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Author Topic: When is it graphic art?  (Read 32656 times)
Mcthecat
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« on: August 15, 2012, 04:57:49 PM »
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The gold standard of photography in my opinion is national geographic. They do a vast array of photographs from photojournalism through landscape, travel, wildlife etc etc.

http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/photography/?source=NavPhoHome

As you can see, theres one major issue, a lack of computer generated images. Im not talking a bit of dodging and burning, or a contrast/levels thing, im talking a total lack of a shot, mixed with multiple other shots, massive manipulation and hey presto a creation. Something beautiful but in my opinion, its graphic art, not photography. What im seeing is people who take poor shots, cant use their camera well, but are excellent at computer art, creating stunning images with brilliant minds and creativity. But its graphic art. Its not photography. Im not against it, i love it, but should someone who doesnt know much about a camera, cant take a "photograph" be awarded top photographer of the year because they are poor with a camera but excellent in a computer.

The point im making is this. Can anyone else see a divergance from amateur photography where manipulation is massive and pro photography where manipulation is much less i.e Nat Geo. Why is this so? I have a theory. Pros take time, effort and knowledge for that top shot (a lot of pros on here). Many, not all, amateurs would like to be, cant/arn't so kid themselves they are great through manipulation. They avoid wildlife, they avoid sport because you cant manipulate. But can strut their stuff in the amateur ranks, kidding themselves they are good when in fact strip them of a computer and you get very poor/average stuff.

Im just curious as to what you guys think. I do photographs, im not the best, im not the worst, but wonder what you think, why the differance amateur to pro?
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bill t.
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« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2012, 09:54:41 PM »
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The pros just fudge their images so well you don't notice.  There's your difference.  Amateur work is simply more obvious.   Smiley

Compare what you see in recent NG's with those more than about 20 years old.

The old definitions of what this or that is supposed to be are no longer adequate.  I have an application form before me that says photographic entries must be limited to "true photographic images printed on photosensitive material without adjustments, enhancements, or manipulation or any kind."  Freakin' dinosaurs!
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 10:12:53 PM by bill t. » Logged
stamper
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« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2012, 02:47:13 AM »
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This issue has been debated so many times - without an outcome - that I wonder why you started another thread on it? It will probably rumble on for a while and it might become rancorous but a final outcome will not be reached?
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hjulenissen
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« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2012, 03:17:41 AM »
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I fail to see the need for labels. Whatever appeals to me.... appeals to me. Knowing that the artist spent 3 years in the jungle or 2 hours in front of photoshop may be fascinating in itself, but I don't think that it can make the end-result any better or worse.

I expect for any particular "photographic contest" to be able to clearly define what they see as photography (and what is not). And I expect any contestant to follow those rules. Be it analog film, iPhone cam, whatever. Again, no problem.

-h
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Rob C
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« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2012, 03:53:54 AM »
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Mcthecat -

I don't understand what you're trying to ask or prove.

Pro photography is what it is: pictures for money. Whether such images require or do not require a lot of retouching is up to the individual shot and its user. I hardly see it (retouching) a distinction or marker for professional work.

Neither can I make out whether you are pleading for the use of CGI in magazines or not; whether you have used NatGeog as an example or whether you want all replies to apply only to that publication and its use of imagery.

I haven't picked up a copy of that magazine in years; seeing the occassional television offering under their logo leads me to believe that they are simply trying to create 'content' and have exhausted anything new. Haven't we all?

Rob C

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kencameron
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« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2012, 04:12:54 AM »
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Knowing that the artist spent 3 years in the jungle or 2 hours in front of photoshop may be fascinating in itself, but I don't think that it can make the end-result any better or worse.

+1, with one minor qualification. The end result is what matters, but knowing how the end result was achieved is part of the end result, and not knowing is really only a short term option. It's not a matter of better or worse - just different. Imagine a photographic image of a lion fighting a tiger. Wildlife photography competitions might require it to have recorded an actual event. Knowing it was photoshopped would reasonably disqualify it from such competitions, but it could still be a stirring image, like this engraving. Photography, of course, carries with it, as a blessing and a curse, the deceptive expectation that it is a record of an actual event.
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hjulenissen
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« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2012, 05:17:17 AM »
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Photography, of course, carries with it, as a blessing and a curse, the deceptive expectation that it is a record of an actual event.
Only if the photographer falsely claims that it is an accurate recording of some event would it be bad. If anyone are naiive enough to believe that any "photographic" material is an objective, unbiased recording of an actual event, I think that is primarily their problem.

If a journalist describe the financial crisis falsely, but claim that it is the truth, he is doing wrong. If an author blends elements of autobiography and fiction without claiming anything about his writing, I think it is perfectly ok.

-h
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kencameron
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« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2012, 06:13:14 AM »
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Only if the photographer falsely claims that it is an accurate recording of some event would it be bad. If anyone are naiive enough to believe that any "photographic" material is an objective, unbiased recording of an actual event, I think that is primarily their problem.
I would respectfully disagree. I think the expectation of recording is there, and has an impact on the aesthetic response to any photograph that is not obviously altered (and, in a difference sense, also the response to photographs that have been obviously altered), regardless both of the photographer's claims and the spectator's naivety or expertise. It is not about believing anything in any serious way, or about anything being bad or good, or about anybody having a problem. When I look at a photograph my starting point is to think of it as a window on reality. I may not stay for more than a microsecond or two at that starting point, because I have some knowledge both of the history of photography and of what can be done in Photoshop. But I start at a different place with a photograph to where I would start with a painting. Now of course, that might just be my naivety. But I don't think it is. Photographs are initially made by pointing machines at the world which record the impact of light on films or sensors. Of course, we all know that all kinds of things can be done to the film or the data file produced by the sensor. But our starting point is that something real has been recorded.
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Rob C
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« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2012, 09:38:41 AM »
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Ah Ken! I never knew/suspected that you, too, believed in my theory of a Golden Age just passed!

Rob C
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Isaac
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« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2012, 11:42:40 AM »
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I think the expectation of recording is there...

I think it's this notion of expectation that (as stamper says) has been debated so many times without an outcome - and I think it misses the point which your later comments approach.

Regardless of our expectation, our immediate response is to make a reality from whatever is before our eyes.

The reason you "start at a different place with a photograph to where I would start with a painting" is that photographic images are trompe-l'il.

Knowledge of how the image was made effects our post hoc rationalizations but not our immediate response.
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bill t.
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« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2012, 11:48:38 AM »
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The "window" issue is the basic problem with Photographic Truth.  Photographers can present unaltered images, but lie by their choice of framing and timing.

Windows are selective about what they show, and when they choose to show it.  We see a subset of things in the overall environment.  Perhaps things just outside the revealed window could change our attitude about the image if they had been included in the shot.  Or perhaps knowledge of events just prior to the captured instant would affect out perceived meaning.

Of course the problem is not just with cameras.  Direct human perception is just as selective, just ask any trial lawyer or psychologist.
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Rob C
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« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2012, 12:14:26 PM »
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The "window" issue is the basic problem with Photographic Truth.  Photographers can present unaltered images, but lie by their choice of framing and timing.

Windows are selective about what they show, and when they choose to show it.  We see a subset of things in the overall environment.  Perhaps things just outside the revealed window could change our attitude about the image if they had been included in the shot.  Or perhaps knowledge of events just prior to the captured instant would affect out perceived meaning.

Of course the problem is not just with cameras.  Direct human perception is just as selective, just ask any trial lawyer or psychologist.


Or painter. You imagine they don't select their truth? Hell, thousands of them work from photographs right from the start!

It's all one now.

Rob C
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bill t.
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« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2012, 02:13:49 PM »
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Or painter. You imagine they don't select their truth? Hell, thousands of them work from photographs right from the start!

Painting from photos went from being untouchable up to maybe the early 60's to being almost the standard now.  A lot of painting books even suggest that artists should become familiar with Photoshop to "customize" their source photos before use, and to view "what if" modifications to their paintings in progress.

I know one artist who deliberately paints red/green chromatic aberrations marks around bright edges and foliage, to very good effect.  One man's anathema is another man's beauty.

Blown-out "digital skies" are often seen in recent landscape painting, which is something you almost never saw a few decades ago.  And the kinds of tonal progressions in many paintings have drifted towards more of a photographic character than before.

All this must have to do with the democratization of photography.  It's newly possible to create and print high quality photo images, a thing not easily available in the past unless you liked squinting at 35mm Kodachromes.

The photo<>painting synergy has actually gone far enough that there is emerging a backlash school that is trying to get past it.  Some plein-aire artists now insist on painting in the wild.  But I don't think smartphones should feel threatened by this tiny trend.

Must mention that I've learned a lot from painters, it works both ways.  It's very worthwhile looking at paintings and art of all kinds, especially if you can see the originals.  In spite of some convergence landscape painting still has a tradition of somewhat milder, more subtle tonality than we normally use in photography.  It's a look I personally like over the "print it dark" tendency which leads so many rooky photographers to sacrifice too much to achieve a look that defeats their image.
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kencameron
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« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2012, 05:11:23 PM »
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Regardless of our expectation, our immediate response is to make a reality from whatever is before our eyes.

The reason you "start at a different place with a photograph to where I would start with a painting" is that photographic images are trompe-l'il.

Knowledge of how the image was made effects our post hoc rationalizations but not our immediate response.

I would say that there is no such thing as an "immediate response" that is unmediated by a complex structure of knowledge and expectation and that the reason I start with a different place with a photograph is that I know it is a photograph. That is why I feel a slight uneasiness with photorealistic painting, where I am not sure whether or not it is a photograph and hence can't have an uncomplicated "immediate response". There is a fine Chuck Close in my local gallery (the NGA) that always makes me uneasy in this way.

I am not sure what you mean by "trompe-l'oeil" here. I understand the term to mean painting on a flat surface in a way which creates an illusion of three dimensional reality and/or distance and thus deceives you into thinking it is not a painting. In that sense a few photographs might be trompe-l'oeil, but by no means all of them. A small black and white photographic image that I am holding in my hand wouldn't be trompe-l'oeil in my understanding of the term. You must be using it in some other way that I am not grasping.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 05:25:29 PM by kencameron » Logged

kencameron
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« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2012, 07:33:02 PM »
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Ah Ken! I never knew/suspected that you, too, believed in my theory of a Golden Age just passed!
Rob C
I have to admit that your theory is growing on me, Rob, and I suspect that in ten years time, if I haven't fallen off my perch, I will be completely convinced of it.
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Isaac
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« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2012, 07:59:45 PM »
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I would say that there is no such thing as an "immediate response" that is unmediated by a complex structure of knowledge and expectation and that the reason I start with a different place with a photograph is that I know it is a photograph.

Perhaps you have had the experience of seeing a 3 dimensional cube when you know that there is no cube before your eyes, only a few lines on a 2 dimensional surface.

That making of a reality is what I mean by an "immediate response".
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Mcthecat
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« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2012, 06:21:36 PM »
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Unfortunatly, i must disagree with you all.

Using your logic, someone has an idea, walks 5 minutes to a street, does this multiple times, takes absolutley rubbish pics, takes a few minutes to compile, then spends many hours in a computer, creates a piece of art and thats ok.

Then someone plans for over a year, travels 12,000 miles, sits in a hide for days, captures a beautiful image after making multiple in camera and lens adjustments,knows the workings of a camera lens etc  is praised in top of the line pro gold standard magazines.

So using your argument the person who spends time on a computer but cant take a picture may be a better photographer than the person who has takes that in camera shot.



« Last Edit: August 17, 2012, 06:31:05 PM by Mcthecat » Logged
kencameron
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« Reply #17 on: August 17, 2012, 08:09:35 PM »
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So using your argument the person who spends time on a computer but cant take a picture may be a better photographer than the person who has takes that in camera shot.

That is certainly not an argument that I have anywhere put or that I would support and I don't find it in anyone else's post either. In your thought experiment, you have it set up from the start so that the first guy produces rubbish, the second a prize-winning photograph. What more is there to say and what could that possibly prove? Of course, the second guy's process doesn't guarantee a good image any more than the first guy's guarantees a bad one. It is possible to travel 12,000 kilometers and then produce in camera rubbish, and it is also possible to produce interesting work out of mediocre input by working on a computer. "Possible", I said, not "what usually happens". Professional wildlife photographers have to do good work if they want to eat, and a lot of rubbish comes out of computers. But traditional photography is only one way of making interesting images and what matters in the end is the image.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2012, 08:12:42 PM by kencameron » Logged

Mcthecat
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« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2012, 05:31:10 PM »
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I spend several years planning a shot, learning my craft, learning my gear wandering the world and taking a top image.

I spend a afternoon, with no knowledge of my gear, no knowledge of composition, taking very poor shots then spending days in a computer to produce an image.

I enter both in a competition and the computer image wins. Therefore the computer me is the better photographer. So i give up travelling the world spend little time taking pics and spend lots of time on a computer.

I am a top photographer because i know how to use a Mac Book and Photoshop.

 "How do you use this 1DX?"

"Er dont know"

"How do you adjust your focus point?"

"Er don't know"

"Tell me how do you work out composition?"

"Er dont know"

"So how come your a top photographer despite not knowing a thing about photography?"

"Im good on a computer"

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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2012, 07:36:55 PM »
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Jesus, Cat, where do you find those scenarios?!
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Slobodan

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