Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Is it art or is it reality?


  • Please log in to reply
91 replies to this topic

#1 John Bantin

John Bantin

    Sperm Whale

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1857 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Teddington/Twickenham UK
  • Interests:former Technical Editor of
    Diver Magazine (UK) and www.divernet.com
    occasional contributor
    SportDiver (Aus)
    Undercurrent
    Author of Amazing Diving Stories (Wiley Nautical)

Posted 07 September 2006 - 03:37 AM

I used to be an advertising photographer in the last Century. We would work for days on one subject to make what was in front of the camera perfect and then I would press the tit and record the moment. That was what I was paid for. Retouching was expensive and reserved for no-hope cases - a last resort.

Then I retired to go diving and take snaps of what I saw. They were simply shot-from-the-hip as a record of an event. I had little input into how the event panned out.

Then we went digital. We learned about Photoshop and started to retouch away all those annoying grolleys that were in the water. Then mooring lines and divers inconveniently placed magically disappeared. With the skills so practised, I am now able to go back to the 500,000 snaps (no exaggeration) I have in filing cabinets and resurrect any that I care to. Shots that were rejected can now be altered and made as perfect as the new ones I gather digitally. Some people even rearrange the fishes to neaten up a school! Or line up mantas in a neat row! (I hasten to add that this is no reflection on the SUPERB photography skills of any member of this forum who lives in Yap and hails from BC!)

Art directors like this. I have just supplied 420 plus pictures for a book all retouched in this way. They look very clean when the originals might have not been so immaculate.

However, this does mean that all my pictures are getting stylized (just like everyone else's). I fear that they no longer represent the truth. I am not talking about exhibition or competition pictures. I am talking about the pictures that go into Diving magazines. Are they misleading in their new-found perfection?

What do you think? Is this new digital art misrepresenting reality? The camera never used to lie!

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#2 MikeVeitch

MikeVeitch

    1.7kbps Manta Boy

  • Senior Moderator
  • 6181 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:In Bali, Indonesia but from Vancouver, BC
  • Interests:Teaching Underwater Photography

Posted 07 September 2006 - 03:41 AM

mantas lined up in a row he says... :rolleyes:

ah... if you weren't a pommie i would be offended... :unsure:

Join us for an Underwater Photography Workshop in Ambon March 2015
Blog and Photo Archive/Portfolio Site www.mikeveitchblog.com
Learn underwater photography in Indonesia or Join me on a trip www.underwatertribe.com


#3 John Bantin

John Bantin

    Sperm Whale

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1857 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Teddington/Twickenham UK
  • Interests:former Technical Editor of
    Diver Magazine (UK) and www.divernet.com
    occasional contributor
    SportDiver (Aus)
    Undercurrent
    Author of Amazing Diving Stories (Wiley Nautical)

Posted 07 September 2006 - 03:55 AM

mantas lined up in a row he says... :unsure:

ah... if you weren't a pommie i would be offended... :D


The great thing about you Mike is that you are too thick-skinned to EVER be offended! ...and there are mantas elsewhere you know...but if the (Dutch) cap fits...
:rolleyes:

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#4 MikeVeitch

MikeVeitch

    1.7kbps Manta Boy

  • Senior Moderator
  • 6181 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:In Bali, Indonesia but from Vancouver, BC
  • Interests:Teaching Underwater Photography

Posted 07 September 2006 - 04:23 AM

thick skinned or just thick?

Join us for an Underwater Photography Workshop in Ambon March 2015
Blog and Photo Archive/Portfolio Site www.mikeveitchblog.com
Learn underwater photography in Indonesia or Join me on a trip www.underwatertribe.com


#5 Giles

Giles

    International Supermodel

  • Moderator
  • 2618 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Cayman Islands
  • Interests:water and sun my friend, thats what turns me on.

Posted 07 September 2006 - 04:29 AM

I knew those Mantas looked suspicious ... each one had a freckle in the same place, but i just figured it was a geneology thing as they were all swimming together they might be related.

I think BC boy is jealous of us Brits too .. he's always having a go !


On subject ... I think that film photographers created false realities way before photoshop became a wide used editing tool.
In the Underwater world .. I saw it with David Doubilets photos of the GBR, the photos looked like fanatsy realm images, and whilst were good (cough) to me they didn't portray the real GBR. The Pirelli Calendars did the same thing with naked calendars .. they just set them up before hand. There's loads more examples as well.

But my point is .. as you said .. you would set it up for a film shot .. well they used to do that underwater .. and many still do, it's just about patience and waiting for the shot rather than setting it up.
So summary ... I think that reality is the same as it has always been .. it depends on the photographers approach.
me on the web >> journal / flickr / portfolio
i use >> my camera, eye & stunning good looks

#6 Alex_Mustard

Alex_Mustard

    The Doctor

  • Super Mod
  • 8376 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Peterborough

Posted 07 September 2006 - 04:35 AM

"Digital photography allows us not just to capture memories but to create them" -James Wayner

I always think that this is an interesting discussion topic, good job for bringing it up.

To take a slightly different line - I think there is a misconception that a lot of inexperienced digital photographers have is that all good underwater images must be photoshopped. Seemingly oblivious to the fact that talented photographers were producing perfectly exposed, precisely composed slides for many years. (It is actually one of the things I really enjoy about running group trips is that I can show oter photographers what my images look like on my camera).

Of course the opposite is true and most of the good photographers I know bin the "nearly there" shots because they know they will never have the time to sort them out in photoshop. The first thing you learn when preparing 100s of images for submission to libraries/books etc is that re-touching is takes lots of time - and when you start multiplying that time by 100s of images - who has enough. It is much easier to get it right in camera.

I also think photography does need to represent reality in the public's eyes. That is why the public love competitions like the Wildlife Photographer of the Year because they know that they are looking at real images - as no re-touching or manipulation is allowed.

I think that there will be more and more competitions and publications that make it clear to the audience that they are looking at photographic fact not fiction.

I think that diving magazines have a bit more lee-way than wildlife publications. But many of them still have lots of adverts and even sometimes editorial content with fish from completely different oceans advertising a destination. There is a 2007 travel guide on my desk now - and a quick flick through reveals two adverts for St Lucia and Trinidad & Tobago (both in the Caribbean) which are represented by aquarium photos of fish. And to make matters worse the fish are Indo-Pacific species.

And to finish on a pompous note with another quote from Beaumount Newhall "Retouching has been controversial ever since Franz Hanfstaengl showed in 1855 a retouched negative with a print made from it before and after retouching"
Digital has just made these re-touching tools available to the masses.

Alex

Alexander Mustard - www.amustard.com - www.magic-filters.com
Nikon D4 (Subal housing). Nikon D7100 (Subal housing). Olympus EPL-5 (Nauticam housing).


#7 dhaas

dhaas

    Great White

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1005 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 07 September 2006 - 04:41 AM

Images have lied for years. Don't fool yourself....National Geographic moved a Pyramid for crying out loud!

As long as the use is "creative", advertsing or whatever and not natural animal representation I wouldn't give it a second thought.......(My motto, like the pic? Send the check :rolleyes:

I sent an email to Undercurrent challenging the "film is the purest form of photography, captured at an instant" quote in their film versus digital bashing article by Chris Newbert and Bret Gilliam. Newbert is one of the most gifted photographers in the UW imaging world and I love his work. Bought his books, etc. But his take of film being pure? Hogwash.....I remember when he changed to Fuji Velvia film versus Kodachrome because the super saturated colors (real? I think NOT!) were what was needed to keep selling stock images. No one WANTED the more muted colors of Kodachorme versus the nwe E-6 emulsions.

IMHO Shoot it, or scan it, tweek it and sell it....

dhaas
David Haas
www.haasimages.com

#8 Lionfish43

Lionfish43

    Great White

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 910 posts
  • Location:Dover, NH USA

Posted 07 September 2006 - 04:48 AM

I think this is an example of what you're talking about. This is a before and after of a shot I took a couple of weeks ago.
Posted Image
Obviously I don't have a problem with using all the tools available to improve an image. In this example I'm not creating some kind of fantasy environment. I'm just removing some annoying compositional elements.

Some will say that this image should be devalued or is some how unethical. I say...BS. Afterall, I could have removed the offending starfish before clicking the shutter.

Edited by Lionfish43, 07 September 2006 - 04:51 AM.

Larry Oberlander My Webpage
Nikon D200, Aquatica AD200

#9 John Bantin

John Bantin

    Sperm Whale

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1857 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Teddington/Twickenham UK
  • Interests:former Technical Editor of
    Diver Magazine (UK) and www.divernet.com
    occasional contributor
    SportDiver (Aus)
    Undercurrent
    Author of Amazing Diving Stories (Wiley Nautical)

Posted 07 September 2006 - 04:53 AM

Advertising shots have always been subject to measuring up to the expectations (of clients) rather than the reality. Hence we included palm trees in ads for the Bahamas (not casuarina) but at least we took the trees with us! My most expensive ad ever was a shot of a tight-knit herd of horses in a Scottish glen (for White Horse whisky). Each horse had a handler and each handler had a hotel room, and horses dislike being closely bunched like that. I also had trouble because the locations in Glen Etive did not look like the pictures of South New Zealand that the agency had shown to the client as being typically Scottish!
Blimey! I could begin to tell you what I used to do when I was a photographer for Penthouse Magazine!
We should not confuse the sexy metal sculptures that we see in car ads for the dirt-laden vehicle parked outside with a parking fine attached either!
I hope the editorial content of that Travel Guide was accurate though!

Digital has just made these re-touching tools available to the masses.

Alex


Yes, they ruined motoring, sex and restaurants when they let poor people have it! :rolleyes:

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#10 MikeVeitch

MikeVeitch

    1.7kbps Manta Boy

  • Senior Moderator
  • 6181 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:In Bali, Indonesia but from Vancouver, BC
  • Interests:Teaching Underwater Photography

Posted 07 September 2006 - 04:59 AM

Tthis reminds me of my work as a dailies video guy. So many people say: "well you have a bunch of stock on your computer and add us in.."

Holy crap is that bullshit... sorry.... i don't have the hard drive space or patience for that. It is soooooooooo much easier and a heck of a lot less hassle to just download the days tape and edit that.. as Alex says with photos, it is a pain to tweak the "almost there" shots. Same with video, a pain to bring stuff in from different projects.. why try to explain that this series of mantas looks a lot clearer than what you saw? easy.. don't do it and don't worry about it....

Unless someone asks specifically for it :rolleyes:

mmmmmm White Horse Whisky....

Join us for an Underwater Photography Workshop in Ambon March 2015
Blog and Photo Archive/Portfolio Site www.mikeveitchblog.com
Learn underwater photography in Indonesia or Join me on a trip www.underwatertribe.com


#11 John Bantin

John Bantin

    Sperm Whale

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1857 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Teddington/Twickenham UK
  • Interests:former Technical Editor of
    Diver Magazine (UK) and www.divernet.com
    occasional contributor
    SportDiver (Aus)
    Undercurrent
    Author of Amazing Diving Stories (Wiley Nautical)

Posted 07 September 2006 - 05:01 AM

I suppose my point is that from the half-million pics I have on film only a few were really good (I had to get lucky sometime!) as they were but now I have a potential whole new library! I need never go diving again!
Bllxs. I'm having a fire!

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#12 whitehead

whitehead

    Sting Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 208 posts
  • Location:Bangkok, Thailand
  • Interests:Lottery Tickets

Posted 07 September 2006 - 05:13 AM

is an image supposed to represent the truth or make someone think "wow". i am with the latter (i think many of us here are). i think imagery is about just that - imagery.

i would not have said that a year ago (hell i have got so used to eating my own words on so many subjects they have become veritably tastey) - but have been dabbling in other areas of photography to underwater recently and now believe that true imagery is contrived - whether it takes hours of planning and setting up in a studio/location or hours on photoshop or both. i am now firmly in the camp of anything goes as long as its appealing.

i dont want to sound a soothersayer (hell I have neither the talent, experience nor photographs) but I think John's post/question/statement when reviewed in a year or two will surprise - "natural" will not be an issue anymore we will be "photoshopping" our hearts out and appreciating those skills in others more than what constitutes a natural representation.

pw

ps john i hope you dont admit to contriving any images for PH - that would kill off my younger years of yearning and desire :rolleyes:

Edited by whitehead, 07 September 2006 - 05:21 AM.


#13 MikeVeitch

MikeVeitch

    1.7kbps Manta Boy

  • Senior Moderator
  • 6181 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:In Bali, Indonesia but from Vancouver, BC
  • Interests:Teaching Underwater Photography

Posted 07 September 2006 - 05:24 AM

Don't worry whitey.. the surgeons take care of that....

Join us for an Underwater Photography Workshop in Ambon March 2015
Blog and Photo Archive/Portfolio Site www.mikeveitchblog.com
Learn underwater photography in Indonesia or Join me on a trip www.underwatertribe.com


#14 Giles

Giles

    International Supermodel

  • Moderator
  • 2618 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Cayman Islands
  • Interests:water and sun my friend, thats what turns me on.

Posted 07 September 2006 - 05:33 AM

Hence we included palm trees in ads for the Bahamas (not casuarina) but at least we took the trees with us!


interesting .. Casuarina Tree's are not indiginous to the Bahamas or any of the Caribbean.
I believe only Australia and a few Pacific Islands.
I also believe they were introduced here by us Pommies as Mike likes to say.

They are actually now an Invasive species and have a root system larger than that of most Caribbean / Bahamaian tree and hence prevent natural growth of Native plants.

The Palm tree on the other hand is fuly indiginous to the area .. depending on the type of palm tree you probably made the island look more natural.
me on the web >> journal / flickr / portfolio
i use >> my camera, eye & stunning good looks

#15 Kelpfish

Kelpfish

    Giant Squid

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1600 posts
  • Location:California

Posted 07 September 2006 - 05:35 AM

David Haaas said: "As long as the use is "creative", advertsing or whatever and not natural animal representation I wouldn't give it a second thought.......(My motto, like the pic? Send the check"

Amen brother.


For me, when I got a lot of my film imafes back from the labs they rarely looked like what my eyes saw and interpreted. When PS came out I could scan the image and treak it, output back to a slide. Then digi and more advanced PS versions followed. Like Alex said, I see no problem in enhancing an existing pic based on contrast, dodging, burning, levels, color adjustment, particulate removal ect. Who's to say that film really captured what your eyes saw? Same with digi, but now you can make those adjustments easily. For me the line is drawn when you start adding subject matter....i.e double exposures unless you are doing it for fun and self satisfaction, but trying to pass it off as "original work" is horse sh_t. And to Alex's point that out of the camera is what we strive for, well, it should be. I have seen and voiced my opinion on this forum about over saturation, taking the naturally occurring color elements to levels that are not real to the human eye. If you dive enough, you know what I mean. Out of the camera quality dictates how much PS will be done on that image. :rolleyes: :unsure:
Joe Belanger
Author, Catalina Island - All you Need to Know
www.californiaunderwater.com
www.visitingcatalina.com

#16 John Bantin

John Bantin

    Sperm Whale

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1857 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Teddington/Twickenham UK
  • Interests:former Technical Editor of
    Diver Magazine (UK) and www.divernet.com
    occasional contributor
    SportDiver (Aus)
    Undercurrent
    Author of Amazing Diving Stories (Wiley Nautical)

Posted 07 September 2006 - 05:36 AM

ps john i hope you dont admit to contriving any images for PH - that would kill off my younger years of yearning and desire :rolleyes:


I dealt in perfection. I often wondered who the beautiful girls in my photographs were. They looked quite different at times in real life! It can take hours of hard work to physically disguise a pimple on the bum but now it can be taken out with one click of a mouse - so where's the ethics (fun) in that?

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#17 whitehead

whitehead

    Sting Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 208 posts
  • Location:Bangkok, Thailand
  • Interests:Lottery Tickets

Posted 07 September 2006 - 05:36 AM

Mike - if I had taken your manta shot I would glady give it all up to them, hairs as well, with a smug but broad smile on face! Best photo of the year!

John - ah I see - hours of studying the problem to devise the solution - I am even more jealous

Edited by whitehead, 07 September 2006 - 05:44 AM.


#18 John Bantin

John Bantin

    Sperm Whale

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1857 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Teddington/Twickenham UK
  • Interests:former Technical Editor of
    Diver Magazine (UK) and www.divernet.com
    occasional contributor
    SportDiver (Aus)
    Undercurrent
    Author of Amazing Diving Stories (Wiley Nautical)

Posted 07 September 2006 - 05:40 AM

interesting .. Casuarina Tree's are not indiginous to the Bahamas or any of the Caribbean.
I believe only Australia and a few Pacific Islands.
I also believe they were introduced here by us Pommies as Mike likes to say.

They are actually now an Invasive species and have a root system larger than that of most Caribbean / Bahamaian tree and hence prevent natural growth of Native plants.

The Palm tree on the other hand is fuly indiginous to the area .. depending on the type of palm tree you probably made the island look more natural.



It's a fact that the Bahamas are covered in Casuarina and not palm trees though. Don't confuse the Bahamas with the Caribbean! Although we used to - intentionally! When in Fiji, I was told that coconut palms all came from there and so are not indigenous in Cayman either!

What happened to the natives of your islands?

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#19 MikeVeitch

MikeVeitch

    1.7kbps Manta Boy

  • Senior Moderator
  • 6181 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:In Bali, Indonesia but from Vancouver, BC
  • Interests:Teaching Underwater Photography

Posted 07 September 2006 - 05:48 AM

Joe, you just contradicted yourself.. unless i am on crack or rum ( my bet is the latter)

at first you say you have no probs with dodging, burning, colour adjustment etc...

then you say you have a problem with saturation..????

Sorry.. that don't mix....

Besides, i really think different strobes and colour temps and softness affect saturation... film or dig.... dodging and burning (which you accept) on the other hand is a lot more image manipulation in my opinion (than saturation adjustment) as its usually done on certain parts of a pic as opposed to the pic as a whole like saturation..



Sooooooo....

We can all argue this subject till we are blue in the teeth and it wil do nothing...

( but i will enjoy it, i don't have much of a social life outside of manta trains... :rolleyes: )
















































Yes, its midnite and i can make these comments hahaha)

Join us for an Underwater Photography Workshop in Ambon March 2015
Blog and Photo Archive/Portfolio Site www.mikeveitchblog.com
Learn underwater photography in Indonesia or Join me on a trip www.underwatertribe.com


#20 tdpriest

tdpriest

    Sperm Whale

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2119 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Solihull, UK
  • Interests:Diving medicine, warm water, scenery...

Posted 07 September 2006 - 05:50 AM

Hmmnn....

This topic seems to reemerge about twice a year.

I am struck by the difference between landscape and wildlife photographers. A wildlife photographer is cheating if her image is processed to make it more closely resemble the creature in the wild, and the skill is in bringing the bare image from the camera into congruence with that (personal) visual and emotional experience. The great landscape photographers have had few qualms about manipulating the negative or the print to achieve the same aim: Ansel Adams regarded all three steps, from camera through negative to print, as of importance, and all subject to the artistic demands of the final exhibited image, all contributing to that image.

An unprocessed image that does not reflect the situation in which it was taken is as much a lie as one glued together from different oceans.

Everyone using RAW files is making a choice about the final image.

Everyone who experiments with strobe position is hiding the turbidity that is naturally present in the scene.

Everyone who changes colour settings in the camera is distorting the image, as does anyone picking one emulsion over another because of its differential colour rendition. What about the choice between colour and monochrome?

The camera always lies... but does it lie constructively?

As consumers of images, it is our responsbility not only to reject the false, the images that do not cast light on what we have seen, but also to recognise the images, irrespective of their genesis, that speak to our experience of the underwater world.

Tim

B)