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Author Topic: When is a Photograph a Cheat?  (Read 17534 times)
petermfiore
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« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2011, 05:24:51 PM »
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I think that perception comes from the fact that very few have ever painted, while everyone uses a camera. After all "All you have to do is press the button, the camera does all the work". Right? Before some of you become unglued my tongue is in my cheek.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2011, 05:30:03 PM by petermfiore » Logged

John Camp
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« Reply #21 on: September 03, 2011, 08:05:27 PM »
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Because photography is a newer art than painting, it hasn't become so differentiated. There are a very large number of people who do painting-like things (illustrators, designers, planners, architectural artists, etc.) who use all the tools of a painter, and many of the skills, but don't claim to be "high artists." They are craftsmen or professionals, and everybody thinks that's just fine. I'd say that there are also other categories that are extremely art-like, that most painting critics would not really consider high art: commissioned portrait painters, plein-air hobbyists, and so on, and they are considered valued craftspeople.

In photography, people simply assume the mantle of "artist," and so you have guys who shoot weddings or airplane pictures arguing that what they do is fine art, and there really isn't a big critical structure (as there is with painting) to say no, what you're doing is a craft, but "That's okay, we highly value your craft." If you tell a photographer that he's a craftsman, not an artist, he's likely to be insulted. So, the situation with photography is simply more confusing.

As far as craft goes, the element of craft has some importance in photography, but not too much. Since the thing that makes an image "art" is how it is conceived and how it is received, it's entirely possible that good art could be made with the simplest of cameras, and very little instruction -- David Hockney's collages may be an illustration of this. The situation is somewhat different in painting. I think that if a person were to undergo an intense course in photography, you could learn everything you needed to know to function at a very high craft level in a matter of months. In very heavy-duty art schools, with an extreme emphasis on craft, it usually takes several years before a student could function at a comparative level (in terms of craft only.)

That doesn't mean that one is better than the other; they're just different. It's the concept and the final image that's important.
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #22 on: September 03, 2011, 08:13:41 PM »
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You are conflating effort and craft with art. I don't believe that there is a priori any correlation. It wouldn't take much to find many paintings that were apparently easily executed, that are brilliant and moving, and ones which took hundreds of hours of effort but which are crap.

Hi Michael;

I don't believe I am conflating anything. I have several artists for friends (one of whom is world class), and I know many professional photographers as well, and the level of talent it takes to paint at a very high level is light years harder to "get to" than it is to get to a point of producing exceptional photographs.

Basically, world class artistic ability cannot be "taught." The ability to paint exceptionally well is a gift that a person is either born with or they are not. For example, one of my friends graduated from UCLA with an "art degree" ... and in point of fact he has several top-end clients (ranging from Time Warner, Sony, DCon, AOL, Ford, Mattel, and many other Fortune 500 companies who buy his work) ... and I have another artist friend ... who dropped out of school and who has no degree ... and yet it is the second dropout artist friend who is truly world class. Here are some examples of his work:






Now then, the point I am trying to make is this Michael: you have over 40,000 members of this board. And I say that virtually none of them, in their lifetime, could ever be able to freehand paint with prismacolors and achieve anything remotely as good as what my friend can draw while drinking a cold one.

And yet, I would say that virtually ALL OF US (including me!), if we had a reasonably-decent camera) could take photos of all 3 subjects ... and with a little training in Photoshop could produce a similar results. When you "push a button" and take a photograph, the camera does everything for you in regards to proportion, lines, accuracy of detail, etc. It is simply a cakewalk to learn "how to focus" ... "how to set ISO" ... and "what S/S to use" ... to "take a clear picture" ... compared to the amount of difficulty and natural talent that it takes to draw freehand with ultra-precision. In other words, it is anything but a cakewalk to take a blank piece of paper, and with nothing but inks/paints/pastels to create all of the dimensional accuracy, color accuracy, facial expressions, etc. BY HAND.

So, no, I am not talking about "the amount of time" it takes to make a "crappy" painting, I am talking about the level of talent it takes to make a truly accurate painting AND a work of art, on top of the amount of time that it takes ... all with nothing but your bare hands.




A friend of mine is one of the only people in the world who makes carbon pigment photographic prints. Each print can take as much as a week and some 40-60 hours to complete. They are exquisite as objet d'art, but are only as good artistically as the image from which they are made (which happen in his case to be very good as well).
Art and craft are not the same thing. They are partners. The worth of a work of art lies in its intrinsic ability to move the viuewer, not in how many coffee breaks needed to be taken during its creation.
Michael

I understand what you are saying about craft versus art, but a photographer always has it easier than a world class freehand artist. Why? Because when a photographer "clicks his finger" the detail of the face, the eyes, the expression, the color, etc. are instantly "there" with precision. The photographer does NOT have to "create" this kind of precision by hand, off of a blank piece of paper. Hell, with a basic understanding of how a camera works, and a halfway decent camera, any newbie could go visit a magnificent sunset and within a few moments "snap" a breathtaking shot. But to paint that same sunset would take weeks, months in some cases, and the amount of people who could do "this" with a little training is much more limited. It simply takes a much higher degree of natural talent to paint at a high level with skill.

Regarding the "art" end of things, two people may have the same "artistic eye" for beauty, but the photographer just sets up his gear and pushes a button and he has his vision onhand. The painter not only has to have the same eye, but he has to have a degree of natural talent that is just not very common. He doesn't just have to spend weeks/months in creating his vision ... he has to have the talent to get all of the proportions correctly from scratch ... whereas anyone who points a good camera at a subject gets "that subject" automatically handed to him by the camera.

There is simply a world of difference IMO ... no disrespect to any photographer, including myself

Jack


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Schewe
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« Reply #23 on: September 03, 2011, 09:22:11 PM »
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In other words, it is anything but a cakewalk to take a blank piece of paper, and with nothing but inks/paints/pastels to create all of the dimensional accuracy, color accuracy, facial expressions, etc. BY HAND.

Hum...Jimmie Hendrix is dead...I wonder where your artist friend got the reference material to "paint him" and just how different the "painting" looked from the reference photo. I've seen the reference photos that great painters make (well, in the 20th century say like Norman Rockwell) in order to "paint" their subjects. Putting ink/paints/pastels to paper is no harder nor valuable a talent that knowing when and how to click the shutter.

If you disagree, then you are ignorant of the facts of what it takes to create great art, regardless of the medium. You are guilty of classing various mediums as having greater or lessor inherent value–uh, no, I don't think so bud-it don't work like that. The value of a piece of work has little to do with the difficulty in producing it and is based more on what a pice of art lookes like and how many people are attracted to it. That's what determines value...

No, I can't draw well...so I'm not a painter (which is what I wanted to be when I was a kid), but I can shoot pretty well. Does that really make me less of a talent than your painter friends? Really? Ya might want to rethink what you've said cause what you've said is really pretty stupid...course, that's just my opinion so take it for what it's worth.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2011, 09:24:14 PM by Schewe » Logged
michael
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« Reply #24 on: September 03, 2011, 09:27:35 PM »
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Jeff, you do have a way with words, but I can't say that I disagree with a word you've said. I just would have said it more politely. But then, I'm Canadian, eh!

Michael
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graphius
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« Reply #25 on: September 03, 2011, 09:36:49 PM »
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I may get into trouble here, but some people seem to be thinking that because it can be technically easier to produce a REALISTIC image with a camera, it must de facto be easier to create great art with a camera.
Look at some of the traditional Japanese ink drawings. They are very simple, yet can express a lot. You could also look at some abstract painters like Pollock, et al who, on the surface, look like unplanned paint strokes. The same can be said with photography. It may be "easier" to get a proper exposure*, but that is irrelevant. Is a writer who uses a word-processor less of an artist than one who uses a pen and paper?
Craft is only the very first, very minor point in any art.

*On an aside, taking this argument to extreme, are older photographs more "art" because they had to hand coat glass plates etc
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tom b
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« Reply #26 on: September 03, 2011, 10:01:19 PM »
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I did a reverse image search for the Jimmy Hendrix image and came up with this.

Cheers,

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bopbop
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« Reply #27 on: September 03, 2011, 10:14:22 PM »
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To digress from the weighty matter earlier discussed, digression being the better part of valor:  I like Mr Schacter's composite 'cheat' more than his final 'cheat', given the inexactitude of web jpegs.  The darker clouds and foreground I find move me more.  What do y'all think, eh?
George
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MHMG
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« Reply #28 on: September 03, 2011, 11:13:56 PM »
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I think that perception comes from the fact that very few have ever painted, while everyone uses a camera. After all "All you have to do is press the button, the camera does all the work". Right? Before some of you become unglued my tongue is in my cheek.

Actually, everyone I know has made a painting or drawing.  We often forget that we were encouraged or told to do so in elementary school.  And many children can create paintings or drawings which are judged to be unique, evocative, and definitely transcend by anyones definition the threshold of what is art and what is not. I suggest that this means it's essentially as easy to paint or draw as it is to use a camera.  However, most people usually fail to continue with painting and drawing in our adult lives, whereas they have other motivations to pick up a camera, i.e., reasons that have to do with personal record keeping and not artistic expression. Sure, most of us can't paint a portrait or landscape competently because it requires great talent and skill, but most people aren't competent at photography, either... because it requires great talent and skill!  Photography is not a lesser pursuit to painting in this regard.
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John Camp
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« Reply #29 on: September 03, 2011, 11:50:02 PM »
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I once wrote a book for Rizzoli, about the watercolorist John Stuart Ingle. In talking to Ingle over a period of weeks, we touched upon training. In his opinion, as an excellent artist himself (most major museums have his works) and as a University of Minnesota professor of art, almost anyone who can learn to write can learn to draw very well, at least up to about age 20 or 21. After that it gets harder, because you *know* too much, and stop responding simply to what you see. And by very well, he meant like Raphael. Drawing is simply a skill, and at one time, all kinds of people acquired it. It was even a required course at West Point, which was one of the places Whistler learned it. Ingle has died since the book was published, and I don't want to put words in a dead man's mouth, but I would venture to say that he would argue that even Schewe could learn to draw very well. The difference between learning to draw and paint competently, on one hand, and learning to take competent, technically correct pictures on the other, is mostly a matter of time and determination -- it takes longer to learn to draw and paint. But that doesn't mean that it's better, or that it gets you further. *Art* is something completely aside from technical competence, and I think photography and painting simply appeal to different kinds of minds. One is as likely to produce art as the other.

JC
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Schewe
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« Reply #30 on: September 04, 2011, 12:49:20 AM »
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I did a reverse image search for the Jimmy Hendrix image and came up with this.

yep...not at all unusual and in this case highly derivtative (if not worse)...
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #31 on: September 04, 2011, 12:59:29 AM »
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Maybe it is because an average Joe understands, at some level, the work that goes into painting, while they just see photography as "just push the button...."

The average Joe is also exposed enough to Photoshop via various things like television (which make PS seem even simpler to use to manipulate images) to question and distrust almost all images they see.  This is one of the fundamental problems and I'm sure we've all seen it.  The lack of knowledge of digital photographic processes and photoshop itself is even more challenging because the average Joe has no clue you have to do something to the raw data captured by any camera.. they assume the picture from their phone or point and shoot is how it's supposed to be, clueless of the manipulation that occurred before they could chimp their shot ...

then you get photographers who make claims they don't manipulate their work - they get it all in camera - yet looking at the images you know some pretty serious work was done to the files.  Even those shooting "film" who claim to be purists have to scan and then work with their files. And my favorite one out of all these .. a pretty high end landscape guy shooting film who passes off a double exposure of a moon which is pretty easy to spot based on the direction of light of the subject vs the moon, but imply they didn't cheat because it was done with film.

 .... and the debate will never end ...

« Last Edit: September 04, 2011, 01:02:47 AM by Wayne Fox » Logged

Rajan Parrikar
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« Reply #32 on: September 04, 2011, 01:20:13 AM »
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Quote
...and the level of talent it takes to paint at a very high level is light years harder to "get to" than it is to get to a point of producing exceptional photographs.

This is a fallacious claim.

Let us look at an example drawn from music.  Consider two instruments, A and B.  Instrument A is much easier to get started (eg. a piano), instrument B is very hard to get a grip on from the get-go (say, a fretless lute).  But it is not true that producing memorable music on A is in any way easier or requires less talent than a work of equally high calibre produced on B.
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tom b
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« Reply #33 on: September 04, 2011, 01:58:39 AM »
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One of the hardest things I found when starting up landscape photography was finding locations that worked. Then when you find a location you have to study it to find out when and where it works best. Sites on the Turon River that I visited last week needed local knowledge to find them. At one time of day they can look brilliant at other times they can be dull and uninteresting. In this one spot I had been shooting with a telephoto lens, I changed to a wide angle lens and there was this whole new world in front of me. Finding and seeing locations is an art form in itself. I remember standing next to a small permanent waterhole in Kata Juta, Northern Territory. I walked around the waterhole taking shots of the reflections and then I saw a fantastic reflection. In this nothing like environment was a great shot. A woman walked up and I got her to stand in the same spot and told her how to take the shot with her camera. She couldn't believe how good the image on her screen was. If I hadn't told her she would have walked on bye.

Cheers,
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graeme
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« Reply #34 on: September 04, 2011, 05:11:12 AM »
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Here are some examples of his work:

Jack

I wouldn't call this stuff art - more like hack illustration worked up from reference photos. Your friend should do some life drawing.

IMHO the spider photos you post are artistically much more interesting than this stuff.


'Hell, with a basic understanding of how a camera works, and a halfway decent camera, any newbie could go visit a magnificent sunset and within a few moments "snap" a breathtaking shot.'

Don't agree with this either.

I was looking at another LuLa forum members' site the other day: The subject matter of the images was very similar to stuff I often photograph. The difference was that my photos are crap and this guys' work is terrific. And it's not technical quality that lets mine down ( tho' this can be an issue at times ).

Regards

Graeme
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svein-frode
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« Reply #35 on: September 04, 2011, 06:03:23 AM »
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To me the whole argument seems silly. Photography has never been and can never be an excact reproduction of reality. Truth in photography is all about photographic truth. As Winogrand touched upon, photography is about how something looks like photographed. To me, that will always be the definition of truth in photography.

Truth is not black and white. There are degrees of truth, just as there are degrees of manipulation in photography. One can trivialize the importance of photographic truth, and for those using photography to create fantasy and art truth might seem unimportant, but for those using photography to document the world, it is of outmost importance.

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« Reply #36 on: September 04, 2011, 08:52:10 AM »
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Basically, world class artistic ability cannot be "taught." The ability to paint exceptionally well is a gift that a person is either born with or they are not. For example, one of my friends graduated from UCLA with an "art degree" ... and in point of fact he has several top-end clients (ranging from Time Warner, Sony, DCon, AOL, Ford, Mattel, and many other Fortune 500 companies who buy his work) ... and I have another artist friend ... who dropped out of school and who has no degree ... and yet it is the second dropout artist friend who is truly world class. Here are some examples of his work:

Jack, I agree that artistic ability cannot be taught, but it can be developed if there is a seed present in the form of artistic talent.
That is true for all forms of art and cannot be compared as "harder or easier". It's an absolute that is not measurable.

And about your friends. You didn't give any examples on the first so it's hard to comment on its artistic value, but the fact it's being sold doesn't prove anything. Kitsch wouldn't be made if it wouldn't sell either.
And the second, I have a hard time seeing that as art, only as a craft tracing photo's but that's it.
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pieter, aka pegelli
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« Reply #37 on: September 04, 2011, 01:56:14 PM »
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The OP was about cheating and its relationship to photography.

Let's face it.  All artists cheat.  That's what we do.  For photographers, the cheating begins when we raise the camera to our eye and ends when we stand back and look at the print on the wall.  It's all cheating.  Every step of the way.

If you read "The Girl With the Pearl Earring", you'll understand how Vermeer realized his amazingly photorealistic painted images.  It took patience, sensitivity, careful manipulation, knowledge and hard work.  And cheating. Cheating to the best of his ability.

If you look at Monet's "Impression Sunrise", you can see just how how far cheating can take art.  No sunrise looks like that, but in that image you can feel the sunrise.  It's cheating at its best.

Recent whining about "cheating" in photography results from the unprecedented increase in the quality and quantity of the photographic tools that we have available.  Now, we can cheat like never before.  It's up to us to use these tools wisely, skillfully and creatively.

Just like artists have always done.
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #38 on: September 04, 2011, 02:26:19 PM »
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Hum...Jimmie Hendrix is dead...I wonder where your artist friend got the reference material to "paint him" and just how different the "painting" looked from the reference photo. I've seen the reference photos that great painters make (well, in the 20th century say like Norman Rockwell) in order to "paint" their subjects. Putting ink/paints/pastels to paper is no harder nor valuable a talent that knowing when and how to click the shutter.

True, but my friend does live work as well, and has done personal portraits of most of the great racecar drivers, as well as several other major sports figures, including having several of his works hanging in the Boxing hall of Fame.

Jeff, I think it is simply ingenuine on your part to say it is "no harder" painting a hand-crafted oil of a landscape than it is to record that same scene with a camera.




If you disagree, then you are ignorant of the facts of what it takes to create great art, regardless of the medium. You are guilty of classing various mediums as having greater or lessor inherent value–uh, no, I don't think so bud-it don't work like that. The value of a piece of work has little to do with the difficulty in producing it and is based more on what a pice of art lookes like and how many people are attracted to it. That's what determines value...

Well, I think if you disagree with my premise that painting takes more skill then it is you are living in denial. However, I would like to point out that it's not necessarily the "level of difficulty" that determines the value, but the level of skill required combined with the difficulty. For example, being a brain surgeon may not be any "more difficult" to do than picking crops for 15 hours a day on a farm ... but brain surgery does take more skill ... which is why it pays more as a vocation than picking crops.

This same truth is why a great painting by one of the masters will always sell for more to private collectors than any "great photograph" ever will ...




No, I can't draw well...so I'm not a painter (which is what I wanted to be when I was a kid), but I can shoot pretty well. Does that really make me less of a talent than your painter friends? Really? Ya might want to rethink what you've said cause what you've said is really pretty stupid...course, that's just my opinion so take it for what it's worth.

I don't see any justification for calling me "stupid" Jeff ... especially when you don't seem to be aware of the fact that you just admitted you were a wanna-be painter ... who didn't have the skill to make the grade ... so you became a photographer instead.

Do you not realize that you pretty much proved my point?

Jack


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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #39 on: September 04, 2011, 02:31:39 PM »
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I did a reverse image search for the Jimmy Hendrix image and came up with this.
Cheers,


What does that have to do with anything, Tom?

Yes, my friend uses photos quite often to work off of, if the live subject isn't available. But it still doesn't change the fact it requires more skill to recreate the exactness of a photograph by drawing than it does just to take "another photo" of the photo.

Jack


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