Musings on creativity for photographers and artists by Rob Hudson

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Oh deary me! Another reply to Tim Parkin.

I've had another response from TP
so here goes!

This be my final word on the subject of Velvia, and why I shan't mourn it's demise, or else I'm going to end up straying into misrepresentative circles created by Tim Parkin who evidently has some difficulty thinking outside of the technical world where he is most comfortable. (that's sarcasm btw, not the truth!)

Sorry Tim, but I just don't recognise much of what you say about my post here, I suspect you're misrepresenting what I said. And you accuse me of having hidden agendas! :-)

I was going to leave it at the last post, feeling my point well enough made originally. But I can't sit silently by without at least pointing out a few fundamental misunderstandings.

1. It seems the majority of your argument is based around some sort of film/digital divide. That's not something I recognise personally, my point was around creativity. Hit me with as many digital bricks as you like, it's not countering what I said.

2. There's plenty of wonderful landscape photography that has no need of expressing ideas in words, it is quite possible to see this in the gestural trees of Dav Thomas as a single example I'm sure few will disagree with. Or the surreally beautiful strangely compelling compositions of Mike Jackson's Poppit Sands. That doesn't mean they aren't expressing ideas (if only as a way of seeing) however much they may protest! The truth is that visual mediums can and always have expressed ideas, well at least if the artist/ photographer has one to express. I have never said that this is a problem unique to LF, that assumption is just silly. However, I think it  does suffer, which given the claims of its users' superiority strikes me as somewhat sad. I didn't use the phrase representational in my original post, I used the word illustrative, which I hoped the average intelligent reader would realise implied an emptiness of approach. I like representational, it implies an artistic to and fro between viewer and photographer through the medium of imagery. Sadly I don't see much of it about. LF Velvia users are no more immune to this than anyone. So back to my original point which is lets hope moving on from Velvia helps move things along creatively as well. You see not a veiled attack, but a hope for the future.

3. I'm quite happy to accept your point about the democratisation of the acme, if that's what you believe, but again you have introduced a spurious financial argument, when I was discussing creativity.

4. My original piece suggested that LF Velvia wasn't a format suitable for everyone. It's perhaps best at illustrating the real world, but some us aren't chasing that as a goal in our expression. In which case it's superiority is moot.

5. As for the tools mitigating approach, many film users say it helps them slow down their approach. Whether that's because they are terrified of exposing a frame of the fast dwindling stock of Velvia or not! I have long suspected that this may be as much about maturity of approach as the tools, that as one migrates up the ladder of tools one may hope the maturity grows too! I dunno I've happily spent a couple of hours refining a single composition with a DSLR in the past. I'm not really working with that sort of methodology at present though, so again, it's not for all.

6. Finally! You're entirely correct that almost all of my arguments could be equally applied to any other format of photography. If you claim to be the best, that should at least be a slight worry!

I'm not saying any of this to specifically accuse LF Velvia users of inferiority, I don't believe that for a moment (tools do not maketh a man!) but if I can equally level the accusations across the board, then please make it shake up your games, question your comfortable assertions and stop bloody whinging! 

Rob Hudson.


  1. he majority of my argument has nothing to do with a film/digital divide - it's saying that the majority of your argument has equal validity either way - i.e. the symptoms are nothing to do with film digital.

    Also, the premise that losing LF/Velvia would in anyway help things is specious. Another acme will appear and it will be less accessible and hence prolong the 'magic bullet chasing' meme. Will Provia cause the same problems? Is Portra an issue? Do we have to deny the technical camera movements that large format cameras supply?

    Most of the LF superiority in terms of resolution is almost anti-magic bullet chasing. The resolution becomes irrelevant at that point and most photographers move onto other matters, suddenly deprived of the next upgrade cycle.

    I'm also a little concerned that you think that every landscape photographer is on a journey which ends up where you are.

    "It seems landscape photography is condemned to be primarily an illustrative genre. Now I will freely admit its a stage in our progression we all have to go through, myself included"

    Which implies a universal path on which you have moved to the next step. What about diversity of production? What about individual modes of creation? What about people who just want to stop at some point!

    I may have misunderstood your original intent but it seemed to me that you were suggesting that large format photographers mostly produce vacuous work and have yet to progress properly and the removal of their preferred working media would help them? That does sound like the dismissal of a whole history of colour landscape photography..

    The removal of Velvia for many photographers is like taking away oils from painters and saying that they can only work in watercolours - sure you can be creative in any medium but taking away one of them won't help.

    If your goal was to be a bit controversial ...... ;-)

    1. Might have been! ;-))

      Merely slaughtering some holy cows to demonstrate that goats can be holy too!

      Anyway I must be missing a pint with you! Last word on the subject until then.

  2. This would be a lot more enjoyable and quicker over a pint :-)

  3. Arrrr friends now, THANK GOD, I haven’t got all night to read this!!!


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