Optical centering of a mounted print

KenS

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Fibonacci is 1 1 2 3 5 8 13... each term being the sum of the previous two. The Golden Mean is much older. For a post-Renaissance view of systems of proportion, consult Modulor by Le Corbusier.
I think we're all agreed that the "too low" effect exists and that there seem to be several ways of coping with it. More than I'd imagined.
If we print digitally, we are using paper with a proportion of 1:sqrt2, the A-series of paper sizes. This might be influencing our thinking on proportions.
And let's not forget that a mount can slip down in the frame, so there can be a physical as well as an optical effect.

Ken, there's no absolute reason why we shouldn't use staples or sticky tape (clear or opaque) to fix a print to the wall. It might be the most valid expression of what we want to say. Not all points can be made by immaculate matting with museum grade board.
 

David M

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Surely you could drive yourself to drink without a University to help you?
There's a special language to learn, which I found onerous. I did list Delia Smith as an influence and provided a reference in the bibliography. No Brownie points for that.
 

Ian Grant

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There is another issue when you shoot multiple formats. In my case that's 5x4 (710x8), 6x17. 6x6, and very occasionally 7x5 and 6x9 and that's for the same projects. The issue then is not only optical centring but also balancing image sizes.

I've found from experience I can use the same frames for 5x4, 6x6 and also 6x9 & 7x5 but 6x17 was an issue.

Here's a 5x4 shot alongside a 6x6:

upload_2018-9-10_13-44-10.png

The 5x4 shot needed to be raised slightly, I'd not repositioned it properly after taking them down for a lecture.

With 6x17 I found they looked wrong in these 20x16 frames.

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By luck it just happened the suppliers (The Range) had a more suitable frame:

upload_2018-9-10_13-48-19.png

I also altered the print size, now they sit better alongside each other, the angle exaggerates the size slightly of the panoramic shot, and there's a good balance now between the formats.

Ian
 

Alan9940

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Artist's statement? Yeah, well I've only been doing all this for myself for about 50 years, but I never understood the artist's statement. Doesn't the work speak for itself? Doesn't the work convey the most intimate feelings of the artist? Hmm...artist. That's another work I never cared for...
 

David M

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Alan,
Well, no, the work doesn't always speak for itself. A viewer's life experience may be very different from yours so that what seems obvious to you may be baffling to them, or even pass unnoticed. Or they may latch onto something that was insignificant to you.
As a simplistic example, we can imagine someone who regards photography as a means to make useful records being baffled by perfectly printed, beautifully composed photographs of, shall we say fruit and veg. "Why," he or she may ask "would I want to look at a picture of a pepper?"
So, I suggest that a little bit of information is a courtesy to the viewer.
On the other hand, I have hacked my way through some pretty thick verbal jungles to find nothing but jargon. All too often, the a*****'s statement attempts to give a political (small P) interpretation to the work. I don't like it.

Another suggestion from a friend was that "...speaks for itself" is simply way of chickening out of saying anything at all, either through stage fright or indolence. I'm not attributing either of these to you, of course.
 

Alan9940

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David, I understand what you're saying, but if the "artist" has to explain the work is the work, then, not strong enough? I'm thinking of Weston's pepper when I read your example of a pepper. If you look at that image and think "big deal, it's a pepper", then IMO you've totally missed the point. It's not about the vegetable! To my eye, it's all about the sensuous lines mimicking the human form. I have no clue if this was Weston's intention...it's simply my "read" of the picture. I understand that an artist statement may be necessary for certain directions one might explore, but I, personally, never read them.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the fault (for lack of a better word) generally lies with the viewer. For example, I don't see/feel anything when I look at modern art (paintings.) Does that mean the artist didn't convey his/her message? Of course not! Does it mean I'm missing the point? Probably...

This all reminds me of a story... A couple that my wife and I have known for about 40 years, when visiting here for the first time, spent a couple days at the Grand Canyon. Following that visit, they came down to spend a few days with us and the subject came up. They said, "I don't get it, it's just a big hole in the ground." I postulate that if you stand on the precipice of that canyon and all you think/feel is that it's a big hole, then there's something lacking in you. Sorry to my UK friends for this reference, but I think it makes my point well.
 

David M

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Well of course, it is a big hole. Someone has thought it necessary to add the word Grand, which is a kind of explanation.
Just because your friend fails to say "Wow!" in the right way doesn't invalidate his opinion. I don't know either him or you, but other and quite different things may amaze him as much as a big hole in the ground amazes you. But I do take your point. I'd be surprised too if someone said that to me.
I don't quite know what to make of "...not strong enough." Is the purpose of creative work to knock 'em dead instantly? I suggest that that's not the only reason to make and show things. In the case of what we're calling modern art (now more than a century old) we might need some information. Much art is a reaction to what went before and if we don't know that, we will be lost. Remember how the Impressionists were despised? Now they're bought by banks.
If we look at older paintings we may lose a great deal of what is being "said". A picture of a saint (a very common subject) will be filled with all kinds of references to their life, their martyrdom, the miracles they performed and the scriptural basis of their saintly actions. I should insert the word "alleged" somewhere in there. It seems reasonable to include a bit of text for the modern viewer.
None of this is a defence of gobbledegook. I'm with you there. What you say makes sense to me. I'm just trying to expand the discussion.
 

Alan Clark

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Alan, I am rather surprised that you feel nothing when you look at Modern Art. I don't know your photographic work very well but pictures that you have shown on this forum have a very strong abstract element to them which makes them look quite modern to me, and suggests an inherent interest and affinity with abstract art in general. Not that abstract art is modern, but it is in the context of the way I think you are describing modern art.

Alan
 

Alan9940

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David, I always appreciate and respect your insightful remarks. You are absolutely right that my opinion, or anyone else's, doesn't invalidate another opinion. I don't disrespect my friend because he didn't feel "Wow", rather I try to understand--from a visual aspect--what/why something appeals to one and not to another. All opinions are valid in my book and you really can't understand any single opinion until you know quite a bit of reference leading up to it.

No, the purpose of creative work is certainly not to "knock 'em dead instantly." As a matter of fact, I much prefer creative work that "grows" on me and, over time, that I learn to see and appreciate things therein that I didn't see or appreciate at first blush. This is why, in my own work, I'll print an image and hang it on the wall for a month or two to allow myself time to distance myself from the original creative act. If, after some time of living with the image, it still moves me in some way or I appreciate it even more than before, then I know I've got something that I should spend time on. Most of what I do winds up in the trash! ;)
 

Alan9940

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Alan, what can I say? I'm a man of many contradictions! ;) I do tend to gravitate toward more abstract images and I don't know why I respond in the way that I do. I can look at some modern art and appreciate the interplay of lines and color, but it quickly bores me. I suppose, for me, further contemplation doesn't reveal anything more and I lose interest. I'm sure this is my failing and, perhaps, as David said I don't understand and/or know what came before it. I took several art classes as electives back in college, but my general knowledge in this area is...I'm sure...limited.

Just sitting here thinking about it, why do I respond to much of Minor White's work? The more abstract images of, say, Wynn Bullock? Nearly all of Carl Chiarenza's "Landscapes of the Mind"? Bruce Barnbaum's images of the slot canyons here in the desert southwest? (Fun fact: a large part of why I moved across country and live in the southwest is in large part my direct response to those images!) Do we ever really know ourselves? I'm a strange dude!! :)
 

Alan Clark

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Thanks for your interesting reply Alan. I have the feeling that it isn't too important to know why we respond like we do to certain things and not to others. Maybe an intuitively approach, without over-thinking things, is more productive.

Carl Chiarenza? Not heard of him. Will look him up.

Alan
 

David M

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I'm another one who'll have to look up Carl Chiarenza.
Well, we are getting into some useful exploration here, I think.
Some time ago, I suddenly realised that I don't have to like everything. If I don't like cocoanut, (and I really don't) I don't have to eat it. On the other hand, I've thought all my life that I didn't like beetroot. Quite recently, I discovered that I do. Olives are a popular example of how taste can change.
My apologies for the simplistic examples, but art has usurped the word taste from the vocabulary of food.
There's no shame in either example but somehow, we can get very excited if we don't like something in the creative world.
I think there might be two factors here. One is the natural human desire not to seem ignorant or socially inept. (I suggest that we can ignore this factor within the forum. We all have human failings and I think we can all allow for that.)
The other is that there are things that we really don't like and we are entitled to our dislikes. This is a personal matter. We bring our own history to every observation we make.
Being very simplistic again, if you like dogs, you'll probably like doggie pictures. Some people like the outdoors and they may respond to picture of mountains and trees. Others may see only a howling wilderness This has been true for much of human history; outdoors was for the peasants.
Where I suggest we must be cautious is in limiting our curiosity to what we like. We can simply enjoy the things we like and ignore the things we don't, but we can go further and try to discover what makes us dislike something.
Here's a confession. Alan mentions slot canyon pictures, and they are certainly attractive, but for me, the reaction is always "Oh. Another one." I think I've seen all the orange stripes that I need, but I may be alone. I can certainly understand being there and being entranced by the photographic opportunity and I'd take the pictures, but all the results look very similar to these eyes. My apologies if this treads on anyone's aesthetic toes.
In summary (because I've rambled) it's OK to like, it's OK to dislike, but in my view, it's better if we understand why.
 

Joanna Carter

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Our club photo recently held our summer exhibition. At least two of our members showed pictures they weren't particularly enamoured with and were surprised to find that people really liked them, to the point where someone offered to buy one of them.

My thought is that we should never say "it's only…" or "it's not that good" about our own images. Certainly there will be those images that we would never dare let into the public domain but there are others that could be just what the world is waiting for.
 

Alan9940

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David, so articulate and well said! Regarding my own reaction to art or any creative media really, is to endeavor to discover why I don't like it or why I don't, perhaps, see what I should see, maybe based on my own experience. I always feel that I must be lacking in some way. Perhaps I'm just being too hard on myself? I do feel I'm perfectly within my right to like/dislike something, but I have no right to say something is good or not good. Who am I to judge the merits of art, film, etc? And, it's all just my own opinion based on my own personal prior experiences. I wholeheartedly agree with you that we should strive to not limit ourselves to what we like!

Regarding the slot canyons, it's a shame that they're over-run nowadays and, yes, there are millions of pictures of these places, but all that doesn't diminish my own personal reactions to these areas. I've been to the most famous of the two slot canyons here in Arizona--Upper Antelope and Lower Antelope--several times each. I tend to favor Lower because it's much less crowded. I've also visited a couple of lesser known canyons which is quite fun because hardly anyone goes there! There's no tour bus that drops you off! ;) As a matter of fact, most of these unknown canyons require a hike just to get into the canyon. Anyway, I respond to them, photographically, in two different ways--first, in B&W and the other in color. The B&W images are very abstract in nature which I love! Color images are really fascinating, to me, because there is color captured that you don't actually see! It's quite amazing!!

Plus, you mentioned something about the outdoors... It's funny, I've quipped to many friends (some of which don't really care for the out of doors) that the outdoors is really my excuse for taking up this hobby of photography; it's my excuse for being outdoors and I can bring back what I've seen for friends and family. And, not to open a whole other "can of worms" I many times take a picture just to see what it will look like as a picture! Wasn't there some famous photographer who said that?

Anyway, thanks for the exhilarating discussion!
 

Alan9940

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David, a quick example of color in these slot canyons. I hope it comes across in this small JPEG on the forum. See that purple/lilac color along the right side? You don't actually see that when you're there!

CRW_2361.jpg
 

David M

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Gary Winogrand.
There are somethings that we all agree are very, very bad but they are mostly covered by the Ten Commandments, plus a few new and original sins that were not possible in the Bronze Age. We're not discussing absolute badness.
I think we can, in fact, make a distinction of sorts. We generally know when we dislike something and with a bit of luck we will know why, although ultimate understanding of oneself might be a burden.
We know when we do like something and it's good to know why in that case too. If it's our own work, it helps us to make more of the latter and less of the former.
But when it comes to making judgements I suggest there's another factor. Whatever our sympathies, we can judge if something is good of its kind. We might not like a particular piece of music, but we can tell if it is well played. We might not like holes in the ground (to return to our origin) but we can judge if one hole is a better example of a hole than another. (In the example of the Grand Canyon, it's probably the best Big Hole in the world.)

Camera Club judges are a reviled species, perhaps unjustly. When they show partiality for one particular kind of image they are not doing their job properly. A good judge has to make this kind of leap and discover what's good in everything that is presented. I don't go to a camera club any more, but I've been asked to be a judge a couple of times and it's much harder than it looks from the back row. The worst thing, I found, was to see extreme technical competence married to an entire lack of vision. The convention, at least in the UK, is to give a single mark for each entry, but I always felt that the system they use in skating would be better. (That is, if marks are to be awarded at all.)
On the whole, I don't really approve of competitive image-making, but some people like it. If they joined a tennis club we shouldn't think twice about competitiveness. It takes all sorts...
 
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Joanna Carter

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Lancashire Monochrome is a great club if you don't want competition to be the be-all and end-all for your photography. At least, it was before we moved to France. The essence of their meetings is that a few people will present a few photographs each then, during a coffee break, folks will mill around the prints that have been laid out on tables and discuss them with the authors and each other.

The club we are in here has deliberately not affiliated to the Fédération Photographique de France because we know that we could end up going down the competition route. We are simply a club of photographers of all levels who meet to learn and help each other improve our photography (with the odd days out and a convivial meal :p)
 

David M

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Alan, that is very elegant. I do like it.
Joanna, Lancashire is a bit far for me, but some of our northern members may be able to get across the Pennines. I've found a similar group closer to home, although we are not dedicated to monochrome.
 

YorkshireBloke

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Hi All,

Can I just say: what a brilliant thread!

The last few months I have had to read about photography rather than DOING it!

Alan9940, as you know I adore some of your images and yes, words surrounding and explaining / exploring can be part of some work. Maybe not yours; others very much so.

The framing Ken, I agree! Also however, I wonder why we don't meet the challenge of adjusting the frame size to suit the image? We'll dance on the head of a pin to cut matte board to fit into a fixed size frame, talk about aspect ratios of 6x7, 6x9, 35 mm. But not get a different frame, hell no!

I had a great visit to the Photographers' Gallery, London on Tuesday with my film-maker son. The framing / hanging wasn't first class, IMHO. Standard frame sizes in the Trish Murtha show, far too close together, couldn't keep adjacent images out of my peripheral vision. Shooting 10x 8, contact print, yes, fixed frame size. Trish Murtha shot 35 mm so everything was enlarged...

The Alex Prager show had framing to suit the image, including no frames (a filmic image like her moving images). Brilliant.

Life is good with show like to and friends to discuss them with!

Robert
 
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