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Time For A Major Philosophy Change?


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#21 Puffer Fish

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 07:30 AM

interesting.. last year i actually decided to start cropping a few select images here and there, after all, everyone else does it and so why not.. but, it makes me feel dirty each and every time i do it.

This is a 105 with 2x TC, non cropped, full frame. Sure, i could have done the same with a simple 60mm and cropped it but... Don't people feel that sense of satisfaction from working on a photo for 30 mins before pulling the trigger and nailing the shot?! I guess not..

Posted Image



I dunno.. i assume 90% of people will say "use the technology, crop it in post" but I hate that, its just seems wrong

That's just me

haha.. i am becoming old and crotchety!



Hi Mike, nice to see you are still alive.

Nice image. Easy to understand why you feel that way.... after all, it is a lot easier to post process, and your image takes far more skill to do.

But what if you wanted the whole animal in focus (artistic choice)? Physical reality is that your setup could not do that. It could be done by using a different setup and cropping. It would not be the case of being lazy, but rather looking for a specific appearance. Would that be wrong? And if it is not, then making a judgement based on someone's intent would seem to be a bit difficult to do, and if it is, then one is passing judgement on what a good image is.

I've seen lots of your work, and you are one talented person. Whether you crop or not would not change that judgement, and it might just give you some more freedom to produce more of your work.

#22 loftus

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 07:34 AM

interesting.. last year i actually decided to start cropping a few select images here and there, after all, everyone else does it and so why not.. but, it makes me feel dirty each and every time i do it.

This is a 105 with 2x TC, non cropped, full frame. Sure, i could have done the same with a simple 60mm and cropped it but... Don't people feel that sense of satisfaction from working on a photo for 30 mins before pulling the trigger and nailing the shot?! I guess not..

Posted Image



I dunno.. i assume 90% of people will say "use the technology, crop it in post" but I hate that, its just seems wrong

That's just me

haha.. i am becoming old and crotchety!

Cropping is only one element. If you were to present this image as a RAW image, it would be markedly inferior to the one you show. It's only post-processing in or out of camera that makes it what it is. There's definitely a sense of satisfaction to spending sometimes hours in Photoshop and creating the desired image. No different to doing it in camera, or watching a print develop in the darkroom.
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#23 albert kok

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 09:33 AM

Best artistic pictures taken ever were those taken in B&W with the Rolleiflex 3.5 F Planar lens (-:
like this picture of Bill Brandt

http://www.google.nl.../...wAw&dur=640

Edited by albert kok, 01 March 2012 - 10:36 AM.


#24 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 09:54 AM

Thanks everyone for the comments so far. In many ways opinions are the most important thing here.

I have a traditional outlook - I guess that was my reason for posting. But I am beginning to conclude that this point of view might be a drawback and does it really have any justification?

Alex

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#25 PRC

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 10:21 AM

Find stick and poke vigorously into an ants nest then Alex !

No large scale edits may not be justified Alex, however commercially you need to do whatever it takes or you are taking up too much space out there on the edge.....

I never had the slide 'hang up', I gave up picture taking on land in the film days when I felt that sending the film in for processing put the end result out of my control, having 'lost' control I lost interest and gave up - enter digital.

With the D800 (which is going to be big - maybe as big as the D70 was for Nikon, which saved them financially) then large amounts of cropping may well become the viable norm - as long as your technique and dome etc achieves razor sharp focus on the original frame.

Regardless of how the end result is achieved the value is in the final image perception by the viewer. There will always be a place in the market for good imaginative images - which is what you produce and sell and I do not.

Paul C

Edited by PRC, 01 March 2012 - 10:22 AM.

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#26 randapex

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 10:22 AM

The field is being leveled.
The photographic result distincton, ie: publishable images, between "Pro" and amateur underwater photographers continues to shrink as the technology improves. To me, it's simply moving toward an objective of perfection through technology. The goal, seemingly, is to produce the perfect photo with the least amount of input, (Dare I say: Thought?) from the photographer.

This leaves the photo itself, the vision & story behind it, as the last remaining element that distinguises one photographer from the next.
So, embrace these new technologies Alex, for someone who makes a living by the camera, anything that lightens the workload has to be seen as a plus. But you're brain's still on the hook for the final creativity of the image... :swimmingfish:

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#27 JKrumsick

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 10:29 AM

I think you shoot what you are striving for. If you strive for a certain look or feel then the best way to do that is to do the best job you can with whatever camera you have (in other words - it is best to get it right in the cameras first). Post can only make it look better.

Eventually we will be able to put remote control vehicles underwater and have them photo fish. An electronic fish with cameras for eyes and a strobe in its butt. We won't even have to dive. While this will make it easier to photo schools of fish and give us new angles to work with etc... the result will be less satisfaction.

I get personal satisfaction out of being there. Visualizing a shot. Working hard to get it. Taking one shot that makes you really proud.

I was introduced to photography with Digital and have since been shooting a lot more film. Not underwater yet but that is yet to come. I think there is something to be said for images taken with film... as a unique identifier.

I am selfish. I don't care what other people think. I do what I do as a personal challenge and a way to express myself. Some people find that knowing the billion different effects you can make with photoshop is a challenge and it can definitely help you express yourself. I have dabbled in it... but its not what I want to be doing. And I see myself doing less of it as time goes by.

#28 Drew

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 10:31 AM

Ah Alex, I had a similar conversation with that DP from Lytro a few months back and really he thinks DSLR is going the way of film.

Some traditions die a natural death. :swimmingfish:

Right now, there's a 14mp camera shooting 120fps, so missing the shot is much less likely than say, a daguerreotype. Like everything else, many "traditionalists" choose a period they are comfortable with and judge from there. The mini-mini-Mustards will probably laugh at your DSLR collection with their iRetina cameras :)
Keeping an open mind about technology will allow the user new ways to capture images. In the end, that's the point no?

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#29 Puffer Fish

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 10:37 AM

Thanks everyone for the comments so far. In many ways opinions are the most important thing here.

I have a traditional outlook - I guess that was my reason for posting. But I am beginning to conclude that this point of view might be a drawback and does it really have any justification?

Alex



Your question will be debated as long as their are people taking pictures. I still remember Minor White and Ansel, after a few too many beers, arguing over the concept of commercial "art"(strong on the commercial, short on the art). Ansel believed that for a photographer to make a living off of his work, his images needed to be bigger than life, so putting perfect clouds in a perfect mountain scene only made sense. Minor believed the image should communicate something to the viewer. Ansel would point out Minor made his living teaching...while he only had his images.

History seems to have sided with Ansel...or look at the work of other people we remember....like Yousuf Karsh, famous for his portraits....was this image done with lighting or darkroom work, or some of both?

Photo

And was complex lighting any better than complex darkroom work?

If you are trying to present commercial art, then I would suggest that you make it larger than life...something normal mortals will never see or be able to duplicate. If you are making yourself happy, then who care. And anything that helps you, you should use.

#30 Viz'art

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 11:17 AM

What delightful topic, here is my take on technology and how I try and apply it, its a bit like landscape versus wildlife photography, shooting a wreck or a reef allows us more time to work the subject and this is where things like the HDR, panoramic and various other time consuming technique can not only be applied but IMO are welcome, on the other hand, shooting fish behavior demands spur of the moment reaction and a readiness on the part of the photographer, here, I feel, nailing the shot in camera as much as possible is rewarding. I am not putting cropping out of the equation, just trying to avoid it if at all possible, it feels more proper to this type of imaging. Tooling should never become an excuse for poor artistry

We could go on and on about tools influencing the art, how about this one; was the shot of a wild animal lessen by the fact it was taken with a long telephoto versus a shorter in your face focal length? the landscape less beautiful because of the extreme wide angle lens? I rarely question the path, but value the destination, what was done to get the shot needed to be done, after that, the shot will either suck big time, be good or simply marvelous. my first job in photography was as a B&W lab technician back in 71, to says that we manipulated the image on occasion then has got to be the understatement of the day :) everything was push processed, zone system'ed, dodged, burned, cropped, bleached, toned. Straight print you say! are you kidding me :swimmingfish:

I strongly believe Amsel Adam would be embracing Digital big F#$@ng time if he was around, heck he would probably be consulting for some B&W plug-in developer for all I know.

Alex, I like the painterly feel of you Wreck shot, its also right at home in this thread, good posting mate!
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#31 Paul Kay

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 12:12 PM

I'm becoming more and more convinced that photography is more about pre-visualising the final output image than being about the technology or the decisions about how it was taken. Actually looking at a scene (in whatever genre), 'seeing' how you want it to appear as a photographic image and carrying that through to achieve the desired image is to me what photography is now about - and the digital revolution has provided us with far more ways of doing this than most of us had in the past. Whether Photoshop is used is as irrelevant as what lens, camera and so on - to the final viewed image. Traditionally photographers were largely limited by the technology they used - I do remember looking at a retoucher's portfolio of images, all carefully adjusted and re-coloured by hand using scalpel, brushes and dyes, but the cost of doing this was well out of reach of most photographers. Today we have an astounding array of technology, but one thing remains the same - 'seeing' and then 'executing' an image. Personally I have had no trouble with moving on from the traditional constraints imposed by film (although I fully support 'rules' which ensure that falsity in wildlife images is not acceptable). I actually suspect that the majority of photographers have already had their major philosophical change....
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#32 Poliwog

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 12:18 PM

I think this conversation is a bit premature at the moment -- Alex's feelings aside.

Yes, the Lytro camera is now shipping but it is still at the emerging technology stage. I doubt they will be able to amass enough market capital to truly make an impact on the way we create our images.

I think the more important question to be asked is whether any of the major players will be interested in swallowing this company and using the technology in their high end (or low end for that matter) products?

I'm not saying this technology is not promising, but rather other things have to happen in the marketplace before it becomes an issue where we have to reflect on our abilities as photographers.

The technology can go two ways, either high end products, or low end consumer market. If it goes high end, then it can only enhance our skills as photographers just as auto exposure and auto focus has. If goes low end to the more consumer market (iphones and point and shoot cameras) then I fear it will have a more detrimental effect on photography as a viable occupation.

If the company does get taken over, then we might just see Eric ending up as an employee for one of the major camera manufacturers. Hopefully Canon for his sake. I don't think he would appreciate having to switch over to the dark side, as they say, because the company he works for gets bought out by one of Canon's competitors. :swimmingfish:
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#33 decosnapper

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 12:19 PM

I have a traditional outlook - I guess that was my reason for posting. But I am beginning to conclude that this point of view might be a drawback and does it really have any justification?


Editorially, do you want your work to be believed? To faithfully represent the truth? To maintain integrity? To remain credible?

The reputation of a few photographers has been killed by going too far in the manipulation stakes...it makes no sense to join them, no matter the justification...

My 2p
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#34 Paul Kay

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 12:36 PM

Editorially, do you want your work to be believed? To faithfully represent the truth? To maintain integrity? To remain credible?

There are of course some genres of photography where the inherent truthfulness of the image is essential - photojournalism, forensic or scientific photography as example.
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#35 PRC

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 12:43 PM

And others that produce jaw dropping images that are impossible without technology. Focus stacked macro for instance :-

http://www.photomacr...pic.php?t=16018
http://www.photomacr...pic.php?t=15703
http://www.photomacr...pic.php?t=15792
http://www.photomacr...pic.php?t=15794


None of the above (I believe) could be obtained without serious amounts of 'manipulation' - whatever that means.

They represent a view that is not possible with conventional technology - but in many ways just overcome the mechanical and physics limitations of the camera and lens.

Paul C

Edited by PRC, 01 March 2012 - 12:48 PM.

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#36 Viz'art

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 12:45 PM

There are of course some genres of photography where the inherent truthfulness of the image is essential - photojournalism, forensic or scientific photography as example.



You are right Paul, documentary work should not stray into the manipulated image for the sake of the subject, artistic and commercial work on the other hand should have free reign on the method used.
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#37 Drew

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 12:48 PM

Agreed Paul. And that's the point really! If you are shooting within certain constraints, then obviously those limits should be observed. In that sense, a light field camera isn't considered manipulation since it's taking a picture of the scene captured. Same way an Epic will capture an 18 stop 14mp frame at 60fps. So what's wrong with that?

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#38 Paul C

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 01:27 PM

What a fascinating discussion, Alex. I've read every opinion and could take the view that everybody is correct, even though some disagree with others. Why? Because images have such a diverse range of motivations, needs and individual perspectives, both when created and when viewed. An image is usually attributed to one person. But thousands and in some cases millions of people can view it. It is impossible to satisfy every individual need simultaneously. Only when bounded by rules, explicit or implicit in (for example) competitions, publishing, ethics, and so on, can one person seek to impose rules upon others. And in adopting a style or fashion of the moment, which we see much of in photography, some people can be motivated by peer pressure, which is both good and bad. I like to be inspired by others and have no shame in emulation. But I also choose freedom to explore.

I value the adventurous soul who tries to break free of convention. I wish that I had more courage and time to do so. Exploration should have the minimum number of constraints if people are to discover new things and advance art or science. The minimum constraints are probably somewhere around the boundaries imposed by decency and morality. So whether or not I like a particular image, I am willing to respect anybody who attempts to embrace a new technology if the associated results bring satisfaction to either the creator or viewer of an image. The point is that I'm not the only person who creates or views images; other people's motivations, needs and perspectives matter just as much as mine.

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#39 manatee19

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 02:19 PM

Very interesting post Alex.

A little story: In the early 2000s, my wife/partner Danielle was judging in Antibes. The chair of the photo jury was Ernie Brooks II himself; talk about someone who knows something about photography.

Once they had selected the 10 best one, to make the final selection his advice was: “Pick the image that has the strongest message.”

We may have different goals in our photography but, ultimately, it is a statement. In that sense, cropping, dodging and other “manipulations” may be part of the process.

Obviously we all strive to make the best image right from the start and, if possible, only using the camera. However, digital reality means post-processing. Then the question is: How much is too much?

Let’s say I have a 60mm and not a 105mm… is it wrong to crop my pygmy seahorse picture to make my statement? How many iconic pictures have actually been cropped? I may intentionally use a larger cropping when I make the image simply because I need to be able to crop the images according to its future use: magazine vs computer presentation. I may not have the time nor the tools to reshoot with a different cropping.

Mr. Brooks advice to his jury members was right, plain and simple.

One day we were talking about the digital darkroom with him and he explained how much he loved this new technology. He mentioned that in the old days, he would use special paint in different shades of black/gray/white to manually retouch an image where there was a trace of backscatter.

Ansel Adams’ process was also darkroom intensive, does it degrade the quality of his images? Absolutely not.

Retouching or post-processing is also a question of measure.

As for competitions, they can all have different rules. Truth of the matter is that technology makes it almost impossible to set a rule like: no post processing.

If the contest is about selecting the best photographer then asking for a raw image makes sense. If it is about simply judging the strongest image, post processing and things like cropping and other basic manipulations are probably OK.

Of course, if you publish a picture and pretend it shows reality and the image has been manipulated in such a way that it does not have anything to do with reality then it is not OK.

Here’s a question: A photographer submits a perfectly lighted image of a grouper in a contest. He cropped the original for a good reason: there was the tip of a diver’s fin appearing in one corner. Does it disqualify the photographer? Is his/her image bad because it was cropped? This person may not have had the luxury of time to wait for the fin to disappear… maybe there was too much action going on… does this make the image a bad one?

Another case in point: I have a D800 and use a DX format lens to shoot a macro picture of a shrimp. Would it be wrong to crop the image to DX angle of view if I shot it with an FX lens?

Has it ever been wrong for a painter to use a camera obscura as a tool?

Let’s continue to discuss this interesting subject…

Michel
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#40 errbrr

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 04:41 PM

Part of the impact of underwater photos comes from the assumed difficulty in taking them. Non-divers like underwater animal shots because they assume they were hard to get. Divers like shots of stuff they find it hard to see or get close to, because they assume they were hard to get. Underwater photographers have a much better understanding of which shots were hard to get, and value them accordingly.

I occasionally complain that the majority of the photo viewing public has no understanding of how hard underwater cave photography can be, with having to stay alive at the same time as creating art. A friend of mine once took a bunch of photos of a wreck at 130m that weren't that good - except they were taken at 130m in a temperate ocean.

The satisfaction in taking a great photo is increased if it was tricky. I think viewers feel ripped off when they value a shot that they assumed was difficult, only to later discover that it was Photoshopped and not as hard as they thought. Objectively though, even easy to take or lucky shots can be fantastic art...so surely even hard to get shots made easier by technology can be fantastic art too?