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03/05/2007 09:28:33 PM · #1
In this thread ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', '/') + 1) . ' xianart posed an interesting question. The original story is that I disliked one of her photographs as soon as I learned that she used a digital filter to create the Holga effect. So, rightfully, Christian asks, in essence: "How come, having liked the image initially, you changed your mind later, after learning about the post processing? The image is still the same!"

A simpler way to pose this question would be: do the methods matter, as long as an independent viewer cannot tell the difference between the real thing and the fake?

I think that, yes, the methods do matter. I consider good photography to be a unique intersection of two necessary components: the documentary component, and the semantic/symbolic one. Without the the first, an image is just a painting, and without the second, the image is just a fixation of reality.

A photographer works with real time and space, unlike painters or digital artists. That's the necessary documentary component of photography. By adding major visual elements to a photograph in post processing, a photographer gives up the connection of the image to the real time-space continuum, thus loosing this component. And it does not matter if post processing is skillful enough to fool a viewer - the image is no longer the real thing, by definition.

Would you be disenchanted to learn that you purchased, say, black caviar surrogate at the price of the real thing, even if it tasted just as good? Would you be disappointed to learn that an award winning journalistic photograph was merely a collage? The methods and ingredients *are* important, even if they can fool someone.

edit: grammar

Message edited by author 2007-03-05 22:58:33.
03/05/2007 09:35:29 PM · #2
Originally posted by agenkin:


Would you be disenchanted to learn that you purchased, say, black caviar surrogate at the price of the real thing, even if it tasted just as good? Would you be disappointed to learn that an award winning journalistic photograph was merely a collage? The methods and ingredients *are* important, even if they can fool someone.


to 1 I would say no. if it tastes the same. to 2 i expect PJ work to be real so yes i would be upset. however as for regular photos i find it pretentious to only like something because of the way it was made. Christian made a nice photo that you liked. Why does the camera or film something is made with make it better. I know stuff like that is important to you. You and I don't agree on many things but to me it seems very petty to care about the equipment used.
03/05/2007 09:38:47 PM · #3
Originally posted by Elvis_L:

it seems very petty to care about the equipment used

You're missing the point, it's not the equipment. Film or digital, wet hand printing or Photoshop - it does not matter, as long as the image remains a photograph. Once you introduce important stuff that wasn't there at the time of exposure, it stops being a photograph.
03/05/2007 09:45:54 PM · #4
Originally posted by agenkin:

Originally posted by Elvis_L:

it seems very petty to care about the equipment used

You're missing the point, it's not the equipment. Film or digital, wet hand printing or Photoshop - it does not matter, as long as the image remains a photograph. Once you introduce important stuff that wasn't there at the time of exposure, it stops being a photograph.


I am not missing the point i just don't agree with it. If i use a yellow filter on my lens why is it a better photo than if I used the filter in photoshop. I understand that you think that this is somehow not a pure photo. For the record i recently ordered a bunch of filters in order to work on the craft of photography which I agree many (including myself) overlook nowadays. I want to be a better photographer but I still think idea that it is somehow more relevant done in camera is snotty.

I am not very versed on my photography history but I thought that the effect she added can't be done on a digital camera, so if she wanted the effect why not add it.

so I don't see how this photo of JPs is better (i love it) because he did it with on camera filters.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/545/thumb/386740.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/545/thumb/386740.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Message edited by author 2007-03-05 21:46:54.
03/05/2007 09:46:41 PM · #5
I'm not sure I can understand this point of view.

If your initial reaction is positive, and you cannot, by looking at the image, or studying it, determine that it was used by one certain method or the other.. and then *CHANGE* that opinion because you later find out that it was not the method that you'd convinced yourself had been used..

That doesn't show very much integrity.

Your points on photojournalism are valid to a point. However, A photo in a paper of a car being panned as it drives by (as a quick and dirty example) is just as valid on an ethical basis if it had been done by panning the camera.. or adding motion blur successfully in post. It doesn't change what the photo is, it's just two methods of achieving the same end effect. If you *added* another car.. or a person walking by.. then your point becomes valid.

Your point about food is also not entirely valid. It would be more valid if someone took a photo of a photo.. and passed it off as an original. Using processing to get an effect you can achieve in a more physical manner is more like .. getting whipped cream by hand-whiping it, versus using a powered whipper. It simply makes things a more or less easier.. depending on the user and the methods. Also, key in the point that you aren't purchasing anything.. at least not here. Buying a *PRINT* that stated it was done using a real holga.. and then finding out later it was a digital photograph with a filter.. yes, *THAT* would be disappointing... but it's an entirely different concept.

If I enjoy something. I enjoy it. Finding out how it was done later means nothing to me. I enjoyed it because it spoke to me when I viewed it, and if it spoke to me, something was done right.. whether that was digital, physical, or magical.. it makes no difference whatsoever.

Message edited by author 2007-03-05 21:48:13.
03/05/2007 09:50:23 PM · #6
during voting i got a fav on this shot from the PJ challenge
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/486/thumb/328067.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/486/thumb/328067.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
after voting was over when i reveled that it was an old sign, not a real prank they took the fav away. always found that funny.
03/05/2007 09:53:02 PM · #7
I think you both have valid points.

Personally, I am torn on this issue.
03/05/2007 10:01:49 PM · #8
Originally posted by Artyste:

I'm not sure I can understand this point of view.

If your initial reaction is positive, and you cannot, by looking at the image, or studying it, determine that it was used by one certain method or the other.. and then *CHANGE* that opinion because you later find out that it was not the method that you'd convinced yourself had been used..

That doesn't show very much integrity.


That's a harsh statement.

Originally posted by Artyste:

Your points on photojournalism are valid to a point. However, A photo in a paper of a car being panned as it drives by (as a quick and dirty example) is just as valid on an ethical basis if it had been done by panning the camera.. or adding motion blur successfully in post.


I disagree. I'd be curious to know what actual photojournalists would think about this. I'm guessing they would find it unethical. But I suppose I could be wrong.
03/05/2007 10:03:43 PM · #9
Originally posted by Elvis_L:

I am not missing the point i just don't agree with it. If i use a yellow filter on my lens why is it a better photo than if I used the filter in photoshop.

I think that you are still don't understand me, I'm sorry. The importance is not *how* you achieved an important effect, but *when*. It has to happen during the exposure. Otherwise you are modifying the captured time and space, which kills the photograph.
03/05/2007 10:04:22 PM · #10
You're referencing two different types of photography.

Photojournalism is ideally done with minimal editing as the point is to represent the truth, period.

Photography as a whole is an artform which is expanded upon in many ways in both film and digital and isn't meant to convey the literal truth. The issue I have with your statement is that there was no misrepresentation going on. Xianart didn't claim it was one thing when it wasn't. You made an assumption.

Would it have been any different if the photo had been film and the effect had been achieved in the darkroom? In my opinion, no.

I simply can't understand how you can change your opinion about the photo simply because it was altered (to your liking, no less) in post-processing and not captured that way at the beginning.
03/05/2007 10:05:34 PM · #11
Originally posted by agenkin:

Originally posted by Elvis_L:

I am not missing the point i just don't agree with it. If i use a yellow filter on my lens why is it a better photo than if I used the filter in photoshop.

I think that you are still don't understand me, I'm sorry. The importance is not *how* you achieved an important effect, but *when*. It has to happen during the exposure. Otherwise you are modifying the captured time and space, which kills the photograph.


No, we understand you, we simply just don't agree with you at all.
03/05/2007 10:08:59 PM · #12
Originally posted by agenkin:

Originally posted by Elvis_L:

I am not missing the point i just don't agree with it. If i use a yellow filter on my lens why is it a better photo than if I used the filter in photoshop.

I think that you are still don't understand me, I'm sorry. The importance is not *how* you achieved an important effect, but *when*. It has to happen during the exposure. Otherwise you are modifying the captured time and space, which kills the photograph.


sorry but that is BS. From my understanding many, many historical photographers who processed their own prints. during this process they would do many different things ranging from dodging and burning to more serious things. those masterworks are still considered the original photos. I know you don't consider those pure photos either.

BTW do you shoot with your camera set to B&W? If so cool but if not, then you are changing the photo at a later time.
03/05/2007 10:13:43 PM · #13
Originally posted by agenkin:

A photographer works with real time and space, unlike painters or digital artists. That's the necessary documentary component of photography. By adding major visual elements to a photograph in post processing, a photographer gives up the connection of the image to the real time-space continuum, thus loosing this component. And it does not matter if post processing is skillful enough to fool a viewer - the image is no longer the real thing, by definition.


What major visual elements were added to xianart's image? I see a photo of a boy laying on his stomach leaning over a footbridge looking into the water. Sure, the edges are darkened a bit, but I would hardly say that this constitutes adding a "major visual element".

03/05/2007 10:16:16 PM · #14
Originally posted by chimericvisions:

You're referencing two different types of photography.

I think that there is only one *photography* as an art form. There are multiple applications of it: journalism, portrature, etc. I think that all of these types of photography share one basic (and unique!) property of of being on the intersection of the real and the figurative.

In any case, the point with photojournalism was made to demonstrate that the methods of achieving an image can be important, and that an artist needs to stay within some basic framework of technique, or else the technique needs to be disclosed.

Your point about my assumption about xianart's images is a very good one. Yes, I make an assumption that an image on a photography web site is a photograph.

I think that the main disagreement (or misunderstanding) is about what makes the trade of art photography unique.
03/05/2007 10:18:28 PM · #15
Originally posted by Keith Maniac:



Originally posted by Artyste:

Your points on photojournalism are valid to a point. However, A photo in a paper of a car being panned as it drives by (as a quick and dirty example) is just as valid on an ethical basis if it had been done by panning the camera.. or adding motion blur successfully in post.


I disagree. I'd be curious to know what actual photojournalists would think about this. I'm guessing they would find it unethical. But I suppose I could be wrong.


You're probably right that *that* example might be a little more out there.. but I do know that I see a lot of other editing.. including digital color filters, as well as shadows/highlights, etc., that aren't questioned at all. Especially shadows/highlights.. the number of papers in Vancouver that have photographers jumping on that adjustment is crazy.
03/05/2007 10:18:52 PM · #16
Originally posted by Keith Maniac:

What major visual elements were added to xianart's image? I see a photo of a boy laying on his stomach leaning over a footbridge looking into the water. Sure, the edges are darkened a bit, but I would hardly say that this constitutes adding a "major visual element".

The characteristic vignetting, unique contrast, and the square format were all added in post processing. They are all very important visual elements in this image.
03/05/2007 10:20:59 PM · #17
Originally posted by Elvis_L:


BTW do you shoot with your camera set to B&W? If so cool but if not, then you are changing the photo at a later time.


still curious to your answer to this.
03/05/2007 10:26:32 PM · #18
Originally posted by Elvis_L:

sorry but that is BS. From my understanding many, many historical photographers who processed their own prints. during this process they would do many different things ranging from dodging and burning to more serious things. those masterworks are still considered the original photos. I know you don't consider those pure photos either.

Dodging and burning can be used to improve technical quality of an image, without adding major alterations. It's the dodging and burning in Photoshop that, most of the time, produces images that have little to do with the reality that they initially captured.

Originally posted by Elvis_L:

BTW do you shoot with your camera set to B&W? If so cool but if not, then you are changing the photo at a later time.

This is a very good point, I thought about it myself (in fact, I've been shooting some B&W film lately, but that's another story). I'll think about it some more and reply later.
03/05/2007 10:32:00 PM · #19
Originally posted by agenkin:


Originally posted by Elvis_L:

BTW do you shoot with your camera set to B&W? If so cool but if not, then you are changing the photo at a later time.

This is a very good point, I thought about it myself (in fact, I've been shooting some B&W film lately, but that's another story). I'll think about it some more and reply later.


Your camera has a B&W mode right. you don't have to shoot film to do it. But in my opinion you changing a color photo to black and white is completely chaning what was taken at the time and is no longer a pure photo using your ideas. You changing to B&W is in my eyes the same as Christian's making it look like it was taken with a different camera. You made yours look like it was taken in a different mode. seems a bit hypocritical to suite your own ideals.
03/05/2007 10:33:21 PM · #20
Originally posted by agenkin:

Originally posted by Keith Maniac:

What major visual elements were added to xianart's image? I see a photo of a boy laying on his stomach leaning over a footbridge looking into the water. Sure, the edges are darkened a bit, but I would hardly say that this constitutes adding a "major visual element".

The characteristic vignetting, unique contrast, and the square format were all added in post processing. They are all very important visual elements in this image.


I'm not sure I'd agree that they are "very important visual elements". Do you ever adjust contrast in post processing? If not, you should know that your camera does adjust it for you by default. So you can adjust contrast yourself, or you can let your camera do it for you. Would you say that either method is more legitimate?

Are you suggesting that cropping a 3:2 format photo to a square 2:2 format is somehow "impure"? 'Cuz I'd have to take a major exception to that statement. But I'll wait to hear your response before launching into my tirade.

03/05/2007 10:50:14 PM · #21
Keith,

There's a whole genre of photography out there fanatically practiced by leagues of photographer/artists that uses the unique physical/optical qualities of the Holga camera. It takes a lot of experimentation to do it well.

To "mimic" Holga in PP, for some of these people, is considered a real joke. The whole POINT is the limitations you overcome in the making, not the processing. Different game, different field. I understand the change of opinion he has had. I'm not sure I'd feel the same way, but I respect it.

R.
03/05/2007 10:51:15 PM · #22
Originally posted by Elvis_L:

Your camera has a B&W mode right. you don't have to shoot film to do it. But in my opinion you changing a color photo to black and white is completely chaning what was taken at the time and is no longer a pure photo using your ideas. You changing to B&W is in my eyes the same as Christian's making it look like it was taken with a different camera. You made yours look like it was taken in a different mode. seems a bit hypocritical to suite your own ideals.

This is why I said that yours was a valid point. I am undecided how to fit B&W conversion into the picture, and, no, my digital camera has no native B&W mode.

However, I don't think that your point undermines what I was saying above, it just points out a a possible practical consequence. I'd give digital B&W conversion away if I had to.
03/05/2007 11:54:36 PM · #23
Originally posted by agenkin:

Originally posted by Elvis_L:

Your camera has a B&W mode right. you don't have to shoot film to do it. But in my opinion you changing a color photo to black and white is completely chaning what was taken at the time and is no longer a pure photo using your ideas. You changing to B&W is in my eyes the same as Christian's making it look like it was taken with a different camera. You made yours look like it was taken in a different mode. seems a bit hypocritical to suite your own ideals.

This is why I said that yours was a valid point. I am undecided how to fit B&W conversion into the picture, and, no, my digital camera has no native B&W mode.


So when you two purists do decide to shoot black and white in whatever way you apparently feel is legitimate and proper, do you fit some sort of filter over the viewfinder so that you are seeing a black and white scene? Do you drop chemicals in your eyes so you only see black and white?

You see a black and white image with your mind's eye. Converting the color raw afterwards is just mechanics.
03/05/2007 11:55:05 PM · #24
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

Keith,

There's a whole genre of photography out there fanatically practiced by leagues of photographer/artists that uses the unique physical/optical qualities of the Holga camera.


I know. I'm one of them :) I love my Holga (though I wouldn't call myself fanatical).

Originally posted by Bear_Music:

To "mimic" Holga in PP, for some of these people, is considered a real joke. The whole POINT is the limitations you overcome in the making, not the processing.


I'm not sure that the whole point is the "limitations you overcome" in the making. I think that for most Holga enthusiasts, like myself, the whole point is to not worry about the limitations and embrace them for the cool effects that they produce.

But, nitpicking aside, I agree with the larger point that many Holga enthusiasts may consider "mimicing" a Holga photo a "real joke." And I respect that point of view.

I'm taking issue with agenkin's larger implication that xianart's photo doesn't work with "real time and space", and that she has given up the "connection of the image to the real time-space continuum".

Message edited by author 2007-03-06 00:04:12.
03/06/2007 12:21:33 AM · #25
Disclaimers - I am not a true student of photography or the arts - I studied the sciences as a formal education. I like what Christian does with her work. But here's a thought - since she has had a Holga and has worked in the darkroom with the products it produces - wouldn't that make it more "real" when she creates images digitally that represent those actions? It's what she can see in her mind's eye, after all. I would suspect those unfamiliar with a Holga (like me) wouldn't be able to mimic its results nearly as well by simply using a Photoshop action.
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