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Author Topic: Is This What It's Come To?  (Read 9975 times)
Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #40 on: February 25, 2011, 10:42:17 PM »
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Sorry, but I thought we were talking about manipulated photos, not fake reproductions of them. If the "original" photograph is heavily manipulated, i.e. that is the only version that is made public, then how could it be worth any less than an unmanipulated version?

No one is forging anything here.

Can you maybe give another reason?

Unmanipulated = authentic, original nature
(Heavily) Photoshopped = forgery, fake nature

It does not matter if it is "the only version that is made public", what matters is the KNOWLEDGE it was manipulated.

« Last Edit: February 25, 2011, 10:48:02 PM by Slobodan Blagojevic » Logged

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Joe Behar
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« Reply #41 on: February 25, 2011, 10:58:53 PM »
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Unmanipulated = authentic, original nature
Photoshopped = forgery, fake nature

It does not matter if it is "the only version that is made public", what matters is the KNOWLEDGE it was manipulated.



OK, let me play devil's advocate here for a moment...

authentic, original nature....meadow with flowers and a tree.

forgery, fake nature....a Van Gough painting that does not include the tree. Is it worth less?

Vincent did not have Photoshop to manipulate or "forge" nature, he simply left out or added things and probably used colours different than the original subjects as he saw fit. Why can't we do the same thing with photographs?

So many people here are always talking about how photographers are artists, but refuse to let them use the same techniques and license as other artists.

Oh well, I guess most of my images are worth a lot less. I can deal with that Smiley













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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #42 on: February 25, 2011, 11:21:49 PM »
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OK, let me play devil's advocate here for a moment...

authentic, original nature....meadow with flowers and a tree.

forgery, fake nature....a Van Gough painting that does not include the tree. Is it worth less?

Vincent did not have Photoshop to manipulate or "forge" nature, he simply left out or added things and probably used colours different than the original subjects as he saw fit...

You are changing the premise of the debate: we were talking about two images that are THE SAME in the end-result (appearance), but different in the process that led to the end result (one manipulated, the other not). We were not talking about images that differ from each other in alteration of elements or colors, as in your "devil's" example.
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Joe Behar
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« Reply #43 on: February 26, 2011, 08:00:30 AM »
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You are changing the premise of the debate: we were talking about two images that are THE SAME in the end-result (appearance), but different in the process that led to the end result (one manipulated, the other not). We were not talking about images that differ from each other in alteration of elements or colors, as in your "devil's" example.


Sorry Slobodan, I was referring to the original posting. Looking back over some of your comments and others, I see that indeed there has been mention of what you say. However...

The original posting mentioned that the gallery owner thought the image was manipulated to show "fake" colours, there was a posting showing two photos of rocks that were vastly different and there is a photo of the moon that some might think shows "fake" colours..I don't think any of these images would the THE SAME in the end result (appearance). For that matter, I can't see how two images could possibly look the same if one of them has been manipulated.

I will ask again, without my example. If we consider photography to be an art, why should we have to adhere to the notion that the artist cannot inject his/her own ideas into the image?
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RSL
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« Reply #44 on: February 26, 2011, 08:40:50 AM »
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Joe, It depends on how the photographer represents his photograph. If he doesn't claim the picture shows things as they really are he can get away with all sorts of "artistic" manipulations. But if he's claiming the picture is a faithful representation of reality, it had better look like reality. Of course no picture ever is a faithful representation of reality, but in situations like street photography or photojournalism or even realistic landscape photography the photographer is bound to come up with pictures people can accept as representations of reality.

But in the end, a good gallery owner probably is going to reject an over-saturated color photograph because of its tackiness.
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Joe Behar
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« Reply #45 on: February 26, 2011, 09:03:34 AM »
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Russ,

I agree vis-a-vis photojournalism. If you're reporting news, or documenting then you should definitely avoid manipulation of elements in the photo. However, if you're producing a picture for someone to hang on their wall, I say anything goes. Again, why should we be bound to faithful representations of reality? There's a whole universe of images that can be beautiful with very little relation to reality. We see this all the time.

Some galleries will reject what you call tacky, others will eat it up, knowing their client base will buy it.

Maybe I'm just a frustrated painter wannabe Smiley
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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There is no rule! No - wait ...


« Reply #46 on: February 26, 2011, 09:39:25 AM »
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Even Ansel Adams manipulated his images with super special techniques like dodging and burning ...
He even developed a so called zone system to cheat us all and get unrealistically perfect results ...
He had a manipulator camera which allowed changing the alignment of image plane and object plane to cheat when focusing .....
Hell ....
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LKaven
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« Reply #47 on: February 26, 2011, 10:43:36 AM »
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We're discussing whether the etiology of an image matters in judgments of value.  To make the point, we consider cases where two images are identical, but have different etiology, and we consider cases where two images differ and where the etiology is also different.  In all cases, what the etiology is and what we know about it affects our judgments of value.  The only thing I think we've shown is that it is more than just the image that matters.  When it comes to other things, concerns of one kind or another (artistic value, provenance, etc) may trump other concerns about etiology.
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Joe Behar
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« Reply #48 on: February 26, 2011, 11:08:28 AM »
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e·ti·ol·o·gy also ae·ti·ol·o·gy  (t-l-j)
n. pl. e·ti·ol·o·gies also ae·ti·ol·o·gies
1.
a. The study of causes or origins.
b. The branch of medicine that deals with the causes or origins of disease.
2.
a. Assignment of a cause, an origin, or a reason for something.
b. The cause or origin of a disease or disorder as determined by medical diagnosis.

Luke,

To be honest I had to look up the word. I think we might both have it only half right. The origin of a photo is only a small part of the story. It is incomplete without the photographer's input.

I just happen to think that the photographer's input, additions, deletions and manipulations are far more important. Those are the things that make an image unique and differentiate us from one another.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #49 on: February 26, 2011, 11:57:37 AM »
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... If we consider photography to be an art, why should we have to adhere to the notion that the artist cannot inject his/her own ideas into the image?

I do not think that anyone here said you can not or should not. Certainly not me. As I already said in post #2:  I often introduce myself, and only half-jokingly, as a photoshopographer™.

My photographs, landscapes included, are often heavily photoshopped. Some are visibly so, some barely perceptible (at least to an untrained eye). One of my most photoshopped ones, where I spent countless hours manually blending two exposures, dodging and burning, and countless other local adjustments, turned out to be one of my most successful ones, ending on a cover as well. And yet I rarely got a question: "Was it photoshopped?". The closest comment to it was that it looks more like a painting. I like to believe that is a consequence of my quest for "believability", while manipulating a photograph.


Bass Harbor Lighthouse by Slobodan Blagojevic, on Flickr


Digital Photographer Cover by Slobodan Blagojevic, on Flickr

In other words, it is o.k. to manipulate an image, even heavily so, but we then cross into entirely different categories of photography, ranging from fine art to digital illustration, or to use examples, from Ansel Adams to Bert Monroy.

And not only we are talking about different categories, we are now talking about different classes of buyers too. Those who are excited by unspoiled nature, rare natural sights, unique natural beauty, are predominantly in love with the nature, not photographic art. And they want their nature presented with no or minimum manipulation (the likes of Peter Lik, Tom Mangelsen, and Michael Fatali). And apparently they are willing to pay millions for it. No matter what you and I think, whether Ansel is greater artist/photographer than, say, Peter Lik, buyers are voting with their money. We can argue until blue in the face that there is no reason why a heavily manipulated image should be less valuable, buyers apparently think otherwise. To use an example from the world of movies: is the biggest box-office hit of all times at the same time the best movie ever? I do not think so... but it did make the most money.

At the same time, there is another class of buyers, that would rather gouge their eyeballs out with a plastic spoon then put "yet another pretty mountain sunrise" on their walls, photoshopped or not. They would go for a different type of photography altogether (if at all).
« Last Edit: February 26, 2011, 01:58:55 PM by Slobodan Blagojevic » Logged

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Joe Behar
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« Reply #50 on: February 26, 2011, 12:05:56 PM »
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Fair enough Slobodan,

Its difficult to argue with what you've said

Thank goodness, I don't have to concern myself with attracting buyers that are willing to spend millions Smiley
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« Reply #51 on: February 26, 2011, 12:25:17 PM »
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Unmanipulated = authentic, original nature
(Heavily) Photoshopped = forgery, fake nature

It does not matter if it is "the only version that is made public", what matters is the KNOWLEDGE it was manipulated.



Bullshit.  Complete, total, utter bullshit.

This 'it has to be unmanipulated to be pure' mantra is total nonsense and I'm frankly sick and tired of reading/hearing people pontificate about it.  Every photo is a manipulation of reality.  Every single one.  Whether it's through the choice of lens, framing, shutter speed, aperture every photo is a manipulation of reality and yes that includes PJ images.  

Similarly the idea that only a 'real' Picasso matters.  Do we know how many times he scraped paint off the canvas and started over?  Do we know how many times he painted over something to 'fix' it?  How many times he may have tossed the canvas into the trash and started over?  Insert any other artist for Picasso and the same questions apply.  Insert sketch artists and sculptors and the same questions apply.  What we see is the 'final' version of the work.  We have no idea how many attempts were made to get to that final, public version.  If you knew that Picasso had tossed out three earlier versions of his 'Blue Nude' would that make the final, public version less valuable?  Why should that be any different with photography?  In the two images of beach rocks, one is a copy of a RAW file straight out of the camera.  The second is a 'final' version after 'manipulating' it in the digital darkroom.  I added nothing.  I subtracted nothing.  I merely enhanced what already existed.  Everything in that second version was in the first, it just needed some work to be brought out.  Why is that so wrong in your view?  Let's take the argument even further.  Why should a photographer ever take more than one shot of a scene?  If every successive image is a cheap copy of the original, then we should only every photograph anything once.  We should never return to a spot many times over the years looking for that perfect lighting, perfect setting.  We should just go, shoot it once and be done with it.  'This is the best I can do because any other attempts will be pale imitations of this blah, flat, boring, completely lacking in any visual interest 'original'.

Your idea that the two images have to be the same is also fatally flawed.  If photographers are taken to task for cloning out a branch or inserting a moon, why aren't other visual artists held to the same standard?  Why is it OK for others but not for photographers?  

To move away from the extreme 'no manipulation, purity only' position for a moment and perhaps bring the discussion back to a more reasoned and realistic base; Luke's point is valid.  Origin should matter.  An image where the 'light window' doesn't exist naturally but is 'edited in' should be less valuable than an image where the 'light window' is naturally occurring.  There really should be no question about that.  And I wasn't questioning that with the original posting of this discussion.  My concern is of the, increasingly pervasive, mindset that assumes everything is a manipulation.  
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LKaven
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« Reply #52 on: February 26, 2011, 12:31:28 PM »
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e·ti·ol·o·gy also ae·ti·ol·o·gy  (t-l-j)
n. pl. e·ti·ol·o·gies also ae·ti·ol·o·gies
1.
a. The study of causes or origins.
b. The branch of medicine that deals with the causes or origins of disease.
2.
a. Assignment of a cause, an origin, or a reason for something.
b. The cause or origin of a disease or disorder as determined by medical diagnosis.

Luke,

To be honest I had to look up the word. I think we might both have it only half right. The origin of a photo is only a small part of the story. It is incomplete without the photographer's input.

I just happen to think that the photographer's input, additions, deletions and manipulations are far more important. Those are the things that make an image unique and differentiate us from one another.
The photographer's input, additions, /reasons/, etc., are all a part of the etiology of the image.  

I used the word, obscure as it is in everyday use, to point to a thread in analytical philosophy, in the part of theory where these views are underwritten.  
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #53 on: February 26, 2011, 12:56:46 PM »
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Bullshit.  Complete, total, utter bullshit...

Classy... but it does not add any weight to your (mostly) straw-man arguments.

P.S. Have you read my reply #49?
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Slobodan

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LKaven
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« Reply #54 on: February 26, 2011, 01:15:23 PM »
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I think there is no single rule concerning the value of modified images.  Not all unmodified images will be considered more valuable than modified images.  There is a certain amount of commonsense being appealed to in most judgments I would say.

I keep going back to Bob's original image.  So Bob captured a rare optical phenomenon in nature in his example by happening to be there in vivo at the right time.  You can examine the image more closely in the hope of discerning something special, of even learning just a little bit about the natural world.  You can feel privileged in its scarcity.  This is the play of the image upon the mind as stimulated by your knowledge of its causal history.  This is where the gallery owner, though he might have started out with some prejudice, began to see the possibility of selling the picture.  And there is where, plausibly, the buyer will scratch his chin and pull out his wallet.  Ultimately, you have to look at the etiology of the /sale/ separately, to understand what brought the buyer to the point of committing.

But this does not count against wholesale invention of an image, or extreme manipulation.  One has to examine those cases individually.  In some cases, the image will be judged to have an aesthetic value independent of whether or not it is a veridical representation.  In some cases, the image will fail aesthetically if it is judged to misrepresent itself, for example by the explicit or implicit suggestion that an image is a veridical image when it is not.

Back again to the two identical images depicting Jimmy Hoffa's murder, one imagined, and one real.  They might both have value, but their value would be based on different things.  The imagined image may evoke a shared cultural response and be considered a great work of art.  The real image, of course, would be one of the most historically valuable images ever made.  Only the etiology is different.
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #55 on: February 26, 2011, 01:20:06 PM »
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To me the answer is simple. I am an artist not a copy machine. My traditional silver prints are highly expressive and by necessity highly manipulated. Why would my digital work be any different?

I have gotten into many arguments with photographers about this issue. Usually it comes up when I am looking at work in a gallery or on the web that is clearly manipulated but the photographer claims that it isn't. This seems especially common amongst color landscape photographers. I think people who deny their artistic intervention into an image are doing themselves, the profession and the public a profound disservice.
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LKaven
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« Reply #56 on: February 26, 2011, 01:35:10 PM »
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To me the answer is simple. I am an artist not a copy machine. My traditional silver prints are highly expressive and by necessity highly manipulated. Why would my digital work be any different?

I have gotten into many arguments with photographers about this issue. Usually it comes up when I am looking at work in a gallery or on the web that is clearly manipulated but the photographer claims that it isn't. This seems especially common amongst color landscape photographers. I think people who deny their artistic intervention into an image are doing themselves, the profession and the public a profound disservice.
Usually (as well you know) these arguments that people engage you in are pitched in the wrong direction in the first place.  The aesthetics of your images clearly have to do with a love of form and beauty, and you are able to bring out the beauty in the architecture itself.  Clearly also, you do not misrepresent the real forms that you are photographing.  So there is considerable room for manipulation in this view that produces positive value. 

[PS--I like your work, and would go to your site more often if it didn't resize my browser window.]
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« Reply #57 on: February 26, 2011, 01:56:06 PM »
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We were writing at the same time, Slobodan.  Yours got posted just before mine.  I read it after I'd posted.

Based on what you wrote in the responses I was referencing when I wrote my last one, there was nothing straw-man about my comments.  I referenced your comments specifically and addressed what I felt was their validity (not much).  And, it does, quite honestly move away from what the original intent of the thread was.  

As far as whether you find the tenor of my response to be 'classy' or not, it doesn't matter.  My point was unambiguous and that was the intent so the purpose was served.

I've got an example similar to yours.  Probably many of us do.  Big deal.





In this case, the editor didn't ask if the image was manipulated.  In point of fact, this is an HDR image.  The editor liked the image, felt it would work well with the theme of the issue and licensed it.  Terrific.  Similar to your Bass Harbor image, it's pretty much tailor made for that purpose due to the large areas of negative space.

Kirk, I would agree.  Disclosure and transparency are laudable.

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RSL
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« Reply #58 on: February 26, 2011, 02:58:16 PM »
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Some galleries will reject what you call tacky, others will eat it up, knowing their client base will buy it.

Joe, you're quite right, but I qualified my statement with the term "good gallery." Plenty of galleries, perhaps the majority of galleries, specialize in tacky art work.

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« Reply #59 on: February 26, 2011, 03:02:39 PM »
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That's getting into a very subjective area; however, in trying to determine what's 'tacky' and what isn't.
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