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Author Topic: A Disturbing Thought...  (Read 18069 times)
Bro.Luke
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« on: April 21, 2007, 03:12:29 PM »
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Hi,

I was admiring the cover of National Audubon Society Guide to Landscape Photography by Tim Fitzharris. You can do a search for it elsewhere, it's a great photo on the cover but my point is:

Is it TOO good? Is it TOO perfect?

I want to preface this with giving Mr. Fitzharris all the benefit of the doubt. I make no claims to this particular image other than to state it is FANTASIC! I'm sure he used the best of his skills to capture it. Right place, right time, right gear, right approach etc... Results speak for them selves. I have absolutly no suspicisions it's its altered in anyway and just use it as an example of a perfect image captured with skill.

But Are we now at a place where TOO good could be a hindrance to our craft? Was the cloud perhaps "moved" more to center to enhance the compisition? I'm not saying it was but I'm sure this is done.

How soon before stunning images like this are doubted on merit as PS pros are creating simlar images with libraries of sunset files? I guess for me it's right now!

Sure we all enhance the lighting, spot out a camera artifact but I'm sure most of us would think twice before altering the image, say in moving a tree, or a piece of litter not noticed at the exposure.

Stephen Johnson touches on this in "SJ on Digital Photography" wher he took a prairie type image and later found a paper cup in the image. He may have removed it had he seen it but now it's part of the image, he left as is for publication.

Of course we see the debate rage in photojournalism circles about ethics and how pyramids are moved by NGeo but what about the average landscape photographer?

Will things being a little bit askew be the mark of a straight image? Kinda like the defects on real leather as opposed to perfect naugahyde?Huh

Once again I want to make clear the image of Mr. Fitzharris I refer to is used for an example only. I'm sure it's as straight an image as one can make.



Comments welcomed,

Bro.Luke
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Mort54
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2007, 08:35:29 PM »
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Hi,

I was admiring the cover of National Audubon Society Guide to Landscape Photography by Tim Fitzharris. You can do a search for it elsewhere, it's a great photo on the cover but my point is:

Is it TOO good? Is it TOO perfect?

I want to preface this with giving Mr. Fitzharris all the benefit of the doubt. I make no claims to this particular image other than to state it is FANTASIC! I'm sure he used the best of his skills to capture it. Right place, right time, right gear, right approach etc... Results speak for them selves. I have absolutly no suspicisions it's its altered in anyway and just use it as an example of a perfect image captured with skill.

But Are we now at a place where TOO good could be a hindrance to our craft? Was the cloud perhaps "moved" more to center to enhance the compisition? I'm not saying it was but I'm sure this is done.

How soon before stunning images like this are doubted on merit as PS pros are creating simlar images with libraries of sunset files? I guess for me it's right now!

Sure we all enhance the lighting, spot out a camera artifact but I'm sure most of us would think twice before altering the image, say in moving a tree, or a piece of litter not noticed at the exposure.

Stephen Johnson touches on this in "SJ on Digital Photography" wher he took a prairie type image and later found a paper cup in the image. He may have removed it had he seen it but now it's part of the image, he left as is for publication.

Of course we see the debate rage in photojournalism circles about ethics and how pyramids are moved by NGeo but what about the average landscape photographer?

Will things being a little bit askew be the mark of a straight image? Kinda like the defects on real leather as opposed to perfect naugahyde?Huh

Once again I want to make clear the image of Mr. Fitzharris I refer to is used for an example only. I'm sure it's as straight an image as one can make.
Comments welcomed,

Bro.Luke
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It's a fantastic image and a fantastic book. But I disagree that it's somehow too good. He shot it on medium format. He possibly used ND grads to handle the dynamic range. He applied his skills to capture a great lenticular cloud in great light. It's comparable to all of the other excellent work he has in the book. And I don't see any indication he used any exotic or special post processing. Just a nice, very well executed exposure with a super high resolution camera.
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Bro.Luke
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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2007, 11:46:45 PM »
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It's a fantastic image and a fantastic book. But I disagree that it's somehow too good. He shot it on medium format. He possibly used ND grads to handle the dynamic range. He applied his skills to capture a great lenticular cloud in great light. It's comparable to all of the other excellent work he has in the book. And I don't see any indication he used any exotic or special post processing. Just a nice, very well executed exposure with a super high resolution camera.
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I agree!!!

It just struck me that in this age how the thought could occur to me. Admiring that photo made me think..."it's too nice.."

But if you hadn't heard of this.....read on: (from [a href=\"http://www.rleggat.com)]http://www.rleggat.com)[/url]
"Gustave Le Gray created a sensation in 1856 when his picture "Brig upon the Water" was exhibited at the Photographic Society of London's annual exhibition. Up till that time, because photographic materials were not sensitive to red and highly sensitive to blue, landscape pictures tended to have over-exposed skies which appeared white. Le Gray's picture showed a pleasing representation of sky and sea on one print........ this was the first example of combination printing."

I recall from photo history class there were examples of the same cloud formations appearing in multiple images.

So it's nothing new..but certainly easier now.....

Bro.Luke
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2007, 10:33:14 AM »
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Looking at the cover photo, I'm guessing he used filtration; not only an ND grad but probably a warming or magenta filter as most film shooters do in these situations. The giveaway is when the blue parts of the sky have a magenta cast and/or shadow areas aren't as blue as they would otherwise be. Maybe the filtration is a bit strong for my taste, but I don't think it's dishonest or "too good". I seriously doubt Tim would ever move clouds or permanent features of the scene. He might have waited for the cloud to move into the perfect spot on its own though.

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Sure we all enhance the lighting, spot out a camera artifact but I'm sure most of us would think twice before altering the image, say in moving a tree, or a piece of litter not noticed at the exposure.
Actually I wouldn't hesitate to clone out a piece of trash/debris from an image. I would not alter a permanent feature of a scene such as a tree, boulder, etc; but something transient like a piece of trash is not fundamentally a part of the landscape IMHO. I don't see any difference ethically between picking up the trash before shooting versus cloning it out afterwords. One or the other approach could be better depending on the situation. For instance maybe going off-trail to pick something up might mean trampling delicate foliage, or having to cross some boundary/fence you're not supposed to cross. In that case I would leave it be and remove it in post.

Of course, the rules are different for a photojournalist, but given the forum we're on I'm assuming we're discussing the context of fine art photography.
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russell a
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« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2007, 11:56:03 AM »
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You must understand that this is The Age of Photoshop.  Henceforth, every photo is suspicious; photographers are guilty without trial.  Every evidence of skill and/or luck will be discounted by suspicion based on possibility.  Nothing you can do or say will change it.  Anything you say may be held against you.  You have no rights in the matter.  Welcome to the 21st Century.
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BradSmith
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« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2007, 01:05:06 PM »
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Take a look at two columns written here on LL by Alain Briot, a noted fine art photographer.  "Cameras and Art" and "Just say Yes".  They touch on this issue of what "making" a photo means and the issue of manipulation or enhancement of the image.

Interesting thoughts on what he is trying to do as an artist and how he discusses it with clients.
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alainbriot
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« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2007, 02:20:44 PM »
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You must understand that this is The Age of Photoshop.  Henceforth, every photo is suspicious (...)
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Which is exactly why I am totally open regarding what I do to my photographs.  

I approach photography as art. Kim Weston, Grandson of Edward Weston, said it best:

The great thing about this thing we call art is that it has no rules.
Kim Weston

Here is the link to my essay on the subject of manipulation and disclosure, Just Say Yes:

[a href=\"http://luminous-landscape.com/columns/just-say-yes.shtml]http://luminous-landscape.com/columns/just-say-yes.shtml[/url]
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Alain Briot
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2007, 02:51:24 PM »
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Yes... it's an open question, with no easy answers.  If someone were to set up an easel with a blank canvas and use the scene before them as the basis for whatever flights of fancy their mind and their talents took them on, no one would question whether or not the scene depicted was 'accurate'.  It's considered art, after all, and tastes aside, the possibilities are endless.

But as photographers we're faced with a perception that the photograph MUST be an accurate rendition of what was there.  Each person has to decide for him or herself whether it's appropriate to adjust the colour, contrast, saturation, whether it's okay to clone something out or add something in... in short, where to 'draw' the line.

Mike.
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« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2007, 03:58:16 PM »
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... as photographers we're faced with a perception that the photograph MUST be an accurate rendition of what was there...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=113848\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


My goal is to change this perception by making it totally clear that my photographs represent my emotional response to the scene rather than a "universal reality" if such a thing exists, and that my work includes enhancements made on the basis of art.
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Alain Briot
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http://www.beautiful-landscape.com
russell a
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« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2007, 05:01:30 PM »
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My goal is to change this perception by making it totally clear that my photographs represent my emotional response to the scene rather than a "universal reality" if such a thing exists, and that my work includes enhancements made on the basis of art.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=113858\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

This is a pretty good statement of an estimable goal.  Communicating this a priori (i.e. without attaching an explanatory label) may be more difficult, particularly if the resulting work has the general appearance of verismilitude.  Possible strategies for communicating that the work does not intend to represent an objective "reality" could include making alterations more apparent (including overt collaging or overlaying, deliberately "clumsy" alteration, etc.)   This is a mindset that differs, I would think, from that of most of the practitioners who visit the LL.
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alainbriot
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« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2007, 05:20:49 PM »
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This is a pretty good statement of an estimable goal. Communicating this a priori (i.e. without attaching an explanatory label) may be more difficult, particularly if the resulting work has the general appearance of verismilitude. Possible strategies for communicating that the work does not intend to represent an objective "reality" could include making alterations more apparent (including overt collaging or overlaying, deliberately "clumsy" alteration, etc.) This is a mindset that differs, I would think, from that of most of the practitioners who visit the LL.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=113864\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

The way I communicate this is through my openess and my essays.  I also think it is clearly visible in my work.  I am not interested in doing "collaging or overlaying, deliberately "clumsy" alterations, etc." as you suggest. Doing so is not part of my vision.


"This is a mindset that differs, I would think, from that of most of the practitioners who visit the LL."

It depends on what you consider to be enhancement. Furthermore, the whole point of developing a style, a vision, is creating work that differs from other work.
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Alain Briot
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Bro.Luke
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« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2007, 12:18:43 AM »
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The way I communicate this is through my openess and my essays.  I also think it is clearly visible in my work.  I am not interested in doing "collaging or overlaying, deliberately "clumsy" alterations, etc." as you suggest. Doing so is not part of my vision.
"This is a mindset that differs, I would think, from that of most of the practitioners who visit the LL."

It depends on what you consider to be enhancement. Furthermore, the whole point of developing a style, a vision, is creating work that differs from other work.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=113867\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

When I'm out photographing....I have no idea what will happen. I try to remain open to the possibilities. When confronted with a scene I photograph it if it moves me or presents a challenge. I don't snap away and oddly find me shooting no more than I did with film. ( I shot a LOT with film though!) When I've tried to say too much or get too excited about a scene it usually falls flat. I tend to get blind sided by my better images, they find me more often than I them.

Take a Brett Weston clump of seaweed or Minor White abstract. There was always "more" to the image. More than could be manipulated by an artists with brush. The images I have in my minds eye could have been slightly "manipulated" before the shutter was released...but I'm left with a feeling of "authenticity", an honest feeling that these photographers had a feeling, probably like mine, that couldn't be expressed in words and in fact couldn't be concretely expressed by anything, only discovered....

I suppose I'm questioning my own ethos more than others. Perhaps doubting my ability or even talent to edit a photograph. Or once again the legitimasy of doing so.

All this brings to mind a friend of mine who won a 1st prize at a prestigeous photo show for photojournalism. He got a shot of a person leaping out of a burning building! Right place at the right time! Only the right place at the right time was Universal Studios stunt show! The judges never bothered to ask the particulars so I guess it was photojournalism....

but why does he swear everyone who knows the truth to secrecy.....

G'night,

Bro.Luke
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2007, 02:11:53 AM »
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My goal is to change this perception by making it totally clear that my photographs represent my emotional response to the scene rather than a "universal reality" if such a thing exists, and that my work includes enhancements made on the basis of art.

This is quite clear in your writings and your work, and I agree with you.  The bottom line is that ALL photographs are manipulated in some way, even if it's simply careful composition.  Ten photographers shooting the same scene would render ten (or more) different results.  It's a general perception that needs to be changed, and all we can do is be honest about what is represented, and as you so eloquently wrote, 'Just say yes.'

Those who are interested will ask more.  Those who aren't won't buy anything anyway.

Mike.
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« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2007, 12:15:42 PM »
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This is quite clear in your writings and your work, and I agree with you.  The bottom line is that ALL photographs are manipulated in some way, even if it's simply careful composition.  Ten photographers shooting the same scene would render ten (or more) different results.  It's a general perception that needs to be changed, and all we can do is be honest about what is represented, and as you so eloquently wrote, 'Just say yes.'
Those who are interested will ask more.  Those who aren't won't buy anything anyway.
Mike.
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Mike,

Thank you.  I appreciate your comments.  

ALain
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Alain Briot
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Bro.Luke
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« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2007, 12:38:32 AM »
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This is quite clear in your writings and your work, and I agree with you.  The bottom line is that ALL photographs are manipulated in some way, even if it's simply careful composition.  Ten photographers shooting the same scene would render ten (or more) different results.  It's a general perception that needs to be changed, and all we can do is be honest about what is represented, and as you so eloquently wrote, 'Just say yes.'

Those who are interested will ask more.  Those who aren't won't buy anything anyway.

Mike.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=113941\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

True enough..

Our medium for art has the handicap of looking a whole lot like reality by default. A refresher on Magrite's "The Treachery Of Images" may be in order.

 So do you feel "cheated" if an image your drawn to ends up being a "collage" even though you can't tell even after told so?

How much does the beauty and surprize of nature make an image more exciting.

Have you seen the web film going around about the island being born? Small boat "stumbles upon a volcano in the middle of the sea...or does it...?

Treachery of Images indeed!

Bro.Luke
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2007, 07:48:21 PM »
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Came across this today:

"I don't photograph the world as it is. I photograph the world as I would like it to be."
-- Monte Zucker
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If your mind is attuned to beauty, you find beauty in everything.
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larryg
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« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2007, 08:31:09 PM »
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Hi,

I was admiring the cover of National Audubon Society Guide to Landscape Photography by Tim Fitzharris. You can do a search for it elsewhere, it's a great photo on the cover but my point is:

Is it TOO good? Is it TOO perfect?

I want to preface this with giving Mr. Fitzharris all the benefit of the doubt. I make no claims to this particular image other than to state it is FANTASIC! I'm sure he used the best of his skills to capture it. Right place, right time, right gear, right approach etc... Results speak for them selves. I have absolutly no suspicisions it's its altered in anyway and just use it as an example of a perfect image captured with skill.

But Are we now at a place where TOO good could be a hindrance to our craft? Was the cloud perhaps "moved" more to center to enhance the compisition? I'm not saying it was but I'm sure this is done.

How soon before stunning images like this are doubted on merit as PS pros are creating simlar images with libraries of sunset files? I guess for me it's right now!

Sure we all enhance the lighting, spot out a camera artifact but I'm sure most of us would think twice before altering the image, say in moving a tree, or a piece of litter not noticed at the exposure.

Stephen Johnson touches on this in "SJ on Digital Photography" wher he took a prairie type image and later found a paper cup in the image. He may have removed it had he seen it but now it's part of the image, he left as is for publication.

Of course we see the debate rage in photojournalism circles about ethics and how pyramids are moved by NGeo but what about the average landscape photographer?

Will things being a little bit askew be the mark of a straight image? Kinda like the defects on real leather as opposed to perfect naugahyde?Huh

Once again I want to make clear the image of Mr. Fitzharris I refer to is used for an example only. I'm sure it's as straight an image as one can make.
Comments welcomed,

Bro.Luke
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=113571\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

One problem with naugahyde is it takes twice as many Nauga's to create the same item as leather.  This is causing quite a stir in the enviromental circles
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Adalbert
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« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2007, 07:41:34 PM »
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What I dislike about "digital" landscape photography these days is the use of unrealistic, overly saturated colours. Its an epidemic!!
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2007, 09:52:59 PM »
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What I dislike about "digital" landscape photography these days is the use of unrealistic, overly saturated colours. Its an epidemic!!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=114450\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Yeah, because the colors that slide shooters got with Velvia were soooo realistic!  Or how about those shots where the lake reflection is actually brighter than the sky, or the trees sticking above the horizon are unnaturally dark due to ND grad use.

I hear you on poorly edited digital files that show obvious sings of clumsy editing. But that's a problem of craft/technique, not purism/honesty. Just don't try to tell me that film photography is pure and true because film shooters have been "cheating" in their own ways for decades. The fact that it's done with film emulsions and glass filters doesn't make it any more honest than the current digital techniques.
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« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2007, 10:43:43 PM »
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Yeah, because the colors that slide shooters got with Velvia were soooo realistic!  Or how about those shots where the lake reflection is actually brighter than the sky, or the trees sticking above the horizon are unnaturally dark due to ND grad use.

I hear you on poorly edited digital files that show obvious sings of clumsy editing. But that's a problem of craft/technique, not purism/honesty. Just don't try to tell me that film photography is pure and true because film shooters have been "cheating" in their own ways for decades. The fact that it's done with film emulsions and glass filters doesn't make it any more honest than the current digital techniques.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=114476\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

My feeling exactly! Cibachrome belonging to the same category.

We could then go over B&W and the endless tone manipulation done by the masters on their prints.

What I find totally amazing is that people still discuss these obvious things so many years after the apparition of photography. It speaks a lot about its power of making us believe that it captures the truth.

Cheers,
Bernard
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