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  1. #1
    digiconvert's Avatar
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    What is a photograph ?

    Ok this will sound like sour grapes at the start but stick with me ...
    At last weeks college night we were discussing our work (not a lot of it going on as it happens ) and my 'oppo' with the 5D and the IS lenses et al. is showing his landscape project work to our lecturer while I am showing my war graves work. The 5D guy is GOOD he produces really classy prints from his latest printer, I am still working my way through MF and darkroom but I am not totally incompetent and I am pleased with some of my work.
    Anyhow everyone likes our work, the lecturer gives me some advice on my BW print and praises one of the shots from my Lubitel but comments that the 5D pic is beyond improvement. However what really got up my nose was that 5D guy gladly recognises that he spends about 4 hours in PS with his final images and that he takes a SPARE 1Gb card per shoot so that he is bound to get a good shot somewhere. He explains that the sky in one shot was not what he wanted so he 'swapped it' for a better one in PS - as I said the finished article is really good, better than I produce and I have no gripe with the lecturer or 5D guy BUT what's the point in shooting a scene then making it better with part of another scene. Why not just buy in a stock of photos and manipulate them ? It would be cheaper than a 5D plus all of the support gear !
    As a sort of therapy I went out today with 2x36 films in the 35mm and took photos of landscapes (It was tranny film so I get through a fair bit since I bracket) but it struck me while I was doing this that I could put the camera on AF/green rectangle mode and shoot away hoping to get a good shot - it seems that for a lot of digi photographers (NOT all) who have never used film this is the way they shoot, if it's no good then thank God for photoshop and put it right.
    So after the rant I return to my title, a photograph to me has to have "some of me" in it. I need to have thought about it, considered the exposure, differential focus, metering etc. etc. if APUG weren't here to give us all support and film based photography DID wither away (it won't) the world would be a really poorer place.
    Sorry for the rant but I do feel better now and welcome your views.
    Cheers CJB

  2. #2
    Ara Ghajanian's Avatar
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    CJB,
    I don't disagree with your views at all. It is frustrating especially when laymen look at photos done in digital and praise them over analog work. It must be exponentially frustrating being a student these days. Back when I was in photo school (graduated in 1992), the biggest decision I had to make was whether to buy an RB67 or not and get into medium format (incidentally, I'm glad I did). I'm sure other students looked upon me in disgust, especially when my 16x20 prints had no grain and were tack sharp.

    I know it's partly ignorant, but I don't even talk to people who use digital anymore. I really don't care for it. I use it at work, but try to sneak in film whenever I can and budget permits, but I despise digital. It's really covenient and somewhat cost effective for commerce, but for fine art photography it is blasphemous. That's one major reason I won't go totally pro (I'm do mostly graphic design now), I don't want to deal with digital. I know it has it's place, but I don't want to be anywhere near that place.

    I commend you and any other student of the photographic arts for learning the analog methods. If someday you need to use digital, you'll be that much better off than someone who learned on digital in the first place. It is important to know the history of a method in order to understand its future better.
    Ara
    Just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

  3. #3
    roteague's Avatar
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    CJB,

    Not to worry, we all feel the same way sometimes. Just remember that "quantity does not equal quality", and be glad that you didn't need to spend hours in front of a computer to generate an image.

    FWIW, there isn't anything wrong shooting in program mode, you just have to learn when to ignore the meter. I almost always shoot my F5 in aperture priority mode. I don't bracket, and I always shoot transparencies.
    Robert M. Teague
    www.visionlandscapes.com
    www.apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=2235

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

  4. #4
    Michael Slade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by digiconvert
    Ok this will sound like sour grapes at the start but stick with me ...
    Ok, I did...and it still sounds like sour grapes at the end too.

  5. #5
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    I agree with Michael Slade: sounds like you're a sour puss because your definition of photography does not match another one's. I'd say get over it because anything he does with PS you could also do in the darkroom. His practice of taking a spare flash card is no different from one's habit to carry a stack of film with them.

    It's not big news that people stich together bits of images to present a single unified one: it's called photomontage, and when it's done by Man Ray or Lazlo What's-his-family-name everyone loves it.

    If you take "truth" as an a priori criterion for photography (i.e. real photographers don't lie, they frame with the viewfinder, and never cut and paste), then you're bound for a deception because painting can do that too. Painting can show accurately a person, about the same way a photograph does. Go to the library and look at Giovanni Bellini's ca. 1501 portrait of Leonardo Loredan, Doge of Venice and tell me I'm wrong.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  6. #6

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    I must disagree with the reference to painting and the process of painting. The process of Painting and the process of Photography have absobutely nothing in common. Even though photography came about because of the desire of a one indivivdual to simplify painting due to the lack of personal skill.

    I can only think of one aspect of painting that "might" be similiar to photograghy, and that is a "big maybe". . . . Both processes may be accomplished on a flat surface. The "intentions" of a photographer and the "intentions" an artist can not be used to associate these two unique crafts.

    1. I have never painted a portrait with a camera.
    2. I have never photographed a person with oil paints, turpentine, and a brush.

    Although artists and photographers take certain liberties to "make perfect" their craft, so do bankers, lawyers, dentists, mechanics, teachers, and Enron Exectutives. The later being under the microscope for excessive PS cutting and pasting.

    If you doctor your photography to the point ultimately misrepresenting the subject, then you're an "artist of sorts". If your photographs represent the subject accurately, then your'e a damn fine photographer and you should be proud. I want to be a "damn good photographer". If that doesn't work out, then I'll settle for "artist of sorts".

    Cheers!

  7. #7
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannL
    I must disagree with the reference to painting and the process of painting. The process of Painting and the process of Photography have absobutely nothing in common. Even though photography came about because of the desire of a one indivivdual to simplify painting due to the lack of personal skill.
    The process are obviously different: one is based on light-sensitive material, while the other isn't. That is not my point.

    Quote Originally Posted by DannL
    If you doctor your photography to the point ultimately misrepresenting the subject, then you're an "artist of sorts". If your photographs represent the subject accurately, then your'e a damn fine photographer and you should be proud. I want to be a "damn good photographer". If that doesn't work out, then I'll settle for "artist of sorts".
    My point is exactly the opposite of what you're saying (that being a good photographer=making true statements). I would like to offer as counterexample the fact that you can make true statements with paintings. Other counterexample: if you are making a photo that is not "accurate" in your terms, for e.g. a false color Ektachrome Infrared shot of a landscape, then you can be still a great photographer.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  8. #8

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    photographs do lie all the time.

    people have been putting different skys in photographs
    since victorian times.

    anyone who combination prints, burns/dodges, multiple exposure ( in camera or on the paper ) is misrepresenting or maybe it is a different interpretation of "reality" ...

    we all see reality a little differently, and as far as i am concerned, there's plenty of room for different-seers ..

    sorry
    if my apug gallery looks empty you might check these places

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  9. #9

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    I'd say get over it because anything he does with PS you could also do in the darkroom.
    That I highly doubt and especially not in 4 hours. Have you ever tried to airbrush a neg or an actual print to remove something? Takes talent most don’t have, have you ever tried to overlay a neg on top of a neg to blend a sky? I doubt it and I can tell you it takes more than 4 hours. I have zero respect for digital snap shooters, as that is exactly what they are, snap shooters. Eye to camera, set to motor drive and fire away. F-stop, apertures, no need, set on auto mode and fire until the heart is content.

    I respect the photographer that will stand there for hours or come back to get the light they want, the season they want etc.. They are not lazy or use a computer to fix there flaw but rather love the craft and love the art to actually wait for the right time to capture that image or if a mistake was made go back and re-capture the image to perfect the scene. Digital is not art it is graphic design at best. My kids know Photoshop and they are pretty good at it to boot. Anyone can use a computer but not anyone can use a brush or print a fine print.

    Sorry, but digital is not an art form as far as I am concerned, it is a cop out for being lazy. And I don’t know any LF shooter or MF shooter to take out 1000 rolls of film and blow through it like the digital shooters does on a weekend. That is simply another cop out. Well you film guy takes 5 rolls of film. Personally fro a weekend I am luck to get off a single roll of 120, 12 shoots or use 6 film holders for an entire weekend.

    You know what today’s photographer are missing? Sitting and studying the scene., making sure that every element in the scene has it place, making sure the image is complete, making sure that the elements support one another to create the composition. It is about studying line, form and balance. It is not about who got the most image from the weekend.

    With today’s digital shooter they don’t need to worry about anything as they will download to the computer and clone out and clone in things that are and not there. Add a sky, add a road and while there at it, add some water and lakes as well. They have nothing but total and complete disregard for the art of photography, which to me is completely revolting. Then they push it one step further and call it a fine photograph when its nothing more than an outright lie, a complete fallacy. A push of a button and they can output 10,000 identical pieces of paper with ink squirted all over it in a sequence to creating something that tries to resemble a photographic print.

    You can embrace digital all you like but it is a slap in the face to all the arts, and I am not just talking photography either.

    I am really sick of seeing digital watercolor, digital watercolor, digital drawing. Give me a break, you take the tablet out of their deceitful hand and place a brush in it, and guess what, now they have no clue how to paint or draw, blend of mix paint, use a certain brush size and certain stroke to create the effect that the computer does so easily with a few click of the mouse a a few pushes on the keyboard. This is not art this is digital. Brush stokes, pens strokes take technique, something they will be completely clueless about when given a pen or brush in hand. Digital is dangerous and is destroying the arts.

    Of course the digital trolls are going to flame but the truth hurts I know.

    Just my two cents.

  10. #10

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    That's cool.

    I simply feel, as stated before, that if your photography does not represent reality, it must be "something else". I said "artist of sorts", but really I should let someone else put a name to it. I don't like using four letter words, unless I'm cornered and feeling threatened. ;-)

    Artists very rarely paint the truth, and most artists know it. It's nearly impossible to find artist that doesn't take liberties with their subject. Removing a wrinkle here, a blemish there, a scare from there, add a wonderful backdrop there and some clouds there, fix that shadow. In fact I think "straight photography" is the best anyone can do to represent the truth. Normally I would say "whatever" when confronted with the apples/oranges chicken/egg thing. But it's still fun to talk about it. With regard to Giovanni, I trust he painted to please his benefactor and not the painter, as do most artists.

    Variety is the spice of life. Even when it comes to "opinions".
    Last edited by DannL; 04-10-2006 at 04:30 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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