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| p.2 #17 · How much sharpness do you need? |
Adams was a marvellous photographer. He was an exquisite printmaker. He was a master of his art.
He did with the tools he had at his disposal and that budget allowed, for his time (technology always goes ahead).
Even though I do not consider sharpness to be the north of photography (to me it is content, emotions, fluidity, expression) it is important nonetheless.
Using the argument that Adams had fuzzy corners to disapprove of modern lenses and their sharp rendering is a fallacy. First, Ansel did not have access to what we have now, ergo, he was limited by technology. He made the best with what he had.
And you know, Adams did love sharp renderings. He ran away as fast as he could from the pictorialist soft focus nonsense that photographers were doing in order to emulate paintings so that people would accept their prints as "proper" art. There is a reason Ansel Adams was such a strong follower of group F64, a movement defined by bitting-sharp renderings (limited by the time's technology).
Here's their manifesto if you still haven't seen how wrong it is to use Adams as a stick against sharp renderings
"The name of this Group is derived from a diaphragm number of the photographic lens. It signifies to a large extent the qualities of clearness and definition of the photographic image which is an important element in the work of members of this Group.
The chief object of the Group is to present in frequent shows what it considers the best contemporary photography of the West; in addition to the showing of the work of its members, it will include prints from other photographers who evidence tendencies in their work similar to that of the Group.
Group f/64 is not pretending to cover the entire spectrum of photography or to indicate through its selection of members any deprecating opinion of the photographers who are not included in its shows. There are great number of serious workers in photography whose style and technique does not relate to the metier of the Group.
Group f/64 limits its members and invitational names to those workers who are striving to define photography as an art form by simple and direct presentation through purely photographic methods. The Group will show no work at any time that does not conform to its standards of pure photography. Pure photography is defined as possessing no qualities of technique, composition or idea, derivative of any other art form. The production of the "Pictorialist," on the other hand, indicates a devotion to principles of art which are directly related to painting and the graphic arts.
The members of Group f/64 believe that photography, as an art form, must develop along lines defined by the actualities and limitations of the photographic medium, and must always remain independent of ideological conventions of art and aesthetics that are reminiscent of a period and culture antedating the growth of the medium itself.
The Group will appreciate information regarding any serious work in photography that has escaped its attention, and is favorable towards establishing itself as a Forum of Modern Photography."