Saturday, November 23


Now isn't that pretty? Just, well, perfect? Look… look how the glow streams from the northwest, streaking through the leaves. Look how it startles and ignites the crisp blades down there on the southeastern corner. And see… see the lines in the farmhouse sharp enough to shave a starlet's legs? The hues range from coal black through platinum. 

And look how there's absolutely NO MEANING, NO FEELING! There's neither passion nor thought. 

When I saw this place I felt its age. Felt an almost spooky aura that built up over maybe a couple of centuries? Felt the way those silos in the west balanced the prosperous size of what may have once been something close to a middle-class mansion. Here was a fruit of the farm. 

But… but… the image shows none of that. Instead it's an absolutely perfectly assembled piece of craft. And you know my feeling about that? "Art without wonder," I've written, "is merely craft." Damn… I have the skills to do this and no more… With this thing at least, here's what skill without talent looks like. It's pretty. It's perfect. It glows, it ignites crisp blades… but not ideas or feeling. 


It's been so long since I've  even considered doing B&W that stripping away color is like… like Joan Rivers' humor stripping away sex. It seems wrong to surgically remove zillions of hues. From roughly 1957 through 2003, my work was overwhelmingly done in wet, monochrome darkrooms. Digital liberated me from those rooms and the prison of two color imaging. Yesterday I bought Topaz B&W Effects 2. It's a delight to use. You can see its power up there, right on that picture I grabbed with my Canon G11 on a recent bike ride. The thing is, that stripping out the color seems to strip away something else: Wonder.


Cedric Canard said...

This work was indeed a surprise. I admit that I have come to associate your work with the full spectrum of colours so seeing this image devoid of colours is somewhat arresting. Of course what this image lacks in colour more than makes up for it with its ultra rich tones.
The thing is that despite all the benefits of digital I still feel there is a place for black & white. B&W can focus a viewer in a way that colour cannot and I guess this brings us to your point about an image without feeling or meaning is merely craft.
Your image actually draws me in and builds a desire in me to enter the frame and explore. This in itself is no mean feat. But I understand that this would not matter one iota, how it makes me feel, if you see it as nothing more than a pretty picture.
As you know I tend to use photography as a means of exploring self and as such most photos I make will have meaning that goes beyond the subject matter. But more often than not, that meaning is lost on anyone else and my photo is simply received as "oh-hum". More often still, I completely fail to capture the meaning that some particular scene holds for me. In other words, I rarely succeed to go beyond craft. It's frustrating but that's life I guess.
I suppose what I am trying to say, ever so badly, is: are you looking at creating meaning in your work for others or for yourself? If the former than my own experience would say that the results will never live up to the expectation. If art is what we want to create then we must create it for ourselves alone. At least initially. If it doesn't speak to us then it will most likely be silent to others too.

Ted said...

Your work Cedric is tantalizingly idiosyncratic. I can neither see, nor visualize through your lens. Have you ever noticed that a brilliant idea is intuitively obvious just as soon as a really smart person explains it to you? Well, that's how I feel as whenever you post a new image.

It's as if the ideas are, like low hanging fruit that you just pluck. Me… I've gotta work and work and work to gnarl out the meat from my captures. Essentially I know what raw material I'm searching for when I safari around with my camera… But the captures are only parts of the final event… It's the same way I approach my writing. I gather ideas that need to be strictly arranged, combined, compressed, then edited… edited… edited.

I'm envious of your talent to find finisned personal feeling to frame as you wander. Damn I wish I could do that.

Cedric Canard said...

Thanks Ted. I do find my feelings easily enough in the everyday but there are times (and plenty of them) where I "see" but then completely fail to capture the intent presented to me. Many times my skills just aren't up to the challenge of translating the scene into meaning.
Then there is also the times where what needs to be said refuses to be ignored but requires much more than a mere composition and shutter release. Some of these photos can take months of work before the image finally smiles back at me, satisfied with what I did to it. Interestingly though, those photos are rarely enjoyed or appreciated by anyone else. I suppose that for a lot of people their lives are complicated enough as it is and all they want is the sound-bite, not the entire monologue.
And as for the writing, well I too go through hours of editing, compressing and arrangement but in this space you succeed much more than I do in delivering meaning with far fewer words.
For what it's worth Ted, for me, your photographic work equate to Shakespearian monologues while mine compares more closely to short, pithy quotes. Your work stays with me long after I've visited your blog, much like a satisfying celebratory meal. Mine is sushi takeout.

Ted said...

This is a reply to both the present thread and to December 1st's "Protection's Just Another Cage." So… I'm going to leap forward and continue it there, K?