Friday, February 22, 2013

Harold Feinstein/Gene Smith

I recently read a blog post about Harold Feinstein and a book that presents a retrospective look at his works. He was a master of b/w photography and a disciple of one of my photographer heroes, W. Eugene Smith. You can see Feinsteins photos here. He wrote about his relationship with Gene Smith here. During my years as a darkroom silver based printer I occasionally worked with a very toxic compound that was commonly referred to as 'bleach'. I was initially drawn to using it because of Gene Smith's extensive manipulation of his prints using it. Feinstein reminisces about Gene Smith's use of Potassium Ferrocyanide here. Many of Smith's iconic photographs were altered using 'bleach' to accentuate very small details as highlights. Because of the shapes and sizes of those tiny details, which created much of the drama in Smith's images, dodging would have been impossible.

I would be quite interested to see what amazing things Smith would have accomplished were he alive today and had digital tools such as Lightroom, Photoshop, and plugins such as Silver Efex Pro 2 available to create his powerful images.

When I was first learning my craft as a silver based photographer, I pored over monographs of Smith's work. At that time, in the 1980's, street vendors set up long tables on the curb of Broadway and laid out piles of back issues of Life Magazine. I carried a list in my wallet of the issues of Life in which Smith's photographs appeared, and whenever I could I would dig up an old issue for my collection.

Apropos of nothing, I saw this happy couple on Central Park South one day this past week and asked them to pose for me. I was very curious to know, but was afraid to ask who did what to whom.

Happy Couple