Don’t allow second rate process-mongers to produce libels of your work”

The proportion of solid black in a picture is dependant on the style of the picture and the feelings of the Photographer. Where the Photographer prints his own work of course. English Photograper Peter Henry Emerson (1856 – 1936) said “Don’t allow second rate process-mongers to produce libels of your work”.  Only you can decide on your work, not the process-mongers, (I love that phrase). Don’t let the process-mongers water down your ideas. Science came to the aid of art with cameras to produce accurate fine detail. Don’t let your creativity be goverened by rules aimed at producing pictures that describe the obvious fine detail and not the brooding mood and atmosphere. Would you have taken a second glance at this shot if it had been a straight red brick building, I suggest not.

English Photographer John Blakemore has a saying – “Dead black, living dark”. 19th century English Painter and Art Critic John Ruskin said “Think in shadows”  – were they right? Does every B&W picture need a solid black somewhere? I have a friend who says that there is not a black in nature so B&W pictures should not have a solid black. I think he is totally missed guided.

Pictures of chimneys have always fasinated me. May be it’s the way they stand aloof to the world. This one is the Tate in London.

11 responses to Don’t allow second rate process-mongers to produce libels of your work”

  1. Diana K. Garrett says:

    I agree completely with the aesthetic quality of having a large range of colors from solid black to solid white and as many shades of gray as possible in between. It keeps the eye moving and makes for a more interesting photograph. I get lost in the blacks and I thoroughly enjoy it.


  2. betharr says:

    many thank you, Andy!
    I admire your knowledge of photography. the bibliographic references are excellent. I will further my research.
    the image suggests a look to the past… William Blake.


  3. awarewriter says:

    Yes, process-mongers, a delightful turn of phrase that only touches the surface. I’m never ‘finished’ with an image. What if I print darker? How about these shadows? Are they right yet? etc. I don’t like the idea of allowing a process-monger to interpret my vision for me.

    Thanks for stopping by The Aware Writer. I appreciate your comment about bending over. I bought a right angle finder for my two Nikons last year so I can get very low without straining my neck, back, and such. Very often, I’ll go down on one knee or crouch to make a shot, especially for photos of children. Best to get on their level.


  4. Someone once told me there’s the technically correct way to print a photo and then there’s the right way to print a photo. I think he was right… sometimes an image seems to want ‘true blacks retaining detail’, but sometimes much more than that. Or less.


  5. Kenny says:

    I once read that there should always be a true black and a true white, somewhere in a photo. I haven’t come up with an argument against this.


  6. andybeel says:

    Every picture is different and each picture has the ability to tell a number of different stories depending on the printers (person) experience, education, world view mood, vision and style.

    There is a world of difference betwen technical and emotional rewarding.


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