Just what is a photograph

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Pat, Nov 25, 2008.

  1. Pat

    Brian Guest

    I wondering what you call a photo that's stright from the camera that
    has not been touched up. Maybe there needs to be names for a touched
    and a untouched photo.
    Brian, Nov 26, 2008
    1. Advertisements

  2. Pat

    Mark Thomas Guest

    There have been attempts to provide guidelines or self-regulation over
    the years, notably one called 'Foundview'. Google it and you'll see
    there was a fair amount of interest and discussion about it, but, if
    you'll pardon the pun, it seems to have foundered.
    Mark Thomas, Nov 26, 2008
    1. Advertisements

  3. Pat

    J. Clarke Guest

    So let's see, if I took my old Leica and put the 28mm on it and shoot
    the scene with the sky masked and then without advancing the film put
    the 135 on and shot the sky with the ground masked, so that the moon
    appears huge on the double exposure, that's not a "photograph"?
    J. Clarke, Nov 26, 2008
  4. Pat

    Colin.D Guest

    INHO a photograph is a finished image, on paper, projected, whatever,
    that the author intended the viewer to see - a 'light graph' meant to
    convey a message.

    All the previous steps involved up to the final image are not
    photographs unless they are the final intended image.

    Colin D.
    Colin.D, Nov 26, 2008
  5. Pat

    Steve Guest

    Right. It would be 2 photographs superimposed. It may look great, it
    may be art, but it's just as much a "photograph" as if I superimposed
    an image of a car onto a camel.

    Steve, Nov 26, 2008
  6. Pat

    Pat Guest

    It would seem like an overly broad definition if it includes both
    paintings and photocopies as photographs.
    Pat, Nov 26, 2008
  7. Pat

    Mark Thomas Guest

    Depends on the context.

    Having taught photography to beginners, maybe my attitude is skewed a
    little, but here's the rub for me.. If I plonked that 'photo' down in
    front of a rank beginner and without any further information said "go
    out and take one just like it", I would be doing them a disservice.
    Although it might be a good learning experience for them!

    In the same way, I have a camera magazine that displays an image that is
    very clearly a double exposure of exactly that kind, in an article about
    night time exposures for beginners. But the image is not described in a
    caption, nor was that technique explained in the article! It was
    probably just an editorial omission, but in doing that they may have
    misled their readers and potentially caused frustration as the naive
    photog keeps wondering why *his* moon looks smaller, and is totally
    washed out when he does long exposures...

    So yes, it's still a photograph, but should be described as a double
    exposure if presented in a learning or competitive environment.

    If you're selling it as art, do what you like!
    Mark Thomas, Nov 26, 2008
  8. Pat

    Paul Furman Guest

    There's 2 kinds of post-processing:

    1) brightness & contrast
    This is global stuff like chosing the film, paper or raw conversion
    sliders. Everyone does this.

    2) burning & dodging
    This is manipulation of specific areas. Of course there's gray areas
    like a graduated neutral density filter/gradient adjustment and a little
    local contrast adjustment isn't as bad as cloning in new info or
    air-brushing a negative. Then again, what's the harm in cloning out a
    little piece of trash in the corner?

    Paul Furman

    all google groups messages filtered due to spam
    Paul Furman, Nov 26, 2008
  9. Pat

    Paul Furman Guest

    Sounds like HDR which meets my criteria of global processing unless it
    was some other sky then it's a photo composite, or maybe it is anyways
    for a strict definition.

    Paul Furman

    all google groups messages filtered due to spam
    Paul Furman, Nov 26, 2008
  10. Pat

    Paul Furman Guest


    Paul Furman

    all google groups messages filtered due to spam
    Paul Furman, Nov 26, 2008
  11. Pat

    Surfer! Guest

    But your camera touches the photo unless you are shooting RAW. At the
    very least it does colour balance and sharpening, and usually noise
    reduction and I'm sure there are other things it does.
    Surfer!, Nov 26, 2008
  12. Pat

    J. Clarke Guest

    I see. Does any recognized dictionary agree with you on this?
    J. Clarke, Nov 26, 2008
  13. Pat

    Roy G Guest


    That is a spot on definition.

    All these others who are trying to add "faithfull likeness", etc, are just
    attempting to hold back photography to what they think it used to be.

    The truth is that from almost day one in photography images were being

    Roy G
    Roy G, Nov 26, 2008
  14. Pat

    mianileng Guest

    No one objects to an artistic creation with a photograph as the base raw
    material as long as it is presented as a creation. Or to *some* manipulation
    as long as the object of such manipulation is to represent the subject as
    it/they appear in nature. The disagreement is in the degree of manipulation.

    The fact that it is difficult to precisely define the degree of acceptable
    manipulation before it is no longer a photograph does not make the judgment
    any less valid. Driving at 90 mph on a narrow twisting road is too fast to
    be called safe driving even if there's no official speed limit.
    mianileng, Nov 26, 2008
  15. Pat

    whisky-dave Guest

    Those sort of questions come up after snorting hypo and rubbing yuor
    in stop solution. ;-)
    whisky-dave, Nov 26, 2008
  16. Pat

    mianileng Guest

    That is not proper analogy. If someone claimed that a painting is not a
    painting if it is not done on canvas with oil paint, THEN recording audio on
    different media with different technologies would be a valid analogy.

    An audio recording on any medium, after any amount of manipulation, is still
    a recording because the word recording defines only the final process of
    preservation. It is more analogous to the saving of a computer file.
    mianileng, Nov 26, 2008
  17. Pat

    Pat Guest

    The more I think about it, the more I think the definition of
    photography has to include "intent". You have to intend to take a

    I had a magazine laying on top of a newspaper. When I removed the
    magazine it, the newspaper had a representation of the magazine on
    it. It was done with light. Mechanically it meets the broad
    definition of a photograph, but it isn't one. There was no intent to
    take it. It's just a few lines on old newsprint.

    Likewise, Ansel Adams took photographs. But someone working for a
    poster company took a picture of an AA picture and reproduced it as a
    poster. It used a camera and printing technique -- and it was a
    tremendously faithful representation of the image. But again it isn't
    a photograph. It's a reproduction. It's a poster. There was no
    intent to put any creative or new into the image. In fact, the intent
    would have been to NOT do so. This blows the "faithful reproduction"
    argument right out of the water. And if "faithful representation" is
    the goal, why do everyone own photoshop and use all of the bells and

    Meanwhile, look at magazines. Every photo in them is retouched. The
    remove backgrounds. They fix faces. They do it all. But they are
    photos none-the-less. My mother had a magazine this summer when an ad
    on the back page had a large amount of water in the foreground. The
    clouds in the sky and the clouds in the water weren't the same. But
    it was a photo.

    Then there's the whole issue of capturing something the way it looks.
    Does adding lighting make it more or less of a photo? What about

    How come it I photocopy my annual budget it's not a photograph but if
    I photocopy my butt, it is? It's the same technology. Again, it's a
    matter of intent.

    After pondering this for a while and reading all of the comments, I
    think I'm coming closer to a feeling of what a photograph is. It has
    nothing to do with equipment or "realism" or alterations. "It a
    visual image that a photographer produces from a captured image. It
    represents the photographer interpretation of the subject." I think
    this sums it up because you need three elements: capture, production
    and interpretation/intent.
    Pat, Nov 26, 2008
  18. Pat

    J. Clarke Guest

    So a second generation print is no longer a photograph?
    J. Clarke, Nov 26, 2008
  19. Pat

    whisky-dave Guest

    I thought it was a graphical image, produced by light and leaving a
    graphical image,
    where even a straight line can be considered a graphical image.
    It's the bit by photons/light that make it a photo, and remember there's no
    f in
    photograph :)
    whisky-dave, Nov 26, 2008
  20. Pat

    Peter Guest

    Peter, Nov 26, 2008
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.