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Author Topic: What's it about  (Read 6032 times)
Ray
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« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2010, 07:30:42 AM »
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Quote from: JohnKoerner
Dan, I think there's a shorter saying (that we all know) that validates what you just said: "A picture's worth a thousand words."

Every photo captures something that it would take a lot of words to 'try' to duplicate. Take Mike's photo above as an example. Suppose you tried to relay that same scene in words, as an author. It would probably take several paragraphs, and more than a thousand words, to adequately describe the full setting, the lighting, the mood, etc. Yet with one photo the entire scene is captured.

Thus, as it relates to Michael's article question, "What's it all about?", this kind of question is why I like macro-photography so much. Macro-photography gives me the ability to take the tiny, common things that we walk passed every day and turn them into huge images that "tell a story" that a person seldom takes the time to notice. Sometimes it is simply an appreciation of form, or color, or both form and color. Sometimes it is the feeling of awe at how alien some of the smaller creatures of this world are, when blown-up, that we begin to imagine "what it would be like" to encounter such a creature the same size as you. Tiny things that we barely notice when walking by, when blown-up to life-size, give fleeting thoughts, impressions, and moments of reverence that would not not be possible to get without macro equipment.

So I too believe that every photograph has a reason why it was taken. However, whether or not anyone else cares (or can share the same sentiment) is another matter. Perhaps the definition of a "successful" photograph would be one that accurately transfers the sentiment or impression that the photographer who took it felt. If a photo causes someone else a moment of pause, then in that moment of pause is where the transfer of feeling or sentiment is felt by the viewer, which originally was felt by the photographer and compelled him to take the photo to begin with. By contrast, the photo that is tossed over the shoulder, and effects no such moment of pause, fails to transfer the intended sentiment effectively, at least where that individual is concerned.

Thus it is all about communication. Writing itself is nothing but an attempt to transfer facts, sentiments, ideas, etc. It is, in short, a slow form of communication. Quite obviously, the same is true with our spoken words: they too are used to communicate but they too are slow when compared to other means of communication.

Well, if we default back to the saying, "A picture's worth a thousand words," and if we apply it to this discussion (and thus to our photography), this means that the pictures we take are merely an accelerated form of communication. They are an attempt to say "a thousand words" with one click of the finger. And, just as there are people who can talk all day and yet really say nothing, so too are there people who can say a lot with but a few words.

I think this same fact obtains with photography, just on an accelerated level.

Jack


Good post, Jack. That's more or less how I view the role of the photograph.
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Rob C
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« Reply #21 on: March 07, 2010, 03:38:23 AM »
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Yes, it can be exactly like that, but I have a feeling that photography, like painting or even music, can be about the verbally inexpressible too and is, in fact, more suited to that than to something that can be described in words.

The problem is, where something can be written, the author has the power to be precise (should he wish) and to give a single meaning to his writings unless he chooses to confound, obfuscate, be 'artistic' and mess around with semantics for the hell of it, or in order to further his literary career. The great failure in communication that graphic images suffer is their very inabilty to be as precise as the written word: they are always wide open to viewer interpretation, which can be a huge failure indeed.

So as to a single picture being worth a thousand words - only sometimes.

Rob C
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Chris_T
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« Reply #22 on: March 07, 2010, 07:48:13 AM »
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Quote from: michael
I often see people's photographs during review and don't "get" what the creator had in mind. It isn't so much "what's it about" as why? what were you after?

At the risk of misunderstanding Michael's comment completely, I also happen to believe in the importance of "why". A great image is created by a photographer with some intent in mind. Viewers and critics may or may not interpret the image's intents the same way. But their comments should be supported by "why" they the see it their ways. Comments like "beautiful", and "I love it" without any context are pitifully lacking in meaning and substance. Yet that's all we see in the User Critiques forum:

http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....mp;#entry338293

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When you look at your own photographs, ask yourself that simple qustion and see what answers you come up with. In the end, if you can't answer the question convincingly, maybe the shot is not as successful as you might have thought it to be.
Exactly. If you can't come up with such answers for your own work, how can you expect your viewers to?

And for the critics, if you can't articulate "why" you feel a certain way about an image, are you really appreciating it?
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #23 on: March 08, 2010, 06:20:49 AM »
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Quote from: Ray
Good post, Jack. That's more or less how I view the role of the photograph.

Thanks Ray.




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Quote from: Rob C
Yes, it can be exactly like that, but I have a feeling that photography, like painting or even music, can be about the verbally inexpressible too and is, in fact, more suited to that than to something that can be described in words.

I agree 100% with this sentiment. I believe a truly good photograph not only "is worth a thousand words" but also effectively transfers moods, feelings, etc. that cannot adequately be put into words.




Quote from: Rob C
The problem is, where something can be written, the author has the power to be precise (should he wish) and to give a single meaning to his writings unless he chooses to confound, obfuscate, be 'artistic' and mess around with semantics for the hell of it, or in order to further his literary career.

There is a tremendous complexity to writing to be sure. It is hard enough for most folks to be "exact" in what they say, let alone to have such a command of the language that they can carry subtle (and even twisted/ironic/hidden) meaning to what they say.




Quote from: Rob C
The great failure in communication that graphic images suffer is their very inabilty to be as precise as the written word: they are always wide open to viewer interpretation, which can be a huge failure indeed.

I don't follow you here. In fact, my belief would be the exact opposite of this: unless we are discussing mathematical equations in a textbook, it is the written word which will never be as precise as the photograph.

For example, if I describe a woman's beauty to you, I could speak of her full, red lips, the creamy complexion of her skin, the golden curls that dance about her shoulders and back as she walks away ... and you will begin to form "an image" in your mind of the woman ... but it will be an entirely different image than what I am seeing in my mind (what Ray is seeing in his mind, etc.).

By contrast, if I took a photograph of the exact woman I was writing about, then you, Ray, and I would all be seeing the same face, the same complexion, the same golden hair, etc. ... whereas none of us would be seeing the same identical image in our minds based solely on a verbal description. And this truth of infinite variance would obtain whether I was verbally trying to describe a sunset, a mountain range, the detailed intricasy of an insect's body armor, etc., etc. There is simply no way that written words will ever create an "identical image" in all minds in the same fashion as will a photograph.

Thus, in the end, even the greatest writers and authors will never be able to communicate with the same exactness as what is communicated in a photograph, at least not in the ability to describe what we see physically. However, when describing the complexity of emotions (lost love, the "hows" and "whys" behind a smile), then I agree the written word is able to ad lib to the photograph, and so to tell a more detailed human story about what is being seen visually in a person's facial expressions.

For example, if I took a photograph of the golden-haired woman smiling a Mona Lisa smile, the photograph would allow us ALL to be on the exact same page as to what she looks like ... but yet there could be ten thousand "different interpretations" as to why she is smiling, what was on her mind, etc. This is where the written word could be more exact, in explaining the nuances behind facial expressions. For if I personally knew why she was smiling, and I wrote a caption under the photograph stating exactly what that reason was, then there would be no more room for interpretation.

So I guess I see your point that the written word can give more precision than the photograph, in some ways, I still hold that there is no person on earth who can write well enough to exactly transfer what something looks like as well as can a photograph.




Quote from: Rob C
So as to a single picture being worth a thousand words - only sometimes.
Rob C

I believe, in virtually every instance, it would take at least a thousand words to describe every detail of all that can be seen in any photograph ... and that after this writing effort had been completed there still would be vastly different "images" placed in the minds of every individual who read the passage (without seeing the photograph) ... and that no writing effort alone could come anywhere near to providing the kind of precision and uniformity of what the actual photograph of that same subject instantly would confer upon the viewer.

Jack




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« Last Edit: March 08, 2010, 06:33:43 AM by JohnKoerner » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #24 on: March 09, 2010, 03:32:54 AM »
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Quote from: JohnKoerner
By contrast, if I took a photograph of the exact woman I was writing about, then you, Ray, and I would all be seeing the same face, the same complexion, the same golden hair, etc. ... whereas none of us would be seeing the same identical image in our minds based solely on a verbal description. And this truth of infinite variance would obtain whether I was verbally trying to describe a sunset, a mountain range, the detailed intricasy of an insect's body armor, etc., etc. There is simply no way that written words will ever create an "identical image" in all minds in the same fashion as will a photograph.

Jack



Jack, I'm not sure that because two people are confronted with the same evidence that they do, in fact, see or make the same interpretation; this may well be unavoidably true when seeing simple mathematics such as 1+1=2 writ large on a blackboard, but as for something as complex and open to interpretation as a face, I seriously doubt that we do see the same thing. Take a photograph of a bearded man wearing a turban: what does that represent without captions? Whatever one might want it to represent.

Conveniently, take the example of Michael's present front page photograph of the old doorway: what do you see? The very first thing that came into my mind was that he had shot something in what, to me, is Keith Laban country, albeit an image made neither in Greece nor with such amazing colours.  Unless I am mistaken or just having some hindsight here, I also thought about Eric's work. I wonder how many other viewers thought they were seeing any of those things?

Rob C

P.S.   1+1=2. I had to go check that!
« Last Edit: March 09, 2010, 03:34:04 AM by Rob C » Logged

Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #25 on: March 09, 2010, 08:30:28 AM »
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Quote from: Rob C
P.S.   1+1=2. I had to go check that!
Are you sure, or is that just your opinion? I won't accept it until you provide the raw images as evidence!  

Eric


P.S. Which "Eric" were you referring to? Chan?

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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #26 on: March 09, 2010, 07:54:12 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
Jack, I'm not sure that because two people are confronted with the same evidence that they do, in fact, see or make the same interpretation; this may well be unavoidably true when seeing simple mathematics such as 1+1=2 writ large on a blackboard, but as for something as complex and open to interpretation as a face, I seriously doubt that we do see the same thing.

I understand your point, Rob, but I still maintain that if a "physical description" of a face were read in a book we would see even less of the same thing. Is this not, after all, why the police utilize mugshots/sketches of criminals at large, rather than a written description?




Quote from: Rob C
Take a photograph of a bearded man wearing a turban: what does that represent without captions? Whatever one might want it to represent.

Well, here again, I understand your point. In fact, in my last post I stated that the written word helps dovetail an understanding of the photo, but it sure doesn't replace it. After all, if we are far apart in our interpretation of what a man in a turban looks like in a photo, just imagine how far apart we'd be if it were only described in words.




Quote from: Rob C
Conveniently, take the example of Michael's present front page photograph of the old doorway: what do you see? The very first thing that came into my mind was that he had shot something in what, to me, is Keith Laban country, albeit an image made neither in Greece nor with such amazing colours.  Unless I am mistaken or just having some hindsight here, I also thought about Eric's work. I wonder how many other viewers thought they were seeing any of those things?
Rob C
P.S.   1+1=2. I had to go check that!

Your point again is well taken that, even with photos, there is still room for interpretation ... different people will be reminded of different things ... etc., etc., ad infinitum ... when presented with any photograph. However, as true as this is, the fact remains it is truer still that there is even more room for interpretation and even more diversity of "impressions" in the minds of people who are only reading words describing the same thing.

Sometimes, a reduction to the ridiculous is necessary to illustrate a point, so I will do so in this example: heck it really doesn't matter whether you're talking about a face, a mountain range, a butterfly, a model, a dog, whatever ... imagine trying to describe ANY object with one word ... how useless and limited you are ... but yet just imagine how much ground you can cover and how exact you can get by describing that same thing with one photograph.

Thus, in conclusion, I hope the veracity of the age-old saying, "A picture's worth a thousand words," has been made

Jack




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« Last Edit: March 09, 2010, 07:57:39 PM by JohnKoerner » Logged
Chris_T
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« Reply #27 on: March 10, 2010, 08:31:54 AM »
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Quote from: Rob C
1+1=2. I had to go check that!

Sometimes. 1+1=10, binary.
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joofa
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« Reply #28 on: March 10, 2010, 12:21:45 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
1+1=2. I had to go check that!

How about this.

[div class=\'codetop\']CODE[div class=\'codemain\' style=\'height:200px;white-space:pre;overflow:auto\']Suppose x = y.
x*y = y*y                    (multiply both sides by y)
x*y - x*x = y*y - x*x        (subtract x^2 from both sides)
x*(y-x) = (y+x)*(y-x)        (factor)
x = y + x                    (remove that y-x on both sides)
x = x + x                    (since x = y from the assumption in the start)
x = 2x                       (add)
1 = 2                        (divide by x on both sides)

so 1+1 becomes 1+1 = 3, and so on .....

Right?
« Last Edit: March 10, 2010, 12:31:53 PM by joofa » Logged

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Rob C
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« Reply #29 on: March 10, 2010, 12:47:40 PM »
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Quote from: Eric Myrvaagnes
Are you sure, or is that just your opinion? I won't accept it until you provide the raw images as evidence!  

Eric


P.S. Which "Eric" were you referring to? Chan?






Why you, Eric!

Rob C
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larsrc
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« Reply #30 on: March 16, 2010, 09:01:18 AM »
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Quote from: JohnKoerner
...
Sometimes, a reduction to the ridiculous is necessary to illustrate a point, so I will do so in this example: heck it really doesn't matter whether you're talking about a face, a mountain range, a butterfly, a model, a dog, whatever ... imagine trying to describe ANY object with one word ... how useless and limited you are ... but yet just imagine how much ground you can cover and how exact you can get by describing that same thing with one photograph.

Thus, in conclusion, I hope the veracity of the age-old saying, "A picture's worth a thousand words," has been made

Can be worth. However, one word can also be worth a thousand pictures - just see all the photo contests with a single-word subject that has a gazillion pictures. When we hear words like 'emancipation', 'religion', or 'soul', we associate a wide variety of images, feelings and thoughts. Good writers can write single sentences that no photo could hope to capture.

When it comes to capturing the exact details of an object, the photo has the advantage. For capturing history, ideas or emotions, words can be much stronger.

-Lars
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