don't really seem to care … I can give them what they want technically, but the very reason I ever even did that type of work no longer has an audience.
My last wedding is this July. I now price them so high no-one is buying … it's my way of getting out
It relates to this thread's subject in that I will also jettison a lot of "stuff' and get back to what made me happy before. I wouldn't go quite as far as shooting film … but the M Monochrome may see more action than ever before.
It's probably right that few people outside photography and editorial circles knew who had taken what became iconic images, but their photos lived their own lives and many of them are still famous, like the Kennedy photo above. Many recognise the photo but few know who took it.
What is worrying is that this kind of genius is mostly overshadowed by photographers who know the technical part and how to use electronic media to their advantage. Some of them have huge followings. The question is if their photos are what will be remembered in the future or if any particular photos at all will be remembered. This is not unique to photography of course. The combination of technology and new, often inexpensive ways of marketing changes the landscape within many professions. We all have to adapt, but I'm afraid a lot of genius will be overseen. Personally, I miss the times when things were more difficult, when more skill was needed, even if I didn't have that skill. It was something to aspire to. Dragging a ton of electronics out in the jungle is not a part of my aspiration. Anyone with enough money, connections and technical skill can do that.
So for those who know their tools, most cameras are ripe already. They've been ripe for decades. It's time to harvest and stop complaining about these modern times. They are here to stay anyway. And I do love the expression on the faces of iPad shooters when I change rolls
I was teaching a class last week and advanced the idea that a powerful image will be powerful even without knowing the context of the how, why and when it was taken. I suggested at random several famous photographs which I believe enforce this idea. The hippy putting a flower in the guardsman's rifle during a protest, the lone Chinaman in front of the tanks at Tienanmen Square, the Afghan girl, the migrant mother, the sailor kissing a girl in Times Square, a few others. I was explaining that these images provoked powerful thought even without knowing their political, social or historical concept when I slowly dried up. I looked round and asked, who of you know what photos I'm talking about? Blank stares. In a photography class full of US high school graduates. Makes you want to cry and scream all at the same time. They've all heard of bleeding Annie Leibowitz though. I didn't pick up an SLR until age 21 but at age 16 knew all of these iconic photographs, knew of Life magazine for all that it was soon to be dead. I knew the history behind them too. I wonder if they will say of this age that never has so much knowledge been available to all and never has less been known outside of a narrow and shallow band of interest.
I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz
Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com2 Member(s) liked this post
How good is aged whine?
I was vacillating over posting this, so much & so late,
but the recent DPReview post by Kirk Tuck piqued my
desire to whine a bit. To the DPR "Pro" forum, he asked
--ONLY NOW!!!-- the question one might expect to have
preceded his article of discussion here --to wit:
Kirk's article decries the megapixel race, claiming that someJust curiosity! How many professionals on this forum have switched to m4:3..
29 min ago [23 June 2014]
Or some other mirror less camera such as the Sony A7's or Fuji X cameras?
I recently bought a fairly complete Panasonic GH series centered around GH4
cameras for video and have been using them more and more for still assignments.
Curious who else is making the same change...
plateau has been reached, and yet ... (to his 8mpx is enuff)
the hoopla greeting the 5DmkII, D800, & now A7r suggest
that the race is, for some folks at least, continuing.
(OTOH, admittedly, Canon's compact G10's bold 14.7 mpx of 2009
became upon upgrades to that highly touted compact camera
10, 10, 12, 12, resp. in G11-12-15, & 16 (2013-08 : +5yrs to G10);
and noting that the G1X debuted @14.3 mpx, but its mkII version has
dropped to 13.1, and Canon's once top-of-line 1Ds & 1D merged in a
sort of mpix compromise : resp., 21 & 16 => 18. And the 5DmkII's 21
stayed the same (~= 22) --but to great hue & cry and threats to jump
off of bridges or to switch to Nikon's D800 (whichever is less severe!).
Perhaps I came to this thread from the wrong path
--I'd just happened upon the one where a fellow asks
whether he should sell his seldom-used Leica S2 (Med.Format)--,
[ cf.www.getdpi.com/forum/medium-format-systems-digital-backs/50291-selling-s2-%3D-stupidity.html ]
and have since read through the many opinions on
Jonoslack's "Decisions, Decision", which stand in stark
contrast to KT's sentiments, and so it's especially
curious that none other than Jonoslack has wanted to
highlight KT's article !? --except, perhaps now, at this
later date of my venting keystrokes, to J's ultimate (re-)decision!
(I've not checked to see if there is a re-re-decision or not.)
I find the cited article rather shallow, and as though it's made
for popular consumption, selling the ever-popular contrarian PoV;
the infamous Ken Rockwell might as well have penned it
--he was, after all, saying similar things about only needing
the 6mpix of a D40, back when a D40 was for sale, new,
facing the then promulgated boasting about 8-10-12mpx DSLRs.
(In some other DPR thread about needs for magazine pics,
the magic mpx number seems to be 18, which neatly includes
Canon but not some Nikon & m4/3 cameras.)
As one who brought to GetDPI mention of LuLa's "BCooter"
and his then praise of m4/3 and i.p. the GH3 (in light of Jorgen's
enthusiasm for the same), I find it quite lame that Kirk both
refers to "well known" photogs such as him without any other
names, and obviously does NOT so well know him :
"Russell Rutherford (famous fashion and sports photographer)"
sounds like a name perhaps, but is a marriage of surnames,
from James Russell (who is claimed well known) and partner
Kirk's later assertion, "I rushed to buy a Canon 5Dmk2 and when
Sony came out with a higher megapixel camera, the a99, I rushed
to buy that one too" suffers from the fact that Sony had a higher
mpx (slightly : 24 vs. 21) gun --viz., the a900-- even prior to (by weeks)
the 5DmkII (but not 1DsIII). So, with claims like these simple ones,
how much further should one walk w/KT?
Back to that Canon G10, vs. M240 KT offers this peculiar
"A Canon G10 will deliver a better file when shot at ISO 80
than a Leica M240 with a $5,000 lens*pushed to 3200."
--or if the Leica's lens cap is left on : this comparison tells us what ?!
(If one **needs** to shoot @iso3200 + --lemme guess--
Noctilux @f/1 for the shot, what's the G10 gonna deliver?)
His arguments amount to a peculiar stack of non sequiturs.
"People started leaving D800s at home in deference to Sony, Fuji,
and Olympus mirrorless cameras. And the people who did this found
out a very interesting fact : since about 2008 all of the better cameras
(non-budget, non-point&shoot) made files that were ... good enough.
Really? How did it take using modern smaller cameras to show
that older (larger) ones were good enough? --shouldn't that have
been seen (or not) in the direct comparisons of those older ones
with the high-mpx upgrades (5Dc vs. mkII, D3 vs. D3X, D90 vs.
D7000)? The D800/e (and newly a7r) are relatively new, coming
after 12-16-21mpx guns. Why would it take until 2014 (5+ years!)
to figure out that 2008 cameras were good enough?
And he can't seem to remember what he's written in
preceding prg.s --to wit, above is about 2008 (5 yrs & counting),
"What I am essentially trying to say here is that all of
the cameras I've come across in the last two years, ... ,
can deliver results that are nearly always better than the
technique and capabilities*of the person holding them."
So, is it 2008, or last 2 years (2012/13)?
Now, if we all believe in the thrust of this article --i.e.,
that most modern (read : "current & past couple years,
at LEAST") cameras are mostly more than anyone needs,
where was that sentiment when the S2-or-Not? OP asked
about selling a WAY upgrade, pricey MF camera that he wasn't
using so much (but did like its occasional output) ?!!!
I'm continually confused by the conflicting voices saying
such things as Kirk utters --megapixel wars are over, it's
all a wash re IQ, and so on-- and then the great cry for even
the next upgrade to D4 (or a complementary D4X) to well
exceed the already computer-straining 36mpx of the D800
(i.e. "54mpx")?! There is current chatter about this. Huh?
(And meanwhile to this small cameras drama, the sound of
millions & millions of clicking cellphones colors the background.)
Sometimes it seems much like this "It's always April 1st", presentation:
Fuji X-T1 Versus Olympus OM-D E-M1 | New Camera News
(So we should always smile.)|
| Best camera for the inebriated or overly caffeinated ::
| Olympus offers 5-axis, 4-cocktails image stabilization.
| Fuji requires sobriety and no caffeine.
| Winner: Olympus
| Best camera to wear with a cardigan or blazer with elbow patches ::
| Fuji offers a genuine leather case and strap.
| Olympus only has leather straps; brown strap is (gasp!) synthetic leather.
| Winner: Fuji
| Best camera to take a Sunday drive with in a restored Triumph TR-6 ::
| OM-D E-M1 will make Triumph look old.
| X-T1 will make Triumph look new.
| Winner: Depends on what you want.