People around Austin, you have 3 more days to see Arnold Newman: Masterclass at the Harry Ransom Center on the University of Texas campus. I went to the exhibit with my friend Mike a couple of months ago. It was fantastic. It closes this Sunday, May 12, 2013. And it’s free.
Anyone that likes photography, especially black and white portraiture, this is the exhibit to see. Arnold Newman is one of the greats in photography with iconic images of the famous and not so famous. The Ransom Center has on display, over 200 of his works, from his early career in Philadelphia, to his creative collages to his world-famous images.
Mike and I marveled at the tonal range of these large format black and whites. No blown highlights and mottled shadows. This is pure, analog film photography at its best.
You hear from some people about this romantic notion of film photography. How it was different and more pure than digital. How people would get the photograph right in camera and never post process. You hear about how people would take that one perfect shot, well-considered instead of the multi-shot approach in digital.
Well I learned that this is bull.
At least Arnold Newman didn’t approach it that way. And I rather learn from a master then some person with a distorted view of history. Here are two examples from the exhibit.
1. Quoting the exhibit, it said “Newman might take 10, 20, 30 and in special cases even more than 50 individual photographs of the sitter, making minor adjustments each time. Sometimes the differences between the frames would be minuscule, though highly significant…”
2. The Ransom Center had the original of the famous Picasso portrait and showed how it was cropped to create the well-known, final version. I was shocked that Mr. Newman cropped like 70% of it away. He was shooting with a large format camera so his negative was still big enough to support a high quality image. Here is another quote “Cropping was also a practice Newman valued highly. His edges were determined with minute precision”.
So I encourage you to go. Learn from a master. You won’t regret it. Perhaps it will bust some myths out there from the ancient and mystical world of film photography.
Click on the photograph to see a larger image and hover over the photo to see the exposure detail.