Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Is Social Media Creating Unrealistic Expectations?


  • Please log in to reply
18 replies to this topic

#1 MikeVeitch

MikeVeitch

    1.7kbps Manta Boy

  • Senior Moderator
  • 6294 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:In Bali, Indonesia but from Vancouver, BC
  • Interests:Teaching Underwater Photography

Posted 05 August 2015 - 11:44 PM

Just finished teaching another group photo workshop a couple of weeks back and ran into something that I have been noticing a lot more in recent years.  One of the things I see from newer photographers is that they seem to get discouraged by even a small amount of backscatter in their photos.  Now we all know that there will always be a few specks of stuff in the vast majority of photos, both macro and wide angle, simply because we are using strobes underwater. This most recent workshop was in Lembeh and the visibility wasn't the absolute best so of course there was expectation of some backscatter no matter how well strobes were positioned (if photographing toward the water column)

 

My point of discussion is as follows:  With the popularity of social media outlets such as FB, Twitter, Instagram etc it seems that the vast majority of underwater photos don't have a single touch of scatter but instead feature flawless black or blue backgrounds. There is nothing wrong with post processing images and everyone wants to post their best stuff to impress folks so very rarely are images with scatter posted without editing all of it out.  Therefore, does this profusion of perfect images create unrealistic expectations for beginners or casual uw photographers?  Are new photographers frustrated when they see so many "perfect" images out there yet can't get the exact same results straight from the camera even with almost perfect strobe positioning?  Do new photographers know there is post processing work done on these images or do they expect the same results all the time?

 

I am not trying to start a debate about post processing etc but rather looking for opinions from newer photographers whether they experience frustration from high expectations due to exposure to social media? 


Join us for an Underwater Photography Workshop in the Lembeh Strait at NAD Lembeh with Doug Sloss in 2018
Blog and Photo Archive/Portfolio Site www.mikeveitchblog.com
Learn underwater photography in the ultimate classroom, Bali! or join us on a trip www.underwatertribe.com and www.baliuwphoto.com

Join us for a trip in Indonesia in Komodo or Raja Ampat


#2 Alex_Mustard

Alex_Mustard

    The Doctor

  • Super Mod
  • 8572 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Peterborough

Posted 06 August 2015 - 12:44 AM

I think the main issue that comes from Social Media is that images are overcropped. The macro image that looks best (and gets the most likes) on a tiny phone screen is a very simple subject, big in the frame, on a black background.

 

Photographers crop and crop and try and frame tighter and tighter in the quest for phone screen likes. 

 

The art of using negative space in an artist way is being lost by underwater macro photographers. Subjects are stuffed in the frame, so no negative space exists.

 

This is in stark contrast to the far more artistically interesting use of negative space by macro photographers on land, where subjects are small in the frame and the negative space elevates the image to another level than just subject on clean background.

 

Getting likes on social media, particularly within groups, is about conformism. Which is not a particularly artistic attitude. 

 

Alex

 

[EDIT - Link Removed - Not Working]


Alexander Mustard - www.amustard.com - www.magic-filters.com
Nikon D5 (Subal housing). Nikon D7200 (Subal housing). Olympus EPL-5 (Nauticam housing).


#3 Paul Kay

Paul Kay

    Giant Squid

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1778 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:North Wales, UK

Posted 06 August 2015 - 01:20 AM

Therefore, does this profusion of perfect images create unrealistic expectations for beginners or casual uw photographers?  Are new photographers frustrated when they see so many "perfect" images out there yet can't get the exact same results straight from the camera even with almost perfect strobe positioning?  Do new photographers know there is post processing work done on these images or do they expect the same results all the time?

 

I am not trying to start a debate about post processing etc but rather looking for opinions from newer photographers whether they experience frustration from high expectations due to exposure to social media? 

With digital cameras and the ability to view and discuss equipment, photography and photographs over the web ad infinitum (I'm inclined to say ad naseum at times), there now seems to be the expectation of ever 'better' equipment, ever more startling and extraordinary images and ever increasing technical innovation all of which come alongside increasing ease of use and creation. [Social media and forums I would add]. Perhaps there is simply a mismatch between expectations of output related to input effort in that people now expect technology to overcome what they see as minor inconveniences (such as backscatter) rather than seeing themselves as part of the input in manually having to remove backscatter - after all cameras can now remove dust marks so why shouldn't backscatter removal be automated and web photos show no backscatter so .....

 

I'm not so sure that you can actually limit the unrealistic expectations to backscatter.

 

Alex makes an interesting point though because I've noticed an unceasing (?) trend towards the use of black backgrounds again (underwater photography is a bit faddy and does go through phases) and his post may have explained why - this morning the BBC news reported that web accessing by 'phones has now overtaken accessing through laptops.....


Paul Kay,Canon EOS5DII SEACAM c/w S45, 8-15, 24L,35L, 60/2.8 (+Ext12II) & 100/2.8 Macros - Sony A7II SEACAM 28/2 & 50/2.8 Macro - UK/Ireland Seacam Sales -see  marinewildlife


#4 MikeVeitch

MikeVeitch

    1.7kbps Manta Boy

  • Senior Moderator
  • 6294 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:In Bali, Indonesia but from Vancouver, BC
  • Interests:Teaching Underwater Photography

Posted 06 August 2015 - 05:43 AM

Good points gents, very good points.  Alex, I get a link not found on that link


Join us for an Underwater Photography Workshop in the Lembeh Strait at NAD Lembeh with Doug Sloss in 2018
Blog and Photo Archive/Portfolio Site www.mikeveitchblog.com
Learn underwater photography in the ultimate classroom, Bali! or join us on a trip www.underwatertribe.com and www.baliuwphoto.com

Join us for a trip in Indonesia in Komodo or Raja Ampat


#5 TimG

TimG

    Sperm Whale

  • Moderator
  • 1858 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Amsterdam
  • Interests:Sunlight reefs, warm seas, fine wine, beautiful women. And Manchester City Football Club

Posted 06 August 2015 - 06:17 AM

Yeah, all interesting thoughts. I

 

think Paul is on to something that folks expect technology to overcome the problems. I guess we're just as guilty as that over, say, autofocus that will track a subject perfectly...

 

Some years ago, I think it was in Amateur Photographer magazine (ok, very many years ago) someone did an April Fool's gag that suggested one of the premier camera manufacturers had come up with a some software that indicated in the viewfinder that you were about to take a pic that would be in demand by photo agencies - and which agency would pay most for it...  :dancing:

 

Interesting though that Mike found the issue over backscatter. I'd have thought there were other problems that caused more annoyance - bleached out images; "hey, where's the fish?"; poor focus. Maybe technology has removed those issues and only left backscatter. Ohhh, did we mention composition? Maybe the Amateur Photog gag wasn't so far off the mark!


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D800, Nikkors 105mm and 16-35mm, Sigma 15mmFE - Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#6 Alex_Mustard

Alex_Mustard

    The Doctor

  • Super Mod
  • 8572 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Peterborough

Posted 06 August 2015 - 06:18 AM

Here is an example of current macro nature photography above water. Subject small in the frame, negative space used powerfully. The majority of underwater photographers are striving for much more simplistic macro: 

 

http://www.gdtfoto.d...-year-2015.html

 

Hopefully link works this time. 

 

Alex


Alexander Mustard - www.amustard.com - www.magic-filters.com
Nikon D5 (Subal housing). Nikon D7200 (Subal housing). Olympus EPL-5 (Nauticam housing).


#7 MikeVeitch

MikeVeitch

    1.7kbps Manta Boy

  • Senior Moderator
  • 6294 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:In Bali, Indonesia but from Vancouver, BC
  • Interests:Teaching Underwater Photography

Posted 06 August 2015 - 06:43 AM


 

Interesting though that Mike found the issue over backscatter. I'd have thought there were other problems that caused more annoyance - bleached out images; "hey, where's the fish?"; poor focus. Maybe technology has removed those issues and only left backscatter. Ohhh, did we mention composition? Maybe the Amateur Photog gag wasn't so far off the mark!

 

Tim, actually the reason I mention backscatter is this, when one of the students gets an absolutely fantastic image, well composed with really nice lighting and I have a look and tell them what a great image it is they then say: "Ya, but there is some backscatter".  And they mean the 5 miniscule bits of scatter that pretty much show up because they are shooting in a high nutrient in the water column area such as Lembeh.  When I explain that a little bit of scatter is normal in such conditions they say something like "but I want ones like I see on the internet that don't have any scatter at all".

 

Thats what I mean by unrealistic :)


Here is an example of current macro nature photography above water. Subject small in the frame, negative space used powerfully. The majority of underwater photographers are striving for much more simplistic macro: 

 

http://www.gdtfoto.d...-year-2015.html

 

Hopefully link works this time. 

 

Alex

Worked, great images!


Join us for an Underwater Photography Workshop in the Lembeh Strait at NAD Lembeh with Doug Sloss in 2018
Blog and Photo Archive/Portfolio Site www.mikeveitchblog.com
Learn underwater photography in the ultimate classroom, Bali! or join us on a trip www.underwatertribe.com and www.baliuwphoto.com

Join us for a trip in Indonesia in Komodo or Raja Ampat


#8 TimG

TimG

    Sperm Whale

  • Moderator
  • 1858 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Amsterdam
  • Interests:Sunlight reefs, warm seas, fine wine, beautiful women. And Manchester City Football Club

Posted 06 August 2015 - 07:15 AM

Thanks, Mike - gotcha. 

 

Man, I wish that was the only problem that cropped up for me!


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D800, Nikkors 105mm and 16-35mm, Sigma 15mmFE - Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#9 decosnapper

decosnapper

    Manta Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 446 posts

Posted 07 August 2015 - 01:07 AM

Whenever I see an image I have a natural curiosity to understand its creation and - crucially - the level of manipulation applied to achieve the end result.

 

How many of us share our rushes? All of them? On the back of the camera after the dive? On the editing screen?

 

Not many I guess, because initially* it can feel like taking a s**t in public.

 

And yes, the perfect published world will only reinforce the view that anything that isn't processed/cropped/magic dust/filtered beyond belief is not worthy.

 

And at some point, credibility/belief is lost. But there is nothing really new with that one.

 

So yes, unrealistic expectations with regard to backscatter. Unless you are diving the truly crystal clear waters under waters of the Ross Ice Shelf or in Te Waikoro Pupu Springs in New Zealand**.

 

*initially it did feel like taking a dump when sharing with another photographer. But that emotion passes...and its quite liberating. Highly recommended.

**Last time I heard, diving had been banned in Pupu Springs.


Edited by decosnapper, 07 August 2015 - 01:08 AM.

Simon Brown

www.simonbrownimages.com

#10 Alex_Mustard

Alex_Mustard

    The Doctor

  • Super Mod
  • 8572 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Peterborough

Posted 07 August 2015 - 06:08 AM

The other side of this situation is that new photographers think everything is Lightroomed these days and that great results are impossible in camera. 

 

On workshop trips I always make a point of showing my pictures as shot on the back of my camera or on my computer from the dives we’ve all just done. 

 

Alex


Alexander Mustard - www.amustard.com - www.magic-filters.com
Nikon D5 (Subal housing). Nikon D7200 (Subal housing). Olympus EPL-5 (Nauticam housing).


#11 TimG

TimG

    Sperm Whale

  • Moderator
  • 1858 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Amsterdam
  • Interests:Sunlight reefs, warm seas, fine wine, beautiful women. And Manchester City Football Club

Posted 07 August 2015 - 06:13 AM

The other side of this situation is that new photographers think everything is Lightroomed these days and that great results are impossible in camera. 

 

On workshop trips I always make a point of showing my pictures as shot on the back of my camera or on my computer from the dives we’ve all just done. 

 

Alex

 

 

Good point, Alex.

 

I was in Bonaire a while back and chuckled to hear an underwater photography centre owner (who shall remain nameless) advise a client that "there were no bad underwater photographs. That's what Photoshop is for". OK.....


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D800, Nikkors 105mm and 16-35mm, Sigma 15mmFE - Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#12 Storker

Storker

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 141 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Trondheim, Norway. About 30 minutes' drive from where Hell occasionally freezes over

Posted 07 August 2015 - 06:31 AM

The other side of this situation is that new photographers think everything is Lightroomed these days and that great results are impossible in camera. 

 

On workshop trips I always make a point of showing my pictures as shot on the back of my camera or on my computer from the dives we’ve all just done. 

 

I don't know if I'm "doin' it rong" or if it's that you're blessed with better viz than I am, but I can't remember one single image I took and showed off where I haven't pulled the black slider noticeably and added a bit of clarity. My pictures look washed out and rather crappy before PP. Some are less washed out and can be shown on the camera's LCD screen, others look like seen through a layer of skim milk and are just crap before PP. And there's always a bit of backscatter to clone out, no matter how I position my strobes.

 

I know I have quite a bit of room for improvement in my composition skillz, though. I never seem to be able to concentrate enough on composition to nail it and avoid cropping in post.


Edited by Storker, 07 August 2015 - 06:32 AM.


#13 TimG

TimG

    Sperm Whale

  • Moderator
  • 1858 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Amsterdam
  • Interests:Sunlight reefs, warm seas, fine wine, beautiful women. And Manchester City Football Club

Posted 07 August 2015 - 06:48 AM

 

I don't know if I'm "doin' it rong" or if it's that you're blessed with better viz than I am, but I can't remember one single image I took and showed off where I haven't pulled the black slider noticeably and added a bit of clarity. My pictures look washed out and rather crappy before PP. Some are less washed out and can be shown on the camera's LCD screen, others look like seen through a layer of skim milk and are just crap before PP. And there's always a bit of backscatter to clone out, no matter how I position my strobes.

 

I know I have quite a bit of room for improvement in my composition skillz, though. I never seem to be able to concentrate enough on composition to nail it and avoid cropping in post.

 

 

Naah, you're not doing it wrong. Well, if you are, then you're not alone.....

 

But PP isn't the be all-and-end-all. You're tweaking. You still have to have a good pic to start with. 


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D800, Nikkors 105mm and 16-35mm, Sigma 15mmFE - Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#14 Storker

Storker

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 141 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Trondheim, Norway. About 30 minutes' drive from where Hell occasionally freezes over

Posted 07 August 2015 - 08:31 AM

You still have to have a good pic to start with. 

Ay-men, brother!

I've got pretty mixed emotions about the tech view. On one hand, I - almost ideologically - claim that it isn't the gear, it's the photog who takes the pic. You don't need a 5000+€ Leica to take the pics HCB took. And HCB is one of my favorite photogs in history. OTOH, there's a bunch of occasions where I'm pretty certain I'd never been able to get the pics I got without the gear I have (or something similar). I just can't reconcile those two...


--
Sent from my Android phone
Typos are a feature, not a bug

Edited by Storker, 07 August 2015 - 08:31 AM.


#15 Paul Kay

Paul Kay

    Giant Squid

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1778 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:North Wales, UK

Posted 08 August 2015 - 02:36 AM

I was in Bonaire a while back and chuckled to hear an underwater photography centre owner (who shall remain nameless) advise a client that "there were no bad underwater photographs. That's what Photoshop is for". OK.....

For the exponents of ETTR he is partially correct (I certainly have innumerable bad underwater photographs which no amount of Photoshop work would remedy). We really like putting things in boxes and assuming that every underwater image should look good on the LCD (box one) is as poor a suggestion as assuming that Photoshop can correct all the others (box 2). Reality is, as it usually is, far more complex. I have shot a lot of material in low vis over very soft mud and contrast often remains (extremely) low regardless of any lighting set-up I've tried. Photoshop allows sufficient contrast increase and colour modification to produce realy very acceptable images (in fact I and a friend have used such images to prove at least one fish ID has been incorrectly described). The images taken in these conditions look very flat on the LCD as they are bound to.....


Paul Kay,Canon EOS5DII SEACAM c/w S45, 8-15, 24L,35L, 60/2.8 (+Ext12II) & 100/2.8 Macros - Sony A7II SEACAM 28/2 & 50/2.8 Macro - UK/Ireland Seacam Sales -see  marinewildlife


#16 Tom_Kline

Tom_Kline

    Great White

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 946 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Alaska
  • Interests:fishes and invertebrates

Posted 08 August 2015 - 09:38 AM

An exercise that you should do with your students is have them downsize their images to what they would post on the web. What they should notice is that much of the backscatter will disappear since more resolution is needed to see something tiny.

Recalling the old Wetpixel weekly photocontest, pix with simpler composition often won. It had a resolution of 640 pixels on the long axis. This also helped even out the "playing field" so that compact cameras won or placed.


Thomas C. Kline, Jr., Ph. D.
Oceanography & Limnology
Currently used housed digital cameras: Canon EOS-1Ds MkIII, EOS-1D MkIV, and EOS-1DX; and Nikon D3X. More or less retired: Canon EOS-1Ds MkII; and Nikon D1X, D2X, and D2H.

Lens focal lengths ranging from 8 to 200mm for UW use. Seacam housings and remote control gear. Seacam 60D, 150D, and 250D, Sea&Sea YS250, and Inon Z220 strobes.

http://www.salmonography.com/

 


#17 bvanant

bvanant

    Sperm Whale

  • Team Wetpixel
  • 1825 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Los Angeles (more or less)
  • Interests:Science, photography, travel

Posted 09 August 2015 - 05:04 PM

Mike et. al.
I don't think it is just social media but photo competitions as well where the winners of the macro categories are mostly big in the frame and full black background. I was impressed by Mike's photo course in Ambon where shooting macro subjects with cool blue backgrounds worked amazingly well but I am quite sure they wouldn't do as well in most competitions.

Bill


Bill
Canon 7d, Nauticam, Lots of glass, Olympus OMD-EM5, Nauticam, 60 macro, 45 macro, 8 mm fisheye, Inon, S&S, Athena Strobes plus lots of fiddly bits.
www.blueviews.net


#18 Paul Kay

Paul Kay

    Giant Squid

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1778 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:North Wales, UK

Posted 10 August 2015 - 10:47 AM

I've got pretty mixed emotions about the tech view. On one hand, I - almost ideologically - claim that it isn't the gear, it's the photog who takes the pic. You don't need a 5000+€ Leica to take the pics HCB took. And HCB is one of my favorite photogs in history.

HCB was often photographed with his Leicas and they weren't cheap (and are a lot more now - HIS I mean!).[Nor are his prints - I went to a London gallery showing signed HCB prints not that long ago - I think that they started at £9k which makes the €5k camera a bit of a bargain]. Its not the gear but having gear that you are satisfied will do what you want it to, and which you are familiar with, and both know and understand, really can help. This isn't the same for every photographer and to some extent the cost may not of intrinsic relevance to the photograph, 


Paul Kay,Canon EOS5DII SEACAM c/w S45, 8-15, 24L,35L, 60/2.8 (+Ext12II) & 100/2.8 Macros - Sony A7II SEACAM 28/2 & 50/2.8 Macro - UK/Ireland Seacam Sales -see  marinewildlife


#19 katy-kid

katy-kid

    Lionfish

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 64 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:SWFL
  • Interests:FLORIDA!

Posted 11 August 2015 - 08:04 AM

Thought I would weigh in here, as this is something of frustration for me, (glad to see I'm not the only one...). I think sites like 500px are ruining perspectives of what a 'good' image should be, this is a generalization, there are quite a few photographers on that site that have wonderful images with backscatter :) but overall, everything is too friggin' perfect. It's annoying. I don't think any one site is to blame, this was just the best example I could think of. With more and more companies looking for less expensive images, maybe society as a whole has really crap taste in images anymore, as that's what we're bombarded with. It is interesting though, if you look at the winners gallery from the 2015 nat geo traveler contest, the uw images chosen are not overly processed, and have more of a candid quality. So maybe their editors are sick of unrealistic images as well. The internet is a treasure trove of 'fake': fake news stories, images that are impossibly fake, the kardashians, etc. etc. so maybe this is the new normal. It sucks for the rest of us that appreciate images with a little messiness added in, but unfortunately it's a sign of the times (*sigh). On a happier note though, this trend does make photographers with an atmospheric, candid eye stand out!


Katy Danca Galli

Atmospheric UW Photography

http://katydancagalli.com