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06-21-2015, 02:45 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by ghostdog Quote
Here are a few examples of the type of images I enjoy. My intent is to capture what was there, as authentically as I can. I imagine they could be improved upon, and I'm sure anyone with post experience would be able to point out where they have shortcomings, but having said that, I'm happy with them.
One could argue that the first image is not a "true" representation of what was there, because the lens bokeh has blurred out features that would be sharp to the naked eye. Or that the wide-angle lens has distorted the dimensions of the actual objects as seen. Every capture introduces some amount of "falsehood" - even if it's composing a photo so that you only see the pretty flower and not the trash pile next to it. Unless you were there, you will never know what the original scene really looked like. (Nice pix, BTW.)

Even in the earliest days of photography, there were 'doctored' photos - I mean photos where the content was significantly altered, or elements added/subtracted in the darkroom. At the same time, much effort went into getting the best results possible with the available media, either "pre" (filters to improve color or contrast) or "post" (filters again, adjusting exposure, dodging and burning). Digital tools might make the process easier, but the motivations and 'ethics' of post processing haven't changed.

06-21-2015, 05:53 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
I think the thing is that you can't really view RAW files by themselves. It is just the raw data that the camera sensor sees. It needs to be converted then to some sort of file that is viewable. You can do that with a variety of programs or, you can do it in the camera, but wherever it is done, it is "post processing." As you say, you can choose to do so with a heavy hand, or you can do it with relatively neutral settings. In a sense it is all about choices. Some people do get pretty extreme with their processing, doing pretty strong HDR photos and things like that.
Thanks for the interesting example, and thanks for the compliment.

---------- Post added 06-21-15 at 06:02 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by THoog Quote
One could argue that the first image is not a "true" representation of what was there, because the lens bokeh has blurred out features that would be sharp to the naked eye. Or that the wide-angle lens has distorted the dimensions of the actual objects as seen. Every capture introduces some amount of "falsehood" - even if it's composing a photo so that you only see the pretty flower and not the trash pile next to it. Unless you were there, you will never know what the original scene really looked like. (Nice pix, BTW.)

Even in the earliest days of photography, there were 'doctored' photos - I mean photos where the content was significantly altered, or elements added/subtracted in the darkroom. At the same time, much effort went into getting the best results possible with the available media, either "pre" (filters to improve color or contrast) or "post" (filters again, adjusting exposure, dodging and burning). Digital tools might make the process easier, but the motivations and 'ethics' of post processing haven't changed.
True about the bokeh, with this caveat. Looking closely at a subject within a few inches, our brains tend to "blur" the background and to the sides. I think that's why bokeh has a certain appeal because it feels right, even though we don't actually see the background as being blurred, or at least not as blurred.
06-21-2015, 06:05 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
Post processing is not only about altering the look.
Using raw and when the scene dynamic range permits it, one often exposes more than needed and then adjusts. This results in significantly less noise (called expose to the right).
I'm guessing these images look a lot flatter than what you saw.

Here's your original image.


Here's the same image with the levels adjusted and the contrast bumped.


The thing is, what I've done here is functionally the same thing you'd do in a black and white film print, when you select your paper grade making a print from a negative. That was done for every print ever made. SO from raw you have to do a bit of PP just to get back to the basics of what was done on film.

In PP you can go on to adjust micrcontrast, (definition) contrast, saturation, sharpness, edge sharpnss, polarizing and many other effects, things that would be much more difficult or impossible to do with film, but you have to do a bit just to meet minimum standards.

Last edited by normhead; 06-21-2015 at 06:20 PM.
06-21-2015, 07:51 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
I'm guessing these images look a lot flatter than what you saw.

Here's your original image.


Here's the same image with the levels adjusted and the contrast bumped.


The thing is, what I've done here is functionally the same thing you'd do in a black and white film print, when you select your paper grade making a print from a negative. That was done for every print ever made. SO from raw you have to do a bit of PP just to get back to the basics of what was done on film.

In PP you can go on to adjust micrcontrast, (definition) contrast, saturation, sharpness, edge sharpnss, polarizing and many other effects, things that would be much more difficult or impossible to do with film, but you have to do a bit just to meet minimum standards.
Yes, they are flatter than the three dimensions I saw them in, but just as flat as they appeared on the screen when I composed the shot.

When I composed this picture I took my time, looked at the subject, looked at the screen, adjusted setting in manual mode, looked at the preview, made more adjustments, looked at the screen, and when the subject looked as close as I could get it on the screen I took the picture. One shot, based on what was in front of me. It looks like what was there. In your example of PP the subject doesn't look like what was there, but I absolutely understand the advantages of PP as you clearly demonstrated, if I was looking to produce an image that lives up to a desired photographic standard, which I'm not. I'm trying to capture what was there, in that moment, as I saw it. I don't know how I could ever do that after the fact in PP.

06-21-2015, 08:33 PM - 1 Like   #20
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ghostdog, the great thing about photography, and every form of 'art', is that all comes back to individual choices, preferences and a whole lot of other things! I personally don't like Shakespeare: does that make him a bad writer? Lots of people love Shakespeare: does that make them wrong? And don't get me started on abstract art!! PP can be used to bring an image back from one looking a bit flat to one that is more like what you remember the scene to be (or even to how you would have liked it to be!) It can be also used to make the image quite surreal. It is a personal choice, and only you know what you want it to look like.
06-21-2015, 08:58 PM - 1 Like   #21
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In simple terms, from my perspective, there is no meaningful concept to a statement of something like "i like my photos to be natural, you know, straight from the camera".

Every aspect of the technology that has gone into a photo has been the accumulation of many technical decisions, whether that is film chemistry or software algorthims by some entity. Today, to some extent, more options are now readily available to the photographer.....thats all.

In my view, if one is well informed, the choice is yours. If not well informed, then like most things in life, one can still be happy with ones lot.....bliss even.....maybe even think its better......part of the human condition....again!
06-21-2015, 10:21 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by rod_grant Quote
ghostdog, the great thing about photography, and every form of 'art', is that all comes back to individual choices, preferences and a whole lot of other things! I personally don't like Shakespeare: does that make him a bad writer? Lots of people love Shakespeare: does that make them wrong? And don't get me started on abstract art!! PP can be used to bring an image back from one looking a bit flat to one that is more like what you remember the scene to be (or even to how you would have liked it to be!) It can be also used to make the image quite surreal. It is a personal choice, and only you know what you want it to look like.
When I look at a picture of a beautiful landscape, any example of natural beauty or detail of the natural world, I always think that I'd like to see whatever it is in person, and that the photographer wanted to show me what they found that was worth making a record of. When I have to stop and wonder if what I'm looking at is a photographic record of something real or a PP interpretation, it's kind of frustrating. I can't tell what was done and how much was done, so I don't know what I'm looking at and if it actually exists as presented.

I think PP as software is amazing, and I completely agree with all of the comments regarding the fact that photographic images have regularly been altered as a way of improving or enriching an image. I just wish I could tell which images are as close as possible to being fully representational and which are not. That's why I set up a shot the way I do. I want to present what I saw as well as I can. That's my reason for taking pictures; to lure others into noticing what's around them.
06-21-2015, 10:53 PM - 1 Like   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by ghostdog Quote
I want to present what I saw as well as I can.
I can't argue with that philosophy - that's that way I like to present images also.
I always sharpen a little, and I almost always add a little contrast/clarity.
This photo also needed 1 stop increase in exposure, because it was a gloomy day and the camera tended to under expose a bit in the conditions.
The colour of the rock walls, sand and water are as I remember them. Without the adjustments made the rock would have been pretty featureless.




06-21-2015, 11:17 PM - 1 Like   #24
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i won't pile on since this premise gets a little overplayed from time to time, but, there are many ways to use a camera, sometimes to a journalistic end, sometimes artistic, and often a blend of both. Just because you are shifting from film to digital photography does not mean you now must embrace processing, as your camera can produce some processed jpgs based on settings you select in camera. Of course, if you wish to go beyond the most basic camera settings, learning some standard adjustments will certainly give you more control over your finished image.
Personally, I believe the processing is just as important as the shutter click when producing a serious image (ok, not a snapshot).

There are also challenges of exposure where you cannot "get it right" in camera and are left with a white sky or black silhouetted subject, which frankly looks nothing like you saw it with your eyes, so some application of hardware or software can certainly help to get a better final result.

good luck and have fun exploring the possibilities!
06-22-2015, 12:07 AM - 1 Like   #25
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It is an easy question to answer. I shoot only RAW and the picture-data that come out of the camera is what the machine COULD record varying according to its capabilities and the settings used. This is the machine's reality.

Every time I try to make the image depicting what my eyes saw, so according to my reality. This is all! If I'm satisfied then it is a picture I like! I don't believe that I should follow strict rules, after all I take pictures for my pleasure. if I did that for a customer then I would have to consider his/her opinion and specifications, but I'm glad I'm just an amateur!
06-22-2015, 02:46 AM   #26
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Optical illusions work because our brains interpret the information sent to it by the eyes so what we see is an internal interpretation that has been PP'd by our brains
06-22-2015, 03:22 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by ghostdog Quote
When I look at a picture of a beautiful landscape, any example of natural beauty or detail of the natural world, I always think that I'd like to see whatever it is in person, and that the photographer wanted to show me what they found that was worth making a record of. When I have to stop and wonder if what I'm looking at is a photographic record of something real or a PP interpretation, it's kind of frustrating. I can't tell what was done and how much was done, so I don't know what I'm looking at and if it actually exists as presented.

I think PP as software is amazing, and I completely agree with all of the comments regarding the fact that photographic images have regularly been altered as a way of improving or enriching an image. I just wish I could tell which images are as close as possible to being fully representational and which are not. That's why I set up a shot the way I do. I want to present what I saw as well as I can. That's my reason for taking pictures; to lure others into noticing what's around them.
I think the hard part for me with these discussions is that when you set up your camera to take jpegs and only use "straight out of the camera jpegs," you are still making choices. Do you use portrait, reversal film, vibrant or muted setting? Or one of the other settings I can't think of right now? Do you bump your sharpness up on the jpeg engine? Do you use the shadow correction feature? Whatever choices you use, you can do the same things in post processing.

It is really hard for me to know what is the way the scene "really looked." When I stand in front of a scene with large dynamic range, my pupil constricts and dilates and I end up seeing the whole thing. The sky never looks white or gray to me, but it sure can turn that way quickly in a landscape photo. Of course, you can use a graduated neutral density filter to flatten the image some, but if you are going to do that, what is the difference with applying one digitally after the fact? Is Black and White a reasonable choice, since most humans never see a scene in monochrome?

I do think that a lot of folks on Flickr are shooting more for a graphic art look -- using a photograph as a place of jumping off into their own vision. It isn't my preference, but I don't say their wrong either. As long as you understand that photography is about choices and you are choosing in accordance with your own vision, then that is what matters.
06-22-2015, 05:31 AM   #28
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Well, the thing about trying to capture "reality" is that the camera can't always do that in the conditions, in other words people have this idea that minimal processing or "get it right out of the camera" will necessarily be more accurate somehow. But often the conditions might dictate that it is very difficult or impossible to do that, but you can shoot it in such a way that you know that'll you can "fix it in post" just to make it look normal. So that supposed correlation of "more work put in pp" = "less reality" is weak.
And not to mention (again), just the basic elements of lighting, color, perspective, lens distortion, lens blur/bokeh, and simple choices about contrast -- photographs don't look like the world, not really. Your brain is able to make the connection, but much of the ability to "read" a photograph and what we feel is "realistic" is more learned cultural habituation than you might imagine.

And simply the act of choosing the composition/framing is altering reality -- you're picking out something to look at, excluding things and including them. In the pictures above of flowers and leaves, what if there was a cigarette butt sitting just out of frame? Do you somehow have an obligation to show that? If through luck and clever framing, you manage to take a beautiful "nature" shot at the city dump that most would assume was in a forest somewhere, are you lying if you don't say so? And so it goes with actually altering things. If I take a great picture of a meadow with flowers, but there is a stray piece of trash off in the distance on the green field, am I wrong to use the clone stamp tool to remove it? Etc etc. Your own philosophy will tell you how far is too far depending on the context and what the image is to be used for.
06-22-2015, 06:43 AM - 2 Likes   #29
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QuoteQuote:
In your example of PP the subject doesn't look like what was there,
And you think yours does?. There is quite a bit here you don't understand. Your image uses only the bottom 2/3s of the spectrum available to the camera. The image is essentially under-exposed, and I'm pretty sure you lost some detail in the dark areas, which fortunately are pretty small. It doesn't matter whether you think that is what you saw. The reason we adjust the image to use the full range of the levels window, is because that's what our eye does. So unless your eye is damaged, and your iris isn't opening and closing, that isn't the way you saw it. I've had this discussion with many students, and I had as one of my first exercises a project where I could demonstrate exactly what I'm talking about. I had a graduated scale with 12 graduations from white to black attached to the bottom of the picture. By having the students try and match the image, I could use the graduated scale to help them understand that when they didn't max out their detail in the scale it also affected how the picture looked. It was just easier to see it on the scale that to talk about parts of the picture.

The contrast range in nature can be as high as 20,000:1. On a film print the highest you could achieve was 120 to one. Think about that for a second There is nothing you can do to match it in print or on your monitor. Every image is a representation of what is out there, not an exact copy. So, no, I can say 100% for certain. Your image is not what you saw. It is a representation of what you saw, with less contrast etc. The camera quite simply doesn't have the ability to capture what you saw. And the sooner you get that out of your head, and realize that what you are portraying is a personally selected subset of what was there, and that there is absolutely nothing you can do to create the dynamics of reality, then you can start working on getting the best representation of what you saw according to your vision. And your vision is clouded by your interest and the way your brain works. So often if there is a person in our frame, we will want it to have special place in the picture, because that's what happens when our brain processes the information. IT focuses on what it's been conditioned by years of evolution.

So what I would argue we are trying to capture is not what's there, that would make for really boring pictures, what we try to capture is what we ourselves saw through our brain's filter, which decides what we see in an image before we even get a chance to tell it different.

But you can train your brain to see reality different. Hunters will see animal signs you and I won't even see, because they have trained their brains to look for them.

So, this is way more complicated than claiming you're trying to make the image as close as possible to what you saw. You aren't talking about what you saw, you're talking about what you remember. You don't see the way a camera sees. Your eye's dynamic range is about 7 EV, but your eye adjusts to light quickly enough you can look at different parts of a scene in isolation fast enough that the impression of your retina is actually way more than that. the camera can capture 13 EV, but it's static not dynamic, so even the way you see can not be duplicated on an image . No one has any record of what you saw, not even you, so it's an impossible standard to work to.

A more appropriate response is to create an image that has the same emotional impact as what you saw... and that has little to do with what was originally there. So, unless you took the picture of that leaf on a grey overcast day that was depressing the heck out of you because there was way too much blue light and it was so dark that your iris was wide open and couldn't get enough like to see properly, that isn't what you saw. Your eye has it's own white balance system that corrected for the blue light thing. It has an exposure meter that adjusts the iris,( it's aperture, ) to get a balanced exposure, and it has the ability to open and close that aperture as it looks at brighter or darker parts of a scene, an ability your camera doesn't even have. So no, that image is not what you saw, not even close. And memory is a funny thing. You don't even know what you saw. You certainly didn't see the narrow DoF interpretation you captured. Your eye doesn't see like that, your camera does.

Your job should you choose to accept it is to take the image the camera records and create the most compelling image you can from it. It may be something that's close to what you saw or it may be an image that conveys what you felt, with certain parts of the image held back and certain parts accentuated for emotional impact. But, don't confuse any of it with some kind of reality. Human reality is way too dynamically fluid to capture on a piece of paper, or a computer screen.

Forget what you think you saw, the camera didn't capture it, and the feelings etc. you had at the time you captured the scene are gone. Work with what you captured.

Last edited by normhead; 06-22-2015 at 08:59 AM.
06-22-2015, 07:02 AM   #30
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So many perspectives and opinions. I had no idea there would be so many responses. I never meant to stir the pot, so to speak.

I guess we each find our own photographic rhythm, or niche. Mine is to capture intimate portraits of the natural world, taken almost exclusively in low light, flat light and shadow. The GR has proven to be the perfect camera for me, for my intent, and I can capture what I see with ease with the little gem.

Whatever any of us intend with our photographs, I suppose the most important thing is that we are satisfied.
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