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jnanian
02-18-2013, 03:42 PM
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.


there is no such thing as perfect ... look at all the silver bullet chasers, look at all the people trying one film one developer one paper after another
look at all the people who buy 7 or 10 cameras a year to find which one suits them best ... there is never something flawless, it is the
flawlessness where one finds beauty, otherwise people would just have everything made by a prototype machine. japanese have something
called wabi-sabi that touches upon this ...

Rudeofus
02-19-2013, 03:33 AM
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.

We often make the assumption that people understand and care about the expensive pieces of art they are buying. You can kill any technically sound image by calling it kitsch (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitsch), regardless of its aesthetic and artistic merit. If you are rich and want to impress your peers with your (non existent) sense of art, you throw big bucks at something that looks like the truck image brought up by Felinik.

Art galleries are bound to account for that.

rbultman
02-19-2013, 06:03 AM
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
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.

The best images to me are the ones where the grain disappears, not in the print itself, but in your mind. In other words, the composition and other aspects of the images are so strong that you don't even see the grain. Some perhaps can't get past the grain to see what else is there.

-Rob

Thomas Bertilsson
02-19-2013, 07:08 AM
The best images to me are the ones where the grain disappears, not in the print itself, but in your mind. In other words, the composition and other aspects of the images are so strong that you don't even see the grain. Some perhaps can't get past the grain to see what else is there.

-Rob

Yes. I personally don't really care about the grain. It's what's beyond the grain that matters.

Michael R 1974
02-19-2013, 11:18 AM
Felinik: Aside from the possible Marketing explanation I proposed earlier, I don't think you're going to get any real answers. In the end all these types of discussions collapse into an inevitable singularity regarding the essence of what makes good or bad or popular photography (or art in general). Grain, seeing through grain, leading a viewer's eye, "communication", composition etc. are all red herrings in my opinion. Either you dig it or you don't. And any reason is valid. That's all there is to it.

One man's perfectly composed, perfectly timed, perfectly exposed, perfectly printed, perfectly communicative masterpiece is another man's piece-o-crap. And the same goes for an out of focus, grainy, underexposed, stained, badly "composed", polytoned, lith whatever.

BrianShaw
02-19-2013, 11:23 AM
Getting a "real answer" does not appear to be the goal. He/she is interested in chatting about the topic with no real goal in mind. Unfortunately the discussion started with that singularity about the essense of what makes good or bad or popular photography. :)

horacekenneth
02-19-2013, 11:45 AM
I don't think you're going to get any real answers. ...Either you dig it or you don't. And any reason is valid. That's all there is to it.

Of course we like something for a reason. You just don't like banana bread because you just dig banana bread. A 5 year old might say I just don't like Claude Monet but if you're actually studying art you should be able to discuss why you do or don't like something.
Like I said before, we don't say that some seafood is good and some seafood is bad because there are a bunch of people out there that just happen to not like seafood. There actually is a bunch of standards including freshness and preparation that distinguish good seafood from bad seafood. The red herring is the person who comes to a cooking contest and says "I just don't dig seafood."

Michael R 1974
02-19-2013, 12:05 PM
I'm not sure seafood is a good example because if the standards are not followed you end up in the hospital.

In art, I'm disputing the importance of these "standards". Of course people can explain why they like or don't like something (sometimes they can't, and that's ok too). But I don't think it matters whether or not positive emotional responses are based on standards. Often we see positive comments in the APUG gallery like "Strong composition", "Nice tonality", "the lines draw the viewer's eye...", "perfect balance", "excellent use of negative space" etc. If it were one of my photos I'd much rather someone said "I really like this". All that other academic crap leaves me cold.

I just think there are many, many valid reasons one might have for enjoying something they see, and in the end standards are irrelevant. And I say this as a someone who practices the straightest of straight photography and is obsessive about quality and detail.

We could get into actual examples to make this more interesting - particularly when it comes to communication in art, but I think much of what I have to say would be heresy....

horacekenneth
02-19-2013, 12:09 PM
I just think there are many, many valid reasons one might have for enjoying something they see, and in the end standards are irrelevant.

Honestly this doesn't make sense to me. You believe there are many valid reasons for appreciating art, and then you say reasons are irrelevant. If they're irrelevant, then how are they valid?

Are there good reasons for appreciating one work for art and not another, or is what you put up in a gallery just a crap shoot, or the results of a democracy of meaningless opinions?

BrianShaw
02-19-2013, 12:22 PM
I just don't dig bananas. Banana bread is OK, but the raw fruit... I just don't dig. Don't know why either.

Michael R 1974
02-19-2013, 12:33 PM
Honestly this doesn't make sense to me. You believe there are many valid reasons for appreciating art, and then you say reasons are irrelevant. If they're irrelevant, then how are they valid?

Are there good reasons for appreciating one work for art and not another, or is what you put up in a gallery just a crap shoot, or the results of a democracy of meaningless opinions?

Horace - I'm not saying the reasons are irrelevant. I'm saying standards are irrelevant. The reasons people like or don't like things (discounting marketing influence etc) are highly subjective, personal things and are greatly varied.

What is fabulous to one person might suck to another person. How do you reconcile that?

BrianShaw
02-19-2013, 12:43 PM
What is fabulous to one person might suck to another person. How do you reconcile that?

One way seems to be starting a conversation by asserting that what others think is fabulous really sucks. :whistling:

Felinik
02-19-2013, 01:28 PM
So apparently one of the important prerequisites for this discussion to move along is the formulation of "perfect".

As for Bill Burk who's about to challenge "perfect" in his work and stretch the limits towards blur and grain, ( #117 (http://www.apug.org/forums/viewpost.php?p=1463561) ) his observations will be interesting, with Bill coming from a kind of "conservative" (like me) definition of perfect.

Thomas's notes about the Magnum printers, ( #121 (http://www.apug.org/forums/viewpost.php?p=1463654) ) particularly the great example of the James Dean print ( Link (http://25.media.tumblr.com/e52ad9e5f44050d50e1f4454e4a258bb/tumblr_mfue7vEC5b1rfld6do1_1280.jpg) ) put a big smile on my face here, talking about perfection... Could this be an important key to the reference of perfection many of us here have? As Thomas also expressed, something about "express myself to the best of my ability", I am sure this is something that is pretty close to the problems with the definition of "perfect", and then, is perfect the right definition if "my ability" is going in the direction as Bill Burk are, to make the prints LESS "perfect", event though his ability sure is way beyond what probably some people will experience in the work coming out from the experiment in the end...

And of course this leads us to the question that many of you have touched, artistic expression, and the feel or perception of a photograph, no matter if there's grain and blurry focus, or not.

I stumbled over a photograph today, where I find the circumstances makes blur and grain feel natural, in contrast to the "truck" sample shot:

https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-frc1/538099_384353301663153_661414943_n.jpg

More here: http://www.philsternarchives.com/hollywood/stars/rita-moreno/

Is this maybe one of the keys too, as canuhead expressed ( #119 (http://www.apug.org/forums/viewpost.php?p=1463621) ) that part of the perfection in the moment, is of course not always only sharp non blurry shots, but compare the shot above with the truck, to me the blur in the truck shot feels less like a "true" representation of the actual moment (as it's not just the truck that is blurry etc.), while the shot mentioned above, makes full sense with the motion blur.

And for both of the shots, how would they have looked if the Magnum printers had got their hands on the negatives....

:)

horacekenneth
02-19-2013, 01:43 PM
What is fabulous to one person might suck to another person. How do you reconcile that?

I don't need to reconcile it precisely because there are standards. In just about every other field we understand that disagreement doesn't equal subjectivity. Imagine one person saying the earth is flat and another saying it is round and having to reconcile the two because there are no standards around the issue. Thankfully, science is simple compared to art. But just because art is so dang complex and there are so many things going on at one time, that doesn't mean, oh well, give up, it's subjective.

Thomas Bertilsson
02-19-2013, 02:01 PM
Can you look at a work of art and prove to someone else that something is correct or incorrect about it?

Dali
02-19-2013, 02:15 PM
to me the blur in the truck shot feels less like a "true" representation of the actual moment

:)

After the perfection, the 'true" representation... Is it what attract you in a picture, being a "true" representation (assuming it can exist which I doubt. did you ever heard of a "false" representation?)?

Sorry but I am bit lost in what you mean...

Take care.

Michael R 1974
02-19-2013, 02:20 PM
Horace:

It's tough for me to argue your points because in actuality my photography is about as straight as it gets, and I am obsessive about print quality. But in the end, yes, I gave up trying to define good art. I can only define it for myself based on what I like and don't like. And even then, I might occasionally come across something that unexpectedly grabs me even though I would have never expected it to.

I've been surrounded by the arts as long as I can remember and the more experienced I became the more I realized there is no actual good/bad or correct/incorrect the way there is in Mathematics, nor does anyone have to be able to explain why they are drawn to something for it to be a valid appreciation. You can pull your hair out trying to see what others see, or you can have enough confidence in your own knowledge, vision and artisitic maturity to judge for yourself.

When I look at art, I like it or not. If I don't like it, I then ask myself if I can at least appreciate it on a more objective level and recognize the greatness others see in it. But the older I get the less emphasis I place on the second question. Since my own personal standards are extremely high, I don't need external standards. This very often puts me at odds with people, but that's fine.

horacekenneth
02-19-2013, 03:33 PM
Can you look at a work of art and prove to someone else that something is correct or incorrect about it?
But we can have a conversation about whether it does something well or poorly which is where the analogy lies. There is a standard.

Michael, I firmly believe that there is a standard for these things. I don't think it exists within us or comes from us, but I think we are naturally aware of it. Both of these I think can, basically, be demonstrated. The first point, that it does not exist within us or by us is clear because we're not sure what the standard is, see discussions like the one we're having. The second, that it exists, I think is equally apparent, eyeless lobular deep-sea fish are not beautiful, song birds are beautiful. We automatically know this. Sometimes we're not sure why and so we question it and fight it, but it's a natural feeling.
These two points explain why we can look at a child's drawing and at Claude Monet (I'm stuck on Monet for some reason) and tell the difference but why we have such a hard time comparing Claude Monet and Edward Degas. We know there is a standard and it's obvious at extremes, but because we don't know the standard well there is a huge gray area. Will the gray area ever go away? We can study and improve our understanding, certainly, but the standard won't ever be fully knowable because its source is not fully knowable.

The fact is, though, that there is a standard. It's multi-faceted and complex, but Ansel Adams and Sebastio Salgado are not good artists because they randomly and subjectively triggered someone's gut feeling (though they may be popular for that reason), they are good artists because they make good art. Without a standard that doesn't make any sense.

jnanian
02-19-2013, 03:47 PM
But we can have a conversation about whether it does something well or poorly which is where the analogy lies. There is a standard.


nope, there is YOUR standard which is not a universal standard.

someone could easily say that cy twombly or franz kline or aaron siskind, or picasso or miro's or man ray's works are crap, easily.
they could say their use of materials, is not what one would expect from a so called master &c, comparing it all to
a 5 year old prodigy...
it's all opinion, world view, personal experience and a judgement call, but it isn't because of any sort of standard.

Dali
02-19-2013, 03:53 PM
Well, instead of standard, I would call it culture. It then explains why some artists were rejected and now admired (the opposite is sometimes true) . It would also explain what you call "good art"...