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Author Topic: The style or idiom of 'barely color"  (Read 26928 times)
kencameron
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« Reply #20 on: August 05, 2013, 05:58:45 AM »
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Rob, you seem to be arguing that "quoting" photographs, by  presenting a thumbnail which can't be reproduced for commercial purposes,  in order to refer to them in a discussion on a relevant topic, without the permission of the author, is inappropriate. I find this line of argument unconvincing. Your initial use of it in this thread, in order to counter a plausible suggestion that you simply hadn't read the OP with any care, was flimsy and your attempt to sustain it is even less convincing than that.  I wonder if you would extend this to texts, or speeches, or paintings, or whether you would confine it to work produced by the living?

You seem to concede that that no law is breached but claim that some ethic of courtesy is, and you link this, with a rhetorical strategy you have used before, to your view that civilization is in decline, things ain't what they used to be, and so on. After the umpteenth time we have encountered this lamentation, we have to wonder if you aren't talking about yourself rather than the nature of things.

The quotation of images earlier on this thread involved no plagiarism and no disrespect to the photographer - quite the opposite, the photographer was "quoted" in order to be praised for the appropriate use of a stylistic device. The "fair use" concept (which isn't merely legal, it shows the law shaped by fairness and common sense) applies, because the "quotation" advanced the discussion by providing a clear explanation of the kind of thing the poster was talking about, and there is no collateral damage.

On "barely color", I am deeply curious about, because I  don't at all share, the viewpoint of those who object to it as necessarily excessive, artificial, gimmicky etc. It seems to me just another technique, like dodging and burning, a way of shaping the experience of the viewer. There seems to be a view in play as to what is and isn't acceptable in "photographs", some line not to be crossed, that I don't get. To me, photographs are another kind of painting and you can make choices about colors either before you press the button, or after. Lula does seem to be largely a temple in the religion of those who don't think like this, which makes it an interesting place to hang out for someone who does.
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fike
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« Reply #21 on: August 05, 2013, 08:01:29 AM »
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We need to stop harassing people who are new to LuLa forums when they post work in a desire to learn. He is absolutely right in his legitimate use.  Leave him alone on that topic and lets talk about his interesting original posting.

I happen to like reduced color, selective color, barely color...whatever you want to call it, and I don't put artificial limits on the technique like saying it needs to be "natural" or straight out of camera.  Humbug.  B&W or sepia, or cyanotype were "straight out of camera" at their time, but they weren't natural then and aren't natural now.  post processing to get an effect like this is no different than all these old "purists" making a choice to put velvia or TMax in their cameras 30 years ago.  

I also object to the notion that you don't try to use these techniques to "rescue" an image that isn't working in color.  B&W and its variants are very useful for reducing the distractions of color to focus on shades and tonality.  I do it all the time, and I have pieces that didn't work in color but that I love in B&W.

As for that limited color addition on top of B&W...I think it is critical that you are making choices about the images subject and how the color can reinforce the images story.  The pieces you posted from Saul Leiter are indeed masterpieces of the form.  They show how the emphasis on one color in an otherwise desaturated image can reinforce the story.  The green light does a great job, in the midst of a colorless snowstorm, of reinforcing the traffic moving during snow.  The colorful umbrella reinforces the story about a person making their way in inclement weather.  Nice stuff.  

Now as for your stuff:  The stuff you showed by Saul are Leiter have elements of human life and movement in them.  Aside from the color, they are realistic street photography-styled photos.  Your work is more about abstract shapes and textures.  As such they lack for individual elements that might lend themselves to the style.  They are nice abstracts with minimal color...perhaps more toned than color images.  To experiment with this style, I would look for more varied subject matter.  

And just to show it can be done in many styles...here is one of my favorite selective color images from one of Michael's Botswana trips:
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/1photo-pages/leopard-1.shtml
« Last Edit: August 05, 2013, 08:09:16 AM by fike » Logged

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Rob C
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« Reply #22 on: August 05, 2013, 01:25:17 PM »
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Rob, you seem to be arguing that "quoting" photographs, by  presenting a thumbnail which can't be reproduced for commercial purposes,  in order to refer to them in a discussion on a relevant topic, without the permission of the author, is inappropriate. I find this line of argument unconvincing. Your initial use of it in this thread, in order to counter a plausible suggestion that you simply hadn't read the OP with any care, was flimsy and your attempt to sustain it is even less convincing than that.  I wonder if you would extend this to texts, or speeches, or paintings, or whether you would confine it to work produced by the living?

You seem to concede that that no law is breached but claim that some ethic of courtesy is, and you link this, with a rhetorical strategy you have used before, to your view that civilization is in decline, things ain't what they used to be, and so on. After the umpteenth time we have encountered this lamentation, we have to wonder if you aren't talking about yourself rather than the nature of things.

The quotation of images earlier on this thread involved no plagiarism and no disrespect to the photographer - quite the opposite, the photographer was "quoted" in order to be praised for the appropriate use of a stylistic device. The "fair use" concept (which isn't merely legal, it shows the law shaped by fairness and common sense) applies, because the "quotation" advanced the discussion by providing a clear explanation of the kind of thing the poster was talking about, and there is no collateral damage.

On "barely color", I am deeply curious about, because I  don't at all share, the viewpoint of those who object to it as necessarily excessive, artificial, gimmicky etc. It seems to me just another technique, like dodging and burning, a way of shaping the experience of the viewer. There seems to be a view in play as to what is and isn't acceptable in "photographs", some line not to be crossed, that I don't get. To me, photographs are another kind of painting and you can make choices about colors either before you press the button, or after. Lula does seem to be largely a temple in the religion of those who don't think like this, which makes it an interesting place to hang out for someone who does.


Ken,

In your view I certainly ‘seem’ to believe a lot of different things! Let me tell you what I actually do believe:

1. I believe in your right to think whatever you choose;
2. I believe in my right to do the same;
3. I am fairly old-fashioned and still foster a lingering belief and faith in the concept of property and ownership of same, even if the contemporary ethos suggests that collectivism is the new way forward to the next imaginary Utopia;
4. the concept of asking first, especially with images, seems at the very least, polite. How do you or anybody else determine where or when another person wishes his images seen? Someone might have a very real reason why display in a specific site may be off-limits – you don’t know.

But as I said in an earlier post in this thread, I honestly don’t have the stomach to enter into unending spats with you or with anyone else. Sadly, that’s pretty much all these threads become, in the end, last-man-standings of utter, repetitive boredom.

Hasta la vista,

Rob C
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Rhossydd
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« Reply #23 on: August 05, 2013, 04:26:45 PM »
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But as I said in an earlier post in this thread, I honestly don’t have the stomach to enter into unending spats with you or with anyone else.
If you believe that you'd just stop posting on issues like this.

Michael started an interesting discussion and developed it in a sensible and responsible way. You've added nothing of value to the thread and been quite offensive, leave it alone and go away.
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Rhossydd
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« Reply #24 on: August 05, 2013, 04:30:37 PM »
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I happen to like reduced color, selective color, barely color...whatever you want to call it, and I don't put artificial limits on the technique like saying it needs to be "natural" or straight out of camera.  

What baffles me about this thread is why so many people aren't bothering to read what it's about. It's not about manipulation or post processing to reduce colour, it's about photographing subjects with limited colour palettes.
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fike
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« Reply #25 on: August 05, 2013, 04:49:32 PM »
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What baffles me about this thread is why so many people aren't bothering to read what it's about. It's not about manipulation or post processing to reduce colour, it's about photographing subjects with limited colour palettes.

Though I understand your distinction, I guess in this case, I don't see them as mutually exclusive.  I also didn't think it was important to the discussion about the aesthetic and artistic value works that use the style. Furthermore, choices about how to frame, expose, and set white balance for an image in camera are functionally very similar to choices about processing afterward, so within a range of veracity I rarely make a distinction. 

What film is in your camera? TMAX.  Velvia. PANx.  Kodachrome. sensor.
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kencameron
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« Reply #26 on: August 05, 2013, 04:57:52 PM »
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Ken,

In your view I certainly ‘seem’ to believe a lot of different things! Let me tell you what I actually do believe:



Rob, I share most of the beliefs you go on to state. My post, the morning after, seems too cranky and I apologize for that. But I still think the quotation of images in this case was well within the bounds of law, ethics and good manners.
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Rhossydd
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« Reply #27 on: August 05, 2013, 05:00:36 PM »
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I don't see them as mutually exclusive.
That's the point here though, the discussion ISN'T about post processing, but about specific subjects.
Photographing a limited colour palette subject doesn't alter it's colour and has a different aesthetic to an image where the colours have been deliberately manipulated and destroyed.
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Rob C
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« Reply #28 on: August 06, 2013, 02:29:50 AM »
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Rob, I share most of the beliefs you go on to state. My post, the morning after, seems too cranky and I apologize for that. But I still think the quotation of images in this case was well within the bounds of law, ethics and good manners.




Accepted, no problem, Ken.

;-)

Rob C
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Rob C
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« Reply #29 on: August 06, 2013, 02:30:48 AM »
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If you believe that you'd just stop posting on issues like this.

Michael started an interesting discussion and developed it in a sensible and responsible way. You've added nothing of value to the thread and been quite offensive, leave it alone and go away.


You wish.

Rob C
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Isaac
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« Reply #30 on: August 06, 2013, 11:33:55 AM »
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Is there too much color for "Bare Trees, Red Leaves, Acadia, Maine" to qualify?
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fike
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« Reply #31 on: August 06, 2013, 12:32:11 PM »
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Is there too much color for "Bare Trees, Red Leaves, Acadia, Maine" to qualify?

I think that is a really nice and worthy example.  It shows a good choice of color highlighting as well as excellent execution photographically. It is a great autumn story reinforced by a beautiful earthy red.
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kencameron
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« Reply #32 on: August 06, 2013, 04:32:58 PM »
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I think that is a really nice and worthy example.
+1. Intriguing example of the "unmanipulated" version of the style which the OP had in mind, where (I assume) no color has been removed or added in Photoshop. Its impact on me is to draw attention to the B&W parts as well as the color, with the reminder that nature likes B&W too (not just photographers) .
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fike
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« Reply #33 on: August 06, 2013, 04:49:40 PM »
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...example of the "unmanipulated" version of the style which the OP had in mind, where (I assume) no color has been removed or added in Photoshop. ... .

Maybe.  We will never know.  It doesn't matter to me.
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kencameron
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« Reply #34 on: August 06, 2013, 06:42:28 PM »
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Maybe.  We will never know.  It doesn't matter to me.

Interesting. In a sense it doesn't matter to me either, because the image would get my attention either way and because I have no objection to selective color created at a keyboard, but in a sense it does, because my actual response to this image is predicated on the notion that it is telling me something "true" about color in a particular scene and hence about color in the natural world.

I certainly don't know, but I do assume, and while I am certainly awake to the possibility that my assumption might be wrong, if I found out that it actually is wrong my response to the image would I think be different, and diminished, although still positive.

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Michael Haspert
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« Reply #35 on: August 06, 2013, 07:10:18 PM »
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HI fike and kencameron:
No there's a twist I didn't see coming: How did the final presentation get to 'barely color'?

   1. My own naive bias was that there is a special (and fun) challenge to capturing the moment, a matter of marksmanship, to use a maybe iffy metaphor.
   2. My other naive assumption was completely predictable once you know I'm an engineer. Garbage in, garbage out. In other words, if I shot to get something under the assumption I can mostly fix it later, I'm doomed- or at least relegated to mediocrity by my laziness.

I abide by my own idiosyncratic rules on this topic even though I'm a rookie. I'll use Photoshop to re-frame or make corrections so that the image is closer to my own (probably overdone and romantic) memory of the moment, as opposed to the (probably closer to impartial) rendering of data off the sensor. In other words, if it wasn't a fine thing to see, why even try to crank it up to 11?

Well, you have changed my naive certitude to a more enlightened confusion. This last set of exchanges between experienced photographers was exactly the kind of free lessons I had hoped to get from posting to LuLa.

Thanks and best regards,
Michael Haspert
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Charles Cramer
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« Reply #36 on: August 07, 2013, 01:17:02 PM »
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This is Charlie Cramer.  Issac emailed me about this ongoing discussion, wondering about what "post processing"  I did in the "Bare Trees, Red Leaves" image.

This was made on Fuji Velvia around 1997.  I used Velvia since the scene was actually quite flat, being completely in shade near the end of the day.  (Would this be "pre-processing", since Velvia applies its own strong interpretation, boosting saturation and contrast?).  Another factor is what's done in scanning. Those were the days when I used to scan in LAB color mode, and the resulting colors are fairly strong.  

So, in my Photoshop file, I actually desaturate the reds.  Later I decided I also needed to desaturate the greens at the bottom, too.  It's an interesting image since most of the tones are basically B&W, except for the red/green complementary colors.  I wish I came across more scenes like this...



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fike
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« Reply #37 on: August 07, 2013, 06:38:00 PM »
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This is Charlie Cramer.  Issac emailed me about this ongoing discussion, wondering about what "post processing"  I did in the "Bare Trees, Red Leaves" image.

This was made on Fuji Velvia around 1997.  I used Velvia since the scene was actually quite flat, being completely in shade near the end of the day.  (Would this be "pre-processing", since Velvia applies its own strong interpretation, boosting saturation and contrast?).  Another factor is what's done in scanning. Those were the days when I used to scan in LAB color mode, and the resulting colors are fairly strong.  

So, in my Photoshop file, I actually desaturate the reds.  Later I decided I also needed to desaturate the greens at the bottom, too.  It's an interesting image since most of the tones are basically B&W, except for the red/green complementary colors.  I wish I came across more scenes like this...

It is very interesting to hear how you created this masterpiece.  It sounds like a bit of both worlds...you made a film choice that certainly amped things up a bit, but then in scanning you worked it a bit more to tone the aesthetic down.  Cool.
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« Reply #38 on: August 07, 2013, 06:41:28 PM »
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And now for something completely gratuitous.  

...then for something with silvery light and a few small splashes of color..."straight" out-of-camera for you purists.

I presume you can tell the difference between the two.
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« Reply #39 on: August 07, 2013, 10:01:46 PM »
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And now for something completely gratuitous.  

...then for something with silvery light and a few small splashes of color..."straight" out-of-camera for you purists.

I presume you can tell the difference between the two.

I am not sure who "you purists" are. If I am one of them, then I think I made it clear in my earlier post that I make no claim to be able to reliably tell the difference but I do, as a matter of fact, bring expectations to some (but not all) images.

As to your two, I love the first, the second doesn't do much for me, so how it was created isn't a question which comes up when I look at it. In the first, I see the color as working to draw attention to the figures, which is something I do myself through selective desaturation, but the lovely hint of color in the trees behind makes me think it might not have been done like that. Or maybe it was. But in this case, finding out wouldn't make any difference, because the reason it would make a difference in looking at Charlie's image doesn't apply.

I also hope it is clear that I am talking about how I respond to images, as a viewer, and not issuing instructions as to what anyone should do. In my own work I am anything but a purist. The argument about manipulation doesn't interest me much any more at the level of competing generalities, but I do enjoy looking at how I actually respond to images and checking whether other people respond in the same way. And there are no right answers - vive la difference.

« Last Edit: August 08, 2013, 01:51:33 AM by kencameron » Logged

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