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Compositionally Contradictory06/04/2012 - 7:38 PM
Twelve months ago, my wife, who is by her own admission, even less artistic than myself, brought home an enormous framed picture that she had spotted in our local Homebase store. Apparently, she had picked it up cheap. Now when a wife says that to you, you know instinctively that you really do need to check up on the whereabouts of your credit cards, as a matter of some urgency. Having done so, it transpired that she had bought it out of her own purse, because it was such a once-in-a-lifetime-bargain-that-she-could-not-miss.
By now the alarm bells were clanging in the same fashion as they do at the local fire station on call-out.
She unwrapped her purchase and it immediately became clear why she had picked it up cheap.
Given that, at the time, I felt that it was a similar size to high street advertising hoarding and the picture was, to my mind, bland and uninteresting, I was more inclined to store it in my workshop, on sawstools, to stack my polishes, tins of woodstain and waxes upon.
Upon closer inspection, the picture itself was wrinkled.
Not quite as wrinkled as I am, but nevertheless, definitely wrinkled.
I think the sales guy in Homebase saw my dear wife walking up the aisle toward him, and thought ........ Ahaaaaa
my wife, being about as practically inclined as she is artistically motivated, it befell my lot to hang the picture on the dining room wall. I said in a conciliatory tone that maybe the wrinkles would disappear whilst the picture was hanging in our warm dining room, assuming the wrinkles to be the result of a slightly damp warehouse environment.
Today I took the picture off the wall; because I'm heartily sick of looking at a still wrinkled advertising hoarding
And because I now do some picture framing, I thought, 'I'll take it out of the frame - lie it flat on my mountboard bench for a while and the wrinkles (which I now know in the picture framing trade are called cockles) will flatten themselves out quite nicely. I found out in the process why the image had wr .. er sorry, cockled. Because instead of being cut to fit into the rebate of the frame with a small gap all round to allow for expansion/contraction, it was too large and had been forced into the rebate and the backing board tabbed on top of it. Definitely not FATG conservation standard framing practice.
Incidentally, my wife has been working in the dining room, on her laptop, all afternoon - facing the frame and has not yet realised that the picture is missing. Or at least she hasn't been rushing round the house, shrieking like a banshee that we have been burgled and her prized print has been stolen. Perhaps she has spotted it's missing and prefers the MDF backing board. I certainly do.
I mentioned on a framers forum that I have become a member of, what I had done and was immediately advised by many experienced framers that the cockles would not disappear, no matter how long I leave the print on a flat surface.
So the options are :-
1. to dry-mount it. Or
2. to reduce it to it's image size (thereby disposing of the worst of the cockling) and window mount it, followed by re-framing it, as the original frame will no longer accommodate the thicker package.
Which is what I will most likely do.
And I will do it for my wife's birthday present in May.
At which point she will tearfully inform me that she only bought the print because she liked the frame
But - having removed the print from the frame and looked at it closely, I find it a much more interesting image than I had first imagined it to be. There is a lot more detail in it, which is not immediately obvious upon casual inspection. It is true to say that my tendency prior to removing it from the wall was to pass it by as quickly as possible, with only minimal eye contact.
You see, this print, from a photograph of 2006 vintage not only doesn't comply with any of the given rules of composition. It defiantly contradicts every one of the rules. The only thing it has going for it is that where the water meets the bank it is approximately horizontal - right across the centre-line of the image.
Ansell Adams (and one or two others of a photographic bent) must be turning over.
And yet I find, having researched it upon the net, that this print has sold millions of copies worldwide and made it's originator, Mel Allen, a vast amount of money in royalties.
Yes, it's his 'Ullswater' print.
Perhaps we should invite him to join the Critique Team