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Garry Winogrand, street photographer Login/Join 
Peace through
superior firepower
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The name will mean nothing to most of you, but when I was coming up as a photographer in the late 1970s, Winogrand's photographs appeared all the time in publications such as American Photo, to which I subscribed.

Garry Winogrand photographs

Many of his street photos are taken off-kilter, not parallel to the horizon, which is a cardinal sin for a photographer, traditionally.

I thought perhap this was a conscious technique, as when cinematographers employ what's known as a "Dutch angle". But, years after his death at an early age in 1984, I saw this documentary on him, and then it all made sense. Winogrand used a Leica M4 and I guess that's a 28mm lens he is using.
Winogrand had the Goddamndest shooting technique I've ever seen. Most people didn't even know he was taking their picture. He made it look like he was merely checking his camera, glancing only briefly through the viewfinder. A most excellent example of this is shown beginning at the 4:50 mark in this clip. Between 4:50 and 5:12, he makes five exposures. He begins with his Leica cocked. Each time he trips the shutter release, he has to wind his camera. See if you can spot the winds.

His pics are tilted because he's shooting so damn fast, doesn't even have his eye to the viewfinder much of the time, and it trying to shoot without people realizing they are being photographed. Mad skills, baby.



I can watch that few seconds over and over. The masters at their craft make it look so easy. Even with wide-angle lenses, fast film and shooting at a larger apertures, it would be difficult to not end up with blurred photographs when using Winogrand's technique.

But, he had it down, due, if for no other reason, to the volume of shooting he did. From Wikipedia: "At the time of his death his late work remained largely unprocessed, with about 2,500 rolls of undeveloped film, 6,500 rolls of developed but not proofed exposures, and about 3,000 rolls only realized as far as contact sheets being made. In total he left nearly 300,000 unedited images."

Here's Winogrand's last M4. Scroll down to the bottom to see something remarkable- the image of 35mm film- sprocket holes included- etched into the pressure plate of this Leica. Smile

At the beginning of the clip, you see Winogrand with a camera bag on his right shoulder. That's a Domke F1 camera bag with two lens bags attached.

Jim Domke, now retired, was a staff photographer with the The Philadelphia Inquirer in the 1970s. I knew his work from American Photo. You may have seen some of his work. "MOVE", the militant black group- the ones the Philly PD firebombed the shit out of in '85- yeah, in the late 1970s, one of the MOVE members murdered a police officer and Domke managed to get pics of the police pulling this asshole around by his dreadlocks. Here's some of Domke's work on that story. You can imagine the tension of the scene. Ol' Delbert Africa is about to get hit in the face with a police riot helmet. Here's an uncropped version of the photo. Needless to say, the Philly PD was unaware of a press photographer at the time. That's one of the main reasons Domke's series on this raid made the pages of American Photo, and, man, I was chomping at the bit to get the chance at shooting stuff like that.

BTW, ol' Delbert got 42 years in prison, and died very shortly after being released.

Anyway, Jim Domke designed a couple of camera bags. Winogrand is wearing one. I own two myself, but they're the larger F2 bags. The first on I bought when I was still in high school in 1979- blue with tan trim. I liked it so much, I wrote Jim Domke a letter, praising is products (at that time, made in a small shop in Philadelphia). Domke was so pleased with a line in my letter ("It's the best soft bag I've ever used!") he offered to give me another F2 bag free of charge if he could use the line in his advertising. Of course I accepted. My second Domke- from 1981- is the same dark brown with tan trim as Winogrand's.

You ain't never seen such a good camera bag in your whole life, and my brown F2 sits about six feet from me as I type this. Having moved away from film twenty years ago, the bag now holds two Nikon DSLRs, Nikkor lenses and a strobe.

I've carried these bags all over the place and the brown one was my primary bag when I was a press photographer, used them as pillows and foot rests, used them at times as bags for going to the shooting range, you name it. I'll have to take a couple snaps of these two bags. American-made and incredibly durable. Canvas construction. The strap goes all the way around the bag. Bulletproof

Somewhere in my garage is a box that has not only an advertising card that has my quote and name in it, but also, some of the old Domke catalogs.

Long ago, Domke sold out to The Saunders Group and then Tiffen took them over. Anytime something like that happens, the quality goes down.

If you go on eBay, you can find "vintage" Domkes for sale, but thy all have blackened hardware- plastic or not, I don't know, but my two bags have unplated metal hardware. I guess mine are "vintage vintage". It doesn't matter. I wouldn't sell either of these bags at any price.

Here's some vintage advert literature and an ordering form (which predates the F1 bags, because on that form, it's referred to only as "The Domke Bag". That's Domke himself wearing his bag.



Herre's what my 1979 Domke Bag looks like, other than the color.

My two bags have four inner dividers. Just damn near perfect gear for their intended purpose.

Anyway, this has been a rambling trip down memory lane. Hope you enjoyed it.
 
Posts: 98512 | Registered: January 20, 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Peace through
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I found this. Very interesting. In this clip, you get a brief glimpse of the original manufacturing facility for Domke bags.
BTW, I notice in this vintage clip, Domke is shooting an Olympus OM-1 (or -2) which is what I was using when I got my first Domke bag. Once I moved into being a press photographer, my pair of OM-1s just didn't hold up, and I've been a Nikon man ever since.





Although it's shown only briefly in this clip, this guy has my 1981 F2, same color. He says "This bag is probably from the seventies." Well, he's close, but in 1981, Domke added two black velcro straps to the canvas shoulder strap. These were intended to hold a monopod. His bag shows the velcro straps.

 
Posts: 98512 | Registered: January 20, 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I used Lowe Pro camera bags. Until I found Domke. Mine have the blackened steel hardware.


End of Earth: 2 Miles
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Posts: 13833 | Location: Marquette MI | Registered: July 08, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I wonder if Winogrand ever talked about his off-kilter images. They may have been a product of his technique, but he still chose those images to publish. Did he pick those images for other reasons, and merely accepted that they were not parallel to the horizon? Or did he choose them, in part, because they were not square to the frame?

I tend to think it is the latter, as he certainly had a ton of talent, and could have taken his pictures any way he wanted to take them. He certainly chose images where the subjects were framed in very deliberate ways, so it is a little hard to think it was an accident that they were canted, or even an accident he simply accepted. But maybe he really didn't care that they were out whack. Perhaps that wasn't a factor to his eye.

I wonder if he ever said anything about it. We certainly looked at and studied his work when I was learning photography in the early '80s, but I don't recall any discussion of this.




The fish is mute, expressionless. The fish doesn't think because the fish knows everything.
 
Posts: 51596 | Location: Texas | Registered: February 10, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I wonder if he'd use Lightroom to straighten all his pics. It's one of my OCD issues. I even use my camera's built-in level when shooting but I'm usually still a little skewed.



And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
—John 8:32
 
Posts: 2406 | Registered: November 05, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Keystoner:
I wonder if he'd use Lightroom to straighten all his pics. It's one of my OCD issues. I even use my camera's built-in level when shooting but I'm usually still a little skewed.


Not when he took them - these date to the '70s or before, mostly.

He could have still printed them straight if he wanted to, but that would have required some cropping.

He can't use Lightroom now because he has been dead since 1984.

Clearly, the canted photos did not bother him, or at least not enough to not publish those photos.




The fish is mute, expressionless. The fish doesn't think because the fish knows everything.
 
Posts: 51596 | Location: Texas | Registered: February 10, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Dude, I was asking hypothetically if he were living today.



And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
—John 8:32
 
Posts: 2406 | Registered: November 05, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Keystoner:
Dude, I was asking hypothetically if he were living today.


Ahh, sorry. I was taking you too literally.

Well, he published them as is and could have cropped them. Also, he was no slouch as a photographer and even though he worked fast, I think he could have held the camera level if he wanted to, so I tend to think this was a deliberate choice. Or at least, to him, a happy accident.




The fish is mute, expressionless. The fish doesn't think because the fish knows everything.
 
Posts: 51596 | Location: Texas | Registered: February 10, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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