Fi­nal Anal­y­sis

Roger Hicks con­sid­ers… ‘Oblique Strate­gies’, 2018, by Ed­mond Ter­akopian

Amateur Photographer - - Final Analysis - Roger Hicks has been writ­ing about pho­tog­ra­phy since 1981 and has pub­lished more than three dozen books on the sub­ject, many in part­ner­ship with his wife Frances Schultz (visit his web­site at www.rogerand­frances.eu). Ev­ery week in this col­umn Roger de­cons

In­spi­ra­tion has count­less roots, just like a tree, where each root di­vides into smaller roots, then rootlets, then hair-fine cap­il­lar­ies. Any of those cap­il­lar­ies – vis­ual, ver­bal, imag­i­nary – can give rise to a pic­ture. Here we are pre­sented with a whole set of cap­il­lar­ies in the form of ‘Oblique Strate­gies’, a set of cards with in­spi­ra­tional notes/chal­lenges writ­ten by Brian Eno in 1975; Google them.

An ex­hi­bi­tion ear­lier this year was also called Oblique Strate­gies and was or­gan­ised by the Eal­ing branch of Lon­don In­de­pen­dent Pho­tog­ra­phers (www. eal­in­glon­don­pho­tog­ra­phy.co.uk); Ter­akopian’s was the lead pic­ture. You should be able to read at least some of the slo­gans in the pic­ture, and that’s one of the first things to no­tice: how very art­fully the cards are ar­ranged, so that even if we can’t read the words in full, we can ei­ther work out the motto (‘...pha­size dif­fer­ences’) or ask an even broader ques­tion (‘Do we need...’) This alone is a valu­able les­son: de­tails mat­ter.

Ex­quis­ite tonal­ity

Be­fore that, though, the first thing I no­ticed was the ex­quis­ite tonal­ity: a mas­ter­ful use of ev­ery­thing from the bright­est pos­si­ble whites to the dark­est pos­si­ble blacks, yet still with no dis­tract­ingly blown high­lights or blocked shad­ows. Or maybe there was an­other first thing, a sort of holy trin­ity of im­pact: the Plaubel Mak­ina it­self with its big, glit­ter­ing 100/2.9 An­ti­co­mar lens. The lens is more im­pres­sive to look at than to use (I’ve had a cou­ple) but the whole cam­era is the epit­ome of top-flight gad­getry – beau­ti­fully en­graved and me­chan­i­cally se­duc­tive.

Then there’s the box, su­perbly in­cor­po­rated in the com­po­si­tion. The more I look at this pic­ture, the more I ad­mire it: there’s noth­ing you can re­ally fault. I sup­pose you could crit­i­cise the way the end of the word ‘strate­gies’ goes slightly out of fo­cus, but to me, this is a uniquely pho­to­graphic ‘fault’: some­thing that is in­her­ent in the process, and re-em­pha­sises that above all we are talk­ing about pho­tog­ra­phy. And the jum­bled re­flec­tions in the lens? To me, that’s what makes it glit­ter; and be­cause in real life glit­ter of­ten re­lies on move­ment, it’s very hard to cap­ture in a still pho­to­graph.

You might care to go to Ter­akopian’s web­site, www.ter­akopian.com, where you’ll see plenty of other equally ex­cel­lent pic­tures, and to www.lon­don­pho­tog­ra­phy. org.uk – the um­brella or­gan­i­sa­tion to which the Eal­ing club be­longs.

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