"Darkrooms are Irrelevant and The Truth Matters"

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Mainecoonmaniac, Feb 20, 2013.

  1. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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  2. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I read the article and looked at the pictures with interest but I couldn't see any essential difference in any of them in terms of what they conveyed which I took to be tragedy . I wasn't at all clear what the author was getting at in terms of "illustration" and "transparency"

    Was he saying that one was the truthful representation and not the others? I am puzzled

    Anyone else puzzled and if not let me know what I am missing in my observations of the pictures

    pentaxuser
     
  3. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    He's saying that photojournalism should not be tarted up. And that the first image obviously is and the second looks more like reality. The first like a movie poster and the second like reality, and in doing so, has changed the picture from a reality based news story to an almost reality story.

    I probably agree. We've have discussions of photojournalists fired for photo manipulation here on this site and most agree that it is wrong because news photographs should be manipulation free.

    This instance is obviously subtle but the author makes a good point because it looks "too good" and because of that not exactly real, and by then you've moved from "news" to "illustration".

    Time had that instance on their OJ Simpson cover that some people took to be racist as he was darkened and made to look evil. In doing so they were taking a point of view instead of reporting the news. But that was a while back and obviously standards have slipped considerably in the case of news having a point of view.
     
  4. batwister

    batwister Member

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    I believe I shoot film because ultimately, I'm interested in straight photography - yet my output isn't consistently 'straight'. There is a conflict for me in wanting to be 'relevant' (to speak the modern language of photography), which I think generally means creating an altered truth from 'raw material', as opposed to the traditional philosophy of realisation of intentions at the shooting stage, in hindsight, as a means to maintain clear communciation and intention throughout the whole process. The end product with this standard traditional ethic seems to present to the viewer a sense of 'wholeness' or dare I say... integrity. I think this is the best model for photojournalism and one that they'd do well to remember perhaps? With the the modern language of photography, I feel the almost subliminal effect caused by the fascination with or indulgence in 'altered truths' can very easily become 'affected truths', causing mixed messages. Post-processing needs to be standardised for journalistic work for this reason, because the computer is where the photographer can very quickly forget his job description. The main reason being, quite simply, is because the computer is primarily a place for entertainment - those expensive padded chairs don't help. Only last is it a place we associate with work and that takes quite a strained conscious effort for some*, who'd rather be watching movie trailers on YouTube and making film posters in Photoshop.

    * For photographers I'd say especially because of our addiction to visual stimulation. The computer can be the most counter-intuitive place for us in that way.
    Photojournalists should be provided with an automated means to process their work or have someone else do it.
     
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  5. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I don't see where this has anything to do with digital vs analog. It's about print enhancement in photojournalism.
     
  6. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    That is an article about a digital image. You can't see a digital image, it is an abstract entity. You need to convert it somehow to an analog image to view. The text reads like the writer believes one can somehow see the 'original' digital image.
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I think the statement about darkrooms isn't saying that darkrooms are irrelevant, but rather that comparisons to darkroom manipulations are irrelevant in the world of photojournalism and digital shooting.

    I cannot disagree.
     
  8. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    You'll note that he was calling for RAW images. For any modern DSLR, the sensors are extremely consistent and accurate in their representation of tone and hue so a straight process off the RAW file will give you the "original" and an extremely accurate representation of what was in front of the camera, with no room for human interpretation. The fact that the medium is bits instead of dyes is not relevant. It can be very well-calibrated and therefore represent a chosen slice of reality more accurately than we can perceive with our eyes.

    I do kind of agree with him but he's pissing in the wind. Framing and perspective alone are a huge matter of interpretation and story-telling and he clearly thinks that a PJ image should be judged primarily on those merits. However there's just as much opportunity to misrepresent with "truthiness" just by defining what is and is not in the image as submitted. Restricting toning for the purposes of values like honesty and veracity is pointless unless you're willing to restrict everything else and have the recording be a 360-degree continuous-video representation of where the camera-operator stood... or better yet an all-encompassing view using surveillance cameras in all directions. Anything less and you are at the photographer's whim as to what is truth and what doesn't exist.

    So I think toning is a pointless red herring as far as PJ "honesty" goes. You can lie with toning but it's hard; you can lie trivially with framing and composition. If you want to judge compositional and story-telling skill, you have to accept that as soon as there's a human controlling the perspective that it's story-telling and not a direct recording of reality. Once you accept that, who cares that he made it a bit less saturated? It means nothing.
     
  9. Willie Jan

    Willie Jan Member

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    When i first had a look at the image, i saw a photoshop paint filter which allows the image to go towards a painting feel.
    A lot of photographers do that these days because it is popular and looks different.

    I think it's a question of time before everybody is bored about this kind of images.
     
  10. dorff

    dorff Member

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    +1

    It is possible to name a never-ending list of selective journalism that greatly skewed the public perception of reality. It happens with every war, with every scandal, with every natural or man-made disaster. By not photographing some aspects of reality, or not writing about them, the journalist is already telling a half-truth. As we know, half-truths are sometimes more dangerous than lies. Because it is impossible or at the very least impractical to cover all of reality, one must conclude that basing your opinion on photojournalistic reportage is akin to fitting a continuous curve on a number of dots and interpolating between the dots to fill in the rest of reality. I see no reason to glorify photojournalism and to elevate it to a higher credibility than the rest of journalistic media. It is what it is: Selective and flawed, but without which the world would be poorer and man's quest for power and wealth would not be held accountable.
     
  11. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Eh... Don't care for much in the article. Can someone explain to me what the deal is with the fuji film and ilford paper comparisons he has in one of his images? So random.
     
  12. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    The first poster on the original site summed up my read on this right away: From the site.>>
    "E.G. • 15 hours ago −
    So, what if a news outlet picked up the color photograph but ran it in a BW section of their newspaper? Is that a problem?
    Or what if it gets printed in color by some print outlet, but their calibration is off?
    In either case, the main story is still the main story. Why? Because in this case, none of the vital points of the image were altered. No faces were added or subtracted. Nothing nefarious of that sort. The color/tone/etc. of the image has nothing to do with the message of the image here. It might in other cases, but not for this photograph."

    ME AGAIN...
    I don't have a problem with what was shown... and I have encountered bad drumscanning/color adjustment of transparencies back in my analog photojournalist days. We applied a lot of "hand of God" in the darkroom printing B+W negatives to emphasize a subject and never called out... The 'Best of Photojournalism" books published by the NPPA from 1970 to the dawn of the digital age is full of prints with the "Hand of God" embelishments.
     
  13. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    @Batwist (post #4)
    BTW... in today's new business... you would be very hard pressed to sell a newsworthy photo and get it published with a non digital initial workflow.
    I live here in the mid-west. I was out driving one day when monster storms were rolling in hauling my sailboat home. I laughed that I might photograph a tornado gobbling up a small town with my Russian LTM, get like hell to my darkroom have a negative ready to scan say in 40 minutes and be BEAT by an inferior (in story-telling and quality) i-phone image.
    ALSO my image that I might try to sell would have to be SOO very good to get PAID, as most i-phone shooters love to post stuff and get it published in the paper or TV news for free.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 21, 2013
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  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    since the first photographs were made
    they have been manipulated ..
    the moment you expose the film it is manipulated
    processing, manipulated
    printing, well vpwphoto said it there ... manipulated

    we are a bored society, always have had a very short attention span.
    people lie with words as much as they do with images because the truth is ... boing
     
  16. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    The problem is, when it comes to photojournalism, manipulation introduces bias. The photographer goes from an impartial observer to an editorialist.
     
  17. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    in my newspaper days it was very evident that i was not an impartial observer .. just changing where i are stood, and what lens i used
    changed things from 4 or 5 people standing around to a riot ...
     
  18. batwister

    batwister Member

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    You would probably be running yourself ragged trying to beat a digital photographer to the editorial punch, and there's little point in trying to defy the nature of traditional photography. But what's wrong with releasing the image to the press later, if it says something? Do we have to live by the 'now or never' mentality of a child? Thomas Hoepker's 9/11 picture for instance, despite his hesitation in publishing it, probably raises the most questions about that day than any of the thousands of 'impulse pictures'. That's important. It probably still would be if he'd left it another 10 years. Some images absolutely need to be shown during or in the immediate aftermath of events and arguably, video is best suited to this (camera manufacturers understand this, even if we don't yet) but some pictures only truly have an impact in retrospect. The need to be retrospective, in fact, is almost ingrained in the traditional process and I hope this always has value to people.
     
  19. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    I think Hasselblad masters is much much worse.
    - Should be renamed "photoshop masters", because the end result has absolutely nothing to do with the original camera capturing the shot.

    Using filters and effects to dramatize news is bad.
    Using filters and effects to dramatize a photo for a contest, if there are no particular rules about it....who cares.

    Article has nothing to do with the darkroom per se, other than the darkroom no longer being relevant for journalistic photography, as everyone machineguns with digi's these days.


    I am rarely impressed by war and hunger journalist-shots anyway, seems like there are 1000 clichés competing for first price, and the photo that wins, has been seen a million times before.
    - Which is boring, to be honest.
     
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  20. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    Helinophoto... check out Ansel Adams or Fred Picker's darkroom trickery!
    When I was in J-school I turned in my first assigment...straight printed B+W negative. I got it back with red china marker ALL over it.
    Where it should have been cropped... dodge this burn that... and it began and it was 1985 (for me).

    The only manipulation "uproar' at the time was the cover of the "day in the life of America" book where a full moon was moved a couple inches so it would be included in the vertical crop of the cowboy, back then they didn't say "Photoshopped" they called it "CYTEX" long forgotten photo editing platform.
     
  21. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    +1
     
  22. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    (Not attacking you personally) But to be indifferent and unmoved by third world issues even if by skewed photographic evidence seems cold hearted.
    Check this women out. She is a photographer!
    http://www.refendi.com/

    This is a must read about a real photographers courage documenting third world issues...
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...4008440.123369.427079744009792&type=1&theater
    "About a year ago, I got in a taxi in Cairo; after leaving for the destination, the driver switched course, pulled over, and attacked me with a knife. He asked me to undress, but I got angry and refused. I was sitting in the backseat, and when I tried to reach for the driver’s side door to open it, he pinned me down with his seat and started beating me on the face. At some point I was able, numerous times, to open the cab doors screaming for help; the highway was busy with cars, but nobody stopped, and he kept dragging me inside the car each time I tried to escape. After about 15 minutes of fighting inside the cab and several more attempts to flee, I managed to finally convince the driver to take my money instead of hurting me further. I consider myself extremely lucky not to have lost consciousness and escape reasonably unharmed, escape before something more gruesome happened. In light of all the recent events in Egypt, I am posting this picture from that terrible night in Cairo - and sharing my story in support of Egyptian women and their defiance against sexual violence.

    ~ Rena Effendi

    PostScript: The taxi driver was never found. The police never gave the final report on investigation.
    *Born 1977 in Baku, Azerbaijan and based in Cairo, Egypt, Rena Effendi is a freelance photographer, journalist and mom. Educated as a linguist, she took her first photographs in 2001. Ever since, she has photographed issues of conflict, social justice and the oil industry’s effects on people and the environment (www.refendi.com). Her work has been widely published in Newsweek, Time, The Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, National Geographic and others."
     
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  23. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Has photography reflected the truth regardless if it's digital or analog? Photojournalism is a human endeavor and human beings always have cognitive biases. The only way to see the truth is to see it for your self. Even then, everybody will have a different take what is in front of their eyes.
     
  24. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    Vpwphoto: I know it may have come across as cold, maybe it is, but it was in reference to the never ending war and famine and tragedy journalism, that is praised, while the actual people in the shot don't receive aquat. The photo doesn't make any difference, other than to the photographer taking it, before he was able to leave the place.

    I've served in the UN and been foot-on-ground protecting civilians (contrary to killing people to win their hearts and minds) in a war zone, so I actually do have a lot of empathy for victims of war and terror. But as far as i am concerned, only one war photo ever made a difference http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phan_Thi_Kim_Phuc the photographer sure didn't make that with a silly competition in the back of his mind.

    We're force-fed tragedy every day, we are no longer moved by what we see, we are numbed.
    If the Vietnam photo was made today in Palestine, then imo no one would care.

    The whole genera is thus filled with chlicès, again IMO
     
  25. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    Mr. Helinophoto...
    I'll respect your opinion. And Rena, is not a "visitor" to the places she photographs, she is a resident by birth to that part of the world.
    Good point about the horrific photographic memory you point to above.
     
  26. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    A 'straight process' such as what? My monitor? Your monitor? The photographer's monitor? A print on color photographic paper? A print on B&W photographic paper? An inkjet print? A CRT television screen? The screen on the back of the dslr that took the picture? A digital picture frame? A histogram of pixel value? High an low voltages converted to "1" and "0" and printed out on a piece of paper? A photogram of the memory stick that contains the information?
    You have to CONVERT a digital file into either light values or pigments to see it. The 'original' is an abstract entity, you cannot see it.