Fine art photography

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by anthonymarsh, Feb 2, 2021.

  1. I want to try fine art photography and have questions. What medium format black and white film would be best for landscapes and what if any filters would be useful?
  2. I like Kodak Tmax 100 and 400 for landscape photos. Fine resolution, almost no grain, good tones. TriX is nice too if you like some grain. You can see some Tmax on my Flickr page in 35mm, 120, and 4x5. Yellow, orange, red, and polarizing filters as well as a 2 stop graduated neutral density filter for bright skies. If you have lenses of different sizes, pick the biggest filter size and then use step-up adapters for the smaller lenses. This way you only need one set of filters.

    What kind of camera will you be using?
  3. What is your final sales medium going to be?
    Darkroom-made colour prints?
    Darkroom-made B&W prints?
    Commercially produced prints?

    If you're not wet printing at all, and need a digital file for printing, then why bother with film? Film doesn't put the 'art' into a picture, the photographer does.
  4. There is no Fine Art digital photography. Only falsified, posterized abominations.
    Vincent Peri likes this.
  5. I guess that means there is also no electronic music, no acrylic painting, and no at-home movie experience.

    How strange it must be to live in a past that renders the present and future so limited or dead.
  6. So

    Sorry, I got carried away.
  7. Implants?
  8. Filters: Orange! - Maybe red & green too.
    Film? At ISO 400 TMY, to process myself, XP2 to have it processed by a lab. I guess Deta 400 should be an option too? - I'd buy that if it looked cheaper. If the grain of these is OK for you, you can probably pick slower film randomly. - "Pick something and stick to that" seems still a good idea.
    Sorry, I have no clue what fine art photography might be, I'd love to know how to take a BW landscape picture that doesn't fall under that category. I mean: I go happy snapping. - Is every result I'll like "fine art"?

  9. Actually, the question is somewhat ... incomplete?

    Think, for example, of painting:

    "I want to try fine art painting and I have questions. Which artist's oil/acrylic painting would be best for landscapes and what colors would be useful?

    In fact, it doesn't matter at all. You can do it with almost any brand of artist quality colors (or even student quality), and the choice is mostly related to an experienced artist.

    I would say that "Fine arts" refers to the message as opposed to mere documentation. So the subjective idea is the goal, the means are not that important at all.

    "Classic", "fine art landscape photography" as it looks to be known has been (probably) done with larger, fine-grained films and "darkening" sky filters. Good advice above.

    I bet the answer has been built with a pinch of sarcasm inside... or just a complain that I can understand.

    But let's go the other way around... Can all landscape photographs taken on fine-grained large format film and darkened skies qualify as "fine art"? Surely not, and perhaps a similar percentage.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2021
    mikemorrell and rodeo_joe|1 like this.
  10. Arthur, a digital file is a digital file. Most of what is commercially printed these days undergoes digitisation first. Also everything you view on the Internet is a digital file. So, do you ignore every picture published on the web?

    It matters not whether that digital file started as an image on film, or directly from a digital camera. It all ends up as a collection of numbers representing tone and colour, with exactly the same strictures on colour/tonal depth and colour space. And, in the case of film, being at least one more generational copy away from being original.

    Such media snobbery (or bigotry!) is like declaring that only pencil, ink or charcoal drawings can be called art, while vulgar pastels, acrylic or oil paints cannot.

    The OP's post also makes me wonder if fora devoted to painting and drawing get posts asking - "I'm going to give oil painting a go. Which brushes, paints and canvas will turn my daubs into masterpieces?"
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2021
    mikemorrell likes this.
  11. RJ: Well of course I do not ignore "every picture published on the web." Indeed I enjoy many that are obviously crude, vulgar, tasteless and even ugly. It was the phrase "fine art" that I was objecting to. And of course the medium would never dictate what makes for acceptable "art." I was kidding... kind of.
  12. Consider the work of the New Topographics photographers, such as Robert Adams. This work can be and is seen as a conceptual art response to fine art landscape photography.
    Jochen likes this.
  13. Yes, The New Topographics are at the top of the list. I'm particularly fascinated by Lewis Baltz these days. At the moment I'm reading his "Texts," published by Steidl. He was an amazing art critic as well as a photographer.
  14. I thought so, too. I loved his discussion of virtual reality and how it affects his thinking about photography ... and life.
    I think it does matter what film or filter is used. Such choices often distinctly affect the photo produced. What I also think is that no particular film or filter or medium or technology determines that a photo will be good, that a photo will be art, or that a photo will be fine art.

    I think "fine art" is a category that probably carries more significance for curators, critics, and theorists than it does for many photographers. That doesn't decrease its significance. It contextualizes it. In any case, I think photographers may label their own photo as a "portrait" or a "street photo" or a "fine art photo" to reference a sensibility they had more than to limit it within certain hard-and-fast classification parameters. Some shots on the beach are approached as and appear to be more "street photo" than vacation pic or landscape. Some pics of houses come off more as "portrait" than as architectural. Some still lifes are more documentary than fine art, having little to do with the subject matter, the film used, or whether they originated with a digital camera or not.

    My sense is that the OP has a specific meaning in mind when he talks about wanting to make fine art photos. Until he specifies what he means by it, though, I'd find it hard to advise him.
    Jochen likes this.
  15. What I should have said is that forget the film and filter, just come up with a good idea. But Lewis Baltz says he doesn't think of himself as a photographer, and that photography itself doesn't him. These days we have to distinguish between artists that use photography, like Cindy Sherman, and photographers that make art, like Edward Steichen.

    But to answer the OP, I suggest Tri-X and an orange filter. If he's a color guy, how about Lomography Purple?
  16. That way of speaking is often as much an art (an act of creativity and transgression) as any photo is! :)

    Nevertheless, it's as important to consider what he means by it as much as what we label him.

    A self-declared "not photographer" is a similar declaration to a self-declared "photographer" or "artist."
    In giving an answer, what do you think the OP means by "fine art" landscape photography? As I said, I couldn't give an answer until I understood what he means.
  17. Thank you Sam & Arthur. Unfortunately I am still neither getting what fine art might mean - "BW picture looking sufficiently stunning, to end in a museum"? nor why New Topographics should be anything different.
    Agreed on orange filter. But TriX?!? - I admittedly never shot it myself. I'd worry about it being too (borderline) grainy for fine art in just MF. Yes, I am aware that lots of folks love especially that film, even shoot it in 35mm but the perfectionism I'm associating with "fine art" would shout for LF. - YMMV.

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