Archive for advertising

Photography: Idle Thoughts

Posted in Culture with tags , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2012 by Robin Gosnall

What, precisely, is the role of photography today?

Ten years ago we all thought the answer was pretty self-evident. It was a method of recording an approximation of what the eye saw for various purposes ranging from holiday snaps to high art via advertising, prison mug shots, and camera club material, etc., etc. There was a limited scope for embellishment in the processing and printing but on the whole film was a fairly faithful medium. Then along came digital.

Digitalization of photography was not an isolated phenomenon, it was part of the great IT revolution and cannot be considered outside of that context. Moving from chemical film to electronic sensor had many repercussions from the obvious practical ones like reduced dynamic range and increased sensitivity to the slightest variation in light levels (this meant that cameras had now to be smarter than the operators to ensure a reasonable exposure, a reversal of the former position), but there were also the wider implications such as the viewing process no longer being the fixed and controllable event that looking at a print was.

This electronic tsunami has now, I believe, peaked, and what we see is a new landscape where the process of recording an image has become not only easier but far cheaper. Such empowerment should be welcomed, cautiously, for there is much of value that the waters washed away in the rage. The first and most obvious casualty is that quality (however defined) is now considered a function of camera expense rather than operator skill.

A second and less obvious perversion of the old order is that the multitude of pictures now created has changed the way in which they are viewed. No longer are carefully prepared prints studied at leisure but images are flicked through on the monitor, a device which cannot display the wealth of detail, tonal values, subtlety of shade or colour and effects of light that the old-fashioned wet print can. Not only that but the wet print was an unreproducible article in its own right. Variations in chemical concentration as prints were developed ensured that each picture was unique. Another detrimental effect is that every monitor is different and so the photograph will appear differently on each device that is used to display it. LCD screens for instance will lighten areas of pictures that we may wish to remain black, ruining an effect that was carefully built into the original picture.

I could go on listing the changes that digital has brought but I’d like to make one further point and that is the camera has now become little more than an extension of the home computer and although I have been part of the camera club movement and learnt a great deal from it I fear that it has moved on to the web in such a way that editing and censure of the results is not encouraged, indeed it is considered the height of rudeness to suggest deficiency in another’s work. This leads to the general acceptance of poor quality imagery being used in places where those responsible really should know better.


Search terms for 7 days ending 2011-04-07

Posted in Blog Stats, Culture, Food, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Not done this for a while. Just to show what an excellent blog this is, here are the results of a quick look through my blog stats:

anna netrebko
tracey emin
jean simmons
pasta alla genovese
spencer tunick
tracey emin naked
ingrid pitt topless
bob dylan fender
haggis what is it
beverley callard curly hair
lancashire cheese
manchester in the snow
cultured duck eggs
beverley callard leather
snail soup
why go to an opera

what did the music of alban berg add to the development of western music in the 20th century (good luck with that one … not really a search term)

cigarette vintage woman
afghanistan’s only pig

why was it traditional to eat porridge standing up (again, more of a question than a search term, yielding results for every website that contains any of those words)

Should a gentleman offer a Tiparillo to a violinist?

Posted in Culture, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

After a tough evening with the Beethoven crowd, she loves to relax and listen to her folk-rock records. Preferably, on your stereo. She’s open-minded. So maybe tonight you offer her a Tiparillo. She might like it – the slim cigar with the white tip. Elegant. And, you dog, you’ve got both kinds on hand. Tiparillo Regular and new Tiparillo M with menthol – her choice of mild smoke or cold smoke. Well? Should you offer? After all, if she likes the offer, she might start to play. No strings attached.

It was George Orwell, my favourite writer, who once described advertising as the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.

Brown Bread: Brian Duffy

Posted in Culture, Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Brian Duffy, whose photographs helped define the mood of the Swinging Sixties, has died aged 76.

Together with David Bailey and Terence Donovan, Duffy formed part of the “black trinity” of photographers who became as famous as the models, musicians and film stars they worked with.

He had been suffering from lung disease.

Like Bailey and Donovan, Duffy was born in London’s East End. He studied dress design at St Martin’s School of Art and worked as a fashion artist for Harper’s Bazaar before turning to photography. He was one of just a handful of photographers to shoot two Pirelli calenders, and was credited for his inventive approach to fashion photography.

His work also spanned reportage and advertising, including two award-winning campaigns for Benson & Hedges and Smirnoff in the 1970s. He shot three David Bowie album covers, including Aladdin Sane.

In 1979, Duffy decided to give up photography and burned many of his negatives in a bin. But he resumed taking pictures in 2009, and in January the story of his career was the subject of the BBC documentary The Man Who Shot the 60s.

He is survived by his wife, June, two sons and two daughters.

R.I.P. Brian Duffy, 1933-2010


Brian Duffy: “Photography was dead by 1972”

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