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Monday, 23 February 2015


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While searching for Edward Hopper, Mr. Kingston found Norman Rockwell on plate 24.

As a bit of an Edward Hopper fan (hey, I'm from the home of a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nighthawks">Nighthawks) I'd say yes, some of Rodger Kingston's work here is reminiscent of Hopper's paintings. But he tags several bases beyond Hopper. Plate 6, for example, is so Bill Christenberry it's a bit uncomfortable. And Saul Leiter called to ask for his plates 20 and 80 back. Bill Eggleston left a voice mail asking for plate 60 back. But it's good fun, eh?

I prefer to ignore any mimetic attributes, however strongly they were intended, and just look at the photographs for their own value. To that end I'd say this is lovely work that does use warm/cool color palettes as a true third dimension to reinforce the apparent quiet, quaint visual theme. I think it's work that deserves publication, although maybe this presentation is good enough (and certainly less expensive).

You do (say "good art convinces") sometimes; even frequently, lately.

It's a great sound-bite. It's short, pithy enough I think, and actually encodes the thing it's intended to convey pretty well (by the standards of sound bites).

I'm now hoping it catches on, and intending to remember to use it myself, because this is something I've been seeing (tasting, etc.) things around the edges of for decades. I loved the cream of cauliflower soup at The Bakery in Chicago, but in general I am not very fond of cream soups. But theirs was superb; it convinced me. I haven't had a good short phrase for the phenomenon previously.

(Google has one other hit for the phrase used with this meaning: "Like Stephen Frears has said (see The Queen commentary) 'Good art convinces'.")

I've always had an affinity for Fred Herzog's color photos.

Thanks for that clarification on 'good art convinces'.

It's a lesson some educators could learn. Many workshops seem focused on teaching formulas. It's a shame more don't help people find their own palette.

I think the work convinces, but it's firmly in the transparency film aesthetic camp. Mostly Velvia with a bit of Kodakchrome thrown in here and there.

Colourist painters like Hopper produce bright hues other than the primaries. It's surprisingly hard to do in current photography, partly because the commercial decor of the urban world is full of just those primaries, but also because digital cameras favour bright, saturated primaries in their colour rendition.

Two photographers I like who do bright colour, but stray from the Lego palette enough to be interesting, are Cig Harvey (cigharvey.com) and Xiaoxiao Xu (www.xiaoxiaoxu.com). I think both have an aesthetic - FWIW, very different from my own - that involves strong colour but in subtle ways.

Recent declarations notwithstanding, TOP has featured, recommended and applauded many photographers who've been known to work with vivid colors. Eggleston, Leiter, McCurry, Ctein, just to name a few.

In fact, I might have found Mr. Kingston's book more "convincing" had he called it "Searching for Saul Leiter". Alternatively, I might have found it more convincing if he'd been able to include examples of Hopper's work alongside his, though I'm sure that wasn't feasible.

Geez, that was fun to look at.

Thank you Mike for featuring this body of work, I guess one of the strengths of color photography is strong color.
Rumor has it that an HDR slider is being added to Lightroom 6, a tsunami of pigment to follow.

Pretty enjoyable. I like his style—straightforward, careful compositions. And the colour is not over the top.

Many really enjoyable images here. Plate 56 is beautifully Hopper for me. But I got to wishing that Mr Kingston would be less heavy-handed with that saturation slider, and then when the portfolio got into the heavy-handed HDR stuff, the portfolio just went schizo for me. The good stuff... and the stuff that soured my eyeballs. Mr Kingston's is a classic sophisticated vision, but some of that is obscured by au currant style.

It's a bit overwhelming consumed at one sitting, but the spreads are very nicely put together.

Yes, it certainly is fun to look through these. For their Leiterness when the shapes get irregular, for the Hopperity of the interior spaces lighted to take on a strength equal to their exteriors, and for the reflected exteriors carefully balanced in intensity to exist in a world clearly distinguished from the storefront surfaces. I didn't see any Friedlanders, in which the interior and the reflected exterior join together to create a strange new reality, but maybe they will swim to the surface on a second pass. I love old diners, so some of the Cambridge specimens are familiar. And the repurposed gas stations remind me of Carl Weese's portfolio, although Carl's colors are more naturalistic. Hmm, I wonder what Rodger Kingston would do with a drive-in?


I dunno. Connecting it with Hopper kind of diminishes the project for me. It puts a limitation on the photographs that isn't necessary. They are never going to compete with the paintings, so why link them to a set they can only be inferior to?

Unlink them to Hopper I think would make it easier for these to stand on their own.

I really enjoyed going through the spreads. The only distraction for me was the overcooked HDR in a few of the shots. While a few of those shots certainly could benefit from a touch of HDR, once it gets to the obvious HDR level, it pushes me away a bit. I'm not a big HDR guy so I'm certainly biased. Lots of great images in there.

John Gillooly

Impressive, stylistically consistent work, spanning decades, with no false notes -- a pleasure to view these images!

The two smaller pictures remind me of my experiments with the Ferrania Solaris 100 film roll, which I sampled last summer. Saturated colours can be nice and give you a feel-good sensation when shooting. You tend to look for cheerful subjects, and that can be a good thing.

Let me begin by stating that “Searching for Edward Hopper” was never a shooting project where I went out looking for Hopper images, but only an exercise after the fact, a way of looking back at 40 years of my work from a different angle than I was accustomed to doing. (Its a great exercise; I recommend it highly.) Only after I was well into it did it occur to me that I might have a book in the making.

The comments here have all been very interesting, particularly the assumptions that some of the commenters are making about my influences, most of which I've tried to anticipate in my Preface, where I describe the nature of my debt to Hopper and other artists. And perhaps they might have taken notice of the dates of photographs: for example, "Drugs, Cambridge, MA 1974" was made decades before I - or for that matter almost anyone - was familiar with Saul Leiter. I’ve come to like Leiter's work very much in recent years (after all, some of his photographs look quite a bit like some of mine).

Also, I almost never use the Saturation Slider and have never even tried HDR. For nearly thirty years I shot color slides and printed them as Cibachromes, and I find that now, in the digital age, I generally still prefer the Cibachrome look, with its dense shadows and heavily saturated colors that seem to have a presence, like paint, on the surface of a print. I think that’s where most of the punchiness people are seeing comes from.

I am grateful for all these comments, and not just the laudatory ones; they've given me plenty to think about. And after all, didn't someone once say that the only bad notice is no notice?

Rodger, how has the Blurb experience been for you. Was the printing and color reproductions to your satisfaction. I was very impressed with your images.

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