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Member Since 13 Apr 2007
Offline Last Active Feb 27 2014 10:12 AM

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In Topic: Time For A Major Philosophy Change?

01 March 2012 - 03:27 AM

Well, this is a tough but pertinent question. Emerging technologies will always make you question what you have been doing up to the point when it becomes available, and will always tempt you with astonishing new possibilities. The Lytro offers some pretty unique features, as do HDR, high ISO and almost unlimited megapixels - to me, some of it almost seem like magic.

But is it magic I want? Yes, it certainly is. But I want my magic to come true when I shoot the image, not when I'm sitting in front of my computer.

As underwater photographers, I still think we should emphasize on "photography" rather than "creating images", if you see the difference. No matter how many hours I spend in front of my computer working on an image it can never re-create the magic of an image shot to perfection, as and when it happened. To me, photography is largely about capturing moments, not just capturing images. The image as such can be created later on, and in this PhotoShop-day-and-age almost anyone can do it. They don't even have to be very good at it - it will just take more time if they're not. Time can help you create great images, but when the available time is only 1/100 a second photograpic skill is what you need - because it is within this timeframe photography happens.

Photoshopping is not a craft, it's a science. It has little to do with understanding how light works under water, knowing where and how to find your subjects, or creating a pleasing composition. Photography is defintely not a science, and maybe not even a craft - many consider it to be a form of art. Underwater photography adds to normal photography in that you have to be a good diver, you have to have some knownledge about what you're shooting (or at least it is a big advantage) and you have to bag the shots within a limited space of time.

If you can't do this and have to rely on computer mumbo-jumbo you're not a photographer - you're a "photoshopper".

It's a little like giving the painter credit for your house looking so good, while it is the carpenter that actually should have credit for building a nice house. He created the foundation upon which the painter could build. It is the same thing with photography: Any "magical", computer-based technique will always rely on the image at hand, and can never be better than this foundation allows. Yes, you can create some astonishing images from something that looks like crap. But when photographing, you can change how the very foundation is built - how reality is captured in your camera. Thus you are actually creating something, while the photoshopper only enhances that foundation. Photoshopping is a bit like cosmetic surgery (which it often replaces in commercial photography!) but the "Flip Fish" PhotoShop filter has yet to be invented. This means it does matter how the image is shot to begin with, and therefore this is where the emphasis should be put, in my opinion.

I think both philosophies will be valid in the future. We will have people adhering to the traditional way of thinking about photography, while other embrace all the new possibilities without the boundaries of yesteryear. I will always envy the HDR photographer his or her astonishing wreck images like the one you posted above Alex - and I will certainly envy the Lytro photographer the ability to refocus and get super-sharp macro images. But I think they will also (at least secretly) admire my skill and handicraft when I can do the same in-camera, without artificial post-shooting trickery.