Early 20th century photos

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by kallisti, Jul 28, 2013.

  1. kallisti, Jul 28, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2013

    kallisti macrumors 65816

    kallisti

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    #1
    Was recently reviewing photos from some early 20th century photographers. Saw an exhibit at MoMA of Bill Brandt and it got me thinking of two other photographers/artists from the last century. Man Ray and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

    Wanted to post a thread with some of my favorite "old" photos by these three artists. Some are iconic, some are lesser known.

    Would encourage others to post some of their favorite photos by photographers who inspired them.

    [Nota bene: pulled out photo books for these shots and took quick photos with my camera . Didn't scan them. Also didn't spend much time trying to optimize them. They are what they are. Much better versions can be found either online or in books if a particular image strikes your fancy.]

    Bill Brandt

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    Love the composition on this. The wall draws the eye in to focus on the outline of the police officer. The actual image is more dramatic. But I think this gives a sense of the drama captured.

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    So much "story" in this image. Very sensual but not overtly graphic. Much is hinted at, but not actually revealed.

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    Another image where much is hinted at but not revealed. This one a little darker in tone than the previous.

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    Blurry even in the original. The background is kind of in focus. The subject lost in shadow without any detail on the right half of his body and overexposed on the left half of his face, also losing any detail. The book he is reading blurry but has light falling on it to attract the eye. I find this a very powerful image.

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    I love this candid. Not graphic, but *very* suggestive and sensual.

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    Love this. Not sure my capture from a book really shows it off (and the book didn't compare to seeing it in person), but I find this an amazing photo.

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    Another amazing street shot with a fantastic composition.

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    A vertical landscape which is a bit unusual for landscape photography. While he has several horizontal landscapes, he shot a number vertically and made them work.

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    An abstract landscape, though this is a bit more out of focus and abstract than the original image. I really like this photo in the original.

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    One of a couple I've seen with the same general theme. That leading line is phenomenal. This is an amazing photo. He has another somewhat similar one with a biker on the path heading into the photo.

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    One of his nudes. Not graphic. But just wow.

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    This feet photo just blew my mind when I first saw it.

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    He has a few beach photos in a similar vein, some more graphic than others. Amazing.

    Man Ray

    Viewed today his images can make him seem like a photoshop whore. He took photography in a radically new direction, doing things in "post" that were revolutionary at the time. Many of his subjects were nudes.

    Hard to find images that are suitable for posting in a forum. Like this one though:

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    Henri Cartier-Bresson

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    Iconic image that everyone has seen. One of the things I find interesting about it is that it isn't in sharp focus. The image is all about the composition and the time of capture.

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    I like this composition.

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    I also like this composition.

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    He did some interesting portraits. These two are in the same style. The one on the right is Jean-Paul Sartre. He has one of Camus that I really like as well. Did several portraits in different styles of several famous people.

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    This is actually one of my favorite Bresson photos. He was a very talented photojournalist, though many of these images don't do much for me. This candid is filled with emotion. If the girl didn't have a smile on her face I would find this very disturbing. I still actually find it disturbing. But it is very powerful.

    What attracts me to these "classic" photographers is the ability to create incredible compositions--an amazing talent to shoot from the "right" vantage point and include what matters and (as important) exclude what doesn't matter. Often they chose subjects that also infused their images with emotion.

    Many of the images they produced aren't "technically" correct in the way images are usually judged in internet forums. But they are artistically amazing.

    Feel free to reply and post images from photographers you find interesting/inspiring.
     
  2. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #2
    Don't have anything to post at the moment but these are the sort of threads that I love and I think we are seeing less of.

    There are countless posts talking about gear and workflows and whilst those are all very important people are forgetting that it is the photos themselves that matter.

    We forget that many of the greats were all stuck with <800 iso and film made everything a relatively equal playing ground.

    When I get some time this evening I will have a dig around and find some photos that inspire me although due to my youth I can't promise that they will be that old!
     
  3. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    This, to my mind is photography. It's not about equipment, sharpness data sheets. I go to as many exhibitions as possible and buy as many books as possible. If you are interested in photography it is important to understand the history of photography. It is important to understand what went before, the ideas, how things changed, how the greats came up with new ideas, new ways of seeing and presenting things.

    David Alan Harvey, a Magnum photographer, always says to not use a picture to show what something looks like, show how it feels. It seems to me, the way you are writing, that this is something that has suddenly hit you, and made you think about photography. This is a good thing.

    Cartier Bresson, famously, didn't have much of a clue about the technical side of photography, he always argued he didn't need it because he knew about people. In fact many of the greats were not technical photographers, but people watchers with a compulsion to take photos.

    I suggest you go to the Magnum website and look through the portfolios. I'm sure you will agree that many of the modern photographers are still using many of the principles that those who came before them also used.

    I can't post any pictures as I'm away from home in Libya atm, but I always return to Joseph Koudelka (Gypsies/Exiles), Alex Webb, David Alan Harvey, Bruce Gilden (Go, Coney Island, Facing New York), Rene Burri, Paolo Peregrin, William Klein (New York).

    If you start to understand the history of photography, you can see how things moved from Brassai and Kortesz to Doisneau and Bresson then Klein to Gilden.

    Incidentally, the Bresson photo of the leaping man is one of the very few Bresson images which is cropped. You will notice Bresson images always have a black border, Bresson insisted on this to show that he didn't crop the frame, makes things even more impressive!

    Hope this turns into a good thread!
     
  4. steveash macrumors 6502

    steveash

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    #4
    Indeed, although bare in mind that this is a tech forum so gear is likely to be the main theme. Couldn't agree more with this either:

    It's worrying how infrequently art and photography turn up in the same sentence.
     
  5. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    So not much interest in actual photos. Maybe the OP should have posted asking what lens was used?
     
  6. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #6
    Thanks for sharing as it does (for me) inspire.

    When I first started shooting black and white, I did a lot of experimenting and while I didn't emulate these fine photographer/artists, they did influence my drive to learn more, experience more and see differently. While most of my photo work was "work," all of my self education lent itself to the art side with texture, positive and negative space being exploited - things that these images inspire.
     
  7. r.harris1 macrumors 6502a

    r.harris1

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    #7
    Lartigue

    This is a shot that everyone is familiar with but I really, really like it. Says a lot about an era and says a lot about what makes a compelling image.


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  8. 100Teraflops macrumors 6502a

    100Teraflops

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    #8
    Thanks for posting this great set. It is truly a mixed bag of nuts, which I like of course. :)
     
  9. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    Kent. UK
    #9
    Sebastiao Salgado, Serra Pelada. Not just this image, the whole series. I can remember sitting in Waterstones bookstore looking at a copy of Workers and just wishing I could capture what Salgado had. This experience was responsible for me picking up a camera and trying to take pictures. If you are in London, please go to the Salgado exhibition at the Natural History Museum, it's on until September.

    More recently I bought David Alan Harvey's book (based on a true story) and just thought I should give up now. I will never, never be able to do anything close to what DAH has produced in this book, incredible. And DAH makes it all seem so easy.

    http://vimeo.com/42015234

    (I got the Salgado picture from the internet, not sure of the protocol with this, if it's not the done thing, mods please delete).
     

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  10. JDDavis macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #10
    For me there are three. There are many photographers past and present that I admire but the work of these three are what really gets me going and inspires me to keep trying.

    My three are Ansel Adams, Bradford Washburn, and Leigh Ortenburger. They all combine the things I'm inspired by, nature, mountaineering, and photography. I find the detail and contrast in their mountain photography to be striking and it's hard for me to think a high alpine range should be represented any other way. Adams, of course, is extremely well known and was not necessarily a serious mountaineer, but Washburn and Ortenburger where both pioneering mountaineers that created amazing photographs of the environments they were in. I can't get to a few of my favorites on the internet but here are a few examples in order (Adams, Washburn, then Ortenburger). These aren't the best representations of these images either. To see them professionaly printed is amazing.

    Trying to live up to thier aesthetic and ideals is hard to do with a digital camera but I'm getting better. Of course all of these guys did most of thier "genius" in the dark room and used large format cameras. Modern DLSRs are getting much better at dealing with the wide dynamic range that these environments present and it's interesting to try to get the effect you want with a digital. I have learned recently that you can't just rely on B&W conversion software or digital filters (though they are necessary) but the position of the sun and atmospheric conditions have a lot to do with being able to replicate the contrast. Digital cameras may never be able to truly replicate the kind of detail and contrast that these guys were able to achieve on their equipment but climbing with my D90 is way easier than what Ortenburger would do for an image.
     

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  11. JDDavis macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #12
    Hope this link works. This is Leigh Ortenburger's image of Alpamayo in the Cordillera Blanca in Peru. This image was published in a German climbing magazine in 1966 and a subsequent survey of climbers and photographers voted the mountain the most beautiful in the world (mostly thanks to this image). Ortenburger's work is surprisingly hard to find online. I've only seen larger images in climbing journals (Alpinist #31).

    It's hard to believe that a black sky can be as powerful as this one is to me. I recently spent a month in the Tetons just trying to duplicate a sky like this with my DLSR. Well, I did a lot more than just shoot. I'm not quite that dedicated, I guess.

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  12. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    JDDavis, take a look at Salgado's current Exhibition and book, Genesis. I think you'll find some wild, isolated landscapes that you will enjoy.
     
  13. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

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    #14
    Not sure if this was quite the intention of this thread but someone who I am really inspired by at the moment is Theo Gosselin, a young french photographer living in Paris.

    To me he seems to have the dream job of hanging out with his friends and photographing his lifestyle. He's just released a book and if I had a bit of spare money I would definitely get a copy.

    He shoots predominantly film, something I try to emulate myself, and he manages to capture such great moments and light. It really feels like he spends at least 20 hours of his day in the golden hour!

    Here are a few of his recent pictures.

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    Untitled by Theo Gosselin, on Flickr

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    THE FIRST DAY OF MY LIFE by Theo Gosselin, on Flickr

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    ONLY LOVE by Theo Gosselin, on Flickr

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    HOME by Theo Gosselin, on Flickr
     
  14. JDDavis macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #15
    Thanks for the suggestion. I did enjoy a lot of the images I found online from the Genesis book. There are some characteristics of his work that I really like. The image below from the Brooks Range is amazing. There are some parts I don't gravitate towards though in the way that I do Washburn's or Ortenburger's. Salgado's work feels a bit more emotional and free compared with my previously mentioned big three. There's an aspect of their work that is more documentary or cartographer like. When I view their photos it feels like a real place, like looking at a map in a way.

    What I find fascinating about photographing mountains is you can take dozens and dozens of technically perfect and well done images and they end up being boring. Then one day the right conditions will come together with the light and atmosphere and that same composition will be amazing.

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  15. Apple fanboy macrumors P6

    Apple fanboy

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    #16
    I totally agree with this. Why is it when the sky looks great because of the clouds and sunlight you are normally somewhere that is not really going to make a good photo, or don't have your camera on you? Last night in the pub, as the sun came down in the beer garden the sky was amazing. Camera was at home of course!
    Really like this photo. So many things that draw you in.
     
  16. JDDavis macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #17
    The pic is a Salgado which was from Attonine's suggestion. You'd probably enjoy more of his work, I did. To illustrate your point above I spent a month in Jackson Wyoming trying to catch interesting morning skies. The day I was leaving and had the camera packed up in the Jeep (rookie mistake) was the most interesting sky of all. All I had was my iPhone but I still like the pic. I could show you dozens I took from the same spot previously that are boring.

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  17. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    Kent. UK
    #18
    For those in the UK, iPlayer has a fantastic documentary about Don McCullin available until the 6th August, search for it under "films". For those outside the UK, sorry, you can't access it!

    If your not familiar with McCullin's work, it's well worth checking out.
     
  18. Attonine, Aug 4, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2013

    Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    This approach to photography, i.e. hanging out with your friends and documenting them is a well trodden path. Unfortunately, by the time I started to take a real interest in photography and knew what I liked and what I was doing, this period of my life had passed and I was into the 9 to five grind!

    I think Nan Goldin did most of her famous work when hanging out with friends in New York (The Ballad of Sexual Dependancy, The Devil's Playground). Larry Clark's famous Tulsa is a documentary of his friends in Oklahoma. Of course these two photographers hung out with Junkies and the fringes of society! Earlier in the year a photographer called Mike Brodie was all over the internet with a series of photos he had taken while living as a hobo and train hopping across the USA, he photographed the friends he made on his journey. Again, well worth searching for.

    These shots by Theo remind me of a Jeans or fragrance advert. It's the colours and the group have a kind of hipsterish feel about them which has been used in commercials over the past few years. Theo is onto the right thing, but for me, they just don't have "it". There is something about his images which to me, make them look like commercial images, not documentary. I'm not saying they are bad, or he is a bad photographer, quite the opposite. It's just I immediately thought of a Levi's or Lacoste commercial when I saw the photos.
     
  19. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    Rober Capa, Omaha beach! Probably the most important series of photos ever taken. I think the story is that Capa took around 100 shots, but all but 11 were destroyed by accident whilst being processed in London.
     

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  20. kallisti, Aug 17, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2013

    kallisti thread starter macrumors 65816

    kallisti

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    #21
    It was the intention :) I have my own personal bias that photography is intimately related to art. I appreciate that there are countless reasons people decide to pursue photography, and "art" may not rank high on the list for many. But it's sometimes helpful to think beyond "gear" and see the bigger picture.

    Lots of good stuff posted in this thread. Thanks everyone :)
     
  21. kallisti, Jun 23, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014

    kallisti thread starter macrumors 65816

    kallisti

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    #22
    Apologies for resurrecting this thread from the dead.

    Recently discovered Garry Winogrand (following a suggestion offered in a thread I started about zoo pics). Loved his first book The Animals. So much that I ordered Garry Winogrand and really enjoyed it. Most aren't sharp (and many aren't even in great focus), but really interesting. Subject choice, composition, right place at the right time. I couldn't help but notice how most of his photos aren't close to being level/straight. Had to be a conscious choice and an effective one. Rules exist to be broken?
     
  22. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #23
    No need to apologise at all. To be honest, I hadn't even noticed the date of the first post, so absorbed was I with the content of the thread, which I thought was new, as I hadn't come across it before.

    This is a really terrific, illuminating, informative, and extraordinarily interesting thread. Actually, I, for one, am delighted that you resurrected it, and it is wonderful that the whole idea of photography as art, and the composition of images, along with the treatment of light sources are all discussed here, along with a superb selection of thought provoking photographs.

    I love the some of the old black and white photographs which have been posted. More to the point, I sincerely hope this this thread enjoys a long and fruitful existence, as it is so interesting.
     
  23. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    Kent. UK
    #24
    There's a new Winogrand retrospective on at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. Started on 27th June. It's a new retrospective in that it includes recently developed photos from the 1000s of undeveloped reels discovered after his death.

    If you look at his pictures you will notice that they are not as random as they seem. The angles aren't random. An often quoted example is the famous world's fair image of the women on the bench. Notice the pole in the background, it is vertical. Loads of stuff on youtube and the web about this, including interviews with Winogrand and clips of him working.

    Also check out Mark Cohen, Daido Moryama (the list of great Japanese photographers seems endless!), Bruce Gilden, Alex Webb. Take a look at Burn Magazine, curated by David Alan Harvey, always has great stuff on it. James Nachtwey is fantastic, you'll need a strong stomach for a lot of his work though, there's a film about him on youtube, War Photographer or something like that, has a great clip of his assistant dodging and burning a huge print. William Klein should be looked at too. I could go on forever.....
     
  24. kallisti, Jun 26, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2014

    kallisti thread starter macrumors 65816

    kallisti

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    #25
    I completely agree with your sentiment when you posted this--I share it.

    However when I was looking at Brandt's work I decided I wanted to emulate it. And started thinking about which lens he used. Not brand or speed or MTF curves. But what focal length he used to achieve the perspective in his photos. How did he technically achieve his look? What focal length can do this?

    I don't know the answer regarding Brandt's images (possible it is somewhere on the internet). Pulled out my widest lens (14mm) and tried to compose something similar (though not nearly as interesting). Set focus manually for as close as the lens would allow. The lens was almost touching the cup. Set aperture at f/22 to get the largest possible DOF, not caring about the effects of diffraction on sharpness. Hand-held at 1/15th sec.

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    Ended up being an interesting learning exercise.
     

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