Diado Moriyama shooting jpg with a P&S
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artd
Registered: Mar 01, 2011
Total Posts: 1187
Country: N/A

mpmendenhall wrote:
artd wrote:
This also made me think of another curiosity. Similar to Daido, Ansel Adam established his reputation doing B&W work. But he also did color work, which wasn't nearly as popular.


Ansel Adam's color work was less popular with... Ansel Adams

The reasons are perhaps more explicable in this case, at least following AA's own commentary. Color film technology at the time didn't offer the fine level of technical control / darkroom manipulation that AA was able to use to match his B&W works to his visualization of the scene. AA's color photos are well composed, attractive subjects in interesting lighting, but they are basically stuck with "Kodachrome colors." As much as the classic Kodachrome look is attractive on its own (and put to excellent use by many photographers), it couldn't match what AA wanted for a photo given unlimited control over color reproduction.

Yes, this is true, but he did produce some color work despite the inherent issues. It's still not very widely known, and I've seen opinions here and there along the lines of "it's ok but not striking like his B&W work." I thought it was an interesting parallel.



sebboh
Registered: Nov 02, 2009
Total Posts: 10700
Country: United States

artd wrote:
mpmendenhall wrote:
artd wrote:
This also made me think of another curiosity. Similar to Daido, Ansel Adam established his reputation doing B&W work. But he also did color work, which wasn't nearly as popular.


Ansel Adam's color work was less popular with... Ansel Adams

The reasons are perhaps more explicable in this case, at least following AA's own commentary. Color film technology at the time didn't offer the fine level of technical control / darkroom manipulation that AA was able to use to match his B&W works to his visualization of the scene. AA's color photos are well composed, attractive subjects in interesting lighting, but they are basically stuck with "Kodachrome colors." As much as the classic Kodachrome look is attractive on its own (and put to excellent use by many photographers), it couldn't match what AA wanted for a photo given unlimited control over color reproduction.

Yes, this is true, but he did produce some color work despite the inherent issues. It's still not very widely known, and I've seen opinions here and there along the lines of "it's ok but striking like his B&W work." I thought it was an interesting parallel.


i believe AA actually said explicitly said he wasn't happy with how it was able to be processed at the time, but hoped that in the future technology would be available for him to extract his vision from color film.

i suspect he'd be pretty happy with how digital has expanded our capabilities now.



artd
Registered: Mar 01, 2011
Total Posts: 1187
Country: N/A

carstenw wrote:
artd wrote:
That's a good point. And I think it happens not infrequently to established artists, especially as they grow older. Maybe it's because they feel they have extra leeway to make less accessible work. Maybe they think they've earned enough clout to get people to hunt more for comprehension of what they're trying to do. Whatever the reason it does leave a large audience out in the cold. But then again, it also spurs debates and discussions and some interesting things can emerge in those.


I wonder if it isn't just a loss of drive? One hears of young artists with fire in their bellies, but once success sets in, a lot of that fire is extinguished. Some people drop out completely at that point. How many bands worked and worked until they got a hit album, and then disappeared, never to be heard from again? Others just continue churning out mediocre swill forever. Example: Rolling Stones. I don't think I like a single song since Hot Rocks, except Angie.

Well it could be. Or it could be the opposite in that they are driven to move further away from what they've already done to try and push into different (and sometimes less accessible) territory. For a lot of artists, it's about being edgy, about challenging the audience. If that edginess becomes accepted by the establishment, if the audience is no longer challenged because the work becomes part of the mainstream, maybe they deliberately want to try and do something less accessible. Sometimes the issue with that is the work does become too inwardly intellectual.

With the music analogy, there are also bands that have early success and then keep making music that moves away from the mainstream (or pushes the mainstream out) instead of staying in it and wallowing in mediocity. I kind of think of the Beatles that way, later in their history they started to do some weird and exotic things if you compare it to their earlier stuff. The tricky part is being able to balance that against becoming too self absorbed in your own concepts to make meaningful connections with any audience. (You could make a case that's what happened with John Lennon when he left the Beatles with his solo career...)



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 13358
Country: United States

sebboh wrote:

i believe AA actually said explicitly said he wasn't happy with how it was able to be processed at the time, but hoped that in the future technology would be available for him to extract his vision from color film.

i suspect he'd be pretty happy with how digital has expanded our capabilities now.


I had a chance to meet and speak with Dr. Adams (the mrs.'s got the picture somewhere ) earlier this year. When asked directly of AA's son on this very matter (by another FM'er also in attendance, iirc) ... Dr. Adams was very deliberate to the degree his father would embrace the digital control ... leaving "no doubt" to his father's enthusiasm for such. IIRC, Dr. Adams indicated that his father did get a taste of digital in its neophyte development stages and was able to realize the future it would one day become.

I'm sure that Dr. Adams has answered this question "ad nauseum" over the years, yet he still poured an enthusiasm in both his response, and indication of his father's embracing such.



carstenw
Registered: Dec 26, 2005
Total Posts: 15949
Country: Germany

artd wrote:
Well it could be. Or it could be the opposite in that they are driven to move further away from what they've already done to try and push into different (and sometimes less accessible) territory. For a lot of artists, it's about being edgy, about challenging the audience. If that edginess becomes accepted by the establishment, if the audience is no longer challenged because the work becomes part of the mainstream, maybe they deliberately want to try and do something less accessible. Sometimes the issue with that is the work does become too inwardly intellectual.


That is another possibility, true. There is a third one, I suppose. Some artists may realise that the success has taken something from them, and so they move to the photographic equivalent of the log cabin on a mountain top, and simply stop caring about others any more, and just pursue their own little pet thing in semi-private.

I don't know anything about Moriyama, so I don't know which is more accurate with him.

With the music analogy, there are also bands that have early success and then keep making music that moves away from the mainstream (or pushes the mainstream out) instead of staying in it and wallowing in mediocity. I kind of think of the Beatles that way, later in their history they started to do some weird and exotic things if you compare it to their earlier stuff. The tricky part is being able to balance that against becoming too self absorbed in your own concepts to make meaningful connections with any audience. (You could make a case that's what happened with John Lennon when he left the Beatles with his solo career...)

Paul McCartney also ended up doing a lot of thoroughly mediocre work after leaving the Beatles. I guess they both still had enough in them for a few more hits, but nothing more systematic than that. Some artists really seem to need a certain environment to thrive, and when they leave that environment, whether that be a group, a certain relationship to the artistic community in general, or simply the lack of success, they stop being able to produce (as much).



kosmoskatten
Registered: Oct 11, 2005
Total Posts: 3023
Country: Sweden

mpmendenhall:

Developing your own color film requires a much higher level of precision than B&W does.

I've worked some fifteen years with film processing and the level of precision needed for repeatable and accurate E6-processing requires a whole lot of attention I can tell you. We had a Kodak trained employee who often managed to keep the test strips "within all limits" according to Kodak spec's and when that happens it doesn't get better than that. Calibrated test strip from a reference matched batch run each morning after warm up and measured against reference strip by spectrometer - if deviation was too high, chemicals were added and another test strip run through. Often the chemical added was no more than a few precious drops. In the evenings some water was added to compensate for evaporation loss during the day. With time you learned the curve (rise and fall if you will) of the machine and could predict when to add a little bit of this and a little bit of that to keep it within tolerances.

Also, unless you are developing quite a lot of film regularly over a period of time it is quite hard to achieve consistency with slide films.

Some customers had their slide films "on hold" by us until the machine peaked.

C41 is a bit easier and you have wider tolerances and easier to control output.

Ansel Adams did not develop his own Kodachrome as Kodak had exclusive processing rights up until 1954 I believe. No one had the option of mixing their own soup back then and other labs could not develop it either at that time. Printing from the slides was a different matter and I am not familiar with the technique available at the time.



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