I'm not trying to be combative, but I think the art/science divide is much less clear-cut than this, especially when you look at the day-to-day workings of the scientific community. I am a microscopist of a sort, and although I agree that there are objective measures of the quality of a technical photograph, they merely define a minimum standard of competence. For me at least there is plenty of scope for art and craft to contribute to the success or failure of a supposedly technical photograph.
Originally Posted by David H. Bebbington
At the most trivial level this merely reflects human nature: a well-composed micrograph is more pleasing to look at, and will garner more praise and attention than a badly-composed photograph that conveys the same information. The unmentionable bastard child of the Truth is Beauty myth exists as a general tendency to think good-looking data must be correct, or somehow better. I have seen plenty of scientific papers that when looked at critically are nothing more than a single lovely image that says nothing.
So, I teach my students the rudiments of composition and graphic style. Some resist, but the realities of the intellectual marketplace eventually win them over. Other institutions employ graphic artists and photographers with the sole intent of making their data look as good as possible. Felice Frankel, who I mentioned in my first post, has done a lot of this kind of work.
And then there are the photographs that are so information rich that you need a Tufte-like sensibility to prevent them from becoming simply confusing. If the purpose of a technical photograph is to convey information, and not just simply store it, there are a multitude of choices to be made between image aquisition and final presentation that are exactly analagous to the things photographers get up to in dark rooms.
Last edited by Struan Gray; 09-26-2007 at 02:49 AM. Click to view previous post history.