Everybody confines themselves within the borders of what they call their style, or their way of seeing (with the occasional experimentations needed for growth). If you didn't, your work would be scattered, directionless, weakened by diffusion. Ansel said something to the effect of, "If I am to photograph a rock, I must present a rock". Minor White approached that same subject matter in a completely different way, using the textures and forms to express his inner self. I think anything goes if it communicates your message, at least in terms of photography as art as opposed to documentation, or news.
Myself, I use whatever is on the negative. I don't feel a need to add to what nature provides. I don't remove or add anything from the scene photographed. I will burn or spot out annoying high print value bits that confuse the composition. I'll crop as needed - the world sometimes doesn't come in 4x5 rectangles. I'll dodge, burn, and use whatever masks the image calls for. The only limits I put on myself are that I don't want the veiwer to know that dark, menacing cloud actually was a value VIII on the proof print. I want the veiwer to accept the image as fact. Others create compelling images by disregarding everything I just said.
As stated already, if it's honest, it works...tricks for effect always feel wrong. Everybody gets to write their own rules.
We already change the scene by composition, choice of lens, depth of field, speed, dodging and burning ... so I don't see any problem with sandwiching negs or using any other techniques you want to convey the message or effect your after. It's been done since the birth of photography and always will be.
I think it is fine for *you* to define your art as what is on the negative, and that the print is merely a mechanism for conveying that content to a viewer (and thus you are probably just as comfortable scanning a negative for the web I presume.)
Originally Posted by arigram
For you, the art of your photography is the production of a great negative.
However, that does not mean that for everyone, photography ends at the negative. It certainly doesn't for me. For me, the important result is the print (or in the case of web presentation, the .jpg).
I frequently crop, because the image I *see* won't fit precisely in the fixed frame of my camera. However, I generally make a conscious decision at the time of taking that this will be a cropped final result (I previsualize the crop). I will still try to compose a good full frame shot, because I like to work with an appealing raw material.
Further, I view those classic oval portraits as photographs, even though I don't know of anyone who creates those nice oval crops in camera.
So for you, I think it is fine that you constrain yourself as you do, but that doesn't alter my personal view of what constitutes a photograph for me.
I do mostly street photography, and I am sometimes only the shutter speed away from missing the photograph. If someone in the background has his finger up his nose or maybe just up... He will may get cropped, dodged, or burned, or all of the above. Some times he is left alone and you see it all. If you had been on the street you would have seen it. It's up the photographer. The thing that appeals to me most about photography is no rules to limit my expression. To your on self be true.
Originally Posted by arigram
All the above is true.
I don't think I can explain why, and I recognize all the internal inconsistencies that my position entails as described by others above, but I am not comfortable with the idea of taking multiple images, combining them and calling the result "a photograph". Happy to see one if it's called a "montage", but a "photograph" for me stops at a single negative. I have seen beautiful images that could not be made without inserting a stunning sky that did not exist and I love them (see Frank Hurley) but if I'm not told and find out later, I feel cheated.
Yes, you can have multiple exposures in camera (inconsistency #1) and I am happy, but take the sky from one negative and print it with another negative and I am unhappy - unless you tell me you have done that, in which case, fair enough.
I think the important thing is honesty in the final image. Tell me it's a composite an I am happy to enjoy the image as such. Don't tell me and I feel I am being deceived if I subsequently find out. This is one of the things that bother me about digital images - I feel there is no inherent honesty in the final image. It could have been produced from a dozen elements and I would never know. I don't call that a photograph; it's an image, possibly a great one, but not a photograph.
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Of course Chuck! I am not trying to enforce a general philosophy on photography, just asking people's viewpoints and offering mine, that's all!
Originally Posted by chuck94022
Just needed to clarify my philosophy a couple times so I was not going to be misunderstood.
Its a discussion after all. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and everyone has their own artistic philosophy.
Last edited by arigram; 04-03-2005 at 04:44 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Real photographs, created in camera, 100% organic,
no digital additives and shit
I agree with most of what has been said here. You do what ever you do to produce your own "vision".
That being said, I still feel cheated, not impressed, disappointed, whatever, if it was not done in the physical craftsmanship manner. Meaning if it was done on a computer, I do not respect it. Going through something like the photonet gallery and seeing incredible pictures but feeling nothing for them because to me they cheated.
Thats just me. I know full well that digital enhancement can be is it's own particular "craft" but the pictures mean nothing to me.
I agree - if you are doing photojournalism, adding or subtracting content is much more improper than if you are doing art, but it all depends on context. Overall, this seems a lot like that definition of pornography: I cannot define improper photo-manipulation, but I know it when I see it. It can get very complicated.
My major concern is modification-creep: if you let small changes go, then people start making larger ones. Recently I registered my unhappiness with a professional journal (Planning, October 2003 issue) that contained an architectural photograph that was obviously a fabrication: a picture of a school where the students in the image were pasted in. The "sin" here was laziness - the photographer couldn't be bothered to get real students. Next time, maybe it will be raining, so they paste in a different background... I got a phone call from the Art Director, but strangely my letter was never printed. Since then I've seen this sort of thing get a lot of media coverage (relatively-speaking) and I've thought about starting a collection.
The photographic print is the final determiner of the photographer's vision consistant with the statement that he or she wishes to make. How this print is produced is irrelevant insofar as the artistic statement is concerned. That unfortunately does, by definition, open this to digital manipulation. I do not practice or embrace that particular means of expression in my practice. Preferring, instead, to practice film based photography.
For instance where would one find the images that Misha Gordin presents in actual reality (www.bsimple.com) or for that matter those that Jerry Uelesmann creates. Both are unarguably photographers that are widely accepted and applauded. Both are furthermore artists in their own right. Both, insofar as I know, continue to work within the realm of film based photography differing only in the procedure by which they print their compositions.