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canuhead
02-17-2013, 06:31 PM
I have no problems with this image or others in the same style. I would need to see the entire body of work from this series to be able to have a better grasp of what they're trying to say.

I would hazard to guess there are probably just as many photographers who find the sharpness and detail of some photographs (let's use trees and rocks as an easy example) to be tiring and without merit and done to death. Doesn't mean it's bad, just different strokes kind of situation.

I just want to see engaging photography no matter what style the photographer works in.

Felinik
02-18-2013, 07:44 AM
So, after contemplating around this subject and the content in this discussion, my conclusion so far is that the use of technical processes to make photographs less "perfect", is indeed a part of the composition, an additional dimension is probably what I would call it, based on a reaction towards perfection or not.

A reference was mentioned in this thread to Robert Capa and his "Beaches of Normandy" photographs. In his case I think we all can agree that he's happy he got home in one piece, and that the shots he had with him most probably was worth everything for him, no matter that they were blurry and grainy, a special situation so to speak.

Though maybe, amongst things, these pictures has helped opening up that additional dimension in documentary photography, so the shots has in some way become a reference to something that after that point is okay to do? As more or less all of the other work I've seen from Capa, apart from his very early stuff, is razor sharp, or at least very sharp, and "perfect" by all means, so the Normandy photographs seems to be an exception to his normal "standards" if we look at the rest of his work.

And here we go again, the exception to the norm, to the standard, and this is then potentially found to be appealing, and as it's done once by one of the "big names" (there's probably more examples with other photographers etc.), it's allowed, and with that, possibly considered to be useful for adding something to the story as well...

Dali
02-18-2013, 08:44 AM
So, after contemplating this subject and the content in this discussion my conclusion so far is that the use of technical processes to make photographs less "perfect..."

What is a"perfect" picture for you? :confused:

Take care.

Felinik
02-18-2013, 08:52 AM
What is a"perfect" picture for you? :confused:

Take care.

This is covered in the discussion in different ways and from different angles, but okay, let's define "perfect" for the discussion then: A picture representing the actual conditions of the situation in the most realistic and technically optimal way possible.

Thomas Bertilsson
02-18-2013, 09:29 AM
What does this discussion hope to resolve? Do photographers not have artistic freedom to do whatever they want with their pictures?
Stop trying to categorize everything, putting them into neat descriptions of things we can understand. Just appreciate the art for what it is, and take what you can from it. Maybe do some research on the photographer, or even contact them to ask questions. You may find something you didn't expect to find. Most importantly - keep an open mind.
Finally, look at the amount of discussion this created! That in itself makes the photograph of the truck successful.

horacekenneth
02-18-2013, 09:31 AM
This is covered in the discussion in different ways and from different angles, but okay, let's define "perfect" for the discussion then: A picture representing the actual conditions of the situation in the most realistic and technically optimal way possible.

"Representing the actual conditions of the situation" is tricky. Here's two ways of describing how cold it is outside: 8 degrees F or 'so cold your nostrils stick together when you breathe in'. You might say the most accurate and realistic way of describing the temperature is by 8 degrees Farenheit, but that is actually describing what mercury does in an arbitrarily numbered container, and doesn't actually communicate any information about how cold it is to me, unless I remember that last time it was 8 F, it was so cold my nostrils stuck together. You're actually adding in an extra step to communicating the temperature when you use Farenheit or Celsius. They are very helpful descriptors, but not more realistic.
Sometimes the less scientific and less technical description is more accurate and more realistic. Which would be my argument for blur being perfect in the truck photo - there was a lot of motion and vibration at the time, your technically optimal photograph would be less realistic, wouldn't it?


Just appreciate the art for what it is, and take what you can from it.

That's what we're working on. Don't get so uppity about our art criticism.

Felinik
02-18-2013, 09:34 AM
What does this discussion hope to resolve? Do photographers not have artistic freedom to do whatever they want with their pictures?

Stop trying to categorize everything, putting them into neat descriptions of things we can understand. Just appreciate the art for what it is, and take what you can from it. Maybe do some research on the photographer, or even contact them to ask questions. You may find something you didn't expect to find. Most importantly - keep an open mind.

Curiosity, it started with me finding it very odd, and a bit sad, that documentary photographs were produced with a far from "perfect" process. I'm not driving this to categorize or put things in boxes, I try to understand and find the origin to this in a bigger picture, philosophy, history, etc.

And as artists indeed have artistic freedom, philosophers can enjoy the freedom to discuss and speculate, right?

:)

Felinik
02-18-2013, 09:43 AM
Sometimes the less scientific and less technical description is more accurate and more realistic. Which would be my argument for blur being perfect in the truck photo - there was a lot of motion and vibration at the time, your technically optimal photograph would be less realistic, wouldn't it?


I think you get my point about "realistic" and "optimal", and yes, I agree with you for the rest, hence the added "dimension" I'm talking about, this is definitely the way I look at this too, now, after having this debate during the last days...

:)

Thomas Bertilsson
02-18-2013, 09:45 AM
That's what we're working on. Don't get so uppity about our art criticism.

Not uppity. Just sharing what I feel this discussion is. May I participate with my opinion?

Thomas Bertilsson
02-18-2013, 09:49 AM
Curiosity, it started with me finding it very odd, and a bit sad, that documentary photographs were produced with a far from "perfect" process. I'm not driving this to categorize or put things in boxes, I try to understand and find the origin to this in a bigger picture, philosophy, history, etc.

And as artists indeed have artistic freedom, philosophers can enjoy the freedom to discuss and speculate, right?

:)

You can philosophize all you want. I am a natural born devil's advocate, because I usually think in different terms. There is a very large percentage of the audience that view photographs that don't care about process at all. The only thing they care about is the picture.

So, my question is: Why does it matter so much whether a picture is in focus or not? Why does it matter so much that there is grain or not?
The point being: It is possible to look beyond the surface of the print, and look further into the picture and discover it by other criteria. There's emotion, memories, social aspects, the photographer's intent, history, etc. In my opinion those aspects are far more important.

Felinik
02-18-2013, 09:59 AM
You can philosophize all you want. I am a natural born devil's advocate, because I usually think in different terms. There is a very large percentage of the audience that view photographs that don't care about process at all. The only thing they care about is the picture.

So, my question is: Why does it matter so much whether a picture is in focus or not? Why does it matter so much that there is grain or not?

The point being: It is possible to look beyond the surface of the print, and look further into the picture and discover it by other criteria. There's emotion, memories, social aspects, the photographer's intent, history, etc. In my opinion those aspects are far more important.


No doubt about that! But as with all things there's always someone asking "Why?" and this is what we are doing in this thread, the simple answers may be enough for you, but that's not the case for all of us, hence why this thread goes on!

Your addition to this thread returns to another interesting perspective, though you bring it up from the other side; The audience. It's indeed interesting and it would be even more interesting to find out how affected by the styles of the different times (read fashion) the audience is, and how this possibly may drive the artists as well!

:)

Thomas Bertilsson
02-18-2013, 10:28 AM
Good luck with your quest. I mean it, and not facetiously.

Usually when I am at museums, or galleries, looking at prints, eavesdropping on conversations, or talking to other people, I don't hear them talking about grain, sharpness, resolution, etc. It has a lot more to do with the genius of the idea, how the picture affects them, how they like the composition, and how they react to it. The only ones I hear doing so are other photographers. No rule without exception, but that's been true in my experience.

I do what I can with my pictures to express myself to the best of my ability, as I hope you and everybody else does. There's something inside, a feeling, a situation, something we wish to share and tell the world about that is special. How we let it out is individual, and a choice at an artist's discretion. Either they make pictures for themselves, how they feel it fits what they wish to express, or they make the picture to sell, listening to their audience and understanding what they want or need, commissioned or otherwise. Or, more likely, it's a combination of both.
Anything goes, basically. Some like a cool idea, others a more refined approach. Some like to make small photogravures, and others like to make 40" by one mile long inkjets. Some like grain, others dislike it, and a third category don't care (that's the category I'm in).

Dali
02-18-2013, 11:23 AM
This is covered in the discussion in different ways and from different angles, but okay, let's define "perfect" for the discussion then: A picture representing the actual conditions of the situation in the most realistic and technically optimal way possible.

OK but is it what you are looking for in a picture? Is the "most realistic and technically optimal way possible" the ultimate goal in photography? To me , you make a confusion between the mean and the goal (or between significans and signification if you prefer).

Take care.

jnanian
02-18-2013, 11:45 AM
sometimes the answer is ...
there is no special reason
no hidden agenda
no buck the system
no try to be different
no tick people off
its just-because ...

that is why i asked you about your work
because the reason you photograph the way you do, is just because you do ...

Felinik
02-18-2013, 11:56 AM
In a discussion around a subject like the one in this thread, the reasoning about facts, theories, and the reflections and analysis around those, will lead to an interesting development of the discussion.

That I/you/we just "do" is not adding anything, it's like asking why do we love, a thing, a person, etc. The answer can be "because it feels good", OR we can instead find out more about the psychological and physical things that brings us to that mental state, and analyze them in order to find out how it works... In a bigger picture...

:)

Bill Burk
02-18-2013, 12:02 PM
... let's define "perfect" for the discussion then: A picture representing the actual conditions of the situation in the most realistic and technically optimal way possible.

My working definition of perfection has been approximately what you propose.

But recently I have been challenging my definition of "perfect".

I'm not changing my definition permanently, but instead see it as expanding my range.

To continue a project I started to help tkamiya, I picked up 3 rolls of Tri-X Saturday to continue exploring graininess. The core of the idea was to throw out the traditional definition and create a new definition. The changed definition is clear: Instead of trying for minimum grain, try for maximum grain.

It was such a pleasure to review historic texts and find scientists were "always" working towards the other goal. So when I found passages saying what "not to do" I just took note to do the exact opposite. My test results tell me to use lower EI (e.g., 250) and "look" for scenes which are primarily medium gray. Then develop in Dektol 1:9 for a "less than normal" time.

Now you throw out an additional challenge I had NOT originally considered. I was still planning to make perfectly sharp, well-focused images. But it intrigues me, and I think that it will add to the overall impact of images to make shots deliberately blurry, unusually focused.

tkamiya holds a very high standard of quality, spending hours to print a specific negative and throwing out many results that I would find aesthetically satisying. I hold a high standard of quality (similar to yours) as an ideal, but then I accept what results I get as-is. Mistakes are noted and corrected for future images. Prints I get, remain what they are. I reserve the right to make dramatic future improvements. But for the most part, I stop when I reach a realistic look.

Documentary photographers work at a bit of a disadvantage compared to landscape photographers. They witness an exceptional situation, with little control over it. People in the photograph complicate matters by their changing facial expressions. Many important things happen in dark shadow. Even if they were to hold a high standard in mind, there may be many shots that do not live up to the ideal, but which satisfy the moment they wanted to show.

I'll grant that sloppy practice and uneducated darkroom technique can also lead to the exact same result. This might be what irks you.

jnanian
02-18-2013, 01:04 PM
richard albertine told me once to " let it vignette "
===
bill, your methodology is perfection !
john

canuhead
02-18-2013, 02:17 PM
This is covered in the discussion in different ways and from different angles, but okay, let's define "perfect" for the discussion then: A picture representing the actual conditions of the situation in the most realistic and technically optimal way possible.

I'm not sure there can be such a thing as perfection re: such as you use as an example. Movement and feeling could be considered a more realistic representation of that moment than something frozen at a high shutter speed. One's definition of realistic and technically optimal can be very broad.

Following that, who's to say that moments in time *need* to be frozen and can't be allowed to flow in time ?

horacekenneth
02-18-2013, 02:35 PM
It seems that the consensus is (without actually saying or agreeing on this) that any technique that better communicates the message of the moment is good. The point has been made a couple times about blur that at times it may be a more realistic representation. Could something similar be said about grain?

Now the original post's reaction was probably not to photos where the grain and blur flawlessly combined to communicate the moment. What about photos where large grain & blur are merely for stylized purposed and not adding anything? I guess that would just be bad art, bad, not because of grain & blur in the picture but because of poor composition and communication.

Thomas Bertilsson
02-18-2013, 03:23 PM
It seems that the consensus is (without actually saying or agreeing on this) that any technique that better communicates the message of the moment is good. The point has been made a couple times about blur that at times it may be a more realistic representation. Could something similar be said about grain?

Now the original post's reaction was probably not to photos where the grain and blur flawlessly combined to communicate the moment. What about photos where large grain & blur are merely for stylized purposed and not adding anything? I guess that would just be bad art, bad, not because of grain & blur in the picture but because of poor composition and communication.

I think that whatever the picture needs, shooting conditions dictate, or a photographers chosen tools dictate is what translates into how the final picture shows in terms of technical quality. Whether we end up liking it or not is entirely subjective. One man's ceiling is another man's floor; either a picture grabs our attention, or it doesn't.

It's probably safe to say that the cream tends to float to the top, and if you consider what represents 'the cream' you see everything from wild and crazy exposures by famous documentary and street photographers, happily existing alongside meticulous artists and printers who pay a lot of attention to the technical quality from beginning to end. Different priorities.

I find it interesting to note that printers like Sid Kaplan, Gene Nocon, Pablo Inirio, and other printers like them, did everything they could to print every negative that passed through their darkroom on commission to print with the very best of their ability, whether it is a meticulously exposed and processed negative, or quickly exposed, grainy, and push processed 35mm neg. Why is that? Because they are all good photographs, in one way or another (or several), and they demand respect and attention.
Look at this masterpiece of James Dean, by Dennis Stock: Link (http://juan314.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/james-dean-times-square.jpg?w=869)
Now consider how Pablo Inirio had to fight the negative in order to get what he thought would be enough visual impact to impress: Link (http://theliteratelens.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/pablo1copy.jpg)
Why would such attention be paid to a grainy photograph where not much is in focus?

I guess I feel that the grain can add to an image as much as someone else might think it subtracts, but in the end it just IS, and we live with it. We all have different opinions of what we like and dislike.