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Photography at the Edges, New York & San Francisco

March 31, 2014



Charles Manville: Photographer of Paris, Metropolitan Museum Of Art, New York City

 Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris 


Edgy may not be the first word that comes to mind describing photographs taken a century and a half ago.  But time travel is certainly an edgy prospect and it's how I think of photography.  Arriving at the moment in history when Paris is about to leave the Middle Ages and become the city we now know is an exciting possibility.  Photography was in its infancy, 20 years old, so the confluence of art, technology and change is the theme of the show, Charles Manville: Photographer of Paris at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art in New York City, until May 4th.  


Running simultaneously, also until May 4th, is Paris as Muse, Photography, 1840s-1930s.  One of our Gumbo Gurus is threatening to see both and, if so, I hope he reports back for those of us not so lucky.


Paris as Muse, Photography, 1840s-1930s. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

 Paris as Muse, Photography, 1840s-1930s



7th Annual International Juried Plastic Camera Show


In San Francisco, Rayco Photo Center is currently hosting the 7th Annual International Juried Plastic Camera Show.  Low tech is the name of the game these days with a segment of the experimental photo crowd, plastic lenses along with home-made pinhole cameras and pre-1950s models, among others.  


I’m very attracted to the unpredictable nature of this edge of the photographic arts, have tried an old Kodak model I found at a garage sale that takes 120 film, as well as a pinhole camera at a weekend workshop in Tucson.  I’m also the proud owner of a Holga 35mm that I have yet to test drive, and just to give a hint of the excitement ahead, the sellers offer rolls of black electrical tape for light leaks. 


I plan to see the show soon and will certainly come back with a report.  For those with a similar inclination, the show will be up until April 29th.



Andrea Buzzichelli, Norway

Andrea Buzzichelli, 'Norway'



Other interesting stuff:

Curious Camera

Michelle Bates

Kathleen Velo



Images (3)
  • Charles Manville: Photographer of Paris, Metropolitan Museum Of Art, New York City
  • Paris as Muse, Photography, 1840s-1930s.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
  • Andrea Buzzichelli, Norway

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I did, indeed, go to the two exhibits at the Met...and they actually have a relation to the SF show that PortMoresby has described.


Marville, in particular, was working at the beginning of photography, without all the digital devices, or even a light meter, and with media so slow that a photograph of a relatively busy street appears to be empty of traffic—because during the 30 seconds needed to expose that plate no one stayed in front of the camera long enough to register an image!


The Paris as Muse exhibit also includes a series of cloud studies by Marville—the first-known successful pictures of skies, difficult because clouds move. Slightly faster emulsions and good darkroom technique made it possible and showed the way for others.


The largest number of photographs in the Muse exhibit are from its later part, including many images by Brassai, Cartier-Bresson, Andre Kertesz and others who were in the midst of transition from large-format cameras that more-or-less required tripods, assistants and lots of time, to the small and speedy 35mm Leica. The abrupt change is visible in both scene and subject: the casual, the unexpected, the candid become possible, and people now invade the frame, not carefully posed, but in their "natural habitat."


I've run way off what I meant to write about (Marville and Paris); another time. Here, just one reminder that "black-and-white" photography isn't always, well, black-and-white and that yes, photography can assert the abstract even in the midst of the pictorial. Here, from the Muse exhibit, is an Eiffel Tower image by surrealist Man Ray.


Man Ray Eiffel

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations


Images (1)
  • Man Ray Eiffel
Last edited by PHeymont

Maybe "monochrome" is a better word for what we think of as black & white photography.  An extreme example would be cyanotypes, in shades of blue.


Many thanks, PHeymont, for your descriptions of the Met shows, and for reminding me that everything old is new again.  The addition of Man Ray's fantastic picture above is perfect.  Joyeux Anniversaire, Tour Eiffel.

Speaking again of black&white, the monthly events newsletter from Mrs. Dalloway's Literary & Garden Arts store in Berkeley just arrived.  Down at the very bottom was this intiguing notice which I mean to check out in person in 11 days.  Mrs. Dalloways is at 2904 College Avenue in Berkeley.




"The Watchmaker Series."Beautiful black and white silver gelatin prints on archival quality paper. Ready for 8 x 10 frame. $65.  

When Craig was asked to fix a case that contained a friend's set of watchmaker tools he became intrigued by their uses and shapes. Lovely images of a quickly disappearing craft. Tools are actual size in the photos.




Images (1)
  • unnamed-1
Last edited by PortMoresby

Among my greatest photography influences were Matthew Brady, whose grainy and gritty images of the Civil War made it so very "real" to future generations just learning about it in history books.


And of course the great work of Ansel Adams.  Far from gritty and grainy.  Truly  a visionary.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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