Perfection in ImperfectionMonday, October 22, 2018
Because of my advanced age of 76 I was young enough at one time to have enjoyed the pleasure of listening to a record while being able to read (particularly in jazz) well written liner notes (back of the album cover) without the need of a loupe. But I also have to admit that I was bothered by the scratches or when the pickup (as the device that lay on the record grooves was called) stayed on the same place.
When CDs arrived I was in sheer heaven. I could never understand those who said that CD recordings had no presence. In my living room, even now with my JBL Studio Monitors the sound is terrific and it does not have the tinny sound of listening to YouTube on a smart phone. Paradoxically the perfect (accurate) sound of CDs (to me) is not how I feel about contemporary photography.
Some might argue in favour at the perfect beauty of imperfection.
The above is but a preamble on my frank opinion of what is wrong with photography today.
There are flaws in those who just learning to use their smart phones. But when I look at digital camera images taken by people who know what they are doing I am overcome by colours that are much too bright (overly saturated) and sharpness and contrast that are like pins and needles to my vision.
Photographers of the past century did everything possible to reduce contrast in an attempt to get texture and detail in shadows without losing detail in the whites. Ansel Adams’s Zone System was just that, a way of taking, processing and printing your negatives to get detail wherever possible.
One of the best models I ever had the pleasure to photograph was JS, who was completely uninhibited and patient while I used several cameras, 35mm and 6x7cm ones, loaded with all types of b+w and colour film. I also shot Polaroids and the Fuji version I call Fujiroids. By then (November 2012) I knew what a folly it had been to throw away the peels from the Polaroids. If these were dried carefully, away from dusty places (you can see I failed here!) they would sometimes remain as negatives or sometimes they would do the Sabbatier effect and partially “solarize”.
I like the images that I post here because of their lovely (to me) imperfection. I am keeping a few boxes of the instant film for really good subjects. Alas Polaroid and Fujiroids (for medium format cameras and which you have to peel) have been discontinued.
I have other ways now in my perfect quest for imperfection. You can see it here and here.
Meanwhile I will enjoy this winter of my life in which the Holy Grail happened in my past and our contemporary future of perfection I will avoid.