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Author Topic: Long Road Down – The Making of a Fine Art Photogra  (Read 37157 times)
colourperfect
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« on: July 27, 2006, 06:49:14 AM »
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Hi,

In this very interesting article Pete mentions "My math process “brings together” the pixels to flow into one complete image by means of this rendering stage"

Can Pete or anybody elaborate on what this means ?
Is it a process within PS or external.

I would be very interested to find out and understand more.

Many thanks

Ian
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2006, 08:28:25 AM »
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Pete Myers' otherwise instructive article does raise a more general question about "proprietary" Photoshop image adjustment techniques. The broad Photoshop community is renowned for its openness in sharing ideas and techniques, and in that context this article is most unusual. Of course it is understandable that if certain techniques were developed under contract with confidentiality provisions, the contractor must respect them, but then why draft a publication for an open audience focussed on techniques that can't be revealed?
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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russell a
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2006, 10:49:19 AM »
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" My opinion is that the success of the photograph should be evaluated by the creating artist in whether his or her sense of feeling has been conveyed to the viewer through the image."  [from Pete Meyer's essay]

I wish that people would disabuse themselves of the notion that the goal is to communicate their feelings to "the viewer".  Each viewer comes to a work, photographs in this instance, with his/her own set of experiences and references.  The degree to which those experiences will be congruent with those of the maker is quite variable.  What the goal of the maker should be is to do his/her best to make the photograph suit his/her own sense of narrative.  Then, prepare to be surprised what some people will bring to their viewing experience.  Imagining an ideal audience is fine, but actually finding such an audience may be elusive.

And, of course, adjusting levels, by whatever process, is not what makes a "fine art" photo.  The title of his essay would best have been "The results of treating an image by a process the details of which I will not share."  Was the result worth risking the bubonic plague?  I think not.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2006, 10:49:47 AM by russell a » Logged
Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2006, 11:19:57 AM »
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" My opinion is that the success of the photograph should be evaluated by the creating artist in whether his or her sense of feeling has been conveyed to the viewer through the image." [from Pete Meyer's essay]

I wish that people would disabuse themselves of the notion that the goal is to communicate their feelings to "the viewer". Each viewer comes to a work, photographs in this instance, with his/her own set of experiences and references. The degree to which those experiences will be congruent with those of the maker is quite variable. What the goal of the maker should be is to do his/her best to make the photograph suit his/her own sense of narrative. Then, prepare to be surprised what some people will bring to their viewing experience. Imagining an ideal audience is fine, but actually finding such an audience may be elusive.

Without some sort of goal, all you can do is generate a bunch of photos at random and hope someone sees something in one of them; the typical response of the viewer, in that case, is, "Why are you wasting my time with this?"  With a goal (and Pete's is an excellent one, though, not as he implies, the only good one), you much more often succeed at something; often the thing you're trying for, but occasionally being surprised by succeeding at something you didn't think to try for, when someone sees something that you didn't intend.  However, most of the time, you need to be trying to communicate something to the viewer, or you end up communicating nothing.  I'd stick up for Pete's original assertion, minus the quibble that this goal of his is not the only possible one.

Lisa

P.S.  To go back to the original posting, though:  Yeah, I hear you.  That section of the article seemed vague and written like he's trying to intentionally confuse us with a lot of fancy terms that don't say much.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2006, 11:24:18 AM by nniko » Logged

Mark D Segal
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2006, 11:52:21 AM »
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Well, like with so many things in life - "it depends". In this case it depends on the context and the purpose. There are artists who create works for the sake of creating them - expressing themselves, developing new ways of expressing themselves (new ways of seeing, new techniques, etc.), and what other people think of these works isn't relevant to them. I've known such individuals - when you ask "silly questions" such as "what am I supposed to take away from this image", the answer is "whatever you see in it". That's one set of people, one context. But then there is (at least) another set operating in another context, and they don't have this luxury. They may need to be sure that enough people will relate to the work to buy it. So they'll be more concerned about what gets conveyed to the viewer - or at least that enough of something gets conveyed to the viewer that the said viewer "buys in". So let us not get too hung-up on this.

As far as Pete Myers' photograph in this article is concerned, some people may find it a great, evocative piece of art, and others may find it a worthless camera clcik of a steering wheel - regardless of how much technique went into making it. So again, let us not get hung-up on that either.

The point of this article is that Pete Myer had something in his mind's eye about how that image should look, requiring some apparently sophisticated techniques to translate the image in his mind's eye to the image on paper. What spoils the article is the author's unwillingness or inability to properly articulate that translation, which kind of vacates the story-line.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2006, 12:56:33 PM »
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Well...  I liked the article. A lot.

I think Pete did an excellent job of describing the 'pursuit' of an image; the rendering of an artwork from concept through final print.

The fact that he got through that process using some proprietary (and unshared) techniques does not bother me at all.  Most artists do this and in general have been doing this for years -- I remember reading that Monet would not share his formula for a specific shade of blue oil he developed.  I do this myself with several CS techniques, including a proprietary sharpening and detail extraction routine.

Why don't I share them?  For me what I do during post is as much a part of the creative photographic process as how I see the image when I first capture it -- part of  my style if you will.  The other part of the equation is business...   I do a lot of one-on-one consulting teaching advanced Photoshop techniques and feel that I should reserve some 'special' techniques for my paying students -- why buy the cow from me if I'm always giving away the milk for free?

Cheers,
« Last Edit: July 27, 2006, 01:01:17 PM by Jack Flesher » Logged

Mike Boden
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2006, 01:25:18 PM »
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I have several problems with this article. I'm not exactly sure which stands out the most, but here goes.

1.  "I will not fully divulge the detail of this stage of image enhancement..." - Well, I have to say that this comes across as being very pretentious, especially since the author has gone to great lengths to detail everything else, including before and after images of each step. This is simply insulting.

2. Throughout the article, he talks about the many curves applied to the image. At one point he stated, "Curve 12 was made up from the qualities brought forward in developing Curves 4-11." Well call me a liar, but I don't count this number of curves in his article. This left me with a feeling, along with the above point, that he's hiding something from me. Once again, if the author is willing to take the time to spell everything out, why not spell it ALL out? I read an article once in "View Camera Magazine" that was very similiar to this, but the author actually presented screen shots of all the Photoshop Layers. It was very helpful and informative. Why was something like this not done?

3. "I use a monopod for camera support." - Serious? The author totally has the ability to use a tripod, yet foregoes that decision? I don't get it. He arrives on location via vehicle, has his wife help hand him the gear as he presumably tresspasses over a barbed-wire fence and onto someone else's property, and also has the time to set one up. I don't get it! With the versatility of tripods and various other clamping devices these days, I would gamble that he could have gotten it set up in the exact viewpoint he desired inside the vehicle. The author states on his very own website, "Pete Myers is a master fine arts photographer." Then why doesn't he use a tripod? Won't it be "that" much sharper? Won't it be that much "less" of a gamble? I don't know about what others think, but I feel that a person who claims to be a "master" is supposed to have control over every step in the process (at least those elements that are controlable). The author states, "All I could do was hold my breath, and gently squeeze off the shot." Talk about control of the situation.

---

And one other gripe that is not necessarily in direct relation to this article. Pete Myers shoots predominately with a 35mm camera, which I don't necessarily have a problem with. But, I do have a problem with taking an image, blowing it up to 60", and then selling it for $35,000! Granted, I haven't seen one of his prints (and I would very much like to), but 60" from 35mm?!? I've made prints that big, but they've been from 8x10 chromes that have been drum scanned. I would never contemplate enlarging 35mm to those porportions. But if he's found people willing to spend that kind of money, then more power to him!

Just my $0.02!
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2006, 03:10:25 PM »
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Well...  I liked the article. A lot.

I think Pete did an excellent job of describing the 'pursuit' of an image; the rendering of an artwork from concept through final print.

The fact that he got through that process using some proprietary (and unshared) techniques does not bother me at all.  Most artists do this and in general have been doing this for years -- I remember reading that Monet would not share his formula for a specific shade of blue oil he developed.  I do this myself with several CS techniques, including a proprietary sharpening and detail extraction routine.

Why don't I share them?  For me what I do during post is as much a part of the creative photographic process as how I see the image when I first capture it -- part of  my style if you will.  The other part of the equation is business...   I do a lot of one-on-one consulting teaching advanced Photoshop techniques and feel that I should reserve some 'special' techniques for my paying students -- why buy the cow from me if I'm always giving away the milk for free?

Cheers,
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71873\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Jack, Much as there may be perfectly valid justification for proprietary processes, in this particular case it just seemed like a first-class restaurant meal without the wine and desert. Clearly this would bother some people more than others, as this thread is showing.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Fred Ragland
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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2006, 03:11:24 PM »
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Like others of you, I had a negative reaction to the article.

That surprised me.  

The other articles I've read by him were insightful, logically written and left me feeling I'd learned things from a fellow traveller who wanted to share important experiences.  Look, for example, at his Digital Outback Photo article on Printing Insights #039 or the essay here "Making Images" in March of 2005.  His previous work left me looking for more.

But not so this time.  It may have been the expectation set up by Michael's introduction...This is "information to learn how other photographers produce their final prints..."  But that was not to be.    As Pete put it, "It certainly is the local area contrast and detail within the image that is critical in bringing the image to life.  While I will not divulge the details of this stage of the image enhancement (proprietary), it can be safely assumed that I learned a lot as consultant to..." et cetera.

Serving up "how to make images" without including the magic sauce leaves a bitter taste.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2006, 03:18:01 PM »
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3. "I use a monopod for camera support." - Serious? The author totally has the ability to use a tripod, yet foregoes that decision? I don't get it. He arrives on location via vehicle, has his wife help hand him the gear as he presumably tresspasses over a barbed-wire fence and onto someone else's property, and also has the time to set one up. I don't get it! With the versatility of tripods and various other clamping devices these days, I would gamble that he could have gotten it set up in the exact viewpoint he desired inside the vehicle. The author states on his very own website, "Pete Myers is a master fine arts photographer." Then why doesn't he use a tripod? Won't it be "that" much sharper? Won't it be that much "less" of a gamble? I don't know about what others think, but I feel that a person who claims to be a "master" is supposed to have control over every step in the process (at least those elements that are controlable). The author states, "All I could do was hold my breath, and gently squeeze off the shot." Talk about control of the situation.

---

And one other gripe that is not necessarily in direct relation to this article. Pete Myers shoots predominately with a 35mm camera, which I don't necessarily have a problem with. But, I do have a problem with taking an image, blowing it up to 60", and then selling it for $35,000! Granted, I haven't seen one of his prints (and I would very much like to), but 60" from 35mm?!? I've made prints that big, but they've been from 8x10 chromes that have been drum scanned. I would never contemplate enlarging 35mm to those porportions. But if he's found people willing to spend that kind of money, then more power to him!

Just my $0.02!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71878\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Mike, I wouldn't fuss about either of these issues. With today's image-stabilized lenses you have to appreciate how easily one can make tack-sharp photographs without a tripod. On the image size issue, if he's found a way of getting commercially and artistically satisfactory resolution at 60 inches, all the more power to him. In the final analysis, it's the results that count.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2006, 05:24:14 PM »
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In the final analysis, it's the results that count.

I totally agree. That's why I would love to see one of his 60" prints, especially considering that I make prints that big too. I just have to compare.
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thompsonkirk
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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2006, 08:35:27 PM »
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I experienced most of the same difficulties with the article.  Basically it didn't strike me as being as powerful an image as Pete thinks it is (perhaps even a bit of a cliche).  So I was a bit put off by so much self-congratulation about its power to communicate emotion & its status as fine art.  I'm uncomfortable when artists tell me about that sort of stuff in their own work - I tend to think of those as matters for the viewer to decide.  

My concern about workflow is that I too would have used a tripod, so I could combine layers for the interior of the car & the view through the windows.  Then I doubt I'd have needed to crank things around so much with Curves.

But who knows....  The article is about what a fine print he's made, & I'd really have to see one to form an opinion.  His own seems very high!
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alainbriot
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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2006, 08:58:27 PM »
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I personally share all the techniques I use during image processing. I actually make my master file available with my prints of the month.  I also encourage my students to do the same.  How can we learn and progress otherwise?  Plus, I don't understand why one would want to keep this a secret. The real "secret," provided there is one, would have to be the inspiration for the image. Very often, not even the artist can describe where the inspiration, the spark, the idea came from precisely.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2006, 09:04:27 PM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2006, 09:16:14 PM »
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Alain - Bravo!

And on the inspiration - for sure. Put six photographers in the same landscape and you will get six different renditions - each the product of individual perception and imagination. The only inalienable secret is what happens at the initial moment of creation.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2006, 09:17:39 PM »
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in this particular case it just seemed like a first-class restaurant meal without the wine and desert. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71888\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I get what you are saying, but disagree --

I think it more like the chef delivering an outstanading steak-au-poivre, complete with wine and desert, but avoids handing you the exact recipe for his particular sauce -- a subtle but important difference IMO.

I think what pisses everybody off is that this particular forum is generally one of open sharing.  And now a regular contributor has publicly stated their limit on that sharing.  What you fail to realize is all of the other contributors have their secrets too -- they just have not come right out and said so to your face.

,
« Last Edit: July 27, 2006, 09:19:03 PM by Jack Flesher » Logged

Mike Boden
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« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2006, 09:31:05 PM »
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I think it more like the chef delivering an outstanading steak-au-poivre, complete with wine and desert, but avoids handing you the exact recipe for his particular sauce -- a subtle but important difference IMO.

I'm going to have to respectfully disagree, because your analogy doesn't exactly fit.

In this particular case, the chef was not simply delivering an outstanding steak-au-poivre. Instead, he was clearly outlining the ingredients of each step along the way; this was the whole reason for the article. The only difference is that when it came to his special sauce, he elected not to tell us.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2006, 09:32:11 PM »
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Yes Jack, it is partly about expectations. When I go to a restaurant I don't EXPECT the chef to hand me the recipe for the saunce. When I come to L-L and read an article about how a distinguished artist translated a vision into a print, I DO EXPECT to be educated about how it was done, because that is what I was lead to believe I was going to get - until I was told the heart of the process is proprietary. As I said somewhere above, I do understand the time and place for proprietary this and that - and situations do arise where there may be legitimate conflicts between being an educator and being a businessman/contractor. And I think that is what we are dealing with here - as you say - not what one normally expects in a forum of open sharing.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #17 on: July 27, 2006, 09:34:46 PM »
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The real "secret," provided there is one, would have to be the inspiration for the image. Very often, not even the artist can describe where the inspiration, the spark, the idea came from precisely.

Alain,

Very well said. I find myself in that situation all the time. When I'm out shooting, something either hits me or doesn't, and I can't exactly explain why the subject or composition works or not. But that's one reason why I keep looking...

Mike
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John Camp
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« Reply #18 on: July 27, 2006, 09:44:03 PM »
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When I go to a restaurant I don't EXPECT the chef to hand me the recipe for the saunce. When I come to L-L and read an article about how a distinguished artist translated a vision into a print, I DO EXPECT to be educated about how it was done, because that is what I was lead to believe I was going to get - until I was told the heart of the process is proprietary.[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71935\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

On the other hand, when you go to a restaurant, you usually have to pay...    

I don't mind if he doesn't reveal how he did each and every move -- the sum total of them is made clear by the illustrations, and you'd probably learn more (or better) if you worked it out yourself.

What would not be good is if in some way he is dissembling -- if he suggests that he did X when he really did Y. I don't actually know how he could catch the details on the inside of the door and also the clouds through the window; I don't know how he can get that much range, especially when the initial "raw" photo shows the window to be so thoroughly overexposed. So it would be nice to have a statement that says, Yes, with this film, and my proprietary technique, it is possible to recover the clouds even from an over-exposure that severe. If he did something else (like subbing in portions of other negs) and didn't tell us, then that would be unfair: people trying to duplicate the process, or invent their own process to do what he did, would have been misled.

JC
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« Reply #19 on: July 27, 2006, 09:48:41 PM »
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What I find interesting about the non-revealed, "proprietary" format mentioned in the essay is that I don't see from looking at the image what is so special about this "proprietary" thing.  Maybe I missed the point, but from looking at the images illustrating the essay, they seem to be achievable by a number of techniques, none of which "proprietary."  Is this a case of "the emperor has no clothes"?  Or is looking at an original print necessary to appreciate what was done to the image?  I know the web is a poor vehicle when it comes to displaying fine art photography.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2006, 10:08:10 PM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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