Why What Works (Luminous Landscape), a comment

Started Jan 28, 2013 | Discussions thread
OP amalric Forum Pro • Posts: 10,839
So many techniques, so little time

Vlad S wrote:

I think that if you are going to teach photography, it is important to differentiate between the technical aspects and the artistic ones. The second part is not specific to photography, but to any visual art form, and probably has much in common with other, non-visual art forms. IMO such separation will not only detangle a large amount of information, but also would allow to seek techniques and inspiration in a wider context of art and history.

Well it is quickly said. I'll offer Photo Walks in Rome. So it is basically about how to find the right angles for monuments and Landscape. Morning light and not missing exposure is paramount. From that springs aperture, shutterspeed and sensitivity. Composing in depth, understanding perspective is important, but it was invented here, so buildings are already set to advantage, and use chiaroscuro to intensify their shapes.

It's like shooting a theatre set. In Reichmann's terms one works with Contrast and Implication

Come to think of it, it could be quite interesting to compare such techniques or notions as chiaroscuro, or impressionism with the artistic use of exposure, or bokeh.

Or take the rhetorical modes: exposition, narration, argumentation, and description. I think it would be interesting and useful to think whether the same modes can found in photography. Photojournalism would probably fall under narration. For example, commercial product photography would probably correspond to argumentation. Street photography would probably fall under narration. But then can we select the narrative devices - such as first person or third person narration - by selecting the position of the camera or the lens focal length? Is it possible to use one subject, and create different images where it would be presented in all the four modes?

Well in fact I used photography as a journalist, and I am now into Street Shooting, so if the above covers Contrast and Implication, Gesture becomes important at this stage. You are dealing figuratively with actors.

SS is difficult to teach however because it is about memorizing a perspective, and zooms won't do. Placing people in perspective and at the same time seeing what they do needs a lot of practice, so it can only be an introduction in the few hours of a photowalk.

A lady also asked me to do portraits of her - that is probably where bokeh should be introduced, choice of lenses, gradation. So you see there is not a moment to be lost, even in the simplest techniques. Of course the history of painting here offers an enormous repertoire, so there is no lack of poses.

I do prefer candids however, or better environmental portraits. HCB was the master here. He chose a geometrical scene, asked for the model to enter, and shot it at the very moment he was to disappear. The scene is virtual until it precipitates in time.

Or take the such a direction in photography as Miksang. Where would it fall in Reichmann's system?

That is an interesting contribution. I had a training in Tibetan Buddhism, so I might relate quickly to it. Certainly choosing the decisive moment is akin to meditation, and Wabi Sabi, transient beauty, is a legitimate subject in a city that is almost 3000 yrs. old.

But in general, I think it is through the study of the greater context that we learn about impact of the visuals, and how to touch people. I don't know, may be I am over-thinking it. But that's what I enjoy in the arts.


What is the Gesture of a city, I wonder? perhaps it's about discovering its psychogeography:


It takes however a lot of time, and hence it's better done in your city, they are a bit like waiting crime scenes. Action is waiting to happen there.

So literally there are hundreds of interesting techniques, but nothing compares to teaching a tourist how to hold properly a camera with two hands, so that his/her first image is not totally ruined


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