clyde butcher - website visit

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scootermm

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I was thumbing through a photo magazine today and saw a mention of some photos clyde butcher took in the mountains of cuba.
I saw a mention of his web address so I ventured over to it....

wow. I love clyde butchers photography he truly is a master.... but what is with his website. that is quite literally one of the worse organized, worse layed out things Ive seen. in fact I got to the point of such frustration of not even being able to find images to browse through, I just ended up leaving.

anyone else find this also to be the case?
 

photomc

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Matt, you are correct and while I think much of his work looks good in the publications I have seen and on the web site, others here can tell you what his work looks like in person.
 

mark

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He makes Digital carbon prints, nuff said. Sellout weenie, okay that is enough said.
 

John McCallum

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:surprised: REALLY! What about all those publicity snaps of he and his assistants feeding gigantic posters through gigantic trays of chemicals. (Never really followed his work, though have admired it).
 

Jorge

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Lets not be too hard on the guy, he sells the ink jets at a much discounted price than the real prints. Nothing wrong with that IMO.
 

doughowk

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Been to his Labor day open house & to his Venice gallery for a workshop, and find his work very stunning. Has quite an impressive darkroom with the separate wet area being a series of trays at least 4' wide. His assistant/son in law does much of the printing ( my impression from talking to him) under guidance of Clyde.
As far as Clyde's digital output, his suppliers have over-sold their products to him, as in his claim about archival quality of his digi-carbon prints. His web-site seems cluttered, more folksy than professional as you might expect from a family operation.
 

matt miller

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I had a chance to see his travelling exhibit last year. They were all very large prints 20x24 up to 5'x7'. From the proper viewing distances they are great. When I got very close to the prints they fell apart for me. His vision & composition is fantastic, but his craftsmanship leaves a lot to be desired. Lots of blown highlights, poor focus, & poor print spotting is what I saw. Don't get me wrong, I do love his work. Prints that large are always neat to look at. Most non-photography folks would probably not inspect the prints as closely as I did.
 

Doug Bennett

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Hmmm.......... I went to the web site and had no problem browsing the images. The "Home" button in the galleries didn't work, but other than that it was fine.
 

c6h6o3

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matt miller said:
His vision & composition is fantastic, but his craftsmanship leaves a lot to be desired. Lots of blown highlights, poor focus, & poor print spotting is what I saw. Don't get me wrong, I do love his work.

Why? From what you're telling me, the work possesses not a single redeeming defect. When you enlarge it, guess what you get? Bigger defects.
 

matt miller

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I enjoy his work because of his vision. His prints bring me to places that are prehistoric in my mind. His use of the sky is powerful. I just wish his craftsmanship was on par with his vision. IMO his art is good, but it could be great.
 

doughowk

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He has used both Tri-x & Delta 100 with the former not enlarging as well as the latter. He uses camera to capture his vision but doesn't compose that vision on ground glass, ie crops. It works for smaller prints but the loss of information thru cropping does impact his larger prints. Does use a wide angle to get better dof. In sum, he has great vision but camera/darkroom techniques probably adversely impacts the final print ( see Masters thread for long discussion of this issue).
 

TPPhotog

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John McCallum said:
shouldn't that suugestion come with a warning ? :tongue:
Good point, body armour, tin hat and armed escort obligatory when entering the "Masters thread" ..... a baby rattle and teddy bear to throw at the wall also recommended :wink:

I'm not going to get into what is/isn't art as it's been done to death, but maybe we worry too much about technical excellence when the general public and most probably the buyer isn't looking at that perspective. If he captures his vision then just maybe that's enough.
 

Dave Parker

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I find this an interesting thread, Clyde has actually been one of the most viewed photographers of the 20th century, at least here in the States, his work has contributed to the saviour of the Everglades in Florida, there are very few of us in the states that have not viewed at least a small part of his work, as his was one of the most successful companies back in the 70's and 80's, 90% of America had a picture of his hanging on the wall, even if they did not know it. I have had occasion to talk with Clyde at great length and the knowledge he has in Large Format is pretty impressive and I am happy that I was able to learn from one of the Masters

He is good, if not great and will be remembered....

Remember economics and vision may not be one in the same.

Dave Parker
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Satin Snow(TM) Ground Glass
 

Terry Hayden

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Another $.02 -

Yes his vision appears to be solid.

However, as was said earlier, his craftmanship is marginal.

How much of that is the effect of financial concerns ( if bigger sells better, lets make it a lot bigger), and how much of that is a part of his intent in his artistic approach is something only he can answer.

To say that you need to expect defects to be obvious in any size exhibition print is to negate the talent and skill of those that wouldn't dream of letting those things out for display.

The vision thing is extremely important, but the full follow through from previsualization to presentation is the real deal.

Just another opintion...

Later,
Terry
 

Dave Parker

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I tend to disagree,

If you have the opportunity to really look at some of Clyde's work, you will find his craftmanship to be quite good, looking at his commercial products as opposed to his artisitic products, is quite a different experiance..

I fully understand making a living and being an artist, making a living means you eat, being an aritist means someone else eats.

Just my .02

Dave Parker
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Terry Hayden

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Actually, I'm not familiar with his commercial work.

My only experience with his work was visiting his gallery in the everglades last year. The sizes and compositions were impressive, the craftmanship not.

Butt Hay - opinions are like ( fill in the blank ) - everyones got one.

I stand by my view, you by yours, between us we've accounted for a total value of $.04.

B.T.W. - what he has indeed done to help preserve the Everglades is
absolutely worthy of praise.

Later,
Terry
 

fparnold

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I would also praise Clyde for photographing under conditions that many of us would take a pass on; in salt water on the edge of a Florida thunderstorm, and up to his chest in Swamp with things better not thought about brushing his ankles.

I will admit to having only seen small reproductions, but they are beautiful pictures of an underappreciated subject. As an aside, the Western photographers brought us the deserts and high Rockies, Eliot Porter the forests of the northeast, and Clyde the swamps. Does anyone have a favorite who speaks for the Plains of the Midwest?
 

Bill Mitchell

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Clyde's digitals are much better than his silver prints, and I just MAY be able to afford one this year. As to the Midwest, I think David Plowden is great.
 

doughowk

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Since his largest digital prints are much smaller that his largest traditional prints, its comparing apples & oranges. I attended a workshop where he domonstrated his digital manipulation techniques and it made even me cringe - rather loose use of the Photoshop tools.
As far as size of his traditional prints, he describes it as giving the viewer a sense of entering into the scene in order to increase the viewers appreciation of the environment. In person, they are very effective at giving you that sense of being there (without having to wade thru the muck).
 

Jim Chinn

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It's easy for phtographers to over analyze someone elses work from a technical point of view. Very large mural prints are not made to be examined from a couple of feet or inches, they are seen from several feet or farther away.

What appear to be blown highlights up close may be required to give the proper contrast to areas when viewed from a long distance. A small highlight area that has detail on an 4x5 or 8x10 negative still has areas that are overexposed, we just do not notice them because the enlargement or contact does not make those areas large enough to notice. If you have a spot on an 8x10 neg that is 1/8" that is overexposed but part of an overall highlight area it is probably not noticeable. Enlarge to 5'x7' and that spot may be several inches in size.

I think one of the most under appreciated aspects of photography is the relationship of print size to the space it will occupy and the viewing distance. I don not remember where I read it, but there is a formula for determining the proper enlargement of an image for a given space and viewing distance. There were also variations depending on the subject matter.

And then there are aspects of presentation of the print. It is easy to provide proper matting and framing for 4x5 up to 11x14 for most rooms or spaces. After that the purchaser begins to take into account the size of the total presentation. A 16x20 print properly matted may take up at least 32"x26" of wall space. So while a 16x20 may be impressive it will be overpowering in a smaller space without room for a proper viewing of the print.

So now that I have got wildly of track, I imagine if he wanted the work to be viewed close up he would have stuck with 8x10 contact prints.
 

matt miller

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Jim Chinn said:
It's easy for phtographers to over analyze someone elses work from a technical point of view. Very large mural prints are not made to be examined from a couple of feet or inches, they are seen from several feet or farther away.

What appear to be blown highlights up close may be required to give the proper contrast to areas when viewed from a long distance. A small highlight area that has detail on an 4x5 or 8x10 negative still has areas that are overexposed, we just do not notice them because the enlargement or contact does not make those areas large enough to notice. If you have a spot on an 8x10 neg that is 1/8" that is overexposed but part of an overall highlight area it is probably not noticeable. Enlarge to 5'x7' and that spot may be several inches in size.

I think one of the most under appreciated aspects of photography is the relationship of print size to the space it will occupy and the viewing distance. I don not remember where I read it, but there is a formula for determining the proper enlargement of an image for a given space and viewing distance. There were also variations depending on the subject matter.


I agree with you Jim. When I saw Butcher's prints, I was comparing them to the Ansel Adams exhibit that I had seen a couple weeks prior. Maybe that was unfair. IMO Butcher's enlargements didn't have the overall quality of Adams'. I saw the Butcher exhibit at a community college library. They just didn't have the room to display the prints properly. With some prints I could only stand 3 feet back, maybe that was too close.
 

Donald Miller

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While I won't comment on Clyde Butcher's technical execution, I will comment on his artistic statement. I find that his photography, by and large, is about "things" and that they leave me unimpacted. In other words there is no emotional content, for me, in his imagery. But then I can say the same thing in regard to Ansel Adams' work. I once was impressed with both of these photographers production. That has changed for me.
 

c6h6o3

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Donald Miller said:
While I won't comment on Clyde Butcher's technical execution, I will comment on his artistic statement. I find that his photography, by and large, is about "things" and that they leave me unimpacted. In other words there is no emotional content, for me, in his imagery. But then I can say the same thing in regard to Ansel Adams' work. I once was impressed with both of these photographers production. That has changed for me.

You and I are two of a mind about Clyde Butcher, Don. He has no photographic vision at all.

I think that Adams, however, is different. Before around 1940, he made magnificent photographs. His portrait of Edward Weston under the eucalyptus tree is transcendent (in its original contact printed form-enlargements of it are a mess). But alas, sometime around WWII he changed. I find all the famous pictures which everyone is willing to pay so much for to be glorified postcards. The most carefully crafted illustrations ever produced, but ultimately they are no more than what my friend the gallery owner so perceptively calls "airport art".
 

sanking

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doughowk said:
As far as Clyde's digital output, his suppliers have over-sold their products to him, as in his claim about archival quality of his digi-carbon prints.

I am curious as to why you write this. In what way have his supliers of digital materials over-sold their products to him, and what claims does he make about the archival quality of his carbon inkjet prints? I looked at the site but could not find any information about this.

The only problem of permanence with Butcher's prints that I have heard of has been with some of his large prints on RC papers. I recall reading that he has had to replace quite a number of prints of this type.

Sandy King
 
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