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Author Topic: Digitally manipulated prints?  (Read 6658 times)
Gordon Buck
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« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2005, 02:18:02 PM »
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Some good points are being made about the connotations of the word "manipulate".  I suppose we were thinking more along the lines of "To move, arrange, operate, or control by the hands or by mechanical means, especially in a skillful manner" but I see that there are perhaps more negative connotations than positive ones.

Our camera club is an interesting and ever changing (growing actually, especially since the introduction of digital photography) group currently numbering about a hundred people.  We have old and young, artistic and technical types, film and digital proponents.  Many people, especially the newer members, have mid-range to expensive point-and-shoot digital cameras.  I've been surprised by the number of members who do not process their own digital images at all (but many of these have joined the club to learn how to work with the digital workflow).

Our monthly contest is organized into categories of monochrome prints, color prints and color transparencies.  About two years ago, we added "digitally manipulated" prints.  Recently we added "digital projection".  Obviously, we don't do all of these categories every month. About three times a year, we have a theme contest but otherwise any subject is OK.  It's a nice club, lots of fun being with other photographers and I've enjoyed the club while learning a lot about photography.

Notwithstanding the technical and artistic arguments given herein, I'm still inclined to recommend that we keep our "manipulated" category (with perhaps a different name) even though the definition is somewhat fuzzy.
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BryanHansel
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« Reply #21 on: July 28, 2005, 02:55:47 PM »
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After thinking about this, you could define the category something like this:

A composite photographic image consisting of two or more images combined digitally, but not those in which several exposures of the same image were made to combine later to increase depth.  In addition the category includes images manipulated in the computer to achieve effects not possible in reality.

Maybe???

The last sentence tries to address the green camels.  Of course, you could paint a camel green.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #22 on: July 28, 2005, 05:55:12 PM »
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For a show like that or a competition, categories should be according to subject matter, not process. It is the artistic merit of the end result that matters, not how the photographer got there.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Gordon Buck
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« Reply #23 on: July 28, 2005, 07:37:10 PM »
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Don't most photo competitions have separate categories for monochrome, color prints and transparencies?
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med007
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« Reply #24 on: July 29, 2005, 02:31:08 AM »
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I heartily concur.

Combining 3 bracketed frames into HDR can help one make a print that resembles the original scene, even if said scene is beyond the single-capture range of the camera. It's a technique to overcome the limitations of the eqipment. But compositing a glacier into a desert scene is something else entirely.
Each will be self evident: an impressive or boring landscape or a stunning or silly juxtapositon of two realities.

Neither is of course more valid.

The only point of reference for veracity is when the picture is altered and so deceives a serious historical, news, scientific or other record the picture is said to document.

Apart from that, it doesnt matter how you fiddle the data.

You might reduce DOF by choosing to use a telephoto wide open or combine 400 frames to expand dynamic range.

All such measures, including tone shifts, trains coming out of people's eyes or other acts of fancy, whim or style are yours to choose.

However, none of these methods are in themselve relevent or of any greater or lesser importance.

All images are true and false at the same time.

The image is either impactful emotionally or not.  To the extent that it charges the emotions and compels revisiting, it succeeeds as art. All other considerations, rules and standards are delusional.

A picture can be grainy, out of focus, with the wrong colors and have no classic composition and yet still be exceptional.

Likewise a rule abiding, perfectly composed, lit and printed picture of a lovely landscape can be trite.

In a way, great photgraphy is like a good joke. Did they laugh? If they did, then the line was good.

The same with art. If you stir emotions and people are pulled into your world, you succeeeded.

As long as we know what our intent is, documentation or art, then I see no difficulties in what we do.

The conceit, however, that one kind of landcape somehow is truthful while a green camel is not, is a retrogressive attitude.

Truly, the ideas expressed in the metaphor of a "green camel" in a particular picture, might indeed be important and of consequence to our way of looking at our society, choices and so forth.

Art is indeed a vehicle that tests, carries and diseminates the allegories, myths and metaphors of our culture. Unlike verbal language, art isn't so transient, lost after each word is spoken.

Unlike a word or a sigh, our pictures last. They therefore need to carry some device that triggers emotions again and again.

That is such a high demand!

In fairness, therefore, art is valid by nature of it's visibility, intent and reception not how it is assembled!

This is true for paints, metals, stone or photographs.

It's valid if it moves you. It could be layered, fused, brilliantly developed in silver or pure iridium... and be junk.

Sorry to speachify, but the idea of denigrating some art as less "truthful" really bugs me!

Asher
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #25 on: July 29, 2005, 01:03:06 PM »
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why have categories at all

Take that one step further.  Why have contests at all?

Why should photography be a competitive sport?  What makes one photograph (or piece of other art) "better" than another?  

Why not let people display a piece of their work and get constructive feedback?  Let the photographer state what they were trying to do and let people comment on how well they accomplished their goal and what they might have done differently to achieve that goal?
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #26 on: July 30, 2005, 12:20:43 PM »
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One on-line photography "challenge" in which I sometimes participate has this to say regarding post-processing: "There are no limits on image post-processing.  Edit to your tastes and the voters will decide if itís too much."  It is not required, but most entrants disclose any special post-processing beyond the usual cropping, curves adjustment, sharpening, etc.
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med007
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« Reply #27 on: July 31, 2005, 12:14:54 PM »
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Asher - -----
 I'd be able to address the technical merits of the combination of prints. †It seems like it would be helpful, not only to the viewer, but also photographer/graphic artist.

In my opinion, there is a difference between a landscape image distorted simply by the lens and one distorted by the computer. ---------- After all, we don't allow painted landscapes in a photo contest.--------

Bryan
Brian,

I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

I don't have a "religious" set of rules for categorizing pictures. Just I don't like the equivalent of "racial profiling" to single out "altered in P.S. pictures" or "composite" pictures without a valid reason.

So if there was an object to highlight certain technics, sure, make any category you want for the sake of education. Otherwise, the process, per se, is not relevant. Allow folks to make their own judgments and realizations.

We have moved in the past 20 years from the "purist" and delusional conceit that metal based imaging was somehow truthful. However, it never reproduces faithfully what the view sees, †merely an approximation to achieve a particular visceral reaction. It is always a true "manipulation" of our senses.

Imaging is now liberated to declare its full capability to evoke emotions without pretences of purity or skill in drawing or painting. Imaging is now simple but the delivery of art that is impactful is still very challenging.

Yes, one could have a separate category for other metal based images, but the reason for me at least would be that the delicate extended tones of such prints and being monochrome fit together. However, I'd add to that category, monochrome pictures printed any way from color images made "B&W" digitally.

The goal now must be, IMHO, to free ourselves from technic per se, unless one is teaching. There is no hard and fast rule for me at least. Just that we should avoid a derogatory public concept of "manipulation" for modern digital prints.

I agree, Bobtrips idea of having a separate category for non-juried entries is great! It promotes new ideas. In online photograpy sites, the concept works.

Further, if you wish to exclude obvious strokes of paint over your print, do that.

Still, you might make a section for mixed media. But these decisions should be recognised as whimsical like having sepia images or night shots.

The categorization, like museum curating, is best as a creative process emphasizing theme or subject. However, some exhibits could also showcase technic.

It is a matter of "could" versus "should". Just do your best.

Merely my point of view.

Asher
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