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Thursday, 08 January 2015


When it comes to travel photography, this is a most welcomed antidote...


Brilliant! An over-the-top critique that echoes the over-the-top book. I love Art Wolfe's photos in reasonable doses, but this just seemed too much. Great photos - which these are - deserve to be seen in less crowded surroundings.

Art Wolfe's "Edge of the Earth, Corner of the Sky" is an earlier book equally full of irritatingly wonderful pictures. All shot on 35mm slide film and absolutely none the worse for it.

That's nice and all, but inquiring minds need to know whether he cloned any zebras this time around.

I got this book as soon as it was released and have been blown away. My 6 year old daughter even asks to look at "the book with the really pretty pictures".

For a blow-by-blow description of the making of the cover shot, see here: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/columns/wolfe/night_fisherman.shtml

There were two takeaways for me:

1. His dedication to getting the shot was pretty impressive. He had to try out a number of things to get the shot to work, and getting all of the elements outside his control to line up wasn't easy.

2. Knowing the background destroys the "magic" of the shot for me. See here for Michael Reichmann's account of shooting in the same location (scroll down to the heading "Guilin"): http://www.luminous-landscape.com/locations/classic-chinese.shtml

I respect Michael's position, and I know it would be wholly unrealistic to think that Art just walked up and nailed a picture like this, but somehow the magic is gone anyway...

Best regards,

Not for posting.

Apropos of nothing except your comments about your approach to processing digital B&W recently, I'd like to recommend a movie that I just saw. It's titled "Ida", a Polish movie that you can stream on Netflix or order the DVD. The story may or may not resonate with you (it did for me) but the filming technique was amazing. I thought that "Nebraska" was good, but this movie was special. The tonality, apparent dynamic range, and shot composition was a reinforcement of why I love B&W - it's all about the grays and the human character visually exposed. Well worth the time investment to watch it. Made me want to grab my camera and go shooting :)

I also have this book and tend to agree with Mike and other comments here,it is superbly shot and almost too perfect from a technical point of view as most of us know these type of shots are very difficult to come upon or even organise and it's a tribute to Art's skill,patience and organisational abilities that he was able to accomplish this, nevertheless it leaves me sated almost akin to the feeling one might experience having indulged in a diet solely of very tasty pastries.
The other criticism I have is the huge amount of pictures printed across two pages ( double truck ) this to me spoils the whole experience, it really is a case of less would have been better.

Amazing image. I'm surprised to hear that people would think it "less authentic" just because the photographer asked the subjects to bang around for a few minutes until he could nail the shot.

As much as I like 'impromptu' (does that make sense?) shots that seem to capture unique, fleeting moments in time, if one studies the background of many of the most renowned photographs in the street/travel/photojournalistic genres, one soon realizes they were not one-off attempts, but the photographers did hang around for a while and took maybe a dozen shots (sometimes more) before finding the image. Magnum's 'Contact Sheets" book provides plenty of examples.

I was also surprised to read that this kind of photography doesn't push your buttons, Mike. Would you care to elaborate? I mean, these are great portraits (environmental ones) taken in beautiful surroundings, what's not like?

[Well, I like Courtney Barnett about twenty times as much as I like Celine Dion. Does that help? --Mike]

Photogasmic? what an interesting word - I had to look it up!
Two definitions:

Regards. Ger.

Okay, what are the odds of back to back comments from Fer and Ger ?

Ever since my experience as the technical advisor (on things photographic) to author/art critic Sally Eauclaire for her seminal book The New Color: http://www.nytimes.com/1981/11/08/arts/photography-view-is-the-new-color-work-so-different-from-the-old.html wherein she would bring portfolios of emerging Fine Art photographers from the 70s (Shore, Meyerowitz, Eggleston, Groover, Epstein and 100s of others) and spread them out on my studio floor, I have developed a near-pavlovian (negative) response to pictures like those made by Art Wolfe. Like you, I also lack the button that photography turned up to 11, slathered with photogasmic goodness pushes. That stated, when I look at pictures like Art Wolfe’s I am reminded of nothing so much as the Hudson River School of painting: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/hurs/hd_hurs.htm , a genre which I find rather appealing to the eye, and consequently I tend to view his work as replicating the aesthetic of that movement which, in and of itself, is all well and good for those who make and enjoying viewing such work. However, my The New Color experience opened my eye and sensibility to that characteristic of the photographic medium which truly separates it from the other visual arts. That is its inherent/intrinsic relationship to and as a cohort of reality. As was proffered by an anonymous source, unlike a painter, a photographer starts with something finished and works backward, I prefer pictures in which a photographer more accurately reflect t’he something finished’ than those which are slathered with art sauce.

"Okay, what are the odds of back to back comments from Fer and Ger ?"


I am wondering if you have been following Peter Turnley with the events in Paris this week. Today a post came through on Facebook from him and it made me think of your site.


I wanted to dislike the art-sauce slathered sample photos I looked at in the link to Art Wolfe's book, but I couldn't. I kinda liked them.

However, I would have to look at them only in very small doses. And I don't think I would ever purchase such a photograph for my small, mostly TOPian collection.

It is rather amazing how many different styles of photography there are. Something for everyone. Or as Drunk Uncle used to say, "there's a chair for every butt".

As a working scientist, the cardinal sin is falsification of data. Once a fraud is unmasked his entire corpus of work is in question.

I cannot look at an image credited to Art Wolfe without asking: is Wolfe lying to us, again? That is the first question that comes to mind -- not the last. And there is nothing -- nothing -- that Wolfe can now do to reverse that. The damage is done, and Art Wolfe did it. To his audience, and to himself.

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