1. Reminder: Please use our affiliate links for holiday shopping!

Michael Kenna - Images of the Seventh Day

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by olli, May 6, 2011.

  1. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    olli
    I first came across Michael Kenna a few years ago when his name popped up while I was doing some web searches on Japan. Kenna is a British photographer now resident in the US who has spent much time in the last few years photographing in Japan.

    511u1ATUyxL._SL500_AA300_.

    Having admired his work online and in library books I was delighted to discover that a newly published retrospective of his work, Images of the Seventh Day, had just recently been published and for once the price was under $50:smile: It's now on its way and I will finally have my own selection of Kenna's work.

    I won't try to describe his stunning landscapes. Instead I will point you to Kenna's website where there are many images on display and in particular to a couple of short videos, Halflight and Hokkaido, that provide a great introduction to the photographer and his work.

    Images of the Seventh Day is available from <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FMichael-Kenna-Images-Seventh-Day%2Fdp%2F8857206882%2F&tag=seriocompa00-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325">Amazon.com</a>[​IMG]
     
    • Like Like x 2
  2. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus SC Top Veteran

    578
    Jul 6, 2010
    Thanks for the links.

    There are some interesting images, however personally I'm not a great fan of his work. Heavily manipulated black and white landscape has never appealed that much to me and all that heavy burning in of skies and clouds, makes much of our photoshop work seem tame!

    Many look to me like creations of the darkroom and/or the computer more than photographs. I also don't like how he photographs on dull days and then by darkening skies and clouds and selectively lightening tries to give the impression of interesting light, where none existed. I'm also not that excited by the "neutral density filter" look which unfortunately is becoming a bit of a cliche. The pages of some magazines here in the UK are now full of this stuff.

    Apart from certain shots, I also feel many lack an interesting composition and he just uses his technique to create something out of nothing. Are we looking at an interesting and unique visual experience or an artificial manipulation of a pretty ordinary scene? It strikes me that its the latter in the majority of cases and I don't feel anything when I look at his pictures, which are in many ways a fiction.

    This is of course a purely personal opinion and my response to his work and this style of landscape photography in particular. This is personal taste and I can see how many would enjoy it.


     
    • Like Like x 2
  3. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    olli
    I guess he's not on your Amazon wish list then:smile:
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus SC Top Veteran

    578
    Jul 6, 2010
    No I guess not!!

    I remember first seeing his stuff, and being quite impressed by it, but the more I looked and the more I learned about how he creates it, lead me to my view. In a way it makes landscape photography easy. Stick the camera on a tripod, point it at some water with something standing up in it, and then stick a 10x ND filter on the lens so the water and the sky "smooth out". Burn in a black sky and foreground, and hey presto!



     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    Whenever I see his work .... at first I'm drawn in ... but rather quickly, I feel as if something was missing. He plays with nostalgia, sentiments, etc to get the viewer sucked in but then the truth of the matter surfaces and it's like David stated....in so many words....There ain't nothing going on .... :popcorm2:
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    olli
    Guess I'm the sucker then:smile: Not cancelling my order though.
     
  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Wow. Tough crowd. I just looked through them and liked quite a few of them a lot. Some of them didn't have much going on to draw the eye in and the tricks looked like, well, tricks. But quite a few of them had pretty strikingly beautiful, if fairly simple, compositions and his processing techniques worked very well to enhance those compositions. Maybe I'll hate 'em after a few viewings, but I sure enjoyed the first look through.

    Thanks Olli!

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    Thank you, olli. My first very brief impressions are that I want to look at more - and in a larger form. Initial impression: beauty and simplicity.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. andrewh973

    andrewh973 SC Regular

    132
    Mar 13, 2011
    NYC metro are
    I quite enjoy looking at Kenna's work, in moderation. He's prolific; maybe too prolific. If you look at one or two images (original prints, in-person), they're rather striking. If you see hundreds (especially in print), the aura starts to fade.

    His images are typically smaller -- around 6 x 6 or 8 x 8 inches -- meant to be viewed up-close for an intimate experience, in contrast to the wall-size color photography fashionably being exhibited, today. He subscribes to a "zen" approach: simple landscapes/compositions, using an older, simple mechanical Hasselblad body and lens, developing his own Tri-X, and printing/toning his own photographs -- all done in a very disciplined, methodical manner. You have to admit, like it or not, he's a fine craftsman -- London School of Printing. Formalistically, the work I found most compelling was the older series of nuclear power plants.

    Other photographers employing a similar aesthetic to Kenna's are:

    Josef Hoflehner
    Josef Hoflehner Photographer

    Kent Mercurio
    Kent Mercurio | Photography
     
    • Like Like x 2
  10. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    Thank you, Andrew! I can see that this section is going to require some serious sit down time!
     
  11. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    On first viewing, I founds several that he shot in Xiapu, China, last year to be really beautiful. Very minimalist, zen-like compositions, very nicely processed, all creating a very specific quiet mood that I can't quite describe. But any photograph that draws that kind of a visceral reaction I have to consider a success. I'm taken with quite a few, but that smaller group I'm really enthralled by.

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    olli
  13. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    olli
    “I often think of my work as a visual haiku. It is an attempt to evoke and suggest through as few elements as possible rather than to describe with tremendous detail" says Kenna.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. bwp

    bwp New to SC

    1
    Jul 27, 2011
    Wow, what a tough audience. Clearly you didn't get his work - those of you who didn't like it. When I had a look at your own sites, I could see why. Most of you are what I would describe as average reportage shooters, and not photographers who are keen landscape admirers.

    They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery. Kenna was the first to do what he does. He has a very defined style, which has, been copied by so many. I list a few here:

    Josef Hoflehner
    Rolf Horne
    David Burdeny
    Colin Homes

    But the list goes on, and on, and on.

    I didn't get how you guys could be so critical.