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Challenge: Fine Arts: Exhibit II (Advanced Editing VII*)
Collection: Portfolio
Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1K
Lens: Leica 14-50mm f2.8-3.5 Mega O.I.S.
Location: Mekong Delta, Vietnam
Date: Apr 3, 2011
Galleries: Black and White
Date Uploaded: Apr 5, 2011

I could not be more thrilled by the fact that this picture so challenged two juries of distinguished DPC members as to its legitimacy as Fine Art. That its DNA was variously rejected/questioned/grudgingly acknowledged/embraced by such an informed pair of panels counts for me as being as good as it gets. Thank you.

Jury I comments:
Voyeuristic. I'm there. In the boat looking over his shoulder. Gritty, suggesting an aspect of life along the river. The cig is a lucky catch, that made me laugh for some reason. Another image that I would love to see as a series, same with Tsunami.

There so much immediacy in this photograph that I can't help but love it. I'm thrilled that every rule is broken here. So much that is supposed to be a "no-no" in composition works so well for this photograph that it seems to be an embodiment of its own style. The cut upper right corner, the bisected person in the foreground, the powerlines, the messiness, the noise, the intense contrast and black clipping, all work to present a photo that feels like a travelogue, a piece of journalism, and art, all in one. I adore this photo. ... Its "mistakes" are beautiful.

This has an immediate voyeuristic interest... as in, "what's going on here?" into lives that seem more interesting than my bourgeois life. But the more I look at it, the more it confounds me. How can those two men be in those two positions? This disorientation adds weight to the already metaphorically weighted notion of high water. Which man is on top?

It was (is) one of my overall favorites irrespective of the challenge theme. But in my mind it is not quite "fine art" as far as the genre goes. My internal definition implies a more deliberate way of constructing an image rather than catching something beautiful on a spur of a moment (even if it is serendipitous, at least I want a feel of deliberacy).

I loved this one, although I didn't like the border. It's a fine example of a snapshot that makes art. But it didn't quite fit my interpretation of "make a contribution to CONTEMPORARY ..." It looks and feels dated to me.

I really like this picture, I have no problem supporting it but it didn't match my expectations for the challenge. I think I know why. When I was growing up we had, in my house, a set of books called World War II in pictures - one book for every year of the war. Many of the pictures had this sort of first person perspective and very similar tones and contrast characteristics. I think because of my exposure to that material, this screamed photojournalism to me - not that this should exclude it from 'Fine Art', it's just that's not what I had in mind.

Iím in the camp where this is an excellent image, but an excellent photojournalism image, not Fine Art. Personally I love good use of image grain, and this one has it, but I think it belongs in LIFE rather than the Guggenheim.

But, in THIS context, "Photojournalism" is being used as a shorthand for "an image shot in a photojournalistic style". We could say, for instance, that Cartier-Bresson's work is "photojournalistic" if we wanted to. Anything that's truly candid, actually, is more or less photojournalistic. And I don't think we should be disqualifying images from consideration based on what we *think* they were intended for.

I disagree that "Mekong" is photojournalism. The composition is completely off-balance and neither character can be properly "observed" in the voyeuristic fashion. This shot is 2 seconds *after* the photojournalistic shot, as they get back to their lives. This is not a photo I would see in a newspaper or news magazine or even National Geographic. It's the emotional aspect that makes it good in my eyes.

Jury II comments:
The great Asian river is the subject of a politically charged battle threatening the livelihoods of many. Will they continue to be pushed to the margins as greedy, or just desperate, governments have their way with the river?

- I do agree that Mekong is really good. I like how the hat was cut in half. The tonal range is spectacular as well. I'm pretty sure I know who did that one. But it's almost more photojournalistic to my eye, despite it being so good technically. Maybe I'm being way too picky.

- What I do love is the odd crop - the hat being partially chopped. It is not on my top group, but I do really like it. I can see it being in a museum telling the history and the current state of affairs in Vietnam.

- Mekong felt like photojournalism to me. It's seems more about telling it like it is than art for arts sake.

- I love the crop and the odd angles - that and the noise/grit bring it just slightly out of the realm of photojournalism for me. The kneejerk I'm fighting in this one is the third world romance. Would someone who lived there think it's art? Still, the angles, the light, the tones, the water, the composition... hard to deny that it's effective.

- Mekong is a fabulous image, but is photojournalism to me.

- In defense of Mekong...I won't say that it can't be [photojournalism], but there are too many artistic touches for it to be that primarily. Not to mention, most photojournalists have better aim.


Shamelessly self-indulgent to reprint all the above, but for me that kind of restlessness of reception is why I take photographs at all. It means more to me than would a hundred ribbons. Any number at all, actually.

Place: 29 out of 167
Avg (all users): 5.9636
Avg (commenters): 8.0000
Avg (participants): 6.1860
Avg (non-participants): 5.7215
Views since voting: 1833
Views during voting: 390
Votes: 165
Comments: 29
Favorites: 15 (view)

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04/23/2011 09:13:54 AM
Heh, dude. You really ARE an artiste. ;)
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/22/2011 12:47:47 PM
Originally posted by hihosilver:

I confess this image puzzles me.

Thank you!
04/22/2011 11:32:44 AM
Since I'm not allowed to shop at IKEA, I browsed the 21.gif Ubique Boutique today, and I was delighted to rediscover this one as one of my favs:


However, Paul, I must confess to you that your image "Mekong" completely puzzles and baffles me:

I stared and stared at this image for a long time and tried to align my inner vision so that I too may enjoy the delights of what the Jury found so enticing. I read all the notes and I'm feeling completely awkward to ask anyone to explain this image to me. So, I've resolved myself now to make peace with the pieces of this puzzle with the faith that one day the mysteries will be revealed even to one such as me.

But, the horse photo...I want to take that one home! :-)

Message edited by author 2011-04-22 20:48:18.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/19/2011 01:10:10 PM
Nice! Congratulations my friend.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/19/2011 06:10:58 AM
Very happy to see my top pic and my 10 vote were in line with the jury! Well done Paul, it's a great image. I think I may have said that once or twice already ;)
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/19/2011 05:37:56 AM
I'm so happy the juried vote went this way!! This is life on the Mekong something that must be seen, I guess I'm bias as my heart lives in South East Asia. Thanks for bringing that "life" out.

Message edited by author 2011-04-19 05:38:38.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/19/2011 05:33:41 AM
Congratulations, well deserved.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/19/2011 05:02:04 AM
A wonderful journey, timeless and eloquent.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/19/2011 02:13:17 AM
Congrats on the jury ribbon! Somehow I knew it.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/19/2011 01:05:08 AM
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/19/2011 01:03:38 AM
Sweet! grats on you juried ribbon, they must be smart, they agreed with me
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/16/2011 01:11:25 PM
Thank you Paul for such a beautiful photograph.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/15/2011 08:19:08 PM
I should have known. This was my top pick and only ten. More to come...
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/15/2011 01:37:17 PM
lovely street photo without a street. I had a hunch it was yours, Paul
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/15/2011 10:33:58 AM
Good stuff, mate. Good stuff.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/15/2011 10:17:17 AM
I like the layers and grain. You have revealed just enough to hold our attention. Kind of like a memory that's fading but what remains is clear.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/15/2011 09:38:18 AM
Love this image!!! Looks like I was in the North when you were in the South.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/15/2011 01:40:08 AM
Both my favourites in this challenge were from Vietnam. Hmm.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/15/2011 12:10:28 AM
How did I not connect your recent trip with this image?!? Well done.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
 Comments Made During the Challenge
04/14/2011 11:18:34 PM
Love the black and white and the grain. I feel like I'm looking at a shot that was taken a long time ago. Almost documentary like.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/14/2011 07:28:22 PM
In my top ten, 9.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/12/2011 12:55:07 AM
I love this, the angle is great, I see so many stories.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/11/2011 03:03:59 PM
Wow, you have evoked a great sense of place with very minimal information. The gestures you captured are just great. There is a technical bluntness used that is both limiting, and very well suited to the image.

Near the top at this point in the vote.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/10/2011 01:58:49 PM
I love the optical illusion of the closer person sitting BELOW the waterline, with the water threatening to spill over. Very cool, gritty image.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/09/2011 11:18:46 AM
I like this, it looks to me like the details of what's there have been sacrificed to the truth of what's there. The truth of it escapes my mental grasp, as usual, but I can sense its presence. Well done. The texture details in the FG are sensually pleasurable to look at, I want to reach out & touch.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/08/2011 06:45:11 PM
I love how the story simmers in the fringes of the frame.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/08/2011 09:38:21 AM
Interesting crop. I rather like it.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/08/2011 09:16:38 AM
oh wow!! life as it is meant to be.....besides I love the Mekong!!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/08/2011 01:36:54 AM
ah, life on a river! these black segments, the pole and the foreground man make very interesting framing within a frame.
  Photographer found comment helpful.

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