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Thread: wide open look photos

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    wide open look photos

    Is wide open photography (like summilux / noctilux / etc) only suitable for portraits?

    I really like composition and multi story telling of photographers like Alex Webb.
    I like a lot Bruce Gilden gritty look.
    Koudelka photos.
    Etc.
    But I cannot find anyone of the same caliber using wide open lenses.
    It seems like masters prefer composition and composition for them is possible only by having all in focus.
    Is this true?
    I really like the selective focus of luminous lenses but I am not clear how to use this beyond the usual cliches or portrait situations.
    I am trying to widen my horizon and know a little more, so examples are very much what I am looking for. I am willing to learn.
    Any idea where to start from?
    Thanks
    G>

    PS I am not a pro so please excuse it this is a basic question or a clear lack of knowledge. for me photography is just a beloved hobby :-)

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    Re: wide open look photos

    It is suitable when you only want the attention on one thing.

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    Re: wide open look photos

    could it be then then the 'all in focus' is akin to a symphony while a 'selective focus' is more like an italian operetta?
    And is 'symphonic' photography much more popular between masters?
    Any example of masters using solo voices?
    G

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    Re: wide open look photos

    Most documentary photographers want to show the environment, so very few look for shallow depth of field. Also, the compression of depth with a large depth of field makes the image more graphic, more abstract. This is really an aesthetic codified in Straight Photography and a reaction to soft focus photography.

    But have a look at wildlife photography by Nick Brandt.

    http://www.nickbrandt.com

    David Burnett is a working today using a 4x5 view camera and its movements in photojournalism for its narrow DoF.

    http://www.davidburnett.com

    Oddly enough, the first practitioner of Straight Photography (known as Naturalistic Photography at that time) is a 19th century photographer named Peter Henry Emerson (we like to think Straight Photography was a modern idea). While taking a documentary style, he believed a shallow depth of field was more "natural" as he thought it imitated human vision (it did not, but it works for him).

    http://www.moma.org/collection/artis...artist_id=1724
    Will

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    Re: wide open look photos

    Will, this is gold! Thank you so much for the explanation.
    I will have a look and think some more :-)
    G
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    Re: wide open look photos

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    Most documentary photographers want to show the environment, so very few look for shallow depth of field. Also, the compression of depth with a large depth of field makes the image more graphic, more abstract. This is really an aesthetic codified in Straight Photography and a reaction to soft focus photography.

    But have a look at wildlife photography by Nick Brandt.

    Nick Brandt : Photography

    David Burnett is a working today using a 4x5 view camera and its movements in photojournalism for its narrow DoF.

    David Burnett | Photographer

    Oddly enough, the first practitioner of Straight Photography (known as Naturalistic Photography at that time) is a 19th century photographer named Peter Henry Emerson (we like to think Straight Photography was a modern idea). While taking a documentary style, he believed a shallow depth of field was more "natural" as he thought it imitated human vision (it did not, but it works for him).

    MoMA | The Collection | Peter Henry Emerson (British, 1856–1936)
    Hi Will, didn't he considered even by himself as a pictorial photographer which was a style that tried to imitate paintings which in the late 1800s was impressionism? Straight photography which included Weston, Adams and even Stieglitz later on, was a rebellion against pictorial photography. So Emerson wasn't a straight photographer at all and he was a even, by his own definition, a pictorial photographer.
    Last edited by airfrogusmc; 22nd July 2014 at 07:10.

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    Re: wide open look photos

    Quote Originally Posted by airfrogusmc View Post
    Hi Will, actually he was considered even by himself as a pictorial photographer which was a style that tried to imitate paintings which in the late 1800s was impressionism. Straight photography which included Weston, Adams and even Stieglitz was a rebellion against pictorial photography. So Emerson wasn't a straight photographer at all he was a even by his own definition a pictorial photographer.
    Emersion headed the movement against pictorial photography--he believe in the merger of science and art and that photography has its own aesthetic. The quarrel between him and the leading pictorial photographer at the time H. P. Robinson (author of Pictorial Effect in Photography) is famous. Emerson in his manifesto Naturalist Photography did predate what would later become straight photography--unmanipulated images and straight printing. Emerson did not use soft-focus lenses. The fact he used the word "pictorial" was not surprising--photography was new and still finding an identity, but he was clearly against the imitation of painting and the other "fine arts.". He even spent time with the leading scientists (chemists and opticians) working in the photographic process to form his ideas.

    But the confusing thing with Emerson is that where he thought the straight technique of not manipulating the image and framing it in the camera and using no artificial techniques or manipulations was an art form, he later recanted and declared this type of photograph not art. He later went on to write a history of pictorial photography. But his book Naturalistic Photography was later rediscovered by the straight photographers. Looking at Emerson's work shows a clear aesthetic toward the straight photography approach. Unfortunately, he still gets lumped together with 19th century pictorial photographers as if the only type of photography in the 19th century was pictorial photography (even what we call street photography was done in the 19th century--Street Life in London, for example).
    Will

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    Re: wide open look photos

    I think there was a lot of confusion in the early days. Stieglitz changed. Steichen changed. They both started doing what was considered pictorial and moved away from it later. Most artists grow and change over the course of a career.

    Adams hated labels probably because some labeled him a straight photographer but he did take some of the pictorial philosophies (not recording the obvious) as did Weston.

    I think that's why sometimes labels can be misleading.
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    Re: wide open look photos

    Thanks all!!!
    This is very interesting.
    So pictorialism and soft focus or subject selective focus seems to go back a long way. But then apart very few contemporary examples, it seems like straight photography has become the main stream, something upon which most agree.
    Yet there are endless discussion about bokeh and noctiluxes... but seems almost without any relation to what photography has become.
    Am I missing something? Or is there a neo pictorialism?
    I am very interested in this discussion
    G

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    Re: wide open look photos

    Quote Originally Posted by geotrupede View Post
    Yet there are endless discussion about bokeh and noctiluxes... but seems almost without any relation to what photography has become.
    Am I missing something? Or is there a neo pictorialism?

    G
    Photographic styles and creativity has little to do with lens onanism and pixel peeping. Anyone with enough money can by a Noct, not so many can release its creative potential and even fewer can use that potential to tell a story. Using different photographic techniques to convey a visual message is one of the most fascinating sides of photography, and the way limited depth of field changes how the viewer understands an image opens up endless possibilities. There is however a very thin line between creative storytelling and kitsch. There's nothing wrong with crossing that line, but understanding the difference is a challenge sometimes, which is clearly demonstrated every second of the day on the world wide web.
    Things I sell: https://www.shutterstock.com/g/epixx?language=en
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    Re: wide open look photos

    ok, discussion heating up. please keep things nice and not judgmental. we are all friends :-) , the ones with bucks and the one without, we all share passion for photography. :-)

    You mention kitsch, I also have heard things like cliche, etc.
    however what is cliche? what is kitsch.
    Is it not cliche a straight photo where everything is in focus and we have 4 subject splitting the frame with a boy in the corner looking at us?
    I have seen fantastic and inspiring images which are all alike.
    Work of masters like Webb, so exceptionally beautiful, and widely copied and referenced.. is it not a cliche by the fact that is so common and referenced to? Is it not kitsch? (I like this style a lot and I think he is genius, but I am confused by the fact that this style is becoming ubiquitous)

    Why there is none (with very limited exceptions) good example of picture where not everything is in focus? Is that a no no of photography?

    Are we all fascinated so much by straight photography that we cannot see an alternative?

    G

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    Re: wide open look photos

    Sorry if I came across as judgmental. That was not my intention. There's nothing wrong with being able to afford the best kit, nothing wrong with being a pixel peeper, but it ain't necessarily ending up as great art or great reportage.

    I suppose that when enough photographers copy a certain photographer's style, it is in danger of becoming cliché, but in the meantime, the real master has usually moved on or refined his style further. Although there's a lot to learn from studying the photographs of others, the real challenge lies in being able to see the motives in the real world, your real world, the motives that none or many have taken photos of yet, those that are there for a fraction of a second and those that have been there for centuries, and then attach that motive to a piece of film or a piece of electronic wizardry, using the technique that is best suited to show what you see or would want to see in a print or on Facebook.

    David Burnett was mentioned above, and I hate it when his homepage is linked to. It always ends with me sitting for hours going through his amazing archives. They are amazing partly because of the enormous amount of great photographs, but even more so because of the diversity, the way he masters so many photographic techniques and media. Few photographers are more relevant to this thread. Thanks for wasting my time, Will
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    Re: wide open look photos

    Quote Originally Posted by geotrupede View Post
    Thanks all!!!
    This is very interesting.
    So pictorialism and soft focus or subject selective focus seems to go back a long way. But then apart very few contemporary examples, it seems like straight photography has become the main stream, something upon which most agree.
    Yet there are endless discussion about bokeh and noctiluxes... but seems almost without any relation to what photography has become.
    Am I missing something? Or is there a neo pictorialism?
    I am very interested in this discussion
    G
    I think you maybe just went a bit too far in your conclusion. Let's see if I can explain it right.

    BTW, One of the best ways to study the history of pictorialism and straight photography is to study the life and photography of Alfred Stieglitz. Personally I consider him a key player since he had influence in both painting and photography.

    When you mention bokeh and what photography has become you are mixing a style/effect with a movement. For example, portrait photography doesn't go against the movement by throwing the background out of focus. That is a stylistic effect to isolate the subject. I'm pretty sure Edward Weston would have continued to do portraits that way in the studio, even though he was f64'ing it on the weekends. :^}

    It would be safer to say that Landscape photography leads the straight movement, in large part thanks to Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and others.

    >> Or is there a neo pictorialism

    I don't think it ever left stylistically as an option. The difference now is that photographers are no longer (en masse) trying to imitate the Art of the 1800's.
    -- Mark Esposito
    http://www.glorious-landscape.com
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    Re: wide open look photos

    Thanks! indeed I am confusing the two...
    As I mentioned earlier I am learning :-) :-)
    G

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    Re: wide open look photos

    This is going in two different directions - I like both - but not recognizing two subjects and intertwining them is not going to be productive - I think.

    First the historical - Shasin I think characterizes it pretty well, also as artfrogusmc makes good points that people (photographers) - labels can be misleading. change styles and mature

    Also should mention that I think pictorialism were pushed in that direction because of.

    1. Equipment limitations (lenses) focus fall off, lens Aberrations, quality of chemicals etc. Sloooooooooow Slooooow film.

    2. A developed sense of elitism - and a strict defined definition of "Art". I also should mention I think the attempt to classify this form was made to separate themselves from the "working" photographers , some of the famous ones who have survived today =- Currier and Ives - Edwin Curtis - Atget ., and many many more

    3. That has been happening in every field - Photography has not and will not be different.

    I also think the pictorialist made some nice images ;-)

    Selective focus is as old as view cameras - In a modern terms - pretty old.

    Second

    What is not old ---- is pixel peeping and the rapid advances in CAD manufacturing allowing a new "no pun intended" focus on resolutions interpreted as sharpe. You couple this with computers - digital analysis - the entire evaluation field has changed. Photography by its nature has always been a close marriage of technology and art . A true meaning of "Art and Craft" so also this would be expected.

    The proliferation of cameras and communication means has brought a sea of images and experts. - I agree with Jorgen - you need to understand the difference. Crowd sourcing is good for selling toothpaste, democracy is good for city council and trying to protect individual rights. But to define art - not so good.

    There are some very talented and also educated people on this forum and some excellent images, I dare say probably best on the WWW in one forum.

    My advice - if you can, avoid labels, find the aspect of photography you find fascinating , hone your skills, practice - practice - practice, and then let your mind take you somewhere so the image tells you what to do to it. So you see the "STORY" -- It is your frame (canvas) - treat it properly.
    Last edited by alajuela; 23rd July 2014 at 01:08.

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    Re: wide open look photos

    It depends
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: wide open look photos

    Hi geotrupede,

    It's best to consider the relationship between figure and ground when considering issues about how to use fast lenses at wide open apertures. In perception psychology, the figure is what captures the viewer's attention. Meanwhile, the ground is what the viewer ignores. A classic example is the graphic below:


    wikipedia

    When a viewer concentrates on the white portion of the graphic while ignoring the black portion, then he sees a vase. On the other hand, if he concentrates on the black portion while ignoring the white portion he will see the faces of two people. The way this relates to lens usage and composition in photography is that whenever an object in an image has "distinct contours" then it can be discerned as a figure by viewers. Meanwhile, if an object has indistinct (ambiguous or even non-existent) contours then a viewer has a hard time attending to it and consequently the object becomes part of the image's ground.

    1) Objects that are in-focus have distinct contours and can become the figure portion of a photograph.
    2) Objects that are out-of-focus (bokeh etc) lack contours and can become the ground of the photograph.

    Obviously, there are lots of ways that a lens can relate to an object when composing a photograph that can alter the relationship between figure and ground. For example, a Noctilux shot at .95 will create a huge blurry ground in any portions of the photo that are outside of the DOF. However, any objects contained within the DOF will have distinct contours and can become figures. The point is that a really fast lens like a Noctilux might give a photographer more options than slower lenses for placing objects within the figure or ground portion of a photograph.

    But, it's important to remember that the real key to the figure/ground relationship when it comes to photography is the presence of distinct/indistinct contours. In that sense, the use of lenses at certain apertures are only one part of the equation. Any technique that creates distinct contours (hard lighting, silhouettes, high contrast etc) also creates figures. Conversely, any technique that creates indistinct contours (motion blur, shutter drag, dappled lighting etc) also creates grounds. For example, an object could be in perfect focus and yet exposed with a shutter drag to create motion blur. In this case, the contours of the object would be indistinct and become part of the ground of the image even though it was originally in perfect focus at capture.

    On a related topic, the difference between so-called "Pictorialism" and "Straight" photography is really about the degrees of figure and ground contained within the images. Straight photography has a higher degree of figures available for the viewer to attend while Pictorial photographs generally have more indistinct contours and therefore push objects into the ground. A similar division of style also exists in the world of painting. Heinrich Wolfflin, the famous art historian, claimed that all styles of painting come down to just the simple difference between linear and painterly. Linear paintings have high degrees of distinct contours present and are associated with Renaissance Art while painterly paintings have high degrees of indistinct contours and are associated with movements like Impressionism. The main point is that there is a direct correlation between straight/pictorial styles of photography with linear/painterly styles of painting. The degrees of distinct/indistinct contours present is what determines the styles according to the figure/ground relationship from perception psychology.

    Here's two quick examples of the different styles of painting mentioned by Wolfflin:

    Ingres - Napoleon


    Delacroix - Chopin


    The portrait of Napoleon by Ingres is an excellent example of linear painting and contains strong figures with distinct contours. Meanwhile, the portait of Chopin by Delacroix is an excellent example of painterly painting and contains a high degree of indistinct and ambiguous contours that blend the main subject into the ground of the image. In the world of photography, a Straight style photographer like Ansel Adams might be more readily associated with a linear painter like Ingres because of the high degree of distinct contours contained in both of their artworks. Meanwhile, Pictorial style photographers like Sarah Moon or Paolo Roversi could find their counterpart in a painterly painter like Delacroix.
    Last edited by Mike M; 22nd July 2014 at 22:40. Reason: spelling
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    Re: wide open look photos

    I am very glad I asked the question on this forum!
    You are all very kind but also know a lot!
    A combination that on the www is quite unique :-)
    I am going to look at the reference you made,
    Thank you
    G.
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    Re: wide open look photos

    Quote Originally Posted by geotrupede View Post
    Is wide open photography (like summilux / noctilux / etc) only suitable for portraits?

    I really like composition and multi story telling of photographers like Alex Webb.
    I like a lot Bruce Gilden gritty look.
    Koudelka photos.
    Etc.
    But I cannot find anyone of the same caliber using wide open lenses.
    It seems like masters prefer composition and composition for them is possible only by having all in focus.
    Is this true?
    I really like the selective focus of luminous lenses but I am not clear how to use this beyond the usual cliches or portrait situations.
    I am trying to widen my horizon and know a little more, so examples are very much what I am looking for. I am willing to learn.
    Any idea where to start from?
    Thanks
    G>

    PS I am not a pro so please excuse it this is a basic question or a clear lack of knowledge. for me photography is just a beloved hobby :-)
    Aesthetically: As shown by others, perhaps add more art studies beyond photography to grasp how things can be invisioned.

    Technically: I tend to favor fast aperture lenses even as ISO performance increases. I like them for the choice they provide. I can stop them down to f/8, but can't open a f/4 lens to f/1.8, f/1.4, f/1.2 or in the case of my Noctilux @ f/0.95.

    One need not overly depend on fast apertures to isolate a subject, they also work when shooting more distant subjects where the distance factor increases the depth-of-field. I use my Nocti like this often. 0.95 allows either a faster shutter speed, or a lower ISO. Even with improvements in ISO performance, ISO 200 looks better than ISO 1600 unless you are after less image quality as a creative choice.

    - Marc

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    Re: wide open look photos

    Quote Originally Posted by geotrupede View Post
    Thanks all!!!
    This is very interesting.
    So pictorialism and soft focus or subject selective focus seems to go back a long way. But then apart very few contemporary examples, it seems like straight photography has become the main stream, something upon which most agree.
    Yet there are endless discussion about bokeh and noctiluxes... but seems almost without any relation to what photography has become.
    Am I missing something? Or is there a neo pictorialism?
    I am very interested in this discussion
    G
    In the beginning photography was trying to imitate paintings. The first photograph was made in 1826/27 by Niepce and photography starting really becoming popular in the mid to late 1800s. Some historians say that it was the invention of photography that helped fuel Impressionism which really got going in the 1860s. You suddenly had artists like Monet painting they way the felt about things and not trying to make accurate reproductions. Pictorial images were imitating impressionism. For photography to become a legitimate art form it had to stand on it's own by doing what only photography can do and by not imitating another art form.

    Adams, Weston Cunningham, and later Bresson and Winogrand all used the things that only a photograph can do and photography became a legitimate art form.

    Even if you have an image taken with a shallow DoF if it is taken with a really good lens you will have sharpness and detail that only a camera can produce in the area of focus.

    A lot of pictorial images were soft everywhere imitating those paintings that had no real sharp detail.

    We are in a new era with digital. It took film photography about a century to find it's voice. I wonder where digital photography will land. It's still an infant.
    Last edited by airfrogusmc; 23rd July 2014 at 08:29.

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    Re: wide open look photos

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Aesthetically: As shown by others, perhaps add more art studies beyond photography to grasp how things can be invisioned.
    Technically: I tend to favor fast aperture lenses even as ISO performance increases. I like them for the choice they provide. I can stop them down to f/8, but can't open a f/4 lens to f/1.8, f/1.4, f/1.2 or in the case of my Noctilux @ f/0.95.....
    Marc, thanks. I know the tech part. That is the easy bit that everybody can learn and read on a camera manual... unless you buy a used camera without one... like I used to do :-)

    But what I was asking is in fact was more about the 'art studies' as you call it. That is the bit that I find difficult and infrequently discussed in www forums.
    Now I subscribed here because I could see the level of knowledge, expertise and empathy is very high. So I took a chance and asked for help :-)

    I am trying to figure out (so that I can free myself from straight photography) why and how make a good use of wide open lenses beyond portraits and cliches (like a nice flower, a bike in the street, etc).

    Why for example if somebody is shooting a street photo is generally using (forget for a second pre focusing) close apertures and generally prefers a "straight photography" style.

    It could be, but is very uncommon, that a street photo has a blurred background and the subject has sharp edges. But why this is never done? Is this a no no?

    I have in mind a picture by Norman Parkinson where a lady is completely blurred and the background is extremely sharp. I understand now that it works (thanks for explaining the idea of edges!!!) because of the edges.
    But I see this as a unique example... (and btw it is a portrait and not a street scene)

    So, in conclusion, thanks to all for your input and please keep it coming as the discussion is extremely exciting and informative, at least for me.

    Thank you all!!!
    G

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    Re: wide open look photos

    There are two perennial questions about the fundamentals of photography:

    It there an intrinsic aesthetic with little or no influence by the photographer (straight)?

    Or does the photographer insert him/herself into the process through manipulation?

    These two arguments have played out in photography over time. The most well known one was at the beginning of the 20th century with straight photography, but the arguments came up before and after that. Naturally, the answer is both positions are equally valid. It is really an individual preference.

    Having a shallow depth of field is no less straight photography as having great depth of field. There is no reason that street cannot have a narrow DoF. This criteria, although not usual, does not change those type of photography per se. Now if you used photoshop to create focus effects, that would be outside straight photography. Whether it is no longer street photography, well, that is hard to say. Most photographic styles are really too subjective to be defined beyond the group of images that fall neatly into them, but even those choices are subjective.

    There is no right or wrong approach to anything. You are simply going to have to experiment with the idea to see where it is effective and ineffective. I have always found it takes some time to understand any new approach and then a lot more to really master it--you can usually find a specific situation where it works, but it becomes a one trick pony. It takes a lot more work to find out its dynamic over many conditions.
    Will

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    Re: wide open look photos

    Quote Originally Posted by geotrupede View Post
    I am trying to figure out (so that I can free myself from straight photography) why and how make a good use of wide open lenses beyond portraits and cliches (like a nice flower, a bike in the street, etc).

    Why for example if somebody is shooting a street photo is generally using (forget for a second pre focusing) close apertures and generally prefers a "straight photography" style.

    It could be, but is very uncommon, that a street photo has a blurred background and the subject has sharp edges. But why this is never done? Is this a no no?
    Hello

    I am not quite sure what you mean as to Street Photography - not using wide apertures for selective focus.

    To be sure much "Street" photography since usually shot "Head On" does not have much depth of field by its nature.

    You should look at -- I think Life Magazine was probally the best out there for the collection of Photographers and Photos using 35mm film and has a fantastic array of street Photography.
    Life: The Classic Collection: Editors of Life: 9781603200301: Amazon.com: Books

    Here is "Street Shot"



    I very rarely shoot smaller than 5.6 unless there is a compelling reason to.

    You should look at Ben Rubenstein's B&W sots on the forum, a lot of selective focus.

    Maybe we have different ideas of "Street Photography"


    I hope this helps

    Phil
    Last edited by alajuela; 24th July 2014 at 05:21.

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    Re: wide open look photos

    Quote Originally Posted by geotrupede View Post

    Why for example if somebody is shooting a street photo is generally using (forget for a second pre focusing) close apertures and generally prefers a "straight photography" style.

    It could be, but is very uncommon, that a street photo has a blurred background and the subject has sharp edges. But why this is never done? Is this a no no?

    I have in mind a picture by Norman Parkinson where a lady is completely blurred and the background is extremely sharp. I understand now that it works (thanks for explaining the idea of edges!!!) because of the edges.
    But I see this as a unique example... (and btw it is a portrait and not a street scene)

    So, in conclusion, thanks to all for your input and please keep it coming as the discussion is extremely exciting and informative, at least for me.

    Thank you all!!!
    G
    Have you ever seen this famous image by Robert Frank? He shifts the focus to the crowd instead of the beauty queen.
    http://www.atgetphotography.com/Imag...nk/frank15.jpg

    I also wouldn't get tp hung you on terms because it those term are not very relevant today. Instead I would recommend to do what ever is right to capture your vision. Be honest to yourself first and it will have a way of all working out.

    Here's an interesting piece on Franks "The Americans" and it shows how he changed the language.
    Inside Photographer Robert Frank's The Americans - YouTube
    Last edited by airfrogusmc; 24th July 2014 at 05:44.
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    Re: wide open look photos

    Thank you so much for the explanation.

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    Re: wide open look photos

    My take on it is relatively simple and the OP is quite right: the vast majority of world class imagery does not involve extremely shallow depth of field. The reason for this is that it dramatically limits the the options for the image by virtue of limiting attention to a shallow focal plane. You have less flexibility as the photographer. Just compare it to the endless geometry possible with composition and arrangement within high depth of field images... and that's just one 'tool'. I am not saying one is better than the other for a given image, only that one is inherently more limited because less of the image is clear and can be played with.

    When very shallow depth of field is used in world class imagery, it is there to serve a specific purpose. In a few very rare cases it is built into the person's signature style and, again, used very purposefully.

    Today, some photography enthusiasts use the effect of extremely shallow bokeh as a gimmick, in the same way as some people use extreme wide angles at the expense of everything else. Both make images 'stand out', but not necessarily in a good way.

    If you look at a great many famous portraits, they were usually not shot at particularly shallow depth of field. Even the shallow ones were at, say, the equivalent of 85mm and f2-2.8.

    My 2 cents is that the decision to use super shallow depth of field is rather like the ending to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: choose wisely....

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    Re: wide open look photos

    Quote Originally Posted by airfrogusmc View Post
    Have you ever seen this famous image by Robert Frank?
    Thanks, indeed Frank is one that uses wide open lenses.
    I never realised until you made me look at it.
    Thank you
    G>

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    Re: wide open look photos

    Quote Originally Posted by turtle View Post
    My 2 cents is that the decision to use super shallow depth of field is rather like the ending to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: choose wisely....
    Indeed :-) I will think about all of this.
    The temptation of shooting a lamp post with a blurred background is indeed strong in me... even if I much prefer the pictures with complex composition and multiple human figures (for what I understand about this... which isn't much).

    But Frank seems to be a good balance so will buy a book and study some more.

    :-)
    G

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    Re: wide open look photos

    G,

    Why not buy loads of books! One of the simplest and greatest pleasures of the modern internet age is buying used photo books online. I tend to buy the less well-rated used copies, which are invariably in wonderful condition at 1/3 of their new price. Go nuts! I wrote a little something about buying photo books here: http://thephotofundamentalist.com/?p=142

    FWIW, in reading your response, perhaps its worth adding this: you cannot infuse into a photograph, through technical means, that which is not felt or seen to begin with. As yourself what you would be seeking to achieve by shooting that lamp post with shallow depth of field. Why are you shooting it in the first place? I feel that often people latch onto the shallow DOF 'bug' and go about using this approach as a default, with no particular reason other than 'it looks neat'. When stuck, I'd suggest taking your time and really trying to connect at a visceral level with your subject matter. Once you feel that excitement or buzz rising, that intrigue or compulsion latch on, then the photo will come and how to shoot it will be much more obvious.

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    Re: wide open look photos

    One aspect that seems to be missing in this discussion, (or doesn't seem to have enough emphasis), is the subject itself, be it a thing or an idea.

    So, shouldn't the very first creative decision any photographer makes be "what" not "how"? AKA: Intent.

    We do not necessarily set out to shoot massive DOF, or shallow DOF … we are making a photo of something. Some expression of that something. Whether it is realistic or more abstract is still driven by what that thing or idea may be, and how we may want to depict it either as an object, or as an emotional representation of an object.

    The notion of striving to see the world around us (the "what") differently is rampant in the visual arts. Braque and Picasso invented Cubism by studying the continuum of time and space where we see things from different perspectives at different times on one plane. David Hockney later experimented with Photo Cubism, and even tried it with motion picture works … his feeling was that Cubism had not been fully explored yet, and may never be, so it was still a valid endeavor. If I recall correctly, he felt painting was more elastic for these explorations and stopped doing it photographically.

    Artistic "Intent" is the cornerstone of the visual arts. The Artist is setting out to express something … what medium or tool, and their intrinsic properties that may be used is directly related to that intent.

    I know a lot of artists, and every one of them has thought this through.

    Cindy Sherman is an extremely successful example of artistic intent, and arguably one of the more influential artist using the photographic medium.

    http://breadandcircusnetwork.wordpre...modern-parody/

    Cindy Sherman:since Duchamp, perhaps no artist has had a greater influence on art

    Without "Intent", isn't it all sort of the cart leading the horse? Who cares if one uses extreme DOF or Shallow DOF is it is just being used like a parrot, or just because you can.

    I wonder if Jeff Wall pixel peeps the corners of his creative narrative photographic art works?

    I wonder if Elliot Erwitt worried that the background was out-of-focus on some of his iconic and often deeply human images (like the iconic image of the Chihuahua next to the Great Dane's legs and some woman's boots … or his famous image of the girl holding a flower facing soldiers with bayonets … or the Frenchman and boy on a bike heading down a tree lined country road … or the couple kissing in the rear-view mirror of a car … etc., etc., etc.)?

    Amongst all the chatter regarding the physical properties of photography, I wonder how many of us have a defined artistic intent that those properties are disciplined to?

    - Marc

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    Re: wide open look photos

    I think you are definitely right. Purpose is essential.
    But assuming there is one, otherwise we would not be here, the next step would be to define the 'how'.
    And this is why I have been looking into styles and wondering why all the street photos I have seen, until I asked here, seemed to be all of a kind. Very gritty, sharp with extensive use of hyperfocal (we live in a autofocus time... so you could have f1.4 and focus in a glimpse)

    My question is just about style.
    Like having to write a book and having to decide the style of your writing once you know what the story is about.
    And questioning why none of the writers uses that particular style (wide open lenses for street photos which are not portraits), if this is because such style is kitsch or because it is wrong or simply because all the writers are bound to a cliche of what is right stylistically.

    Anyway, I can see now that the story is different, that there are more styles than the ones I originally knew. I have been told about lines and how to look at images and I wish to thank the people here for sending me in the right direction, thanks!

    G

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    Re: wide open look photos

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    One aspect that seems to be missing in this discussion, (or doesn't seem to have enough emphasis), is the subject itself, be it a thing or an idea.

    So, shouldn't the very first creative decision any photographer makes be "what" not "how"? AKA: Intent.

    - Marc
    I kind of counted that as given, but maybe it isn't?

    Changing the aperture is more or less a continuous process for me, and I even carry two cameras with different focal length lenses sometimes to be able to increase or decrease DOF more than what would be possible with a single lens.

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    Re: wide open look photos

    Quote Originally Posted by geotrupede View Post
    I think you are definitely right. Purpose is essential.
    But assuming there is one, otherwise we would not be here, the next step would be to define the 'how'.
    And this is why I have been looking into styles and wondering why all the street photos I have seen, until I asked here, seemed to be all of a kind. Very gritty, sharp with extensive use of hyperfocal (we live in a autofocus time... so you could have f1.4 and focus in a glimpse)

    My question is just about style.
    Like having to write a book and having to decide the style of your writing once you know what the story is about.
    And questioning why none of the writers uses that particular style (wide open lenses for street photos which are not portraits), if this is because such style is kitsch or because it is wrong or simply because all the writers are bound to a cliche of what is right stylistically.

    Anyway, I can see now that the story is different, that there are more styles than the ones I originally knew. I have been told about lines and how to look at images and I wish to thank the people here for sending me in the right direction, thanks!

    G
    I was hoping we could discuss this subject beyond the original question, which you seem to feel has been asked and answered.

    Purpose isn't quite the same as Artistic Intent is it? We may all subscribe to having the purpose of making meaningful photos (or a write a book, or make a painting), but it is how we intellectually and emotionally define our specific Intent that determines the "what" of our visual expression and how successful we may be in achieving that purpose.

    If it is all a given, then what is your Artistic Photographic Intent?

    That would help go beyond the original question and help define the possibilities a bit more concisely. But you didn't state what your intent was, just a question about style, specifically wide-open look photos. The presumption that Intent has been well defined isn't necessarily a given … especially with photographers IMO.

    To see well defined photographic intent including words from the photographers themselves, take a peek at some of the essays on the Burn Magazine website curated by David Allan Harvey. Be sure to go deep into their archives.

    burn magazine

    So, once defined, wouldn't a well defined Intent inform the "how", and questioning what others do or don't do would then become less relevant? Who cares what someone else's work looks like?

    The only thing we really need know is the full spectrum of photographic properties, and then use them like any visual artist uses their chosen tools. The cross pollination comes from ideas that influence, not the tools, techniques, or style used which are "democratically" available to everyone at this point in the history of photography. Cindy Sherman's style wasn't new, what she was saying was.

    I came to better understand this notion of how Intent can cross-pollinate and evolve after reading the book "Geniuses Together". I wish more photographers did this sort of exchange of ideas.

    IMO, the notion of photographic style or styles is a box that, except for some, many never break out of. Style can be the same from one photographer to the next, but it is the "now" property of photography, and what intent was behind that depiction that defines its' uniqueness.

    Just thinking out loud, because I'm renewing my own search. I once did very personal work, and have lost that over the years … and wonder what may be next in my trek? Style isn't the answer and never was, of that I am sure.

    - Marc

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    Re: wide open look photos

    Marc,
    if purpose or intent, which are synonymous, are what you wish to discuss, then why not start a post... So far I have only seen very helpful and nice posts.
    Chances are you will experience the same welcoming environment.
    G

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    Re: wide open look photos

    Sometimes, I get a feeling that the styles becomes the intent, or at least part of it. With some of David Burnett's photos, I certainly get that feeling. That doesn't detract from his superb style, but it does give documentary photography another, almost surreal dimension.

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    Re: wide open look photos

    Not Purpose or Intent … Purpose and "Artistic Intent". Artists do not write their "Artistic Purpose". Look up Purpose verses Intent. While they are somewhat linked, they are not synonymous.

    Anyway …

    I chimed in because you said you got your answer, and thought to expand on the subject in what I think is a relevant manner … to which you replied in a dismissive manner IMO.

    Please do not be so dismissive of other's ideas, and any participation in a discussion of the type that is in this section of the forum … which has always been open to interpretation, and not confined to a narrow spectrum when talking about subjects this complex and far ranging.

    While you may disagree, I am actually trying to be helpful by challenging the line of thinking with something else that IMO has a direct relation to the subject at hand … whether it was supposed to be a "given" or not … I personally do not believe it is a given, and the vast majority of photography is proof of that (unfortunately mine included these days).

    Oh well …

    - Marc
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    Re: wide open look photos

    I think Mark's point is pertinent. I think technique, style, and intent need clarification. The OP is really talking about a technique applied to a genre of photography. Style is not technique, but rather something intrinsic in the expression in an image. With creative photographers pursuing their own work, it is intrinsic in the photographer.

    As far as intent, that can be a real creativity killer. First, I doubt any photograph, at least a powerful one, can have any kind of intent explicit. The intent of the artist is really irrelevant because the meaning or significance of any art work really come from the viewer--it is a personal relationship. The best the photographer can do is make a compelling image with which the viewer can reflect.

    As far as the photographer, technique is something to play with and use. Playing with techniques opens possibilities. Whether that leads to anything worthwhile depends on the photographer's more stylistic criteria. We just hope the audience gets it, and if not, we need to rethink the thing to see if it is us or them.
    Will

    http://www.hakusancreation.com
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    Re: wide open look photos

    Geotrupede,
    Don't be scarred off by the strong opinions here. These are friendly, resourceful people. There are no absolute answers to these questions. It's all about experience and opinions and a tiny bit about theoretical truths.

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    Re: wide open look photos

    Provided we stay polite, we respect each other, we do not patronise, we do not make fun of or judge, all is fine. So if you feel you are not doing anything of the above, please keep the flow going. All good here. All friends.
    In any case the subject of my question was really about style so if the discussion has to open up let's change the post and start a wider one.
    Thanks
    G

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