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Author Topic: The Eye and the Camera  (Read 7529 times)
Eric Myrvaagnes
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« on: November 12, 2006, 08:02:55 PM »
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Another thoughtful and insightful essay, Alain. Thank you!

I had a very curious -- and visceral -- reaction to the pair "Spiderrock in Snowstorm." The final version is certainly more beautiful, attractive, whatever, than the original scan. But my own memories of winter storms are more strongly evoked by the original scan. I miss some of the grayness of the snow, which conveys to me a sense of the cold and blowing wind.

I guess I'd like to see it processed a bit more like the "Storm over Black Mesa", retaining more of the sense of storminess. But that's just my response (to the web version only, of course.)

That might be a topic for another essay sometime: the differences between how the photographer see his final print and how the audience sees it. We of course bring our own baggage to any viewing experience, whether as photographers or as gallery viewers.

Again: fine essay.

Eric
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

http://myrvaagnes.com  Visit my website. New images each season.
russell a
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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2006, 09:01:59 PM »
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It's interesting to me that Alain's essay dwells so much on technical accuracy, when his finished results are so much about his aesthetic choices - which have only a tangential relationship to what was captured (as is always the case).  Art has to do, not with "obtaining the best lenses", but working with whatever tools you use to forge a personal expression.  Numerous photographers have made a "feature" of the limitations of their working medium.  Grain was the friend of numerous photographers, from Robert Frank to William Klein.  Bill Brandt, as one of many others, did a series with a camera whose unique distortion he found engaging.  It's a fallacy to assume that I want to make the print to "see what I saw".  First of all, as Alain essentially points out, this is impossible, so as a goal it is unreasonable.  Secondly, one should remember that the print or projection of an image is a reality that is separate from the reality of what was in front of the lens.  The artistic choices that are involved in crafting a print (including the null case where "no"crafting is applied) have to do with making choices regarding cropping, balancing unity with variety, trading off form versus content, etc.  This is all within the bounds of personal expression and is indifferent to mimesis.   There are many practitioners who feel that "noise" is an important component of artistic endeavor.  Take the example of music. When music began to be "invaded" by, first, analog, and then digital technology, musicians recognized the expressive value of noise.   In jazz, it manifested itself in the preference for the electromechanical distortions of the Hammond B-3.  In the early analog synthesizers, musicians revered the "mistakes" when engineers created circuits that didn't behave according to the specifications.  When digital technology cleaned up many of these problems, musicians sought randomization and noise algorithms to return unpredictablity to the output.   Bottom line: for many of us, noise is our friend and "tolerable" chaos is healthy.
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Scott_H
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« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2006, 04:49:27 AM »
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I found the essay a little off the mark as well.

While I agree it is important to understand the difference between the way we see with our eyes and the way the camera records the same scene, I think it is a mistake to call those difference limitations.  Selective focus, telephoto compression, the exagerated perspective that can be created using wide angle,  limited dynamic range, differences in colour, etc. are all things that can be used by a creative photographer to express what they see.  Calling these things defects implies there is something inherently wrong about them, and I think that negative attitude could be creatively limiting.

I also think there are some technical flaws and oversimplificaitons.  For example, colour does change depending on the light.  Our eyes and mind correct for the difference in light; the camera will record the difference.  It could be argued the camera is more accurate.  Or if you prefer, it could be argued our eyes are defective.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2006, 01:06:20 PM »
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While the essay was exhaustive in its description of the camera's limitations, the eye/brain's single most important photography-related limitation (IMHO) was given scant coverage.  Namely, binocular vision.  We see in 3D, most cameras don't.  One of the first lessons I learned when evaluating a composition or a photo possibility was to close one eye and squint.  That simple technique goes a long way towards eliminating most of the common mistakes seen in student photography.

I, too liked the RAW version of Spiderock better than the processed version, but that's just MHO.  Thank goodness for tools that allow us to easily make these choices.

Peter
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kaelaria
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« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2006, 05:56:15 PM »
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My two reactions are:

The 'after' versions don't look like reality to me, in fact the before shots ring much truer.  I always try to get my shots as accurate as possible to reality, I do not like photoshop work for creative changes whatsoever.  

Second - when it's said 'two days of work on this image'...what in the world takes that long?  Is it OC behavior going pixel by pixel?  Or perhaps is the definition of a 'day' simply far less hours than the norm (8 hours)?  Looking at the before and after, I can't fathom why it would take 16 hours of photoshop work to produce the changes shown or eluded to.  What's missing/inaccurate??
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alainbriot
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« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2006, 09:03:18 PM »
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Quote
While the essay was exhaustive in its description of the camera's limitations, the eye/brain's single most important photography-related limitation (IMHO) was given scant coverage. Namely, binocular vision. Peter
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=84982\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Hi Peter,

I covered binocular versus monocular vision in my "Seeing" essay, part of my previous series: "Aesthetics & Photography."   I did not include it in this new essay to avoid redundancy.  I also focused in this new essay on technical aspects that can be corrected rather than on Seeing and composing, of which I think binocular versus monocular vision is part of.

Regarding reality versus my vision of reality, and in regards to Kaelaria's post, I make no secret that my goal is to express my emotions and not represent reality "as it is".  Reality varies from one person to the next and there is no one way to represent it "as it is" anyway.  

Removing camera defects and expressing one's vision and emotions are compatible actions that do not negate each other.  My goal is to create images that represent my emotional response to the scenes I photograph and that are free of camera defects.

Two days of work on an image is actually not very long.  I regulary work on images for much longer.  We must keep in mind that these are spans of time, not actual hours.  In other words, I did not work 48 straight hours on the image in question. Rather, and in this instance (Spiderock in Snowstorm) I spent two days considering the many possible options offered to me, performing the necessary optimizations, printing the image and making additional corrections.  Because I work towards representing an emotion the process sometimes takes weeks or months as I work my way towards a finer and finer version of what I have in mind.  For me, this is, by nature, a slow process.  My goal is quality, not quantity, and therefore I see it as an advantage rather than an impediment.

I will be focusing on the creative aspects of my approach in my next essays which are about Inspiration, Creativity and Vision.

Alain
« Last Edit: November 21, 2006, 11:02:42 AM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
Author of Mastering Landscape Photography, Mastering Composition, Creativity and Personal Style., Marketing Fine Art Photography and How Photographs are Sold.
http://www.beautiful-landscape.com
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