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Still Photo: Approaching Fine Photography Photography as a visual artform open to any serious picture, where classical photography is the mode of our expression. Open to all! Not curated. For works intended for clients and galleries submit to GALLERY ONE.

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  #31  
Old May 8th, 2008, 03:37 PM
David Stone David Stone is offline
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Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
Now back to the Web Gallery of Art. Thanks Sean. It's a very good reference source and even for the most accomplished photographer, a visit once a week, will add a new set of possibilities to what one might want or not want to work towards. As a reminder again, it's here.

Visit, wander and then come back. Could it help your own work? Is there anyone interesting or new that might inform your photography?
It's certainly an enormous resource. In some ways it's too big. For someone who might be interested in landscape, for instance, or group portraits, or simply pictorial construction, it would be difficult to know where to start - although the search facility is good for those who know what they want.

Maybe some suggestions might be useful for starting points? For anyone interested in landscape/topographical work, for instance, the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century painters (i.e. just pre-photography) are worth a look.

And then, inevitably, there are significant artists who are not included. One of these, who I think is vital for anyone interested in pictorial construction, is the French painter Gustave Caillebotte. The photohistorian Peter Galassi and the art historian Kurt Varnedoe co-wrote a comprehensive book about him (published by Yale U.P. in 1987).

David
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  #32  
Old May 8th, 2008, 03:59 PM
Tim Ashley Tim Ashley is offline
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The main limitation of photography as opposed to painting has always been photography's strictly literal interpretation of what is being photographed, in the sense of its adherence to the physical, optical and chemical laws by which it operates. Painting doesn't have these restrictions.



David
Hi David

Your post puts me in mind of the Daguerrotype / Calotype years, where the French way, using as it did a direct positive process was, with the exception of being reversed, incredibly accurate and detailed: prosaic if you like. Whereas Fox-Talbot's English way, involving in effect a paper negative and the diffusion of accurate detail via optical effects and paper fibres, led to a much more artistic or poetic version of reality. In other words, right from the start of 'chemical photography' there were differences in what Sean calls 'drawing' - the French way being a 35mp back and the English way being a Ricoh or somesuch.

My Kodak SLRn, my M8 and even my 1DSIII all give 'painterly' effects under certain circumstances. In other words, I'm not sure that I buy the idea that photography is literal. It's generally more so than a brush or a pencil and it's certainly true that the implicit value judgement behind most equipment reviews is 'the closer to literal the better' but literal it isn't. Which is why we choose Velvia, or Kodachrome.

Though I did get some 4x5 colour trannies back from the lab today and under the loupe they looked 3D even when viewed with only one eye. That's the closest to literal I have seen in photography yet. Must get a 10x8...

;-)
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  #33  
Old May 8th, 2008, 04:35 PM
Ray West Ray West is offline
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Hi Tim,

Ben may pull you up on 'painterly'

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Though I did get some 4x5 colour trannies back from the lab today and under the loupe they looked 3D even when viewed with only one eye.
Any idea why that is?

Best wishes,

Ray
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  #34  
Old May 8th, 2008, 04:44 PM
Tim Ashley Tim Ashley is offline
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Hi Tim,

Any idea why that is?

Best wishes,

Ray
If I had to guess I'd say that the sheer amount of detail and the very high dmax of a lightbox, plus the fact that you can pan around the scene in a way you can't with a 35mm tranny on a lightbox, fools the brain. Either that or I grew a spare retina!

;-0
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  #35  
Old May 8th, 2008, 05:00 PM
Ray West Ray West is offline
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Hi Tim,

I guess that is a good beginning. Principles similar to those exploited in optical illusions come very much into play. (I thought you were comparing the large format+loupe with vdu. What you say wrt detail, physical position, size of loupe, will be very different I expect for the 35mm.)

At the end of the day, it depends on the final destination of the image, I think that is the only concern, wel perhaps it should be.

Best wishes,

Ray
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  #36  
Old May 8th, 2008, 05:21 PM
Tim Ashley Tim Ashley is offline
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Hi Tim,

I guess that is a good beginning. Principles similar to those exploited in optical illusions come very much into play. (I thought you were comparing the large format+loupe with vdu. What you say wrt detail, physical position, size of loupe, will be very different I expect for the 35mm.)

At the end of the day, it depends on the final destination of the image, I think that is the only concern, wel perhaps it should be.

Best wishes,

Ray
I agree. As far as final destination, I would love to print images to 30 inch wide film and exhibit them on wall-mounted lightboxes. Might get expensive though... But I have been thinking of wall-mounting 4x5 trannies on small lightboxes though I'm sure someone's already done it.

Best

Tim
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  #37  
Old May 8th, 2008, 05:30 PM
Sean Reid Sean Reid is offline
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I agree. As far as final destination, I would love to print images to 30 inch wide film and exhibit them on wall-mounted lightboxes. Might get expensive though... But I have been thinking of wall-mounting 4x5 trannies on small lightboxes though I'm sure someone's already done it.

Best

Tim
Yes, its been done in NYC a couple times at least but that shouldn't stop you. Maybe try a set of the 4x5s and hang them to see if they would work for a show. If not, maybe try something larger. If you decide to exhibit them and offer them for sale, perhaps have each one in a display box with its own lighting and power. So a collector would buy the whole object, power cord and all.

Cheers,

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  #38  
Old May 8th, 2008, 05:41 PM
Ray West Ray West is offline
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Yes, It has been done before, on a large scale too - stained glass windows.

Although not necessarily high resolution, but colour laser/inkjet on transparent oh projector film, may give a low cost idea of a concept.

Best wishes,

Ray
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  #39  
Old May 8th, 2008, 05:47 PM
Sean Reid Sean Reid is offline
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Yes, It has been done before, on a large scale too - stained glass windows.

Best wishes,

Ray
I meant it's been done in photography exhibitions but you're absolutely right about stained glass windows, also Tiffany lamps, etc.

Cheers,

Sean
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  #40  
Old May 8th, 2008, 07:57 PM
leonardobarreto.com leonardobarreto.com is offline
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Photography has always had this identity "problem" with the the world of art, or "fine art" (bellas artes) since it began. It has been called The Pencil Of Nature, and at its infancy its influence was felt very strongly in the world of the painters. The entire industry of miniature painting disappeared overnight as a direct result of the opening of portrait photo studios in big and small cities. Leafs in tress, waves of the ocean and horses huffs where painted differently after artists where exposed to photographic images of "the real thing".

At least two of the artists shown by two of my client galleries (Museum 52 and Guild & Greyshkul) are do watter color based in photographs of the American Civil War. They are interested in the way that early photography made errors and "mistakes", like slow shutter effects or the way water and sky was washed out with the ortochromatic films.

Photography is very much in view on the galleries here in New York, but what constitutes "art" is a very complicated question.

On one side there is a large amount of conceptualization in the art of today -- just take a look at The New Museum at the Bowery where you have things thrown in the floor like piece of plastic or laundry clothes in a pile -- and on the other side, photographers going the Ansel Adams way making a pretty photo of pristine nature and obsessing with the zone systems, the bouquet of lenses and how to make "the perfect" print.

I see the two aspect and some time I think that they live in the same building but the are strangers to each other.

Then there is Mr. Gursky and Mr. Burtynsky -- I just saw his Manufactured Landscapes documentary. But that is topic for a second post.

I want to contribute with an image of something that could be developed (so that Asher will like me more for posting) LOL


Wooden figures, candle wax, cocktail ordures swords. P25 (two images stitched)
Detail
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  #41  
Old May 9th, 2008, 05:37 AM
David Stone David Stone is offline
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Hi David

Your post puts me in mind of the Daguerrotype / Calotype years, where the French way, using as it did a direct positive process was, with the exception of being reversed, incredibly accurate and detailed: prosaic if you like. Whereas Fox-Talbot's English way, involving in effect a paper negative and the diffusion of accurate detail via optical effects and paper fibres, led to a much more artistic or poetic version of reality. In other words, right from the start of 'chemical photography' there were differences in what Sean calls 'drawing' - the French way being a 35mp back and the English way being a Ricoh or somesuch.

My Kodak SLRn, my M8 and even my 1DSIII all give 'painterly' effects under certain circumstances. In other words, I'm not sure that I buy the idea that photography is literal. It's generally more so than a brush or a pencil and it's certainly true that the implicit value judgement behind most equipment reviews is 'the closer to literal the better' but literal it isn't. Which is why we choose Velvia, or Kodachrome.

Though I did get some 4x5 colour trannies back from the lab today and under the loupe they looked 3D even when viewed with only one eye. That's the closest to literal I have seen in photography yet. Must get a 10x8...

;-)
What I meant by "literal interpretation" was what the academics call photography's "indexical relationship" to the visual world. It's non-selective, you get everything that's in front of the camera. There's no possibility of removing that tree, for instance, or re-arranging the people in a fast-moving situation once the shutter has fired. Of course in these digital times there's always Photoshopping, but that's after the event. Artists have always been able to do this, and have always used this ability. And of course this needs to be kept in mind when studying paintings. Paintings are constructions, not documents.

It was Lee Friedlander who called photography "a very generous medium". You get a lot for your money.

David
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  #42  
Old May 9th, 2008, 10:39 AM
Tim Ashley Tim Ashley is offline
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What I meant by "literal interpretation" was what the academics call photography's "indexical relationship" to the visual world. It's non-selective, you get everything that's in front of the camera. There's no possibility of removing that tree, for instance, or re-arranging the people in a fast-moving situation once the shutter has fired. Of course in these digital times there's always Photoshopping, but that's after the event. Artists have always been able to do this, and have always used this ability. And of course this needs to be kept in mind when studying paintings. Paintings are constructions, not documents.

It was Lee Friedlander who called photography "a very generous medium". You get a lot for your money.

David
When I was about twenty (so let's say approximately 1981), Hotshoe, a magazine that had previously published a portfolio of my work, contacted me and asked if they could use some of the images they hadn't used first time around for a new piece they were doing on the rising dark art of computer manipulation of images. They produced three or four variations of images I'd made that looked surprisingly like they'd been through Photoshop.

To me this was entirely exciting but not novel. The previous year while an undergraduate at Oxford I had organised a group show, and one of the exhibitors was a philosophy don from All Souls who made work only in Oxford, Venice and somewhere else I forget but his USP was that he paid an airbrush artist to remove all the people from the shots. That, and the fun of the chemical darkroom with its sandwiched negatives, or in-camera multiple exposures, consolidated with me the point that photography was not, for me at least, in any compelling way 'indexical'.

Whether it's a Kremlin artist removing a now-out-of-favour member of the politburo or a Victorian fraudster inserting ghosts or fairies, the tradition is a lot older than me. The difference is, though, that I (and maybe you) spent the very first part of my photographic life in a world where regardless of the actual truth, most people regarded photographic images as 'true'.

My niece, who is doing a photo course at the age of 17, has no such illusions: she has been born and raised in the photoshop generation and the first thing she learned was how to clone stuff out. I was talking to a packshot photographer at a party the other day who is folding up his tripod for the last time because 'it's all being done with cgi these days and I can't be bothered to learn all that.'

So my thought is, maybe the reason that photography (or 'lens based art' as I heard it called recently) has become the new darling of the 'real' artists is precisely because all this has changed: that not only has photography ceased to be indexical or literal to whatever extent it ever was, but more importantly, Joe Blow now knows that it isn't and Joe Blow's sons and daughters never entertained the suspicion for a moment that it might be?

Best

Tim
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  #43  
Old May 9th, 2008, 02:27 PM
David Stone David Stone is offline
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When I was about twenty (so let's say approximately 1981), Hotshoe, a magazine that had previously published a portfolio of my work, contacted me and asked if they could use some of the images they hadn't used first time around for a new piece they were doing on the rising dark art of computer manipulation of images. They produced three or four variations of images I'd made that looked surprisingly like they'd been through Photoshop.

To me this was entirely exciting but not novel. The previous year while an undergraduate at Oxford I had organised a group show, and one of the exhibitors was a philosophy don from All Souls who made work only in Oxford, Venice and somewhere else I forget but his USP was that he paid an airbrush artist to remove all the people from the shots. That, and the fun of the chemical darkroom with its sandwiched negatives, or in-camera multiple exposures, consolidated with me the point that photography was not, for me at least, in any compelling way 'indexical'.

Whether it's a Kremlin artist removing a now-out-of-favour member of the politburo or a Victorian fraudster inserting ghosts or fairies, the tradition is a lot older than me. The difference is, though, that I (and maybe you) spent the very first part of my photographic life in a world where regardless of the actual truth, most people regarded photographic images as 'true'.

My niece, who is doing a photo course at the age of 17, has no such illusions: she has been born and raised in the photoshop generation and the first thing she learned was how to clone stuff out. I was talking to a packshot photographer at a party the other day who is folding up his tripod for the last time because 'it's all being done with cgi these days and I can't be bothered to learn all that.'

So my thought is, maybe the reason that photography (or 'lens based art' as I heard it called recently) has become the new darling of the 'real' artists is precisely because all this has changed: that not only has photography ceased to be indexical or literal to whatever extent it ever was, but more importantly, Joe Blow now knows that it isn't and Joe Blow's sons and daughters never entertained the suspicion for a moment that it might be?

Best

Tim
Thanks for those comments, Tim.

Yes, photographic manipulation has a long history, and now everyone is at it. But in producing images that are by origin photographic, but have been digitally converted to something else, what exactly is it that you are producing? I would suggest that it's not photography. Maybe we need a new name for this.

And if photography can't, or doesn't continue its role as honest documenter of our visual environment, what other medium can? Do we in future have to rely on TV as our recorder of history - another digital medium, and so by its nature open to suspicion?

The new generation, your niece among them, has good reason to view photography in a different way from the way I see it (and when you were twenty, I was already forty). All the more reason to educate them in what photography has been until recently.

But it's clear that the old ways are by no means dead and gone. Photographs posted on this forum and others show that people are still documenting the world around them, and its events and inhabitants, in an absolutely "straight' way - tweaking tones and contrast here and there, but we always did that anyway in the darkroom.

I'm not arguing for the Luddite approach. What I'd like to see is a clear division between "straight" and manipulated images. Then maybe we'd see a bit of trust returning.

And of course art does not consist only in changing and manipulating. Showing to others images of the world around them that perhaps they have neglected to notice can also be art.

I hope that you are ensuring that your niece, and perhaps also her contemporaries, if you have any influence on them, get to know something of photography's history. I know from personal experience that showing students just a little of the enormous fund of photographs taken over the last 170 years can be a real eye-opener and a great inspiration.

David
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  #44  
Old May 9th, 2008, 03:50 PM
Tim Ashley Tim Ashley is offline
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Thanks for those comments, Tim.

Yes, photographic manipulation has a long history, and now everyone is at it. But in producing images that are by origin photographic, but have been digitally converted to something else, what exactly is it that you are producing? I would suggest that it's not photography. Maybe we need a new name for this.

And if photography can't, or doesn't continue its role as honest documenter of our visual environment, what other medium can? Do we in future have to rely on TV as our recorder of history - another digital medium, and so by its nature open to suspicion?

The new generation, your niece among them, has good reason to view photography in a different way from the way I see it (and when you were twenty, I was already forty). All the more reason to educate them in what photography has been until recently.

But it's clear that the old ways are by no means dead and gone. Photographs posted on this forum and others show that people are still documenting the world around them, and its events and inhabitants, in an absolutely "straight' way - tweaking tones and contrast here and there, but we always did that anyway in the darkroom.

I'm not arguing for the Luddite approach. What I'd like to see is a clear division between "straight" and manipulated images. Then maybe we'd see a bit of trust returning.

And of course art does not consist only in changing and manipulating. Showing to others images of the world around them that perhaps they have neglected to notice can also be art.

I hope that you are ensuring that your niece, and perhaps also her contemporaries, if you have any influence on them, get to know something of photography's history. I know from personal experience that showing students just a little of the enormous fund of photographs taken over the last 170 years can be a real eye-opener and a great inspiration.

David
Hi David,

We are sympathetically in exactly the same camp and I must say that my work in recent years has radically taken the direction of minimal or no intervention with the image other than the tweaks you mention. This has been made easier by the introduction of RAW decoders such as Lightroom and Aperture which seem to encourage less messing about with the truth, though recent and upcoming versions will change that.

Camille Silvy in 1850 something, welded the sky from one image onto the landscape of another and there was a time when I wouldn't have thought twice about doing the same. Now, I try to get the right sky at capture and if I have to, burn it later but it's been a while since I imported a whole weather system!

I do try to teach my niece as you suggest - and I agree with you that this is incredibly important - but I'm afraid it's hard to keep the kids' eyes on the fruit and veg when the candy is stacked at the checkout.

But I do think that the clear distinction to which you refer is long, long dead. I'd just about trust one of my (or someone else's) 4x5 negatives but not a jpg or a tiff or even a RAW file. And if that someone else was a Greg Crewdson then I wouldn't trust a thing, even faced with a 10x8 tranny, because though it might show me what was in front of the camera at the time, that scene itself would have been artificially constructed. So even if we could watermark every scene with a 'genuine RAW file, not digitally retouched' label, the trust would still be misplaced.

Did that Apollo flight really land on the moon?

:-(

With all best regards

Tim
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  #45  
Old May 9th, 2008, 04:12 PM
Sean Reid Sean Reid is offline
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About sixty years ago, in his introduction to Helen Levitt's "A Way of Seeing", James Agee wrote, correctly I believe, that the camera is "one of the slipperiest liars there is".

That was long before digital photography. Even in straight photography, so many selections are made by the photographer and the camera that the picture is always, by definition, a new thing. Some newspapers and magazines have very strict rules about how a photojournalist may or may not manipulate a picture after it's made. Some have even banned cropping (as if we don't already crop when we press the shutter). But the fact is that even a photojournalist who is trying to "record" something newsworthy makes significant selections that determine what the picture says. His or her job, perhaps, is to be a faithful witness but that witnessing is done through equivalences. What he or she chooses to make in, say, 1/500 second is intended to stand for something that existed (exists) for much longer.

This frame instead of that frame changes things - this vantage point instead of that, this in focus instead of that, this moment for the shutter to trip instead of that. We make something new when we make a picture. A conscientious photojournalist, I think , tries to use the camera to describe what he or she sees. But I think that even when Lewis Hine was making all those pictures of children working in coal mines and factories, he well understood that he was making pictures designed to persuade. (And, of course, he was quite successful in helping to bring about child labor laws). The same, I believe, could be said for Jacob Riis.

Used as a forensic tool, in particular, I realize that the camera is intended to be a quasi-objective recording instrument. And, in some respects, it can sort of be that, at least superficially. To be sure, people have gone to jail based, in part, on evidence from security cameras in stores, etc. But in the hands of a photographer, the camera really isn't really an objective tool and it doesn't exactly record so much as it creates.

Cheers,

Sean
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  #46  
Old May 9th, 2008, 04:14 PM
Colleen Vermillion Colleen Vermillion is offline
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And if photography can't, or doesn't continue its role as honest documenter of our visual environment, what other medium can? Do we in future have to rely on TV as our recorder of history - another digital medium, and so by its nature open to suspicion?

The new generation, your niece among them, has good reason to view photography in a different way from the way I see it (and when you were twenty, I was already forty). All the more reason to educate them in what photography has been until recently.
I think the new generation has a better grip on honestly documenting their world than previous generations due to the ubiquitousness of cameras. Way back when, photography was seen "honest" because it was difficult to manipulate a single image convincingly. These days one image is suspicious because not only is it easily manipulated, but it's also highly unlikely that there was only one camera in the vicinity of an event worth recording. If you have a set of images from different sources showing the same thing, it's credible because it's difficult to manipulate all of those images and keep them consistent with the set. It's typical now for people to have a social networking page filled with snapshots and blogs about stuff that is probably only relevant to 5 people other than the author, but it is a very good documentation of normal life and culture in the areas with easy access to the technology. The overall quality and thoughtfulness may have gone down, but I wonder if the cell phone camera swarm documenting more of the mundane might have some unforeseen value as some sort of global stream of consciousness. I stumbled upon an interesting application that was showing a map of images as they were being uploaded to some social networking site. Naturally with people being the little monkeys we are, half of them were pictures of genitalia. While most of the pictures themselves weren't interesting enough to study closer , following the threads of subject matter by time and location was fascinating. Was it art? I don't really think so, but I think it could be made into art.

As far as "manipulated" versus "straight", I don't think there's a line - it's more of a gradual scale. You can manipulate a photograph by pointing your camera in a slightly different direction or changing the zoom to exclude or include something. Is that entirely different from cloning out a distracting wisp of hair or a telephone box? Are the soft "Barbara Walters" filters on the TV cameras or flattering lighting in a studio shoot "literal" just because the image wasn't digitally manipulated? One one end of the spectrum we have something that is unrecognizable as a photograph and on the other end we have the picture taken in the middle of a violent clash without time to frame it. In the middle of the spectrum it's less clear.

Whenever there is a will behind the capturing of an image, I think that there is necessarily some bending of the Truth through your perspective - either in what you chose to shoot, how you chose to capture it, or how you chose to present it. How much does it matter whether the perspective was applied during the capture or after it? Is the purpose to document that instant in time when the shutter clicks or is it to give the viewer of the image with some sense of what it's like to be where the photographer was? Maybe when you took the image you didn't notice the tourist wearing the plaid shorts, black socks, and sandals but now that you get it home it's all you can see in the image... is it a more honest image if you clone him out or leave him in?

-Colleen
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Old May 9th, 2008, 04:18 PM
Sean Reid Sean Reid is offline
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We just wrote similar things at similar times, Colleen. As you might imagine, I agree with you and I continue to find your posts extremely interesting.

Cheers,

Sean
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  #48  
Old May 9th, 2008, 04:47 PM
Colleen Vermillion Colleen Vermillion is offline
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We just wrote similar things at similar times, Colleen.
I'm just going to have to compose my thoughts either faster and be first or slower and be less redundant So would you be more inclined to leave the hypothetical Mr. Black Socks in the image, rework the image to make him the subject, or clone him out entirely?

-Colleen
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  #49  
Old May 10th, 2008, 01:28 PM
David Stone David Stone is offline
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I've been out all day, so I've just come back to see what's been going on.

Tim wrote:

"Hi David,

We are sympathetically in exactly the same camp and I must say that my work in recent years has radically taken the direction of minimal or no intervention with the image other than the tweaks you mention."

Interesting - that term "minimal intervention" is exactly what I use to describe my own digital processing. Great minds ...

And Tim also wrote:

"But I do think that the clear distinction to which you refer is long, long dead."

I realise that, in the main, you're right. But that doesn't stop me showing my photographs with a clear statement that "nothing has been added, nothing taken away". But OK, I take your point. It's several years since I last taught photographic practice, and it shows.

I'm also convinced that the Apollo flight was contracted out to Disney - including the script.

Then Sean wrote:

"Even in straight photography, so many selections are made by the photographer and the camera that the picture is always, by definition, a new thing...."

I was taking all this as understood, but maybe I ought to have re-stated it.

Then Colleen pointed out:

"If you have a set of images from different sources showing the same thing, it's credible because it's difficult to manipulate all of those images and keep them consistent with the set."

That's a good point. Multiple witnesses.

I can't help getting the impression that I'm being dragged, forcibly and slightly unwillingly, into a new era, but I'm learning a lot.

David
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Old May 10th, 2008, 04:07 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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I've been out all day, so I've just come back to see what's been going on.
I'm also convinced that the Apollo flight was contracted out to Disney - including the script.
That's a rhetorical dismissive joke against yourself or not?
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  #51  
Old May 11th, 2008, 06:01 AM
David Stone David Stone is offline
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Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
That's a rhetorical dismissive joke against yourself or not?
It's just my English sense of humour. An off-topic reply to Tim's tongue-in-cheek question. We Brits should never be taken too seriously. But maybe these things don't travel well.

David
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  #52  
Old May 11th, 2008, 04:11 PM
Sean Reid Sean Reid is offline
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Asher is British. <G>

Cheers,

Sean
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  #53  
Old May 11th, 2008, 05:01 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Default Can we drop the word "Manipulate" for good photography?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colleen Vermillion View Post
I think the new generation has a better grip on honestly documenting their world than previous generations due to the ubiquitousness of cameras. Way back when, photography was seen "honest" because it was difficult to manipulate a single image convincingly. These days one image is suspicious because not only is it easily manipulated, but it's also highly unlikely that there was only one camera in the vicinity of an event worth recording. If you have a set of images from different sources showing the same thing, it's credible because it's difficult to manipulate all of those images and keep them consistent with the set. ..................
As far as "manipulated" versus "straight", I don't think there's a line - it's more of a gradual scale. You can manipulate a photograph by pointing your camera in a slightly different direction or changing the zoom to exclude or include something. Is that entirely different from cloning out a distracting wisp of hair or a telephone box? Are the soft "Barbara Walters" filters on the TV cameras or flattering lighting in a studio shoot "literal" just because the image wasn't digitally manipulated? One one end of the spectrum we have something that is unrecognizable as a photograph and on the other end we have the picture taken in the middle of a violent clash without time to frame it. In the middle of the spectrum it's less clear.

Whenever there is a will behind the capturing of an image, I think that there is necessarily some bending of the Truth through your perspective - either in what you chose to shoot, how you chose to capture it, or how you chose to present it.........
I hate the world "manipulated" in reference to photographs, with the exception of advertising, propaganda and Polaroids. In the latter alone, it's a recognized art form.

Otherwise I want to able to trust there is some truth in what is being offered. Surrealistic images or abstractions are easiest to recognize that they are derived from factual pictures (I call them factive photographs, to distinguish from fictive pictures whose narrative is constructed and staged and never otherwise happens.

B&W is not cheating because it is announced the second we see it. There is no trickery in that form per se, but we are not seduced by the colors, rather it's the subject, tonalities and composition as well as relatedness to all previous B&W pictures that make them so remarkable. Usually, B&W images have been at least until now, what we see and is general a recording of fact but expressed as the photographer designs. It is not s lie, but some of the facts of the matter, therefore generally factice.

Fashion, glamour and other staged fantasies are fictive. When we see an advertisement for perfume, we know the woman with two Bengal tigers is not doing what she would in real life. We don't need a classification underneath, "paid actors" as we of course know what's going on.

The part we have trouble with is going from moving litter before the shot to cloning out the extra people and a tree, after the shot, to suit our purpose. That to me is not a route to getting pictures that I like to travel on. These alterations should, IMHO, be disclosed if it were likely people would care either way. Not to do so, borders on that bad word, manipulation.

If the camera is to be a lantern to reveal ourselves and the world we have claimed dominion over, then our photography should be truthful within the expectation of the genre and context.

Also in our respect for the art of photography as opposed to photography of art, we should not pass over the skills of lighting, composition choice of processing as mere mechanical old fashioned fussy points no longer needed. While I'm impressed by out of focus, slow shutter, odd colors spontaneous photography with digicams, I caution people for taking these shortcuts before having done 1000 pictures well the classical way.

In summary, except for minor changes, we should not keep secret our artful combinations of different images or substantial changes where people who expect one thing or getting something else. It means something to me, at least, to know that the old woman with the walking cane underneath the bridge feeding pigeons actually did that and that each component was not just assembled. Not that there work is any less wonderful, but it is different. One is a recording, an expression of a fact. The latter is a constructed fictitious story and the picture, fictive.

I'm thinking of leaving joining lines in my constructed pictures just to declare, "This was constructed so as to share with you my creative fantasy. It never happened! It's just a metaphor embedded in a beautiful print, that's all!"

Asher
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  #54  
Old May 12th, 2008, 03:11 AM
Tim Ashley Tim Ashley is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
I hate the world "manipulated" in reference to photographs, with the exception of advertising, propaganda and Polaroids. In the latter alone, it's a recognized art form.

Otherwise I want to able to trust there is some truth in what is being offered. Surrealistic images or abstractions are easiest to recognize that they are derived from factual pictures (I call them factive photographs, to distinguish from fictive pictures whose narrative is constructed and staged and never otherwise happens.

B&W is not cheating because it is announced the second we see it. There is no trickery in that form per se, but we are not seduced by the colors, rather it's the subject, tonalities and composition as well as relatedness to all previous B&W pictures that make them so remarkable. Usually, B&W images have been at least until now, what we see and is general a recording of fact but expressed as the photographer designs. It is not s lie, but some of the facts of the matter, therefore generally factice.

Fashion, glamour and other staged fantasies are fictive. When we see an advertisement for perfume, we know the woman with two Bengal tigers is not doing what she would in real life. We don't need a classification underneath, "paid actors" as we of course know what's going on.

The part we have trouble with is going from moving litter before the shot to cloning out the extra people and a tree, after the shot, to suit our purpose. That to me is not a route to getting pictures that I like to travel on. These alterations should, IMHO, be disclosed if it were likely people would care either way. Not to do so, borders on that bad word, manipulation.

If the camera is to be a lantern to reveal ourselves and the world we have claimed dominion over, then our photography should be truthful within the expectation of the genre and context.

Also in our respect for the art of photography as opposed to photography of art, we should not pass over the skills of lighting, composition choice of processing as mere mechanical old fashioned fussy points no longer needed. While I'm impressed by out of focus, slow shutter, odd colors spontaneous photography with digicams, I caution people for taking these shortcuts before having done 1000 pictures well the classical way.

In summary, except for minor changes, we should not keep secret our artful combinations of different images or substantial changes where people who expect one thing or getting something else. It means something to me, at least, to know that the old woman with the walking cane underneath the bridge feeding pigeons actually did that and that each component was not just assembled. Not that there work is any less wonderful, but it is different. One is a recording, an expression of a fact. The latter is a constructed fictitious story and the picture, fictive.

I'm thinking of leaving joining lines in my constructed pictures just to declare, "This was constructed so as to share with you my creative fantasy. It never happened! It's just a metaphor embedded in a beautiful print, that's all!"

Asher

Hi Asher,

I like your distinction between Factive and Fictive. As I've stated elsewhere, the older I get the more allergic I become to 'intervention' that significantly changes my RAW file en route to the image. I dislike having 'fun with filters' and would never apply a watercolour effect etc. I also dislike, at least for my own work, the 'fictive' narrative constructions of people like Crewdson.

But I find it impossible to define which point on the slippery slope is a step too far. For example, some RAW files render by their nature a very flat 'negative' and often with some sensor dust thrown in. A few clicks of the clone or repair tools and the twiddle of some sliders and we have a 'clean' image which is sharp, has great local area contrast and more impressive saturation and sharpness on screen. We might then selectively dodge and burn so as to make the sky more impressive or open up a shadow. Then we might upres it (thereby inventing much of the information in the image mathematically) and soft-proof it, adjusting reality according to the kind of paper it will be printed on.

Is all this is acceptable? Isn't the snapshot aesthetic the most honest one, with the minilab applying its standard rendition on our behalf?

The eye can open up the shadows or darken the sky simply by changing it's aperture as it moves across a scene. The mind can add drama, portents or memory according to the context of viewing, the sounds of distant thunder, the smell of spices. So is the 'furthest acceptable step' that which recreates as accurately as possible what we saw? Or that which attempts to recreate how what we saw made us feel?

Is it worse to clone out a telegraph pole but leave a sky flat, or to burn in a sky so that it looks as if a storm was approaching when in fact none was?

In other words, our choices of visual effect are as potentially dishonest as our choices of factual content - whether we step to the left and create a sylvan idyll by avoiding the inclusion of a pylon in our landscape or whether we remove it with a clone tool. As Sean has said, we start to crop before we even raise the camera to our eye.

And then there's the resonance we give our images by the way we group them. The sympathetic frequencies with which they begin to resonate can mislead even if each individual image tells the truth.

I know that I like minimal intervention but I do think that I start to lie, inevitably, when I select File>Open. And so I allow myself a little leeway - just a touch.

Out of interest, would you consider the amount of intervention this file has received to be acceptable or not?


Original RAW as rendered with all defaults by Lightroom (in other words, Adobe has started telling small fibs on my behalf!) is first. Then comes my exhibition version. The image was shot knowingly as part of a series, the final size, rendition and tonal effects of which were already decided.






BTW I am fascinated with Colleen's point about multiple captures helping the 'truth' to emerge. I wonder what the psychologists would have to tell us about group dynamics here, and about how individuals might wittingly or unwittingly conspire so as capture their own truths in unison. Would the KKK have accurately rendered the beating of Rodney King if it had happened outside one of their meetings and they'd all had digicams and video recorders? Would the capture differ if they were going to use it for their own private collection, or if they anticipated its use in court?

Best

Tim
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  #55  
Old May 12th, 2008, 08:53 AM
David Stone David Stone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Reid View Post
Asher is British. <G>

Cheers,

Sean
Whoops!

However, to get back to more serious topics, the question of where photography is now, and where it's going, and what to call photographically-derived images/pictures is something that needs to be debated.

Since it seems to have hijacked another thread that is also valuable, might it be a good idea to start it afresh with a new name?

David
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  #56  
Old May 24th, 2008, 01:03 PM
David Stone David Stone is offline
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As part of the debate on the trust we place, or don't, in photography, this is worth a read, but make sure that you read to the end. There are still some who are swimming against the stream.

http://arts.guardian.co.uk/art/photo...281374,00.html

David
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  #57  
Old May 24th, 2008, 04:05 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Ashley View Post
Hi Asher,

I like your distinction between Factive and Fictive. As I've stated elsewhere, the older I get the more allergic I become to 'intervention' that significantly changes my RAW file en route to the image. I dislike having 'fun with filters' and would never apply a watercolour effect etc. I also dislike, at least for my own work, the 'fictive' narrative constructions of people like Crewdson.
Whenever someone removes color or assigns hues to tonalities to make B&W, that is self-declared. It still appears as the truth and is just a recognized way of showing, like at sunset or under an overcast sky. The window to the world through a black and white way of showing is already part of our cultural heritage and therefore, in itself, does not alter much the factiveness of a scene. It does, however, remove the distracting "raz-ma-tazz" of the intense artificial colors of manufactured goods and clothes.

Take this picture of balloons and read my discussion and the surprising reply.

A picture of women getting ready to sell balloons is seen by the photographer as an abstract of the colors and the shapes but the women are far secondary. I had thought the title "Ready for a Day's Work" meant the subject was the women and that without distraction of the colors, the humanity of the women and their hard work ahead comes out wonderfully in B&W. So making the B&W images was to me opening the active window on reality. But the intent of the photographer in not changing a thing, was to let the colors overwhelm the women (a false thing to do) and by not altering the photograph has rendered a fictive story from a factive picture. I would have preferred that the photographer had made things clearer by having a different title to guide us to his point of view, but there you have it, technically factive fiction!

Now your picture below is already manipulated before the exposure was made. If a child put together the ensemble of toy car and straw, then photographing it, in itself, is documenting that and factive. However, had you done this to deceive us, that is fictive straight off. you picture, the toy is self evident so it can be seen as an artistic idea perhaps a metaphor but not in any way unethical.







Again, the second image in B&W, I prefer since the appreciation of form and texture is not overshadowed by garish colors.

[QUOTE=Tim Ashley;48769BTW I am fascinated with Colleen's point about multiple captures helping the 'truth' to emerge. I wonder what the psychologists would have to tell us about group dynamics here, and about how individuals might wittingly or unwittingly conspire so as capture their own truths in unison. Would the KKK have accurately rendered the beating of Rodney King if it had happened outside one of their meetings and they'd all had digicams and video recorders? Would the capture differ if they were going to use it for their own private collection, or if they anticipated its use in court?[/quote]

The pictures of Bangkok are like this, the multiple images show between the gaps separating one picture from another, the deep meaning of the over populated city and it's nightlife. Mitch Alland's "An Approach To Street Photography" Article here. Some of the pictures are special, some are rather ordinary, but the essence comes from the very large sequence of B&W images through which a coherent idea id perceived.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman
Mitch,

There is the photograph. It is what it is. It carries with it something beyond the recording of light in some pattern or other from "stuff" that reflect or transmit light.

Let's take your pictures. I rarely look at more than 10-20 pictures in collection. I looked at all of yours in the Bangkok collection. We could discuss copyright, good manners in photographing and objectifying people, dishonesty in smiling and at the same time stealing someone's likeness with no consent. This is obviously a flagrant violation of the sanctity of the individual. When the subject is in a 3rd world country, that village, those naked people not knowing our delight in deconstructing their ways of life, are not objects in an exhibition for our entertainment, but yet they are.

It's all a beautiful cruelty to "document" the homeless and show the sadness in poor children's eyes.

For all these sins and much more I am the worst! Yes I have a conscience and it hurts but I admit a need, an almost self-righteous but hollow drive to make a record in my camera of what is and what should not be, what delights and what makes me fear or be ashamed.

I say this as a background to looking at the Bangkok pictures. This is from memory.

Streams of people with no smiles. I've seen that too in New York but this is almost uniform, like observing people in suspended life as they go from place to place like parts of some giant wigget factory.

We see crowds of people and rows of dead fish waiting to be consumed by more hoards of somber people. There are animals hanging by hooks and animals with hollowed insides like some haunting spector of death had gone on his rounds having his will with the helpless.

Even people in restaurants seem to be mostly in a trance. Once in a while there is a smile as a girl is engaged. School girls stop a while and one covers her mouth to hide a laughter that youth still allows.

This is a somber vision, even with the neon lights and the obvious bustling commerce going on everywhere. But it's just a treadmill, a part the widget factory.

If this had been a poem, it would have been written by the brilliant poet who I both admire and revile, T.S. Elliott. What long poem would he have written on Bangkok? It for sure would be mocking and full of invective. However, he would not be indifferent or bother to ask, "Is this street Photography"

I must take the mass of Bangkok pictures as a poem and then hear in my mind a voice of Miles Davis, "The music is not in the notes you play, it's the music between the notes. The value of Mitch's feverish snapping of the shutter is not in any individual picture. Rather it's the life portrayed in Bangkok, there in a far off land with people passing, the fished packed, the dead animals picked, the portions eaten in the restaurant and the hand passed over the mouth of a girl so young that she still laughs.

Then, when we think we might know what we've seen, we realize it's not that at all, it's just another widget factory in B&W and we are locked inside.

So where in this does it matter a hair on a rat's arse what the collection is called?

Asher
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