illusionary quality of photography photographs, and photographic processes

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by jnanian, Jun 6, 2014.

  1. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    even straight forward documentary photography isn't really what's there.
    while it can be called evidence or and artifact it isn't, its just an illusion, a reflection, a light-shadow.
    its not the kind of illusion that vanishes ( but it really is ) it can't reappear
    somewhere else ( but it can ) and it is more based in "reality" than painting and drawing
    ( not really ) ... color negatives or diapositives aren't true to life, black and white images even less

    with the ephemeral quality the materials we are all fooling ourselves with it all just like chalk on the sidewalk ?

    what do you do with the illusions you make, and do you even suggest that they might not be "real"
     
  2. MartinCrabtree

    MartinCrabtree Member

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    Thinking that hard gives me a headache.
     
  3. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    accurate

    I can hold an 8x10 photograph or a color slide in my hand. Of course the results from a camera are real. Are they a perfect reproduction of the scene they show? No. The human eye is a fisheye. Our conceit that an 8x10 photo taken with a camera with a "normal" lens is what the eye sees is pure nonsense. But if I show you a crime scene photo which clearly shows the knife was on the right side of the body and not the left, and a witness says the knife was on the left side of the body, well that is evidence.
    Nothing is perfection this imperfect world. In fact, there is an old Russian folk saying that "nobody lies like an eye witness does."
    Fingerprint evidence is mostly bogus. The cops normally get smudges, not prints, and nobody has ever actually done a test to see if everyone in the world has different fingerprints or not. Another conceit. And there is no national standard as to what constitutes a "matching" fingerprint. The FBI says 14 points on the print, or something like that but some places will accept four points. It is voodoo and bullfeathers. I know a guy who was convicted of armed robbery on the basis of one fingerprints while 32 people testified in court he was somewhere else at the time. A Sheriff's deputy lifted his print off a drinking glass at the station house and stuck it onto a bank teller's cage. If you are holding your breath waiting for photographs to be perfect likenesses, you will hold your breath for a long time.
     
  4. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    The following statement by Allen Ginsberg seems particularly apt for this thread.

    "The poignancy of a photograph comes from looking back to a fleeting moment in a floating world. The transitoriness is what creates the sense of the sacred."
     
  5. MrBrowning

    MrBrowning Subscriber

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    I keep my images in a binder. Creative I know but they get printed and basically tossed aside except for a select few which I hang. I don't suggest that the pictures are a completely non-fictional reflection of the original. I like long exposures so most of the time it's the world as it changes through time (even if that time is only 8 seconds). Even when using shorter exposures i tend to view any of the photography as the way either I see the world or how I wish I could see the world.

    Does any of that make sense?

    Did I misunderstand the question?
     
  6. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    I am constantly in dispute with those who seem to think that by interposing a physical-chemical (or indeed digitising) process between "the World" and their own perceptual apparatus, they somehow thereby gain privileged access to what's "really there" ...
     
  7. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    Work with a real scene and the limitations of the media whatever they are and use that to create something that looks good to me. I just took a number of photographs of my wife's friend house in France. My wife thought the house was old and ugly but the photographs now make she think why her friend's house is much better looking than ours.
     
  8. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    I just spent too much time replying to your paper negative post and now I need to get to work... I'll be back!
     
  9. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    All photographs are lies, often lies of omission. My current work relies on photography's inherent inability to walk behind the subject to see what is really going on.
     
  10. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

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    They call portraiture photos "a likeness" of the person. Obviously it's not the person. But you'll have a tough time convincing a jury that the photo of you holding a bloody knife in the person you just stabbed to be an illusion.
     
  11. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

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    Here's a photo of me taken by my friend Mel, an illustrator by profession.


    5345147466_d378050485_n.jpg

    Here's a photo of a painting of me done by my friend Mel in Acrylics.
    5344555753_395e475213.jpg

    Which one is the real me?
     
  12. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    exactly
     
  13. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    To quote an extract from Fox Talbot’s “The Pencil of Nature” - But when the sensitive paper was placed in the focus of a Camera Obscura and directed to any object, as a building for instance, during a moderate space of time, as an hour or two, the effect produced upon the paper was not strong enough to exhibit such a satisfactory picture of the building as had been hoped for. The outline of the roof and of the chimneys, &c. against the sky was marked enough; but the details of the architecture were feeble, and the parts in shade were left either blank or nearly so. The sensitiveness of the paper to light, considerable as it seemed in some respects, was therefore, as yet, evidently insufficient for the purpose of obtaining pictures with the Camera Obscura; and the course of experiments had to be again renewed in hopes of attaining to some more important result.

    Compare this with what we are able to achieve in photography today, chemical/digital or otherwise. If you accept that a photograph is probably the nearest we have to a time machine. Then try and imagine how this concept may be developed in the future to actually provide that time machine, to look and experience both the past and future.
     
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  15. momus

    momus Member

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    Right. Everything out there, and in there, is an illusion. That's the first thing I learned in art. In fact, there is no in there or out there. Nothing we perceive w/ our senses is really, truthfully correct or real, and nothing is really as we see it, hear it, smell it, etc. It's simply our own personal idea of what is "real" at that particular moment, and that changes depending on how our mind is at that instant in that particular situation. Nothing exists on it's own by itself. Everything is in relationship to everything else. It's all one, which is not to say it's all the same thing. Everything is in a state of inter being. When we have a consensus of agreement, then we call that real, and for practical purposes it is. But, it's not. It's not that it's really like it seems, or really not what it seems, it's just that it's not, not what it seems. Some Zen understanding is the only solution on this, and I don't mean reading about it in a book either. Most of what we call real or truth is merely cultural conditioning.

    If all colors are dependent on light, what color is something when there is no light? What is the sound of one hand clapping? It's this.....

    There is absolutely no possible way to truthfully know what anything anywhere is. Forget that stuff. That fact really, really bothers a lot of people and brings out anger, confrontation, conflict, etc.

    We form consensuses in order to communicate w/ others, but that doesn't mean what we are communicating is the "truth". It's an agreed upon truth. It's not empirical. Information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, wisdom is not truth. Information, knowledge, wisdom....that's empirical. Truth is something set aside from that, and you can't get there from an empirical start.

    That's the easiest way to look at it, in a negatively expressed manner. Describing things as they are NOT is usually the best way to go. Reality is not dualistic, and the minute that way of thinking started (which works for a lot of stuff, but not for everything) things went downhill and in the wrong direction.

    http://www.101zenstories.com/
     
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  16. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I didn't like to mention that.
     
  17. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    worthwhile is a relative term because what i think is worthwhile you may obviously think is utter nonsense.
    i have read some of photographers/on photography, 30 years ago. no over thinking, just thinking ...

    i took a 16x20 print off the wall this morning and it wasn't a photograph, but something else.
    sure, it was a cove-scape, based in reality, paper negative f32 / whatever, but it wasn't ...
    and shooting video is the same thing as using a camera, non-reality but long sequences of non-reality.

    when i apprenticed a portrait photographer she told me of all sorts of "tricks" to make flattering photographs of people. she
    told me how to tilt the camera, and film plane, to make a long nose short or a short nose long, she told me the difference between
    someone's good side and their bad side, and how to remove blemishes, lines, wrinkles, smooth skin, rid crows feet, laugh lines necklets ..
    people paid us to lie ...

    and now i am wondering what dennis purdy meant last week when he said and "honest portrait'
    ===

    thanks for the posts so far ...
     
  18. Drew B.

    Drew B. Subscriber

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    All, or most, photos are real images of what was. This illusion crap is just that... Sorry, that is my simple mind talking.
     
  19. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    This discussion veered off into Plato's cave and whether our senses reflect reality. I thought it was going to go in a different direction.

    Perhaps the part that is not illusory, that matters, is that the photographer chose that moment and that place and that perspective to make the photograph. Presumably it meant something to him or her, and releasing the shutter was not a random unintentional accident. Maybe the meaning was subconscious or submerged or not recognized. I don't pretend that it will mean the same thing to the viewer, but it might trigger something, and I like to think even if it is not the same thing then it could be something meaningful in a similar or related way.

    That might seem like wishful thinking, but I don't think it is... if two people smell the same rose or view the same scene they will experience different emotions and memories, but they are related in the way I mean.

    That is the reality of the photograph itself being created, regardless of how "real" the subject is.
     
  20. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi drew

    they are a reflection of what was, maybe, but the reflection is just that, a reflection, not the actual thing.
    it is filtered through a lens which distorts, omits or enhances reality depending on the type of lens and field of view
    ( its not hard to depict a mob of 6 people with a certain perspective and lens ) the chemical rays of light ( thanks maris ) react with materials and then the reflection on the paper is converted to something else. i am somewhat color blind so my color pallet is
    not the same as someone else's ... black and white of a colorful scene alters reality again, not to mention
    contrast enhancement, burning, dodging, bleaching, toning &c ... maybe a photograph is based on reality of what might have been
    but it isn't any reality i have ever seen ...
    although a friend of mine's father has no color vision, he only sees in black and white, so maybe black and white images
    are closer to his reality ... but still they aren't real .
    .
     
  21. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I beg to differ :smile:.

    Photographe are a depiction, not a reflection, of a number of things.
    Physical reality, temporal reality, photographer's perceptions, viewers' preconceptions, ambient light, etc.
     
  22. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

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    Only God is Truth.
     
  23. yurisrey

    yurisrey Member

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    +1. Interesting thread. Interestingly, with photography's cousin, film, there is an entire field-of-study dedicated to the philosophical nature of the medium in regards to the study of perception and reality. Although, amoung the myriad of theories out there, the consensus is that the very nature of the photographic medium can never truly capture reality, but merely reproduce a 'familiarity' of it; that is, what our combined understanding of the world around us is. In the words of William Earle, "If the public sees it [eg: a rose] as red and I see it as grey, its real property is red and I am color-blind." (Revolt Against Realism in the Films)
    As photographers the camera allows us to intentionally manipulate these combined 'familiarities' to communicate subjectively: say if we anthropomorphize an object; 'a sad hammer,' a lonely house' and so on.
     
  24. Drew B.

    Drew B. Subscriber

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    So there is no such thing as a photograph? So Lincoln wasn't actually standing next to US Grant surrounded by subordinates? Am I reading too deeply into what you are saying?
     
  25. Drew B.

    Drew B. Subscriber

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    Now back to the topic of illusion ...
     
  26. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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