Linda Grashoff's Photography Adventures

Sumac and All That Jazz

July 22, 2017

This sumac is growing by the side of the building erected to house the Oberlin Conservatory’s jazz studies. This is the same building shown in the post of July 16.


21 responses

  1. Very nice!


    July 22, 2017 at 3:10 AM

  2. Gorgeous image! Minimalism lives! 🙂


    July 22, 2017 at 5:26 AM

    • Thanks, Adrian. I’m glad you find this to be a minimalistic photo. I’m attracted to minimalism in general but wasn’t thinking about it when I took this photo.

      Liked by 1 person

      July 22, 2017 at 5:05 PM

  3. Larry (Marjorie and I both follow your photos)

    Nice use of shadow and sun; clever to have the little new leaf (Nature) exactly follow the line dividing the wall panels (culture)


    July 22, 2017 at 8:08 AM

    • Thanks, Larry, for your thoughtful analysis—and for following my photos.


      July 22, 2017 at 5:10 PM

  4. Beautiful shot, Linda. It reminds me of a triptych (intentional or not).


    July 22, 2017 at 1:37 PM

    • Thanks, Ken. I can see that triptych idea now that you mention it. I did not see the color reflected in the building’s metal cladding when I took the photo. Not sure it’s not only an artifact of some kind, but I really liked it so left it in. (There is greenery below the picture frame.)


      July 22, 2017 at 5:13 PM

  5. Oh Linda, I think this is superb! I love the interplay among the elements, and that warm, bright light. And you weren’t tempted to darken the shadow – the subtlety is splendid.


    July 23, 2017 at 4:23 PM

    • Thank you, Lynn. I’m really glad that you like it. It’s one of my new favorites. No, I was not tempted to darken the shadow, but I do wonder about something else here. Because I did not see the reflected colors when I took the photograph (see my reply to Ken), is it fair to leave them in? If the camera sees things I didn’t see at the time, can I still pass it off as my photograph rather than my camera’s photograph? And if the reflected colors are purely artifacts of the photographic process, whether in the camera or in Lightroom, can I retain the artifacts if the larger body of my work is not manipulated to that degree? Am I leading people to believe that I portray reality as I see it with my naked eye (the bait) and then deceiving them (switching them) to a manipulated image? If people are attracted to the photograph, will they be disappointed to learn that the wall really didn’t look like that? lf I admit that the reflected colors may be artifacts, does that make it OK to show the photo?


      July 23, 2017 at 7:23 PM

      • It’s always been my opinion that the photographic process manipulates the reality which it depicts. Film photographers knew it long ago as certain films gave more or less grainyness, detail, shadow density, resolution and other factors that contribute to the finished product. Not much has changed with digital in that regard. The software available to photographers is another tool they can use to achieve their vision.


        July 23, 2017 at 10:38 PM

        • I agree with you, Ken, about there never being pure equivalency between the material world and a representation of it, including a photographic representation. My question concerns the vision thing. As I searched for what Ansel Adams said about visualizing, what I found was his words to the effect that photographers must know exactly what they are going to get before they release the shutter. In the case of the photo on this blog post, I did not visualize what I got. It was an artifact (maybe I could call it a gift) of exposure and processing. The color reflections fit my aesthetics and so I didn’t try to remove them. My “vision” came after the fact. Maybe my salvation is in another thing Adams said: “There are no rules for good photographs; there are only good photographs.”


          July 24, 2017 at 3:51 PM

  6. It’s great to have this kind of discussion. But – I confess, I just want to hand you a glass of wine and say, “Relax!” I know that isn’t helpful though.
    Rules are made to be broken, as they say, and so much more so in art. Adams’ second quote is more to my liking – the first isn’t the way I wish to operate. Personally, I enjoy happy accidents, and this photo was apparently in that bailiwick. It’s good to be smart about what you’re doing, don’t get me wrong, but good things can happen when you’re not in control.
    I know there’s a strong element of recording what is actual that appeals to you. That comes across in your work, and I think people who like your work probably see that, and appreciate it. I know I do. It’s akin to the scientific impulse, one that depends on precision and accuracy across variable fields. But this isn’t a scientific exercise, it’s art, and art and science exist inside a certain tension (one I struggle with but also enjoy).
    I don’t think you have to tie yourself up in knots, it’s all “deception” in the sense that everyone sees something different. We all bring our own culture, our emotional history, our aesthetic knowledge and much more to the party. One can’t predict – or manipulate – how people will react, except on the grossest level, like presenting a shocking image you know would disturb people.
    I think most people take art for what it is, and don’t require it to represent reality in a particular way. If you were creating a field guide to some class of natural phenomena or beings, that would be different. What’s often brilliant about your work is that you skate on a border between science and art, you hover there sometimes.
    That being said, this image for me, seems different from many of your other images. The figure/ground relationship is different than most of the iron bacteria or dumpsters, for example. I hope that opens up of pathways, not shut them down. One kind of image, one intention, isn’t better than the other, but I hope one isn’t rejected just because it doesn’t strictly adhere to a constraint you want to maintain.
    Enough! 🙂 I hope I didn’t just muddy the waters more!


    July 24, 2017 at 9:28 PM

    • Tee hee about just relax and have some wine. And I especially like “good things can happen when you’re not in control.” I like thinking about this photograph with that in mind. What I admire a lot in some other people’s drawings and stitching is their gestural marks. I just can’t get that absence of control into my drawings and embroidery. But if I can find it in photography—thank you thank you—that’s something at least.

      “[I]t’s all ‘deception’ in the sense that everyone sees something different.” WOW!!! That’s something to remember!

      You definitely did not muddy the waters, Lynn. You clarified them. I have some new dumpster photographs coming up whose colors I cannot vouch for. I mean, the downloads don’t look like what I remember seeing. But I like them. I’d like to think that from now on I will not worry so much about how true to reality (whatever that may be) my dumpster photographs are. THANK YOU.


      July 25, 2017 at 2:11 PM

      • :- ) I was a little worried I sounded too strident or something – writing online is always dangerous that way – but you took everything in the spirit it was intended… Yours is one of the few blogs where I see genuine discussions like this, so thank you for that!


        July 25, 2017 at 2:41 PM

        • Oo! I like these kinds of discussions, too, and I thank you for stimulating and participating in them. No, what you wrote was not at all too strident.

          As soon as I hit Post Comment above, I realized that I hadn’t responded to everything you wrote. What a lovely bunch of things you spent your time to write.

          Yes, recording what is actual does have an important place in my work, but I’d like to make room for other approaches. I’m hoping that what you wrote will help.

          “Hovering between science and art”—yes, I think that’s right. It’s what I do—I feel both pulls.

          I am really interested in the dumpsters now, but when I have my photography eyes working, I do see more than my stated-goal images, so maybe you will see more here that feature a different figure/ground relationship. I’m sure I don’t know.

          This sounds so duh, but on April 30 I went out with the camera saying that I wouldn’t photograph anything that I didn’t really love. If you had asked me before then if I only photographed things I really loved, I might have said yes. But on April 30 I really really meant it. It’s not that I haven’t deleted many of the photos I’ve taken since then, but I just really do have a renewed commitment. Weird. But I’m very happy about it.


          July 25, 2017 at 2:47 PM

  7. What a conversation! I like the minimalism, I like the contrast between nature and modernism and I like the subtle shadowing. The Eye sees and the camera sees but they often disagree about what is seen. And often when we look at our images back home on the computer we see things that we failed to notice when we took the picture. Those ‘extras’ are either bonuses or nuisances. The nuisances are the wires we never spotted in the sky. The bonuses are the good things – and for those I give thanks. No picture is perfect or can match the tonal range that our eye can perceive. Every image is on one level or another an interpretation of what our eye saw. If we accept it is reasonable to remove wires in the sky, then it is certainly acceptable to adjust levels and contrast to accentuate detail that we had failed to realise.
    I saw a superb exhibition in London a few years back of Canaletto’s paintings of Venice that compared his work with that of his pupils and associates. There were instances where the same scene had been painted by Canaletto and those of his ‘school’ for different patrons and what was noticeable (seeing the pictures side by side) was how the status and height of buildings had been subtly adjusted in the painting to portray the significance of the Patron’s property. The pictures lied. By comparison, what most of us photographers do is very minor in comparison with what painters have no doubt done for years. Ansel was a fantastic printer – his prints were the result of significant masking and burning in to create a wider tonal range than the camera itself could achieve. If he was alive today imagine what he would do using Photoshop!


    July 25, 2017 at 3:11 PM

    • Thank you, Andy, and thank you for adding to this conversation. What you write about Canaletto’s paintings is interesting. I remember someone (can’t remember who) saying in my presence during the early years of Photoshop that that software would bring the photography experience closer to the painting experience. When I was checking what Ansel Adams said about visualization, I came across this Adams quote on John Paul Caponigro’s blog: “I am sure the next step will be the electronic image, and I hope I shall live to see it. I trust that the creative eye will continue to function, whatever technological innovations may develop.” Yes, what would he be doing in Photoshop?

      Liked by 1 person

      July 25, 2017 at 3:25 PM

      • I’ve never heard that Adams quote before – fascinating. I wished he had lived to see it happen.

        Liked by 1 person

        July 27, 2017 at 12:00 PM

  8. THank you, Linda, for pointing me back here – I enjoy Andy’s comments. Your commitment about what to photograph is interesting, too. Something to think about. It would be hard for me to do, but it IS something I ask myself when the “stuff” around me begins to overwhelm. “Do I really love this, does it give me pleasure, etc.?” A little different though.


    July 26, 2017 at 6:01 PM

    • Yes, a little different. I can take many many photographs that don’t take very much space to store. Not so with my tangible treasures, which I find problematic at times, too.


      July 26, 2017 at 8:41 PM

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