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Author Topic: Photographic Integrity  (Read 32384 times)
framah
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« Reply #20 on: February 19, 2009, 02:37:13 PM »
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What!!??    That's how I remember it!
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2009, 03:24:46 PM »
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Lack of "image manipulation" is a myth that shows a poor understanding of the photographic process to start with.

1. Freezing motion in time,
2. Selecting a crop from a scene,
3. Hiding a background/foreground with limited Depth of field,
4. Limiting its detail through low resolution film/sensor,
5. Hiding darker parts of the scene in deep shadow with a contrasty curve (whether it is Velvia or digital)
6. Enhancing colors with saturated solutions like Velvia or the saturation slider of ACR...

...are 6 obvious departures from reality that have nothing to do with the usage of digital technologies but that are inherent to the photographic process itself.

Cheers,
Bernard
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« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2009, 04:45:51 PM »
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Quote from: framah
Is he still using film?

I'm guessing he is still using mostly film, although the D3x may have him trying digital a little more.  It seems last time I was in his gallery there was a group of bird photographs that were captured digitally and printed on inkjet, but he does a lot large prints, so I'm not sure Nikon had an option for him until perhaps now.

His statement is probably pointed towards some that use digital manipulation to place wildlife into an image, not the capture medium. I have seen some work by wildlife photographers that seems obviously artificial ... to the point of perhaps even photographing a "stuffed" animal and then using PS to insert them into a scene.  This usually is offered without qualification.  It doesn't seem inappropriate to inform potential clients if you choose not to do this ... some will appreciate the image for that, some won't care. I suppose the statement could seem condescending and critical of others.

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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2009, 05:37:30 PM »
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Lotsa interesting philosophy (and a bit of comedy too  ).

I pondered this question a bit, and here is my view:

1. The reason why photography first came about was to preserve a memory, document an event, or just to create a pleasing image.
2. Since that time, people have forever been trying to create better images, via better cameras, better lenses, better film (B&W to color), etc.
3. The digital age has simply offered yet another way in which to accomplish the original goal.

I do understand the mindset which prompted this post and this subject: which is paying attention to true photographic skill. Strictly-speaking, a person who can consistently choose everything perfectly on the camera-end (position, moment, lighting, settings, etc.) such that he comes out with a "perfect image" more often than not would have to be considered the consummate photographer. By contrast, the person who can only take mediocre photographs, but yet through a deep knowledge of image manipulation he can "doctor them up" nice in Photoshop ... is not really as much a photographer as he is a consummate sofware geek. But in the end, so what?

Capturing workable images is the goal, and proficiency in software manipulation is just another dimension to learn to help a person achieve that goal. While perhaps, strictly speaking, such a person isn't a "pure photographer," in the end he is able to create a fine image ... or perhaps salvage a great image that simply needs work. PRESERVING THE IMAGE is the goal, not necessarily "skill in photography." If a person develops skill in whatever it takes to create and preserve an excellent image, then he has done his job by whatever means necessary to get that job done.

Thus the age-old question of, "Does the end justify the means?" gets raised.

So let's examine the question by first looking at an unrelated exampe where the end does NOT justify the means: If I become a millionaire (my desired end) by robbing 10 people of a hundred thousand dollars apiece (my means), then what I have done is harmed other people to achieve my own end and benefit. And there is no way my "end" of becoming a millionaire can morally or ethically justify my "means" of doing so, because I have violated the sanctity of other people to get there. The means to my riches were simply unethical, to the end does not justify the means here.

Yet such is simply not the case in "photographic talent with the camera" versus "digital manipulation on the computer." No one is "hurt" by my being good with the computer. I would simply be using another skill-set to create fine images. The idea that a person "must" create fine images only through the use of a camera is simply a false premise. No one is harmed if the excellence in the final imaging comes via the computer; therefore the end DOES justify the means in this instance.

That is my personal take on this question.

Truthfully, all of of these are skills that need to be developed by someone serious. But this queston really did stop me in my tracks and make me rub my chin for a moment thinking about it.

Jack



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JBerardi
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« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2009, 07:44:14 PM »
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Quote from: JohnKoerner
I do understand the mindset which prompted this post and this subject: which is paying attention to true photographic skill. Strictly-speaking, a person who can consistently choose everything perfectly on the camera-end (position, moment, lighting, settings, etc.) such that he comes out with a "perfect image" more often than not would have to be considered the consummate photographer. By contrast, the person who can only take mediocre photographs, but yet through a deep knowledge of image manipulation he can "doctor them up" nice in Photoshop ... is not really as much a photographer as he is a consummate sofware geek. But in the end, so what?

Well, there's no reason BOTH of those skills can't be applied in the creation of a great print, and in fact, I would argue that they are both necessary.  It's always better to get as close to your end goal as possible with the capture of the image, but just because you nail the capture doesn't mean you can't screw the pooch in post processing. If you want top results, you need to nail your exposure AND develop that exposure with the proper chemistry/math. If you want sharp prints you need to know how to use a tripod AND how to sharpen in post. You can't fire your retoucher just because you hired an extra stylist. One skill can't make up for the other. Great photography is a product of manipulating EVERYTHING; optimizing every step of the process. This is equally true of film and digital.

As far as digital somehow degrading the purity/truthfulness/honesty of photography... Frankly, I think it's ridiculous. Digital is just a tool, not really that much different than the tools we had before. It's all about the artist having an idea, and being able to faithfully translate that idea into reality. Digital just helps make that process a little easier than before; it's really nothing worth getting worked up about.
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #25 on: February 19, 2009, 08:47:39 PM »
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Quote from: JBerardi
Well, there's no reason BOTH of those skills can't be applied in the creation of a great print, and in fact, I would argue that they are both necessary.  It's always better to get as close to your end goal as possible with the capture of the image, but just because you nail the capture doesn't mean you can't screw the pooch in post processing. If you want top results, you need to nail your exposure AND develop that exposure with the proper chemistry/math. If you want sharp prints you need to know how to use a tripod AND how to sharpen in post. You can't fire your retoucher just because you hired an extra stylist. One skill can't make up for the other. Great photography is a product of manipulating EVERYTHING; optimizing every step of the process. This is equally true of film and digital.

As far as digital somehow degrading the purity/truthfulness/honesty of photography... Frankly, I think it's ridiculous. Digital is just a tool, not really that much different than the tools we had before. It's all about the artist having an idea, and being able to faithfully translate that idea into reality. Digital just helps make that process a little easier than before; it's really nothing worth getting worked up about.


LOL, I think you yourself got worked up and posted before you read my entire statement ... for we are in agreement
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #26 on: February 19, 2009, 08:57:32 PM »
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Quote from: Wayne Fox
I'm guessing he is still using mostly film, although the D3x may have him trying digital a little more.  It seems last time I was in his gallery there was a group of bird photographs that were captured digitally and printed on inkjet, but he does a lot large prints, so I'm not sure Nikon had an option for him until perhaps now.
His statement is probably pointed towards some that use digital manipulation to place wildlife into an image, not the capture medium. I have seen some work by wildlife photographers that seems obviously artificial ... to the point of perhaps even photographing a "stuffed" animal and then using PS to insert them into a scene.  This usually is offered without qualification.  It doesn't seem inappropriate to inform potential clients if you choose not to do this ... some will appreciate the image for that, some won't care. I suppose the statement could seem condescending and critical of others.


Wayne, I don't believe Mr. Mangelsen was being either condescending or critical of others, only definitive of his own ideals. The way I read his bio was that he simply does not manipulate his images after they are taken with his camera. To me it seemed his message was this was "pure, natural photography." A man's own personal ideology doesn't necessarily involve anyone else, or belittle anyone else, it just defines his own scruples as he conducts himself.

Perhaps Mr. Mangelsen feels any doctoring of the photo "after" the actual taking of it does not constitute "photography," per se, but something else. And he may in fact be right.

The question thus becomes is "perfect photography" the goal or is creating a wonderful image the goal, regardless of the means?

As you pointed out, certain doctorings of images COULD be considered unethical, if the edits are intended to deceive or misrepresent the truth. Many years ago, photographs submitted to a court of law could NOT be digital at all, precisely for this reason. Only film photos would be accepted as evidence. If a digital manipulation of a photograph misrepresents something with an intent to harm, mislead, or lie, this would of course be unethical.

Jack

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Bob Peterson
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« Reply #27 on: February 19, 2009, 09:13:40 PM »
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Quote from: JohnKoerner
As a novice just getting into photography, I have been trying to figure out not just which cameras and lenses to try to get, but also which monitors to view my shots through, as well as which software programs to process my shots with. Well, a girlfriend of mine sent me a link to her personal favorite nature photographer, Thomas Mangelsen, who apparently does not digitally-manipulate his images at all. In fact, it even says so on his website:


"A purist to the end, Tom does not digitally-manipulate his images, and is vehemently opposed to photographing animal models in game farms. Instead, he focuses on three main elements to capture the ideal photograph: Patience, light, and behavior."

http://www.mangelsen.com/store/util/portra...an_artist?Args=

Jack
I'm familiar with Mangelsen's work, and have visited his gallery in Jackson a number of times.  I enjoy his products, although I own nothing of his that is significant.  For quite some time my mouse has run around a pad illustrated with Thomas' "His Majesty" image.

This quote is from the Popular Photography article "King of the Beasts" Thomas publishes on his Web site.

[blockquote]His most successful photo ever -- he says it's earned more than $2.5 million -- is the startling shot of an Alaskan
brown bear nabbing a spawning salmon that serves as this article's opener. This shot is so dead-on that
Mangelsen has been accused of digital fakery. But it was hard-won by previsualization and much waiting. He says
he never manipulates his photos digitally beyond standard darkroom-type controls.[/blockquote]
One of the people in his Jackson, Wyoming, gallery once told me he tried for that shot for 4 months before he got it.

I believe the above is a more accurate description of his process.  As others contributing to this thread have pointed out, all photography involves creative choices.  Some choices, such as altering an image by inserting or removing an object, seem more significant than selection of a film emulsion, a color balance, or the texture of the paper on which the image is printed.

Then there's the often quoted Ansel Adams position on manipulation.
[blockquote]"The negative is the score, and the print is the performance."[/blockquote]
I understand that of Ansel's famous church prints required huge darkroom effort because he miss guessed the exposure (the light was disappering very quickly) and as a result the negative was very difficult to print.

These days an updated version might be phrased, "The raw image file is the score, and the print is the performance."  Is the photographer the composer, the conductor, the performer, or all of these?  Playing any or all of these roles is perfectly legitimate.

Another nature photographer with strong views similar to Mangelsen's is Stephen Johnson.  Stephen shoots with a variety of digital cameras, including scanning backs that produce files of 144 megapixels. On his Web site he says the following is one of the attributes that makes his images unique.
[blockquote]Stunningly real color with the restrained pallette of what he saw, rather than what film might have done to the light, or what an image editor might have done to "enhance" the photograph.[/blockquote]
One of the entertaining activities on the recent Antarctica cruise was watching the bank and forth exchanges between Stephen and some of the other workshop leaders on this very point.  Always amicable (to my ear, at least), the discussions served to highlight the differing methods and goals of these successful photographic artists.

Integrity as a photographer, to me, centers on being honest about the images you produce.  That's equally true for the photographer as artist, as journalist, or as family archivist.

Bob
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #28 on: February 19, 2009, 09:50:37 PM »
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Quote from: rwzeitgeist
[blockquote]His most successful photo ever -- he says it's earned more than $2.5 million -- is the startling shot of an Alaskan
brown bear nabbing a spawning salmon that serves as this article's opener. This shot is so dead-on that
Mangelsen has been accused of digital fakery. But it was hard-won by previsualization and much waiting. He says
he never manipulates his photos digitally beyond standard darkroom-type controls.[/blockquote]

One of the people in his Jackson, Wyoming, gallery once told me he tried for that shot for 4 months before he got it.


Integrity as a photographer, to me, centers on being honest about the images you produce.  That's equally true for the photographer as artist, as journalist, or as family archivist.

Bob


That was a great post Bob!

Some people can dismiss the kind of work and dedication that Manglesen puts in as "mediocre," but to me this is just jealousy. I think there is something to what he says. While I do see the value of digital manipulation, it also struck me that there is something to be said for the man of exceptional patience and professionally-perfected technique. Whom shall we salute as an artist, ultimately? The guy who can fiddle with a so-so image and get it to work in Photoshop? Or the guy who tried for 4 months to get the perfect photo and finally got it?

Thank you also for sharing the website of Stephen Johnson; I have bookmarked it. Let me share one of another great nature photographer I admire, Thomas Marent: http://www.thomasmarent.com

Like Manglesen, Mr. Marent made 2 separate trips to Borneo to photograph the rare rafflesia flower, and he likewise made 3 separate trips to Peru to get what he considered to be perfect photos of a very rare bird. That, to me, is dedication and integrity! Mr. Marent has a book out called Rainforest, which represents 16 years of his life traveling to every rainforest on earth, and is a composite pictorial of his finest images. I recommend it highly! This book is supported by The Rainforest Foundation and (to me) is the finest collection of nature photos I have ever seen in a book ... ranging from landscapes, to bodies of water, wildlife, to incredible macrophotograpy. All done in film; no digital manipulation.

It is sad that anyone would call the kind of work Manglesen put into his photograph "fake." Such people cry "fake" only because they themselves can't quite get there. The funny thing about TRUTH is it always contains paradox. On the one hand, digital processing is a great and wonderful tool. On the other, digital manipulation will never be able to capture the purity of a supremely focused and dedicated effort, and an ultimately capable ability, to capture a perfect shot of a breathtaking moment in the field.

Jack
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #29 on: February 19, 2009, 10:26:46 PM »
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Quote from: JohnKoerner
Wayne, I don't believe Mr. Mangelsen was being either condescending or critical of others, only definitive of his own ideals.

I agree with this as well, I probably didn't make that clear. Just saying that some may perhaps interpret it differently. Stephen Johnson has a philosophy regarding the removal of things like trash in an image. I have great admiration for the work of both men and have no problem with their personal standards, even though mine are perhaps different.
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« Reply #30 on: February 20, 2009, 12:13:57 AM »
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Hi,

These are interesting questions. Let's regard an animal photographed in capture. The image may be as good as one taken in real world, but as a feat it is not very impressive. Let's discuss some issues

1) Photographer removes cage by retouching: to extensive image manipulation.
2) Photographer removes cage by lens choice and vantage point: OK.
3) It's my feeling that the photographer should indicate that image is taken in capture.
4) The animal i not shown in it's natural habitat, that reduces the value of the image for some uses.
5) The documentary value of an image is reduced if the image is modified.

I'd say that Thomas Mangelsen has a point, but I don't think it's about the image manipulation part but more about being truthful about the pictures you take. If you are selling pictures to an agency and the rules are that images shall not be manipulated than the situation is somewhat different, in that case a contract is involved.  

On the other hand we have a lot of creative freedom, photographers always had:

Choice of color vs. B&W
Tonality and color (Ektachrome look or Velvia look)
Dark or light copy
Dramatic sky by using red filter or graduated ND

Achieving these digitally may be less of a feat than doing the same in the original image but does not reduce the artistic quality of the image. An image is not going to better just because the photographer was standing knee deep in the mud.

Removing objects is an interesting thing. My feeling is that the photographer should always try to make the best of a situation. Finding a clean and good view of the subject is certainly worth the effort in my view. Modifying the environment either pre exposure (carrying way trash) or post exposure (by retouch) are essentially similar. Some photographers have cut down trees just to get a nice view, I'd say that may be a bit excessive. Taking pictures with retouch in mind is OK. No retouching is preferable, but I would not miss a picture I can take once in a lifetime for something I can adjust after the fact.

So next time you photograph the total eclipse of the sun, just ignore that flying saucer, you can always remove it after the fact! ;-)


Best regards
Erik


Quote from: JohnKoerner
As a novice just getting into photography, I have been trying to figure out not just which cameras and lenses to try to get, but also which monitors to view my shots through, as well as which software programs to process my shots with. Well, a girlfriend of mine sent me a link to her personal favorite nature photographer, Thomas Mangelsen, who apparently does not digitally-manipulate his images at all. In fact, it even says so on his website:


"A purist to the end, Tom does not digitally-manipulate his images, and is vehemently opposed to photographing animal models in game farms. Instead, he focuses on three main elements to capture the ideal photograph: Patience, light, and behavior."

http://www.mangelsen.com/store/util/portra...an_artist?Args=


So my question is, as the Digital Age booms does true photographic integrity become extinct? At this point, I am hardly able to create a great shot with both my camera AND post-processing with digital software, so the thought of my own ability to take a "poster shot," just right out of the box with no manipulation at all, is simply amazing to me. Yet wouldn't this be true photographic talent? Isn't post-processing essentially an admission of inferior skill in taking photos with one's camera? I am curious how most people feel about this subject, philosophically.

Should we embrace the fact this is the "Digital Age," and should we therefore use all the photo-modifying software tools we have to our utmost ability?

Or should we lament the fact that true photographic skill is a dying art, and that all of this digital processing means more mediocre photographers are able to digitally-manipulate their images from so-so to acceptable, only thanks to software?

I would be curious how people felt about this, or if they even thought about it.

Jack
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« Reply #31 on: February 20, 2009, 09:26:32 AM »
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I frequently ask my photographic field assistant (my wife) to help me make photographs--though she always refuses to carry one spec of photo gear.  One unique way that she helps is to bend a branch out of my way--not break the branch, but gently pull a branch back like a lucky breeze,  to reveal a clear view of the scene before me.  

To me, digital manipulation should bend the branches back to reveal the truly beautiful scene hidden behind.  The branches should never break.
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« Reply #32 on: February 20, 2009, 09:35:55 AM »
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Quote
By contrast, the person who can only take mediocre photographs, but yet through a deep knowledge of image manipulation he can "doctor them up" nice in Photoshop ... is not really as much a photographer as he is a consummate sofware geek. But in the end, so what?

You are so right..."But in the end, so What?"  To me a photograph begins as I prepare my equipment before I depart home, and ends with a framed print.  Sometimes I don't finish an image because along the way I discover that it lacks potential. It makes me think of an exposed-to-the-right RAW image that initially looks "mediocre' but after raw processing looks FANTASTIC!

If a person wants to limit their photographic craft to the capture end of the spectrum, that's fine, but they are choosing to limit the potential of their work.
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #33 on: February 20, 2009, 10:48:34 AM »
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Well, Fike, that opens up a whole other subject of integrity: manipulating the environment.

I know in butterflying, for instance, certain species are very fast, very erratic, and very hard to get close to for a shot. An old trick is to catch such a species in a butterfly net, put him in the refrigerator for a bit, cool him down to the point of limited mobility ... and then place him on the prettiest flower (with your gear already set-up), and take a superb photo.

However, this is considered absolutely unethical from a naturalist's point of view. Only if somewhere next to the photo such methods are clearly admitted-to would such a manipulation of environment and subject be considered ethical. Strictly-speaking, however, it is considered far more honorable and far more impressive to put whatever time is required in the field to get such a shot naturally, in the species' own natural habitat, in the position and location that the species itself selected.

Jack


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« Reply #34 on: February 20, 2009, 10:58:17 AM »
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Quote from: JohnKoerner
Well, Fike, that opens up a whole other subject of integrity: manipulating the environment.

I know in butterflying, for instance, certain species are very fast, very erratic, and very hard to get close to for a shot. An old trick is to catch such a species in a butterfly net, put him in the refrigerator for a bit, cool him down to the point of limited mobility ... and then place him on the prettiest flower (with your gear already set-up), and take a superb photo.
...

Jack

That sounds awful.  Not my cup of tea.  

People talk about the expression 'take only pictures, leave only footprints,' but i wouldn't think that a shivering (possibly dieing) butterfly qualifies.  All things exist on a continuum.  There may be gray areas in the middle, but as long as you stay clearly back to the conservationist end, I think you are fine.

...and I am not a documentary photographer, so if I can safely, and without harming the environment, remove trash from my picture and the wilderness, I will do it every time.  

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« Reply #35 on: February 20, 2009, 10:59:42 AM »
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I thnk we are slipping into the realm of photo-fiction with this thread. Exciting as it is, I believe that integrity and photography have only one zone where they might meet, should meet or that it matters a jot if they fail to so do: and that is legal evidence.

Anything else is free country, yours to rape and pillage, sack and burn, embellish and venerate. The world is lying on its back for you: what are you waiting for?

Rob C
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« Reply #36 on: February 20, 2009, 11:30:38 AM »
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Quote from: fike
That sounds awful.  Not my cup of tea.  
People talk about the expression 'take only pictures, leave only footprints,' but i wouldn't think that a shivering (possibly dieing) butterfly qualifies.  All things exist on a continuum.  There may be gray areas in the middle, but as long as you stay clearly back to the conservationist end, I think you are fine.
...and I am not a documentary photographer, so if I can safely, and without harming the environment, remove trash from my picture and the wilderness, I will do it every time.

I suppose we agree. For instance, every frog photo I have taken (pretty much) is staged. I do this for my own convenience and I also do it because I am learning how to use/adjust my camera settings properly. I am also considering creating an indoor studio to stage such photos, again only for my own convenience, as well as to achieve perfect lighting, etc., but I would never try to pass these photos off as "field captured."




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Quote from: Rob C
I thnk we are slipping into the realm of photo-fiction with this thread. Exciting as it is, I believe that integrity and photography have only one zone where they might meet, should meet or that it matters a jot if they fail to so do: and that is legal evidence.
Anything else is free country, yours to rape and pillage, sack and burn, embellish and venerate. The world is lying on its back for you: what are you waiting for?
Rob C

I don't think it's quite that simple Rob. For one's own pleasure, I agree, one can photograph whatever he wants. But when a person is trying to represent something, there is an implied covenant that he do so honestly. For example, if Thomas Marent came out with the book I posted above, Rainforest, but instead of his doing whatever he had to do, and making as many trips as he had to make to capture his desired photos IN the rainforest, to get them naturally, he instead paid someone to send him captive examples of the rare birds he was after ... and then in the convenience of his home he staged the shots ... his work would be a sham IMO. I don't think any honest person could argue otherwise. So it is a far more complex subject than merely "legal or not."

So while I agree that if I personally want to take photos of some rare bird like this, for my own personal reasons (or even just to sell the phots as "art") I can go ahead and do so. But if I slap a title on the work as "Birds of the Rainforest," I become a fraud at that very moment.

Jack

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« Reply #37 on: February 20, 2009, 05:43:39 PM »
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Quote from: JohnKoerner
As a novice just getting into photography, I have been trying to figure out not just which cameras and lenses to try to get, but also which monitors to view my shots through, as well as which software programs to process my shots with. Well, a girlfriend of mine sent me a link to her personal favorite nature photographer, Thomas Mangelsen, who apparently does not digitally-manipulate his images at all. In fact, it even says so on his website:

"A purist to the end, Tom does not digitally-manipulate his images, and is vehemently opposed to photographing animal models in game farms. Instead, he focuses on three main elements to capture the ideal photograph: Patience, light, and behavior."

[Jack

This is a marketing decision on Tom Mangelson's part; he's evidently decided that taking the purist tack will help him with his target market, which mostly consists of visitors to his galleries in affluent Western resort towns, many of them tourists looking for an "authentic Western/wilderness experience". Good for him, but that doesn't mean you have to imitate.

There are actually two different issues at play; the first regards photographing captive animals in game farms versus 'free range' wild animals out in the real world. This is not a simple issue! I can respect the immense skill and patience required to capture a beautiful shot of a truly wild animal...but I can also see that given the reality of dwindling pockets of wilderness and growing hordes of eager photographers, pursuing "truly wild" photographs may eventually hound and harrass the remaining wild animals to extinction. "Truly wild" areas like the Yellowstone ecosystem are increasingly hemmed in by humans and increasingly managed like huge game farms anyway. If affluent hobbyists photograph well-treated game farm captives rather than harrassing the national park fauna, I don't see how that's a net loss.

The second issue, that of image manipulation, has its own grammar and history. One can argue that a 2 dimensional rendering on paper is already so abstracted from reality that every photograph is a 'manipulation'. You're choosing what to include or exclude, focal length, perspective, moment of capture...
Which begs the question, I know. So you can choose to try rendering the image as close to visual reality as your memory and printing method permits; or you can make a more interpretive, more pictorialist, less purely representative print. There's nothing new about this in the digital age; Fuji Velvia was the equivalent of cranking in about 30 points of vibrance in ACR, and did Mr. Mangelson use Fuji Velvia? Judging by his recent book of panoramic landscapes, I'd surely bet the answer is yes.

You can try for the most accurate and literal rendition of a scene possible; Stephen Johnson eloquently argues for this artistic approach, noting that digital tools allow for far more accurate and restrained color rendition than traditional darkroom methods. Or, you can knock yourself out and try the most outrageous interpretive approach you can think of. I found it a revelation to see a "straight print" of Ansel Adams' iconic Moonrise, Hernandez NM displayed side by side with the heavily manipulated interpretive print that's far more familiar.

Do whatever you like best, as long as you're not deliberately misleading people.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #38 on: February 21, 2009, 05:49:17 AM »
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I'm sympathetic to the purist view. I'd like to shoot more and manipulate less. But in my case, manipulation would ideally be directed toward rotation, cropping - perspective corrections. I'd like to be relieved of color/contrast adjustment chores etc. But then, the only sure cure for that is perfect light.
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #39 on: February 21, 2009, 10:22:47 AM »
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Quote from: Geoff Wittig
This is a marketing decision on Tom Mangelson's part; he's evidently decided that taking the purist tack will help him with his target market, which mostly consists of visitors to his galleries in affluent Western resort towns, many of them tourists looking for an "authentic Western/wilderness experience". Good for him, but that doesn't mean you have to imitate.


Why are you (and so many others) so cynical about this? Could it possibly be that Manglesen simply believes that "pure photography" occurs out in the field and not behind a PC? Must everyone who stands for something always have an "ulterior motive," or can some people actually believe-in and practice what they preach?




Quote from: Geoff Wittig
There are actually two different issues at play; the first regards photographing captive animals in game farms versus 'free range' wild animals out in the real world. This is not a simple issue! I can respect the immense skill and patience required to capture a beautiful shot of a truly wild animal...but I can also see that given the reality of dwindling pockets of wilderness and growing hordes of eager photographers, pursuing "truly wild" photographs may eventually hound and harrass the remaining wild animals to extinction. "Truly wild" areas like the Yellowstone ecosystem are increasingly hemmed in by humans and increasingly managed like huge game farms anyway. If affluent hobbyists photograph well-treated game farm captives rather than harrassing the national park fauna, I don't see how that's a net loss.

That is an interesting viewpoint, but I just don't think there are "hordes" of photographers out there quite yet. If it came to that, this argument would be more compelling, but I just don't think that the remote areas of the world are teaming with photographers just yet. But still, even if they were, I would much prefer a day and age when African Safaris and such were conducted with "cameras & lenses" over "rifles & bullets" any day ... as a way to bring home trophies.




Quote from: Geoff Wittig
The second issue, that of image manipulation, has its own grammar and history. One can argue that a 2 dimensional rendering on paper is already so abstracted from reality that every photograph is a 'manipulation'. You're choosing what to include or exclude, focal length, perspective, moment of capture...
Which begs the question, I know. So you can choose to try rendering the image as close to visual reality as your memory and printing method permits; or you can make a more interpretive, more pictorialist, less purely representative print. There's nothing new about this in the digital age; Fuji Velvia was the equivalent of cranking in about 30 points of vibrance in ACR, and did Mr. Mangelson use Fuji Velvia? Judging by his recent book of panoramic landscapes, I'd surely bet the answer is yes.

In any general topic of discussion there are going to be specifics that are hard to define where they should get pigeon-holed into the general scheme of things. To quibble that photography itself is abstracted from reality, however, is completely missing the point of the topic and of the philosophy IMO.

Maybe this is a bad analogy, but I guess it can be likened to a computer geek playing "war games" on his computer versus a true general who became decorated out in the field of battle. The computer geek may have acquired a certain skill set with his mouse, keyboard, and understanding the software he's using ... but even if he has achieved the highest level possible in the game, with piles of dead Xorg bodies everywhere ... should he really be saluted like a true 5-star general, who rose through the ranks by dodging real bullets, saving real lives, giving and taking real orders, and making a real difference in the world?

At the end of the day, one guy used and became incredibly proficient with a real set of tools out there, understanding and interacting with the real world, and in so doing really accomplished something skillful ... and the other guy was "clicking his mouse" behind a computer screen. I realize there are imperfections in this analogy, but the point of it is, a photographer who understands the environment, his subject, and the actual tools in his hands to a degree that he can just take photos and have them be perfect with just that would have true mastery of his craft ... while the guy who hasn't quite got there yet will be spending a lot more time in Photoshop.

This is why I suppose many true master photographers still use film, as for instance both Manglesen and Marent still use.




Quote from: Geoff Wittig
You can try for the most accurate and literal rendition of a scene possible; Stephen Johnson eloquently argues for this artistic approach, noting that digital tools allow for far more accurate and restrained color rendition than traditional darkroom methods. Or, you can knock yourself out and try the most outrageous interpretive approach you can think of. I found it a revelation to see a "straight print" of Ansel Adams' iconic Moonrise, Hernandez NM displayed side by side with the heavily manipulated interpretive print that's far more familiar.
Do whatever you like best, as long as you're not deliberately misleading people.

Hell, I can't do either one very proficiently right now. But while it is easy to get enamored with the endless digital possibilities, I believe it still is helpful to stay grounded in reality. I don't claim to have all the answers, but while on the one hand there is something to be said for the unlimited creative freedom of digital manipulation, there is also something to be said for the simplicity of being at the right place, at the right time, and have the skill-set such that you are able to take a photograph so well that you can just present the image as-is.

Jack

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