WHY NOT TO PRESENT THE SAME PHOTOGRAPH IN BOTH COLOR AND BLACK AND WHITE

STRANGER.  San Diego, California

As I was scrolling through my Google + stream this morning.  I came across a post by a longtime, established, and relatively renowned photographer with an image posted two ways – both in color and black and white, with the question,

“Which one do your prefer?”

“I’d prefer for you, the photographer, to be decisive and choose which one works best!  I’d prefer not to see photographs in both color and black and white.”  I wanted to holler back.  But I didn’t.  I suppose I didn’t want to ruffle anyone’s feathers.  With that said, I think it’s a worthy topic to look at and discuss, and this is my forum – so it’s fine.  If I ruffle feathers from here – so be it.

So, what’s my issue here?

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ARE PETER LIK PROSPECTIVE BUYERS BECOMING MORE SAVVY?

God, I hope so!

A number of times lately I have fielded phone calls and emails from prospective buyers who were previously looking at Lik’s work, but were turned off for one reason or another and began looking elsewhere.  It seems, one can hope, that these potential photography buyers are becoming more savvy to some of the selling tactics employed by the Lik Galleries, and beginning to question the absurd pricing structure for the not-very limited editions of 950.

I certainly don’t have any issue with artists offering large editions of 950 or more prints, or even offering Open Editions with no preset limit.  Ansel and his contemporaries didn’t limit their prints to a preset edition.  Christopher Burkett, who in my opinion is the Ansel-of-today, doesn’t limit his prints to a preset edition.  Much of my own work is comprised of relatively large editions of 250 or 450.

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NIKON D800 E LONG EXPOSURE ISSUES / PROBLEMS

ONGOING UPDATES HAVE BEEN MADE LATER IN THE POST.

This post touches on these Nikon D800 issues:

  • •White spots in long exposure image files when LENR is OFF
  • •Light coming in through the “back door”
  • •Menu items being “grayed” out

 

After a couple month long wait, and a tough decision to jump the Canon ship and come back to Nikon, the D800E finally arrived in my hands this week.  I hope to get to be able to write about my overall impressions and offer an informal review of sorts, but right now, I’m having some serious issues.

I’m a landscape photographer and 85% of my work is based on long exposures.  I took the camera out last night for an initial test and to get to know her a bit, while using some exposures of 30 seconds to 2 minutes.  The results were not good.

I was getting this weird issue with the contrast horizontally across the image.

It seemed to be right where the focal point is at, here at the rocky line along the bottom edge of the tidepool – kinda funky contrast and color issue…

Here is a close-up of the funky area.  I’m using a 10 stop ND filter and a 3 stop Grad ND.

I decided to bring it indoors the following day to do some tests under more controlled lighting.  After thinking about the issue from the previous night, I though maybe light spilled in from the side, or was reflecting off the filter somehow.  After a number of tests that all looked like this, I was ready to pack it in and ship it back to Mr. Nikon!  I was totally baffled and figured I had a bunk camera.

At this same time, Ben responded to my earlier post and said it might be the viewfinder door not being shut, allowing light to come in and effect the exposure.  Could it be!?  I re-tested…

Feeling a bit embarrassed, this was the problem…or, at least part of the problem.  Indeed, light was coming into the viewfinder and effecting the image in all these tests I was performing.  Hey, I’ve been using the Canon 5D Mark II for 5 years, the Nikon’s before that, and I’ve never had this problem!  Still kinda surprised.

Lesson learned – make sure to close the viewfinder door for any lengthy exposures.

Unfortunately, the issue does not stop there.  I was seeing a white spot issue that others have discussed here.  I needed to get out and do a real test to look for this.  I just got home from shooting under the near-full moon and look what I’ve got:

In an 8 minute long exposure…

Look at it at 100% and there’s a gazillion little white dots, in addition to some of those real hot pixels.  This is totally lame!

These images are all RAW, unprocessed, and shown as screenshots out of Adobe Camera Raw before any adjustments.  I do not shoot with Long Exposure Noise Reduction in-camera, nor will I.  My style of work won’t allow it – light and conditions change too quickly to wait double-time to take the next shot.  It’s just not an option.  This is new technology and supposed to be the best sensor, so what gives?  My 5 year old Canon 5D Mark II never needed Noise Reduction ON and I shot exposures of an hour+ with much less issue than this.

Do you have any thoughts on this?  Are you having any issues with long exposures and your Nikon D800?  Let me know.  I’m not quite sure yet what to do, but I’ll keep you updated – hopefully very soon with good news.

UPDATE

Konstantinos Vasilakis is having the same issue and talks about it here.  He seems to be using Raw Therapee and making it work for him.  Unless anyone has any better ideas, I suppose I’ll have to give that a try.  I’ll keep you posted…

UPDATE #2

I finally had a chance today to download Raw Therapee and try the software to fix the dreaded white-spot-issue and let me tell you – I am extremely frustrated!  Like, I-wanna-kill-the-computer-and-go-have-a-drink frustrated!  There’s nothing user friendly about this software.  I did get the above picture uploaded into the software and used the “Apply hot/dead pixel filter” which seemed to make a big difference:

before (click image to see large)

after (click image to see large)

But then, I really did not figure out how to save a TIF file that I could then open in Adobe Camera Raw.  Aargh!  I think I can only handle so much technical difficulties at one sitting, so will have to re-approach again later.

If you’re working this process, or have another fix to the white spots, please do share with us here.

If you are a Nikon D800 owner and ever planning on shooting long exposures, then PLEASE call Nikon and raise a stink so that they will fix with a firmware update.  When I called, the woman at Nikon said she had not heard of this problem!?  You can call them at: 1-800-Nikon-US  They will then send you through hoops and you’ll have to send in a picture of the problem (as if they can’t just take a long exposure in-house and see the damn issue!). 

I sent mine in today:

I suppose there always is Long Exposure Noise Reduction…I just did a test and this does seem to totally solve the white spot issue, but it SUCKS and I am sure I will miss shots by being forced to use it!

Long Exposure Noise Reduction OFF and ON at 100%

UPDATE #3  –  8/20/12

After a comment by Roberto, I had hoped that Capture NX2 would be a fix to this white-spot issue.  I downloaded a 6-month free trial and did a test.  Unfortunately, it did not fix it.  Here are the results.  Click on the images to see larger:

before any changes

after “astro noise reduction”

after “astro noise reduction” and “edge noise reduction”

after “astro noise reduction” and “edge noise reduction” up close

So, you can see things got a bit better, but did not solve the problem.

Next, I’ll try to gain a better understanding as to using a dark frame like Greg Bradley comments on below, and let you know what happens.  If you’ve found a workable solution, other than LENR ON or RawTherapee, please do share it with us here.  Thanks!

In the meantime, I’ve kinda tweaked the way I’m shooting and have been practicing patience while using LENR ON.  Beautiful high-res image files! and definitely a few missed opportunities.

UPDATE #4 – 9/5/12

Steve, one of our reader/commenters finally had a response from Nikon that I thought should be posted here in the main post so no one will miss it.  Unfortunately, it is not good news and is what I had been suspecting to hear from Nikon.  Here is an official word from Nikon:

  • Dear Steve,
  • Thank you for your update.
  • I have analyzed the sample image provided and consulted it with other Pro Support agents. It seems that the effect you are seeing is natural for D800 sensor and long exposure times – unfortunately there is no other way of removing the white spots than keeping the Long Exposure Noise Reduction active. I agree that it may not be convenient due to doubled exposure time, however currently there is no other solution to this problem due to limitations of the sensor technology.
  • We apologize for the inconvenience,
  • Please do not hesitate to contact us again in case of any questions.
  • Kind regards,

I think this sums up the stance that Nikon is going to take with this, now I suspect all we can do is hope that a software fix becomes readily available.

Menu Items Grayed Out

I used my D800E less than a dozen times and had to send it in due to a number of Menu items being “grayed” out and not being functional – I couldn’t even select them.  They were:

  • 1. HDR
  • 2. Time lapse photography
  • 3. Lock mirror up for cleaning
  • 4. Image Dust Off ref. photo

My sensor had become so badly spotted, that I had to look into getting it cleaned, which is when I noticed the Image Dust Off ref. photo was grayed out and not allowing me to select.  I tried full power batteries, setting the time, and the other few mentions I found regarding the problem, but to no avail.  It’s also very disconcerting how dirty the sensor got after such light use and being quite anal when I switch lenses.  To ship from Hawaii to Nikon with insurance was $130, so I certainly don’t want to have to do that often.  I sent the camera in last week and it’s currently being repaired.  I have wanted to post my impressions on the camera, but thus far, it’s been nothing but issues with slight glimpses of something wonderful beneath it all.

Commenter Exchange – Using a Dark Frame?

I should also add an exchange I had with Greg Bradley through this forum.  He has some suggestions that might be helpful regarding the white spot issue.  Here is the exchange:

  • You need to create a dark frame and subtract it from the exposure in post processing.  This is standard procedure in astrophotography.  There is a quite a lot posted about how to create a dark frame. Its a picture of the cameras thermal noise. Check out Images Plus website as this is very DSLR friendly software.  Basically it could be as simple as putting the lens cap on and snapping a same length exposure same ISO and settings (noise reductions off).  Then using image/apply image and subtract the dark from your light exposures.  More sophisticated would be taking 16 darks and stacking them with sigma reject combine, subtracting a bias frame (a fastest shutter picture of same ISO showing the electronic noise of the camera – again multiple bias at same temp ideally and combine say 16 using sigma reject combine).  Now you can scale your darks so they will work with any length exposure and use it in post processing.  Your darks have a shelf life. CCD and CMOS chips degrade over time from Cosmic Ray hits. So new hot pixels will emerge. They generally last about 6 months or so, so its a slow process. But if your darks stop doing a good job that’s what is happening.  Do it properly and it will clean up totally. We do this every image in astrophotography and it may seem like a lot of work but once you’ve set it up it isn’t really.
  • I wrote him and asked:

  • Hi Greg,

    Thanks so much for your blog post regarding the Nikon D800 and the white spots.  The process you speak of interests me and I’d like to see if it indeed will work with this white-spot issue.  Have you tried it with a long exposure D800 image file?

    Would you mind please sending me some links to the Image Plus information that you mentioned – a Google search on “Image Plus” gives many different results.  A link to a step-by-step of this process would be great too, if there is one that you are familiar with.

    Thanks so much!  Myself, and others on the web dealing with this issue, are very appreciative!

  • His latest response:
  • Here it is:
    • Basically taking a dark consists of same exposure, same ISO and everything else as the light but with the lens cap on or in a dark closet etc.
    • You could just take one and see how it goes. Usually in astrophotography with cooled CCD cameras we take from 6 to 16 and then combine them to get rid of artifacts using a statistical combining algorithim. A process like sigma reject combine rejects values that are too far away from a statistical “norm” for the noise. This then would be things like random non repeatable noise such as cosmic ray hits (more common than you would think) or other random non repeating noises.
    • This then gives you a master dark.
    • If in this process you also subtracted a bias frame you can then scale the darks to match the exposure lengths of the light exposures even if different.
    • A bias frame is again a shortest time exposure, 6 to 16 sigma reject combined. The bias frame is a picture of the read noise of the camera as opposed to the
    • thermal noise. I usually do not use them as of course the data is already in the dark image and I match my darks to my lights exactly – ie 10 minutes
    • at -30C, 6 to 16 sigma reject combined to form a master dark.
    • But if you are taking variable length light exposures and want to only use one master dark that Images Plus can scale to match then
    • you subtract a bias frame from your darks when making a master. It should be in the tutorials for Images Plus.
    • Images Plus is more an astrophotography software but it seems to be aimed at DSLRs rather than dedicated astro cameras  which are 16bit
    • and cooled.
    • How do you subtract a dark from a light exposure?
    • Well you can do it in Images Plus but you can also use the apply image function in Photoshop and set it to subtract and the frame to be
    • subtracted from is your light and the frame to subtract is the master dark you made. You would experiment with the offset number to give a pleasant
    • background and not too dark.
    • I hope this helps.

Admittedly, I find this information a bit over-my-head, not to mention that it seems that the ImagesPlus software only works with PC’s!?  Nonetheless, thanks very much Greg for taking the time to send in this info.  We all appreciate it!  Although for now, it seems the question remains open: have you tried this with a D800 file successfully?

(I can’t currently test this without my camera.)

If you have a working solution to this problem and have solved it with a D800 image file, please let us know and I will post it here.  Thanks so much!  Until then, it’s Long Exposure Noise Reduction ON or BUST!!

MY PETER LIK STORY

In late 2005, I visited Canyonlands National Park in Utah and captured this photograph - Whispering Winds of Change. This image and location was inspired by Lik's early Utah work.

These days, not a week goes by that I don’t hear Peter Lik’s name.  More often than not, I hear someone mention his name in one form or another while I’m exhibiting my work.  If you’re a color landscape photographer who deals with the public, you may know what I’m talking about.  The fact is, Peter Lik has become widely known from his many galleries and more recent television show.  Up until now, every time I’ve heard his name over the past 7 years, I haven’t mentioned a thing about having known him, worked for him, and having a good understanding of his work, ethics, or general photographic gallery offerings.  I have chosen to not be associated and to not give his name more weight by repeating it aloud.  Well, it seems that much of the world now knows Peter Lik, and for good or bad, my time with the Peter Lik Galleries is part of my photographic journey…it’s part of my story.  In an effort to be more open to my audience through this blog, I have decided it’s time I tell my Peter Lik story.

At the Beginning

As a dedicated young photographer some years ago, near the beginning of my photographic journey, I began to understand and explore the many possibilities and career paths that I could follow with the camera.  I had been having small successes selling my own photography during weekend art fairs.  Most of these photographs were of temples, landscapes or portraits from my trips to Southeast Asia.  I had a good eye for this style of travel photography, and was having my first taste of talking-photography with the public and with representing and selling artwork.

Near that same time, a mostly-unknown photographer was opening the doors to a new gallery in town.  Peter Lik, a photographer with a number of galleries in his home country Australia, had already made multiple attempts to gain success in the U.S. and had failed in both Monterey and San Francisco.  Now I watched as he made another attempt in my hometown of Lahaina, Hawaii.  Front Street Lahaina was in need of something new and different and the Lik gallery stood out right away.  I was totally impressed by the gallery – the size and presentation of the individual pieces, the total gallery space, it was all fabulous and very inspiring to me at the time.  Although I had considered following the avenue of “travel photographer”, the Lik gallery was inspiring and I was now considering a new path as a “landscape photographer”.  As I began to explore the landscape more in depth in my own work, the decision became clear.  My love of nature and the outdoors, of solitude, and of a desire to pave my own way and to eventually work for myself, became clear.  I was to be an artist!

As a passionate photographer, it wasn’t long before I decided I wanted to work for the gallery.  I wanted to learn the fine art gallery business, and I wanted to be around photography as much as I could.  I made monthly visits into the Lik Gallery and spoke to various consultants and the gallery director – Jesse Donovan.  I remember feeling I know more about photography than any of these guys working here, so was surprised to hear Donovan say that photographic experience didn’t necessarily matter much in selling the work, and he typically hired people that did not have photographic experienceReally!?  I thought.  (It wasn’t until later did I understand this reasoning more clearly.)  I continued my visits and made it increasingly clear that I wanted to be a part of the gallery.

Nine months or more had passed.  I continued working nights at a local restaurant while working hard to sell my own photography in local art fairs.  One night while at the restaurant, Jesse came in and sat at the bar.  I went over to say hey while adding in some comment about wanting to work for him, and finally my persistence had paid off – he was actually there to tell me that an opening had become available and if I were still interested, I should come in and talk with him further.  A week later, I was employed by the Peter Lik Gallery and my professional art consultant career had begun.

Lik owes much of his success to his many images of Antelope Canyon in Arizona. As a landscape photographer, it's difficult to resist visiting such a location. I photographed the canyon in 2005, and again in 2008.

Working for Peter Lik Gallery – Lahaina

It was a very exciting, and very interesting time to be working for the Lik Gallery.  The gallery was essentially self-sufficient and was operated by director Donovan, an accountant/bookkeeper, and about six of us art consultants.  When I started there, I think the gallery had been open about one year, and the sales graph was moving consistently upward.  At that time, the sales were approximately 100k-160k a month.
Jesse worked with me and another new consultant quite a bit and began to teach us the sales strategy involved.  I remember how awkward it felt initially to take a piece of art off-the-wall and into the viewing room to discuss with the prospective buyers.  I certainly wasn’t born a salesman.  In fact, I never much liked pushy sales people and the thought of being one was an early challenge to overcome.  But as the weeks went by, this wonderful thing was happening – between the way Donovan was teaching and the passion I had for photography, I was discovering a way to sell without being one of those…salesmen.  I was figuring out a way to be true, honest, direct and authentic with my prospective buyers, while lacing it all with genuine enthusiasm, and what do you know, I was starting to sell!  And, starting to sell pretty well, I might add!

As a passionate photographer, I loved being in the gallery.  I loved viewing the work, talking about the work with visitors, putting on the white gloves and pulling out the beautiful prints that were in stock.  Before too long, I knew every shot that Lik had taken, the title of the piece, the location, and back-story and techniques involved in each shot.  I could talk to the customers for hours, if need be.

One of the things that made this time so very interesting, is that it was in this period when Lik was changing all his limited edition prints from the traditional Ilfochrome prints hand-printed by a master printer in Australia, to Fuji Supergloss prints being printed by a machine.  It was in this first year that I worked with the gallery, that I was able to see the entire collection in both Ilfochrome, and Supergloss!  The difference was B I G.  Some of the images that I thought were so beautiful turned garish.  Two of the images I remember changing the most were Kapalua, and Serenity.  Both were absolute stunners as Ilfochromes, and afterwards…not so much.  Well, to be fair, not to my liking.  It seemed I preferred the artistic decisions Lik made prior to switching to digital prints.

Another thing that made it such an exciting time is that we began to break new records for Lik.  Within that first year I was at the gallery, we broke 200k in a month for the first time ever for a Lik Gallery, and then started doing so consistently.  It was around this time, and directly from the success of these 200k months that we were achieving, that allowed for the next big step in Peter Lik’s career.

Working for Peter Lik Gallery – Las Vegas

Soon after the 200k months in Lahaina, Lik was able to negotiate his way into a space into the Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas, a longtime goal of his.  Rumors began in our gallery about Donovan, the-now International Gallery Director, and a couple others heading out to Vegas to help get the next chapter going.

A number of factors were at play for me, but I found myself wanting to be one of the staff that moved out to Vegas.  I had been getting island fever on Maui, felt confident that the gallery would be a success in Vegas and felt that it would be a great learning opportunity.  After discussing the possibilities in-depth with my wife, we decided it would be a good opportunity and we’d go for it.  I approached Jesse with a desire to go and he welcomed me aboard.

A month later, we’re in Las Vegas with all of our possessions, a new apartment, a car, a new wardrobe, ready to go to work.  There were four of us from the Lahaina gallery, plus a few others brought on from Lik’s earlier San Francisco gallery, and a couple other rogue consultants, in addition to Lik himself, who was leading the charge.  A handful of us worked with Lik to help finish the gallery and the floors and ready everything for the Grand Opening.

Before we knew it, we were opening the doors to Las Vegas and a new chapter in Peter Lik’s career.  Up until this point, breaking 200k in a month was a gallery record.  Now, I was personally selling 100k a month!  And so were others.  I think this gallery was doing 700k+ those first months.  It was nuts!  As an art consultant, I’d go to work expecting to do 10k a day.  I’d talk non-stop for my entire shift and be disgusted with my own voice by time I was off work.  It was constant – one presentation after another for your entire shift.  With the way money flows in Las Vegas and peoples impulsive behavior while visiting Sin City, it was an obvious recipe to success – not to mention the fact that the gallery and work was stunning and unlike anything most people had seen before.  It was a huge hit.

Up until this point, Lik had given Donovan a lot of control as to how the galleries and sales strategies would be operated.  Donovan had proven success and the sales strategy we used were ethical and fair to collectors, and producing for the galleries.  Good for the clients, good for the owner, good for the staff.  It was all good and it worked well.  Lik’s prices were reasonably set and ranged from $800 to $4500.  You could purchase a nice big beautiful framed 60″ print (1.5 meter) piece for above your sofa for around 2600 bucks.  Fair enough.

While most of us were a good strong crew of genuine people who simply wanted to work hard and earn a good living, there were a couple that were simply jockeying for position and feeding the insatiable ego of the artist to get ahead.  As the months went by, good staff began to fall victim to the moves played by others, including Donovan, and a more suspect type of person came into control.  This began another very interesting time for the Lik Gallery.

Ironic that just a few years after the "emerging" photographer was inspired by the "master" photographer, now Lik has been inspired by my La Jolla works, such as this composition of the Scripp's Pier that I first made in 2006.

Value of Art?

Once Donovan left and a…different type of person took over, a lot changed.  The entire sales strategy shifted.  Initially, sales dropped.  In order to continue making deals happen and having good daily numbers, they started giving away the house.  Buy one, get one free.  Hell, buy one get two free!  Whatever they could do to get the deal done.    They didn’t know how to achieve the same success as before, so they improvised.  By giving away all this work to get the deals done, it at first appeared to management that the numbers were good, but of course the numbers were all funky and the margins were out of whack.  In order to compensate, drastic changes started happening.  Staff received huge pay cuts for one.  Obviously, this didn’t go over well.  Pricing and limited edition changes to the artwork quickly came next.  There was a significant price increase across the board to the artwork, and Artist Proofs were suddenly born (added to the regular editions) and priced very high – like $25+k.  Before long, a number of things were being realized to these people – mostly regarding the cost to the customer and what they could get away with, and the entire dance became about value.

This focus on make-believe value was another interesting shift in Lik’s career.  Soon enough, they realized that having the $25+k Artist Proofs (AP) helped sell the $3k and $4k pieces.  Someone would fall in love with a piece that was being showed as an AP and be told is was $32,000!  Their heart sank knowing they could not afford that, and then they’d offer you a “regular edition” piece for only $3700.  What a bargain!  You were sold.

My Time to Move On

Seven months seemed like 2 years.  I had gone from being very dedicated to the gallery, to having trouble even talking with customers about the work.  I had sold over $700k of Lik’s artwork in those seven months, but now couldn’t stomach it any further.  Without notice, I quit the Lik Gallery.

What happened?  Well, the shift I discuss above and the myriad of aftereffects from it were a big part of it.  This whole shift toward selling the work on a false-value seemed like a load of shit, to put it simply.  I always prided myself on being able to successfully sell while being honest and genuine to the collector, and suddenly I felt like I had to feed people a bunch of lies.  I know the subject of art and value is a touchy and sensitive subject, and I know there’s plenty of foolish people that will pay a ridiculous amount of money for something solely because it’s priced at a ridiculous amount of money, but at the end of the day, I have to be able to make sense of it and explain it to myself in a sensible way.  For me, it is important to believe in the product and to use my knowledge and enthusiasm to successfully sell it.  When the knowledge and enthusiasm wasn’t enough to sell the now-high-priced work and the discussion with prospective buyers had to become about value, I was done…because I did not believe in the value of the product.*

Secondly, the new directors of the gallery were a big part of me leaving.  I was not accustomed to working with, or amongst, these type of people.  I remember feeling that my days had become a chess match and I had to be careful with how I played my moves.  This isn’t the sort of living I like, nor the sort of people I like to share my bubble with.  This was very clear to me.

Finally, Peter Lik.  You might have noticed that I didn’t mention him much.  That was no accident.

When Lik opened a gallery in La Jolla, he viewed my collection of La Jolla work that I had been working on for several years. My photograph of Windansea is another photograph that inspired his shooting the same location.

In Closing

It’s so bizarre for me to look back on all this and realize that Peter Lik’s work had an influence early on my photographic journey.  With that path becoming so objectionable, it’s not been something I’ve reveled in.  Yet, this period of time did teach me a lot both professionally and personally.  I learned the how-to’s and how-not-to’s to opening and running a gallery honorably, forming a sales strategy ethically, managing a staff respectably, among many other things.  I suppose I would not have learned much of what I did if it had all been peaches.  And, I suppose looking back on it all, I’m thankful it was a “landscape photographer” that came to town and influenced my path over another – my love and passion for my path, and my work, has been unscathed and burns bright.  There isn’t a day that passes that I’m not terribly thankful to be doing what I am doing, to earn the collectors that I have, and to be doing it my way, as respectably as I can.

 

* Value for the product:  I have no problem with artwork selling for high costs.  In fact, I am very happy and excited to see that photography has finally been accepted into the art world and we now see photographs fetching high amounts of money.  These are photographs proving to be very valuable.  2 of the 5 most expensive photographs ever sold were by Andreas Gursky, a living artist.  Last year, his Rhein II photograph sold in auction at Christie’s for 4.3 million making it the most expensive photograph ever sold.  It was an edition of 6.  Gursky’s 99 Cent II Diptychon, a two-part photograph, fetched 3.34 million a couple years earlier in a Sotheby’s auction.  It was an edition of 6.  Cindy Sherman, a living artist, is also on the Top 5 Most Expensive List for her Untitled #96, which sold at auction at Christie’s for 3.89 million.  It was an edition of 10.  I could continue to list photographs of value and there are going to be a couple common threads throughout the list – have you noticed what they might be?  They are sold in auction – not by the actual party.  They are small editions.  Scarcity fuels real value and the auction house brings a certain legitimacy to the sale.

(More thoughts added on this HERE)

HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON: THE DECISIVE MOMENT

Henri Cartier-Bresson (Aug. 22, 1908 – Aug. 3, 2004), was a master photojournalist and street photographer who whose work continues to have a strong influence on photographers today. His work is most commonly referred to as “The Decisive Moment”, the title of a book he published in 1948, containing a portfolio of 126 images from both the East and the West, and a lengthy preface where he states, “There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment.”  

Cartier-Bresson spent over thirty years photographing for Life and countless other journals.  He traveled without bounds, capturing images from some of the most turbulent locations of the 20th century – the Spanish civil war, the liberation of Paris in 1944, the 1968 student rebellion in Paris, the fall of the Kuomintang in China to the communists, the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the Berlin Wall, and the deserts of Egypt.  Yet, some of his most famous photographs are of seemingly ordinary moments capturing daily life, the fleeting moments that are here and then gone.

Behind the Gare St. Lazare, 1932.

As far as I am concerned, taking photographs is a means of understanding which cannot be separated from other means of visual expression. It is a way of shouting, of freeing oneself, not of proving or asserting one’s own originality. It is a way of life. – Henri Cartier-Bresson

Cartier-Bresson exclusively used Leica 35mm rangefinder cameras and mostly one lens, the normal 50mm lens, to capture most of his iconic images.  He’d use black tape to make the silver body more conspicuous, and was strongly against the use of flash.  He composed his images in-camera and did not crop, making prints of the entire frame and insisting that they include a millimetre or so of the unexposed clear negative around the image, resulting in a black border.  He said: “I’ve never been interested in the process of photography, never, never. Right from the beginning. For me, photography with a small camera like the Leica is an instant drawing.”  Therefore, he never printed any of his own work, and chose instead to work with a printer to develop and produce his photographs.

Reality offers us such wealth that we must cut some of it out on the spot, simplify. The question is, do we always cut out what we should? While we’re working, we must be conscious of what we’re doing. Sometimes we have the feeling that we’ve taken a great photo, and yet we continue to unfold. We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole. – Henri Cartier-Bresson