Just what is a photograph

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

  1. Pat

    mianileng Guest

    If that was taken as a pejorative attack, it was not my intention
    and I apologise. It arose out of frustration from the opposite
    camp's continued ignoring of certain points of clarification I
    and some others are trying to make. But haven't you got it
    backwards a bit? I'm not aware of my making any "pejorative
    attacks" before. The ignoring was the cause, not the result, of
    my using the term.
    You worded that opinion previously as a statement, not a
    question. And I did not reply to that post at all, which is
    different from replying but selectively ignoring related points.

    In any case, the distinction is important to a lot of people. It
    also depends on the circumstances. I, too, often refer to
    composite and manipulated pictures as photos in everyday
    conversation. I (and I suspect others) make the distinction when
    trying to form an opinion of the capabilities of a camera or
    those of a photographer at (I repeat) taking pictures, not
    creating an artistic image.

    Someone (not necessarily an expert or even an enthusiast) asks
    "How is your new camera?" or "You're always lugging your camera
    around. Let's see how good your photos are." In such cases, I
    feel obligated to show them my shots as they come out of the
    camera, perhaps with some slight adjustments to brightness,
    contrast, etc. If I showed them an extensively manipulated
    picture, I wouldn't feel that I'm showing them a true photograph.
    When I do show such highly modified pictures, I explain the
    process of creation.

    I'm not against creating artistic pictures from photos. I often
    try to do it within the limits of my talent and experience. I
    just don't call them photos when I feel the need to be accurate.
     
    mianileng, Nov 28, 2008
    #81
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  2. Pat

    Peter Guest

    Sometimes a judge makes an interesting, comment without thinking. Last month
    I submitted a photo of a woman's breast wearing nothing but body paint and a
    string of pearls.
    The judge, not referring to the subject matter, commented that the picture
    looked flat. It brought down the house.
     
    Peter, Nov 28, 2008
    #82
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  3. Pat

    mianileng Guest

    Well, at least with some people, it is a challenge to test the
    limits of our capabilities as well as that of our cameras.
    And that is where the challenge lies. We all know that it isn't
    possible to capture a perfect image, but the fun is in trying to
    get as close to it as we can.
    Ah, but the object of realism photography is to capture the
    apearance of the subject at the moment of picture-taking, either
    in ambient light or the way it would look under common sources of
    light.

    I have nothing against artistic creativity. I don't think anyone
    should stick solely to realism, but it is an objective that some
    people enjoy trying to achieve some of the time.
     
    mianileng, Nov 28, 2008
    #83
  4. Pat

    Peter Guest

    If I read you correctly, we agree that any photo taken for purposes of
    understanding the capability of any equipment should not be more than
    minimally manipulated, whatever that means. I also agree that a photo
    manipulated to falsely represent a situation is dishonest.
    Having said that, I think a shot manipulated solely for artistic purposes,
    is still a photograph. In reading this thread I think there is a lot of
    confusion as to what degree of manipulation is morally OK. I think that the
    amount of "acceptable" manipulation will depend upon the purpose for which
    the shot was taken. IOW There is no one size fits all rule, when it comes to
    manipulation.
     
    Peter, Nov 28, 2008
    #84
  5. Pat

    Surfer! Guest

    In message <ggp7hh$oq2$>, mianileng
    The difficulty with this approach is that one person's minor correction
    is another person's major manipulation. Hence, I don't care what has
    been done to an image. I do care that it has been done well, and that
    the final result is pleasing to me. Beyond that I don't give a fig, nor
    does it bother me to have my own images up against cases of major
    manipulation.

    I have what look like a straight B&W image of the ripples in the sand on
    a beach with a bit of sky and the buildings of the town where I took it.
    It is 1) scanned from a 35mm slide, 2) has three layers each with a bit
    of the beach copied from the original image layer to the lens flare, 3)
    has a couple of curves layers and a channel mixer layer, 4) has a grey
    overlay layer that I've painted on with a white brush to lighten certain
    areas, 5) has a gradient layer used to (partially) correct the way it
    gets paler towards where the sun is, 6) has a power station cloned out
    and 7) has the original image layer duplicated with the duplicate
    sharpened and the original left alone. In total there are 12 layers.

    Is this major manipulation or minor correction? The final image looks
    natural and excellent if I say it myself. Actually a couple of judges
    have said so as well. And if I put it in a 'minimal manipulation' comp,
    would it qualify in your view? I bet no-one would be able to look at it
    and suggest it was over-manipulated for such a category.
     
    Surfer!, Nov 28, 2008
    #85
  6. Pat

    Celcius Guest

    You're absolutely right. I liked thje comment about the shirtsleeve. Indeed,
    it's too bright on the right side... The shadows are identical... again
    right. I picked the same. However, shadows are sometimes astoundingly
    different from what we might expect...
    Apart form what you're saying, can you tell me if that's a photograph?
    That's what Iwas aiming at...
    By the way, Tony is also very right! Most people do not see anything unless
    warned about it...
    Marcel
     
    Celcius, Nov 28, 2008
    #86
  7. Pat

    mianileng Guest

    I agree with that. Earlier in this thread, I made an analogy with
    driving. To reiterate, driving at 90 mph on a narrow mountain
    road would be considered dangerously fast even if there's no
    official speed limit. Heck, 30 mph would be fast on some of the
    "highways" in my area. But 5 mph wouldn't be fast on any road if
    it can properly be called a road at all. But there will always be
    a grey area.
    Definitely major manipulation IMO. I have no objection to any
    amount of manipulation to achieve an artistic objective. The
    difference of opinion is in labeling the final result as a
    photograph. If your picture is as good as you say it is (and I
    expect it is), I would applaud your skill. But I wouldn't call it
    a photo except perhaps as a short convenient term in passing.
    That is, if I knew how it was created.
    No, it wouldn't qualify in such a competition *if* the process of
    creation was known. For the purpose of this thread, it's not a
    question of whether a viewer can detect the manipulation. It's
    about the facts behind the product.
     
    mianileng, Nov 28, 2008
    #87
  8. Pat

    mianileng Guest

    I agree with that. Earlier in this thread, I made an analogy with
    driving. To reiterate, driving at 90 mph on a narrow mountain
    road would be considered dangerously fast even if there's no
    official speed limit. Heck, 30 mph would be fast on some of the
    "highways" in my area. But 5 mph wouldn't be fast on any road if
    it can properly be called a road at all. But there will always be
    a grey area.
    Definitely major manipulation IMO. I have no objection to any
    amount of manipulation to achieve an artistic objective. The
    difference of opinion is in labeling the final result as a
    photograph. If your picture is as good as you say it is (and I
    expect it is), I would applaud your skill. But I wouldn't call it
    a photo except perhaps as a short convenient term in passing.
    That is, if I knew how it was created.
    No, it wouldn't qualify in such a competition *if* the process of
    creation was known. For the purpose of this thread, it's not a
    question of whether a viewer can detect the manipulation. It's
    about the facts behind the product.
     
    mianileng, Nov 28, 2008
    #88
  9. Pat

    avers_conrad Guest

    Then it'll never happen using a focal-plane shutter on anything that's moving in
    your FOV, no matter what shutter-speed you use. The shutter curtains slowly
    opening and closing will either cause soft edges on anything that moves at all
    during your exposure, or outright shape distortions of anything moving faster
    than the speed of the angular distance that the edge of the shutter-curtains
    travel.

    The only place you'll get an accurate representation is by shooting a still-life
    in a studio lit up by artificial illumination, making certain that absolutely
    nothing in your subject moves. But then, that won't cause perfection either,
    it's artificial lighting.

    ar•ti•fi•cial \'ar-te-"fi-shel\ adjective (14c)
    4 a : lacking in natural or spontaneous quality <an artificial smile> <an
    artificial excitement>
    c : imitation, sham <artificial flavor>
    5 : based on differential morphological characters not necessarily
    indicative of natural relationships <an artificial key for plant identification>


    Perfection is totally out of the question for any focal-plane shutter camera.
     
    avers_conrad, Nov 29, 2008
    #89
  10. Pat

    Steve Guest

    Let me guess... you think perfection is achievable by a P&S? You
    actually believe that a P&S will give you a perfectly accurate
    representation of what it's shooting? zero distortion, zero color
    aberations, zero noise, etc. You really are an idiot.

    Steve
     
    Steve, Nov 29, 2008
    #90
  11. Pat

    Celcius Guest

    Shiva,
    I welcome your judgement.
    I learned about this one, thanks to you.
    Although I didn't show this to brag, but to ask if one could consider this a
    photograph, I take this opportunity to press for more information.
    *The shadow*: I cloned myself on a new layer, modified the opacity and
    extended the "shadow" in an angle that seemed to be as that of the tall
    grass on the left. Was it the wrong angle? Perhaps not thin anough? Not long
    enough?
    I tried to do the same for my wife, but having trouble, I copied my own
    shadow... BAD!
    *The shirt sleeve*: MAJOR! Mea culpa. Indeed a gross overlook.
    *Levitation effect*: I don't know why this happens. My wife seems worse than
    myself. She floats more than I do ;-)))
    I would be grateful if you took the time to point a few things to me.
    Not to bother the group, feel free to write to me: celcius38athotmail.com
    Thanks,
    Marcel
     
    Celcius, Nov 29, 2008
    #91
  12. Pat

    David Guest

    Hmmm a grey areas (LOL), im my view it would be a major manipulation, you
    have altered the fabric of the photograph, esp with cloning, you have made a
    real scene to be unreal.

    Just my opinion.
     
    David, Nov 29, 2008
    #92
  13. Pat

    David Guest

    I've enjoyed your talk about photography clubs. I reminds me of the few i've
    been along over the years. I generally don't get too involved in submitting
    images for critique, as like you say thay are totally subjective. I've seen
    one judge judge a photo and given it 10 (I don't agree with there ever being
    a 10 out of 10 photo ever anyway), another judge gave the same photo a 6.
    There is also a lot of pandering to the judges likes. Another reason why I
    treat competitions with a pinch of salt.

    The usual number of 'gear heads' also popped along, they had the gear but
    had no idea, as I used to say. I used to find the odd gear head quite
    patronising towards the junior members of the clubs. Generally quite a lot
    of jealousy now surrounds digital use, again goes back to the megapixel
    wars.
     
    David, Nov 29, 2008
    #93
  14. Pat

    David Guest

    Last year where I live there is a local photography competition. The winner
    was a chap who digitally butchered a very, very poorly taken lighthouse
    scene (the view of not just me but many). For ages afterwards I campaigned
    on Flickr forums about this and directly to the competition organisers. The
    result is that the winner got all shirty with me for trying to protect
    proper photography but in his eyes and his families the photo was the best
    of the crop and that he was the undoubted best image wizard who entered.
    Digitally disillusioned, it was the same person who I once looked at his
    website a short time after only to my horror that he had used a variety of
    my photo ideas for himself and spookily a number of similar photographs
    appeared on his domain. Again I publically stated that any similar
    photographs by him were rip offs from me and that my own work was my own.
    Again this didn't go down well and he got shirty over it.

    The next while discussions on Flickr were ongoing about the travesty of the
    ip... competition, when he reported me to Flickr about abusive
    language!!!!!!! And one evening no word of a lie I had 8 missed calls from
    his mobile (number on website). When he finally go back in touch he asked
    why I had been "making comments about him" which I hadn't. It was merely a
    reserved discussion about the standard of his photographs in general.

    This is another digital trait, no-one is allowed to say anything remotely
    negative about digital users photographs without reprisals. I'm sure using
    film was never like this, film users seem to be more polite and took critism
    constructively.
     
    David, Nov 29, 2008
    #94
  15. Pat

    tony cooper Guest

    While some of what you say in this post I agree with, I'm not really
    sympathetic to you in the above.

    Photography, art, and human beauty are in the eyes of the beholder.
    If he and his family think it's a good image, it *is* a good image.
    Unless he asks for a critique, it's not your business to run his image
    down. The fact that you kept chewing this bone for "ages afterwards"
    is a bit disturbing.

    There's a tacit understanding that if we post a link to an image in a
    photography newsgroup that comments - both favorable and unfavorable -
    will follow. There should be some boundaries, though. If you want to
    say the image is oversaturated, that it should be cropped differently,
    that parts are blown-out, or similar observations, these are
    reasonable criticisms. To mount the high horse and talk about "proper
    photography" or "butchered", is beyond what I consider to be the pale.

    It was not right for him to use your ideas, but it's not clear from
    the above that your ideas were all that unique. There are a million
    sunset images on the web, and not one of them is truly unique. If you
    catch a sunset from a low angle with a scuddering of clouds, you might
    have a good image. Someone else's image from that same perspective,
    with a similar cloud background, is not necessarily a rip-off of your
    idea. That other person can come up with that same shot completely
    independent of your shot.

    There's a poster in one of the photo groups asking for advice on how
    to crop his sunset image. He's obviously quite chuffed about his
    shot, but it's just another sun and water shot. Search the web and
    you'll find hundreds that are very similar. It doesn't mean that
    anyone stole anyone else's shot, though.

    Here's a shot of mine:
    http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f244/cooper213/yellowboat.jpg

    It's appropriate because I took it in St Augustine FL as the base of
    the lighthouse there. I didn't see a good angle to photograph the
    lighthouse, so I shot the boat instead.

    Feel free to critique it. Tell me the shot should be composed
    differently, that desaturating the background was the wrong thing to
    do, that the balance is off, or whatever. Offer something
    constructive and I'll pay attention to you.

    Tell me that I butchered it or that it's not proper photography,
    though, and I'll get shirty. Tell me that I ripped-off someone else
    because there's another image somewhere of a rowboat in the water, and
    that will get me shirty.
     
    tony cooper, Nov 29, 2008
    #95
  16. Pat

    mianileng Guest

    Although the request in this post was addressed to someone else,
    I hope it won't be considered inappropriate if I contributed an
    input FWIW. I'm no expert, but I've toyed with figure insertions
    a few times. Some time ago, I uploaded one such attempt at
    Photobucket and asked RPD readers to guess which one was the
    inserted figure. Like you, my objective was to gain experience by
    having others point out what I did wrong, but no one identified
    the figure correctly before I revealed the correct one. After I'd
    revealed the correct figure, one person spotted a few pixels I'd
    overlooked in a corner of the picture.

    Regarding your picture, even if you hadn't said that the human
    figures were inserted, I would have spotted your wife's figure
    immediately, but would probably have been less sure about yours.
    The levitation effect occurs because the figures, especially your
    wife's, do not blend into the the rest of the picture. Here's my
    analysis:

    1. White balance is different from the rest of the picture. Your
    wife's figure has a bluish tint.
    2. Lighting direction. Light and shade areas are wrong.
    3. Your wife is leaning a bit too much to the left and looks out
    of balance.

    I've taken the liberty of modifying your picture to make a rough
    correction of the lighting and uploaded it to ImageShack. I took
    only a few minutes and the result still wouldn't stand up to
    scrutiny by an experienced eye, not by a long shot. But at least
    I've changed the location of the sun from low on the right side
    to higher up on the left side. I haven't done anything to the
    color balance and positioning of the figure. Here's the link
    http://img167.imageshack.us/img167/8426/coupleplainesmodifiedfp0.jpg
     
    mianileng, Nov 29, 2008
    #96
  17. Pat

    David Guest

    Tell me that I butchered it or that it's not proper photography,
    Damn I meant shitty.
     
    David, Nov 29, 2008
    #97
  18. Pat

    Celcius Guest

    Thanks mianileng.
    I'm taking note of that.
    As soon as I have time, I'll get to it again.
    Marcel
     
    Celcius, Nov 29, 2008
    #98
  19. Pat

    Roy G Guest


    Sorry, mine was meant to be above yours.

    You posted too quickly, or I took too long.

    Roy G
     
    Roy G, Nov 30, 2008
    #99
  20. Pat

    Roy G Guest



    You have, of course, managed to persuade the P.S.A. to accept your
    definition of a photograph.

    Have You ???

    Roy G
     
    Roy G, Nov 30, 2008
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