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Monthly Masters DiscussionMonthly Masters' Discussion - November 2020 - Stieglitz's "Winter on Fifth Avenue" - A Question of Cropping

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Monthly Masters' Discussion - November 2020 - Stieglitz's "Winter on Fifth Avenue" - A Question of Cropping

Post by minniev »

Introduction:

Born in 1864, Alfred Stieglitz was an American photographer also known as the founder of the Photo-Secessionist and Pictorialist photography movement. He moved to a more austere modernist style later in life. While his personal style changed considerably over his 50 year career, he remained focused on one driving passion: making photography accepted as an art form. He considered himself to be artist with a camera and refused to sell his photographs or seek employment doing anything else. Alfred Stieglitz's significance lies as much in his work as an art dealer, exhibition organiser, publisher and editor as it does in his career as a photographer.

"Winter, Fifth Avenue" is a black and white photograph taken by Alfred Stieglitz in 1893. The photograph was made at the corner of the Fifth Avenue and the 35th Street in New York. It was one of the first pictures that Stieglitz took using a hand held camera. Here’s what Stieglitz said about the photograph; “In order to obtain pictures by means of the hand camera it is well to choose your subject, regardless of figures, and carefully study the lines and lighting. After having determined upon these watch the passing figures and await the moment in which everything is in balance; that is, satisfies your eye. This often means hours of patient waiting. My picture, ‘Fifth Avenue, Winter,’ is the result of a three hours’ stand during a fierce snow-storm on February 22d, 1893, awaiting the proper moment. My patience was duly rewarded. Of course, the result contained an element of chance, as I might have stood there for hours without succeeding in getting the desired picture." There are prints of the picture at multiple museums around the country.

Study the finished image, as Stieglitz intended it to be viewed, the first shown below. Compare it to the original uncropped version beneath it. Then share your opinion about the image and the crop. Below are some questions to help you formulate your thi
nking.

Questions to Consider
1. What do you make of the FIRST image? Does it tell a story? What does the photo make you feel? What do you think of the composition? Would you want it on your wall? Why or why not?
2. This image is a crop from the second, larger image. Both were sold as prints, but Stieglitz preferred the first, cropped version. Why do you think he preferred it? Which do you prefer? Why?
3. Do you crop your photos? Why or why not? If you’d like, please share a photo you cropped into a better image and show us the pre- and post-crop, then tell us why you cropped the way you did.
4. This photograph was made during Stieglitz’s pictorialism phase, when he preferred soft edges and a painterly aesthetic, and labored long and hard post-capture to create that look. He later became more of a modernist, with a sharper more austere style. Glance over some of his later work here https://www.moma.org/collection/works/55769 then decide which of his styles you prefer, and which is most like yours. Share your thoughts.
5. In the 1800s, photography was very young and equipment was heavy and complex. Stieglitz made this image with a camera that used the latest technology, and was a real wonder to photographers because it was the first that could be used hand-held in the field. Do you value portability in your equipment? Has portability ever become a barrier for you in your photographic work? How have you addressed the barrier?

Links For Further Study
https://www.theartstory.org/artist/stie ... /artworks/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Stieglitz
https://archive.artic.edu/stieglitz/alfred-stieglitz/
https://modernismmodernity.org/articles/unrarified-air
https://erickimphotography.com/blog/201 ... otography/
https://photographyandvision.com/2015/0 ... stieglitz/ (VIDEO)
https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/cons ... /all/all/0
Attachments
Final Crop - fair use -https://gittermangallery.com/artist/Alfred_Stieglitz/works/2020
Final Crop - fair use -https://gittermangallery.com/artist/Alfred_Stieglitz/works/2020
Uncropped - Fair Use - https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/alfred-stieglitz-1864-1946-winter-fifth-avenue-5972261-details.aspx
Uncropped - Fair Use - https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/alfred-stieglitz-1864-1946-winter-fifth-avenue-5972261-details.aspx
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Post by PietFrancke »

for some reason I don't care for the sepia too much and much prefer the more panoramic second image.

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Post by minniev »

PietFrancke wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:37 pm
for some reason I don't care for the sepia too much and much prefer the more panoramic second image.
Might you suffer from Kitchen Sink Syndrome?

It is interesting about sepia. Most people either like it or dislike it. Few are neutral.
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Post by PietFrancke »

minniev wrote:
Thu Nov 05, 2020 1:28 am
PietFrancke wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:37 pm
for some reason I don't care for the sepia too much and much prefer the more panoramic second image.
Might you suffer from Kitchen Sink Syndrome?

It is interesting about sepia. Most people either like it or dislike it. Few are neutral.
nope - not kitchen sink at all. The activity is structured and organized. Snow shovels and walkers have symmetry. And good leading lines. But I guess if you lay out the spoons and knives and they are all in OCD order, then a kitchen sink becomes possible (not my kitchen sink though!! LOL)

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Post by Ernst-Ulrich Schafer »

I like both images alot and lend more to the 2nd image as for me it tells more of a story.

In my opinion, Alfred is the most important person in American Art History.

One of the lst things I learned as a student of photography is to always get what you want in your viewfinder, full frame. However I do enjoy photographing and knowing I'm going to crop, especially for a square format (my fav) and sometimes a very skinny image.

I love pictorial images as much as I enjoy a very sharp rendering. I'm reminded of William Mortensen, both Ansel and Edward Weston couldn't stand his photography, all three are Masters.
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Post by minniev »

Ernst-Ulrich Schafer wrote:
Mon Nov 09, 2020 7:53 pm
I like both images alot and lend more to the 2nd image as for me it tells more of a story.

In my opinion, Alfred is the most important person in American Art History.

One of the lst things I learned as a student of photography is to always get what you want in your viewfinder, full frame. However I do enjoy photographing and knowing I'm going to crop, especially for a square format (my fav) and sometimes a very skinny image.

I love pictorial images as much as I enjoy a very sharp rendering. I'm reminded of William Mortensen, both Ansel and Edward Weston couldn't stand his photography, all three are Masters.
Thanks for your comments on this one. I agree with you on the importance of Steiglitz in American art. He was more than an artist, even though he was a good one.

I probably crop every picture except broad landscapes at least some. Often I know when I'm looking at the scene where my crop will be. I don't adhere to standards sizes of crops either, which can make me crazy when I go to print and frame. It's why I had to learn to cut my own mats.
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Post by Ernst-Ulrich Schafer »

I love cutting my own mats Minniev.
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Post by uuglypher »

minniev wrote:
Tue Nov 10, 2020 12:12 am
Ernst-Ulrich Schafer wrote:
Mon Nov 09, 2020 7:53 pm
I like both images alot and lend more to the 2nd image as for me it tells more of a story.

In my opinion, Alfred is the most important person in American Art History.

One of the lst things I learned as a student of photography is to always get what you want in your viewfinder, full frame. However I do enjoy photographing and knowing I'm going to crop, especially for a square format (my fav) and sometimes a very skinny image.

I love pictorial images as much as I enjoy a very sharp rendering. I'm reminded of William Mortensen, both Ansel and Edward Weston couldn't stand his photography, all three are Masters.
Thanks for your comments on this one. I agree with you on the importance of Steiglitz in American art. He was more than an artist, even though he was a good one.

I probably crop every picture except broad landscapes at least some. Often I know when I'm looking at the scene where my crop will be. I don't adhere to standards sizes of crops either, which can make me crazy when I go to print and frame. It's why I had to learn to cut my own mats.
In abhorrence of the tyranny of standard formats y’r a girl after my own heart! I, however, abhor cutting mats even more, hence my strong affection for float mounts! I used them exclusively in my last two shows. Received very favorable responses and sales suffered not a bit!
Dave

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Post by minniev »

Ernst-Ulrich Schafer wrote:
Tue Nov 10, 2020 5:14 pm
I love cutting my own mats Minniev.
I don't yet enjoy it because I'm still too inept. And there is a local printer who'll do custom cuts for me if I get flummoxed before I get better at it!
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Post by minniev »

uuglypher wrote:
Tue Nov 10, 2020 8:33 pm


In abhorrence of the tyranny of standard formats y’r a girl after my own heart! I, however, abhor cutting mats even more, hence my strong affection for float mounts! I used them exclusively in my last two shows. Received very favorable responses and sales suffered not a bit!
Dave
Have not tried float mounts but have been tempted.

I also like unframed canvas prints for some things.

But I will never crop something I like out of a picture just to fit it into a standard size matt.
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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