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Friday, 15 March 2019


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The Museum of Contemporary Photography has a brief bio of Pratt, along with some of his prints from their permanent collection.

Touching on the periphery of this post, I shot a ton of XP2 back in the day but it had slipped to the back of my mind. Looking at it now on the Ilford site I'm struck by two things, one is they still promote it as being 'easy to process on the high street' but more interestingly they suggest a maximum rating of ISO 800 and say it isn't suitable for pushing. I'm certain I used to shoot it at 1600 and there used to be instructions for that and 3200. Anyone else remember?

"He photographed with a Pentax 6x7 and made very small prints."

I have heard tell of the idea that size matters when it comes to prints and how smaller prints would entice viewers to get closer in order to 'digest' the imagery.

I have also heard tell how this mechanism had been leveraged by some folks to amp up viewer engagement; print photos of broad scenes, that would normally be viewed from a distance (and involve movement of the head to take in), small so that the viewer is forced to address what would normally be an expansive view from a very intimate distance or, the corollary, print an intimate view (say a tiny insect on a rosebud) very large to force the viewer to step back to digest a scene that would normally require a more intimate proximity.

Not sure how true that all is but I wonder if Charlie was leveraging that with his small prints? I also wonder how the modern view of imagery (much of it consumed via digital screens not much bigger than a laptop or cell phone) plays into those older ideas about print size and its effect on the 'consumption' of imagery.

Lovely story, Mike.

Mike, can you explain "syncopated hues"?
It sounds cute, but could mean almost anything.

[I take it to mean "colors that go together" but sometimes contrasting or complementary rather than close together on the spectrum? Generally I thought the article writer struggled with the art-critical terms, not quite fluent with the lingo. (I'm not quite fluent with it either, though.) --Mike]

Ah yes, I have some of my own pictures glued to those board-mounted 'floating' frames myself. They were popular right into the late '80s. I thought it looked cool at the time.

The photo lab I worked for back then did a lot of that sort of thing, mostly for corporate and advertising, but also for personal photography and, yes, for gallery mounting. Aaarrrgh. What can I say, it looked sexy and it sold. Should I feel guilty for selling it? The customers were all happy with the result. Although it's said that all crimes must be paid...

I dug one out to see how it's doing. It's a Cibachrome, and it's coated with some spray-on "Pro-Tek 5" clear semi-gloss stuff. It's looking pretty good after 35 years, but in another 30, who knows? I'm no Robert Frank, so who cares?

I still have all the slides I printed from, so if I scan them and print to archival paper and ink, no harm done. Should probably do that anyway, given your recent posts on that very matter.

Didn’t know much about Charles Pratt but here on this island has long been a favorite book. Thanks fit Charlie’s story

Charles Pratt was a friend of the late David Vestal. After Pratt’s sudden and unexpected death at an early age, David was involved in the posthumous production of a book of black and white photographs titled, “The Garden & The Wilderness”. With some text by Lisette Model.

An earlier and much smaller book of Charles Pratt’s photographs, the title of which alludes me, mixed colour with black and white. It contains an extraordinary, perhaps definitive photograph of a cow – quite wonderful.

David spoke well Charles Pratt, who seems to have survived the many curses of great inherited wealth, only to be let down by the mechanics of his own heart.

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