Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: « 1 [2] 3 4 »   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: Fascism of flawless photographs  (Read 86680 times)
Ray
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8939


« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2007, 09:55:34 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
I'm sure everyone of us has cursed the unsightly electrical wires in the otherwise pristine landscape, only to shrug and take it out in post. A problem arises when such "flaws" are seen as something that should be gotten rid of categorically.

Absolutely. I have a number of such shots and I've decided I'm not going to remove the power lines when they are 'embedded' in the composition. Power lines that might simply cut across the corner of the sky and have no compositional relevance are another matter.

Quote
There's not enough beauty in the world, in my opinion. But I'm afraid many of us are equating perfection with beauty - which is not the case. If you look at the women widely considered most beautiful, you can easily see they are not perfect. Marilyn Monroe with her mole, Angelina Jolie with her oversized lips, Michelle Pfeiffer with her eyes which are too far apart.

That's a difficult subject. The women you refer to also wear a pile of make-up. Generally, symmetry plays a large role in our perception of beauty. I'm told it even applies to mathematical theories.

'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'

Quote
Perfection, while pleasing, often amounts to boring. A photograph has to have something more than just flawless execution. What that something is, is another matter - soul, touch, talent? Perhaps achieving flawless execution is just the first step in being a great photographer, and that casting the shackles of perfection aside is when images become iconic.

Quite so, but I think generally what you mean here is that a photo can be boring despite it being technically perfect, not because it is technically perfect. I don't really consider a photo, that uses a shallow DoF in order to remove a possibly distracting background, as being 'technically imperfect', or a film photo that is deliberately grainy in order to create a heightened sense of drama, as being technically imperfect.

ps. Ansel Adams is reputed to have said, "There's nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept", or words to that effect. I'd disagree slightly. There is perhaps something worse; a fuzzy image of a fuzzy concept.   If the image is sharp, at least you know the concept is fuzzy. If the image is fuzzy, you haven't a clue as to whether the concept is fuzzy or not.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2007, 10:19:09 PM by Ray » Logged
Chris_T
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 541


« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2007, 07:27:01 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
ps. Ansel Adams is reputed to have said, "There's nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept", or words to that effect. I'd disagree slightly. There is perhaps something worse; a fuzzy image of a fuzzy concept.   If the image is sharp, at least you know the concept is fuzzy. If the image is fuzzy, you haven't a clue as to whether the concept is fuzzy or not.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=115276\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

When an image is so fuzzy that a viewer cannot tell what it is about, many would consider it as high "art". Perhaps AA's take is correct after all. So the combinations are:

- Sharp/clear concept/content + technically sharp = good image, per AA

- Sharp/clear concept/content + technically unsharp = bad image, by AA wantobes

- Fuzzy concept/content + technically sharp = bad image, by AA wantobes

- Fuzzy concept/content + technically unsharp = high art, by true artists

 
Logged
Ray
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8939


« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2007, 08:48:17 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
- Fuzzy concept/content + technically unsharp = high art, by true artists
 
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=115311\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yes. Of course. I missed that point. A fuzzy image of a fuzzy concept  really represents the pinnacle of artistic achievement   .
Logged
howiesmith
Guest
« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2007, 10:01:28 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Yes. Of course. I missed that point. A fuzzy image of a fuzzy concept  really represents the pinnacle of artistic achievement   .
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=115327\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Throw in overexposed and I think you have a winner.

#3 (Fuzzy concept/content + technically sharp = bad image, by AA wantobes) I think is what Ray said was AA idea of worst (nothing worse).
Logged
Ray
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8939


« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2007, 10:49:12 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
#3 (Fuzzy concept/content + technically sharp = bad image, by AA wantobes) I think is what Ray said was AA idea of worst (nothing worse).
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=115340\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

No. Joke aside, I meant fuzzy concept + technically unsharp is the worst. A technically sharp image might have some redeemable feature that could be brought out with extensive cropping; perhaps some interesting texture or perhaps just a pleasing sky that could be used in another photo with blown sky.

A blurred shot of an uninteresting subject I would simply junk.
Logged
feppe
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2909

Oh this shows up in here!


WWW
« Reply #25 on: May 03, 2007, 02:46:54 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
What I'm suggesting is that perhaps we as photographers sometimes put too much emphasis on the traditionally good technical qualities of our images (like focus, sharpness etc.,), when we should be trying to find a way to a illustrate a dream or a thought we had.  This is a contstant struggle for me.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=115260\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well put and I agree completely. I struggle with this as well. Each time I start post-processing a keeper, first I stop. I look at the photo and try to come up with a battle plan, to understand what works best with this particular shot, and how it is "supposed" to be processed. This is currently the hardest part for me, but hopefully I'll get better at it with practice. I try to also do this while shooting, but that's sometimes hard when the light is changing fast.

Somebody mentioned the always-entertaining Ken Rockwell. He uses his measurebator term, trying to tell people that it takes more than a good camera to take great photos. Perhaps even the more serious photographers forget that too often, and spend an inordinate amount of time perfecting their gear, neglecting the artistic side of our craft.

I feel the rise of digital photography, and the increasing number of casual photographers with great gear highlights this nicely. Those photographers quite often shoot technically perfect photos. But if my thesis is correct, those of us who can give their photography more meaning than mere flawless representations will continue to prevail.
Logged

howiesmith
Guest
« Reply #26 on: May 03, 2007, 10:01:16 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
[Casual photographers] often shoot technically perfect photos. But if my thesis is correct, those of us who can give their photography more meaning than mere flawless representations will continue to prevail.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=115462\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

feppe, if the casual photographer can produce technically perfect photos, why should photographers who can give their photogarphy more meaning (whatever that means) be excused from being technically perfect?

If I can't produce technically perfect images, does that mean I am giving my images more meaning?  So is sign of an artist the lack of technical perfection?  If the artist wants the image to be out of focus and overexposed, then it should be and that would be the artists technical perfection.

A sunset has a crooked horizon.  I point that out in a critique because I think that is a flaw.  The artist can say to himself "I know that.  That is what the art requires."  The casual photographer says either "Thanks" or "I know that but didn't have time to fix it."  

But the photographers know people are looking.  The artist should know not everyone thinks the crooked horizon enhances his art.  The casual photographer knows he should be more careful with "details."  Nobody loses, even if the photogrpahers go away saying "What an idiot."
Logged
Ray
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8939


« Reply #27 on: May 03, 2007, 10:37:30 AM »
ReplyReply

Actually, I agree with Howard here. Technical perfection represents a certain skill of the photographer; the ability to use the quirks and characteristics of lenses, filters and DoF issues etc, to create the effect one wants. Without such skills, the results are going to be rather 'hit and miss'.

Not all images are required to be tack sharp. The portrait photographer often uses a soft lens. Waterfalls usually look best if the water is blurred into a silky sheen, which sometimes requires the use of an ND filter to get a slow enough exposure.

However, tack sharp images can have their own impact and this facility of the camera to produce such images is a hallmark of the photographic process.
Logged
Lisa Nikodym
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1702



WWW
« Reply #28 on: May 03, 2007, 10:50:51 AM »
ReplyReply

Interesting thread.  I have nothing to add, except...

Quote
A fuzzy image of a fuzzy concept

sounds like pet photography to me.  

Lisa
Logged

howiesmith
Guest
« Reply #29 on: May 03, 2007, 10:51:58 AM »
ReplyReply

I get more than a little scared when Ray and I agree.

I want to add that there is a very distinct difference between "soft," "blurred," and "out-of-focus."  "Tack skarp" usually menas in focus and as high (or higher) resolution) that can be seen.  But even "tack sharp" lenses  could be (and have been) replaced by better and more "tack sharp" lenses.

An easy exercise is to take a focused but blurred shot say by using a slow shutter speed.  Then take deliberately defocused images of the same thing with a high and the same shutter speed.  See the differences.

Same with "soft focus" lenses.  You do not get the same results as you get with a properly focused "soft focus" lens as you get with a "tack sharp" defocused lens.
Logged
Bobtrips
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 679


« Reply #30 on: May 03, 2007, 11:02:30 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Waterfalls usually look best if the water is blurred into a silky sheen,

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=115528\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Hate 'em, hate 'em, hate 'em....

Looking forward to the day when they become as "yesterday" as intentionally tilted horizons.


But that's probably a different discussion, eh?
Logged
Ray
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8939


« Reply #31 on: May 03, 2007, 11:30:11 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Hate 'em, hate 'em, hate 'em....

Looking forward to the day when they become as "yesterday" as intentionally tilted horizons.
But that's probably a different discussion, eh?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=115534\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Most of my waterfall shots are the opposite of silky sheen, simply because I wasn't carrying an ND filter. But normal exposure doesn't look interesting. You get the melted ice cream effect. My recommendation is, either use a very slow shutter speed or a very fast one. In between is not nice.
Logged
howiesmith
Guest
« Reply #32 on: May 03, 2007, 11:31:11 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Hate 'em, hate 'em, hate 'em....

Looking forward to the day when they become as "yesterday" as intentionally tilted horizons.
But that's probably a different discussion, eh?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=115534\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

So, Bobtrips, would you say intentionally tilted horizons are "outside the box" now?  I would say they have been tried, found lacking and tossed out.  The eye wants to make the horizon level, even when their head is crooked.  I think that is why a crooked horizon is easy to overlook when editing a photo.  The editor must be careful and "look" for it.  (I think art photographers make the horizon level or really crooked or obviously tilted, not just a bit crooked so the viewer has to decide whether intention or not.)

Blurred waterfalls are "inside the box," but you would toss them out?  My guess is inside to stay.  I think people see waterfalls as at least a little blurred.

Maybe photography tries to mimic real life?  Seems the most often heard complaint (that at least I hear) is the image doesn't look "real."   So, out of focus?  Get glasses.  Overexposed?  Get sunglasses.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2007, 01:10:00 PM by howiesmith » Logged
James Godman
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 126


WWW
« Reply #33 on: May 03, 2007, 01:23:40 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
feppe, if the casual photographer can produce technically perfect photos, why should photographers who can give their photogarphy more meaning (whatever that means) be excused from being technically perfect?

If I can't produce technically perfect images, does that mean I am giving my images more meaning?  So is sign of an artist the lack of technical perfection?  If the artist wants the image to be out of focus and overexposed, then it should be and that would be the artists technical perfection.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=115521\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I believe feppe is saying that we need to go beyond technical perfection, not that anyone should be excused from being technically perfect.  What is technically perfect is up for debate anyway.  Is the inclusion of color in a photograph better than a black and white image?  Is color more technically perfect?
Logged

howiesmith
Guest
« Reply #34 on: May 03, 2007, 01:39:09 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
I believe feppe is saying that we need to go beyond technical perfection, not that anyone should be excused from being technically perfect.  What is technically perfect is up for debate anyway.  Is the inclusion of color in a photograph better than a black and white image?  Is color more technically perfect?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=115562\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I think only feppe can explain what he means.

I think that technical excellance is the minimum opener for a critique photograph.  (There are few exceptions.  A fuzzy image of the Loch Ness monster might be acceptable, for now.)  If a photgraph is suppose to be out of focus, it must be, and to the degree the photographer wants.  Not more, not less.

If a print is suppose to be b&w, it must not be in color, with the comment from the photographer that "I think this would look better in b&w."

This the main reason I think the photographer should not provide comments during critiquwa.  The photographer has provided his best effort.  If I don't get that he thought the image looked better with a slightly crooked horizon, I don't get it.  The photographer can think I am an idiot if he wants, then do with the image whatever he wants to do.  I don't care amd usually don't care to debate the horizon.  Yes, I might be wrong and an idiot, but I do know what I like.  If the photographer didn't want to hear my opinion, he shouldn't have asked.

Ever sit through a friends vacation slide show that has not been edited - lot's of trash canners?  Did you get tired of hearing "Sorry.  The horizon isn't straight?"  The Eiffel Tower looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  Or the focus isn't too good on this one.  Abd then another.  "I was trying to capture the mood, but missed."  Or do you just love them all, the art collection?
« Last Edit: May 03, 2007, 02:00:00 PM by howiesmith » Logged
feppe
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2909

Oh this shows up in here!


WWW
« Reply #35 on: May 04, 2007, 03:22:13 AM »
ReplyReply

I did mean what Mr Godman surmised. I'm not advocating taking technically imperfect photos just because we can. But I am advocating taking a good look at our priorities. Getting technically "perfect" images - if there is such a thing - is quite easy with today's equipment, and some training and experience. Transcending that flawlessness is another matter altogether, and that's why I wrote the original post.

There is also the closely related issue of whether a technically flawed photo can be considered great or not. I thought about this and can only find examples of that in photojournalism, as others have pointed out here. That's why I didn't include the issue in my post. Are there any examples of technically and unintentionally flawed iconic photos in fine art or landscape photography? I doubt it but would be thrilled to be corrected.

But that brings up the matter of intention:

Quote
I think that technical excellance is the minimum opener for a critique photograph.  (There are few exceptions.  A fuzzy image of the Loch Ness monster might be acceptable, for now.)  If a photgraph is suppose to be out of focus, it must be, and to the degree the photographer wants.  Not more, not less.

If a print is suppose to be b&w, it must not be in color, with the comment from the photographer that "I think this would look better in b&w."

This the main reason I think the photographer should not provide comments during critiquwa.  The photographer has provided his best effort.  If I don't get that he thought the image looked better with a slightly crooked horizon, I don't get it.  The photographer can think I am an idiot if he wants, then do with the image whatever he wants to do.  I don't care amd usually don't care to debate the horizon.  Yes, I might be wrong and an idiot, but I do know what I like.  If the photographer didn't want to hear my opinion, he shouldn't have asked.

This is very true. But does it only hold for seasoned amateurs or professionals? If one doesn't have the technical prowess to produce technically flawless photos, how do you know if the original intention was a blurred photo? Does it matter? Shouldn't we critique a work based only on the (de)merits of that work? Does the context, the artist, her body of work, or her intention matter?

Not surprisingly, authorial intention is a contentious matter for art critics.

Quote
Ever sit through a friends vacation slide show that has not been edited - lot's of trash canners?  Did you get tired of hearing "Sorry.  The horizon isn't straight?"  The Eiffel Tower looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  Or the focus isn't too good on this one.  Abd then another.  "I was trying to capture the mood, but missed."  Or do you just love them all, the art collection?[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=115563\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Indeed. I know good photographers who put up their entire shoot online with hardly any culling, drowning their great shots among the mediocre ones. I don't remember who said it (heavily paraphrasing): the difference between a great photographer and a good photographer is that the great one shows only his great work.
Logged

howiesmith
Guest
« Reply #36 on: May 04, 2007, 08:40:40 AM »
ReplyReply

feppe, thank you for the clarification.

I think that all photographers should submit only their best efforts.  The "seasoned amateurs and professionals" should do better than the neophite at technical things, due to experience and aquired knowledge.  But as you point out, modern equipment makes technical excellance easier. at least for exposure and focus.  That fact should allow the pjotographer at any level to concentrate more on othr things, like composition (and that includes "level" horizons).

Because cameras are taking some of the technical load, the latitude given photojounalists should be narrowing.

How do I know if a technical flaw is intentional or not?  I don't.  As a viewer though, I can judge for myself the flaw and whether it adds or detracts.  I can feed that back to the photogapher who then can do what he wishes.  Unintentional - learning experience to try to avoid it in the future.  Or, if it worked, add it to the bag for future use.  Intentional - still a learning esperience.  A viewer didn't get it.  What can I do to help the viewer next time.

It has been my personal experience that I never learned much from no feedback.  A "nice job" only encourages me to do the same next time.  Therefore, no matter how good an image of mine is, I expect some sort of definite feedback - this is good, this needs help.  When I review prints, I try (but don't always succeed) to give both kinds of feedback.  I find it much easier to find the faults, especially the technical type.  Maybe that is your point, and I do neeed to work on that.  Seldom does an image have no value.

Is here such a thing as technically perfect?  I doubt it.  But "my best effort" is certainly within the reach of every photographer.  When a flaw is pointed out, the two responses that I really hate are "I know" and "I didn't have time."  "I know" is usually just lazy.  Samw with "I didn't have time."  As far as I know evryone has exactly the same number of minutes in a day.  It just boils down to how we chose to spend them.  

"I know" acceptable only when the photographer sees a flaw and needs help in how to fix it next time.  I can ackbowledge the flaw and then ask how to fix it.
Logged
Chris_T
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 541


« Reply #37 on: May 04, 2007, 08:59:42 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Yes. Of course. I missed that point. A fuzzy image of a fuzzy concept  really represents the pinnacle of artistic achievement   .
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=115327\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

While we may find this funny, the Holga and pinhole shooters (examples) are the ones laughing to the banks. Many curators seem to prefer images with "fuzzy" contents/concepts and/or without technical merits. Call me blind if you will, but I often can't even tell what are in such images. Perhaps the curators are bored to tears by the traditional genres such as the technically superb AA like images that don't challenge their imaginations. Or, perhaps the art schools are teaching their students to push the envelops and not to repeat what have already been done. I don't know. But there is no debate, I hope, that how a viewer relates to an image is a function of what's in that image and who the viewer is. We can't expect an image to be appreciated by every viewer, nor can we expect a viewer to appreciate every image.
Logged
howiesmith
Guest
« Reply #38 on: May 04, 2007, 09:44:03 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
While we may find this funny, the Holga and pinhole shooters (examples) are the ones laughing to the banks. Many curators seem to prefer images with "fuzzy" contents/concepts and/or without technical merits. Call me blind if you will, but I often can't even tell what are in such images. Perhaps the curators are bored to tears by the traditional genres such as the technically superb AA like images that don't challenge their imaginations. Or, perhaps the art schools are teaching their students to push the envelops and not to repeat what have already been done. I don't know. But there is no debate, I hope, that how a viewer relates to an image is a function of what's in that image and who the viewer is. We can't expect an image to be appreciated by every viewer, nor can we expect a viewer to appreciate every image.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=115680\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Personal opinion, and I repeat. I have never seen an image that I thought could be improved by making it less technically perfect.  More fuzzy, more dust spots, more scratches.  I would add to that "if only that had been taken with a Holga or pinhole."

I often think curators buy what they do because they don't want to be "ordinary" and buy one more Adams or whoever.  Many have more money (someone else's) than sense.  The Getty simply had to spend money to get rid of it.  Anyone with money can buy an Adams, but what if I drop a wad on a photo of nothing taken with a Holga?  "I must be a genius to recognize something that no one else sees."  

Art schols similarly feel they can't teach "straight" photography or painting or other art.  Many students don't want to spend the time and effort to learn technical photography before they make prints.  Many students are simply lazy.  Too lazy to learn the old masters so they skip that and go to Modern where no one knows what they are doing.  And I mean no one.  I had an instructor who belived that if you wanted to break all the rules, fine; just know the rules first, why they are rules and why you should break them.  Some of his "art" students shot really "new stuff," but could make a portrait one would swear was done by Karsch.


+++++++++++++++++

Let me add that a curator of a modern art museum is probably not allowed to buy an Adams.  The curator must buy "modern art."
« Last Edit: May 04, 2007, 10:12:38 AM by howiesmith » Logged
Bobtrips
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 679


« Reply #39 on: May 04, 2007, 11:17:46 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
So, Bobtrips, would you say intentionally tilted horizons are "outside the box" now?  I would say they have been tried, found lacking and tossed out.  The eye wants to make the horizon level, even when their head is crooked.  I think that is why a crooked horizon is easy to overlook when editing a photo.  The editor must be careful and "look" for it.  (I think art photographers make the horizon level or really crooked or obviously tilted, not just a bit crooked so the viewer has to decide whether intention or not.)

Blurred waterfalls are "inside the box," but you would toss them out?  My guess is inside to stay.  I think people see waterfalls as at least a little blurred.

Maybe photography tries to mimic real life?  Seems the most often heard complaint (that at least I hear) is the image doesn't look "real."   So, out of focus?  Get glasses.  Overexposed?  Get sunglasses.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=115540\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

"Inside/outside what box?" was the first thing that hit me upon reading this post.  Certainly they are outside the National Geographic/Arizona Highways box, as I understand the limits of that particular box.  They aren't "realistic".  It's not what one would have seen were they standing where the tripod stood.  

(A 1/2,000 second shutter speed shot that freezes a single drop of water is also not "realistic", but closer.  With concentration I can see a single drop as it falls.)

But unless we are talking about a specific box (realistic landscape, abstract fashion, whatever) I think we should be careful about discarding photographs based on either content or technique.  If someone likes it, it's liked.

That said, I think at times someone introduces a novel treatment, be it crooked horizons, intentional "smearing" by long exposures, exaggerated grain, oversaturation, etc. that are entertaining, even thought provoking in their presentation.  But often those treatments are adopted by many, many photographers and become trite.

Milky water has, to me, become as distasteful as those paintings of big eyed kids that were so popular a few decades back.  Interesting on first or second view.  Off putting by the thousandth.  

One of the most "digged" images on the web (hope that is a meaningful statement) is one of a waterfall in eastern Europe.  It's a very beautiful set of moderate-height waterfalls shot at a very low shutter speed.  While admired by many, to me it looks as if there has been a major catastrophe at an ice cream plant upstream.  Hundreds of thousands of melted vanilla are rushing downstream....

So, yes, I am talking about personal bias.  But putting my bias in the context of "too much of a good thing can give one a belly ache".
Logged
Pages: « 1 [2] 3 4 »   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad