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Is the internet changing our photography style?


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#1 Cal

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 07:02 AM

Hey Wetpixelators,

I'm of the new generation of UW photographers who have only ever dealt in digital photography.

After browsing 1000's of images I was struck by an interesting thought.

Is our photography style changing because of the internet?

People these days only ever really click on images that have bright, saturated and interesting thumbnail images. Particularly in galleries like FLICKR or other online gallery websites. I find that the only shots that receive attention are shots that have the thumbnail completely filled with the subject. I wonder if its because most people only ever view images on their computers at a small size rather then getting them printed out to a decent size where the whole image could be appreciated. When examining the "hits" that certain images on my flickr site ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/calmero/) have I was quite intrigued to find that images that I thought were great were getting very few if any hits unless they were either A) super bright and colorful or B) full framed. Images that were compositionally just as good but lacked bright colours/full framed subjects simply didn't receive any attention at all.

here is an example:

The 2nd image has recieved almost 3X as many views as the first. I don't believe it would be considered a "better" image if printed out to 11X14 but as a thumbnail it is far more pleasing to the eye and so it generates more hits ( This is just an example regardless of which one you think is better.)

Posted Image

Posted Image

So when shooting, I'm very aware that If I don't full frame a subject like the nudi, the image will receive very little "online" attention.

So once again, I wonder if the internet has changed our photography style?

Thoughts?

Cheers,

Cal
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#2 craig

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 07:30 AM

Is your photography style driven by what gets the most hits?
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#3 drsteve

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 07:30 AM

Cal,

I have noticed the same thing. I have been calling it the thumbnail effect. There are plenty of images that look great when printed at a reasonable size, but lose their impact when viewed at web resolution, or worse, as a thumbnail. The web is definitely driving images toward subjects that dominate the frame. Here are a couple of mine which illustrate this effect.

This image has a bald eagle sitting on top of an iceberg. In thumbnail format the eagle is a dot. If you click on the image then "all sizes" you will see that it has a good sense of scale, which is completely lost in the small format.

Posted Image

Here is another. In this one the camoflauge that makes the large scale image interesting, completely loses the subject in the thumbnail format. Almost no one clicks on this image because it just looks like sand, which of course, is the whole point!

Posted Image

Edited by drsteve, 22 August 2008 - 07:32 AM.

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#4 bruceterrill

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 07:33 AM

Who cares ???

Photography is supposed to be an individual's interpretation/creation of an image/scene. . . .
My photography is for my enjoyment. . . . period.
I have never considered anyone else's tastes, likes or dislikes when underwater with my camera in hand. . . .
I try to faithfully reproduce the image before me, onto my 'puter, so that I can relive the moment anytime that I like.

My galleries are open to anyone who cares to look. Hopefully they will get some enjoyment from the images in the same way
that I got enjoyment from taking them. This can only be a bonus to my origional goal of preserving the moment.
And as I struggle through my second week with a bad case of pneumonia, that is tearing away at my lungs relentlessly,
my galleries might be the only enjoyment left to me; which kinda makes me glad that I took the pics for myself and nobody else...

Bruce...

#5 Cal

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 08:07 AM

" Is your photography style driven by what gets the most hits?"

- Of course not, but community recognition contributes towards a photographers sense of achievement and progression regardless. This in turn might lead a photographer to favor a certain style if they see everyone else doing it and getting praise for it.

remember, we're not talking about me here. We're talking about TRENDS in the underwater photography community.

Dr Steve: That eagle image is a perfect example. The sense of scale is lost and I can imagine many viewers simply over looking it (great image BTW.) :bananashark:

Bruce:

"as I struggle through my second week with a bad case of pneumonia, that is tearing away at my lungs relentlessly,"

- sorry to hear that mate! hope you get better :good:


"my galleries might be the only enjoyment left to me; which kinda makes me glad that I took the pics for myself and nobody else..."

- A valid argument and one that I can't really argue against. The only thing I can discuss here is that I usually don't take photos for myself. I take them to show to friends, family etc.


"My photography is for my enjoyment. . . . period."
"I try to faithfully reproduce the image before me, onto my 'puter, so that I can relive the moment anytime that I like."


- We all take images for different reasons. Some of us like to be super creative, some like to try different techniques or maybe photograph a rare critter but at the end of the day I think most (not all) UW photographers like to get a bit of peer support behind them to let them know that their learning, progressing or otherwise improving their underwater photography skill. Its due to this that I wonder whether people are tending to photograph more full framed critters, over saturate their images and bump that brightness level a couple of notches up.

Some more food for thought: In competitions do the judges view all images as "large" or do they view them as thumbnails? - Maybe Alex can Chime in here?


What really started this topic for me was Doubilet's "light, time and water." The book contains some of my all time favorite images. However, if those images were published on the net I doubt any one would notice them at small or thumbnail sizes.

I think its a pretty interesting topic.

Looking forward to some more responses

Cheers

Cal

:lol: ;)
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#6 MikeVeitch

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 08:13 AM

i think internet is a massive thing in photography today. easy access to inspiration and style.

the best way to improve photography for sure! pour over images as much as you can for the simple price of connection instead of having to spend big dosh for coffee table books.

sorry for the brief reply... but no time! hahah

i miss the internet :bananashark:

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#7 loftus

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 08:15 AM

I think this is a very interesting discussion, and does center to some degree around why you shoot, what you shoot, what your ultimate objective is for the image etc.
For some people feedback from others on their images is a priority, for others the only thing that counts is personal satisfaction and a nice big print.
For folks who rely to any degree on photography for their income, this is obviously a very important consideration, and they will photograph and post what sells to a large degree, not always the best image from a photographic perspective.
Personally I think Flickr, Picassa etc are mostly social sites suitable for posting snapshots and a place to store and host images, but are a very poor substitute for a personal website or blog to showcase your images.

Edited by loftus, 22 August 2008 - 08:18 AM.

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#8 craig

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 01:13 PM

remember, we're not talking about me here. We're talking about TRENDS in the underwater photography community.

I'd love to see where online presentation is a unique driver toward a new photographic style. I think the problem is that people need to learn how to do more effective galleries. Yes, thumbnail requirements are unique and not immediately obvious. Doing effective galleries takes some experience---good presentation takes thought.

I currently don't even have a gallery on the internet. I've had them in the past and may in the future, but not now. It's hard to argue that this new perspective, if new at all, is influencing my style. I feel I'm somewhat unique in my motivations. I'm interest in the challenge of underwater photography: the technique, the gear, the ways to make things better and to achieve new results. I'm pleased if people like my images but I'm not motivated by recognition as a photographer. Showing is less important to me than the process itself; I'm the opposite of a photo pro.

So, to answer the original question: "Is the internet changing our photographic style?" I say no. What's changing people's styles, as always, is education and the internet is enabling that to occur more rapidly. Wetpixel has far more influence on style now than photo gallery idiosyncrasies. Today, a photographer from the other side of the world can show me something in an instant that I may have otherwise never seen. That's where the internet is revolutionary.
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#9 davichin

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 03:14 PM

I do not like flickr very much (I have an account to attach pics to forums but never browse...) and I also think is more for party pics etc... something like Youtube is to cinema... I had never noticed that thumbnail effect so it of course does not affect my shooting.

I have two ways of shooting: one is for myself and the other one is for splash-in competitions which are very popular where I live (lots of money involved) and where I shoot to win (or at least try it :bananashark: ), CMAS style sometimes and more creative in other. We look who is going to be the jury, what their shooting style is, and try to perform the best we can when choosing the pics we enter (sometimes leaving out pics that we prefer but are "not for this competition").

Internet is affecting everybodyīs way of shooting but not because of the thumbnail thing but because we have access to what all the community is doing all around the world and that enriches our uwphotography.
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#10 BrianM

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 03:42 PM

When examining the "hits" that certain images on my flickr site ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/calmero/) have I was quite intrigued to find that images that I thought were great were getting very few if any hits unless they were either A) super bright and colorful or B) full framed. Images that were compositionally just as good but lacked bright colours/full framed subjects simply didn't receive any attention at all.


OK Cal, I confess it's me causing the distortion on your Flickr hits. I only ever look at your full framed brightly coloured images.

Only joking, of course I look at tiny dull ones too. :bananashark:

I'm not sure hits on Flickr are a good indicator of taste. Hits also depend on your tags and descriptions, so photos with more common and popular tags will naturally get more hits.
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#11 Cal

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 07:04 PM

Hey

Some great discussion here :lol:

Loftus:

"and does center to some degree around why you shoot, what you shoot, what your ultimate objective is for the image etc.
For some people feedback from others on their images is a priority, for others the only thing that counts is personal satisfaction and a nice big print. "


I probably should have mentioned something like that in the original post. Thanks for covering it!

Craig:

"So, to answer the original question: "Is the internet changing our photographic style?" I say no. What's changing people's styles, as always, is education and the internet is enabling that to occur more rapidly. Wetpixel has far more influence on style now than photo gallery idiosyncrasies. Today, a photographer from the other side of the world can show me something in an instant that I may have otherwise never seen. That's where the internet is revolutionary."

:bananashark:

A very strong argument.


"I'd love to see where online presentation is a unique driver toward a new photographic style. I think the problem is that people need to learn how to do more effective galleries. Yes, thumbnail requirements are unique and not immediately obvious. Doing effective galleries takes some experience---good presentation takes thought."


I'm in the process of setting up an online gallery and let me tell you it is hard work. Learning from scratch , it has taken me the better part of a month. So yes, I completely agree with what you wrote here.


" I feel I'm somewhat unique in my motivations. I'm interest in the challenge of underwater photography: the technique, the gear, the ways to make things better and to achieve new results. I'm pleased if people like my images but I'm not motivated by recognition as a photographer."

- I guess this links back to what loftus wrote about individual tastes. I love the technical side of it as well. Nothing gets me more pumped for a dive then having a new technique to try out.


Davichin:

"I do not like flickr very much (I have an account to attach pics to forums but never browse...) and I also think is more for party pics etc..."


- Its true to a degree but there are some very impressive photographers who use FLICKR or other online free hosting sites as their only means to communicate the images that they've captured. It took me a very long time to finally decide to setup my own site when there was an easy to use and free gallery waiting for me...........

I guess this indicates a bit of a divide between the money that UW photographers have to throw around. I'm full time uni and earn about $250 a week. So as much as I would love to have a big, beautiful blog/website, I simply couldn't afford it until recently.

Mike

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- I don't think you meant it this way, but you touched on one of my key points. The only images that people "seem" to be browsing are the big colorful, full framed ones. I find that people have a natural tendency to copy or replicate what they see, especially if they see it win photo comps etc. An analogy would be "monkey see, monkey do." Following this train of thought; if people are only viewing those big , over saturated, full framed images then is that what they might be trying to replicate?


-------------------------------------


I wonder if there would be a difference between old school (10+ years) UW photographers and the newer generation in photographic style?

Some really good ideas here

Cheers,

Cal

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#12 Poliwog

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 07:30 AM

I don't think our style is changing because of the internet, and here's why...

Back in the analog, pre-digital days, a photographer printed a contact sheet ( simply lay the negatives on the paper and expose with light, develop, fix, wash, etc.) to develop what we would think of as “Thumbnails” in today's world. Generally, the photographer was the only one who saw the contact sheets (i.e. thumbnails) as a rule, but there were exceptions to the rule that I will not go into here.

Viewing the contact sheet gave the photographer a “rudimentary” first look at the images, and the basis for an initial selection of image(s) with which to work. Think of looking at your thumbnail images in today's world.

It wasn't until later, when the images were hanging in a traditional “brick and mortar” gallery that the public was able to view the full size images, without the benefit of the the thumbnails.

Vary rarely do people in a gallery setting view artistic images in sequence, and they generally gravitate to those images they find attractive to their own personal tastes. In other words, if they see something bright and colourful on the wall in one spot, then they will go there first at the expense of the other images they find less interesting.

The only two differences that I can see from the traditional gallery setting and that of one on the Internet, is that the Internet now provides you with viewing statistics, which would have been hard to determine in a traditional “bricks and mortar” setting, and the fact that the thumbnails or contact sheet played a less public role in the analog pre-digital days.

Edited by Poliwog, 23 August 2008 - 07:31 AM.

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#13 NWDiver

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 09:20 AM

I think you do see some of the "Thumbnail Effect" even here with the Picture of the Week contest. I have seen some incredible shots that really fit the theme but didn't even place because they were more WA and you did not really appreciate them from just the thumb. I have seen other shots that won that really filled the frame but I looked at and thought "what does this have to do with the theme?" and this was not near as hard to capture as X shot.

#14 davichin

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 10:26 AM

Davichin:

"I do not like flickr very much (I have an account to attach pics to forums but never browse...) and I also think is more for party pics etc..."


- Its true to a degree but there are some very impressive photographers who use FLICKR or other online free hosting sites as their only means to communicate the images that they've captured. It took me a very long time to finally decide to setup my own site when there was an easy to use and free gallery waiting for me...........

I guess this indicates a bit of a divide between the money that UW photographers have to throw around. I'm full time uni and earn about $250 a week. So as much as I would love to have a big, beautiful blog/website, I simply couldn't afford it until recently.


I can afford a beautiful website but I donīt have one (in my case is because the theoretical webmaster is a lazy friend of mine and I canīt get him to work ;) ...) so I donīt think it has to do with money but with the desire of recognition. Flickr pics maybe seen/hit/commented by a lot of non diving people which is fine, but I give a lot more value to one comment in WP than to ten in Flickr because is much harder to impress a WP member with UWphotos and critics/comments from WP members have a solid base and knowledge.

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- I don't think you meant it this way, but you touched on one of my key points. The only images that people "seem" to be browsing are the big colorful, full framed ones. I find that people have a natural tendency to copy or replicate what they see, especially if they see it win photo comps etc. An analogy would be "monkey see, monkey do." Following this train of thought; if people are only viewing those big , over saturated, full framed images then is that what they might be trying to replicate?


-------------------------------------


I wonder if there would be a difference between old school (10+ years) UW photographers and the newer generation in photographic style?


Mike, thatīs for you! heheheheheheeeee!!! :good: (I have never shot film :bananashark: )


P.S: Great picture of the bald eagle, Steve! :lol: Thankfully I read there was a bald eagle so I "hit" the thumbnail! (just joking!)

Edited by davichin, 23 August 2008 - 10:27 AM.

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#15 drsteve

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 10:55 AM

I think that everyone can agree that styles are changing. I think we are arguing a little as to why. Certainly the digital revolution has changed things a lot. I know that I take a lot more "experimental" images than I ever took with a film camera. As far as whether the mechanics of photosharing sites are changing styles, I think that only time will tell, but I think to that to discount sites like flickr as for only party pics is to seriously miss what is happening. Certainly there is a tremendous amount of junk out there, but remember Sturgeons Law "90 percent of everything is crap". I am not interested in the 90%, but in the remaining 10%. There is some AMAZING photography out there and I know that I have learned a lot and have been inspired by images that I see online. There is also something of a meme evolution going on. Images that are "popular" are redistributed and emulated widely. The way images become popular is to stand out from the crowd. Often this means bright, saturated images, that fill the frame in a thumbnail. Hence the selection bias that Cal talked about at the beginning of this thread.

Edited by drsteve, 23 August 2008 - 10:57 AM.

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#16 davichin

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 11:30 AM

I think to that to discount sites like flickr as for only party pics is to seriously miss what is happening. Certainly there is a tremendous amount of junk out there, but remember Sturgeons Law "90 percent of everything is crap". I am not interested in the 90%, but in the remaining 10%. There is some AMAZING photography out there and


Yes, of course there is AMAZING photography in Flickr, and you have many examples in your gallery, but I get tired trying to look for them (maybe I donīt know how to search) and end up finding subpar pics like "honeymoon in Bora Bora; Snorkeling" etc... So I go there to check members I know or following links from forums, but I donīt browse from scratch per sé. Maybe if I had more time I would do it.

Edited by davichin, 23 August 2008 - 11:31 AM.

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#17 loftus

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 12:40 PM

but I think to that to discount sites like flickr as for only party pics is to seriously miss what is happening.

I agree with David. I think there is some great stuff on flickr but you definitely have to sort through a ton of crap to find it, or be directed to a specific series. I just don't think the layout of flckr is great for someone trying to showcase their images, it's designed for quantity not quality.
As you mention Steve, there is definitely much more experimentation now with digital, and probably far more diversity than ever before, and so you've probably hit the nail on the head there, that photography styles are changing to incorporate this increasing diversity brought on by digital. So really it's probably the shift to digital that is more important than the internet by itself, thought the internet has of course facilitated much more rapid and far ranging interchange of ideas, and our ability to view so many more images than we ever could when we relied on prints or slides.
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#18 rtrski

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 06:39 AM

I don't know that my style is changing (or for that matter that I have a style). But I can definitely say the internet is a rapid-fire education process.

Without it, the only UW pictures I'd be exposed to would be from Scuba mags, the occasional dive resort brochure or occasional gallery display at a regional scuba event, or those shown to me by other photographers either on their screens or in albums they lug along with them on trips. With the internet, I can see what makes up a picture that I respond to, and what I would like to emulate (not duplicate, because of course we'd all like to put our own spin as well as absorb the lessons of others).

And then of course there's Wetpixel, where the internet lets me ask questions and get answers. Maybe the 'cult of mediocrity' effect means the answers I'm getting are just from other no-talent amateurs like myself just a bit further ahead of me on the timeline, but regardless I would have to say I am influenced by what I read on the internet, thus in that way it is influencing my development or lack thereof.

Thumbnails and color saturation on a computer screen might somewhat 'filter' what I end up looking at full-screen to a certain degree, but I still look at the fullscreen shots and make any decisions from that, and still find myself clicking on unclear thumbnails thinking "what the <beep> is that???". That's why I don't vote in the POTW as often as I should. It gets really tiring keeping track after clicking thru them all. (Side note: I wish the POTW had a 'filter' feature, to let you tag things out and slowly filter down the ones you see as you're "judging".) Yet maybe again that's an indication that the internet isn't changing what I think of as "my" style or the type of pictures I'd like to take - I've noticed the ones I vote for 1st - 3rd are rarely the community consensus winners, and often not even up in the top 10 (assuming they are all in vote-order after the 3rd place, which I believe I've seen posted elsewhere is the case).

I don't draw too much conclusion from my own meagre Flickr traffic, aside from that people seem to click on the pics that obviously have female divers in the frame. ;)

Edited by rtrski, 24 August 2008 - 06:42 AM.

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