Friday, February 19, 2010

Before Photoshop



There has been much written lately about the artificiality of photography of plants on tags and in certain catalogues. The deceitfulness is, of course, unforgivable, but I have to admit I get some pleasure from the over the top liberties that are taken with reality ( whatever that is). If only these little crafty works didn't claim to have a purpose and instead of posing as a form of identification, they could be accepted as examples of Folk Art.
This was happening way before Photoshop,in the 1943 book 'The Border in Colour' by T.C. Mansfield, the 80 plates in colour are a super-real and jump of the page in vivid shades in which nature could not have had a hand. The photograph of Inula royleana, for instance, turns this this quietly elegant flower into a vibrant Van Gogh Sunflower.In another plate Astilbe, usually a cool semi-shader has been transformed into a blazing candy-floss. In the example I show here Gentiana, Malvastrum and Potentilla are coloured by the hand of someone unhindered by the knowledge of colour theory.

6 comments:

Jim, The Gaudy Garden said...

Sadly, I am a moron with altering photos. So I don't even try. What you see, is what you get!

Edith Hope said...

Dear Barry, This is such an amusing yet measured account of one of the gardening industry's greatest failings, to describe accurately the goods which are on offer for sale. I have only now had the thought that perhaps, at least in the UK, they could be 'had' [I think that is the term in common parlance] under the Trades Description Act or perhaps some lesser known EU regulation.

As for the book with its luridly coloured plates, I should love it!

Barry Parker said...

Jim, I'm a techno=dunce myself and I suspect the craftsmen who create these delightfully lurid images are not much more accomplished.

Barry Parker said...

Dear Edith, I'm so glad you share my enthusiasm for the lack of restraint shown by these makers of images.

It makes one realize how far book design has come in the last few decades. Although to be fair in 1943 there were perhaps, few skilled printers and designers who had not been mobilized for the war effort. And materials too must have been in short supply. To be fair, I haven't actually read this book; it may be full of the most fascinating insight.

kate smudges said...

I love looking through old garden books to see these sort of photos. You've shown some good examples. The Salvia blooms in the previous post are lovely.

Barry Parker said...

Hi Kate,
Sorry to be so late in responding to your comment , but I've been out of town for a couple of weeks.
Glad you like the books and illustrations, While I was away I found a copy on "Shrubs and Trees" by the same author T.C. Mansfield. It's actually quite good and a surprisingly sophisticated choice of plants, I feel slightly guilty about not taking him so seriously in my earlier posting.