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Author Topic: Artistic License  (Read 11516 times)
Tom Frerichs
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« on: March 23, 2012, 11:32:33 AM »
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A well-reasoned, well-written essay, which of course gets my approval because I agree with Mr. Briot's thesis.

His defense of license in his nature photography reminds me of Bertolt Brecht's comment about a similar license taken by playwrights: "God writes lousy theater."

Tom
« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 11:38:32 AM by Tom Frerichs » Logged
Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2012, 02:37:17 PM »
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Great piece.
I hope it will save us from many silly discussions.
Thanks Alan for writing this up.
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Isaac
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« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2012, 02:47:08 PM »
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His defense of license in his nature photography reminds me of Bertolt Brecht's comment about a similar license taken by playwrights: "God writes lousy theater."

Except that Nature obviously does provide gloriously luminous landscapes.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 05:21:47 PM by Isaac » Logged
wolfnowl
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« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2012, 03:39:38 PM »
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Well written, indeed.  As the old argument goes (and no, this is NOT an invitation to renew it!!), if someone was to set up a blank canvas and paint it, no one would question whether or not the scene looked 'EXACTLY' like the painting.  The same is not often said of photography.  For journalism, forensics and some other fields, exact duplication is a necessity.  For art, it isn't.

Mike.
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Rob C
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« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2012, 05:22:01 PM »
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Why does the opening line from this song come to mind?

http://youtu.be/zbxsmcT7GOk

;-)

Rob C
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2012, 09:30:14 PM »
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It's Alain's best essay yet, IMHO.

My only problem with it is: I wish I'd written it! I found myself agreeing with every point (quite embarrassing).

Eric
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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2012, 11:38:39 AM »
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Yes, this was a great read all the way, and clarified many Truths.
In particular, I liked the point made about how digital makes it easier
to work in different styles, and yet that also opens up the potential
for "too much diversity". Each artist must decide when too much is
"too much". I do think society has an insecure need to slap labels on
artists, and expect them to do just one thing...forever.

I like that Alain is brave enough to risk that himself, by his interest
in shooting other subjects besides his signature landscapes.
The freedom to explore the world with our cameras, in a variety of ways,
seems to keep the fun and mystery intact.

As for manipulating images, we all have our personal parameters on
this. I've found if I captured beautiful light to begin with, I can stay
very minimal in post processing, such as levels, saturation, etc.

As for, say, cloning, I will always clone out a soft drink can, or bit of this or
that if it detracts in some way, and if it has nothing to do with the subtext
of the photograph, which leads back to the "style and diversity" issue.
However, I won't clone to the degree that I'm re-creating a large part
of the original shot. Again, it's a personal choice.

The only part of Alain's essay I really disagree with is his unwillingness
to use Ford Econoline tires on his Veyron. To extend the life of the
oem tires, I often use the van tires on my Veyron during everyday operation.
While they do look weird, and some might say I'm being "penney wise
and pound foolish", I've found the van tires to work just fine. Ok, at
200 mph they may get a bit "squirrely", and I suppose I should keep my
speed down when doing grocery runs. Still, I will always swap back to
the oems when planning any serious stuff, such as the outrunning of
policemen, and performing dangerous maneuvers in heavy traffic.
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walterk
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« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2012, 01:09:02 PM »
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God may write lousy plays, but relatively few people can write good ones no matter how much artistic license is afforded them. This is true of all artistic endeavors. To counter this difficultly in a world swamped in imagery, many visual artists place self-imposed limits on how much license they allow themselves. This may narrow the scope of the work, but the self-imposed boundaries help the viewer assess the work within a context or discipline. Landscape photography is a wide open field, and my assessment of work in this genre would go up a notch if I learned that the artist narrowed his limits rather than expanded them; that he leaned more toward the forensic than the fungible.

It's not that I want to make his life more difficult, it's just that it would signal to me that he is more interested in the wonders and complexities of things as they are found rather than the sly manipulation of things to match an artistic ideal. Yes, the act of taking any picture is interpretive and could be considered artifice and manipulation. And yes, non-manipulated images can be contrived through choice of lenses, point of view, subject selection, or other means to match an ideal. That's what makes one's work stands out. But allowing ever more layers of artifice through stretching and cloning while deliberately retaining the visual vocabulary of "straight" landscape photography breaks a certain cherished bond I have with the discipline.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2012, 01:23:04 PM »
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God may write lousy plays, but relatively few people can write good ones no matter how much artistic license is afforded them. This is true of all artistic endeavors. To counter this difficultly in a world swamped in imagery, many visual artists place self-imposed limits on how much license they allow themselves. This may narrow the scope of the work, but the self-imposed boundaries help the viewer assess the work within a context or discipline. Landscape photography is a wide open field, and my assessment of work in this genre would go up a notch if I learned that the artist narrowed his limits rather than expanded them; that he leaned more toward the forensic than the fungible.

It's not that I want to make his life more difficult, it's just that it would signal to me that he is more interested in the wonders and complexities of things as they are found rather than the sly manipulation of things to match an artistic ideal. Yes, the act of taking any picture is interpretive and could be considered artifice and manipulation. And yes, non-manipulated images can be contrived through choice of lenses, point of view, subject selection, or other means to match an ideal. That's what makes one's work stands out. But allowing ever more layers of artifice through stretching and cloning while deliberately retaining the visual vocabulary of "straight" landscape photography breaks a certain cherished bond I have with the discipline.

+1

While my photographs belong more to the "fungible" than "forensic", or, in my terms, I tend to be more a photoshoppographer™ than a photographer, I can not deny that even I would place a higher value to an image visually similar to mine that was achieved with less manipulation.
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« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2012, 09:50:32 PM »
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  • Artistic License -- "Photography can be used to create... to create art..."

    Dare no one admit - to create decoration?

  • Artistic License -- "I see reality everyday and the last thing I want to do is to create reality-like images to hang on my walls. ... Therefore, when I create art my goal is to create something other than reality."

    But the images that illustrate the essay are "reality-like" in the most ordinary way!

    Perhaps if some of those Canyon de Chelley trees had been inverted and left hovering clear of the ground we could say that there was at least one way in which the image was not "reality-like".

  • Artistic License -- "Reality is there for the taking. My clients can capture it just as well as I can. There is simply nothing unique or original about it. What is original is interpreting reality and creating expressive images that depict a personal view of the world."

    No, reality is not "there for the taking".

    No, no one can capture reality - but if "clients" have the imagination and skill and desire to take their own original photographs there's no reason to assume they would not also have the imagination and skill to photoshop the images in their own original way.

    No, reality is unique and original -  the cup of coffee I'm drinking now is not the cup of coffee I drank an hour ago or yesterday morning, it is not the cup of coffee being consumed by a stranger in Starbucks, this cup of  coffee didn't exist until 10 minutes ago.

    If "clients" can be bothered to take their own photos then they are also interpreting reality and creating images that depict a personal view of the world - relocating offending trees doesn't make an image more original, just different.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2012, 05:02:09 PM by Isaac » Logged
dreed
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« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2012, 10:30:39 PM »
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Where does this stop/start?

Do you include doing "gardening" before taking a shot? (removing rubbish, etc)

If you're willing to move trees around, why not also have an "add clouds" button so that you can shoot all blue sky pictures and "fix" them later?

Further, how should it be advertised?

Should photographs that have had the contents of the image altered be described in a different way to photos that have not?
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2012, 12:39:30 AM »
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I enjoyed reading the essay but clearly the subject is not exhausted.

I feel that tonal manipulation, including B&W conversion, tweaking colour, sharpening, noise reduction, cleaning up dust spots, cropping, etc is absolutely appropriate in principle for any image.
Editing out parts of the image and/or replacing parts of the image are perfectly appropriate in their context. Images of the siren dressed in a leather bikini riding atop a Bengal tiger are clearly in the realm of fantasy and no explanation on the part of the image-maker is required.
Changing a sky on a landscape and passing this off as an as-shot image is clearly deceitful no matter how wonderfully aesthetic the final image. If however the potential audience/buyer is aware of the extent of the manipulation there is nothing wrong with the artistic intent if the end result matches the intent.

I appreciate that there is a lot of grey zone between these two examples (chosen I suppose for their polarity) however I do feel that conscience may have to guide what one does with an image.
Some nature photographers feel perfectly free to edit out the plastic Coca Cola bottle in their image where practically it was impossible to remove prior to shooting the image. I, personally have always felt uneasy about doing this and would prefer to change my shot but in the world of professional photography this is not necessarily the answer at all.

I would really like to hear the views of several "old hands" on this issue.

Kind Regards

Tony Jay
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C Debelmas
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« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2012, 02:14:12 AM »
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"Many of the conflicts and difficulties that photographers experience come from not having clearly defined the purpose of their work".
I feel a big problem also comes from a cultural bias whereby a photograph shall be a record of reality.

There was a time where a photograph was to be a black and white one and where colour photography was vulgar. It seems that this time has gone.

It then took some years (tens of) for the photography to be recognized as a medium for art work. But in the mind of a lot of persons, in the audience mind, even in a lot of photographers' mind, there is another pace to make: when an artistic expression, a photograph is not necesserally a true copy of reality and is "allowed" to be the result of manipulations.

I believe it will take time for this revolution to take place.

Christophe
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2012, 02:56:42 AM »
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.... Changing a sky on a landscape and passing this off as an as-shot image is clearly deceitful no matter how wonderfully aesthetic the final image. If however the potential audience/buyer is aware of the extent of the manipulation there is nothing wrong with the artistic intent if the end result matches the intent. ....

+1

In my opinion art must be truthful.
This does not exclude manipulation at all, but it requires being truthful towards the buyer/viewer concerning the creation and intention of the work.
Advertising a piece of art implicitly or explicitly as one shot and non-composite and thus claiming a certain sort of authenticity while not doing so is cheating. I am writing "implicitly or explicitly" because indirectly implying a style of authenticity while not doing so is equal to holding back important parts of the truth which is unethical and equivalent to blatant lying.

I'm not expert enough to fully judge the technical aspects of Peter Liks image, but to me it appears there are a couple of good arguments to believe the image at least is a dual shot, if not most likely a composite with a moon taken from elswhere (another time). This greatly contradicts the pathetic writing up which describes the image and gives me a very bad feeling about the whole thing.

So - I feel deceived - at least ...

And apart from that - I really didn't find the image that compelling at all - maybe I subconsciously felt something was wrong ...


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Tony Jay
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« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2012, 03:38:27 AM »
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I guess that for art to be art that aesthetics cannot be seperated from ethics.


Regards

Tony Jay
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2012, 03:54:38 AM »
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I guess that for art to be art that aesthetics cannot be seperated from ethics.


Regards

Tony Jay

Yup!

I just realized when answering I suddenly found myself virtually inside that thread about Peter Liks image.
It mixed up in my head.  Just for the reference - here is the link: 
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=62123.0

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pad
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« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2012, 04:34:53 AM »
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Anyone seen how David Hockney uses photography for art? Collages of images that make you look at the world in a different way.

As the comments of some contributors to this thread confirm, you either like the art of the artist [photographer] or you don't, but you certainly cannot say it is wrong. You can only say "this is not my style and I don't like it".

I have found all of Alan's essays interesting and inspiring reading, and hope to read more in the future.
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Rob C
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« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2012, 04:38:04 AM »
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It's like everything in 'art': it's the talking/writing/bitching about it that creates the mystique, builds the gravitas, the myth that it's all about something quite esoteric whereas, in reality, it's just mannered lines/splotches on a medium.

Some people do it well and some do not; some learn ways to do it to order where others completely deny the possibilty, waiting for the combined or individual effects of muse, white powders, divine intervention, or a heavy lunch to throw the switch that cranks into life the machine that produces the goods.

The older I get, the more I come to understand that art is a combination of many things, mostly beyond consciousness, but visceral in that they are usually recognized at first glance. That quality is what denies the 'new' instant credibility. It takes time for the 'new' to become promoted, discussed and otherwise impressed upon the mind of the audience, casual or concerned. So, by extension, almost anything can become 'art' if we have the capacity to employ sufficient publicity on it's behalf.

In the case of the author, Alain, I can appreciate fully that everything he produces has to be, intentionally or not, part of the publicity machine that makes everything tick. I would do exactly the same, had I an axe to grind, a product to promote. I would also calibrate my monitor more often and leave the Big O resting in peace.

Rob C
« Last Edit: March 25, 2012, 04:40:31 AM by Rob C » Logged

Tony Jay
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« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2012, 05:14:56 AM »
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Anything that has an element of art and expression associated with it will inevitably develop a philosophy to describe it.
This process cannot ever be complete even if it appears to stall for a while.

So without debate to challenge the merits and demerits and the boundaries of what we would determine to be art almost by definition it could not be art.

My $0.02 worth.

Regards

Tony Jay
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Tom Frerichs
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« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2012, 10:22:14 AM »
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Quote
in reality, it's just mannered lines/splotches on a medium.


The sculptors will be marching on Rob C's house, pitchforks and torches in hand, on April 1.  Dance to follow.

(evil grin)

Tom
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