Posts Tagged ‘famous photographers’

Man Ray On Art And Originality

May 19th, 2010

One of the World’s Most Recognized and Unusual Artists, the Painter, Sculptor and Photographer Man Ray, Brings Insight to the Creative Process, Art and Originality

Man Ray did not pursue Recognition, Fame or Financial Success. He was broke most of his life.

Are you in it for recognition? For money? Why are you a landscape photographer?

Salvador Dali and Man Ray, Paris, 1934 by Carl Van Vechten. Public Domain image. This photograph was made in Paris while Philip Hyde was there at age 11 with his little brother Davy age 5, his sister Betty, age 16, his mother Jessie and his father painter Leland Hyde, who was studying at the world famous L' Ecole de Beau Arts, one of the art hubs of Modernist Paris.

A hot topic recently in the landscape photography blogosphere has been this variously defined idea of “copying,” that is: one photographer copying another’s photograph by standing in roughly the same place under roughly the same conditions and capturing essentially the same image. While the laws of physics prevent the making of an exact copy, many photographs come close enough to bring the intent of the “copying” photographer into question. I made a few comments on some posts on the topic.

Photography Blog Posts Discussing Copying Or Related Themes Recently:

“The Art of Copying” from Guy Tal Photography Web Journal

“Copying Other Photographer’s Images; Good, Bad, Legal?” from Pro Nature Photographer Blog

“Moving Past The Repertoire” by Greg Russell here on Landscape Photography Blogger

“Make Your Own Tripod Tracks” by David Leland Hyde on Alpenglow Images Blog

“Originality – A Matter of Perspective Revisited by Jim M. Goldstein on JMG Galleries Blog

“Creativity and Copying” posted by Kevin Schafer on the Outdoor Photographer Blog

“Iconic Locations and the Making of Art” from Little Red Tent Blog

“Copy/right and the Nature of Art” from Pomeroy Photography Blog

“Photography and Icons” from Skolai Images by Carl Donohue

“Art; an Exploration of the Unknown” also from Skolai Images

Some photographers have proposed that any photograph that is copyable is not art. Others say this is preposterous. Indeed, one could just as easily argue that any photograph that is not copyable is not art, but is merely a documentation of special effects or techniques and manipulations that go against the nature of photography to stand on real subjects. Is a clean simple, unaffected photograph of nature not to be considered art just because some smart aleck bought a topo map or used GPS mapping to find the location? Either argument may be just as theoretically vacuous and irrelevant to the actual act of making a photograph; except that the photographer’s intent and purpose behind his photography may be the underpinning not yet examined in this discussion.

This Generation Must Do Something Entirely New

As I commented on Guy Tal’s blog post, “Copying Discussion Follow-Up,” we all from time to time can benefit from some introspection. Current landscape photographers and landscape photography in general would benefit by getting away from photographing the icons in the same old ways. Here’s part of what I wrote:

…The next generation must do something else entirely. We have to ask ourselves, why we got into photography in the first place? We have to dig for our own meaning and direction. We must at all costs, eliminate anything that even hints of copying the copiers. That’s my take, anyway, for what it’s worth, and my idea of what is necessary to make any contribution to the art of landscape photography.

More on this and a related discussion on what keeps landscape photography going here on the Landscape Photography Blogger blog post, “Is Landscape Photography Thriving Or Dying.” On a similar note, a few photography bloggers recently called for discussions on the creative process. Greg Russell on his Alpenglow Images Blog raised concerns about creativity and the use of Photoshop in his blog post, “Where Does the Creative Process Stop?” You may find the comments on this post interesting as well as on the insightful post, “Was That Photoshopped?” from the Landscaping! Blog.

Man Ray’s Shocking Originality And Poverty

One of the world’s most famous photographers, a sculptor and painter, Man Ray, may be one of the most original artists ever. Man Ray was so creative that nothing he ever produced in any medium looked anything at all like any other art that ever existed. Man Ray was not interested in producing photographs that looked like previous masters to learn. He made his own style in everything. He broke all the rules and set the trends. Man Ray also had his work rejected by galleries and the public for many years. Near the end of his life he became accepted by the wealthy art establishment in Paris, France where he lived most of his life. He earlier had become known for his portraits of famous people and soon-to-be famous people such as Ernest Hemmingway, Gertrude Stein, Jean Cocteau, James Joyce, Antonin Artaud and many others. He gained a measure of success but it was not until after his death that his original Dadaist sculptures and paintings became highly sought after and sold for millions in auctions.

The point is not that landscape photographers now must be starving artists, it does not matter if you are rich or poor, only if you are unique. The point is to put originality above making money or gaining recognition. Some will starve doing this because they believe that to make money they have to do whatever everyone else is doing. Some will become wealthy through their unique vision.

In a video called Man Ray: Prophet of Avant-Garde from the PBS American Masters series, the modernist painter, sculptor and photographer said:

I never think about art and I don’t think the old masters ever thought that they were creating art. They had to express the spirit of their times and they would then start to invent. What seems to be the tricks of the day, will be the truths of tomorrow. Students ask me, ‘How do I make something original?’ I tell them, be yourself and you will be original. Who are you?

Why are you a landscape photographer?

For a blog post by Jay Goodrich that makes a similar inquiry and features some interesting responses see, “Why Do You Photograph?” To see some new, innovative photographs see also the blog post, “Breaking New Ground With Digital Photography Creations.” To learn more about a pioneer who went far beyond innovation to influence all of landscape photography see the blog post, “The Hidden Brett Weston.” To look beyond creativity to photographic tools such as film and its influence on the direction of landscape photography see the blog post, “Did Velvia Film Change Landscape Photography?

Photography Of Philip Hyde At Mountain Light Gallery

April 15th, 2010

Galen Rowell and Philip Hyde met only a few times in life briefly, but if they could meet again now, what would they talk about? Would they disagree about equipment and photography styles? Would they change the subject to something they had in common? Would they discuss their approaches to photography, that are similar in some ways and different in others? Both men were friendly and liked to tell of their adventures. Would they entertain each other with tales of their travels? Would Galen Rowell and Philip Hyde strike up a friendship based on their shared feelings about wilderness and the preservation of wildlife and the lands of indigenous peoples? For more on the methods of Galen Rowell and Philip Hyde see the blog post, “Galen Rowell, Philip Hyde And Outdoor Photographer Style.”

Throughout his career, Philip Hyde tenaciously stuck with large format cameras while Galen Rowell’s bywords were, “fast and light.” Philip Hyde pioneered color landscape photography, whereas Galen Rowell invented the adventure photography genre. Both men saw photography as the means for a life in the backcountry and a tool for preserving the natural state of wild places.

Today history is in the making again with the work of the two famous photographers on display together in the same building for the first time beginning May 8, 2010 and running through August 31, 2010 at Mountain Light Gallery in Bishop, California. For more information and a discussion of the exciting never before seen prints on display see the blog post, “New Philip Hyde Releases At Mountain Light Gallery Exhibition,” and visit Current Exhibitions–Philip Hyde Photography.

The Legend Of Dye Transfer Printing, Interrupted 1

April 12th, 2010

Misty Morning, Indian Creek, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, 1983 by Philip Hyde. The original color transparency went missing. As a result until 2008, this image had not been printed or published for over 20 years. With the digital age it can again be printed. The new large digital file came from a scan on a Creo CCD Flatbed Scanner of a Philip Hyde original dye transfer print. Most of the other photographs on the Philip Hyde Photography website are made from a drum scan of the original 4X5 color transparency, 4X5, 5X7 or 8X10 black and white negative, or a film duplicate of one of these.

(See the photograph full screen Click Here.)

The stuff of myth, legend and dreams, dye transfer print making helped bring color to the silver screen in 1922. Hollywood called it Technicolor and it resulted in the best and brightest color that films have ever offered. It was the most widely used motion picture technology until 1952. “Everything else is a pale comparison,” said Brad Miller of Technicolor Labs in Grass Valley, California.

During the 1940s, Kodak released the process for still photography print making. It was the method taught in photography schools and the honored child of famous photographers such as William Eggleston, Ernst Haas, Ctein, Eve Arnold, Beaumont Newhall, Galen Rowell, Cole Weston, John Ward, Eliot Porter, Philip Hyde and others. Then in 1994, Kodak abandoned the process and the many photographers, famous or not who were producing the prints. There was outcry across the land, even the world.

I remember my father, fine art landscape photographer Philip Hyde, regularly being mad at Kodak about something. Kodak notoriously favored the mass market and made decisions from a strictly bottom line numbers perspective that often hurt the professional photographer to make the hobbyist happy. Dad used to rail about corporate greed and breaches of trust with those who like him, were working full-time, Kodak’s loyal volume supply buyers. However, nothing compared with the day the music died first in 1991 with discontinuation of the matrix film, then in 1994 with Kodak discontinuing the remaining dye transfer materials. After the dust settled, I don’t think Dad ever recovered completely from the loss of dye transfer print making. He bought up supplies like many others but refused to spend his life’s savings on large stock piles of materials at age 73. As it was, he gave what he had away to another dye transfer printer when he lost his eyesight in 1999-2000.

With these influences, the 1990s marked a change of direction in Dad’s life. After pinching every penny and saving all of them he could, he had invested small sums in the stock market for years. His modest stock portfolio had done so well that by 1994, he had become an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s. He was a highly conservative, buy and hold, blue chip stock investor. It had been working for him quite well and he made far more in the stock market than he ever did in photography.

He was still smarting from his crowning book achievement, Drylands: The Deserts of North America published in 1987, being remaindered, re-published in 1990 and remaindered a second time. He was disappointed because the accountants had taken over book publishing and if books sold more slowly they were remaindered. He seemed down about the influence of corporate decision makers on photography in general and he was not one to get down about anything. He experienced more demand for his time by environmental activist groups and organizations like the Museum of Northern Arizona and Ansel Adams Gallery asking him to do more workshops. The workshops rekindled his photography spark some, but for a few years he went into semi-retirement. Dye transfer and desert landscapes were the two reasons Dad converted to color in a long, gradual process during the decade of the 1970s. More on that in another blog post and in my book. He did in time begin printing again in earnest. He made beautiful color Cibachrome prints, but it was never the same as dye transfer print making. What was it about this elusive process that captured the minds of famous photographers and darkroom techies alike?

One of the photographers famous for his dye transfer prints is Ctein, one of a few still making dye transfer prints today. He wrote on his website:

Dye transfer prints are simply without peer. They have a richness, depth, and fidelity unmatched by any other kind of photographic print. They can show extraordinary subtlety of tone and hue, combined with a brightness range of 500:1 from blackest black to whitest white. After 70 years, dye transfer printing has become a nearly-lost art…today only a few dozen people in the entire world still make dye transfer prints… Dye transfer printing is very time-consuming and expensive. Making the first 16″ x 20″ dye print from a negative costs me over $100 in materials and several days’ time. Dye transfer printing also demands extraordinary skill, understanding, and good artistic judgement… In 1991 Kodak discontinued a special film called Pan Matrix Film which I need to make prints directly from color negatives. In 1994 Kodak abruptly and without warning ceased production of Matrix Film (used for printing from separations) and all other dye transfer materials… As an artist, I couldn’t stand the idea of spending the rest of my life thinking, “Gee that’s a pretty nice print… it would have been so much lovelier as a dye transfer.” I mortgaged myself to the hilt and packed a large amount of this unique film in a deep freeze… I stockpiled enough chemicals, dye and paper to allow me to continue printing. I went deeply in debt, but I can continue creating my art for at least several more years. Those few of us still making dye transfer prints survive on such hoarded supplies. Kodak’s decision to kill dye transfer constitutes an artistic loss of the highest order.

Landscape photographer Charles Cramer described his experience on his website:

When I started making color prints in the late 70s, things were fairly primitive, but there was one process with a mythical reputation that offered tremendous control—dye transfer. I had no idea how all-consuming making dye transfer prints would be. To create one print required the precise exposure and development of approximately twelve sheets of film. The colors are literally disassembled into B&W, and then reassembled in a process akin to silk-screening. With all the steps involved, it offered tremendous control—but also the possibility for things to go terribly wrong. I labored mightily for more than fifteen years with dye transfer. When all the planets aligned, a beautiful print could emerge. But you didn’t know how it would look until the final step of “rolling” out a print. I started making dye transfer prints in 1981. In 1994, Kodak, the only supplier of dye transfer materials, announced they had ceased production. Any remaining inventory was divided up amongst existing customers. I scraped together as much as I could afford to get a decent stockpile… By the time I started in dye transfer, most everyone else had quit. The biggest obstacle was getting good information. There was very little in the literature, and I tried to collect everything I could. There are so many steps to making a print—so many variables— combined with the fact that there’s no feedback until you finally make the print, that it’s hard to isolate exactly what does what.

Charles Cramer taught dye transfer printing for the Ansel Adams Gallery Workshops starting in 1987. He teaches at the Ansel Adams Gallery to this day. Upcoming blog posts will describe how Philip Hyde learned dye transfer printing and will include Philip Hyde’s description of the process, as well as my memories of him singing along to his big band jazz records as he printed.

CONTINUED IN THE BLOG POST, “The Legend of Dye Transfer Printing, Interrupted 2