Re: R.I.P. HDR
John Ruskin wrote of James Whistler's painting Nocturn in Black and Gold:
The Falling Rocket
"For Mr. Whistler's own sake, no less than for the protection of the
purchaser, Sir Coutts Lindsay ought not to have admitted works into the
gallery in which the ill-educated conceit of the artist so nearly approached
the aspect of willful imposture. I have seen, and heard, much of cockney
impudence before now; but never expected a coxcomb to ask two hundred
guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public's face"
Whistler sued for libel and one damages of one farthing
----- Original Message -----
From: "Judy Seigel" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Saturday, September 19, 2009 2:18 PM
Subject: 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
> 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
> 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.....