Unit 57: Photography andPhotographic PracticeResearch of otherphotographers work
Photographer:Ansel Adams was born and raised in SanFrancisco. He took his first photograph in 1916,and after training to become a concert pianist, hechanged directions and became a photographer.Adams is mainly famous for his spectacularimages of American West and is also known forhis technical skill, pioneering the zone systemmethod of exposure and development control. Heauthored numerous books and published severalportfolios of his images. He also wrote a series ofvery influential technical books on photography.In addition, Adams was highly regarded as ateacher, lecturer, and conservationist. In 1980, hewas awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom,the countrys highest civilian honor.
Image DescriptionYosemite National Park is one of the UnitedStates most breath-taking parks, showcasingCalifornias most magnificent natural wonders.Dozens of dramatic waterfalls, serene meadows,and lengthy hiking trails make almost everycorner of this nearly 1,200-square mile park atruly unforgettable destination to Californiavisitors and residents alike. Merging exquisitenatural attractions with accommodations andactivities for the whole family, Yosemite NationalPark is a unique oasis that gives the parks morethan 3.5 million visitors per year a chance to getan intimate and personal glimpse Californias richhistorical and natural tradition.
CompositionAnsel Adams was very knowledgeable about photography and co-created with , Fred Archer, the zone system. This is a system forphotographers to translate the light they see into specific densitieson negatives and paper, which gives more control over the finishedphotograph. He also pioneered the idea of visualization which istrying to determine how the finished photograph will look before it isexposed. Ansels received many awards for his work including threeGuggenheim fellowships, election as a fellow of the AmericanAcademy of Arts and Science, the Presidential Medal of Freedom,awarded by Jimmy Carter in 1980, and 2007 he was posthumouslyinducted to the California Museum for History, Women and the Artsby California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Techniques usedAnsel Adams was an early proponent of "Straight Photography" as championed by Paul Strand. This meant that instead ofsoft focus or hand treatments, the photographs were clear, sharply focused, and an attempt to show what the artist saw atthe actual scene. To do this, Adams used the typical photographic equipment of his day: view cameras with large-formatnegatives at 4x5 inches, 5x7 inches, 8x10 inches or even 11x14 images. Even though photographic equipment evolved to besmaller, lighter and easier to use with the 35mm cameras beginning in the late 1930s, Adams stayed mostly with large-format view cameras throughout his life.One reason for this is that with view cameras, the relationship between the plane of the lens and the plane of the film can beadjusted, giving the photographer some control over near- and far-ground focus. Also, composition is somewhat easier sincethe ground glass is large. And of course one huge advantage of the larger formats is super detail with very little grain - veryimportant considering the film emulsions of the day.Adams was part of a group called "F64" including Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham, where they believed ineverything in the image being in focus. They achieved this by using small apertures (thus the name) thus providing a lot ofdepth of field in focus.Additionally, Adams began experimenting with filters in the 1920s to render different parts of the scene more closely to howhe visualized them. For instance, he pioneered the use of a red filter to darken blue skies in his photos, giving contrastbetween the sky and the clouds, for instance. Along with this, he adopted the technique for exposure, development, andprinting known as the "Zone System" which is a way of carefully controlling tonal values to achieve the widest range of lightand dark in his prints, despite the very limited range available in printing paper. Although he did not invent this system, hehas been associated with it for many decades, and he has written books on the subject (his three-part set on photography)that have become the bible for many generations of photographers.Finally, he was very patient and deliberate in his selection of subjects and the timing with which he used to take the pictures.I have heard it said that "he did not photograph landscapes as much as he photographed the weather." (paraphrased). His"C learning Storm, Yosemite Valley" photo, for instance, would not be nearly as dramatic without the clearing fog with thesnow on the ground.
Strengths & WeaknessesThe photograph to theright is one of my favoritesthe main reasons for thisare the idea of reflectionand keeping the colourconsistent. Also, keeping itbasic but making it look soadvanced.
Photographer:Yousuf Karsh has takenphotographs that tell a story, andthat are more easily understoodthan many others. Each of hisportraits tells you all about thesubject. He felt as though there wasa secret hidden behind eachwoman and man. Whether hecaptures a gleaming eye or agesture done totally unconsciously,these are times when humanstemporarily lose their masks.Karsh’s portraits communicate withpeople.
Image Description• Pablo Picasso, 1954The maestros villa was a photographersnightmare, with his boisterous childrenbicycling through vast rooms alreadycrowded with canvases. I eagerly acceptedPicassos alternate suggestion to meet laterin Vallauris at his ceramic gallery. "He willnever be here," the gallery ownercommented, when my assistant and twohundred pounds of equipment arrived. "Hesays the same thing to every photographer."To everyones amazement, the "old lion" notonly kept his photographic appointment withme but was prompt and wore a new shirt.He could partially view himself in my largeformat lens and intuitively moved tocomplete the composition."
CompositionAnyone who stood in front of Yousuf Karsh’s camera knew that they were going to beimmortalised. All of them freely posed for him, because people knew that a master wasphotographing them. Karsh photographed thousands of distinguished men and women fromvaried fields, during a career that spanned more than six decades. The portraits he made areadmired for their styling and their place in history; he described the sum of all his portraits as apanorama of the ‘great world theatre of the twentieth century’.“The past has no claims on greatness, for arresting personalities are always among us. I knowonly that my quest continues.After his family escaped to Syria to avoid persecution during the Armenian genocide, Karsh wassent to live with his uncle George Nakash, a photographer based in Canada. He let go of hisoriginal desire to be a physician because of financial constraints. Instead, he roamed the fieldsand woods with a small camera gifted to him by his uncle. Seeing his potential, Nakash sentKarsh to John H Garo, a portraitist based in Boston. It was here that Karsh’s photographic careerreally took shape. He learnt different techniques and processes present at the time, and he wasalso exposed to the concept of great lighting, design and composition. Garo’s studio providedKarsh an opportunity to mingle with international artists and political celebrities. He then decidedto photograph the influential people of that era. He returned to Canada four years later in 1932,and established a studio in Ottawa. Here, he was introduced to the use of incandescent lightingthrough his interaction with the Ottawa Little Theatre. It became a defining influence on his style,as he saw that with this lighting moods could be created, selected, modified, and intensified.
Techniques usedKarsh like many of the other portrait photographers of his generation often used point source lights andlarge format cameras to capture their portraits. Karsh often keyed his subject from at or behind stageline leaving large amount of his subject in shadow. This technique required and exact amount of fill lightmeticulously placed in order to provide detail throughout the shadow area while maintaining the dramathe key light had established. Karsh also routinely used understated background and hair lights alsoknown as accent lights in order to create depth and separation. The accent and background lights werealways subordinate to the key or main light and provided separation but did not compete for the viewersattention. As in black on black many of Karshs portraits were low key. That is, much of the informationin his images would occupy the left side of the histogram. None of his photographs lacked detail. Thiswas truly a delicate balancing act between lights.Critical in this balancing act between lights was a strict adherence to the rules of fill placement. Much ofKarshs subject were in the shadow created by the key light. The fill light was very critical in his set upsor much of the subjects features would be lost to this shadow. The fill light, being a point source, left asharp cast shadow. In order to minimize the shadow it had to be placed in the shadow of the key light.Therefore it was imperative for the fill light to remain above the lens and to closely approach but nevercross the axis of the picture. Similarly, the background light had to be placed so the brightest spot wasactually behind the subject and out of view of the camera. This would allow the light to feather awayfrom the subject allowing the camera to see only the most outer part of the glow. This would provideseparation from the background and would assure the highest point of contrast was not on thebackground but on the subject where it belonged. Karsh was able to create low key seemingly softportraits with very bright, hard lights. Once again proving it is not what light one uses but how one usesit them that matters.
Strengths & WeaknessesYousuf Karsh’s workaspires many peoplearound the world andthe main outlook forme is the fact hecreated his owncamera techniquenamed ‘Karsh light’.
Photographer:Robert Capa has taken many famous war-time photographs. He has coveredfive wars, even though the name “Robert Capa” was only the name placed tothe photos that Endre Friedman took and that were marketed under the “RobertCapa” name. Friedman felt that if you were not close enough to the subject,then you wouldn’t get a good photograph. He was often in the trenches withsoldiers when he took photographs, while most other war photographers tookphotographs from a safe distance.
Image DescriptionIn early September 1936, with the Spanish Civil War lessthan two months old, a 22 year-old Robert Capa took aphotograph that was to become a symbol of theRepublican struggle against General Francos fascistinsurgents. The story of the iconic image that both madeand, years later, challenged Capas reputation as a warphotographer, is just one strand of his life explored in atimely new show at the Barbican in London.The Spanish Civil War broke out on July 19 1936 and inearly August, Robert Capa and his photographercompanion (and lover) Gerda Taro arrived in Spain tocover the events. In September, Capa and Taroíarrived inthe village of Cerro Muriano near Círdoba whereRepublican militiamen were mouting an offensive againstthe fascists. Here the pair produced a series of imagesshowing a small band of militiamen posing on a hillside,holding their rifles up defiantly and running across ridgesand gulleys.As Capa was watching one of the soldiers (later identifiedas Federico Borrell García) a stray bullet struck and killedthe militiaman right in front of his camera. Two weekslater, Capas striking image, alongside another shot takenon the same hillside, appeared in the French magazine,Vu, in an emotive photo-essay that aimed to bring theRepublicans struggle to a wider audience.
CompositionThe biography of Robert Capa is as captivating as his portfolio. After a shortencounter with a communist leader in Hungary got him imprisoned, his new life onthe road would be anything but ordinary. Fortunately for Capa, his mother was aseamstress for the head of police’s wife in Budapest. When she learned about hereldest son being arrested for “communist associations” she was able to negotiate hisrelease. This would be the first of many sticky situations that Capa danced throughduring his life. The terms of his release were that he had to leave Hungary and neverreturn.Understandably upset Capa went to Germany to complete his education until Hitler’srole forced him to move on. Finally settling in Paris, Capa met the love of his liveGerda Taro, who was working as a photo assistant. The combination of her creativemarketing and Capa’s photographs soon solidified his role as a seriousphotographer. The two of them created the identity of Robert Capa. Its had a goodring to it and Taro spread his images all over town, talking up his genius to thephotography editors. Even after they were confronted for fraud, it was too late. Thenot so famous Endre Friedmann had successfully established himself as a prominentphotographer of the Spanish Civil War. This is one of my favorite stories of positivethinking. He wanted to be a photographer, so he declared himself one.
Techniques usedSimple Diagonals: Capa worked in both 35mm and square medium formats. Unlike Cartier-Bresson,who was educated formally in art, Capa’s work is less complex. The basic design of 90% of Capa’simages were conceived on a single diagonal. While some of the pictures fit into the 1.5 and Root 4grids, they were not a part of Capa’s working language. But as we will see, sometimes a successfulpicture works simply because no one else was there to take the shot. If only one line is used in acomposition, we will see how Capa organized off of the diagonal to move our eyes through the scene.Figure To Ground Relationship: What is this you ask? Figure to ground relationship is the term used totalk about how your subject relates in value of the scene or ground. Its like making a black dot on awhite background or a white dot on a black background. This is a primary design tool used throughouthuman history. If you would like an example think of the design of a Greek vase. The terra-cotta figureson a vase are light in value against a black glazed background. If we want our pictures to have carryingpower they need to be clear. Artists put a light figure on a dark ground or a dark figure on a lightground. Highest Contrast in the Subject: Working in film, without the aid of Photoshop, Capa knew fromcountless successes and mistakes, that the area of highest contrast needs to be in the subject. Asobjects receded in the distance they become less contrasty. We want our subject to have the lightestlight and the darkest dark because that is what our eyes notice. Even though Capa’s compositions arenot complex, he knew to look for a well lit subject. Finding the Unbelievable: When John Morris of LifeMagazine first looked at the work of Robert Capa, he remembers not being too impressed. But thirtyyears later and about one thousand arguments later with Capa, he realized the strength of Capa’s workwas the simple fact that Capa was there to take the picture that no one else took. We will see someincredible scenes that have more in common with the Surrealist painters than our expectations ofreality. Many of the scenes Capa made during war time were too shocking to imagine. But when citiescollapsed and people made life from the ruins Capa was there with a bottle of wine for their woundsand a camera for the us remember their hardships.
Strengths & WeaknessesRobert Capa used a multi choice of techniquesthis is what made him stand out more than otherphotographers. For example Simple Diagonals,Figure to ground relationship.