U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: R.I.P. HDR

Re: R.I.P. HDR

The subject line of the following e-mail should really be "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread," because.... really:

To valorize or condemn a process simply as a process is inane, because any process can be misused or be, alternatively, sublime. I don't see the photo mags that were mentioned in this thread, but of the very few HDR prints I have seen (in reproduction only), several were stunning.

Still, what came to mind reading this thread was .... oops, what's that elixir they give for loss of memory? I need some immediately: I'm forgetting who it was who declared whichever painter in the 19th century was "throwing a pot of paint in the public eye" or words very close to that.

My point, however, is obvious, in fact axiomatic: to praise or condemn a process AS a process, is useless. There isn't a one, from the purest platinum print to the most wild constructed negative that can't be exquisite or a stupid cliche.

I also wonder if there's a photographer who's worked more than a few years, who won't denigrate some style or process s/he has used (and once LOVED), but has now moved on from. Which is to say, ANY style or process, from a photogram to a giant view camera can be brilliant or dumb... tho generally speaking the gifted artist tends to use it so that other qualities than the process itself are paramount, or at least shine through.

I'll say also (at risk of instant assassination) that, although I found Keith Carter's gum technique awesome, most of those images were pure convention. Tho it's probably easier to see this in history: I tried to find the source of that "pot of paint" line from my shelf, but lacked the patience. However, what I picked up was a Peter Henry Emerson book titled "Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art." (Reprint of the original 1899 edition.)

Opening (I swear) at random (page 153), I found: "For artistic reasons we are of the opinion that Collotypes, Woodburytypes and all such methods, are undesirable, and this we say deliberately, after long study of the subject...." etc. etc. etc.

In fact, P-F #3 is full of quotations laying down "laws" we mostly laugh at now... along with a bunch of other Emerson "rules" of photography I'm not finding at this minute, but ... just think for instance how Mortensen was derided... and think what you could get for one of his prints today. (And don't you wish you had that old bathtub on legs your grandma threw out?) I've also heard from more than one photographer on this very list: "Mortensen is my favorite photographer." And here's another dictum from Emerson (page 14, P-F #3): "Handwork on a picture made by camera and lens" is "aesthetic miscegenation." And in his 1904 "Plea for Straight Photography" Sadakichi Hartmann said that to be seen as art in its own right, photography "must be absolutely independent and rely on its own strength." That is, he explained, minus "trickeries" of any sort.. Paul Strand said in 1917 that "the full potential of any medium is dependent on the purity of its use." But we know, don't we?, that "purity of use" is generally speaking in the eye of the beholder, and perhaps above all in the date of the beholding...

Besides, which of us, while "maturing" in the medium has not at some point dismissed a style or oeuvre that when we first saw it, we loved..... And possibly even vice versa.

Etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.....