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W. Eugene Smith

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by OzRay, Jan 26, 2015.

  1. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Here's an interesting article about W. Eugene Smith: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2013/11/20/in-the-darkroom-with-w-eugene-smith/

    I've pretty much held that view as well, you can't fully produce a photograph in the camera.
     
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  2. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    Well yes, but jpegs are a sort of darkroom processing. One that ro'bits do as opposed to one that we do.

    Which is why people who argue against doing post-processing are just ignoring the forest for the trees.

    EM10•GX1•EP1•GF3•9mmBCL•17mm2.8•30mm2.8
     
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  3. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    That's not quite what I meant, but when NG produced their magazine, there was work done on the transparencies (separations for a start) before they went to print. Cibachrome enabled even better printing capabilities and if you think darkroom manipulation didn't occur, you would be mistaken.
     
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  4. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    The problem is that too many people put arbitrary, self imposed rules over what makes a photograph. I say the only time rules make sense is in the cases of photojournalism where too much post work can cause people to disbelieve the truth in front of them.

    For me a photograph is what I choose to share with the outside world, it is what I decide to do to make the image ready for mass consumption to the target audience. That is 99% of what I do. When it is a journalistic en-devour, I leave a lot of my personal "choices" at the door and let the image stand, so long as what I do decide to work on does not change the purity of the message.
     
  5. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Ansel Adams: "The negative is the score; the print is the performance."
     
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  6. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    "What is photography?"

    All answers are wrong. Keep trying.
     
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  7. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    Gosh, Yoda, you're a tough Jedi master!
     
  8. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    FWIW, Smith was a photojournalist. If a photojournalist manipulated their images the way Smith did, they would be fired.

    I love Smith's work, but he really crossed the line even back in his day.
     
  9. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Back in those days, things were perhaps far more lenient/flexible than they are today, or in the last few decades. But when you look at his photographs, personally, I wouldn't be too critical of any darkroom manipulation: https://www.google.com.au/search?q=...PHVJKKBoXPmwXinIGIBA&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAQ#imgdii=_.
     
  10. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    715
    Jul 23, 2010
    I don't know as there did not seem to be magically adding stuff that was not there and in many ways he was more of a documentary photo essayist. I do not see why altering contrast and tonal properties can be seen as manipulation its more of enhancing the photograph and should I think be acceptable unless of course you do some thing to move a persons skin tones to say look like they were from a different part of the world.
    I do love Smiths work if anyone is interested there is a pretty great film called 'Photography Made Difficult' I highly recommend it as a purchase.
     
  11. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
  12. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    I have this book: W. Eugene Smith Photographs 1934-1975. There is a chapter in the book devoted to this issue. There are a number of reproductions of his contact sheets along with how the images appeared in publication. Things are put in, things are taken out, composites from more than more than one negative used, he put people into scenes for better composition. It goes way beyond mere darkroom manipulation. "...he was more of a documentary photo essayist." It's not documentary when you make stuff up. Not even decades ago.

    Gene made a lot of art along with straight PJ photos. (The most commonly published photo of Truman holding the newspaper with the headline Dewey Wins was shot by Smith.)
     
  13. ex machina

    ex machina Mu-43 Top Veteran

    803
    Jan 3, 2014
    Northern Virgnia
  14. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I think the 'idea' has once again been lost in the technicalities (akin to pixel peeping). It wasn't about whether what Smith did was right or wrong, it was that he believed that the photograph wasn't complete until the final print represented what he saw in his mind's eye when he took the photograph or what he wanted the photograph to reflect.

    I'm not sure how others view photography, but I look at a scene and I see something that interests/inspires/intrigues me and I take a photograph. Later, when looking at the photographs on my PC, I start to see what made me take that photograph and that vision grows when I begin to work on the image in post-processing. I could never imagine myself taking a photograph and being happy with what the camera produced, especially JPG.

    At other times, I take photographs because I'm telling stories and the photographs support those stories. I always post-process so that the photographs represent what I'm trying to narrate or describe.

    If I had to rely on nothing but what the camera output, I think I'd give up photography.
     
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