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Author Topic: Creating Meaningful Photographs  (Read 24255 times)
Tony Jay
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« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2012, 12:15:44 AM »
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Well, I can see that passing off someone else's work as yours or mine would be an ethical failure - but that just seems to be an example of fraud, an ordinary human failing (like other kinds of nastiness).

I'm curious to know what specifically The Committee of Artistic Ethics should examine? :-)

Community expectation!

If the buyer of your extensively manipulated image, with mountains shoved around and rivers obliterated from the original photographic image or images as the case may be is expecting that the image, because it is a photographic image, to represent a real place that he could actually visit and see for himself and you don't tell the buyer that your creative masterpiece is actually a complete figment of your own imagination then there is a problem - I would call that fraud.

However, if you told the buyer that you manipulated the image so as to make it completely unrecognizable from the scene as originally shot and the buyer loved the result  and could not wait to fork out the cash to own it then I do not see any ethical problem.

Regards

Tony Jay
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Rob C
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« Reply #21 on: May 31, 2012, 02:43:23 AM »
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Worse, Ray, were they really young ladies or something closer to wannabe young ladies?

All bets would, presumably, be off!

Rob C
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david loble
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« Reply #22 on: May 31, 2012, 02:50:24 AM »
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Ray,

I've never seen the Himalayas. So for me, as a prospective buyer you could have told me it was Lake Titicaca.

David
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #23 on: May 31, 2012, 03:01:55 AM »
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So David, I could also sell you a lemon (local Aussie jargon for a dodgy motor vehicle) and as long as you didn't know the difference between the lemon and a decent motor vehicle it would be OK - until you later found out the truth of course ...

Regards

Tony Jay
« Last Edit: May 31, 2012, 03:03:46 AM by Tony Jay » Logged
LesPalenik
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« Reply #24 on: May 31, 2012, 08:08:06 AM »
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Gentlemen, we are talking about the artistic creativity.

This reminds me of Canadian writer Farley Mowat who has been often criticised for falsifying and substantially embellishing parts of his books. To what he said that he doesn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.
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Rob C
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« Reply #25 on: May 31, 2012, 08:27:55 AM »
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Ray,

I've never seen the Himalayas. So for me, as a prospective buyer you could have told me it was Lake Titicaca.

David



If I may be allowed my smartass moment: in India, they usually call them the Himaaal -yas, not the Himma-lay-as...  but not a lot of people nowadays knows that.

Feel so much better now!

Rob C
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david loble
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« Reply #26 on: May 31, 2012, 09:38:21 AM »
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Okay, Les,
Let's return to the subject of creativity. I wonder to what extent the market plays in determining one's creativity. Using my own experience as an example, when would I have noticed "my" cracked pavement if I was concerned about selling my work? If I had a business plan it seems to me I would want a product that consumers would buy and more of them will buy a "perfect" scene than an "imperfect" one. So why not create perfection when I can?

I guess there are just too many shades of grey to arrive at a definitive answer about artistic creativity. But it is fun to explore.

David
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Colorado David
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« Reply #27 on: May 31, 2012, 11:10:57 AM »
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So David, I could also sell you a lemon (local Aussie jargon for a dodgy motor vehicle) and as long as you didn't know the difference between the lemon and a decent motor vehicle it would be OK - until you later found out the truth of course ...

Regards

Tony Jay

The lemon is a straw-man and unrelated to the creative process.  There is no ethical correlation between knowingly selling a car and misrepresenting it to the buyer and creating a photograph and disclosing that it was manipulated to achieve the artist's vision.
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LesPalenik
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« Reply #28 on: May 31, 2012, 11:59:20 AM »
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So why not create perfection when I can?
David,

I agree fully with the goal of creating perfection.

If I'm set to create an aesthetically pleasing picture, straightening a crooked tree, cloning out a twig, or moving a rock for a better balance, strikes me as a "more perfect" approach than presenting a busy or unbalanced composition.

On the other hand, if I'm going to capture an editorial shot, I may adjust slightly the tonality and contrast, but I won't touch that awful graffiti on the wall or somebody's tacky tattoo.

And you wouldn't believe how much it bugs me when my stock agency makes to remove that beautiful silver star on Mercedes or camouflage the Coca Cola bottles.
 
« Last Edit: May 31, 2012, 12:05:45 PM by LesPalenik » Logged

Isaac
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« Reply #29 on: May 31, 2012, 12:20:38 PM »
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Community expectation!
Which community? A community of self proclaimed "artists" or a community of photo-journalists? A community of art aficionados or a community oblivious to that world?

Photographic Icons as Fact, Fiction and Metaphor


If the buyer of your extensively manipulated image... However, if you told the buyer that you manipulated the image...
Doesn't the buyer know that they are buying art? ("I have no problem with an artistic approach", "fine art landscape photography")
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #30 on: May 31, 2012, 04:01:20 PM »
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Isaac, you are really substantiating my point.

There are lots of different views of how things should be out there in the world.
And these views do impact on how fine art photography (in this case landscape photography) is appreciated.

Alain levels the playing field by an explicit statement of intent. This is the correct thing to do. Anyone who buys his work cannot subsequently claim that they did not know the facts.

BTW, I absolutely recognize that even "documentary" photography is a very limited representation of reality (I actually make reference to this in the original post). The mere fact of converting a three-dimensional scene into a two-dimensional image is only the first step of many to produce an image, never mind the wholesale editing that Alain indulges in, that does limit its reality in the absolute sense.

Don't misunderstand me - my images undergo a lot of post-processing. In my case the intent is to try, as best possible, to reproduce the scene as I remember it. Obviously there must be a subjective bent at play but the result would still be instantly recognizable to any third party observer who viewed the scene when I was shooting.

I have no more concerns than you regarding, in your terminology, an artistic approach to fine art landscape photography as long as viewers and buyers are not misled by what they are viewing.

Regards

Tony Jay
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John Camp
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« Reply #31 on: May 31, 2012, 07:27:57 PM »
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I pretty much agree with Tony. Because a photograph is a photograph, there is an implicit (and almost explicit) suggestion that the scene was more or less as represented, with a few of what Alain calls Ansel moves.

As long as Photoshopping is explicit, I don't have much problem with it -- but you know what? It's not usually explicit. I'm not sure I've ever been in a photo gallery where an image caption said something like, "Sandia Peak -- Photoshopped." There's a good reason for that. I suspect, but don't know, that most people, if told a landscape image was heavily photoshopped, wouldn't buy it. People are interested in the wonders of nature, not the wonders of Photoshop. Photoshopped landscapes seem to me to be a form of jackalope.

http://www.google.com/search?q=jackalope&hl=en&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=KgzIT67lEoXogQevxKGXDg&sqi=2&ved=0CHoQsAQ&biw=1204&bih=1269

JC

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Ray
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« Reply #32 on: May 31, 2012, 08:09:08 PM »
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I pretty much agree with Tony. Because a photograph is a photograph, there is an implicit (and almost explicit) suggestion that the scene was more or less as represented, with a few of what Alain calls Ansel moves.

As long as Photoshopping is explicit, I don't have much problem with it -- but you know what? It's not usually explicit. I'm not sure I've ever been in a photo gallery where an image caption said something like, "Sandia Peak -- Photoshopped." There's a good reason for that. I suspect, but don't know, that most people, if told a landscape image was heavily photoshopped, wouldn't buy it. People are interested in the wonders of nature, not the wonders of Photoshop. Photoshopped landscapes seem to me to be a form of jackalope.

http://www.google.com/search?q=jackalope&hl=en&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=KgzIT67lEoXogQevxKGXDg&sqi=2&ved=0CHoQsAQ&biw=1204&bih=1269

JC




Good point! Even if the seller privately notifies the buyer than the image has been significantly manipulated, such information is not likely to be indelibly stamped upon the photograph. We have no trouble distinguishing between the categories of Fiction and Non Fiction books because these categories are applied in the book store and stated on the jacket of the book or in the Forward.
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LesPalenik
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« Reply #33 on: May 31, 2012, 08:18:44 PM »
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Obviously there must be a subjective bent at play but the result would still be instantly recognizable to any third party observer who viewed the scene when I was shooting.
I think that the recognition and familiarity with a specific scene in an art print are vastly overestimated.

Granted, certain scenes, such as Mittens or Delicate Arch are icons that most people instantly recognize and don't confuse with another scenery. Less popular scenes and macro landscapes less so. That beautiful sand dune with a lonely plant casting shadow towards a round rock may not even be there next year. The sand shifts, plants die, and even rocks move or get buried.
 
On the other hand, many people upon seeing your photo will exclaim that they know the scene. And they really think, they do.

Case in point. I photographed and still sell some rock and water scenes from around Georgian Bay in Ontario. For the non-Ontarians, Georgian Bay is a huge arm of Lake Huron, almost 200 miles (320km) in length. Just one area somewhere in the middle of the bay is known as 30,000 Islands (not counting millions of shoals). In total, there must be well over 100,000 islands, bays, and coves.

To cut the story short, about 15 years ago, I motored to a very remote location around French River delta (which I would have problems finding again even I wanted), and to make a point, these are places where you don't see other boats for days, and that is only during a short summer. In bad weather or for the rest of year you wouldn't want to be there. Anyway, I managed to capture a few nice panoramas with a rotational camera. So, we have a completely desolate location, distorted heavily by the rotational capture, and of course affected by the early morning light at that time. Paradoxically, half of the visitors in gallery would claim that they know the scene and that they were there. Not that I wouldn't wish them to see it, but probability of a experiencing the same scene is absolutely zero.

Not only the sands shift and rocks move, but interestingly, also the trees grow. Last summer, I attempted to revisit a small picturesque cove in another area of the big bay. The scene showed a nice rocky island with small pines and of course a lot of water. Now, this scene was heavily imprinted in my mind, since I've seen it hundreds of times on my various print pieces. I just couldn't find it with my canoe even remembering location quite well. Then it finally donned on me, that those little pines grew up into big trees which in turn totally changed the scene.

And finally! The same Georgian Bay around the Bruce Peninsula has two unique limestone formations in forms of pretty pillars called Flowerpots (google them). Not only they are very photogenic, but they had a third brother that collapsed about a hundred years ago. Lucky guy who photographed or painted all three of them! The scene changed again.

So to close my Georgian Bay reminiscence, photograph what you can today, and if you have to bend a few tree branches or carry some rocks away, be mine guest. And if there is nobody there to hold those branches for you, maybe you can do it later in Photoshop.
   
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #34 on: May 31, 2012, 08:42:03 PM »
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Les your point is valid - no-one is suggesting that the natural landscape is fixed or anything like that.

Considering that it is the weather that usually transforms a mundane scene into something really worth capturing - that is obviously ephemeral.
It is also the reason why I state for the purposes of illustrating my point that my finished images would be recognizable by a third party who had been present and viewing the scene when I was shooting.
Half an hour later - who knows what they would witness.

Nonetheless, the point pertains to credibility and honesty.

Whether a viewer or buyer subsequently would ever recognize the scene depicted in an image is neither here nor there even if they had visited the place at some point in time and stood at the same spot facing in the same direction as the camera.
The key point is whether the depicted scene in the image ever existed and is represented as best as photographic technology can represent it OR whether the depicted scene is an imaginary one AND whether the photographer/artist is prepared to own up to the facts.

Regards

Tony Jay
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LesPalenik
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« Reply #35 on: May 31, 2012, 10:02:48 PM »
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True, the point pertains to credibility and honesty. And since we all shoot different things for different purposes, I trust, that most of us will make the right decision.

To set the facts straight, I consider myself more as a realistic documenter rather than an creative artist creating dreamlike scenes. I'm not even shooting any blurry waterfalls or seawater. And I'm not in habit to set fires underneath some arches just to get a better lighting. 

But if the client asks me to fit a particular scene into a predefined postcard format, or if I'm confronted with a framing limitation of 60" matte, I won't hesitate to crop the image or stretch it slightly in either direction. (As long as the extra space won't exceed one canoe length.)

 
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dreed
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« Reply #36 on: May 31, 2012, 10:30:00 PM »
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When I view a landscape photograph, my expectation is to be able to travel to said location and at least view the same subject matter as was photographed. It may be that the light is different or that the sky is different, but that is to be expected.

Or to put it different, taking into account the variations of nature, the expectation is that a photograph represents something that any one of us could see in the world at the time at which the photograph is taken.

To me, if subjects of substance in the photograph (trees, rocks, mountains, houses) have either been added or removed then the photograph becomes a lie and is of itself of little value if it is portrayed as a photograph of something.

But Alain isn't the only one that has peddled this art - there was another article on LL last year where the writer had done the same thing - added in extra trees to balance out the image.

To put it simply, there needs to be another word for images that have been modified in this manner to distinguish them from photographs because quite clearly they are not photographs.
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Schewe
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« Reply #37 on: May 31, 2012, 10:38:16 PM »
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When I view a landscape photograph, my expectation is to be able to travel to said location and at least view the same subject matter as was photographed.

That is an entirely un-realistic expectation...it's bullshyte...you could NEVER see it as a photographer has seen it in any sort of reality. You see a shot, do you know the focal length used for the shot? Do you know the exact GPS location to within a meter or so? Do you know the elevation? The F-stop? Ignoring totally the post, why would you possibly expect to see what another photographer saw? Don't know what you are smoking but unless you wanna pass it around, what you want isn't in the least bit realistic...
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LesPalenik
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« Reply #38 on: May 31, 2012, 10:53:31 PM »
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To put it simply, there needs to be another word for images that have been modified in this manner to distinguish them from photographs because quite clearly they are not photographs.
Actually, I could come up not with just one word, but with quite a few descriptive categories. Most of them are printable.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #39 on: May 31, 2012, 10:56:38 PM »
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True, the point pertains to credibility and honesty. And since we all shoot different things for different purposes, I trust, that most of us will make the right decision.

Les, I believe that you would make the right call.

When I view a landscape photograph, my expectation is to be able to travel to said location and at least view the same subject matter as was photographed. It may be that the light is different or that the sky is different, but that is to be expected.

I sorta have to agree with Schewe here. Sometimes it might be possible, but I do think that unless one had the GPS co-ordinates in most cases it would be impossible to know for sure that one was viewing the scene.
However, the notion that the image represents a real place at a real point in time absolutely accounts for the power that these images possess.

Regards

Tony Jay
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