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Just a rant...
Old 10-13-2010   #1
Gazzah
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Just a rant...

I went to an opening night of a new exhibition last night. This guy had been given exclusive access to an old mill that is about to be redeveloped.
The photos were poorly composed, over processed (photoshop‘d vignette, HDR etc) and really badly printed on sloppy canvas. There were maybe two photographs that if I had taken them I might have printed. The photographer has a web site, so I know he can produce some good images, just not for this exhibition.
This all seems to be a trend over the past few years, Ive been disappointed by every exhibition Ive been to – except one.
That one was a show by a guy who used MF gear, developed and printed in a wet darkroom. He knew how to use his equipment and how to compose and expose a good image.
Is it a trend that people think just because they can do something in photoshop to an image they have to…?
There arnt that many photography exhibitions here in Northern Ireland, so it is very disappointing that they are not really worth going to look at..


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Old 10-14-2010   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazzah;
Is it a trend that people think just because they can do something in photoshop to an image they have to…?
Yep. I don't think you'll be alone in feeling like this. I for one do too.
Photoshop'd to death springs to mind.
I've done weddings and also some portrait work and do look at other photographers sites. The digital age seems to have herded people together. So many images could belong to the same people. There seems to be no distinction any more. Because it's quick and easily adjustable (note I didn't say correctable) then everyone is a photographer.
Just my thoughts. I'm all ranted out about this now - personally.

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Spoke to the photographer...
Old 10-14-2010   #3
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Spoke to the photographer...

I found the photographers blog last night and posted a comment - not to negitive. He came back very quickly, apparently he decided on canvas prints as he didnt think people would pay for a paper print, he did agree in the end that the paper prints he had looked better.
He also said that he had done "some editing" in lightroom, I think that is an understatement to say the least!
The telling comment he made was that "his friends had all told him the photos were very good" - never a good idea to relie on friends and family for constructive feed back !

But as Steve said, there was little or nothing to
distinguish his work from many other peoples; but at least he hadnt gone down the really fake HDR route!

Sorry all - rant over....

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Old 10-14-2010   #4
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I frequent other fora and the photographs from (especially) new members are way too over-processed. You might be right that they do it just because they can. But hey, if they like their photos that way, so be it. Who am I to complain?
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Old 10-14-2010   #5
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There were obviously two failures. One the photographer's, the other whoever put up such an exhibition. Was this a pay to play exhibition? But, like Steve, I think I've pretty much ranted out about the "everyone is a photographer" phenomenon. Welcome to the 21st Century. Modern times.
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Old 10-14-2010   #6
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I also don't like fake vignetting. If you like vignetting, get a crap lens. They don't cost much because they're crap anyway.
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Old 10-14-2010   #7
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Most of people live mediocre lives - they awfully drive cars, buy awfully built homes, eat wrong, go sleep too late and don't know how to help kids grow as individuals. Why anyone expect them to make great photographs?
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Old 10-14-2010   #8
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Whoa - this has gone from a mild rant about the lack of individuality imaginatgion to the downfall of society as we know it...
It was a free exhibition, so I guess I shouldnt have complained anyway..... The guy was selling his images so he might know the public taste better than me !
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Old 10-14-2010   #9
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Even in the days of film, overprocessed images were popular in the UK. Look at the work of Eddie Ephraums. He does some digital work now, but for decades his work was film only. He shot grainy 35mm films, printed them huge so they looked even grainier, printed with extremely high contrast and then dodged and burned extensively to bring detail back in the light and dark areas, heavily burned the edges of most of them and used strong toners to color the images. I've seen a lot of work by other British photographers in the same style, so I'm not just picking on Ephraums...he was just the first to come to mind because I've got a few of his books.

I actually think a lot of his stuff is incredibly beautiful! It did require a technical mastery that the people today mostly lack, and he has an aesthetic sense that few of the guys doing this in Photoshop have.
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Old 10-14-2010   #10
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The question that you are asking is: At what point does the photographic image cease to exist aand become a graphic (photoshop) image. Man Ray and used it to make graphic (a type of print, serigraph, lithograph, etc.) images. It is not new.
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Old 10-14-2010   #11
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Oh, I have no problem with truly creative stuff, with film or digital. My problem is the homogenization of photography that digital has wrought. A new creative slant displayed today, that the photographer spent many hours creating and perfecting, will be a commercial action tomorrow and everyone will be doing it with a single click of the mouse. Not so likely in the film days.
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Old 10-14-2010   #12
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I went to have another look at some of Mr Ephraums' images after he was mentioned above - some are wonderfull, but even there I think some look better 1-2 steps back along the process - it is all subjective. I have no problem with people using PS actions to reproduce some effect, but please not with every image they have!
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Old 10-14-2010   #13
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PS - It also seems that a lot of people use PS as a cover up for the lack of basic ability/knowledge. In the show I mentioned in the start of all this there ws a series of 3 images of the old mill shopfloor - and the white balance was different in all three resulting in strange colour casts. Now surely the guy noticed this, so either he didnt care or didnt know what caused it and how to correct it. Or I supose it was an "artistic " decission?
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Old 10-14-2010   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Bellayr View Post
The question that you are asking is: At what point does the photographic image cease to exist aand become a graphic (photoshop) image. Man Ray and used it to make graphic (a type of print, serigraph, lithograph, etc.) images. It is not new.
One should look if the 'photographer' used the tools and techniques to serve the image or if he used the image to create a picture of what tools and techniques can do.

The latter seems to be what is happening to some of the digital/PS crowd who think that their photos are 'naked' and way too incomplete unless heavily doused over with digital post processing.

In contrast, Man Ray and the others who manipulated their images like Jerry Uelsmann obviously used the tools to create their pictures- not to create pictures of their tools.
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Old 10-14-2010   #15
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Quote:
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I also don't like fake vignetting. If you like vignetting, get a crap lens. They don't cost much because they're crap anyway.
That's just plain funny.

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Old 10-14-2010   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZorkiKat View Post
One should look if the 'photographer' used the tools and techniques to serve the image or if he used the image to create a picture of what tools and techniques can do.

The latter seems to be what is happening to some of the digital/PS crowd who think that their photos are 'naked' and way too incomplete unless heavily doused over with digital post processing.

In contrast, Man Ray and the others who manipulated their images like Jerry Uelsmann obviously used the tools to create their pictures- not to create pictures of their tools.
....Is the tool in service of the image, or is the image saved by the tool.... ;-)
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Old 10-14-2010   #17
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The "overprocessing" is not only limited to artists, where I can see it as a personal style (or whatever you want to call it), but I worry about the average photographer you take your family to have a picture to give to grandma for Christmas.

What I find weird is the fact that more and more (or even the majority) professional photographers spoil their pictures. I always look at the pictures in the shop-windows of photographers. During the last 2 years I only saw one (!) photographer who was still doing B&W film. The rest went digital, very often using bridge cameras, crappy lighting, bad composition and try to make it up in PS by adding softeners, color key (whoever invented this... ) and other "special" effects. The worst part of all: people seem to like it, otherwise these photographers would be out of business.

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Old 10-15-2010   #18
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I've also been disappointed by every exhibition I've seen in the last years. I've seen some very bland, bad photos taken with a digi p&s get the whole bottom floor of the state photo museum.
The only one I've liked was by a taxi driver with no photography education; he just shot the things he saw every day. And let me tell ya, it's one of the best exhibitions I've seen.
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Old 10-15-2010   #19
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Quote:
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It could be he's giving his clients what they want..

.. that she didn't care about dead white photographers.. the children are in charge.

Three years ago, I sent a class of 'young' people to a photography show. The photos were portraits done by local photographer. These portraits were shot from the late 1970s up to around 2003, just before he died. The title of the show had the word "Zen" in it (the photographer was a zen Buddhist).

The photos were in the traditional, 'quiet' style. BW, simple compositions, no garish props, and mostly natural lighting (window mostly). The photographer shot with simple equipment as well: an SLR and just one lens, typically an 85. BW with TriX. When he lit, it was just one flash with an umbrella, or just one 1000W photoflood. And that was it. The portraits were, AFAIK, among the most beautiful and powerful I've ever seen. I'm absolutely certain that anyone who has good taste will see it similarly too.

The most memorable comment I heard from one of the young people (my class in photography) I sent to the show was this:

"I don't get it. There wasn't anything happening in the photographs. I don't know anyone in the pictures. It was all in BW. No effects. No anything. Just plain white backgrounds, no props. Too BORING for me..."

Obviously she was a child of MTV.
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Old 10-16-2010   #20
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You know you're a good photographer when someone asks (or steals) your image and shops it to make their own. At the minimum they will rotate the hubcaps on a car or change minor things and claim ownership. Some, will move a tree or add a few people in a street. When you ask why they don't take their own photos.. the answer is generally, something like, why, when there are so many on the web you can use..

I've had the Kinderdigi demand that I post some of my stock on the web so they can "use" the work. I jokingly ask if they think I'm foolish.. the best response so far was.. get with it.. everything is free now, you're just old and don't get it! Cool Dude..
What do they want to 'use' it for? If everything's free, then how do they expect to make a living?
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Old 10-16-2010   #21
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I'm interested in this thread because of the dichotomy between craft and art. I think, at best, the two are inextricably intertwined - their interface cannot be easily resolved.

I'm currently going through a down period in my silver gelatin craftsmanship. The output of my darkroom is mainly scrap paper for the waste bin. But at least I can recognize it as such, instead of deluding myself into thinking that poor technical execution is "art."

I think it's possible to have this problem regardless of what kind of photographic technology one employs. The important thing is having high enough standards to know when good enough is good enough. The danger of an over-reliance on the technology of photography is that it can remove us from having our hands in the mix, it erodes our craftsmanship. We need to stay close to our materials and methods to maintain a high standard of quality, regardless of which imaging path we choose to employ. It has always been that way with art; an artist-artisan intimately knows one's materials and methods.

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Old 10-16-2010   #22
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I like this thread...reminds me of my posting about a month ago asking "what defines Fine Art Photography". I've gone to 3 exhibits in the past month in NYC; my comment a month ago still stands "Chimpanzees with cameras".

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Old 10-16-2010   #23
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PKR - great point about having a computer and camera make you a photographer.

Today while shopping I meant a Art College student who wants to be a wedding photographer. Long-story short, I have him the scared straight speech about why I left that business after 27-years. He acknowledged that he as college mates who are doing more traditional illustration classes, but take photography because they want to get better at Photoshop. They feel that it makes them photographers.

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Old 10-16-2010   #24
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PKR - I agree again...

When I moved to digital (5-years ago) I too bought into the "I'll fix it in post" school of thought. Now, I get angry with myself if I have to "fix" anything in post - get it right in camera is my way. Now, to be fair, tweaking curves a little and using Smart Sharpen are a requirement at least when you use digital, but if it takes more than 5-minutes to work a file, I know I messed up.

On a related topic, I am reminded of those captions in the more popular photography magazines where the caption says, "...camera type...lens...minor adjustments to curves in Photoshop." To me that is the photography equivalent of a comb-over to hide a bald spot. "Minor adjustments to curves" statement is like any buzz statement to comply with the rules, while not admitting that you over did it.

O.K., my rant for the weekend.

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Old 10-16-2010   #25
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About a couple of years ago, me and my GF went to a picture exhibition at one of the most important places in Buenos Aires, the Photo Gallery at the San Martín Theater. The photographer, (a lady) took some pictures from a super 8mm family film shoot in a summer resort. She showed the pictures saying that the pictures were significant for herself so she showed them as her´s.
No comments about her lack of ethics.
After seeing this exhibition I created a new term: trash pictures (in fact I said s**t pictures).
It seems that too many people is looking for weird, unusual, defective or whatever bad images (lomography?) are available to worship it... thinking its art. Seems to be that something no one knows how to qualify is art...
If a collector pays an obscene amount of money for a supermarket picture... hummm ... things are getting bad...
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Old 10-17-2010   #26
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It's a lack of talent and creativity. you can buy a camera, you can't buy brains and talent..yet

The world if full of people who want to be like others, rather than be themselves. marketing people make a lot of money on these people.. so they encourage this behavior. Everyone wants to be a famous photographer, famous race car driver, famous something.. or look like a famous something..
I agree!
Let´s do what we know the way we know is the right one.
I think that too many chimpanzees with cameras are walking by the street...

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Old 10-17-2010   #27
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I was at a camera store a few weeks ago when a woman - probably in her 50s - came in with her son. She was buying a few rolls of film, likely for her sons photography class from the questions they were posing.

She was in the process of buying some Kodak Gold when she spotted the Portras. The sales person informed her that those were the pro films. "And what is the difference between NC and VC?" she inquired. Upon being told what the initials stood for, she looked at the clerk slightly confused and said:

"Why would anyone ever us NC when you could have more vivid colors? Vivid is always better!"

I somehow don't think she watched much MTV so there must be other factors driving questionable taste.
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Old 10-17-2010   #28
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I somehow don't think she watched much MTV so there must be other factors driving questionable taste.
Thank you so much for the proof that MTV is not in charge for the global bad taste like it was stated above.

And I'm glad that there is no art-police that determines what is art and what we have to look at in museums.
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Old 10-17-2010   #29
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Many of the local kids, who are recent college grads, come looking for work. They have no language or math skills, but can tell you all about the latest pop star: What they wear, what they eat, who they sleep with, etc. They don't get hired.
FWIW, when I started teaching Introductory Biochemistry 6 years ago we generally had 350 students enrolled. It's now 600, and I'm always blown away by just how good the top 15% of the class is. I don't worry about the good students – they are as good as ever.

I think that part of what we are seeing is a further divergence of Snow's Two Cultures. Those who care about science and math still care. Those who don't, care less than ever and, more ominously, they have active contempt for science and math.
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Old 10-17-2010   #30
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Quote:
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I went to an opening night of a new exhibition last night. This guy had been given exclusive access to an old mill that is about to be redeveloped.
The photos were poorly composed, over processed (photoshop‘d vignette, HDR etc) ...
Gary N H
I have the same impression (or lack of...) after watching a few exhibitions in Oxford. All inkjet printed, over processed, ugly colours, over enlarged, uninteresting subjects; well, just making up the numbers only perhaps.
All exhibitions... except one, where the photographer printed BW in the wet darkroom. Not a great exhib, but far better and really a few of the pics were very enjoyable.
Just a fact, no opinion there... maybe it's being unlucky in the UK... apart from London where there is a great photo exhib at the Portrait Gallery at the moment. Bad luck for the "countrysiders" like me...
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Old 10-17-2010   #31
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Isn't all this ranting about bad taste in curated/presented art simply useless? What is it? Envy? The fear of being ridiculed for doing something in simple, old-fasioned ways?

There are a few simple, positive ways of improving your own situation.
First, set your own standards as high as you want. Strive for excellence within your own style. Don't dwell so much on what others do.

Second, support the artists, curators and venues that you like. Tell your friends, buy their stuff, or simply pass a few words of encouragement.

Third, actively seek out your own audience. You can't just force your work on people that don't have a clue about your views, way of working etc. and expect them to love it. Start by showing your work to likeminded people.

And only when everything has failed, return to your rants.
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Old 10-17-2010   #32
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We have 800 amps of 220V 3 phase on the ground floor studio. The power usage needs.. to be divided among the panels. If a young hire has some math skills, i can teach this. If not, he-she is a danger when near any power.
That could give a whole new meaning to the term "story arc."
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Old 10-17-2010   #33
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You'll like this: There is an electrical-electronic Lighting device called a "Lightning Strike" ...http://www.luminyscorp.com/
"All units must be properly grounded." Snicker.
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Old 10-18-2010   #34
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So, move this working style of poor imagery, poorly executed, to the gallery. Did the photographer sell any prints? If so, how many?
I have had an ongoing email conversation with the photographer. It seems that he didnt seel that many prints - until he mentioned to a few people that he could print them up on "paper" instead of canvas - then more people starting getting interested.
Im going back to meet him in person, and he is bringing along a set of paper prints for me to see..

I did ask him how many images he took during his day at the old mill - "about 5-6000" - how on earth could he have even concidered the metering for each of those - if he did an 8 hour day that was 4.8 seconds per shot... and I suspect he only spent a few hours walking once through the site snapping on multishot as he went...

I was nearly this bad in my depths of digital depression - PS will make it right, HDR will take care of bad metering, take 20 shots; ones bound to be OK - but I dont think I ever went above 500 shots in one day.. I am having to re-learn things that once were there by nature, but it has brought the fun back into the whole process - the act of setting up and taking a shot is just as important and as much fun to me as the end result..

Gary H
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Old 10-18-2010   #35
Paul Luscher
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Part of the trouble w/ digital & Photoshop is that you can "tart up" pictures in a way that you could not do before, and make them look really spectacular...although hardly resembling what was actually shot. HDR comes to mind, among other things.

This has raised the bar such that if one presents their photos in a straightforward manner, with little or no processing, they are considered plain-Jane and unremarkable. Goes along w/ Zorkicats' comment re the students at the show...

Well, that's my excuse anyway....
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Old 10-18-2010   #36
NaChase
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Then again, who would there be for us to lord our superiority over if it weren't for the HDR aficionados and manic PhotoShoppers?


-PS: Sarcasm is difficult to convey via type.
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Old 10-01-2018   #37
bulevardi
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I want my rant of the day too.
Had to wake up at 5 AM to get off to work, I dislike early services as I'm an evening guy.
When walking to the office, did a detour to shoot some nightshots.

I needed to end my film as I still had 2 frames on the roll. After that I rewinded, but the winder got stuck somewhere. I thought 'maybe it's done' and opened the back of the camera, of course it was not rolled up yet. Closed and rewinded worked again.
So I messed up a few frames of the roll by opening it... knowing that almost all the shots I did with this roll did matter for a specific series, and these moments probably won't come back again.

I'm such a st00pid... "I didn't drink enough coffee before leaving home" is no excuse, although I wasn't awake yet.
Arriving at work, the elevaters didn't work, had to do the stairs for 6 floors.

So, what's your rant for the day?
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Old 10-02-2018   #38
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Yup, often other than technique, "there [is] little or nothing to distinguish work from many other peoples".

I remember before I taught my first university class, the head of the department told me: "most students aren't interested, and many aren't very bright. Ignore them, they're too depressing. Just talk to the others."


So, when I see boring work - pictures I've seen 100s of times before - I try not to pay attention to it. When the pictures are better than mine, I'm inspired to keep going. When I don't understand the work, I sit down and try to look more carefully. Maybe I'll learn something.
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Old 10-02-2018   #39
trix4ever
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I recently was in a huge shopping centre in queenslands gold coast and there was a major exhibition of landscape work, in the guise of a competition.
I did not know it was there, just sorta tripped over it.

Every print was too big for the file, every single one had the saturation and clarity turned up full, all had the shadows pulled up hard and all were wildly oversharpened.
This was 40 different photographers doing the same thing.

It nearly sent me blind.

I wondered if I was just too old for this rubbish, but no, on reflection all the work was crap, but if it seems to be what people want to do, good luck to them, as long as I don't have to look at it.
I went home and looked at a Pentti Sammallahti book.

http://filmisadelight.com
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Old 10-02-2018   #40
Dogman
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So, nothing has changed since 2010.
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