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Time For A Major Philosophy Change?


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#81 Steve Douglas

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 09:29 AM

Here you are.
Steve

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#82 dray

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 02:26 AM

In camera photos or post shoot editing?



The question for some under water photographers at themoment is: should the photos be submitted straight out of the camera or is postediting going with modern times. Alex Mustard started this discussion onwetpixel.com with lots of comments for both sides.



Before the digital age there was (especially with slides)not much choice. The photo had to be shot good or that was it. I was happy with2 good shots per roll. However when it came to black and white photography,photo shopping and retouching were not that different. Already in thedeveloping stage you could influence the outcome. After that the negativescould be retouched with a fine brush and ink (not unlike spot healing nowadays).Then came the lighting and by moving the projector you could crop. Overexposedparts could be less exposed than darker bits. You could influence the endresult once more in the developing bath by rubbing the paper. So whatís thisfuss with post editing on a computer? Maybe itís just fear of a computer.



I think photography, if itís on land or under water, is aform of art. Firstly the end result should be what you like and secondly whatpleases other people. I studied art and part of it was art history. Letís takeRembrandt. He had helpers that made his paint with pigments and medium. At theend of the 19th century tubes of paint came out. The quality was notas good but it saved money and time. A discussion like the one above started tocome up. Nowadays hardly any one makes his own paint anymore, they went withthe times.

What is photography all about? Is it about showing off your technical skillsor showing a great photo?



More of a concern is how the photos are taken. As a diveguide I see a lot of photographers with a lack of respect for the environment,destroying marine life around them with their only concern for getting theirwinning photo. And I am not talking about novice photographers, but some bigname professional photographers with shocking disregard for the environment andbuoyancy. The same with dive guides assisting in creating photographicopportunities. In over 6000 dives Iíve only once seen a Spanish dancer dancing.I find it hard to believe that so many photographers are Ďluckyí enough to seethese amazing creatures dance. In Indonesia,some dive guides are so used to diving with photographers that theyautomatically start to create photographic opportunities by moving crabs andnudiís in position, something not really very environmentally sound. Donít get me wrong, I know there are lots ofenvironmentally responsible photographers, its just a pity that that is not thefirst concern for everyone with a camera.



To conclude: Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to diveall year round. If a photographer canonly dive for two weeks a year, they donít have much time to get everythingright. Maybe their technique isbrilliant, but they are hampered by bad visibility with lots of particles inthe water. If they can them improvetheir photos by editing with a program like Photoshop, why not? I think everyone strives for the perfectshots but you canít always control the environment you are diving in. So; go with the times. The cameras getsmarter too! And Photoshop is a nice program to be really creative and create yourown fantasies in times of boredom. To get the real thing all the time and everytime we donít live long enough (and most of us donít have enough money for thateither!). So, if you want to be aphotography purist, great for you. Butdonít begrudge other people the opportunity to get a great photo once in awhile!



Happy Bubbles and please be careful down there.






Edited by dray, 04 March 2012 - 02:28 AM.


#83 sea squirt

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 03:28 AM

Pity the poor snorkeler to the left of the ladder ;-)

Here you are.
Steve



#84 Morten BjÝrn Larsen

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 05:39 AM

After Christian Skauge posted a link to this discussion in a group on Facebook for Scandinavian UW-photographers, the discussion has been going on there (in scandinavian languages). I have come up with my opinion there as well as I have previously in here.

Then a good friend of mine said, Morten if you are afraid of new technology then it could at some point keep you from getting better pictures... But I belive there is a long way with the DSLR cameras on the marked right now and the endless beauty in our oceans, before the creativity can only be pushed in PS on the computer.

A Lytro camera for super macro could have saved me a lot of frustration, so no I'm not afraid of trying one ;-)


But trying a Nikon D4 UW with the chance to shoot noise free ISO in the thousands (for what I've heard), would for me bee much more pleasing - because it's done "in camera" while diving. A D4 will be able to make well exposed clean wreck photos here in my home waters that has not been possible before - and it's all done in Camera. But again that is the satisfaction for me that beats the work in PS anytime. If I had a D800 I would still TRY to get my composition right in camera, but of course it could be nice to be able to crop and still have pleanty of resolution...

But right now, Lytro, D4 or D800 is only dreaming.... I have more than enough with my D300 - and there's a loooog way before it will hold back my chance to make better pictures!!!

Edited by Morten BjÝrn Larsen, 04 March 2012 - 05:42 AM.


#85 tdpriest

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 06:02 AM

It all comes down to ends and means, doesn't it? If the end is art, or communicating the moment, then the truth is the viewer's response to the image. How it was made is irrelevant, if the wildlife and the environment weren't harmed. If the end is a demonstration of photographic skill, then the making of the image is of equal importance. But...

... why is skill with the camera held in greater esteem than skill in computer processing? Darkroom skills were always esteemed when the print was the acme of photographic presentation. We know that images of lasting significance start with a mastery of the camera, but I have always believed that a concentration on the terms of natural history photography competitions has limited the exploration of a wide range of possibilities in underwater photography.

Even if a Photoshop joke trounced my recent efforts in competition...

Ö Photoshop games.

I disagree with Jean Bruneau, in part: a photograph can be manipulated to make a hidden truth evident, that is, a documentary photograph can be edited without being made false. On the other hand, not only do I think that a great photographer like Ansel Adams would have accepted digital photography, but it's evident from the book Ansel Adams in Color that only digital techniques could have provided the control that he would have wanted to make colour prints to his exacting standards.

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Edited by tdpriest, 04 March 2012 - 06:16 AM.


#86 loftus

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 06:15 AM

Even if a Photoshop joke trounced my recent efforts in competition...


New technology and new ideas are always disruptive, whether it's in photography, medicine, or any other endeavor.....
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#87 tdpriest

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 06:19 AM

New technology and new ideas are always disruptive, whether it's in photography, medicine, or any other endeavor.....


You're darn tootin'!

You should see me annoying surgeons when i play with ultrasound and a needle...

Tim

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#88 MaviPhoto

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 11:39 AM

Dear Alex,
when the wheel was invented in the bronce age there were many people who said this is gonna be the end of the world. When trains became popular in the "wild west" times of the USA there were many high reputed scientists who claimed that "any transportation faster than a horse will effect humans health in a negative way". When Andreas Feininger wrote in 1978 that "photography became much easier since many (analog) cameras come with half- or even full-automatic modes now", lots of purists cried and moaned about the eclipse of photography.

So...the story is not new.

In the search for the "best shot" it were us -the underwater photographers- who digged our own grave. PROs do not buy pictures. You can spend a lifetime talking with PROs about this topic...and will still see your fridge empty. So, we deliver what is demanded by the public. And the public wants "perfect" pictures. Talk to a photographer who is ( just as an example ) working for the "Vogue" magazine : Do you seriously think, this person can dare to deliver a shot right from his memory chip ?

Same counts for all media....

the wish...or pressure to be always better, better and better created the big question of the "image manipulation". A photographer with a feeling of honor will of course always try to "do it while shoot" it. But there is however no in the print media published digital photo existing that was not at least "postproduced".

And this is not something about the age of digital photography....it was done all the time before, even with dia film slides.....oh yes : you can manipulate them as well !

I am not a big friend of digital image manipulation but I do know that a postproduction of e.g. RAW of course has to be. Where the standard postproduction ends and where the "manipulation" starts : well, this is a very thin border.

The "Lytra" is in my eyes just another toy. It would not even exist without the demand of so many "gadget addicted" photographers. However...in my opinium it is like this : It does not help the world of photography at all if the photographer sbelieve "it all can be done with technology". It simply can't. Still the photographe ris doing the shots...and still the camera is just a tool. And in digital photography, editing software are tools as well - they do not make "super shots" with just a few mouse clicks.

The underwater world was for a long time something very exotic and therefore lots of "mistakes" were forgiven in uw photos. These times are over now. Now ( thanks god ! ) the uw photographers need to face what all "other" photographers already knew for a long time : it needs much more than just a camera to make a good photo.

Time is passing quickly and so does technology. It is up to us to use what's on the table....and not to look what's under the table.

As long as the media world demands "perfect shots" ( whatever this means ) we will deliver them. And as long as a incredible small group of purists requests the "real made shots" we will do it as well.

Only the amateur who makes his living with a "serious" job has enough time to discuss these matters. The PROs will always deliver what's demanded......this is the world we created by ourselves...too late to complain now ;-)

#89 giny

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 02:35 PM

I am a relative newbie to the world of photography and underwater photography but I think that there is nothing wrong with being a purist and striving to get the shot right in camera.
Do you really want to be thought of as a photographer or a photoshop artist. That's the real question.

As for contests, there arecategories for all types so why the beef?

I am most happy when I download a shot into lightroom and it doesn't require any changes to make ME proud of displaying it. That doesn't mean I don't do any post production work to other shots that NEED it though.

I really don't see what all of the fuss is about.

Alex, you have some amazing shots and when I am looking at them, I don't ask myself if you did any production work to them, I just enjoy their beauty.

Thanks to all of you that inspire me to continue!

#90 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 05:08 AM

Great to see this discussion still going strong (after a weekend away on a barely inhabited island). And I think it is important for people to share their views. As many have said above, I don't believe there is a right or wrong here. It is actually opinions that matter and some very interesting ones have been expressed. Keep them coming.

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#91 pKai

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 11:23 AM

I am fairly new to underwater photography -- I dabbled in the 1990s with film and didn't pick it back up until about a year ago with digital. I have, however, been shooting on land for some 30 years -- professionally on and off, but pretty consistently throughout.

I've heard and experienced the exact same "purism" discussions many times over the decades dealing with:

1. Exposure meters -- "How can this mindless machine judge light better than a talented human..."
2. Motor drives -- "A Real Photographer will never need 10 frames per second to make a good image...."
3. Zoom Lenses -- "They are tools for lazy people that don't know what lens they need...."
4. Slide VS Print -- "A Real Photographer can take a prize-winning picture in the camera every time....."
5. Auto Focus -- replace the word "light" in #1 with the word "focus"
6. Digital -- "A bunch of ones and zeros will never produce the beautiful tone that Kodachrome can......"
7. Photoshop -- pretty much the same discussion as #4 all over again.

Before my time, I'm sure the same arguments were had when film overtook glass plates, electronic flash overtook bulbs, and roll film overtook sheets..... Guess what? -- ALL those "obsolete" technologies are STILL in use today in certain circles just like many of us still shoot primes, film, focus, and meter manually.

Light-field photography is the new kid on the block come 'round to ruin our art....... so the purists say.....

I say "bunk" --- Every new development contributes to the art in its own way. I welcome them all and to the best of my ability incorporate them into my work. Its up to us to take this technology and take image-making to the next level. Its all about the finished product hanging on the wall in a gallery or at home. Its about the jaw-dropping magazine covers. Its about what emotions the viewer feels from enjoying our work.... Its about using our craft to "put people there" inside the wreck, on the reef, or in a cave.

Its NEVER about how we make the things in the first place.

Does anyone care what brand hammer and nails a master carpenter uses? Hand? Electric? Air-powered? Of course noone cares...... that beautiful oak and maple wall unit in your study speaks for itself.

<<off the soap box now -- LOL!>>

Edited by m1mm1m, 05 March 2012 - 11:30 AM.


#92 davichin

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 12:04 PM

...Its all about the finished product hanging on the wall in a gallery or at home. Its about the jaw-dropping magazine covers. Its about what emotions the viewer feels from enjoying our work.... Its about using our craft to "put people there" inside the wreck, on the reef, or in a cave.

Its NEVER about how we make the things in the first place.

Does anyone care what brand hammer and nails a master carpenter uses? Hand? Electric? Air-powered? Of course noone cares...... that beautiful oak and maple wall unit in your study speaks for itself.


This, and many other opinions like:

Talk to a photographer who is ( just as an example ) working for the "Vogue" magazine : Do you seriously think, this person can dare to deliver a shot right from his memory chip ?


or

It all comes down to ends and means, doesn't it? If the end is art, or communicating the moment, then the truth is the viewer's response to the image. How it was made is irrelevant, if the wildlife and the environment weren't harmed. If the end is a demonstration of photographic skill, then the making of the image is of equal importance.


Are all right to me but after one asks himself the question: who and what do I shoot images for? and the answer is something like: "for others to see" or "to sell images" or "making the final image because that is my target" etc... But why what other people think of your pictures has to be the main thing?. In my case I shoot because I enjoy the activity of doing it, I shoot first to enjoy myself doing it and then, if some other people or competitionsījury like the pictures then great!. All of the above opinions are centered in what a viewer or a client may think of the image and we just have to decide if that is what we want and/or how we enjoy uwp.

If I were a professional then, of course, I would use all the technology means to make the best sellable product.
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#93 ralphy

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 01:39 AM

Great to see this discussion still going strong (after a weekend away on a barely inhabited island).

Yep, Iíve been to the Isle of Wight too at this time of year. ;-)

Alex: is the end result how it looked to your eyes when you were there?
Posted Image

I ask because for me the challenge is to try to replicate the image I saw in the water on my screen: that is my biggest challenge and the one I get the most pleasure from. I think the question of whether one should change their approach is highly dependent on what you are trying to achieve. Commercial sales? Winning competitions? Impressing friends and family?

At my end of the pool the end result is relatively easy: to take shots that appeal to me - and me alone. Not that it isnít quite a challenge in itself (my post-production skills are minimal and I donít possess or know how to use Photoshop) so Iím rather pleased when I do produce a good result! But not having any other 'agenda' for my images makes life rather simpler for me - not that I donít enjoy the work of others may I add.

If what Alex saw in the wreck is represented pretty well by the image heís shown then that would be a good shot IMO.

Great topic though and Iíve read it with interest.

R

#94 Autopsea

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 02:52 AM

The cool thing is that we can create new fish with photoshop :

Posted Image


More seriously : It all depend on what you consider yourself to be, and what you have fun with. You hate photoshop but enjoy spending time to get the right photo straight? then make yourself happy : DO IT.
You want productivity, getting out of the water with 50 descent shot that will look damn good with 10 minutes of photoshop each, and you enjoy photoshoping because you think it's cool? then DO IT.

So what? :)

#95 Paul Kay

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 05:18 AM

..... I don't believe there is a right or wrong here.....

I'd go further and suggest that it is possible to produce far more accurate and truthful images using digital techniques as well as being possible to produce completely 'false' and impossible images, so whether 'right or wrong' should probably now be seen as being dependent on context rather than an effect of technology....
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#96 loftus

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 05:32 AM

I'd go further and suggest that it is possible to produce far more accurate and truthful images using digital techniques as well as being possible to produce completely 'false' and impossible images, so whether 'right or wrong' should probably now be seen as being dependent on context rather than an effect of technology....

I think that is an excellent point! It's not the technology it's how it's used.
Frequently in the past older technologies did not allow us to produce an image that reflected what we saw or what we were trying to illustrate. Alex's pic is an excellent example of this.
Technology helps us push the boundaries of what we can record and show.
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#97 Andy Morrison

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 08:24 AM

As long as the media world demands "perfect shots" ( whatever this means ) we will deliver them. And as long as a incredible small group of purists requests the "real made shots" we will do it as well.

Only the amateur who makes his living with a "serious" job has enough time to discuss these matters. The PROs will always deliver what's demanded......this is the world we created by ourselves...too late to complain now ;-)


But that's the thing. The media does not demand "perfect shots." In fact, nowadays the media is more focused on getting free shots that will do the job as opposed to paying for perfect shots. Anyone who makes their living with photography will tell you that. We are competing with inferior images that are free versus whatever is a perfect shot. Don't get me wrong, certain publications will still pay for good photography. But there are less and less willing to do so. Personally I think most pros are more apt to deliver what's demanded without resorting to the overuse of Photoshop. Yeah, I know, what constitutes overuse? ;-)

I see this a couple different ways. And I wasn't going to comment on this thread because this question is a dog chasing its' tail. That said, there are three kinds of photographers. There is the photographer who strives to get the perfect picture in camera. They're not afraid to post process a little, but just to the degree where the meaning of the image isn't really changed. Are they a purist, maybe, maybe not.

Then there is the photographer who is more artist than documentary photographer. The raw images is the palette, and Photoshop the bucket of paint brushes. They want to create the perfect with Photoshop or whatever.

Then there is the photographer who's ego won't let them take a flawed photograph. They take the image into Photoshop and do their best to make it perfect.

What's the difference between the artist photographer and the ego-driven photographer? Intent. The artist will let everyone know their image was made in the camera and Photoshop. Their proud of their efforts behind the camera and computer. The egoist keeps it hidden. It's their dirty little secret. They'll pawn it off as all done in camera.
They can't stand it when they miss a shot because their focus wasn't locked, the exposure was off, or something undesirable was in the background. These are the dangerous photographers. They have to right that wrong. They change the landscape for the rest of us and erode viewer trust. When the first photographer does manage to make that perfect image most now assume it was done in Photoshop. I lost a co-worker and good friend because they couldn't leave well enough alone and had to have "perfect" images. It cost him his job. I've seen too many examples of ego-driven photographers.

My point is that who is it that really demands the perfect shot? What are you willing to do to make the perfect shot and are you willing to reveal what you've done? People like Alex Mustard are great photographers because of hard work, not their Photoshop skills. I once had the pleasure to intern for NatGeo photographer Joel Sartore when I was in college. The most important thing he ever told me was " there is no magic secret to making pictures. It's hard work and time in the field." I choose to believe that is still true. I'm sure others don't.

Part of being a working daily photojournalist has taught me that not every photo can be perfect. In fact few are. Being a professional means I have to accept that not every photo is perfect but my name still goes under them. The beautiful thing about photography is if you take a bad picture you get to take another.

So to answer Alex's question, is it time for a philosophy change? Not for me. Technology is part of evolution. As photographers and humans we need to be open to evolution, accept what we're comfortable accepting, and ignore the rest. The loosening of photo morals is up to us as professional photographers to decide. Personally I'm going to keep doing things how I've always done them. I shoot, edit which includes, cropping and toning within reality, and that's it. The camera and Photoshop are just tools for me to keep doing what I've always done. I good yardstick, or meterstick for you Euros, is to ask yourself, can you disclose everything you've done with the photo? If not there is a problem. Do whatever you want to your pictures but fully disclose what you've done.

For me the challenge of photography is telling a story with my camera. Sometimes those pictures are perfect, most times not. I'm OK when they are not. I'll get another chance the next time.

#98 Andy Morrison

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 08:37 AM

If I were a professional then, of course, I would use all the technology means to make the best sellable product.


That's the thing. I think more people think pros are using all the technology possible. Most editorial photographers are not however. Commercial photography is a different beast. It's an apples and oranges thing. I still consider most UW photography, at least what we see in magazines and on Wetpixel, as being in the realm of editorial photography. Yeah, I know it's a Pandora's box of what is and isn't acceptable. Magic filters, strobes, cropping, HDR, etc. But I think most editorial pros are simply masters of their crafts, producing the highest quality of images with the fewest tools so to speak.

Frankly I was quite impressed with Alex showing his split level basking shark shot with the land in the background - a composite image of course. That's not something I'm comfortable doing. I think it took big balls for him to throw that out there being an editorial photographer. But again, it's all about disclosure.

#99 manatee19

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 09:43 AM

Frankly I was quite impressed with Alex showing his split level basking shark shot with the land in the background - a composite image of course. That's not something I'm comfortable doing. I think it took big balls for him to throw that out there being an editorial photographer. But again, it's all about disclosure.


Alex had a vision, he knew what he wanted to show, which was the subject in its environment. Yes it meant compositing but it presented a powerful image that he was not able to make in a single shot. In over-unders we used to rely on neutral density filters and split diopters to achieve what can now be done more effectively with a fisheye or a wide-angle lens. Althought it is technically possible to make such images in a single shot, compositing is not a bad approach either, especially if the information is disclosed.

The photographer is simply using the tools at his disposal.

I fully agree with Andy and the others who mention that a pro will usually nail it in the camera and this what we all strive for.

However, different people will use different approaches. And yes, all pros make less than perfect images too, we tend to see or remember only the perfect ones.

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#100 bvanant

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 10:56 AM

I'd go further and suggest that it is possible to produce far more accurate and truthful images using digital techniques as well as being possible to produce completely 'false' and impossible images, so whether 'right or wrong' should probably now be seen as being dependent on context rather than an effect of technology....

This is a very interesting discussion and from the standpoint of a photographer, my goal is to make images that I like and that have some resemblance to what was really there (although with Supermacro you only see the stuff later at least if your eyes are like mine). But from the standpoint of a photographic society trying to run a contest it is a lot more complex. Many people "cheat" in the sense that they don't follow the rules of the competition. Cutting and pasting critters onto perfectly black backgrounds is very common since judges seem to like perfectly black backgrounds. Given the economy and the value of prizes it is not hard to understand why they do this and other manipulations like removing a coral branch that sticks out in the wrong direction is also common but I guess it is more environmentally friendly to do it in photoshop than in Lembeh. I guess our choices are to do "traditional" or unrestricted and see if folks still value traditional photographer skills rather than PS composition skills. We have thought that we should only allow Lightroom/Aperture manipulations to photos for a competition in that these are more aligned with traditional darkroom techniques but can understand how this might not be well received. In any case as technology moves forward maybe the underwater photography societies need to be called the underwater image creation societies.
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