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Sunday, May 17, 2020

Movement II

I thought I'd see if I could experiment a little. Here is a sort of Colbergian photo. I regret that I do not have leafless trees through which the building can be seen, we must take behind as a substitute for through but I think I have some sense of the mashed midtones and overall structure he seems to favor. It's certainly a wretched picture.

It occurred to me that this sort of thing might have a place as a sort of harmonic dissonance, prepared for and then resolved. Note that these photos were taken within 200 feet of my current location over the course of about 5 minutes, this is an experiment to see what kinds of things might be possible. Something like this:

We begin with a fence, alone, with some dark, foreboding, tonality. Vegetation is introduced as the tonality moderates. The Colbergian arises as a dissonance, moderating the tonality too far and introducing the house (arguably implied by the previous pictures, what does a fence surround, after all?).

Finally all the subject elements are brought together in a pleasing composition, the blank foreground is filled in with something suitable. We still have the house behind the fence and the tree, but the tonality and formal structure of the objects finds balance. That last picture could lead to anywhere. It's literally an entrance.

It occurs to me that along with sequencing ideas from the 1930s, most photobooks seem also to feel that a consistent approach to tone and/or color is also mandatory. While this certainly lends itself to a certain cohesiveness, it also strikes me that it really stands in the way of any kind of emotional movement. So much of our response to a photo relies on the tone or color treatment, after all. It's a bit like a play spoken in a monotone, or a symphony with no dynamics, isn't it?

In the last 100 years we've radically altered what we photograph, and the way we treat those pictures, but the books we put them in use all the same devices as 100 years ago, without much variation. People still think it's radical to print full bleed, or to occasionally print verso.

Thinking back, it strikes me that pieces I like often seem to take a varied approach, to deliberate emotional effect. Katrin Koenning comes to mind. Go click on Indefinitely and side scroll at top speed. Don't even look at the pictures, just watch the dynamics.

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