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Guy Tal
July 29th, 2006, 11:00 AM
http://scenicwild.com/imdir/img/large/da000115.jpg

In my early years as a photographer I was more interested in documenting things and places I found interesting. It didn't take long to realize that these images did not always communicate my personal fascination with the same appeal as a glossy postcard or coffee-table book.

My next foray was into grand scenic landscapes, portraying vast and majestic grandeur. This worked well but from a personal perspective was almost the exact opposite of my initial attempts - I got the "wow"s I was after but no longer felt I was sharing a personal experience which was my reason for photographing in the first place.

It was this experience, along with expanding my own understanding of the field that led me to the Intimate Landscape (term borrowed from Eliot Porter). With these I felt I have found my calling - images that are unique and personal and visually appealing.

This is not to say I will not jump at the opportunity to capture an mountainscape or grab the odd documentary snapshot of something that interests me, but to me these intimate vignettes are often much more meaningful.

Guy

Alain Briot
July 29th, 2006, 11:24 AM
As a (transplanted) resident of the American west, I find myself at odds with the common romantic perception of nature as pristine and unspoiled.

To me this image speaks of the partial outlook that we have upon the wilderness, while hiding to others, and perhaps to ourselves, the deep rooted problems such as pollution, global warming, or the destruction of the wilderness by ATV's, overgrazing, gas & oil drilling, road building, and in general abuse, mis-use and over-use of a fragile resource (ironically using one of the icons of nature protection --the leaf-- as a way to lure our attention away from the fact that the rainforest is being clear-cut, the redwoods nearly logged to extinction, and acid rain destroying our forests).

From an academic standpoint I can recognize some of the elements of composition --the use of curves and the contrast of colors and texture-- which serve their purpose well in presenting the beauty of this scene to the viewer.

These are tools that the photographer used very skillfully to enhance the beauty and visual elegance of this scene. This however is the “How” that should never supplant the “What” (remember Adams – “there is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept”). The “what” here is delivered with enormous power – leaves shining with luminosity and chroma, as in a final burst of light and color before they become soil again and join the eternal cycle of life. Stone shaped in sensuous curves, as if to form a sandstone womb in which leaves, and metaphorically the entire organic aspect of nature, are sheltered and nurtured on their way in an out of a beautiful and healthy existence.

An image created with the same deliberate force and precise control over a fleeting opportunity as the very subject it portrays.

---
The above is a paraphrase of Guy Tal’s original answer to Tony's Bonano’s photographs of wild horses. Guy's original response is below, as well as in the original thread in this same forum section:

"As a (transplanted) resident of the American West I find myself at odds with the common romantic perception of cowboys and their ways.

To me this image speaks of the distress, anguish, and humiliation of these beautiful and powerful beasts, subjugated by the arrogance and superior cunning of the human (ironically using one of those same beautiful beasts as a vehicle to imposing his dominion).

From an academic standpoint I can recognize some classic elements of composition (rule of thirds, ratios, symmetry, etc.) which serve their purpose well in creating a visual tension and leading the viewers to specific power points in the frame. These are tools the photographer has used very skillfully to illustrate and enhance the unfolding drama. This, however, is the "how" that should never supplant the "what" (remember Adams - "there is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept"). The "what" here is delivered with enormous power - tense muscles, anguished expressions, light that almost seems to ebb and flow at the artist's will - an image created with the same deliberate force and precise control over a fleeting opportunity as the very subject it portrays.

Guy Tal
July 29th, 2006, 11:50 AM
Thanks Alain!
See, you actually do make a good critic :)

Guy

Alain Briot
July 29th, 2006, 12:05 PM
Guy,

Thank you. I am glad you like my response.

Take a look at my "Open Answer" on my website. I'm thinking of starting a thead about it but haven't yet (only 1 thing at once):

http://www.beautiful-landscape.com

It's at the top of the page. Can't miss it ;-)

Asher Kelman
July 29th, 2006, 12:18 PM
Strangely, gremlins have stopped my posting my response. Well to my surprise, Alain then posted with amazing congruence to my own impressions, and he's so French!


Wow Guy,

Talk about intimate!

This is remarkable. Did you stage the placement of the leaves?

The picture to me evokes a number of feelings. First the arching arm of rock comes around perhaps protecting the cavity below. Then again is it a woman's hair or the waves majestically reaching up high and then breaking?

Looking from below, the left hand stone ridge thrust upward, past the leaves.

Then when we examine the leaves, we see them penetrating like a phallus way up and exploding into the cavity.

Now I look at the edges. Perhaps almost 1/3 of the way up on the left, there’s a square dark object with a grey edge. Has man walked on this private place?

This picture rewards in posing questions and delights in the cascade of meanings and conversation.

In the end, looking from a distance, I see a question mark reversed.

If this were a painting, I'd say you are very talented!

How does this print? Also what size?

Is this as shot or a crop of a larger picture?

In any case, I like it!

Asher

Alain Briot
July 29th, 2006, 12:26 PM
Well to my surprise, Alain then posted with amazing congruence to my own impressions, and he's so French!

Yes! This is what makes this forum so unique! And we need to express our differences!

Guy Tal
July 29th, 2006, 12:41 PM
Alain, I think you should start such a thread. I can recall times when I wanted to give this kind of answer but I usually stop myself. It's obvious the question was posed in a provocative manner and the immediate instinct would be to respond in kind but in some cases I found I was able to engage a skeptic and bring them around to realize the value of my work. It's interesting I had a similar discussion recently about people who (provocatively) ask whether my work is "digitally manipulated".

Asher - thank you for the enlightening review! To answer your questions:

This is a found scene. I did not add or remove anything at the site, though I did clone out a small pine needle in Photoshop. Note I am not making a judgement here - on occasion I will make minor modification (e.g. remove a leaf) but not in this case.

There is no evidence of human presence here - I believe I was the first person at the scene after the previous evening's storm that washed the rock face and blew the leaves in.

Now for a little surprise - a couple of days earlier, very close to this spot, I actually ran into Alain who was on his way out of the canyon. I didn't recognize him at the time but when I saw his portrait on his web site some time later I recognized him as the LF photographer we said "hi" to.

Guy

Asher Kelman
July 29th, 2006, 01:00 PM
Guy,

Amazing how a Frechman and an Englishman can have the same artistic reactions to a picture of an American rock cuddling fallen leaves. This indeed shows that theoretically we do have a common language in esthetics, developed and honed by different schooling, cultures, genetics, gifts and wives!

In at least some part, (to the consternation of many wiser than I am), I account such congruent impressions as a language deternined in man's l;anguage evolution, and hard wired in our brains.

Again to the small object with the hard lines on the right side of the image; what is it? Rock?

Asher

P.S. I have started a new thread on prices of photographs.

Guy Tal
July 29th, 2006, 01:15 PM
Again to the small object with the hard lines on the right side of the image; what is it? Rock?

There's a number of small pebbles in the frame but I'm not sure which object you are referring to specifically. If you can provide more accurate coordinates, I can post a larger snippet of that area.

Guy

Asher Kelman
July 29th, 2006, 01:25 PM
Guy,

The effect is 7" to 7.3" from the top of the image and 5.9" from the left edge to the right border.

The measurements are obtained by opening the file in PS and adding rulers to the unaltered image.

Asher

Guy Tal
July 29th, 2006, 02:06 PM
Just my luck my site is down at the moment. My apologies. I'll post that snippet as soon as it's back.

Guy

Guy Tal
July 29th, 2006, 02:44 PM
I think this is the area you were referring to:

http://scenicwild.com/stuff/da000115_crop.jpg

Guy