Just what is a photograph

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

  1. Pat

    Pat Guest

    Fundamentally, what is the difference between manipulation in front of
    the lens or behind the computer screen. If you add lighting, clip a
    leaf, or do anything else that renders the image different than what
    is "naturally" there, doesn't that constitute alteration? It makes no
    sense to argue that lightening part of an image with a flash is okay
    but to do it in PS is not. It also makes no sense to say that you
    cannot add elements to a scene in PS but you can add it in front of
    the lens. And what about still lifes: is it okay to put some fruit in
    a bowl and take a picture but it's not okay to assemble them in PS?
    In both cases you've creates a situation that didn't exist until you
    made it exist.

    Going back to the picture of a view with two hikers added that was
    discussed elsewhere in this post. It's not okay to add the real
    people digitally but it is okay to have two fellow travelers wear your
    cloth, stand there and be "stunt doubles"?

    What about portrait photography? It is okay to cover a pimple with
    makeup but not to fix it with PS? But more importantly, isn't
    bringing the client/customer/model into a studio the ultimate in
    manipulation? You've created the scene, found the person, and have
    100% control over the lighting? Is this manipulation okay? If it is,
    why does the acceptable manipulation end at the camera lens?

    Isn't photography more about expressing your thoughts (or view) on an
    image than it is about being a slave to capturing what you find laying
    around? It isn't about finding, it's about creating.
     
    Pat, Dec 1, 2008
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  2. Pat

    Pat Guest

    I'd take that one step farther. If you notice the technique, then
    you've failed. Even if you manipulate the heck out of something and
    create a completely surreal image, you should still be looking at the
    image -- not the technique.
     
    Pat, Dec 1, 2008
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  3. Pat

    Celcius Guest

    I'd take that one step farther. If you notice the technique, then
    you've failed. Even if you manipulate the heck out of something and
    create a completely surreal image, you should still be looking at the
    image -- not the technique.

    I guess you have a point there.
    Why would photography differ from painting?
    And that's precisely what painting is all about... although "slavishly
    reproducing what is seen" in painting is deemed to be merely
    "photography"...
    I guess we'll never resolve this discussion...
    Cheers,
    Marcel
     
    Celcius, Dec 1, 2008
  4. Pat

    Surfer! Guest

    In message <>, J. Clarke
    Have they? Or is he someone who doesn't look for artistry?
     
    Surfer!, Dec 1, 2008
  5. Pat

    mianileng Guest

    A photo of fruit in a bowl is a photo of fruit in a bowl.
    Pictures of fruit assembled with PS is a composition with PS.

    It's not a question of whether it's okay or not. It's whether the
    result is a photograph or not.
    Because, in those examples, the manipulations happened *before* a
    photo was taken - before the process of recording the image
    began.

    Because, to some of us, a photograph is a record of something as
    it exists at the time the image is recorded. The recording may be
    imperfect due to shortcomings in technology and skill, but it's
    not the same as deliberate alteration.

    A photo of a person with a pimple covered with makeup is just
    that - a photo of a person with a pimple covered with makeup.
    I have said time and again in this thread alone that I have
    nothing against anyone's manipulating a photo to achieve an
    artistic goal. I have done it myself. That renders the analogy to
    covering pimples and arranging fruits for still-life irrelevant.
    The question is whether the result is a photograph or not.

    A better analogy would be this: If you cover a pimple with layers
    of makeup, is the surface of the makeup still a pimple?
     
    mianileng, Dec 1, 2008
  6. Pat

    mianileng Guest

    My reply quoted above was aimed at distinguishing between what is
    and what is no longer a photograph. It was not meant to exclude
    admiring a picture for its beauty and artistic value.

    That said, you can admire a painting for its beauty *and*, at the
    same time, also admire the skill and techniques of the painter -
    the brush strokes, the use of of color, light and shade, etc..
     
    mianileng, Dec 1, 2008
  7. Pat

    mianileng Guest

    My comments above were aimed at distinguishing between what is
    and what is no longer a photograph which is, after all, the
    subject of this thread. Please see my reply to Pat's further
    comments below.
     
    mianileng, Dec 1, 2008
  8. Pat

    J. Clarke Guest

    I am curious--where did you learn of people in the art world referring
    to any kind of painting as "photography"?
     
    J. Clarke, Dec 1, 2008
  9. Pat

    J. Clarke Guest

    What I'm getting is that you're determined to have a long
    nonproductive discussion of how many angels can dance on the head of a
    pin.
     
    J. Clarke, Dec 1, 2008
  10. Pat

    mianileng Guest

    As long as others are willing to argue their viewpoint and I try
    to clarify my viewpoint with a counter-argument, why is it that
    it's only I who is prolonging the discussion? The views expressed
    in this now rather lengthy discussion may well have served to
    clear up something for some people who have not taken part,
    whether they agree with me or not.
     
    mianileng, Dec 1, 2008
  11. Pat

    Pat Guest

    I just checked Google and it isn't there -- so it must not exist ;-)
     
    Pat, Dec 1, 2008
  12. Pat

    Pat Guest

    I have come to the conclusion that "photography" isn't a word so much
    as it is a catch-all for a variety of other things. After all,
    digital photography doesn't meet an old-fashioned definition of
    photography. Then there is the whole concept of camera. Do you need
    a camera to take a picture? Is that thing in your pocket a phone that
    takes pictures or a camera that receives phone calls?

    I still think that photography relies on intent. You have to intend
    something to be a photograph for it to me one. For example, when you
    photocopy something it isn't a photograph but if you sit on the
    photocopier, it probably is. The intent is different.

    Still photography is made up of a number of un-related sub-
    disciplines. What's okay for portraits might not be right for
    landscapes or fruit-bowls. I think there's a word (i.e. sub-
    discipline) for capturing "reality" and for some types of edited
    things. For example, "collage" is a good term for a photo consisting
    of other photos.

    I'm not trying to be derogatory or create a flaming war (so I
    apologize in advance but we are limited by what terms are available)
    but I think the attempt to capture what's there -- without editing --
    is "snapshot". You are, quite literally, taking a snapshot reality.
    I am not meaning to imply any less lack of quality or skill, but
    merely trying to put a name on it (which you are welcome to come up
    with a different name if you'd like).

    For weddings, unblinking the eyes might not only be acceptable but
    might also be a requirement. For snapshots, it is something that you
    should not do. For landscapes you might say "what eyes?". For
    portraits, you'd just move on to the next image and completely
    disregard a blink (i.e. throw the image away).
     
    Pat, Dec 1, 2008
  13. Pat

    Celcius Guest

    It's not in Google ;-)
    It's just a comment I heard or read from knowledgeable sources, stating that
    a painting is not a photograph.
    Marcel
     
    Celcius, Dec 1, 2008
  14. Pat

    Celcius Guest

    I heard it said in a different way: a discussion about the sex of angels ;-)
    Marcel
     
    Celcius, Dec 1, 2008
  15. Pat

    Celcius Guest

    I have come to the conclusion that "photography" isn't a word so much
    as it is a catch-all for a variety of other things. After all,
    digital photography doesn't meet an old-fashioned definition of
    photography. Then there is the whole concept of camera. Do you need
    a camera to take a picture? Is that thing in your pocket a phone that
    takes pictures or a camera that receives phone calls?

    I still think that photography relies on intent. You have to intend
    something to be a photograph for it to me one. For example, when you
    photocopy something it isn't a photograph but if you sit on the
    photocopier, it probably is. The intent is different.

    Still photography is made up of a number of un-related sub-
    disciplines. What's okay for portraits might not be right for
    landscapes or fruit-bowls. I think there's a word (i.e. sub-
    discipline) for capturing "reality" and for some types of edited
    things. For example, "collage" is a good term for a photo consisting
    of other photos.

    I'm not trying to be derogatory or create a flaming war (so I
    apologize in advance but we are limited by what terms are available)
    but I think the attempt to capture what's there -- without editing --
    is "snapshot". You are, quite literally, taking a snapshot reality.
    I am not meaning to imply any less lack of quality or skill, but
    merely trying to put a name on it (which you are welcome to come up
    with a different name if you'd like).

    For weddings, unblinking the eyes might not only be acceptable but
    might also be a requirement. For snapshots, it is something that you
    should not do. For landscapes you might say "what eyes?". For
    portraits, you'd just move on to the next image and completely
    disregard a blink (i.e. throw the image away).

    Pat,
    It's pure and simple. Look it up in any dictionary. It's always something
    like Wikipedia describes:
    A photograph (often shortened to photo or pic (picture)) is an image created
    by light falling on a light-sensitive surface, usually photographic film or
    an electronic imager such as a CCD or a CMOS chip. Most photographs are
    created using a camera, which uses a lens to focus the scene's visible
    wavelengths of light into a reproduction of what the human eye would see.
    The process of creating photographs is called photography. The word
    "photograph" coined 1839 by Sir John Herschel and is based on the Greek ???
    (phos), "light" + ?????? (graphis), "stylus", "paintbrush" or ?????
    (graphê), "representation by means of lines" or "drawing", together meaning
    "drawing with light".
    It doesn't really matter how it's produced. It can be a phone, a box of some
    sort, a camera, etc. ad nauseam...
    If you create an image using such techniques, you have a photograph, whether
    you intend it or not.
    Regards,
    Marcel
     
    Celcius, Dec 1, 2008
  16. Pat

    JC Dill Guest

    I don't think the "fixed" images work better than your original. The
    biggest problem I see with your original image is your choice of the two
    added figures - they don't match in lighting. Not just the shadow
    directions, but the overall lighting - the photo of yourself has harsh
    shadows showing full sun while the photo of your wife has softer shadows
    indicating that the light was diffused, that either the sun was
    partially covered by a cloud or the day was more overcast. Compare the
    shadows on her hat with the shadows on your hat, and the shadows on her
    pants with the shadows on your shorts. The light on your wife is more
    blue in color - the white balance of an overcast sky, while the light on
    yourself is more red in color (compared to the light on your wife).

    If you want to redo the image, it would help to start with 2 shots that
    were taken on the same day, same lighting, roughly the same time of day
    (same angle of shadows) and where the light comes from the left as it
    does in your background landscape. If you have a shot of your wife
    taken on the same day and near the same time (and with the same
    direction for the light) as the shot of yourself (in this composite),
    give that a try.

    jc
     
    JC Dill, Dec 1, 2008
  17. Pat

    Celcius Guest

    jc,
    You're right.
    I tried whichever way in modifying the tones/colours/shade, it doesn't work.
    I thought it was because I'm not very good at it, but what you point out
    makes sense.
    Thanks,
    Marcel
     
    Celcius, Dec 1, 2008
  18. Pat

    Pat Guest

    Reproducing an image by using light to shine of a photo-sensitive
    material defines a photocopy as a photograph. The copier provides a
    very faithful reproduction of the original. Therefore, the
    photocopier operator must be an extraordinarily skilled photographer
    because of his/her ability to create such a faithful picture. So all
    the skill it takes to be a photographer is to push the start button on
    a photocopier and let technology do the rest? That doesn't say much
    for your view of photography.
     
    Pat, Dec 2, 2008
  19. Pat

    Pat Guest

    If your definition of painting is anything like your definition of
    photography, then a housepainter must be a master artist because when
    he's done, it looks like a house.
     
    Pat, Dec 2, 2008
  20. Pat

    David Guest

    Thank you, I was hoping I did not bore too many people, but credit also
    Recently there was a local photo comp, the title was "photos you'd hang on
    your wall" I thought what if the judge has a differnent opinion to what he
    would like to hang on his wall compared to mine! This is why rarely it seems
    the best photograph wins.
     
    David, Dec 2, 2008
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