Thursday, April 21, 2016

Met Museum's "PsychoBarn"

The Met Museum isn't really known for having a great sense of humor, but there certainly was something whimsical in its decision to commission for its roof garden a replica of Norman Bates's house from the classic Hitchcock film Psycho.  Credit for the idea goes to British artist Cornelia Parker.

The installation remains in place through October 31, 2016.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

ISO 6400

I've found that I've been able to hand hold the Nikon Df quite easily when shooting low light photography at ISO 6400.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

More Central Park Photos

Here are some photos I shot last week in Central Park in celebration of Spring's arrival.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Photographic Art of William Henry Fox Talbot

The Photographic Art of William Henry Fox Talbot by Larry J. Schaaf is a lavishly produced large format art book that reproduces 100 of Talbot's best negatives and prints taken over the course of this pioneer's photographic career.

At the end of October, I was able to view many of these works at an excellent exhibit at Hans P. Kraus Jr. here in NYC, and I can verify that the book's reproductions are faithful to the originals in every respect. To see them in this volume in chronological order is to be able to trace Talbot's advances from his first attempts, such as Plate 1 (Oriel Window at Lacock Abbey), that are so murky it is difficult to decipher the subject to later works, such as Plate 82 (The Open Door), that display a mastery of the salt print, still practiced today as an alternative photographic process. And Talbot's progress is not merely technical. The reader can see the evolution of Talbot's artistic vision over the course of time as his aspirations went from mere efforts at mechanical reproduction to the creation of important works of art.

This book does not provide a full biography of Talbot, whose later litigation over the licensing of his patents controversially hindered the course of photography in the UK, nor does it delve into his collaboration with John Herschel, the preeminent British scientist of the nineteenth century, in the invention of photography itself. The latter subject, though, is extremely well covered in Schaaf's Out of the Shadows

Schaaf has an engaging writing style, despite the too frequent use of exclamation points, and is the leading authority on his subject. His enthusiasm for Talbot's work draws the reader in and enables him/her to appreciate the full scope of Talbot's achievement. My main criticism concerns the lack of any information concerning the equipment Talbot used in his experiments. For example, Plate 32 (Constance Talbot) is a portrait that looks as though it had been taken with a short telephoto lens while Plate 34 (Inside the South Gallery) is an interior that appears to have been shot on a wide angle lens. Further documentation on this subject would have been welcome to enthusiasts who are themselves photographers.