Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: « 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 ... 9 »   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: What is 'fine art photography'?  (Read 150469 times)
ChrisS
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 160


« Reply #60 on: June 25, 2008, 12:30:38 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
I'm not sure that is meaningful really - the thread category is 'But is it Art? after all...

There is a quote from a judge from years ago, discussing pornography, something like " I can't tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it". This relates to this discussion - everyone has their own ideas of what sits comfortably in their personal concept of art. There can be no right answer but discussing it  in forums like this does assist in refining one's own opinions.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=203014\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yes, you're right Nick. But I think that the 'what is art' and 'but is it art' questions, while potentially philosophically interesting, don't tend to reach an end - at least, not one that is of much use to practitioners. By asking for criteria / examples of works that we might include, and criteria/ examples of what we might exclude from the category 'fine art photography', I thought we might move toward a more concrete understanding of what we mean by fine art photography. And then we'd be in a better position to decide whether or not we think something is art.

How about this, to stir up a hornets' nest...

Other conditions according to which we might exclude a photograph from the category 'fine art photography' as it's used on this site:

photographs that merely reiterate a formula that others have established;

photographs that are produced without the intention of being engaged as fine art;

photographs that are produced for purely commercial ends;

photographs that do not seek primarily to challenge or enrich some aspect of our experience as human beings;

photographs that do not engage (positively or negatively) some aspect of the traditions related to fine art;

photographs that do not call attention to themselves as photographs (ie, the medium of photography is of no importance to the status of the work).

Each of the above has a corollary that becomes a positive condition, according to which a photograph might become a work of art. Any individual photograph need not actively seek to meet all the positive conditions implied in order to be considered a work of art, but it cannot contain any of the negative conditions!

Any issues with the above? Any more negatives?
« Last Edit: June 25, 2008, 12:52:31 PM by ChrisS » Logged
Rob C
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 12213


« Reply #61 on: June 25, 2008, 03:07:26 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Yes, you're right Nick. But I think that the 'what is art' and 'but is it art' questions, while potentially philosophically interesting, don't tend to reach an end - at least, not one that is of much use to practitioners. By asking for criteria / examples of works that we might include, and criteria/ examples of what we might exclude from the category 'fine art photography', I thought we might move toward a more concrete understanding of what we mean by fine art photography. And then we'd be in a better position to decide whether or not we think something is art.

How about this, to stir up a hornets' nest...

Other conditions according to which we might exclude a photograph from the category 'fine art photography' as it's used on this site:

photographs that merely reiterate a formula that others have established;

photographs that are produced without the intention of being engaged as fine art;

photographs that are produced for purely commercial ends;

photographs that do not seek primarily to challenge or enrich some aspect of our experience as human beings;

photographs that do not engage (positively or negatively) some aspect of the traditions related to fine art;

photographs that do not call attention to themselves as photographs (ie, the medium of photography is of no importance to the status of the work).

Each of the above has a corollary that becomes a positive condition, according to which a photograph might become a work of art. Any individual photograph need not actively seek to meet all the positive conditions implied in order to be considered a work of art, but it cannot contain any of the negative conditions!

Any issues with the above? Any more negatives?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=203636\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Chris

You have been working overtime!

I wish youīd numbered the examples of negative conditions, but letīs try to contribute to your line of thought.

Photographs that merely reiterate an already established formula. To use this would instantly exclude most of the AA clones that sell the American Dream of a fabulous west. This would apply to the b/w practitioners as well as the huge number of others doing the same job here in colour. You could extend that to all the Mexican pueblo shots too; the crowd has thinned to the last and the second-last man standing; to continue to name and shame would be too painful all round so I wonīt.

Photographs that are produced without the intention of being engaged as fine art. A little more difficult, because sometimes a lucky accident happens, yes, accident, and something creates itself. Spontaneous art, anyone?

Photographs that are produced for purely commercial ends. At a stroke, this would exclude my favourite photographer, Sarah Moon, whose commercial work was nothing if not art. I use the past tense, because she appears to have disappeared, if you see what I mean, and turned herself into some kind of hermit in that not a lot seems to be available to research. So no, by definition I canīt accept that as an exclusion.

Photographs that do not seek primarily to challenge or enrich some aspect of our experience as human beings. That would rule nearly all of my commercial work out, something I already found true when I started to scan and look at the chances of producing an art website to market the old material. Though it was produced mainly with myself having free rein, it still had a client in mind and was shot to suit his imagined taste. Alas, it isnīt where Iīd like to be now.  

Even with commerce removed - if it ever can be when your hope is to sell it - I do not feel that photographs have to give a toss about anybodyīs experience as human beings, something I find a little pretentious, to say the least! Too close to curator-speak for comfort.

Photographs that do not engage (positively or negatively) some aspect of the traditions related to fine art. Thatīs difficult too: we have yet to establish what fine art might be! But yes, I think I understand your point, and I do feel that there should be some semblance to accepted or established format or motif. Thatīs why I can never accept Billingham or Parr; I even wonder how it came to pass that they have become household names, at least in households with interested photographers in them. Fame or notoriety?

Photographs that do not call attention to themselves as photographs (i.e. the medium of photography is of no importance to the status of the work). I canīt quite imagine how this could ever be the case: the better the photograph the more photographic it seems to be. Perhaps this is reference to work that falls into the winding-on-the-film exposures where all sense of accepted values is thrown out with gay abandon. In this case, I would dispute the image having any value at all, even under the previously mentioned chance picture. A crooked shot of a café table, a chairleg and a foot is just that: a crooked photograph. They are spurious art so perhaps, in that sense, become a form of art? But not for me.

Maybe the essence of art is the touch of the artist, something that is either there or is  missing; by that token, not all that an artist produces is art, only that when the muse has laid her hand on his shoulder at the moment of conception. Works for me.

Rob C
« Last Edit: June 25, 2008, 03:10:55 PM by Rob C » Logged

ChrisS
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 160


« Reply #62 on: June 25, 2008, 04:11:58 PM »
ReplyReply

Yes - 'as human beings' over-egged the pudding, I think. Let's cut that, and leave it at 'photographs that do not seek primarily to challenge or enrich some aspect of our experience'.

'photographs that are produced for purely commercial ends' doesn't include photographs that are produced, among other things, to allow us to make a living. Most of us have to do that. It's just photographs that are committed solely to that end, regardless of any other questions of purpose or quality, that I think we might exclude.
Logged
papa v2.0
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 198


« Reply #63 on: June 25, 2008, 08:44:12 PM »
ReplyReply

i was told to try and photograph what you see.
unfortunately
we dont have the means yet.

the output systems are a far cry away from our perception at the moment.

but we are starting to get nearer with appearance modeling.

i find the struggle  to get accurate colour reproduction a bit of a misnomer

its not what we see. most photographers that have moved into digital think that this can now
give them control over colour
its not.
we need more study into colour appearance or appearance in general
so to say fine art photography is, is not
Logged
Rob C
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 12213


« Reply #64 on: June 26, 2008, 10:17:47 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote from: papa v2.0,Jun 26 2008, 01:44 AM
i was told to try and photograph what you see.
unfortunately
we dont have the means yet.




Iīm not sure I get the point here - did you mean what you see, literally, in front of your nose or did you mean what your "artistic" eye might see?

The two are not the same. I donīt think that there is really a need for the means to get all that much better, to be honest with you; I think that the problem most of us face is twofold: having the eye in the first place; being good enough with the tools already extant.

Painters (fine art!) have been working with fairly basic materials since the beginning of graphic awareness yet they donīt seem to be particularly limited in expression by virtue of the pigments... you can stretch from my old favourite Van Goghīs fairly rough chairs or flowers right up to and beyond Daliīs Christ of St John and a little beyond, if you know where to look, and no shortcomings are blamed on materials - itīs about style, talent and what you can do with what youīve got. Photography is no different: over-emphasis on materials misses the point of the art of the thing: if you need technical perfection then you are probably working in industrial/commercial areas and not necessarily fine art. Which is what this thread, I believe, is about.

Come to think of it, I am a believer in that less can certainly sometimes be more, not an original line by any means, but there is a lot of truth there. Photography, unlike painting, is basically stuck with what is in front of the camera. Yes, you can PS stuff out and so on, but the same can perhaps be better achieved by purely photographic means such as shallow DOField; shooting through foreground elements and creating intentional blurr or diffusion where you want it.

I know there is this holy grail of total sharpnes, but why should that be? Itīs such a limiting concept and is surely behind most of the rationale to buying cameras with movements or TS lenses. Particularly in colour, OOF blobs of it in the right places can make a shot a hell of a lot more interesting than fore-to-aft razor blade. I think thereīs a great deal that landscape photographers could learn from advertising photographers in that respect. Of course, you might have to start looking pretty damn soon, because any day now it will all be penny stock and farewell considered commercial art.

Rob C
Logged

Nick Rains
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 704



WWW
« Reply #65 on: June 26, 2008, 11:47:15 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
I know there is this holy grail of total sharpnes, but why should that be? Itīs such a limiting concept and is surely behind most of the rationale to buying cameras with movements or TS lenses. Particularly in colour, OOF blobs of it in the right places can make a shot a hell of a lot more interesting than fore-to-aft razor blade. I think thereīs a great deal that landscape photographers could learn from advertising photographers in that respect. Of course, you might have to start looking pretty damn soon, because any day now it will all be penny stock and farewell considered commercial art.

Rob C
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=203801\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I hear what you are saying, but have you ever seen a traditional landscape shot (ie a scene or vista, not a close-up or abstract) that is not sharp front to back and that is any good?

It's all about the light and the composition - and everything must be sharp. The eye auto focuses on anything it looks at, therefore in a large scene something that is OOF is jarring, the eye wants to see it in close detail and can't.

That's why big, supersharp prints are so appropriate for landscape imagery. Hard to take it further really - in fact to apply other creative techniques as you suggest means it's not really landscape photography anymore. It's quite a tightly defined genre when you think about it.
Logged

Nick Rains
Australian Photographer
Leica Akademie Instructor
www.nickrains.com
ChrisS
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 160


« Reply #66 on: June 27, 2008, 01:14:21 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
I hear what you are saying, but have you ever seen a traditional landscape shot (ie a scene or vista, not a close-up or abstract) that is not sharp front to back and that is any good?

It's all about the light and the composition - and everything must be sharp. The eye auto focuses on anything it looks at, therefore in a large scene something that is OOF is jarring, the eye wants to see it in close detail and can't.

This certainly hasn't applied to the history of landscape painting. Sharpness and focus on certain passages of a painting and not on others calls particular attention to those passages and therefore allows the importance of others to fall away; and, of course, 'sketchiness' of distant motifs together with aerial perspective can be important to the creation of illusory depth.

It's also important to note that while we tend to focus on things when we look at them, the eye doesn't see all things equally, with more-or-less just the central area of a field of perception 'sharp' and all else normally quite blurred/ unresolved. As I understand it, it's the brain that patches the various sharp bits created as the eye moves around a scene together to allow us to perceive a coherent, focused image.

SO - a photograph in which all is sharp is remote from much of the tradition of landscape, and it is quite remote form the way we actually perceive things. Which isn't to say a landscape photograph shouldn't be sharp throughout, just to suggest that might be one particular ambition among others. Not to allow that a photograph might be less than sharp narrows our options considerably, doesn't it?
Logged
Nick Rains
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 704



WWW
« Reply #67 on: June 27, 2008, 04:20:26 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
It's also important to note that while we tend to focus on things when we look at them, the eye doesn't see all things equally, with more-or-less just the central area of a field of perception 'sharp' and all else normally quite blurred/ unresolved. As I understand it, it's the brain that patches the various sharp bits created as the eye moves around a scene together to allow us to perceive a coherent, focused image.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=203925\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

We don't actually see the scene sharp all at the same time, no,  but the net effect of scanning your eyes around means that we are aware of fine details in everything in front of us. Our eyes very rarely exhibit the limited depth of field effect beloved of wildlife photography!

"SO - a photograph in which all is sharp is remote from much of the tradition of landscape, and it is quite remote form the way we actually perceive things. "

This simply is not true - it is exactly how we see things in real life - no matter what you look at, it is sharp. Areas of a printed image cannot be focused by looking at it and are thus mildly disturbing (I again claim the caveat of wide scenes here, not abstracts or details ).

A large panoramic image of an expansive vista with OOF important regions will be less satisfying to look at than one where all is crisp.

I don't know if you saw it but the was an exhibition at the Mumm Gallery in Napa CA last year - Ansel Adams, Charlie Cramer, Michael Frye etc. All big prints and all as sharp as can be, even on close examination. This 'window to the world' effect is what is so compelling about high quality landscape photography.
Logged

Nick Rains
Australian Photographer
Leica Akademie Instructor
www.nickrains.com
Rob C
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 12213


« Reply #68 on: June 27, 2008, 04:50:49 AM »
ReplyReply

Nick, all you are doing is perpetuating the status quo; you are not making other techniques invalid because you say they are invalid, itīs just your opinion and how you have developed.

I disagree completely with you when you say there are no landscape images that are outwith that style and that work. There is a simple test you can do for yourself, without shooting a shot: put a 135mm or 200mm lens on a 35mm body, leave it wide open and just sit down in the grass and focus on a barn or old house or something like that which is a fair distance away from you- even a single rock will do to illustrate the point - and simply pull the focus in and out. The almost tangible effect of moving grass, foliage, o.o.f. flowers etc. will blow your soul away. If it doesnīt youīve lived too long with large cameras!

Incidentally, it is also a good way of learning that movement can bring the deadest of landscapes back to life.

Ciao - Rob C
Logged

ChrisS
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 160


« Reply #69 on: June 27, 2008, 06:00:13 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
"SO - a photograph in which all is sharp is remote from much of the tradition of landscape, and it is quite remote form the way we actually perceive things. "

This simply is not true - it is exactly how we see things in real life - no matter what you look at, it is sharp.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=203940\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Nick - are you saying that when you stand before and look carefully at a vast, complex landscape, all that you see is sharp and in focus at the same time?
« Last Edit: June 27, 2008, 06:53:57 AM by ChrisS » Logged
kikashi
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 4122



« Reply #70 on: June 27, 2008, 11:57:52 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Nick - are you saying that when you stand before and look carefully at a vast, complex landscape, all that you see is sharp and in focus at the same time?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=203954\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Everything on which you concentrate is sharp at the time you are concentrating on it. That's what matters. Other things may be blurred but it's not important because you're not looking at them.

Jeremy
Logged
Eric Myrvaagnes
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8301



WWW
« Reply #71 on: June 27, 2008, 12:09:43 PM »
ReplyReply

I am totally with Nick on this, and Jeremy has explained it well.

-Eric
Logged

-Eric Myrvaagnes

http://myrvaagnes.com  Visit my website. New images each season.
ChrisS
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 160


« Reply #72 on: June 27, 2008, 12:14:57 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Everything on which you concentrate is sharp at the time you are concentrating on it. That's what matters. Other things may be blurred but it's not important because you're not looking at them.

Jeremy
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=204014\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

When you say what matters and what's not important, what do you mean? Only a small part of our field of vision is in focus and resolved at any moment, the rest relatively unresolved. (This isn't generally contested.)  How can that not matter or be important in a discussion of how we perceive the visual world? Or are you saying that this doesn't matter to photography - in which case, why? Surely photography is well positioned to exploit and explore how we perceive the visual world - this is one of its real strengths.

Or are we now going to assert, following previous posts, that in important landscape photography, everything must be sharp and in focus? Seems rather arbitrary and limiting to me, and certainly very remote from the kinds of parameters that sustain - and have sustained for well over a century - in the world of fine art.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2008, 12:52:41 PM by ChrisS » Logged
alainbriot
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 684



WWW
« Reply #73 on: June 27, 2008, 01:11:08 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Not to allow that a photograph might be less than sharp narrows our options considerably, doesn't it?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=203925\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Some photographs are sharp, some photographs are fascinating, and some photographs are both sharp and fascinating ;-)
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
alainbriot
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 684



WWW
« Reply #74 on: June 27, 2008, 01:14:32 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
... to apply other creative techniques as you suggest means it's not really landscape photography anymore. It's quite a tightly defined genre when you think about it.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=203911\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Tightly defined, probably.  But isn't challenging what is tightly defined one of the responsibilities of an artist ?
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
ChrisS
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 160


« Reply #75 on: June 27, 2008, 01:38:16 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Tightly defined, probably.  But isn't challenging what is tightly defined one of the responsibilities of an artist ?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=204036\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I think you're absolutely right. Where something's tightly defined, there's often reason to question it. Not because the definition's necessarily at fault, but because so often when there's such constraint, other possibilities are being denied.

'Responsibility' is a concept we've not heard before in this thread, but I think anyone that makes claim to the title 'artist' must accept it as part of his or her burden.
Logged
alainbriot
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 684



WWW
« Reply #76 on: June 27, 2008, 04:24:11 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
I think you're absolutely right. Where something's tightly defined, there's often reason to question it. Not because the definition's necessarily at fault, but because so often when there's such constraint, other possibilities are being denied.

'Responsibility' is a concept we've not heard before in this thread, but I think anyone that makes claim to the title 'artist' must accept it as part of his or her burden.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=204043\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I think that one of the main reasons why I find the work of certain artists fascinating is because it is new, fresh, uncommon and unique.  Most often, the artist achieves this by breaking the rules, or challenging the status quo, or re-writing the definitions to which previous artists have abided.

For the artist working in this context, the responsibility is to break the rules, or redefine things, because that is what their audience is looking for.
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
Nick Rains
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 704



WWW
« Reply #77 on: June 27, 2008, 09:39:04 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
When you say what matters and what's not important, what do you mean? Only a small part of our field of vision is in focus and resolved at any moment, the rest relatively unresolved. (This isn't generally contested.)  How can that not matter or be important in a discussion of how we perceive the visual world? Or are you saying that this doesn't matter to photography - in which case, why? Surely photography is well positioned to exploit and explore how we perceive the visual world - this is one of its real strengths.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=204020\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Nothing you look at is unsharp. A photo is locked into whatever focus applied at the time of the shot. You eyes cannot resolve an unsharp part of a photo like they do in real life.

This much is pretty obvious and hopefully inarguable.

My assertion is that successful photographs of (again, only) vistas and scenics depend for some of their impact on the fact that your eyes can explore the image and find detail everywhere - just like in real life. if your image is attempting to capture the sense of being in front of that scene then everything must be sharp.

That is not to say at all that other techniques are not artistically valid - far from it. I am simply making the point that in a certain genre of landscape photography it is necessary to give the viewer the full information from the scene.

My style is mostly 'window to the world' stuff. This is, rightly or wrongly, fairly rigidly constrained by the above. I have experimented with limited DOF effects etc and guess what? No one buys it, they prefer the F64 Club approach.
Logged

Nick Rains
Australian Photographer
Leica Akademie Instructor
www.nickrains.com
Nick Rains
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 704



WWW
« Reply #78 on: June 27, 2008, 09:41:49 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
I disagree completely with you when you say there are no landscape images that are outwith that style and that work.

Rob C
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=203944\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I'm only talking about scenics here. Wide views, vistas, panoramas etc. Show me one of these that works with large OOF areas.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2008, 09:42:19 PM by Nick Rains » Logged

Nick Rains
Australian Photographer
Leica Akademie Instructor
www.nickrains.com
Ray
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8948


« Reply #79 on: June 27, 2008, 11:57:56 PM »
ReplyReply

I tend to agree with Nick on this point. There is a certain type of landscape which is magnificent in its own right, in every detail, and which doesn't need a re-interpretation by the photographer.

Out-of-focus areas are an imposed interpretation by the photographer along the lines, 'Don't look at these areas. They are not interesting'.

Whatever one's personal taste, whether one likes an image or not, there are certain basic characteristics about human perception which most of us share.

For example, it appears to be a fact that excessively bright areas in an image will attract our gaze more strongly and more frequently than less bright areas. It might therefore be good practice to make sure that such bright areas in one's photographs are either of interest in themselves (contain detail and are not totally blown), or are surounded by other interesting areas.

Landscapes with a blown, grey (white), featureless sky tend to be boring. The eye has a tendency to be drawn to the bright area but finds nothing there of interest.

The problem with OoF areas in the magnificent vista is that they tend to draw attention to themselves and just don't look right. However, if the photographer doesn't want to portray the magnificence of the vista, but wants to concentrate on a particular rock or house and get everything else OoF, then the genre has changed. It's no longer a vista.
Logged
Pages: « 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 ... 9 »   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad