When does a photograph stop becoming a photograph?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by baker1, Dec 25, 2005.

  1. baker1

    baker1 Guest

    I don't want to start a flame war, but...

    I've been reading about photo retouching programs and it seems to me
    that you can alter a photo so much, that it ends up not representing
    what you actually photographed. If you can add Polarizing, color
    match, gray eyedropper, haze effects, etc...is the end product really
    a representation of what you shot?

    I realize touch up is a necessary evil, but it appears that photos are
    so manipulated these days that they almost appear false. Would Ansel
    Adams have used all these gadgets? If I put an 8x10 on my wall, I have
    to feel that it at least is accurate to what I originally shot...not
    some 'nip & tuck' version of imagination.
    baker1, Dec 25, 2005
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  2. baker1

    BobF Guest

    Actually, the photo begins life not representing the real world... it's only 2
    dimensional, the perspective and colors are wrong, the range of light is
    wrong... and it's so small compared to the real world image!

    So draw the line wherever you like!

    Have a happy!
    BobF, Dec 26, 2005
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  3. Thanks...you saved me a lot of typing as I could have used a lot more words.
    Gene Palmiter, Dec 26, 2005
  4. baker1

    Dave Cohen Guest

    A police mugshot, real estate shots taken for prospective clients etc.
    should accurately represent the subject.
    Photgraphs taken as a hobby or for exhibition can be manipulated either to
    remove artifacts or to render a more pleasing or artistic representation as
    long as the photographer is not claiming otherwise.
    Dave Cohen
    Dave Cohen, Dec 26, 2005
  5. baker1

    Tesco News Guest


    It started being a photograph the instant the shutter opened and light
    touched the sensitive layer.

    There is very little real about it, just as there is very little real about
    a painting.

    People started changing their photographic images, almost as soon as they
    were invented. The early glass plates had a very low sensitivity, that
    meant skies always recorded as plain white or light gray. Those "Artists",
    as they liked to be known, bought and sold Sky images for adding into their
    landscape pictures. You only have to look through any archive around 1900,
    and you will see the same sky in many different locations.

    Ansell Adams did a fair amount of burning in and dodging, or had it done, on
    his images, so which bits are the "Real" bits?
    His Zone system is a system for manipulating the way the medium reacts to
    the light falling on it, which Zone is "Real" ?

    So what is a "Real" photograph?. I don't know, and I don't think it

    Roy G
    Tesco News, Dec 26, 2005
  6. baker1

    baker1 Guest

    Yeah, I hear you all and agree. It just seems that so many pictures
    out there are manipulated so much it begins to look artificial...
    something out of Star Trek. I've done my dodging and burning in the
    darkroom, but when I see water that has been made to look like it's
    moving or excessive fog around a pier, it just seems out of place.

    However, I do agree it's "art" and being so, has its creative flair.
    baker1, Dec 26, 2005
  7. baker1

    Bob Williams Guest

    Consider the original photo as the raw material for CREATING the image
    in your mind's eye.
    Capturing a quality photo is largely a technical task.
    Editing it is largely a creative act.
    Think about a painting. The artist starts with a BLANK canvas, and the
    final product is entirely a product of his imagination and creativity.
    You should take pride in your final digitally edited image. No apologies
    necessary for deviations from reality.
    A friend of mine always said: "Reality is a crutch" <G>
    Bob Williams
    Bob Williams, Dec 26, 2005
  8. baker1

    Mike Warren Guest

    This is too far ;-)


    This is a composite of 2 pictures with fake water and significant
    burning & dodging.

    Mike Warren, Dec 26, 2005
  9. baker1

    Ole Larsen Guest

    baker1 skrev:
    I see no problem here unless you claim a photography to be an excact
    journalistic report of what was. And if you do that, you´re making a
    contradiction as long that any 2-dimentional image is a abstraction
    of a 3.dimentional reality that is only a "reality" to the eyes that see
    it at that moment.
    If you want a picture to be as "natural" as possible - OK with me - but
    then you can´t worship AA´s pictures (whitch were filtered, dodged and
    burned with great skills)

    But is there anybody in the world who has decided, ultimately, that at
    photography has to be more or less "naturalistic" than a oilpainting?
    After all a camera is just a tool for making pictures just as a pencil
    is for someone making a drawing. If anyone thinks a photographic image
    shows the "thruth" or must show the "truth", think again.
    Ole Larsen, Dec 26, 2005
  10. baker1

    Stacey Guest

    To me it turns into digital art when what is in the print didn't exist in
    front of the camera at a specific point in time. Adjusting colors,
    contrast, density, DOF etc don't change it from a photograph to digital
    art, it's when the clone tool is used or you start morphing several
    elements from different shots into one that it's no longer a photograph.
    That's just how I feel and how I work, YMMV.
    Stacey, Dec 26, 2005
  11. baker1

    Stacey Guest

    Stacey, Dec 26, 2005
  12. baker1

    Ole Larsen Guest

    Ole Larsen, Dec 26, 2005
  13. baker1

    Mike Warren Guest

    That's deliberate too.

    Mike Warren, Dec 26, 2005
  14. baker1

    PcB Guest

    <<I've been reading about photo retouching programs and it seems to me
    that you can alter a photo so much, that it ends up not representing
    what you actually photographed. If you can add Polarizing, color
    match, gray eyedropper, haze effects, etc...is the end product really
    a representation of what you shot?>>

    I thought about this, too, and decided that mostly I create images, not
    photographs. These are representations of what I saw - no two people "see"
    the same thing - and I am trying to show what drew my eye to the scene. I
    also create them for my own enjoyment and no-one else's (that others like
    them is a major bonus, of course). So, do whatever makes you happy.

    Having now re-read all of that I guess my medication is overdue <g>.

    Paul ============}
    o o

    // Live fast, die old //
    Gallery at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pcbradley/NewGallery2.htm
    PcB, Dec 26, 2005
  15. baker1

    Bill Funk Guest

    And, yet...
    I agree. (For what it's worth.)
    A photograph doesn't need to be more than is claimed for it. A
    landscape doesn't need to accurately portray the subject any more than
    a portrait does (and we all know the manipulation that's done to a
    Bill Funk, Dec 26, 2005
  16. baker1

    Celcius Guest

    Hi baker1!

    You're right.

    The photographer, as the painter, has his own conception of what he's
    trying to do. It can be a slavish reproduction of a scene (object) or
    it can be the creation of a mood, a feeling, a passion. Thus, painting
    developed many "schools": Cubism, expressionism, etc. Through
    manipulation of the "scene" (object), the photographer can, just as the
    painter, express oneself. It can be done simply or otherwise. My son
    did a thing on one of his wedding shots, quite simply, with a very good
    effect, I think: http://tinyurl.com/dslvx . He turned the photo into
    B&W, but left the umbrella in colour. Not the reality, but quite

    In a nutshell, the photograph is what the photographer wants it to be.
    It can be great or something else, but then also, "beauty is in the eye
    of the beholder". I think the discussion is far from being over, in
    this forum and everywhere else. ;-))

    Merry Christmas!

    Celcius, Dec 26, 2005
  17. baker1

    Celcius Guest


    Then, what is it?
    Call it a good photograph, call it one of dubious nature, call it
    kitsch, whatever... how about a "pictorial"? ;-)
    This reminds me of the kind of "velours paintings" one sees in malls
    during the Christmas period... Many would qualify these as "bad taste"
    while others are indeed buying them.

    Take care,

    Celcius, Dec 26, 2005
  18. baker1

    Celcius Guest

    Right you are PcB!

    To my way of thinking, this is the difference between taking snapshots
    (which I do) and photography (which I try to do at times).

    By the way, I like what you do.


    Celcius, Dec 26, 2005
  19. baker1

    Steven Wandy Guest

    I don't want to start a flame war, but...
    Uh, when it hits the shredder?????
    Steven Wandy, Dec 26, 2005
  20. Actually, polarizing is one of the things you *can't* do at all
    effectively in Photoshop. It's also a thing that Ansel Adams was
    happy to use.

    If you draw every line of the image yourself, is the end product
    really a representaiton of what you were looking at? Seems to me
    that's a question of the skill and intention of the artist -- and that
    it remains the same in photography. Sketches can be very useful in
    representing reality -- scientists use them, the police use them, etc.

    There were lots of non-representational, even misleading, ways to
    shoot photographs back in the wet-plate era, too.
    Advertising photos were manipulated that extensively in the 1960s.
    Dye transfer printing plus airbrushing can work wonders. These days,
    it takes less time and less skill to get the same effects, so now
    you're having to worry about the same issues in my snapshots that you
    used to have to worry about only in major magazine ads; but the
    capabilities aren't at all new.

    And *especially* for artwork to put on my wall, whether it represents
    reality is the *least* important characteristic of it for me.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Dec 26, 2005
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