The Enthusiast’s Delight

What do we call the online gatherings of special interest? Are they ‘amateur, docent, dilettante?’ Perhaps, for this time, let’s call them enthusiasts (someone greatly interested in); as enthusiasts, how far toward art, how deep are their goals, what are the chances that this gathering place will provide them needed training or nourishment.

where would you see this picture? who would have it? how would they talk about it. what are the important points – what are the prompts for exchange.

A Recent Example:

The Large Format Forum is a long running group of photographers, most of whom consider themselves among an elite, but shrinking group of artist-craftsmen. They hold their traditions strongly, limiting topics, providing strict guidelines for posting into threads. And they know that most of them are deceiving each other, but they are willing participants in their grand dreams. They are all Wileys, but most don’t know it.

Along came this easy illustration for my question: “what aesthetic form do they provide? what growth potential is available by using this group?”

from the elite on Large Format Forum

On the left, “this,” is the image along with the description, the introduction of the photograph. It is a recitation of where, what, and how of the image making. Neglected is date information, but no one posts that full an EXIF. You can ponder the amount of technology used to make this readily available photograph. This list of variables being managed is provided as support of the posters mastery of skills; reading like an inflated resume for a mid-level job. Merit badges for their photo-vest.

Response Forms:

Appreciation. First impression effort. Everything falling back toward “NICE.” Inclusive.

The final comment is from a first time poster making the grand mistake of thinking this image requires ‘large format’ to achieve. The original poster (OP) insinuates the same in his follow up response when he says he is: 100% sure is digital Nikon would have delivered only rubbish. For such a technical person, why did he avoid mentioning the model of Nikon? Why didn’t he carry the added 2 lb camera, then know for certain?

Because then he would be the same as everyone else, since his camera would be the same as theirs, AND his imagery, his ability to notice is no more mature than theirs, all those other hikers with cameras.

Why they post seems simply to share with others who are not further along than they are; sharing without strain or strenuous judgement. They post for accolades. They return the favor.

What does it ask of us; what does it provide in return?

We are asked to believe in nature, and that the camera is its best transcriber. The lens is supreme; art is finding the best view. The artist is skilled craftsmaker, driven to satisfy a need for detailed fidelity.


The only clearly photographic factor delivered is that of long exposure; the motion of the water. This is a well explored trope. First found in unknowing photographers’ efforts, til now being an exercise in every intro to the camera class.

the stylized structures

what is presented… a camera’d version of the natural world. using the camera with long exposure blends by blurring the flow of water. likely, leaves have moved during the same exposure. what the photograph does, in abstract, is present color scales, which is what interested most of the ‘enthusiasts’ — the right side(above) is the same color palette presented to approximate the image… perfect for decorator use.

the peaceful harmony— tradition of moving water is a reflex orientalization of nature photography – taking the impression without taking the culture – a surface awareness instead of a deep one – the shortcut version of natural enlightenment.
oh, but it was never intended as anything more than a request for comment/ a needed pat on the back. one enthusiast to another. I too can use lots of equipment to duplicate yet another version — simple vision isn’t worth this much effort.

What is missing is any sign of biologic life. No human trace, even though the photographer is the knife point of a massive amount technology. This absence is much of the aesthetic being promoted. A natural order before ambulatory life. Before moving life. Paradoxically motion of inorganics is the major consumer of the picture. The motion portion of the surface is given to fluid flow. He was making a running water shot, the rest is unforeseen situation.


for more about the group, see my:

Large Format Quits

because of questions asked me after my post on the Meltdown , I’ve put together some notes on why people stay, or why they leave.

After the fight, who gets back onto their barstool, to talk about shoe-laces, lens makers, plastics adhesives, dilutions, destinations after their job closes. Who are these inveterate photographers, dedicated to talking about only photography – well aren’t these the topics of photographers? They are in the Land of Large Format Photographers.

Who Stays Anyway

The Hall Monitors

Why do Garret, Sal, Randy, Kirk .. stay -simple: they aren’t offended. In fact, they voice weak interest in the topic, only becoming upset when their (Gittings) self sanctioned art house is proclaimed, quite honestly, not a place of art. But that only applies to Kirk Gittings, the others have no argument with what is done. They may even think more discipline is needed.

Kirk has used the forum for career advice, website advice, complaints about pricing, hell just about anything. He has even accepted, and explained the reason that discussion beyond lens and film is a problem with the Large Format Forum. Wonder how his students like learning from a Batch Teacher.. someone who soups so infrequently that he comes to the forum to get an update on procedures.

The Unknowing

The vast majority are simply unknowing. They don’t know what photography could be, or is to large chunks of the art world. They don’t know because they don’t come across it. They came across this site (LFPF) because they have a buying, or technical question. Something of general interest. Presto, that is what the Google does well. Route easy questions to a common point.

Who Stays & what do they call art?

This exchange between a long timer and new entrant will clarify the mindset of the STAYS.

What Passes For Helpful Crit

The exchange is over a Landscape thread- one of the longer threads on LFPF, between Corran (screen name for Bryan Garris [ web ]

The highlighted phrases demonstrate the restrictions these people place on, not just themselves, but on everyone else. These limits, these boundaries are limitations of their working aesthetic. They limit, not just the preferred subject, but its mode of rendering. The ‘INTERESTING THING’ should be “beautiful light or textured sky,” or quite unhelpfully: “something else.” As long as it meets the expectation of the other devoted weekend photographer.

The triggering phrase that fomented the exchange “I would not waste film.” can only trigger someone who trusts the statement enough to give it more value than his own internal aesthetic. “Corran” seems the insecure stay behind, not trusting his own ability, saying (for explanation) “I am learning a new place.” — must mean that photographs must be made of places you’ve known. Again, this is reading the world from a vary limited visual vocabulary. Sadly, Corran was one of the supporters of the DOOMED THREAD of Richard Man. He commented enthusiastically in favor of it, as well as condemning the heavy handed Oren Grad, et. al. for chopping it off,along with terminating the threads of dissent.

This is a form of the weakest stays. They protest, but not enough, not in a way that matters, because they have no other way of satisfying their need. Sadder still, they don’t know enough to understand what they need. Saddest of all, they may be teachers!

The Uncaring

This is the bulk of those who stay. They are dependent, unable to work on their own, therefore, no matter how much battering, bickering, bluff, or bullshit comes their way, they must stay. This is the great 85%

The Stays, Stay to Quilt, calling memorabilia photography.. the people who wanted to discuss and grow in understanding photography just quit. 

What’s The Matter

Photography draws fine distinctions between its practitioners. A place that can’t permit those who would develop their range of possibilities isn’t a place that should be of interest to people with growth potential. If you want to grow your artistic practice in photography, do it with better people than the stay behinds at such places as LARGE FORMAT PHOTOGRAPHY FORUM.

NB: Organic Turns, Quits, or escape should be 5-15% …