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Wednesday, 10 June 2020


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Well, I have to disagree about the scratches in print one. I think they establish the plane of the door and add interest to the photo and I like them.

On seeing print two, I thought immediately, this looks familiar. To me the piece immediately brought tom mind the iconic image by H C-B of the man leaping the puddle. This affects the meaning of the image in a way I cannot quite put my finder on. (Sorry to end with a preposition.)

It took me a while to figure out what you were describing as "scratches" in the gecko print. But I was bothered by the same visual element, I just didn't label it that way. It's prominent enough that it messes up my attempt to read the center portion as a reverse silhouette. Maybe I'm not supposed to? But I didn't just catch it from you, that's the way my brain is interpreting the image also.

I really love this print critique thing. I hope you keep it going a long time. This is exactly what I like about TOP.

With Jim Arthur's gecko print (which I rather like), I too first thought that the scratches might be distracting, but upon further consideration, I realized they actually help inform the image—without them, the gecko would seem to float in mid-air in an unnatural way. Perhaps, eliminating several of the longest (e.g., the long left one that skirts the lampshade and the vertical one above the start of the gecko's tail) would reduce the distraction aspect while the remaining ones would still let you know that the gecko is on a piece of glass.

Fuchsia, Mike. Fuchsia. Named after Leonhart Fuchs (1501–1566). Now shut your eyes and from memory spell Eschscholzia.

In Mark Stracke's photo, the flowers are quite likely gifts of Hans van Waardenburg and the city of Rotterdam in memory of 9/11. The city and thousands of volunteers have been planting daffodils and tulips every year as a memorial.

Seems like there is a common thread of metaphorical barriers in these. In the second and third the impossibility of leaping into the past as easily as the future. The girl is at about the age when girls stop jumping over holes, the fence is literally a fence in front of a memorial.

In the old days, I would advise Jim Arthur to consider taking a file to his negative carrier but apparently that is about as affected as wearing jodhpurs these days. In any case, the scratches perform a valuable function by allowing the viewer to decode the space of the photograph so that it reads as a vernacular record of nature outside - livingroom inside rather than a studio setup symbolizing the lizard as the mediator between lamps and chairs or the darkroom procedure beloved by photo students after they discover Man Ray. Or maybe that is a salamander in which case it would make an excellent cover for an edition of Farenhight 451.

Forgot to add the link http://www.ny4p.org/the-daffodil-project

fuschia or fuchsia?

[As I mentioned, I'll do the edit in the morning. --MJ]

If I have my way, which is rare in reality, I'd start my alchemistry cauldron and turn the "Leap" image into monochrome. That way, nobody talks about them gunky colours no more.

I think that no. 3, the Mark Stracke print might be interesting as a very high contrast (Kodalith) print.

In Jim Arthur's picture: those scratches absolutely make that picture what it is. Magic.

I LOVE print crit! More! More! Please don't stop.

I agree. Keep it up, you are doing very well. Very interesting. Thank you.

Jim: If you want to go the authentic cyanotype route, you can make a "digital negative" (invert the image in Photoshop and print onto OHP transparency film) and expose it onto cyantotype-coated paper. the-chemist.biz are sending free sheets (well, cost of postage only) of cyanotype paper to provide creative inspiration during lockdowns (I have no affiliation with the company).

Your print reviews (and the comments) are much more interesting (and inspiring) than the hardware reviews (and comments).

Hope to read many more. Soon.

Scratches? I saw spider web threads, still do because scratches usually have more directionality to them from cleaning or whatever. Anyway, keep the critiques going!

I think the table lamp competes too much with the gecko.

Great job again Mike. Keep it up. On the second print, Leap, I kind of struggle with the background. Maybe struggle is the wrong word. It's confusing to me. It's like a picture in a picture. I can't quite make sense of what is behind the girl. Agree with the bright color bleed but otherwise I like it.

These print critiques are gripping. Not so much because they reveal anything particularly useful to me about the art of the print or the art of photography, but because of what they reveal about Mike's preferences, tastes and way of thinking about pictures.

I normally take my cue from Bruce Percy - other people's photographic advice, suggestions, opinions, tastes and preferences and knowledge can sometimes be helpful but if you aiming to develop your art, it's more important to be true to your own likes and dislikes and passions, they are the only thing that is unique to you. Others' views will only take you so far. Nonetheless, please carry on, Mike, it's a fascinating reveal of what stirs your passions and part of what makes this place the place to visit.

Thanks for the input everyone. Not many people see my work and as a printer I’m a rank amateur so it’s helpful to hear from other photographers.

When I began to process this picture my first thought was to remove the scratches but once I removed the dust specs from the glass I decided I liked that the scratches added a depth or layering to the composition. I do agree with Greg K that some of the longer scratches could probably be removed and I like Mike’s idea of introducing a little color. I’ll give both a try.

I think Mike’s advice to John to search for a more poetic title applies to me as well. I made no attempt to title my picture. It just didn’t occur to me. Considering all the odd facts about geckos I see on Wikipedia and the fact that this little guy visited at midnight, I should be able to come up with something. If I were to remove all the scratches from the glass, I suppose I could inform the viewer of the glass in the title.

I like the high-contrast approach of John Gillooly’s picture. The image sort of jumps out at me as the girl jumps left to right. The high-contrast presentation, the action, the motion blur, the bright color, they all work together to make an impact. Well done. I do think Mike’s right about the border though. A thin border might be worth a try.

My first impression of Mark Stracke’s image was that it looked like a vintage photo. I like the muted color, the level of sharpness, and the different layers in the image. They combine to create a mood that’s very relaxing. If you jack up the contrast the feeling disappears. The paper(?) blown up against the fence line in the lower right, the angular fence support, the lamp post, and the tower in the distance all help to draw you in if given time. I like it. Well done.

I'm finding this very instructive. Just the simple idea of trying the same image at different sizes struck home for some of my own photos. And I'm enjoying seeing the contributions. As somebody who was one of the early cheerleaders for The Goodbye Kiss (looking over my shoulder as I type), who knows, there could be more hidden gems to be discovered. More please...

It's funny, but even your little jpeg of the third print immediately grabbed me. It's something about the sharply defined fence and the soft background that almost lends it a certain fairytale quality. I wonder what I'd think of it in person? Or whether I would like it more or less matted and framed?

By the way, that Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM "pancake" lens costs only $179, but is surprisingly excellent. Roger Cicala tested it and couldn't get over how well it did: https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2012/06/canon-40mm-pancake-how-did-they-do-that/

Mike, I absolutely love this print crit exercise that you are doing and was thrilled when my Cuba image popped up in the post.

Some thoughts on your comments. Over the last 19 years I have revisited that image and re-edited and re-printed. Interestingly, I've always called it Leap for some reason! I think that was the first thought that came to mind and it's just been that ever since.

While the title has never changed, this was in fact the most vibrant, saturated and contrasty version that I have printed. Seeing your version vs the one on my wall, I have to maybe agree about the overcooked magenta. This higher contrast version also renders the sidewalk very light as well as whatever that slate block behind her. Both of those issues then lead us to the lack of defined edges which you point out and which I also agree.

I've never really regretted that I chose to shoot with the D1 on this trip vs film, but I do wish I had been shooting RAW. In 2001, shooting RAW was very cumbersome in terms of workflow. The cards were small, the transfer times were slow, storage was limited, burning cds was slow, etc. These were the images I had in mind when I asked the question here a few months back regarding some up-rezzing software you mentioned. I have a 10x15 on my wall and because of the nature of the image, it holds up quite well.

Thank you for the critique of this print and the others - it really is very interesting and informative to listen to your thoughts and perspectives. This is also the type of exercise where the comments also provide incredible value - to hear the perspectives of so many talented and experienced people viewing the same images.

Re: "Could you lay them flat and take uniform snapshots of them using studio lighting with no distracting house stuff or your hand there?"

I assume Mike's showing his handholding the prints, and so on, to make it obvious that they are prints. If maybe the print has a slight curl, then the lighting might allow us to see the surface or gloss when he holds it just so; if there is a rough edge (or not) to the paper we get to see that; etc. And we get to see a little of TOP HQ where these judgements are rendered. Makes me aware that he just grabbed these from his stack. Makes me think I'm seeing him in action, with his words just coming out, maybe even Bob Dylan free-wheelin', print love at first sight.

Just as texture and fibre add to the print, these details (to me) add to the print crit post. I assume he'll use his words to fill in the gaps of what we cannot really see. We're being presented with *his seeing* and everything is filtered through his perspective, and that is the whole point.

I looked at the print By John Gillooly for a long time. I think its the difference between the low saturation but detailed street scene that does it, and the high saturation but blurred figure. But first it's about the figure, unselfconsciously jumping the hole.

I'm more and more drawn to photograph people recently, and even if they are not actually present in the frame, I'm drawn to photograph the result of their actions on the scene.

While some folk may enjoy the amateurish way of hand holding the prints with background clutter, I think it is being lazy and a little disrespectful to the photographers who spent time, money and energy to send the prints. It would be easier on the eyes and better for the images if they were simply laid down on a white, grey or darker background. Just say'in.

Mike, would you be able to share links to the photographers's websites? I was searching for Jim to see more of his work because I quite like the Gecko print.

I like the informality of the presntation; it adds to the air of a discussion among friends, not a gallery visit. Love the critiques, Mike's and the commentariat's. The obssesive in me would be interested in the actual size of the photos - "card"?, "5 7/8 x 9" " image or paper?, "small"? - maybe I should just work it out from Mike's hand...

[That's reasonable...I'll give the image area measurements from now on. --Mike]

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