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Is it art or is it reality?


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#81 Kelpfish

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 02:26 PM

My point is that you can see the particles prior to the flash and that is backscatter. Providing a source to exaggerate it, in my opinion, is irrevelant. It's there, period. I appreciate Todd's description and I also appreciate PGK's, but the fact that the presence of something is eliminated "because the human eye 'may' not be able to see it silly. I can see it in most cases and I, therefore, compensate for it prior to ever lighting it because it is there. Todd is right in that when the strobe fires it is pretty tough for one to determine exactly where and how particles will affect a pic. But because I can see the particles before I shoot the image means I must accept reality. Particles will light up, ESPECIALLY IF YOU CAN SEE THEM. That, to me, is reality and removing them forces you to accept that that work is art. :blink:

I am in no way trying to discount anything Todd is suggesting because I am not in his field of work. In fact I really liked his message. I just respectfully disagree with his logic. That's what we are here to do is provide alternative insight. This is one of the reasons I love WP.
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#82 davichin

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Posted 20 September 2006 - 09:22 AM

I have never sold a pic :blush: but if I shoot raw (which I think is something agreed to be the right thing to do) and someone asks for a tiff file then I have to use ACR (or equivalent) to "develop" my raw file (and that includes WB, exposure, lens correction, etc...(I think noone can argue this is manipulation, even Doubilet has to do it!) and then I go to PS and this is where the paths of art vs reality split. For a cocacola ad I would do whatever because it doesn´t really matter (and they would probably pay a lot :lol: ) but for a mag, realistic nature, etc... there are only a few tools that I accept myself which include: sharpenning, erasing that bunch of unexpected grains of backscater (if it´s snowed in then is not worth it) that for some reason are always in the eye of the fish :P ... correcting vignetting if the port causes it and not much more that I can think of.
In the end, since most of us don´t sell pics, is just a matter of liking your own images and feeling proud on the way you get them be it straight from the camera or after hours of PS
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#83 skoobhaa

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 02:11 AM

Having been trained as a professional photographer and operated as one for a number of years, I have a staunch opinion on this - besides I love a good philosophical argument.
Photography IS NOT ART. At least not when the argument is reduced to its philosophical elements.
It is a representation of reality, a reflection if you like.
It could be argued of course that there is some input by the finger that presses the shutter button - but that's about the extent of the 'artist's' input.
Nevertheless, photography - GOOD photography(aka Ansel Adams's caliber) - definately approaches great, dare I say, art.

#84 Paul Kay

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 06:54 AM

Hmmmm. Not wishing to be pedantic, but.......

Suspended particulate matter is in effect extreme turbidity and it exists whether or not it is illuminated!

Backscatter is the light reflected from suspended particulate matter (extreme turbidity) which can be anticipated but not precisely envisaged or predicted and as such is an uncontrollable element within the image. Backscatter does not exist without a light source (and essentially a high speed one, as still photos taken with a continuous light source over a longer time exposure will not show as much backscatter as a similar flash lit image as the particles move and are recvorded with less impact on the image).

My point is that the definition of 'reality' as applied to an underwater photograph is somewhat variable and the parameters used to justify each definition vary from person to person.

All I will add is that digital image production is software based and as such cannot be defined in the same way as film image production. Pressing the shutter button is just one of the steps in producing a digital image. Trying to apply 'film' parameters to digital imaging is or will be completely irrelevant. A digital photographer who has never shot film underwater will probably have a very different view on this as there is a tool within the software to deal with backscatter - and trying to explain the the unwanted blurry white specks are essential to the reality of a shot may not seem partcularly logical!

"What is art?" is unanswerable in my opinion!
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#85 tdpriest

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 05:37 AM

I'm not sure about "art", and perhaps sensory physiology is a bit too tough for Wetpixel, but I think that one of the most interesting things about photography is how, as technique improves, the photographer develops an individual style.

Paul Kay's style is characterised by green water, David Doubilet's by dark blue water and movement, Alex Mustard's by really bright colours and a sense of fun, and so on.

Perhaps "art" is the progression of style, when the individual technique becomes good enough for the photographer to project his (I'd like to say her, too) emotional responses onto the viewer.

I really enjoy wrecks, and usually have a sombre response to them, so I strive for a moody image. For both technical and emotional reasons I often process a digital colour image into a black and white one. I wish that my technical skills matched my intentions!

Carnatic_13_mono.jpg

Bikini_Saratoga_deck_mono_0.jpg

Nagato_1205_1_19_mono.jpg

The point is that the images are altered to reflect something that I found important on the dive. Because photographers have a style, and the pros a repertoire of styles, from which they can choose, the image can't simply be "reality". It's a selection from reality.

I think that selection is the key concept. That makes it acceptable, or at least less unacceptable, to remove something from an image but much less acceptable, even dishonest, to add something. Removing backscatter is a technical skill, and I'm not too worried if it's a darkroom skill, a Photoshop skill, a mastery of strobe positioning or the use of a Magic filter.

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#86 mrbubbles

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 06:08 AM

I'm not sure about "art", and perhaps sensory physiology is a bit too tough for Wetpixel, but I think that one of the most interesting things about photography is how, as technique improves, the photographer develops an individual style.

Paul Kay's style is characterised by green water, David Doubilet's by dark blue water and movement, Alex Mustard's by really bright colours and a sense of fun, and so on.

Perhaps "art" is the progression of style, when the individual technique becomes good enough for the photographer to project his (I'd like to say her, too) emotional responses onto the viewer.

I really enjoy wrecks, and usually have a sombre response to them, so I strive for a moody image. For both technical and emotional reasons I often process a digital colour image into a black and white one. I wish that my technical skills matched my intentions!

Carnatic_13_mono.jpg

Bikini_Saratoga_deck_mono_0.jpg

Nagato_1205_1_19_mono.jpg

The point is that the images are altered to reflect something that I found important on the dive. Because photographers have a style, and the pros a repertoire of styles, from which they can choose, the image can't simply be "reality". It's a selection from reality.

I think that selection is the key concept. That makes it acceptable, or at least less unacceptable, to remove something from an image but much less acceptable, even dishonest, to add something. Removing backscatter is a technical skill, and I'm not too worried if it's a darkroom skill, a Photoshop skill, a mastery of strobe positioning or the use of a Magic filter.

Tim

B)



I agree with pgk. digital is different enough from film that maybe we should stop comparing it to film standards, and we should have a different set of 'adjustments' that we can agree to as acceptable. any thoughts?

#87 tdpriest

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 11:41 AM

I think that the only way out of this somewhat circular discussion is to look at the image. What you see is what you get. If, in a particular circumstance, there are agreed limits to the way in which the image has been produced, then include that information with the image.

I manipulate the contrast, colour balance and intensity of my images (all manipulations that could be done, in less sophisticated ways, by pushing the chemistry of transparency development in the old days). I patch backscatter: the temptation is just too great! I used to sharpen in Photoshop; now I use a combination of sharpening and noise reduction with the NoiseNinja plug-in. I've only once glued a diver from one image into another image, and I felt guilty for weeks afterwards...

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#88 photovan

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 01:57 PM

Taking stuff out is not new...
Unwanted specular highlights, dust etc (backscatter maybe?) on analogue prints from negs or trannies was often retouched out by hand, using dyes and a brush. How photographic was that? And unskilled photogrpaphers often had a third-party retoucher do the work, meaning the finished product wasn't even all theirs. And trannies were often retouched in a similar way prior to scanning for repro in mags etc. Some retouchers could even work on 35mm, others would make a 10x8" duplicate tranny and retouch that. And there were skilled tradesman that used to use opaque, knives and bleach to retouch film separations prior to making plates. In first year at college my lecturer showed me how the "dodge out" a power line from a sky in the darkroom. Whether we agree with it or not, taking stuff out is not new, its just easier.

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#89 photovan

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 02:09 PM

Putting stuff in is not new...
Shackelton adventurer and World War 1 photographer, Australian Frank Hurley, made these composites nearly 100 years ago.

He always said that he felt he could not capture (and hence the folks at home could not experience) the horror of the battlefield in a single exposure. His darkroom composites were recently at the centre of debate here in Australia.

You can see more of his work (btw mostly single exposures) at this web site.

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Edited by photovan, 23 September 2006 - 02:17 PM.

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#90 tdpriest

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 11:45 AM

Posting Frank Hurley's images is a bit sneaky, but I was always inpressed by the feel of his war photography, and as for his Antarctic plates, well. they couldn't possibly be more evocative. I don't really care how he made them, the images speak for themselves.

Your post reminds me that I touched the James Caird, Shackleton's famous whaler that brought him back to South Georgia. Last month it was in a museum in Falmouth, Cornwall, along with the survivors of other maritime catastrophes.

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#91 photovan

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 12:32 PM

Posting Frank Hurley's images is a bit sneaky, ..

:blush: Didn't mean to be "sneaky" just wanted to add some perspective to the debate. A very interesting aspect of the Hurley images that are published on the referenced site anyway, is that they are captioned as composites. Interesting in today's climate of composites everywhere, someone feels strongly enough to celebrate his skill.

Your post reminds me that I touched the James Caird, Shackleton's famous whaler that brought him back to South Georgia. Last month it was in a museum in Falmouth, Cornwall, along with the survivors of other maritime catastrophes.
Tim


And thanks heaps, your quote reminds me of my visit to Shakelton's grave at Gritvyken, and a brief landing late one snowy and windy evening on the very bleak hunk of rock that is Elephant Island.
Now back to the art or reality debate... :blush:

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#92 loftus

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 04:06 PM

Though not a professional photographer, photography has been my hobby for over 40 years. The debate over whether photography is art has gone on since the first daguerreotype. As in the other visual arts, there are so many different styles of photography, from realism, to impressionism, to surrealism (think of Man Ray). Photography can serve so many purposes, to record a realistic record of something for scientific purposes, to sell a product. to convey a mood, to evoke an emotion. If I think of most of the great photographs I have seen, rarely do they represent a scene exactly as we perceive it. We see things as a moving picture not a frozen moment in time, except at great depths or late at night we do not see in monochrome (B&W), below 15 feet we no longer see reds, we rarely see things with the interesting perspective of a great photograph...and on and on. Great photographers were great because they created images that transcended our daily reality and perception of the world. This is what made them great. Ansel Adams of course is the classic that comes to mind. I knew someone many years back who took years working on his prints to gain acceptance to the Royal Photographic Society.
Except for those folks who are taking pictures for critter identification books, the rest of us are doing it to create that wow factor, for our own satisfaction, or our audience. In my opinion, taking a great photograph, is the art of:
1. Capturing the right moment (think of Eric's turtle photograph)
2. Composing the scene to include or remove elements that add to or take away from the balance of the canvas
3. Manipulating the image in camera ( if I am lucky enough) and at every stage in the process as necessary to balance color, tonal range, contrast etc etc to create the most attractive image for the desired output medium - today that is for web as well as colour and B&W prints.
A great photograph may result from combining one or more of these to create art, as compared to a snapshot, whether it represents reality or not.
Ultimately a great photograph evokes emotion - excitement, fear, awe as with great shark pics, sombre reflection as with the B&W wreck shot, humour with some fish shots like a big grouper yawning, stimulation of our senses with patterns and colours.
And now I too will go to sleep, as I am sure everyone else who started reading this already has. :blush:
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