Friday, July 15, 2005

Sebastião Salgado - Antarctica

even at ridiculous postcard size and at a crumbly 72 dpi this photograph is quite overwhelming. imagine a 12 x 16 bromide print! Salgado's always been technically amazing, but this is the sort of nightmare hand-printing job - jagged ice against cloudy sky - that any photographer will reel at (an all-zones job if ever there was one), and if he really did this himself, then all credit to the guy. it's way up there in the Anselm Adams/Edward Weston class, and confirms the rhino law that a great photograph is one part visual skill to 49 parts luck to 50 parts technique: it's all too painfully predictable what a hash a boatload of enthusiasts would have made of this image if they'd all been in the same boat at the same time. it's almost too dramatic - Romantic verging on kitsch - a Piranesi take on Gormenghast - perhaps only appealing to a minority now, of shameless romantics like me. I'm glad he's shifted away from the photojournalism - some of the criticism levelled at him for beautifying poverty was harsh, but, as a lot of it came from the impoverished themselves, perfectly justified.

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