Can people appreciate subtly and imperfection in a digital age

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Mainecoonmaniac, Nov 5, 2012.

  1. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    This post by Cliveh http://www.apug.org/forums/forum47/111891-too-much-photoshopping.html made me think about photo contest and exhibitions.

    My questions is can people that make and consume photographs can appreciate subtly and imperfection in a digital age? Does the average viewer of photography look at traditional images that we (APUGers) love as dull and blah? I'm slowly seeing over-saturated, perfect pics with certain segments of photographers. I see it especially the dabblers of photography that have Photoshop. Is modern society having their palates clapped out with unreal images? Can fast food diners eat real food? Can we look at ourselves in the mirror and accept our warts and wrinkles after believing that fashion and beauty mags are the real deal? :confused:
     
  2. batwister

    batwister Member

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    That's a good way of putting it and I think the answer is - only with professional help. :smile:
     
  3. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    OK, now who has that 8x10 Kodachrome of that actress?

    Perfection and manipulation is something that's been going on for over a century with photography, and it started with dry plates! See? That was beginning of the downfall of photography! Truthful photographs only come from the wet plate collodion process. All else is lies, damnable lies, and statistics!

    :wink:

    Te dum te dum te dum la la la la la la.. :munch:
     
  4. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    no, yes, yes, maybe, hmmm - I think. There is definitely a trend towards over-saturated manipulated images. Sometimes they are incredibly good, but mostly they are all the same. To me traditional photography and particularly B&W is more about the art and the story behind the image. I think those of us who still shoot film are trying to do more than just record the image as a record; rather we are trying to interpret the moment, and the image becomes not just a record of the instant but also a record of the emotion and thought that goes with it. Does this make sense? In the distant past, before my dalliance with digital, I shot film when it was the only option as a life-record. I don't think I thought too much about why each image might be interesting. Now I DO think about the vast majority of the shots I take. I know if I just want a record, I can get my phone out, so shooting on film requires the addition of something else - the "why might this be a good image?" - "What am I trying to say?". Does it matter that society in general doesn't necessarily appreciate what many of us are trying to do? I don't think it does; to many people for example, a rare vase is just a vase, but to the discerning expert it is a rare piece with a history, and a story, which is what makes it valuable. Can fast food diners eat real food? possibly not, if that is all they have ever known, but, can real-food eaters eat fast food? Of course the answer is yes, because the discerning palate is always able to make an informed choice. The same with film/digital. I defy any digital shooter who knows and has experienced nothing else to go out and make great analogue photos straight off, but a film shooter given a digital camera will most likely get decent images from the first click. So, if shooting film is about trying to capture more than just the image, where does that leave digital manipulation? Surely in this case the image creators are synonymous with the writers of fiction - based on the real world, but sensationalised for effect. Nothing wrong with that, and fiction brings much pleasure, but it is a creation, and not a record.

    So is this the distinction? Traditional photography is about recording both the image and the moment, but in the world of photoshop, the moment never existed, and therefore the manipulators are in effect writers of fiction.

    There is still the question as to whether a highly stylised and maybe alt-processed traditional photograph is a fictional creation or a record of an actual moment. Discuss!

    It probably doesn't matter if the majority don't see the distinction and don't care. The people who know, will carry on knowing, and appreciating.
     
  5. Rom

    Rom Member

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    Last week, i was reading a thread on a french forum which is 200% dedicated to digital. A "very good photographer" of this site was blaming that he is bored by landscape photography. He said that he had practiced too much landscapes, had a 500px site with a lot of "watchers" (or whatever the name they have on that site), the photos that he posted had a lot of views, everybody says "wabadabadou waoo" and others very interesting and fantastic comments.

    So i gave a look at his gallery, and, 99.999% of his landscapes were hdr with perfect exposure, perfect DOF and etc... I just sent a message at the guy to say that he has to look at some works like the work of Ian Ruther , perhaps he could get some interest on it and then, think different about his own photography. I have got no response from now. He sure reply to others who said "you have to continue, you are so good" .

    So, to answers your question, i would say no, they (we) can't. We live in a world which is going too fast. People just wants to give a look at and then, go to the next things without understanding the previous thing.

    Do you know that a famous fast food chain in france is now the company who is selling the largest number of meals in the country. Historically, we are supposed to be the "slow food" country.

    In my professional life, i work with some companies who are producing bananas for european customers. You can't imagine the quantity of banana which is everyday waste because there is a small mark here, the size is not under standard etc.. And bananas is not the only one, most of industrial food production is like this. Why they are wasting it ? Just because the "customer" don't want it. In fact, the customer is the giant market who is deciding what is good and what is bad (the thing is in terms of what ?)

    Sometimes it's funny to think about some SF stories which said that some in the worlds tends to dominate and modify the opinion, thoughts and views of people. i don't know who are they but they are about to succeed ! :laugh:

    I don't know if my answer is off topic but it was just my piece of thought.
     
  6. Prof_Pixel

    Prof_Pixel Member

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    Kodak had always prided itself on accurate color reproduction. Then, in the early '80s IIRC, Fuji came out with a new family of color negative films with enhanced color saturation and the consumer market loved it. If you took a picture of your house in August, instead of a faded blue-gray sky and yellow-brown grass, you got a blue sky and green grass. Kodak had to bring out new color negative films with higher color saturation in response. It's no surprise many people now over saturate the colors of digital images; please note that this is the personal choice of the photographer and NOT a requirement of digital imaging. Personally, I don't like over saturated images from either analog or digital sources.

    (FWIW, I started using digital manipulation of images in the early '50s using my hands and fingers to dodge and burn B&W photo enlargements. Manipulation of images is as old as photography.)
     
  7. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    The saturation dilemma is quite recurrent in stock photographers fora.
    On one hand it seems that flashy colours attract buyers.
    On the other hand, a stock photographer often produces with the very long run in his mind - more than 10 years in my case - and wouldn't like to fall prey of passing waves. (the "long run" depends on the kind of subjects).

    It should also be considered that "oversaturated" taste is not something new. The immediate success of Velvia - which is a bit of analogue equivalent to high saturated photoshop images, although it cannot reach certain excesses - and its killing of Kodachrome are a demonstration of the fact that an important segment of photographers (and clients) leans toward high saturation.

    Before Velvia, the reason of the continued success of Kodachrome, notwithstanding its cumbersome development process, was probably saturation. Not by chance the advent of Velvia greatly affected Kodachrome sales.

    The photographic market has always been divided between "correct, unbiased" colour rendition (material like Astia or Portra) and "saturated, flashy" colour rendition (material like Velvia or Ektar). Commercially I think that nature and travel magazine and calendars have never disliked high saturation, while textbooks, travel books and general editorial have probably leaned more toward natural rendition.

    I suspect many images bought by clients for publication are actually "desaturated" in print. That leaves the question open, whether the high saturation helped the sale in the first place.

    I think that these two "aesthetics" will both exists for the long run, but the "excess" of digital manipulation is probably going to fade in the long run, just like the instagram effects or the Lomography aesthetic. I wouldn't bet my family jewels on that though. The "long" run can be very long and as John Maynard Keynes famously said: "in the long run we are all dead".

    My particular choice is, in general, to refrain from any excessive saturation and to privilege the long run viability of the images, besides satisfying my own taste which leans toward a natural rendition of things.
     
  8. johnielvis

    johnielvis Member

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    it's what people like and are drawn to so it's going to get attention and be successful
    since it's successful, people will seek to master the technique so they can be successful too
    I'd expect much much more with every technological innovation....I'll bet that the digicam companies already HAVE a prototype camera that will crank out these pics with no photoshop needed...the computers have already been programmed with "the formula" that people like and will be able to do the technique better and faster than any photoshop artist---just like the photoshop guy is faster than a retoucher...just like a retoucher is faster than the guy that shoots till it's perfect....as soon as something "hard" becomes "push of a button" it'll REALLY be all over the place, but, at the same time, it will no longer be "exclusive" since ANYBODY can do it...and we'll be back to wow over the next hurdle that technology hasn't licked that still takes some skills and hours....

    that's how geo eastman got success--by making it easy
     
  9. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Photography just like food is connected with culture. I think food and photography that is not rooted in culture, but based on technology is not necessarily a good thing. Rootless, techno-based food and photography is HDR, Photoshopped, Hot Pockets® and Jalipeno Poppers results. Soulless eye and tongue candy. Do I sound like a food and photography snob or what?
     
  10. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Our relatively new photo instructor has put this as her description for her Advanced Color Photo Class:

    "In the portfolio development course, students will develop a semester-long color photography project. Paper surfaces, color management and advanced photoshop techniques will be addressed in the pursuit of luscious archival pigment prints."
     
  11. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    No color theory or how color effects emotions? How about the history of color photography?
     
  12. Allen Friday

    Allen Friday Member

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    Mickey D's, Burger King and Taco Bell continue to thrive. Nevertheless, The French Laundry is full every night. A segment of the population appreciates great food (and can afford to pay for it). Ditto for photography.
     
  13. batwister

    batwister Member

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    It's not history... yet.
     
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  15. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Hopefully she'll have time to toss some of that in...

    Vaughn

    "Acid absorbs 47 times its weight in excess reality." Some old hippy
     
  16. erikg

    erikg Member

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    Nope, not wet plates. They used to add clouds in from separate cloud negatives. You might need to go back to the daguerreotype to find something that wasn't manipulated! I'm not putting money on that, though. :wink:
     
  17. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I started with film and developing/printing.

    Then when the d100 came out, I got involved in Digital. Still doing digital, but somewheres in the past 5 years I got bored with digital's perfection and clinical look. It wasn't much of a challenge to do a good job with digital, and I wasn't seeing the artistic value in a perfect representation of a scene in proper calibrated color and biting sharpness. Clinically perfect reality is a farce and digital perpetuated that.

    Film filled the void. I can still do perfect B&W prints with film, but it's not a perfect representation of what my eyes saw; it's something I've done with what I saw.

    I'm no fan of bad-craft (scratches, dust, streaks), but I do like brush marks on alt process print edges, printing film borders (even if you overmat it), etc... Even soft focus sometimes.
     
  18. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I had never really thought about this, but I guess the daguerreotype is the only form of photography with complete integrity.
     
  19. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I'm not just talking food at a high level

    I'm not just talking about French Laundry. I'm talking about home cooked food also. There was a Documentary about men looking at retouched women in magazines called "Wet Dreams and False Images" by Jesse Epstein.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0398386/

    Here's a YouTube clip.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7Ff_XH1nos
     
  20. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Photograms?
     
  21. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    True.
     
  22. erikg

    erikg Member

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    Just not the hand-tinted ones! No one ever said being a purist was easy.
     
  23. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Perhaps only the purist integrity lies within the latent image. Now there is an area of conceptual art yet to be explored. Perhaps one of the next Turner Prize entries could be undeveloped film.
     
  24. batwister

    batwister Member

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    Could I suggest a title for that?

    'Lone Sniper, Dallas, Texas. November 22, 1963.'
     
  25. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    Bwahaha. Well done.
     
  26. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Brilliant, as long as the film is never developed it has only a conceptual value.