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Doubilet's Nudi Beauty!


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#21 loftus

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 08:28 PM

I do think these are beautiful images; but really, what is the difference here whether he put a background behind them, or just used Photoshop to create them? As beautiful as they are, I do find it a bit unsettling that there does seem to be a little bit of a double standard - whether the nudi's were moved or even if they crawled onto the bacjgroud, these are highly manipulated images.

Edited by loftus, 16 May 2008 - 08:31 PM.

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#22 Marjo

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 10:29 PM

Althogh I do not think that it was a terrible thing that Doubilet might have moved the nudis onto a backgroubnd to create these different and stunning images, I do think it is good that we are debating this issue.

"Not touching marine creatures" is probably one of those subjects that we will keep on writing about year in and year out and all of us will basically agree that harming any marine life for the sake of getting images is not ok.

But It is OK that we keep repeating this - we shoudl all be reminded of our responibility not to cause harm, but rather to try to protect. Debating this subject oalso brings attention to this important issue to new UW photographers.

Edited by Marjo, 16 May 2008 - 10:30 PM.


#23 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 12:58 AM

I think it is amazing that we do not see wholesale condemnation of these images.
Were I to enter one of my photos in a contest here at WP, and the critters were so obviously handled/posed you guys would have my head!!!
Why is this case any different???


Judging from the handful of emails and messages I have received since I first posted (praising the images) in this thread, I think that there are a lot of people who think that this level of subject manipulation is wholly unacceptable, particularly from someone in such a influential position.

Everyone who has written to me could have posted their thoughts here, but people are reluctant to speak out against the great man. Partly due to respect they have for him and the fact he has given us all years of pleasure and inspiration from his photographs. And partly, I guess, because criticising him is often interpreted as jealousy. I have no doubt that if someone other than DD had posted these shots the tone of this discussion would be very different.

Personally, I think that these are some of the most original and eye-catching images I have seen of UW creatures for a while. They really show DD's class to come up with something so fresh after so many years working UW. Nudis are pretty hardy creatures and I am sure that they all took this experience in their stride. Although the debate is also valuable.

Alex

p.s. I didn't watch all the video - but I think it would have been valuable to show an image of a nudi being gently collected for the photography - to alleviate concerns.

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#24 loftus

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 03:40 AM

My question is: Would you admire these images as much if you knew the background was created in Photoshop (quite doable)? I for one would like them just as much.
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#25 cor

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 04:05 AM

I would like them more. It would have been absolutely wonderful if DD would have embraced digital post processing to create such a relatively easy effect, keeping the same impact of the beautiful photos.
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#26 mtnman

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 04:21 AM

"However, I do think that there are circumstances where touching marine life IS justified."
Yes I agree there are such circumstances but they are by scientists not by a photographer regardless of who he is and how original the images may be. After all if he can do it why can't one of us?

Edited by mtnman, 17 May 2008 - 09:28 AM.


#27 jeremypayne

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 04:50 AM

AMAZING shots ... so amazing, I may buy a few prints!

I think the debate is a good one.

The golden "touch nothing and leave only bubbles" rule is a good one ... but why does this rule exist? To protect the underwater environs.

Did DD or his assistants hurt the animals or the environs? I seriously doubt it.

Would I do what he did? No way. I'm why the rule exists. I don't know what I'm doing and I WOULD likely hurt such a delicate creature were I to attempt to move one.

The best argument against him is probably the "copycat" angle ... will other people try this? No doubt they will.

Do I believe these same people would be moving or harrassing other things in the abscence of these images? I have no doubt they would.

I'm of the opinion that such images will not increase the amount of "touching" ... those of us who "don't touch" will admire the images and go go on "not touching". This didn't make me want to touch anything.
(Did make me start thinking about trying to re-create the effect in post, however!)

Some will undoubtably try to capture similar images, but I'm pretty sure that if these folks were not putting little critters on white u/w studio sets, these same folks would be moving them from this place to that to get a "better shot".

Bottom-line: no harm, no foul.
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#28 loftus

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 05:15 AM

I believe this has been done, in the book I think is called Archipelago about the Hawaiian islands. I need to find it.
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#29 Marjo

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 06:11 AM

After all if he can do it why can't one of us?


One could argue a that it is becasue David Doubilets eyecathing images in National Geograhic Magazine reaches millions of readers around the world and hence the "good" that comes out of these photographs far outweighs any possible distress to these Nudi's.

Unfortunately, while "you or me" might be able to create some amazing images, we neither have the name recognition nor backing to publish images to reach an audience of this magnitude and with this impact. Even if you are well published, be it in magazines or in books or in other media, very few media would have the same reach and impact as National Geographic.

Also, if it were "you or me" (and with you and me I am referring to the large number of underwater photographers) the likelyhood of us being able to do it correctly and legally with the scientific or conservationsit justification is low.

One day when we "grow up to be David Doubilet" and we have the possibility and venue to reach and worldwide attentive audience at the same scale as National Geographic, you or I might be justified to use an unusual method like this.

As for the idea of David Doubilet photoshopping, it is a very interesting debate. It evokes some mixed feelings in me. I would agree that the backgrounds of the images could have been created in photoshop and that doing so would have possibly been less "invasive" in the minds of many. The geek in me says "yes, this is how we could improve the world thru technology" (and yes, I am a geek by profession, so i am not opposed to technology per se), but the photographer in me would have been extremely disappointed to have found David Doubilet photoshopping out backgrounds.

#30 jeremypayne

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 08:28 AM

the photographer in me would have been extremely disappointed to have found David Doubilet photoshopping out backgrounds.

No offense meant, but I will never understand this attitude. I would be dissapointed if he LIED about doing it, but I'm with Cor - I would have been even more impressed if that's how he did it.

While I'm more than willing to give him a "pass" on the "no touch" rule ... I'd give him even more props for creating the same image without having had to physcially interact with the animals to get the shot.

On that ... I think the hardest part of the PS effort would be the shadows ...
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#31 Lionfish43

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 08:59 AM

I applaud David Doubilet for these images, truly works of art. Similar techniques were used by the Church's and others but here the execution is flawless and really brought to another level.

I also applaud the fact that he has more or less thumbed his nose at the notion that touching is always bad. Does a nudibranch even know when it's been "manipulated?" Will it's behavior be "modified?" (Tongue firmly in cheek)

I like the way Jeremy put it, "no harm, no foul."
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#32 Bargibanti

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 10:44 AM

No question, DD is an idol and has been an important inspiration, and this technique seems to be new
( didnt i saw somewhere a pygmy seahorse with a blue plate in the background?), but i will always prefer a
shot from an animal in its natural environment, especially cause i know its much harder to get an excellent shot!

regarding "dont touch this": may be some nudis like to be touched tenderly? :)

beo

#33 Giles

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 10:53 AM

OK

I wanna see someone who thinks this can be done in photoshop do it and have the same quality and effect.

thats an open challenge .. i doubt anyone will come up with an image of the same studio style feel with the perfect lighting and shadows etc.

I am convinced it is better and easier to do it the old fashioned way, using a little bit of ingenuity and photographic talent still outbeats any digital post processing.
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#34 loftus

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 10:55 AM

I know I may be belaboring this point, but I think there are a number of issues brought up here, irrespective of whether the nudi itself is manipulated or not. So forgetting about whether it is right or wrong to manipulate critters, if I were to set up an 'underwater studio' like this with a background, and take photographs, would they qualify for the 'unmanipulated' categories in compettions. If not, why not, and if yes, then why is this different to creating the image in photoshop.
Is it appropriate to exhibit these in a natural history type magazine like Nat Geo magazine, where the animal has effectively been taken out of it's normal environment in the image. Would these qualify for the BBC Wildlife Photographer competition?
I think in the final analysis, it's 'all about the image', and these are great images.

OK

I wanna see someone who thinks this can be done in photoshop do it and have the same quality and effect.

thats an open challenge .. i doubt anyone will come up with an image of the same studio style feel with the perfect lighting and shadows etc.

I am convinced it is better and easier to do it the old fashioned way, using a little bit of ingenuity and photographic talent still outbeats any digital post processing.

For an adept photoshop user this would be easy; I am not adept, but seeing you lay down a challenge, I will find some folks who are, and see if we can rise to the challenge. The challenging parts are creating a believable mask and drop shadow. Can anyone provide some nice nudi shots with normal background, for practice?

Edited by loftus, 17 May 2008 - 11:01 AM.

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#35 MikeVeitch

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 01:16 PM

I would like them more. It would have been absolutely wonderful if DD would have embraced digital post processing to create such a relatively easy effect, keeping the same impact of the beautiful photos.



Easy effect? really? i couldnt get a clean, natural looking cut out of an object in PS if my life depended on it.
there is no way i could ever make that look natural in PS. would look all choppy and crap if i tried it. I'm just a photographer, not a graphic designer. and i would think David would say the same :) (just a guess mind you)

it would be a heck of a lot easier and less time for me to do it in camera thats for sure.

Personally, i like the shots myself.. well done DD.

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#36 Lionfish43

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 01:26 PM

I think the basic idea would be relatively easy to accomplish is photoshop. Selecting and separating the nudi and substituting a white background....fairly simple. Even the shadows are not that hard.

What would be difficult, if not impossible, as Giles has pointed out, is duplicating the lighting. The white background is acting as a giant reflector and acting as a light source itself. That would be a real challenge even to a Photoshop guru.
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#37 cor

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 05:18 PM

Ok, maybe they're not so easy, but for an expert not rocket science either. But that wasnt really what I reacted to. First of all, I love these images. No question about that. But it's obvious how they were made, and there is a bit of a double standard there. If any of us had made those shots, the discussion would be a lot more extreme.

I wish he had made them with PS, because that would help remove a stigma that surrounds PS and I for one would have thought that would have been truly awesome.
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#38 BottomTime

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 06:24 PM

I believe this has been done, in the book I think is called Archipelago about the Hawaiian islands. I need to find it.


I believe this has been done as well. The artists names are S. Middleton and D. Liittschwager. There are a couple of examples in this newsletter;

http://www.bms.bc.ca...sletter2(2).pdf

Check out the image of the Leopard Blenny on pg1 and the Hermit crab and green sea turtle hatchings on pg 8. I have no idea how the photo's were created or if the subjects were manipulated.

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#39 BoatMoney

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 08:54 PM

but the photographer in me would have been extremely disappointed to have found David Doubilet photoshopping out backgrounds.

In film days a photographer submitted to the mag by sending in exposed film only. All developing/processing was done by nat geo staff. I suspect in today's game the photographer submits virgin RAW files only and all post-processing is done by NG staff as well. It is very likely that every single image we see in Nat Geo is manipulated, in the truest sense of the term.

I tend to agree with the assumptions that there was probably no harm done to the nudi's, but I am curious why a magazine like Nat Geo and a photographer like Doubilet wouldn't simply not disclose the animal handling and allow the public to assume the backgrounds were done in post. If the animal handling was a bad choice the disclosure would seem to be a worse one, if only because it may give rationale to divers and photographers who until now may have been reticent to engage in this level of animal manipulation.

Still, in my experience diving around people who make a living at this game (and not speaking about David specifically here).....animal manipulation as well as reef ravaging isn't exactly an uncommon occurance. It doesn't usually happen on one of their guided tours or instructional trips, but there has always been more than a few sanctimonious foxes in the hen-house in this regard :)
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#40 dsbierman

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 03:11 AM

I'm not impressed. I won't dispute the beauty of these photographs. BUT, am I the only one who thinks that Doubilet's photos were EASY to capture??? After all, by using this technique, he has managed to control virtually all of the environmental factors which would normally limit an underwater photographer, including: background, lighting, angles, escape routes for the nudis, and even time/depth.

Speaking of the latter, does anyone really think that he took his 'studio' with him to 25 meters? I seriously doubt it. He probably had his assistants collect, and bring them to 5 meters of calm water where he could take his sweet time. And not that DD would ever have backscatter in a photo, but 'whiting out' a spec has never been so easy. In conclusion, given the (arguably) robust nature of nudis, the quality of these pictures, and the ease of results, I think we're going to see a lot more of this. Unfortunately, I don't think it will be limited to nudis in the future. Can anyone say, 'boxer crab'? :)

-David

Edited by dsbierman, 18 May 2008 - 03:42 AM.