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Author Topic: Is it a Photo or fine art image  (Read 36868 times)
pad
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« on: November 23, 2006, 01:56:20 AM »
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In simplistic terms, both Alain Briot and Pete Myers describe in their essays how the camera and lens only play a part (but an important one) in the final image. Once transferred into digital format, they spend time modifying what has been imported into what they saw in their minds eye, to be the final print, using assorted techniques.

So consider .. what if the captured sunset and cloud formation does not evoke the intended response .. why not cut-n-paste that sunset from another image that does?

Micheal has already discussed in one of his essays the considerations for - moving that soda bottle out of frame, leave it in place and crop the image, digitally clone it out or just leave it there ...

Does this then become the foundation for definitions to categorise an image?
left in - journalistic reporting
cloned out - fine art?

Are these categories important when looking at an image?
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alainbriot
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« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2006, 12:02:00 PM »
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Does this then become the foundation for definitions to categorise an image?
left in - journalistic reporting
cloned out - fine art?
Are these categories important when looking at an image?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=86676\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Pad,

In the context of my work, cloning-out is only one aspect of optimizing my fine art photographs.  There are many others, all aimed at re-creating what I felt when I photographed the original scene.  I list many of them in my 2 latest essays "The Eye and the Camera" and "Of Cameras and Art."

In the context of journalistic-photographs used in a media-reporting context, misleading the audience is the main concern.  In this respect cloning out is the big "no-no."  However, other enhancements, such as changing colors for example, can be just as misleading.  

My recommendation, and my personal approach, is to be 100% straighforward regarding what you do in your work and which approach you use.  I detail my approach in great details in my essays and answer questions about this subject in the most direct manner possible, all this to avoid anyone being mislead.  To me, this is the best approach possible in regards to this matter.

Alain
« Last Edit: November 23, 2006, 12:48:15 PM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2006, 01:24:42 PM »
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If you're claiming to be a journalist, then cloning, compositing and other manipulations that cause the image to depart from the subject are verboten. If your intent is art, do whatever you want, just don't lie about your techniques to your viewers/costomers/patrons.
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« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2006, 03:43:53 PM »
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If you're claiming to be a journalist, then cloning, compositing and other manipulations that cause the image to depart from the subject are verboten. If your intent is art, do whatever you want, just don't lie about your techniques to your viewers/costomers/patrons.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=86751\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well said.
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Alain Briot
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« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2006, 01:57:21 AM »
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I appreciate the replies.

I am not a journalist ... I stitch images to make long panoramas and in doing so I remove objects like lamposts .. just as a artist would only paint the scene the way that they want it to be seen.

I think we're in agreement here.
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John Dee
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« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2006, 04:38:12 AM »
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If you're claiming to be a journalist, then cloning, compositing and other manipulations that cause the image to depart from the subject are verboten. ...[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=86751\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

This is a fairly modern ideal for photo journalism. During the American civil war, photographers did everything from dragging dead bodies around to pose them to adding clouds in order to increased the gloom and threatening appearance of a photograph.  Some of these men are considered historically important in the development of photo-journalism.  

Nothing done in Photoshop is really new to photography or to photojournalism.  If you consider journalism as communication by the reporter, then a retouched photograph added to a news story is no more than very same sort of communication as Pete Meyers discusses.  A photograph accompanying a story about destruction may carry the intent of the writer better if it clearly depicts what the journalist is discussing. We may argue that there is a loss of objectivity, but people never are objective.  The best one can achieve is a kind of pseudo-objectivity that can be easily more misleading than a photo altered to carry mood better.

That said, my preference is the same as yours .

John
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erick b
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« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2006, 02:25:48 PM »
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le vide
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Rob C
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« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2006, 09:59:20 AM »
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Hi folks

If it's art, then fly as you desire; if it's reportage then fly in a straight line.

Rob C
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« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2007, 12:09:03 AM »
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gotta agree with John D, to think photo journalism hasn't been manipulated is a little naive. All photography film or digital is manipulated first  in scene selection then in camera through lens, film, apeture and speed choices and again in the wet or dry dark room.  The camera always lies to some degree......
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2007, 01:32:25 AM »
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What distinguishes photography as a fine art from other mediums is its unique relationship to actual events. Stray too far from that relationship (a very subjective standard for sure) and I loose interest in it as photography, though it may have some value to me as art.

Take Dan Burkeholders new work from New Orleans. For my tastes this has strayed too far, even though I find some of his techniques intriguing. These has lost that sense of time and place, i.e. actual event that gives photography its power. These are as close to the actual event as a comic strip is.

Dan Burkholder
« Last Edit: January 17, 2007, 01:34:24 AM by Kirk Gittings » Logged

Thanks,
Kirk

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« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2007, 03:41:40 AM »
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This is a fairly modern ideal for photo journalism. During the American civil war, photographers did everything from dragging dead bodies around to pose them to adding clouds in order to increased the gloom and threatening appearance of a photograph.  Some of these men are considered historically important in the development of photo-journalism. 

Nothing done in Photoshop is really new to photography or to photojournalism.  If you consider journalism as communication by the reporter, then a retouched photograph added to a news story is no more than very same sort of communication as Pete Meyers discusses.  A photograph accompanying a story about destruction may carry the intent of the writer better if it clearly depicts what the journalist is discussing. We may argue that there is a loss of objectivity, but people never are objective.  The best one can achieve is a kind of pseudo-objectivity that can be easily more misleading than a photo altered to carry mood better.

That said, my preference is the same as yours .

John
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John,
This is an important point you make. Writing about events, in general, is a very subjective process. Two different people observing the same event, each trying as hard as they can, to be as objective as they can, will sometimes (perhaps often) come up with vastly different interpretations of what actually happened.

(Anyone who's been involved in a divorce case will understand this   ).

The fundamental problem here is the notion that the camera cannot lie; therefore an unmanipulated image tells the truth. To some degree this is so. Unattended video surveillance cameras probably fall into this category.

It is true that the camera cannot lie. Only people can lie (and probably chimpanzees and a few other creatures   ).

It's the use of the image that's significant here. An unmanipulated image that's used in a manipulative manner can be far more untruthful than a manipulated image used in an unmanipulated manner.

Journalists very often seek out images, any image relevant to a particular personality in the news, whether recent or old, whether in context or out of context, simply because they need an image to support the story.

If a journalist wishes to paint the Australian, David Hicks, who's been held in Guantanamo Bay without trial for several years, in a damaging 'light', all he has to do is drag up some photo of David holding a rifle and looking menacing. The photo might have been taken years ago, long before 9/11 and long before the American invasion of Afghanistan. The American public sees the image and imagines the gun is pointing at them. Poor David doesn't stand a chance. The damage is done. An unmanipulated image has been used in a devastatingly manipulative manner.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2007, 04:48:15 AM »
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In the context of journalistic-photographs used in a media-reporting context, misleading the audience is the main concern.  In this respect cloning out is the big "no-no."  However, other enhancements, such as changing colors for example, can be just as misleading. 

Alain
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Alain,

Funny, I was reading other posts here, and just had the same thought that color manipulation (on purpose or not) could affect very much the impression conveyed by an image, and therefore be seen as a form of manipulation.

This is actually a huge problem and does IMHO question the validity of the use of B&W in photo-journalism for instance.  To me, it seems clear that B&W images depart from reality in a romantic way that prevents the viewer from feeling the attrocity of many of those images, war images for instance. By the way, the quest for beauty in photo-journalism is apparently one of the reasons why HCB left Magnum, and things haven't gotten better.

Then again, when using color, what is the right color balance? Should Daylight be used as in the film days, should a grey card be used as in studio? Either way, there is very often a departure from reality. Is it as bad as cloning? I personnally thing so.

Regards,
Bernard
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« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2007, 12:48:01 PM »
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Alain,

Funny, I was reading other posts here, and just had the same thought that color manipulation (on purpose or not) could affect very much the impression conveyed by an image, and therefore be seen as a form of manipulation.

This is actually a huge problem and does IMHO question the validity of the use of B&W in photo-journalism for instance. To me, it seems clear that B&W images depart from reality in a romantic way that prevents the viewer from feeling the attrocity of many of those images, war images for instance. By the way, the quest for beauty in photo-journalism is apparently one of the reasons why HCB left Magnum, and things haven't gotten better.

Then again, when using color, what is the right color balance? Should Daylight be used as in the film days, should a grey card be used as in studio? Either way, there is very often a departure from reality. Is it as bad as cloning? I personnally thing so.

Regards,
Bernard
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Photographs are not reality.  They are the closest visual representation, with video, we have of reality.  Video isn't reality either, and has its own set of problems, different from photography but just as significant.  

Reality is, well, reality: ever changing, different for all of us (even if in minute ways) and constantly moving forward.  Any attempt to freeze reality in a single image has consequences regarding its meaning.  In short, its meaning is now reduced to that one image.  Further manipulation or changes to the image pushes this reduction further.  

This can be a blessing or a curse, as I explain in several of my essays (see Cameras and Art, The eye and the Camera and Just say yes, all available on this site at this link: [a href=\"http://luminous-landscape.com/columns/briots_view.shtml] Briot's View Page[/url])

For me it is a blessing because it allows me to create my own reality, which is what I want to do.  If I had chosen to be a news photographer, my feelings about this may be different.  But again, who said that news photographers are not interested in creating their own visual reality as well?

Isn't there a conflict between having a recognizable personal style and creating photographs that are "real" and un-manipulated?
« Last Edit: January 17, 2007, 12:54:34 PM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2007, 02:58:14 PM »
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Photographs are not reality.  They are the closest visual representation...For me it is a blessing because it allows me to create my own reality, which is what I want to do.[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=96197\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Hmmm.  No, photographs aren't reality...usually, not even the closest visual representation.  Realism is defined as the "picturing in art and literature of people and things as they really appear to be, without idealism."  

I'm idealistic.  Its a great joy to create what I would like to have seen from the image captured by the camera.  The final image is not what I saw, but my idealized version of what I saw (after cropping from within the human view, using camera adjustments such as focus, iso, shutter speed and aperature to determine what will be emphasized and the levels of lightness and darkness in highlights and shadows...and then using software to adjust color, saturation, sharpness, etc).  As photographers, we don't create reality, we create idealized images.  

The artist in me is thankful for this.
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« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2007, 03:41:10 PM »
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If photography were reality, I would have quit years ago. Boring!
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« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2007, 05:04:04 PM »
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For me it is a blessing because it allows me to create my own reality, which is what I want to do.  If I had chosen to be a news photographer, my feelings about this may be different.  But again, who said that news photographers are not interested in creating their own visual reality as well?

Isn't there a conflict between having a recognizable personal style and creating photographs that are "real" and un-manipulated?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=96197\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Fine art is of course a totally different matter, since departing from reality by creating one's own style is pretty much the very goal.

If news photography is trying to provide an as objective as possible representation of reality - which I believe we all believe - then it strikes me that the desire to apply a personnal style on top of scenes comes in the way of this search of objectivity.

Would we find normal to see the news on TV in B&W and slow motion because it corresponds to the style of the cameraman? We would immediately detect the falacy, but we somehow seem to find normal that B&W is used in news photography although it does clearly affect our perception of the content of the images as well.

I am not hoping to change the World of news photography, but this topic has been discussed little recently although the problem remains IMHO. Being aware of it is probably the best we can do.

Cheers,
Bernard
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« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2007, 05:32:13 PM »
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I am not hoping to change the World of news photography, but this topic has been discussed little recently although the problem remains IMHO. Being aware of it is probably the best we can do.
Bernard
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There's a lot more to be concerned about in news reporting besides images being in black and white and having a personal style.  I don't want to get into it here, but this was one of the areas of emphasis for my PhD so I have extensive knowledge on the subject. I call it Visual Rhetoric and that is usually how it is referred to as.  The same set of knowledge can be used in any venue where images are used to convey a message, which leaves very few venues out, if any.
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Alain Briot
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« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2007, 02:53:21 PM »
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If news photography is trying to provide an as objective as possible representation of reality - which I believe we all believe - then it strikes me that the desire to apply a personnal style on top of scenes comes in the way of this search of objectivity.

Photojournalism is not, nor is it meant to be, an objective pursuit. It's nothing more than an interpretation of reality, or more precisely, an interpretation of a small portion of reality. As an interpretation it is subject to human frailties such as personal biases, creative aspirations, and technical expertise. That is why any given number of photographers at a particular event or scene will produce that same number of different images. That's alright, though, as journalism can never actually be objective as the reader/viewer brings along a suitcase full of their own biases and interpretations to every story/photo they see. That's not saying that photojournalists do not have to be honest, accurate and fair in their work (they must!) but, since those terms are subjective, it only stands to reason that their work is subjective.

As for what propels a photograph from the ranks of "picture" to heights of "fine art image", I think it boils down to a combination of talent, effort and intent. The photographer must make the effort to capture or create a unique image and to interpret (post process) the resulting file or film. As well, there must be the sincere intent of creating (as well as displaying?) a unique and compelling visual piece as well as the talent to so. Anything less is little more than a snapshot.
Chuck
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« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2007, 08:14:00 AM »
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If news photography is trying to provide an as objective as possible representation of reality - which I believe we all believe - then it strikes me that the desire to apply a personnal style on top of scenes comes in the way of this search of objectivity.

Not "all" of us believe that. Regardless of genres or intents, *every* photograph is subjective as soon as it is taken, and hence the "reality" it captures can be considered manipulated.
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« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2007, 08:23:40 AM »
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As for what propels a photograph from the ranks of "picture" to heights of "fine art image", I think it boils down to a combination of talent, effort and intent.

From the creators' perspective, perhaps those are the criterias for their own work (and why so many claim their work are "fine art"). Ultimately, art is in the eyes of the beholders. The only certainty is that there will be varied opinions, and some may change over time.
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