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Sunday, 28 October 2007


Love the clouds in the town scene. So easy to capture this detail with modern digital cameras and their histograms.

Interesting series of images in the past few postings. I certainly suspect that the print images are very well done and pride is justified.

On the other hand, what aspects of, in this case, the rural town and country images cause the viewer to return to the image? IMO, only if you view and re-view the image can the image be be elevated beyond a "snapshot" or simple "document shot".

In spite of probable high quality printing, I find these images only marginally attract me to revisit the scenes. Nothing in particular seems attract my eyes or mind. Maybe that is the intent of this genre of photography - a simple presentation of the commonplace.

I am not biased against the rural environment - and, in fact, enjoy traveling and shooting, for example, in South Alberta and Northern Montana. These farming and ranching areas do have possibly excellent subjects for images that are can be quite compelling for the viewer providing there is sufficient content to engage the mind. Or maybe that is just my particular mind-set as both a viewer and taker of images. As they say, your milage may vary.

"They regarded it placidly for a while, and then one said, "Must be Mike's. Only Mike would take pictures of farmland.""

I work with folks 20 years my junior (aka kids) and I can easily imagine hearing this from one of them. I always hold back the tendency to tell these youngsters bits of wisdom that they'll learn in time. They'd never believe me, and if I did tell them, when they came to the life lesson moment, they'd forget to look surprised. I expect these students probably learned to find farm landscapes interesting subjects.... in time.


Looking at your images made me shoot right over to eBay and look at view cameras. If money wasn't so tight right now I would bid on any number of the sub-$200 excellent view cameras there. I remember looking for a set up not three years ago and expecting to spend in the $2000 range for a decent set up. I could have never imagined this radical of a price drop. That said. I pulled up some scanned 4x5 work I have done and immediately began to realize why I love it so much and why it is so under appreciated now. My favorite images from my digital era have all been shot on Provia with a medium format camera. My favorite black and white work has been with a 4x5 field camera. Digital has its benefits. It is quick, clean, and packed full of "WOW". It has bright colors that are saturated. You can shoot and shoot and experiment and not worry about waste. My favorite large format work is the opposite. The pictures are deliberate and careful. Because of the detail packed into the giant negatives. The overwhelming power of that medium is its subtlety. This is something that digital has yet to take over. Digital based LF is not the same as film. I am going to go back over to eBay and look for film scanners now. I thank you for setting me back 10 years in camera progression.

"I expect these students probably learned to find farm landscapes interesting subjects.... in time."

...Or not. I took 4x5 photos in a similar vein 20 years ago, and now I would come to the same conclusion as the 'kids'. It's a little condescending to assume the kids were wrong.

I think it would be interesting to return to the same location of the town photo and shoot it again, even if not in 4X5. Wonder what changes have taken place in 20 years.


In my humble opinion, Mike, you're better off sticking to 35mm and people. Your 4x5 photographs are OK but they are no more than snapshots on the larger format. The two above have been taken with the sun high in the sky-not always a sin-but in these instances producing very flat-looking photographs. Your earlier 4x5 images are, again in my opinion, just record shots. There is very little in the way of artistic input either through light, composition or viewpoint. As a historical record of what was in front on the camera, they have some value. If your intention was simply to make a record of the scene then you succeeded.
There is a tendency with 4x5 to fall under the spell of the technical excellence the format offers to the detriment of the subject matter.

I much prefer your 35mm stuff mainly because I think you relate to people better than you do to farmland.

"The kids are alright" ;-)

Lovely pics Mike.

Actually, John, I was thinking as I looked at that image (of downtown Alanson, Michigan) that the place looks almost identical to what you would see if you stood there today.

The filling station is gone, but the other proprietors are largely the same. Even the cars on the streets don't look too different.


I always find it somewhat disheartening that so many people seem to believe that only certain subjects (and even particular treatments of those) are worthy of being photographed. But it is a widely held belief.

They are interesting photographs - but not the sort of thing that seems to appeal to everyone.

But then, I like photographing farmland. And I like the ability of 4X5 to exploit smaller details in a large frame: http://www.ericfredine.com/horizons/index.htm (4x5 images cropped square).


The clarity of the top image puts me in mind of Walker Evans, but perhaps that's a side effect of shooting that kind of subject with LF. Anyway, I think those kids were giving a backhanded compliment - at least you now knew you had a recognisable style.

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