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W. Eugene Smith - opinions, comments?
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 6:26 pm    Post subject: W. Eugene Smith - opinions, comments? Reply with quote

Hi. I am writing an essay about the photojournalist Eugene Smith. I'd love to hear opinions and comments from this knowledgeable community. The best site to view his work on is the Magnum site, as he was one of them. Check him out here:

http://www.magnumphotos.com/archive/C.aspx?VP=XSpecific_MAG.PhotographerDetail_VPage&l1=0&pid=2K7O3R139C2T&nm=W.%20Eugene%20Smith

PS I'm also a MF practitioner, using Minolta XE-7, X-570, etc. and Rokkor MC and MD lenses.

Thanks for all comments


PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm. Website didn't come through. One more try:

http://www.magnumphotos.com/archive/C.aspx?VP=XSpecific_MAG.PhotographerDetail_VPage&l1=0&pid=2K7O3R139C2T&nm=W.%20Eugene%20Smith


PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, there's some amazing photos in there! The war photos are superb!


PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 2:32 pm    Post subject: W Eugene Smith Reply with quote

Yes. His war photos are indeed impressive but there's hardly any of his work that isn't tremendously evocative. I find the Welsh pictures particularly interesting, and I'm also struck by the Country Doctor set as well. But the most gripping ones for me are those from Minamata. Hard not to be moved by the images, and harder still not to be moved by the dedication of the photographer himself in making the photographs. It's well worth getting hold of the book that was published in the mid-70s, long out of print but UK libraries should be able to borrow one for you.

And on a slightly lighter note, he did it all without the benefits of Photoshop or knowledge of MTF curves ...


PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I recall the shit kicked up about Minimata at the time - it became a by-word for unacceptable environmental pollution in the 70s because Eugene Smith and others brought it to the attention of a wider audience. Offhand, I don't recall what happened to the Chisso senior management, but I suspect they carried on with their careers. Looking at those pics again, nearly forty years after I first saw them, I sincerely hope the bastards responsible are roasting slowly in hell.

More generally, last year the BBC did a programme on Eugene Smith and his Welsh foray. I have it on disk if anyone wants a look.


PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Farside wrote:

Quote:
Looking at those pics again, nearly forty years after I first saw them, I sincerely hope the bastards responsible are roasting slowly in hell.


And with them the heads of Union Carbide/DOW Chemical, responsible for the Bhopal deaster and the heads of Grnenthal, the firm that produced the sleeping-pills containing thalidomide, in Germany known as Contergan, which led to thousands of children born without arms and other limbs.
Roasting in hell may be too nice for them.

For W. Eugene Smith and his work I have the greatest respect. I have the book documenting a small part of his gigantic Pittsburgh project called 'Dream Street - W. Eugene Smith's Pittsburgh Project', which I was lucky enough to get for almost no money at an antiquarian bookseller here, who also sells so-called modern antiquarian books, i.e. books that are new, unused, but don't sell at the full price. An incredible book. Try to get it.

Thomas


PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To me, W. Eugene Smith is one of the giants of the photographic community. I consider his "The Walk to Paradise Garden" to be one of the greatest photographic images ever recorded.


PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2009 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

His work's superb. Fantastic use of contrast and line. MAny of those images don't capture the full tonal range of the scene, they have filled blacks or blown whites that either direct attention to the subject or in some cases render the subject a virtual silhouette.

Perhaps the reason that most black and white shot today seems to lack impact is that years of using colour have taught us that there should be visible detail in all parts of an image and that impact comes from colour contrast and saturation.

I can imagine a lot of those pictures completely losing their impact if they were in colour.


PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2009 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Black and White as powerful as it can be.
His pictures should be studied by anyone who wants to shoot and print B&W film.


PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From what I've read, his negatives were appalimgly difficult to print.


PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

StanW wrote:
From what I've read, his negatives were appalimgly difficult to print.


Really? What was the issue with them?


PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Huge variations in exposure (density) was the usual problem. It seems he rarely had time to worry about the ideal exposure.
Haveyou read "Master of the Photographic Essay"? It's the fullest account of his work that I've seen,


PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

StanW wrote:
Huge variations in exposure (density) was the usual problem. It seems he rarely had time to worry about the ideal exposure.
Haveyou read "Master of the Photographic Essay"? It's the fullest account of his work that I've seen,


Thanks, I'll see if I can get a copy.

****

It's a curious coincidence, but the photographer whose work sparked the thread about pollution in China a few topics below this turns out to have been funded by the W Eugene Smith Fund .


PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

great photographic heart and eye. he was either one of the greatest photo printers ever, or his assistants were ...