Against the grain of these forums (separation of subject etc.)

Started Feb 3, 2013 | Discussions thread
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W A Stewart
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Against the grain of these forums (separation of subject etc.)
Feb 3, 2013

My views on "dof control", "bokeh" etc. are against the grain on dpreview and aren't likely to win me popularity contests.  Also, I should say that if people want to shoot images based on these sorts of criteria, I have no problem with that.  What I do have a problem with is the view that these matter very much for really good images, for which I think they matter not at all.  What matters is the great challenge of the form, the total image, the relationships among lines, spaces, tones etc. ... the sorts of things Szarkowski and Shore emphasized in their books... including the one by Shore I just reviewed on Amazon.  I posted the review, with its somewhat snarky comments about the dpreview style, because I was cheesed off (hey, I am in Wisconsin) with several of the other reviews.  So here's the link that makes my points a bit more explicitly and (sadly) rather less diplomatically:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Nature-Photographs-A-Primer/product-reviews/0714859044/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#RH9BMYA60DX25

Of course I don't expect to change many views - probably none.  I would hope just that some readers here will note that the general approach taken both by the dpreview staff (who emphasize things like separation of the subject, and call mild fast teles "portrait lenses" - tell that to Arnold Newman) and the posters, are not by any means the only approaches.  As a consequence, other types of photographs, more in the documentary tradition, for example, lend themselves to different sorts of tradeoffs in photo equipment.  As an obvious example, more, not less, dof is appropriate in a lot of photographic situations.  (As my review also notes, even if you background is blurred it's still part of the total image that needs to be composed, and the fact that it's blurred doesn't necessarily make that challenge any easier.)

Should anyone take this as a brief for the cameras I currently like - micro four thirds by both brands - I might add I've used a number of formats and quite a few brands - especially Nikon - over the years.  Moreover, so-called full frame is still a fairly small format that is also well suited to documentary work - heavens, a lot of great work was done with two and a quarter square or even four by five cameras.

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W Alex Stewart

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