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02-26-2010, 12:56 PM   #31
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QuoteOriginally posted by reeftool Quote
I don't consider PP to be cheating. Any alteration to exposure could be considered "cheating". Every time any of us goes out to shoot, we "cheat". Often, I have made a shot by just firing one off in AV and checked it on the LCD and promptly took another shot because it was either under or over exposed in part. Many times, that first shot is exactly what my eyes saw, a dark "underexposed" scene on a dreary day or an "overexposed", washed out scene that I couldn't even look at without very dark sunglasses. So we "cheat" and use polarizers, ND filters, change exposure, etc. to get a properly exposed photo. Using HDR, layers, and other PP tools is just another way to accomplish the task.
All too often, the shot I (pre)visualize is disappointing when captured -- yah, reality can be drab, washed-out, tedious. [They say reality has a liberal bias. Is that why libs are boring? Of course, reactionaries are worse. But I digress.] I want more dramatic angles and contrasts, glaring colors, erasure of irrelevant details. That's when I work my PP magic: distort shapes, textures, tones, till it matches my own warped vision. THEN I'm happy!

Or say I've shot in IR or Actinic (UV-Violet-Blue) light, with appropriate filters, or done some other spectrum-slicing. The recorded image, even if I've tweaked the white balance in RAW developing, is still unusable. It needs work. It needs PP, just another stage of development. That's not cheating, except to purist amateurs -- that's what it it takes to render the image usable.

This argument has gone on here before, and it will continue. Bother. I'm not a purist. I have been (long ago) a working photographer. There is no pure way to make pictures, unless one sets their own quaint rules. Picture-making requires manipulation at all stages: before, during, and after the exposure. You do what you MUST do to make a usable image. Whatever it takes, do it. There is no cheating in art.

[/RANT]

02-27-2010, 11:55 AM   #32
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We all can agree it is all a work of art no matter what you do. And that is the joy of photography. And that got me thinking. In the next photo contest I enter, if I make a large analog print and use oil paint to enhance the picture, I wonder if they would reject that? It's the analog version of what can be done by the digital contestants.
02-27-2010, 02:51 PM   #33
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
In the next photo contest I enter, if I make a large analog print and use oil paint to enhance the picture, I wonder if they would reject that? It's the analog version of what can be done by the digital contestants.
Ah, contests. Each has their rules, their theologies. [Religious reaction: It's YOUR book; they're YOUR rules; YOU go burn in hell!! But I digress.] Do they require that submitted images be untouched by human hands, like virgin transparencies? Do they have different categories, like Stock, Super-Stock, Top Fuel, Unlimited? If not, can the judges be bribed? Or of course, you can start your own contest -- be a modern (Photo-)Secessionist! Some suggested categories:

* Hand-retouched photo prints (subcategories: oil, pencil, crayon, marker)
* Photos printed on non-flat surfaces (cups or bodies yes; dry t-shirts no)
* Photos stitched from stills extracted from VGA-quality P&S-cam videos
* Photo-paper pics contact-printed from negatives sent to inkjet printers
* Pano-matrices of Polaroid-size prints taped to live, awake, moving animals
* Prints received by FAX machines (sub-categories based on machine cost)
* Animations in 16-color GIFs (subcategories: time-lapse, story, random)
* Photos so shooped as to bear no resemblance to source material
* Photo re-creations of pre-existing artworks (famous or not), xeroxed
* Prints that can only be seen in microscopes (bonus for electron mics)
* Photos that induce seizures, catatonia, or vomiting when viewed
-- (photos inducing homicide or suicide will be rejected)
* Photos that have been rejected by respectable contests
* Photos that have been accepted by tabloid publishers

I'm sure you can come up with other types of images worth judging, that are not bound by the obsolete chains of adequacy, reality, decency, or comprehensibility. "The present-day artist refuses to die!" --Edgar Varese(?)

OK, back to the point: EVERY digital photo is manipulated -- that's what happens when raw data from a sensor is rendered as an image. One may arbitrarily set limits on the extent of manipulation. Fine. Such limits / rules may suit the purposes of editors, publishers, judges, scientists. Fine. Many human endeavours (GAMES) are built upon arbitrary rules: religion, politics, sport, art, etc. Those wishing to participate in such fields (PLAY THE GAME) should abide by their rules. Dissidents can start their own GAMES (or all too often, they are purged, tormented, etc). Again, as a (formerly) working photographer, my rule is: DO WHATEVER IT TAKES. I guess that means I compete (if at all) in the UNLIMITED category, not Formula Vee. So be it.

Last edited by RioRico; 02-27-2010 at 03:15 PM.
02-27-2010, 03:44 PM   #34
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
We all can agree it is all a work of art no matter what you do. And that is the joy of photography. And that got me thinking. In the next photo contest I enter, if I make a large analog print and use oil paint to enhance the picture, I wonder if they would reject that? It's the analog version of what can be done by the digital contestants.
We have a couple of prints like that. The photos were on IR film, prints had very subtle painting. I like them and they're not even mine.

QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
... Again, as a (formerly) working photographer, my rule is: DO WHATEVER IT TAKES. I guess that means I compete (if at all) in the UNLIMITED category, not Formula Vee. So be it.
HERETIC!

Like one of the early posters said, one reason that I don't do much manipulation of my own photos is that I'm lazy. Also unskilled in my case.

02-27-2010, 09:40 PM   #35
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To me I think that any alterations to a photo that makes it no longer look like a real photo, such as HDR or anything that would make it look more like a painting or otherwise would be considered photomanipulation. Photomanipulation could be considered art by some, but by no means should it be categorized as under photography because I feel photography is just getting out of hand now days and it should stay as true to it's original form.

Photoshopping to add contrast/brightness, cropping, dodging/burning, etc. would be okay because the photograph still looks like a photograph and has not been heavily manipulated. Also I think that there are limits to photography before it becomes photomanipulation, not all photos that would look like a real photo would be categorized under photography; such as adding or removing elements that was not even there in the first place, adding reflections or fires or stars would be photomanipulation.

I just think that everybody is taking it too far and photography is no longer as pure and as challenging as it used to be, everybody now days can just pick up a camera and go on photoshop to make it look good. I see a bunch of 14 year olds with their D40's and so forth think they're pro because they could make HDR out of Photomatix. Let alone at all with the technology today, everybody can make something out of scratch from 3Ds Max or other 3d rendering softwares ending up with it looking almost like a real photo.

Which is why to keep the "art" of photography as pure as it is, it would require minimal alteration of the original photo and we should start setting rules and boundaries now because it's just getting out of hand. Photography is becoming mainstream and so are DSLR cameras and there are just so many things you can do with a photo out of a DSLR with all these programs.

How could one possibly look at these and call it a photograph? It looks nothing at all like a photograph. Photomanipulation should be placed in it's own category and be seen as far away as a category from photography.

02-28-2010, 01:08 AM   #36
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QuoteOriginally posted by LeDave Quote
How could one possibly look at these and call it a photograph? It looks nothing at all like a photograph. Photomanipulation should be placed in it's own category and be seen as far away as a category from photography.
[Shrug.] It's a form of posterization. Some stuff gets more posterized than others. I open a book of real live photos by Irving Penn, shot on high-contrast film (probably copy or litho film), and there's no gray at all, just stark black and white. "Nude No. 150" just suggests the body. The famous "Black and White Vogue Cover" (1950) of a hatted, scarved, sparsely-veiled woman. Were these shots shooped? Not necessarily. You can get that with high-contrast film and paper and lighting.

The world is full of such high-contrast images. I used to shoot such litho stuff a lot. It's easier with a digicam. I keep an old 1.1mpx Sony DSC-P20 PnS around specifically because it features a 'text' mode, supposedly for copying printed documents. This produces nearly grainless 2-color GIFs, same as if I were shooting Kodalith at ASA 10. It's great for stark images. I could get a similar effect by shooping, but the old P20 actually works better.

That's not to say that all such images are *good*. Lots of tasteless garbage out there, eh? Sturgeon's Law applies: 95% of everything is crap. You don't want that HDR pic on your bedroom wall, but it may be great on a CD cover, a billboard, whatever. Remember, photography means "writing/drawing with light". That's all. Whatever you do to capture an image using light (somewhere around the visible spectrum) is photography. Just because you don't like it, doesn't invalidate it.
02-28-2010, 04:14 AM   #37
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The concept of a "real photo" is garbage. What's real?

A 1/2000 shot of a hovering hummingbird in flight, pin-sharp. Is that real? Do you actually see that with your eyes? I sure as hell don't

A 4 seconds flowing water shot of a stream. Is that real? Do you actually see that with your eyes? I don't, I see a flowing stream

A glorious b&w Ansel Adams print. Do you actually see that with your eyes? I don't, I see colours

RioRico has it absolutely right. 95% of everything is crap, so with all this digital stuff, 95% is bloody horrible, of course it is. Especially some of the HDR stuff - GHASTLY. But in some cases it's spectacular. And it's nothing to do with being real or not, that's an distinction that doesn't exist.

I reckon all that really matters is whether it looks great or not. If it looks great, cool, kudos to whoever did it and however they achieved it. If it looks like shit, even if the image is the purest non-digital non-altered image in the world, it still looks like shit.

Photography isn't real.

Last edited by Nass; 02-28-2010 at 05:48 AM.
02-28-2010, 09:07 AM   #38
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nass Quote

RioRico has it absolutely right. 95% of everything is crap, so with all this digital stuff, 95% is bloody horrible, of course it is. ......
I really enjoy the comments made by RioRico and Nass because they are so obviously correct. 95% of all photographs are garbage (and I include my own in that).

How many times do you look at other peoples photographs and desire to own it (buy it)? Yes, you may like it ........ and then move on over to the next shot, but would you buy it and hang it on your wall? Probably not.

If photographic manipulation (and PS etc., etc) were to be banned (film and digital) then the 95% would approach 100% and kill the ART of "painting by the use of light" for ever.

Regarding HDR, I don't like it myself, but many people do - that's the whole point of "artistic freedom". Just take a look in any art gallery and see how many paintings that are admired by the experts are actually admired by you too?

You would probably reject 95%!

02-28-2010, 09:33 AM   #39
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nass Quote
Photography isn't real.
Human (and non-human) eyes do not see like cameras (electric or not). Organic brains (or nerve-clusters) do not compute like photo processors. Every image a lifeform perceives is a much-filtered version of visual reality. Nope, photography ain't real. (Reality is whatever bites your ass, but that's another subject.)

Consider color. Photography stumbled along for a century without a workable color process. Even color-blind (limited color vision) humans don't see the world in B&W, unlike some political-religious zealots. Yet we accept colorless (black, white, gray) images as faithful representations of reality, often even aesthetically superior to 24-million-color renditions. Yet those monochrome images are further spectrally filtered to render 'pleasing' or noticeable tones. What's real about that?

The current HDR debate is an echo of fights over chromaticism, well over a century ago. Y'see, photo emulsions only 'see' ACTINIC light (UV-violet-blue). Photo emulsions only react to other colors after dyes have been added. Those dyes were invented around 1880-1900. View some USA Civil-War-era photos. Stuff looks weird, especially foliage. Emulsions couldn't 'see' green, yellow, red. As added dyes enhanced spectral response, 'traditional' photographers (and often their audiences) objected -- these new photos didn't look right! Working fotogs especially hated the extension into red, with 'panchromatic' film, because they could no longer view the chemical development of negatives in red-lit darkrooms.

I love reading the history of photography. If we map and extrapolate trends, we can expect future developments to parallel the past: much more detailed focus, resolution, dimensionality, spectra, etc. The image file of the future: we can turn it around like a hologram, examining all sides. Zoom in and out infinitely. Select spectral slices at will: radio, visual, x-ray, etc. Change focus. Watch it move over time. And that image file will be created by some speck (or cloud of specks) of hardware. Some of these technologies are already here, just not yet at consumer levels. All these technologies (and more) will bitch-slap our expectations.

One last example: photos needn't be visual. (And I don't mean just scanning the pixels of an image file and playing them as musical tones.) I once played with the GUM BICHROMATE printing process. A thick layer of emulsion is exposed under a negative. In development, the unexposed portions of emulsion are washed away. Repeat this a number of times, especially with color-separations, and a 3D relief forms. Outlines in the image can be felt; eyes are unneeded. Photos for the blind! Amputees must use their tongues (and each layer could be embedded with specific flavors, so the 'photo' could be tasted). Is this real? Who cares, if it works.
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