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Interesting old images

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by contax wide boy, Jul 6, 2019.

  1. contax wide boy

    contax wide boy Active Member

    I've come to the conclusion that most of my favourite photographic images come from the
    pre electronic manipulation and over sharpened era.
    They are often a tad out of focus and not perfectly exposed, but the composition still remains firmly planted in my brain cell.
    Does anyone else have favourite pre digital images from well known or totally unknown photographers from a bygone era ?
    If so lets see them.

    I'm kicking off with Robert Doisneau.
    Paris 1969


    Nothing new about Laptops. France 1947

    saxacat, daft_biker and peterba like this.
  2. peterba

    peterba Well-Known Member

    I don't have any to offer, as examples, right here and now, but I might see if I can find some to link to. However, I'm in complete agreement with your comments about manipulation, and over-sharpening. Over-sharpening is a nasty malaise which has infected the digital photography community for quite some time. I find over-sharpened images to be unpleasant, and uncomfortable to view.

    It isn't manipulation, in itself, which troubles me... it's simply the fixation with trying to make technically perfect images. Everything seems geared to making images with no noise/grain... 'boosted' shadow detail... perfectly level horizons and perfectly vertical buildings... no blemishes of any kind... and so on. The resulting images create a barren landscape of tedious images which - for me - have absolutely no appeal.

    The vast panoply of notable images that exist - from Doisneau, Cartier-Bresson, and of course, so many others are - so much more interesting (IMO). Yet they achieve this, despite (as you say) not being terribly sharp - or 'not having shadow detail' :rolleyes: - or having signs of dust and scratches on the negatives, :rolleyes: or whatever.

    My main point is that all the <yawn> technical 'improvements' :rolleyes: in the world will not rescue an image which is lacking in interest.
    Gezza and contax wide boy like this.
  3. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Well surely that depends on the content of the picture? How does a landscape (of images or anything else) become barren just by removing blemishes and correcting verticals? Do you have eyes that see in converging verticals? Do the buildings you shoot actually converge? Do you need to see rubbish, bad focus, or incorrect exposure to add interest to what you're looking at?

    My guess is the subject was boring to start with and tarting up simply did nothing to change that.

    BTW as a point of detail, the two pictures above are perfectly sharp and well exposed and there are no distractions that need removing. The prints just look a bit old and with some blocking in the second, which is by no means intentional and is probably not blocked on the neg. Lost as to how they make the point?
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
  4. contax wide boy

    contax wide boy Active Member

    " BTW as a point of detail, the two pictures above are perfectly sharp and well exposed and there are no distractions that need removing. The prints just look a bit old and with some blocking in the second, which is by no means intentional and is probably not blocked on the neg. Lost as to how they make the point?"

    Not trying to make any point with the two pictures, apart from I find them memorable. The thread was not about sharpness or photographic critique of the
    two images, it's about members posting memorable old pictures. I said that they were often a tad out of focus and not perfectly exposed , which is true.
    That comment was a general thought and did not relate to the 2 images.

    Read more at http://www.amateurphotographer.co.u...esting-old-images.139511/#yDZqcPJE7QOIU0ft.99
  5. peterba

    peterba Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the 'critique' on my opinion.

    In future, I'll try to avoid having one, in case it should conflict with yours. :rolleyes:
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
  6. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    I don't buy the idea that there's that much difference between film and digital. Here's a FP4 shot that looks to me much like a digital mono would look...

    Canon Eos 100 Ilford Film 1996-14_ 07 copy.jpg
    contax wide boy likes this.
  7. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    So you have not a word to offer in support of your opinion in a discussion column, just sarcasm?

    I challenged and questioned your assertion, I did not critique it. But since you can't answer any of the questions, we'll just assume you hadn't thought it through.
  8. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    No I accept that entirely. They are nice pics and well worth putting up as memorable ones. The comment was not in response to what you wrote. I love the top one particularly and the quaint old cars take me back to driving round the Arc de Triomphe in that era.
  9. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Yes I have always wondered what people thought they saw. This maybe has the feel of film grain far as I can see at this magnification though.
  10. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    Lartigue's work does that for me. The imperfections hint at the difficulty of trying to do action shots 100+ years ago.
    peterba likes this.
  11. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Yes imperfections help to fix it in time, but if Lartigue, or even HCB, whose IQ in some cases was awful, saw what was achievable today, which do you think they'd choose to use?
  12. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    But why people would prefer film grain, other than having got used to seeing it over many years and as a creative effect, is a bit of a mystery. Not many peoples' eyes see in film grain :)
  13. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    Apologies for having posted in this thread. It's all yours Mike.
    peterba likes this.
  14. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    I don't think you quite get what a discussion column is. You make a point. Someone links to what you said and offers a view, or asks a question, and so it goes on....people differ, people agree.

    You have a problem with that? You got no criticism of what you said, only a considered response.

    Who was it complained there is no robust debate here these days? What do they think?
  15. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    Or even disagree!

  16. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    I think, from having briefly scanned this thread, that RM was in fact broadly agreeing with this statement. But to go along with that, if the image is lacking in interest, simply shooting it with a film camera wouldn't have made it more intrinsically interesting either.

    Perhaps part of the issue comes down to the fact that more people have cameras and the ability to edit them than ever before, which by the way, I think is a good thing. However it does mean that there are an awful lot more photographs, and not all of them are going to be good. Or more to the point, interesting. Blame New Topographics. That started the trend for photographing the banal. Now everyone's at it.
  17. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    I had to look that up. To me a picture is a picture and you like it or you don't. All value judgements are personal so one flying spaghetti monster's great art is another group of angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin's rubbish.

  18. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    Of course he was broadly agreeing (IMHO of course). Who wouldn't? It seems to me self evident that no trickery, whether in the darkroom or in the computer, will turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.

    Where RM seemed to disagree was in the statement (can't bother to quote precisely) that seemed to say that getting an image technically right caused a 'barren landscape' . Well I suppose that's a point of view but not one that I go along with. If there is a barren landscape (and I agree that there is to a very large extent) I think that it comes from your acknowledgement that everyone is taking and showing photos these days. It's in the nature of things that a few will be good, a very few will be very good but most will be just plain boring.

    The difference between then and now is that then the vast pool of mediocrity (and I'm sure that it existed) never got past the proverbial shoe box whereas now anyone can publish (even me!) on the net and the rest of us get to see what previously was in the show box.

  19. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    I haven't had enough coffee to go and re-read everything but I would say that's exactly the point. The pool of published images from the ages before the tinterweb is relatively small. People who were a bit rubbish at photography wouldn't have aspired to make their efforts public so perhaps it goes without saying that there 'appear' to be more and more interesting images from the era before digital manipulation and sharpening. But to say that the ability to manipulate and sharpen images is in and of itself creating a barren landscape is surely not accurate? I thought (and I'm happy to be corrected) that RM was making the point that there's not really anything intrinsically wrong with embracing the technology we have today to get technicalities right and that leaving the technicalities uncared for isn't what makes a photograph interesting.

    In any case, from my own perspective, I would say that there are just as many good/great photographers today if not more than before, but it goes hand in hand with the fact that we're more exposed to the mediocre/positively awful than we were before photography was opened up to the masses. It's a bit swings and roundabouts.

    As to the argument that you either like a picture or you don't (Andrew's comment) and that all value judgements are personal...yes, and no. It surely depends on context and audience. I know a photographer who makes a decent living photographing babies with their Naval parent's caps, or Fireman's hats...the parents love them, there's clearly a market for them, she's a very good photographer. I still think they're naff. I know a decent enough landscape photographer up here who, thinking he was a decent enough landscape photographer decided to offer his services as a wedding photographer and really he should have stuck to mountains because his wedding photography is dismal. That said, unless he's made them up he has testimonials to say how wonderful he is. I guess some people only see the radiant bride on the swing and haven't noticed the political poster plastered to the side of the frame and the Asda delivery van in the background. There will always be a market for babies in cabbage leaves but it doesn't make it 'good'. Exposure to more photography doesn't necessarily equate to understanding unless you question it - what's it about, who's it for, why was it made, what's it trying to say, why do people like it or not like it... these are the things that I find interesting and so even though I'm not keen on photogrpahs of babies in cabbage leaves I am interested in why they are so popular.
  20. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    My view is that it's just a truism that the more emotionally attached you are to the subject matter, the less emotionally detached you are from the entire piece of work.
    Geren likes this.

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