Tuesday, April 01, 2014

I lost my eye!

I may Have Lost My Eye
No, this isn't one of my April fool's day things.
It was a very long time ago that I fell in love with photography. I loved both the science and the art (explained decades later when I had certain brain evaluations; but I digress). I bought a little camera from a local pharmacy while in grade school and evolved from there.

At my peak I was into 4x5 fine-art B&W work and was studying with the likes of John Sexton (he's the one who prints Ansel Adam's negatives). He took some of us to meet Ansel's widow and see Ansel's darkroom. (But I digress...again). I would lug a 45 lb. pack along with a heavy wooden tripod. I loaded my own sheet film for the view camera. Most times, I never took out the camera; I just looked. It was all about seeing or, as Ansel called it, pre-visualization. I would stop once in a while, set up the tripod and put my chin where the camera would go. That let me see what the camera would see and decide if I had a viable image.

I would move that tripod around endlessly and often end up deciding it wasn't a worthwhile image. Most days, I never clicked the shutter. I never even took out the camera.This was all part of the art or the right-brain process. Finally, and not very often, I would see the image and find the spot for the tripod. Only then would the camera come out and, from then on, it was left-brain science (calculate exposure, zone development times, swing movements on camera, lens length, etc.). But back to the art.

As a photographer I learned to look. More importantly, I learned to see. I saw the world around me as never before. I noticed the epic and I noticed the details and, when everything was just right, I photographed them and then struggled for hours in the darkroom to produce a worthy image. Once in a great while I succeeded, even entered some jury art shows. Then the digital age descended like a cloud over photography.

I got PhotoShop and did some pretty stuff; but it was never the same again. After all, I could click away without wasting film and depend on the "even a blind chicken gets a kernel now and then if it keeps pecking" principal. Everyone was suddenly putting up "pretty" pictures with too much saturation and too much contrast (in my judgment). HD, something that was magical chemistry in the darkroom was being done right in the camera, even when the clicker in charge had no idea what that meant.

Pretty soon I was a megabyte-clicker, the back pack with the view camera began collecting dust and my wife gradually turned my huge darkroom into a storage area. That's when I realized that I had stopped looking at the world with the eye of a photographer. I no longer saw things I used to see, and I realized that I had lost something. I had lost my eye.

Paddle safe...


Alan said...

Oh you poor thing, lost your eye and now your nothing but a blind chicken. You're still one of the best portrait photographers I know. Yes the technology has changed but the art hasn't. There's always been a lot of crap out there and now with facebook, we get to see a lot of it. But there's also some very fine work out there. Check out Guy Tal's blog at http://guytal.com/wordpress/.
He thinks very deeply about the art of photography; you'll enjoy it.

Alan said...

Oh you poor thing; you’re nothing but a blind chicken? You’re one of the best portrait photographer I know. You’ve taken very good portraits of me, Bruce and just last week Vickie. The technology has changed but that has only given creative people more tools with which to express them selves. Back in the days of B&W film and view cameras, there was plenty of crap. Now we have Facebook so we get to see so much more of it. The new technologies are only tools that offer new ways of making art (and some really awful HDRs). Check out Guy Tal’s blog at http://guytal.com/wordpress/ . He’s an Israeli that lives in Utah and thinks very deeply about photography and art; you’ll like it.

Silbs said...

Thanks, Alan. I appreciate your comments.

Leonardo Esch said...

like at Ju-Do, photography is a path.
Once trodden the path, your footprints can even be erased, but the crossroads will never be the same.
Your eyes are still here! :)