# Just what is a photograph

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

1. ### CelciusGuest

Frank,
Be the judge of this one. We walked part of the way to Compostela (250 km)
this Fall. Back at home, we looked at our photos and my wife loved one
particularly, because it showed the immensity of the plain and the route we
had to follow. My wife was the closest person we could see on that dirt
road. I was the one who took the photo. (Canon A650). She said it was too
bad that I wasn't in the photo. After all, I was there... She wanted to blow
up the photo and have it laminated. So I took my wife and myself "out" of 2
other photos where we were dressed the same way and pasted us in the one
where she appeared very small at the forefront. I added our shadows and
Voilà! The final photo was cropped at 1920 x 1200 for our desktop.
Take a look at the "before and after":
Is this a photograph? I think so. Had someone else taken the photo, it would
have been this way. We were both walking, she in front, and the scene was
exactly as taken. Of course, I tell those who look at it that it was
tricked. ;-)
Take care,
Marcel

Celcius, Nov 28, 2008

2. ### PeterGuest

Why is the definition so important to you.
I applaud the comment of Surfer in the immediately following posting
mailto:ggoe4o$b3d$:

"But really it's much more fun to get on with producing photographs or
whatever, or go flying, than discuss what is an is not a photograph, or
art!"

Peter, Nov 28, 2008

3. ### PeterGuest

Do they give you a critique, or just a score?

We have a pool of about 50 judges from different local clubs. I have become
friendly with a professional photo artist from another area. She had been
requested to judge a CC competition. Neither she nor the club was happy with
the result because as all too often happens, CC "rules" and "standards" are
inconsistent with the concept of art, when they slavishly followed, rather
than being used as guidelines.

Too many CC judges slavishly follow the "rules"
<\end mini rant>

Peter, Nov 28, 2008
4. ### CelciusGuest

I guess it's like making love: there's room to actually DO it or TALK about
it.
It's not mutually exclusive.
Marcel

Celcius, Nov 28, 2008
5. ### mianilengGuest

Please remember that I was not the one who started this thread
and brought up the issue. But since the question did arise, I
just stated my viewpoint. And the definition can be important in
some situations, such as when trying to judge how good a camera
or a person is at *taking* pictures, not creating them.
Of course. I don't disagree with that. In fact, I couldn't agree
more. Nevertheless, it doesn't mean that the definition is not
important and does not merit discussion.

mianileng, Nov 28, 2008
6. ### PeterGuest

If the maker is making a documentary shot, I totally agree with you.
Otherwise, I think
that's a distinction without a difference,

Peter, Nov 28, 2008
7. ### Roy GGuest

Because what you state above is only your opinion. It is in no way a "Rule"
or "Law of Nature".

The rest of us believe that the amount of manipulation applied, or not, is
of no relevance whatsoever to the end product being a Photograph.

If you care to read the rules of the Photographic Society of America, (PSA),
or Photographic Alliance of Great Britain, (PAGB), regarding photographic
competitions I think you will find that there are no restrictions on
processing or manipulation in any of the general categories.

If those august bodies have no objections what gives you the right to object
when someone does not conform to your narrow qualifications.

Roy G

Roy G, Nov 28, 2008
8. ### tony cooperGuest

Both. Some judge's critiques are better than other's.

The problem with a large club and a lot of entries is that each must
be critiqued. Some entries really can't support a critique other than
"It's an uninteresting subject that was poorly photographed". It's a
social club too, though, so the judges have to come with something

tony cooper, Nov 28, 2008
9. ### DavidGuest

Very nice. I think today the term photograph is mis-understood and mis-used,
especially in digital. As far as im concerned if someone uses programs such
as photomatix to produce what is basically a computer generated 'image' from
a photograph. The final image is definately not a photo. Why trust a program
like this which is like a photograph mangle!

As soon as a photograph becomes unrealistic by using 'cheats' in Photoshop
such as basically anything which cannot be done in a darkroom then again
that photo becomes an digitally generated 'image.

A photograph should be pure with absolutely the minimum necessary
manipulation.

Last year a very badly and over manipulated 'image' won a local photography
competition. After protesting against this, this years criteria has been
tightened, but where do we draw a line. This is something i've often
scratched my head over in disappointment. I remember another 'photography'
competition where the winning entry was a 'image' which used a variety of
complex photoshop techniques to get the final image, my arguement is that
the winner was not a photograph but a digially generated and 'unreal' never
happened scene. There is a huge difference and I wish photography was kept
seperate from digially generated images from programs like photoshop and its
huge array of wizadry pixel generators.

David, Nov 28, 2008
10. ### J. ClarkeGuest

That ship has sailed, hit an iceberg, and sunk.

J. Clarke, Nov 28, 2008
11. ### Surfer!Guest

Some judges are kind enough to say something along the lines of 'I can
see what you saw', or 'It's an interesting idea' before they hand out a
score of 11 or similar - our marks are out of 20. Some judges give the
best entry 20 regardless of quality (so in a better grade comp it
wouldn't get 20), others give 18 or 19.

Surfer!, Nov 28, 2008
12. ### PeterGuest

Just a minor point. Somehow in your snipping you have me saying something I
never said. In fact, my posting was probably in agreement with you.

Peter, Nov 28, 2008
13. ### PeterGuest

What he should have done was reverse the image on the right then we would
see the face and the sun would have been in the correct position. <G>

Peter, Nov 28, 2008
14. ### tony cooperGuest

Oh, c'mon. If that photo was on a website or in an album along with
several other photos taken on that trek, 99% of the viewers would not
notice a thing. The Photoshopping is *not* obvious until you start
examining the details. Then, only the viewers who have some knowledge
of Photoshopping and photography would be able to spot the points you
have listed.

Photoshopped images that are "quite obvious" to "anyone" are the
photos where the scene is improbable in itself...a photograph of an
ordinary person being embraced by a well-known celebrity, for example.

entirely the 99% would drop, but not drastically. A single image
might be scrutinized, but not an image in a series where the image
fits in with the series in appropriateness of scene.

tony cooper, Nov 28, 2008
15. ### PeterGuest

We have about 65 members who may submit up to three images in each category.
So I empathize. It's hard to get judges who manage to keep their comments
interesting and pertinent, without insulting the maker.

I entered a slide that the judge thought was slightly fuzzy. He shared a
technique for shooting fish in an aquarium. The only problem was that the
technique did not apply to shots taken on a wreck 40' below the surface. The
judge became defense when I called this to his attention.

There is one club that enters the same image in all competitions just to
show beginners that judging is subjective. (The judges are not aware of
which shot it is.)

Peter, Nov 28, 2008
16. ### PatGuest

I've never quite understood the fascination with realistically
representing an image -- especially when you consider that it isn't
really possible. You are not seeing an object, you are seeing light
bouncing off an object. So, as mentioned, colors are manipulated by
nature. Shine a red light on a blue object and you get black(-ish),
not blue or even red. But then again, a "blue object" is also
subjective because under red light, it's not blue -- it's only blue
under certain conditions.

Faithful reproduction reminds me of two things. First there are the
Kodak picture spots at Disney where you can stand, point the camera in
the direction they tell you to, and take a picture just like they want
you to. It's very nice but 10,000 people already did it. So what's
the big deal. Yes it's a photo, but so what? Then there's the Golden
Gate bridge. Same thing. There are 2 or 3 "stock" shots of it. So
what.

In either case, its better to do something else -- add some
interpretation or something interesting to the scene.

I'll take this one step farther into the realm of wedding photography
-- the bane of photography. The difference between a wedding
photographer and a good wedding photographer is a wedding photographer
takes pictures of what happens. A good wedding photographer makes
things happen -- things that would not happen otherwise.

Remembering that there are a lot of variables out there -- from light
to your brain processing things -- it might be safe to say that a
photograph may be the way you think something looked However, a
"good" photograph is how things should have looked.

I wonder why it is that I'm been doing something like photography (by
most people's opinions, it's not photography) for a long time compared
to most people. I started with film and a darkroom WAY before anyone
ever thought of digital but I have one of the widest definitions of
photography. As I said in the OP, I just did something that's far,
far removed from what most people do -- a silhouette that is cut from
the paper. I'm trying to figure out if that's a photograph. That's
where the shape is the image and there is no tonality. That pushes
beyond PS, but interestingly I could have done the same thing in my
darkroom and it probably would have been easier because Litho
internegs are easy to make.

Pat, Nov 28, 2008
17. ### mianilengGuest

I don't know if you're deliberately misinterpreting my words or
just dense. Yes, my opinions are my own. It is shared by many
others, but the point is not whether we are in the minority or
the majority, or whether we are an authority.

When I said "Why is it that the "anything goes" brigade often
chooses to ignore the above qualifications which have been stated
often enough?", the question was *not* about why some people
don't agree with me.

The question is this: when those who accept severely manipulated
images as photos argue their case, they often cite in-camera
processing and minor corrections as manipulations, and then
extrapolate that argument to include ANY amount of manipulation.
They ignore the distinction we make between minor correction and
major manipulation. They ignore analogies made in an attempt to
clarify our views. They may not accept our opinions, but they
should at least recognise and respond to those points of
distinction in their argument. That's how an intelligent
discussion should go. *That* was what my rhetorical question was

mianileng, Nov 28, 2008
18. ### PeterGuest

When you use a term like "the anything goes brigade," there is a clear
pejorative intent directed at those who share an opinion that is not yours.
Do you really expect a clear response to a pejorative attack.

For clarity, I repeat my [unanswered] question to you: Except for
documentary photography why is this not a distinction without a difference.

Peter, Nov 28, 2008
19. ### tony cooperGuest

We are allowed one entry in color and one entry in black and white,
and can submit in each category. There was a category for prints, but
they've dropped that. All entries are now submitted by email. Still,
the competition nights run two hours of critiques.

Print competition was getting out of hand. Only a very small number
entered that group because you had to either have extensive equipment
at home or be able to pay big bucks for outside processing. I never
saw an 8 x 10 or smaller entered; they were all huge, matted,
blow-ups. No print-it-out-on-your-\$150 Epson-stuff.

We also have "A" and a "B" levels. "A"s are professional
photographers and winners of three or more monthly competitions.

tony cooper, Nov 28, 2008
20. ### PeterGuest

Your members spend their money on travelling, we have a lot of gear heads.

The number of entries and categories varies with the club. We used to have
A, B & Salon. We eliminated salon and now have in each class: prints; color
& monochrome; and digital, which we only started last year as a replacement
for slides. Digital may be color, BW or any combination thereof.

Our largest number of entries is in the monochrome print category. There
have been quite a few nice entries that were 8x10, even though our maximum
size is 16 ax 20, including the mounting board, I have not seen any larger
than 13x18.

Peter, Nov 28, 2008