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Author Topic: A plea for contextual specificity  (Read 9733 times)
Dale_Cotton
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« on: February 29, 2008, 08:18:22 AM »
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Contextual specificity - sounds real fancy don't it? ;) To explain, I'll need to mosey round the barn a few times; hope you'll bear with me.

One underlying problem in photography forum discussion is that photographic hardware serves several very different groups, including:

A) Pure technical shooters, doing things like crime scene evidence, medical documentation, infra-structure trouble-shooting, etc., in which visual appeal is not a major component.

B) Snapshooters, primarily recording family events, sight-seeing, local sports, and the like - in most cases, I would guess, with little concern for visual appeal.

C) Mixed technical + aesthetic shooters, doing things like product spreads, advertising, stock, photojournalism, etc., that has both a technical component and a visual appeal component.

D) Pure aesthetic shooters doing art photography.

Since practitioners of all the above groups may have reason to visit any given photography forum, much heat but little light is generated on-line when statements are made assuming one sub-domain but are taken by readers as applying to another domain. One photographer may quite validly find it critical to his work to obsess over lp/mm, while another photographer may regularly smear Vaseline on the front element of his lens.

But on top of that, even when the discussion is purely within the microcosm of art photography, there are still multiple camps who regularly fail to take the perspective of the other camps into account, including:

D1) There is a tradition in art photography that perhaps centres around the tripod and the Ansel Adams 16x20" landscape, in which photorealism and clarity of detail are key factors.

D2) There is a very different tradition that perhaps centres around handheld and the b&w work of depression-era street photogs, in which atmosphere and grit are key factors.

D3) There is the camp that focuses on legacy processes, such as the Daguerreotype and dye-transfer.

D4) There is the camp that works within the tradition of experimental and conceptual approaches.

I don't think the issue is typically that practicing members of clan A don't understand at least the basics of the needs of clans B, C, and D, and I don't think the issue is typically that the members of each camp don't grant the legitimacy of the other camp's existence or their genuinely differing hardware needs. The issue is simply that over and over again the person posting fails to specify to which domain his statements apply.

This site is still named Luminous Landscape; and there was a time when forum members could reasonably assume that posts were directed toward D1 photography (to use the arbitrary schema, above). I remember it well and fondly. ;) But that time is now past. What hasn't changed is that this forum does generally select for a certain level of intelligence ... or at least professionalism. So I appeal to those who possess those qualities and who have managed to wade through my rambling discourse thus far simply to

Remember to specify the context to which your remarks apply when you post them.

As Smokey the Bear says: You too can help prevent forum fires! Thanks, y'all, and have a great day.
« Last Edit: February 29, 2008, 08:23:06 AM by Dale Cotton » Logged
Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #1 on: February 29, 2008, 12:59:39 PM »
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Beautifully put, Dale. As one who dabbles at times in all of your categories (with the single exception of D3), I agree totally.

Since I doubt that the LL forum will ever achieve 100% "contextual specifity", we will always have occasional brush fires that result from contextual misunderstandings. But a little smoke now and then can provide some entertainment, as long as it stays at the level of a "controlled burn".

Eric
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

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James R
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« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2008, 10:00:51 AM »
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The only problem is the ability of a poster to admit or know their "contextual specificity."  
« Last Edit: March 05, 2008, 10:01:19 AM by James R » Logged
Ray
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« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2008, 08:12:48 PM »
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Quote
The only problem is the ability of a poster to admit or know their "contextual specificity."   
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=179311\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yes, that's right.



Dale,
Very eloquently expressed as always. However, I'm a bit uneasy with these categories. The category should be implied by both the content and context of the argument. Many people shy away from placing themselves, or their activities, in a category, if only for face-saving reasons. A strong degree of honesty would be required. For example, "I'm a snapshooter and I think the E-3  is great for out-of-the-camera jpeg results. I don't like messing around in Photoshop and the results I'm getting are better than my friend's results with his 40D, who also shoots in jpeg mode."

Such information might seem to be useful but unfortunately there's a whole lot of variables which are not mentioned. Are we talking about default in-camera settings of contrast, sharpness, saturation etc? What lenses are we comparing? Are the better results due to the fact that the lens used on his friend's 40D is not precisely calibrated? And/or is perhaps the system resolution on the 4/3rds camera actually superior as a result of an exceptionally sharp Zuiko lens?

All these matters have to be fleshed out before the discerning reader can come to any definite conclusions.

What I would say from my experience, is that there are three major factors which should be addressed in such forum fires.

(1) What are the facts at the pixel-peeping level? (Requires flawless technique of course, and I don't pretend to be in possession of this   ).

(2) What is the significance of these facts in practice and on print?

(3) Subjectively, how important are such differences to you?
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sojournerphoto
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« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2008, 02:40:12 PM »
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Beautifully put, Dale. As one who dabbles at times in all of your categories (with the single exception of D3), I agree totally.

Since I doubt that the LL forum will ever achieve 100% "contextual specifity", we will always have occasional brush fires that result from contextual misunderstandings. But a little smoke now and then can provide some entertainment, as long as it stays at the level of a "controlled burn".

Eric
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=178273\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


A picture's worth...


Mike
« Last Edit: March 07, 2008, 03:08:13 PM by sojournerphoto » Logged
iliosgallery
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« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2008, 12:49:34 PM »
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Contextual specificity - sounds real fancy don't it?  To explain, I'll need to mosey round the barn a few times; hope you'll bear with me.

One underlying problem in photography forum discussion is that photographic hardware serves several very different groups, including:

A) Pure technical shooters, doing things like crime scene evidence, medical documentation, infra-structure trouble-shooting, etc., in which visual appeal is not a major component.

 Snapshooters, primarily recording family events, sight-seeing, local sports, and the like - in most cases, I would guess, with little concern for visual appeal.

C) Mixed technical + aesthetic shooters, doing things like product spreads, advertising, stock, photojournalism, etc., that has both a technical component and a visual appeal component.

D) Pure aesthetic shooters doing art photography.

Since practitioners of all the above groups may have reason to visit any given photography forum, much heat but little light is generated on-line when statements are made assuming one sub-domain but are taken by readers as applying to another domain. One photographer may quite validly find it critical to his work to obsess over lp/mm, while another photographer may regularly smear Vaseline on the front element of his lens.

But on top of that, even when the discussion is purely within the microcosm of art photography, there are still multiple camps who regularly fail to take the perspective of the other camps into account, including:

D1) There is a tradition in art photography that perhaps centres around the tripod and the Ansel Adams 16x20" landscape, in which photorealism and clarity of detail are key factors.

D2) There is a very different tradition that perhaps centres around handheld and the b&w work of depression-era street photogs, in which atmosphere and grit are key factors.

D3) There is the camp that focuses on legacy processes, such as the Daguerreotype and dye-transfer.

D4) There is the camp that works within the tradition of experimental and conceptual approaches.

I don't think the issue is typically that practicing members of clan A don't understand at least the basics of the needs of clans B, C, and D, and I don't think the issue is typically that the members of each camp don't grant the legitimacy of the other camp's existence or their genuinely differing hardware needs. The issue is simply that over and over again the person posting fails to specify to which domain his statements apply.

This site is still named Luminous Landscape; and there was a time when forum members could reasonably assume that posts were directed toward D1 photography (to use the arbitrary schema, above). I remember it well and fondly.  But that time is now past. What hasn't changed is that this forum does generally select for a certain level of intelligence ... or at least professionalism. So I appeal to those who possess those qualities and who have managed to wade through my rambling discourse thus far simply to

Remember to specify the context to which your remarks apply when you post them.

As Smokey the Bear says: You too can help prevent forum fires! Thanks, y'all, and have a great day.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=178205\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
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iliosgallery
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« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2008, 12:50:16 PM »
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Contextual specificity - sounds real fancy don't it?  To explain, I'll need to mosey round the barn a few times; hope you'll bear with me.

One underlying problem in photography forum discussion is that photographic hardware serves several very different groups, including:

A) Pure technical shooters, doing things like crime scene evidence, medical documentation, infra-structure trouble-shooting, etc., in which visual appeal is not a major component.

 Snapshooters, primarily recording family events, sight-seeing, local sports, and the like - in most cases, I would guess, with little concern for visual appeal.

C) Mixed technical + aesthetic shooters, doing things like product spreads, advertising, stock, photojournalism, etc., that has both a technical component and a visual appeal component.

D) Pure aesthetic shooters doing art photography.

Since practitioners of all the above groups may have reason to visit any given photography forum, much heat but little light is generated on-line when statements are made assuming one sub-domain but are taken by readers as applying to another domain. One photographer may quite validly find it critical to his work to obsess over lp/mm, while another photographer may regularly smear Vaseline on the front element of his lens.

But on top of that, even when the discussion is purely within the microcosm of art photography, there are still multiple camps who regularly fail to take the perspective of the other camps into account, including:

D1) There is a tradition in art photography that perhaps centres around the tripod and the Ansel Adams 16x20" landscape, in which photorealism and clarity of detail are key factors.

D2) There is a very different tradition that perhaps centres around handheld and the b&w work of depression-era street photogs, in which atmosphere and grit are key factors.

D3) There is the camp that focuses on legacy processes, such as the Daguerreotype and dye-transfer.

D4) There is the camp that works within the tradition of experimental and conceptual approaches.

I don't think the issue is typically that practicing members of clan A don't understand at least the basics of the needs of clans B, C, and D, and I don't think the issue is typically that the members of each camp don't grant the legitimacy of the other camp's existence or their genuinely differing hardware needs. The issue is simply that over and over again the person posting fails to specify to which domain his statements apply.

This site is still named Luminous Landscape; and there was a time when forum members could reasonably assume that posts were directed toward D1 photography (to use the arbitrary schema, above). I remember it well and fondly.  But that time is now past. What hasn't changed is that this forum does generally select for a certain level of intelligence ... or at least professionalism. So I appeal to those who possess those qualities and who have managed to wade through my rambling discourse thus far simply to

Remember to specify the context to which your remarks apply when you post them.

As Smokey the Bear says: You too can help prevent forum fires! Thanks, y'all, and have a great day.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=178205\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
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dchew
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« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2008, 08:31:36 PM »
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Dale wins post of the week.

From an aspiring D1...
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sojournerphoto
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« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2008, 09:38:32 AM »
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Dale wins post of the week.

From an aspiring D1...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=181004\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


In my picture I failed to include my daughter's shoebox pinhole camera and the 'enhanced' print that she coloured in after the evnt:) Possibly picks up D3 and D4.

Interestingly, there have been a series of posts over on the online photographer that pick up some of these ideas, with one being themed, 'Where do you live'. In my case I seem to try to live in landscape, but love (but am not very good at!) documentary photography - anything that tells peoples stories. Ususally the latter doesn't require any particular sort of equipment...

Mike
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Dale_Cotton
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« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2008, 11:39:13 AM »
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Thanks for the replies, input, and kind words.

The category list was not intended to be definitive but merely something to get the conversational ball rolling. It might make an interesting Coffee Corner thread for a rainy day to try to come up with something approaching a definitive list.

Mike/sojournerphoto: is your picture intended as a non-verbal precis of your personal context? If so, great idea.

dchew wrote:
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From an aspiring D1...
Having checked out your portfolio on photo.net, I believe that should read "From an inspiring D1..."
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sojournerphoto
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« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2008, 12:35:22 PM »
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Thanks for the replies, input, and kind words.

Mike/sojournerphoto: is your picture intended as a non-verbal precis of your personal context? If so, great idea.

dchew wrote:

Having checked out your portfolio on photo.net, I believe that should read "From an inspiring D1..."
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=181137\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Yes, just my contexts. They're both recent aquisitions and reflect the diverging nature of how I'm working now. Really, just different tools for different situations that I love.

I looked at Dave's photo.net agllery and couldn't agree more. Excellent, I wish I'd anything as inspiring...

Mike
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