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01-24-2019, 01:36 PM   #61
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QuoteOriginally posted by ThorSanchez Quote
Are we better off because Ansel dodged and burned the heck out of everything and gave us awesome photos to look at? I don't see how the answer can be anything but an enthusiastic yes. If that's not your thing, that's fine. There's a billion photos in the world, you can probably find some that you like.
Not sure where you got the impression that I thought there was anything wrong with his processing - or that the result isn't desirable. My reference was meant to support the view that rather heavy processing can be just the thing, and that even the venerable Ansel did it.

01-24-2019, 01:50 PM   #62
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This is how your eyes work. If you have a blue light source, your eye will adjust somewhat to white balance the image. If you can narrow your field of view so it's all blue light in the frame, then they may also adjust. But if you have yellow, or red light sources like a sunset, you will see the blue as blue. In this photo, part of my argument was i could bring out the blue to suggest the way I saw it. IN the jpeg , the blue channel seems to have been stripped. So saturating the colour didn't bring out the blue. In my preferred version saturation doesn't change the colour, but it does accentuate what's there. A point I was about to make when the whole forum decided they didn't like the blue and wanted the whole photo white balanced, probably with a nice white balance on the sky and a separate white balance on the blue areas. To me that would be a complete abomination. But I guess one man's abomination is another's reality.

I do find it amusing that people would find a spot balanced photo to be a more accurate version of reality than a saturated version that just emphasizes the colours that are actually there.

People are really funny.

Last edited by normhead; 01-24-2019 at 02:00 PM.
01-24-2019, 02:23 PM - 1 Like   #63
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Sorry, savoche, I didn't quite phrase that right. I meant to agree with you, posing the rhetorical question to no one in particular. As well as the last bit. "You" meant for the hypothetical person who'd rather see reality than Ansel's dodging.
01-24-2019, 04:15 PM   #64
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Interesting discussion,

I think the quality of art is subjective and so are the qualities of those who end up being the critics too. The value of art (from a social aspect rather than financial) is really determined at a broad level. If a so called expert declares some work a masterpiece, does it make it so? Maybe for that person, but I think the overall acceptance of art is determined more by a larger audience that appreciates it, and then there is perhaps a level of how much they like it. Art is so emotional, that I just don't think it is easy to classify. A so called expert may be able to quantify their feelings, but it doesn't make someone who just likes something any less valuable nor the art.

Impressionist artists at the height of that era were dismissed and critiqued for the lack of realism in their work and their style by the so called experts. Yet, their paintings reached a mass audience that liked it (although it didn't really help them financially), but now we're over a century later and these are considered some of the masterpieces of paintings ever.

01-24-2019, 07:12 PM - 3 Likes   #65
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I trained in fine art photography, and during my studies I had to take part in group critiques over a number of years. Basically as best i can tell, it is entirely subjective whether or not you think a particular image is good. No matter who you are, somebody will agree wholeheartedly and someone will disagree vehemently. My personal test for whether I feel a piece of art, or an image is good is not so much if I like it or not, but rather how much time I'm willing to give to it. Most images I see rate a grunt and a maybe a shrug if I'm feeling energetic, but every so often I'll find myself staring at an image for a long time, or I'll keep being drawn back to an image over a period of time. Those are the images I subjectively feel are good.

In my art practice (as opposed to any commercial or production photography I might do) I'm one of the people who wants to make a photograph in the post production sense of the term, I take a lot of images, and frankly I usually feel that they're %95 crap because I experiment a lot and I am quite happy to take 19 crappy experimental shots to get one interesting experimental shot. I then look at those images to see what i can make from them, so if I see something which piques my interest, I'll rework a photograph to match the vision I have of what the image could be. I usually prefer black and white film photography for this, and most of my darkroom prints are pretty heavily manipulated, but this is how I make images. It's a very different thing from 'capturing reality' and it comes from quite a different place. Incidentally the person who taught me darkroom printing was herself taught by Ansel Adams.

Having said that I don't have a preference for looking at 'my style' of photography, I just want to see images that grab and hold my interest, sometimes these images which grab me are wildly different from what I might take, or they are technically 'bad' photographs - I don't really care about things like that when an image grabs my interest.
01-25-2019, 05:39 AM   #66
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QuoteOriginally posted by savoche Quote
Not sure where you got the impression that I thought there was anything wrong with his processing - or that the result isn't desirable. My reference was meant to support the view that rather heavy processing can be just the thing, and that even the venerable Ansel did it.
And I agree with that completely. I think some folks didn't notice that the title of the thread was "TOO MUCH postprocessing", not "whether or not to do postprocessing" or "whether postprocessing is good or bad". And how much is "too much" is obviously a question to be answered by each person as he processes a particular image, according to his own tastes. NormHead used the word, "garish" in one of the posts above, and I think that's really what I was getting at in terms of my own likes and dislikes. Too much can be garish. Adams had a sense of "just right". His pictures aren't garish. It doesn't make a spit's worth of difference how much or how little enlarger-based postprocessing he did, when you look at his pictures, you see the subject of the photograph; the technique used to obtain that image isn't important or central. When whizz-bang software techniques become the central item of focus for the viewer, one has to wonder what the point of the picture was. At least I do.
01-25-2019, 07:04 AM - 1 Like   #67
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QuoteOriginally posted by dlh Quote
Adams had a sense of "just right". His pictures aren't garish. It doesn't make a spit's worth of difference how much or how little enlarger-based postprocessing he did, when you look at his pictures, you see the subject of the photograph
I'm being a little pedantic, here, but what you see is his vision of the subject... what he saw in his mind when he took the photo; not necessarily what his eye or the lens saw.

QuoteOriginally posted by dlh Quote
When whizz-bang software techniques become the central item of focus for the viewer, one has to wonder what the point of the picture was. At least I do.
I agree to some extent. I don't like garish images, but my definition and your definition of garish might vary considerably. But I see some impressive images that have been very heavily processed. I don't think, "hey, that landscape looks nothing like that in reality"... I think "that looks nice" or "that doesn't look nice"
01-25-2019, 07:20 AM - 1 Like   #68
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QuoteOriginally posted by dlh Quote
When whizz-bang software techniques become the central item of focus for the viewer, one has to wonder what the point of the picture was. At least I do.
For most people, I think going overboard in PP is part of the learning process. I guess most of us have at some point or another pushed the silder a bit too far or use some kind of filter if only because, well, we can...

When I look back at some of my pictures from a few years ago, I think I may have pushed too far on PP for some of them. I would definitely process them differently today althoug I thought they were just fine at the time. On the other hand, some would also benifit from more processing using techniques I didn't knew at the time. So I guess our taste changes with time and our progress in photography...

Also, the more advanced we are, the more we're able to spot and notice PP effects. So, what may look like a obvious PP effect to some could look perfectly fine to someone else.

01-25-2019, 11:22 AM   #69
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There was post processing in the film days. And not just black and white, almost no color images at a custom photo lab where just "exposed and printed". The method changes but not the altering of the image. My wife was a custom printer for 20 years, and we had a color darkroom at home for 10 years where we printed our own and for some portrait photographers. If the photographer likes how their image turns out, it's ok with me
01-25-2019, 01:29 PM   #70
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QuoteOriginally posted by dlh Quote
Adams had a sense of "just right". His pictures aren't garish. It doesn't make a spit's worth of difference how much or how little enlarger-based postprocessing he did, when you look at his pictures, you see the subject of the photograph; the technique used to obtain that image isn't important or central. When whizz-bang software techniques become the central item of focus for the viewer, one has to wonder what the point of the picture was. At least I do.


That's two different versions of Moonrise Over Hernandez. The one we always see on the right is significantly altered from the straight-up development. The photo was taken at 4:05 PM, and it looks like it's night after all the dodging and burning. Do you wonder why Ansel felt the need to use so many whizz-bang techniques to come up with his final product? Is this too garish, too far from reality?
01-25-2019, 01:39 PM   #71
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QuoteOriginally posted by ThorSanchez Quote

That's two different versions of Moonrise Over Hernandez. The one we always see on the right is significantly altered from the straight-up development. The photo was taken at 4:05 PM, and it looks like it's night after all the dodging and burning. Do you wonder why Ansel felt the need to use so many whizz-bang techniques to come up with his final product? Is this too garish, too far from reality?
This is more of an ETTR type thing. He needed details and wanted drama. It was easier to darken the shadows and keep the details.
01-25-2019, 03:20 PM   #72
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
This is more of an ETTR type thing. He needed details and wanted drama. It was easier to darken the shadows and keep the details.
I don't disagree. But there is a school of thought that if you want details and drama you should find better light or a different shot, not process the heck out of what's available. And Ansel didn't just darken shadows - in this case he took the late afternoon sky and turned it into night. Not too different from the effect in Monolith, The Face of Half Dome, where he used a red filter and probably some development techniques to take a blue sky and turn it a menacing black for effect.

I think both pictures look pretty striking, but would be much less memorable if they more accurately represented reality.
01-25-2019, 03:28 PM   #73
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
This is more of an ETTR type thing. He needed details and wanted drama. It was easier to darken the shadows and keep the details.
I agree... and yet... That sky looks like it received an awful lot of burning compared to the buildings and vegetations, if you compare the grey levels in the before and after shots. It looks pretty creative to me, i.e. beyond minor dogding / burning...
01-25-2019, 04:04 PM   #74
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If you watch the video it shows his printing notes, while I can't read his shorthand, it does look like there is over a dozen separate steps in his process for printing that image, and I'm pretty sure that some of the gravestones and buildings got individual treatments, I'm also fairly sure that some of that is development notes. It's well beyond just dodging and burning.
01-28-2019, 10:50 PM - 1 Like   #75
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Having had the opportunity to stand in front of a 8x10 print of "Moon over Hernandez", signed by Ansel. I can attest to the utter beauty of the image. (2005 Santa Fe, NM $10,000 unframed, although the image was framed). During the workshop, we drove by the "spot" and the bus pulled over ignoring the sign put up by the NM Highway Patrol asking not too.

The thing to remember that with analogue images, each one is unique. Even with the best care and application of technique, each image will be slightly different than all the others. Ansel was consistent in his application of his technique. However, if you see a print from the period just after the exposure was made and a print he made towards the end of his life - the differences are remarkable and not all that subtle.

As for over processing images, I call them "over cooked". Usually it means that the photographer is heavy handed on:
Smoothing skin - looks like a Barbie Doll.
Most HDR images - lots of halos and obvious rings of lightness.
Saturation turned up to 11 - makes your eyes bleed.
Sharpness over done - halos everywhere.
Too much noise reduction - all detail is lost.
Color balance - White things are yellow or orange.
The darn thing is out of focus - simple eh?
etc. etc. etc.
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