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Author Topic: Artists and scientists  (Read 3883 times)
ErikKaffehr
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« on: December 12, 2013, 11:24:34 AM »
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Hi,

On a different thread I stated that without science and technology we would have no cameras but would still carve stones. I would say that there is a lot to that statement. Photography has always been linked with science. Chemistry to begin with. The first photography was made by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, a french inventor. Incidentally, Niépce also invented the first internal combustion engine.

The discovery of film based photography is usually attributed to Henry Fox Talbot, another inventor. But Henry Fox Talbot was also a photographic artist. Victor Hasselblad was an industrialist with a passion for photography. Science, technology and art can go hand in hand. But would you ask Victor Hasselblad what he was doing for living, I guess he would say that 'I am leading a firm making the finest cameras in the world' instead of saying 'I am photographic artist, making pictures of birds using a camera my company has developed for my pleasure'.

Something to keep in mind is that there is a mass market, essentially paying for most of the developments. The elite could not be without the mass market.

Once I read a book by Marc Rochkind an inventor in software development. I saw him posting here, and I think he took part in the PODAS workshops. I also met a gentleman called Forest Baskett at that time vice president research and development at Silicon Graphics, another participant in LuLa workshops.

Bill Atkinson, the principal developer of HyperCard among other things is an Artist. He published a book 'Within the Stone'. Publishing that book he implemented colour management and modified the printing process at the Japanese company printing the book.

Science and art can go in hand. So you can be a scientist and an artist. But photography is based on technology and I guess that scientists often feel the urge to understand the technology they are using for living or pastime.

Best regards
Erik
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Isaac
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2013, 11:34:39 AM »
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Incidentally, "Capturing the Light: The Birth of Photography, a True Story of Genius and Rivalry".

"An intimate look at the journeys of two men—a gentleman scientist and a visionary artist—as they struggled to capture the world around them, and in the process invented modern photography"
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KirbyKrieger
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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2013, 12:49:27 PM »
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Define your terms.

For what it's worth, stone carving most definitely requires … know-how.

Doing science makes knowledge.  Doing art makes things.  You can't do art without know-how.  Know-how is science.

Any human can do both.

(Typo corrected.)
« Last Edit: December 12, 2013, 01:12:22 PM by KirbyKrieger » Logged

ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2013, 01:25:53 PM »
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Hi,

I don't say that Art doesn't need knowledge. What I say is that photography needs tools, which we would not have without science. I also listed quite a few scientists who are are great photographers.

Know-how is not science. Science is going deeper. Expose to the right is know how, the Poisson distribution behind is part of the science. You can make great pictures without knowing about Poisson distribution. You can even make great pictures without ETTR.

A great picture is often well composed. Composition rules don't belong to natural sciences, and they definitively don't teach composition in a basic physics course.

Just saying, lot's of people here on LuLa who like photography as an art but also are interested in the physics behind.

Best regards
Erik


Define your terms.

For what it's worth, stone carving most definitely requires … know-how.

Doing science makes knowledge.  Doing art makes things.  You can't do art without know-how.  Know-how is science.

Any human can do both.

(Typo corrected.)
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fredjeang2
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« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2013, 01:41:32 PM »
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There is a high grade of technique involved into the art of making images, and obviously,
the mastering of the scientifical aspect for the artist is not an option but an obligation.

Now...what do we call technical and for who?
A photographer does not need to be able to take to peices a camera and rebuilt it like in fabric
to be an image genius. We're not Dalsa engineers.
A good director does not even need to touch a camera.

The "problem" I generaly see in the web forums regarding technical aspects, is that very Little
really relevant technical aspects for the shooter are treated, while a lot of what I'd call tech masturbation
abunds.

If the scientists of the forums want to bring on the table their knowledge, wich is good, why don't we see
more high-end technical tesis on lightning, ergonomics and optics engineering for ex, instead of those
easy sensor pixels peeping monothemism and charts stuff outside the contexts of real life use?

The tech and scientific aspects have never been the problem. It's IMO what's really usefull and what's just
tech for tech entertainment.

We should never forget that photography, video, cine, are disciplines of comunication. Comunication with people,
with a landscape, with models, with objects, and within the team itself between different specialities.

And this comunication habilities is an art that has also its technical parts but can not be taught
from the benches of Polytechnique only.


    


 
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Rob C
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« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2013, 03:32:27 AM »
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We should never forget that photography, video, cine, are disciplines of comunication. Comunication with people,
with a landscape, with models, with objects, and within the team itself between different specialities.

And this comunication habilities is an art that has also its technical parts but can not be taught
from the benches of Polytechnique only.



And there we have the problem: it becomes a matter of personality and instinct.

I often think that street-market traders, given the opportunity, would make better photographic business managers than most photographers that I know, myself included. Chutzpah.

You can't buy that - you are born to it, or not.

Rob C
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kencameron
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« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2013, 04:59:08 AM »
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Chutzpah....

You can't buy that - you are born to it, or not.

Rob C
Well - you certainly can't buy it, except I guess in the person of a well-chosen lawyer.  I am not sure I agree that you can't learn it. Not to be great at it, sure, but to be ok, even if at the cost of overcoming anxieties and aversions. I don't like to bargain, would always prefer to pay too much, but after a few weeks in some countries I can do it, or at least fake it, passably.
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Telecaster
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« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2013, 02:21:29 PM »
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When I lived in the Middle East I had to learn how to bargain. It's a skill you can acquire, though it certainly comes easier to some people than others. (Count me as an other.) In that part of the world it's actually as much about respect and decorum as establishing an acceptable price for both buyer and seller. I can't even count how many times a well-executed bargaining session—where I and the seller knew the value of the item in question and also knew that the other knew—ended with both of us sitting at a table jovially enjoying coffee, hummus & pita.

-Dave-
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Isaac
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« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2013, 02:56:15 PM »
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I am not sure I agree that you can't learn it. Not to be great at it, sure, but to be ok, even if at the cost of overcoming anxieties and aversions.

As a course assignment, one of my colleagues was required to ask to see the manager at their local big supermarket and then try to negotiate a discount on the price of one apple.

Plenty of anxiety and embarrassment and something learned about being able to do what was never seen as a possibility.
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Alan Klein
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« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2013, 12:22:38 PM »
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If you carve a stone into something of art, aren't the hammer and chisel also tools developed by science?  How does shooting pictures differ?
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RSL
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« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2013, 03:39:12 PM »
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Same thing with Painting, Alan. Chemistry always has been involved, though I'm sure there was a time when it wasn't called chemistry.
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BobDavid
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« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2013, 09:38:38 AM »
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A Canadian neurologist (can't remember his name) studied Einstein's brain. He identified a 15% size increase in the area of the cortex where mathematical calculations occur. He also discovered an unusually dense network of connections from that math part of the brain to the part of the cortex that processes visualization. Einstein noted that he used visualization skills to formulate his theory of relativity. He imagined he was riding on a beam of light. So if that is not a perfect example of art and science, what is?
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2013, 07:11:34 PM »
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Erik,

Yes, they do.

Now, the angle I find interesting is the foreseable evolution moving forward.

As of now, even those of us able to comprehend the mechanisms at stake have little ability to impact the image capturing process much. We can, to a degree, select what lens we put on our camera, we can split hairs to tune the way we process the files the camera generates, but that's pretty much it.

The scientist does have little active role in the process of designing the capturing device.

I believe that we are in the middle of a revolution called the "fab revolution" that will soon enable many of us to engage in a much more active fashion in the end to end creation process, including the genesis of the capturing device itself.

That will enable us to get back to the roots of art when the act of manufacturing tools was an intimate, essential and differientiating part of the artistic process. Color photography and SLRs had essentially turned the industry into a mass market where little freedom was left for tool customization/personnalization.

Panoramic imaging is in fact a rudimentary version of this already in that it enables the photographer to free himself from the constraints of sensor size and aspect ratio. I expect a lot more liberation to come soon to those with the imagination needed to push the enveloppe.

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: December 26, 2013, 07:21:15 PM by BernardLanguillier » Logged

A few images online here!
Alan Klein
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« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2013, 10:09:01 PM »
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The definition of scientist does not include photographer.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientist
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Ray
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« Reply #14 on: December 27, 2013, 09:17:42 PM »
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Interesting discussion. In my opinion, the camera is a scientific tool for capturing images of reality that closely correspond with what we actually saw, and sometimes what we are not able to see.

Long before the chemical processes were developed to a stage where it was possible to get an imprint of the light passing through the lens, or the pinhole, we had cameras without film or 'light-sensitive material', called 'camera obscura' which literally means 'darkened chamber (or room)', from the Latin.

In the attached Wikipedia article it is claimed that the Camera Obscura in concept goes back to the days of Aristotle and the ancient Chinese.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camera_obscura

Apparently, during the Renaissance when the quality of lenses was beginning to improve, the Camera Obscura was sometimes used with a lens in place of a pinhole, and sometimes mirrors were used to invert the image the right way up, which enabled artists of the day to produce marvelously detailed and realistic paintings, by projecting an image onto the canvas of what they wanted to paint, and tracing with pen or brush an outline of those elements in the scene. This enabled them get the perspective, shape and size of objects in their painting looking just as the eye sees them, and in so doing astound the viewer with their great skill.

It's understandable that such artists in those days would have been reluctant to reveal the secret of their technique. They might be accused of cheating, or they might even get into trouble with the religious authorities of the day. We all know what happened to Galileo.

It is therefore not surprising that artists continued to use the camera as a tool, as the camera became more sophisticated. Towards the end of the 19th century, and early 20th century, many artists despaired at the ease with which a camera could accurately capture an image which might take them days or weeks to paint.

It's no wonder that non-realistic, semi-abstract and fully-abstract painting styles began to take off, such as Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism and so on. Why attempt to compete with the camera?

On the other hand, certain artists decided to apply their artistic skills to using the camera as a tool, together with the darkroom processing techniques that were available, and techniques which they could invent themselves, in place of the paint brush (which is also a tool), and thus was born the distinction between the 'fine art' photo and the 'point & shoot' snapshot, although in reality it's not a situation of either/or. There's a whole range of photographic styles. Henri Cartier Bresson considered himself to be a photographic journalist, capturing a meaningful moment in time, then handing the film over to others for processing.

In a sense, one could argue that the use of the camera to create so called 'works of art' is a trivial use of an amazing technology. The most significant use of the camera (in its various forms), which is of great assistance and benefit for mankind, is in its scientific applications. Where would modern medicine or astronomy be without 'imaging devices'?

The fact that such imaging devices can be turned into popular tools for entertainment purposes provides an increased economic basis for the development of better sensors and lenses.

In my view, it is the phenomenal capability of modern cameras to capture realistic, high resolution and wide dynamic-range images that is of great fascination for many of us, regardless of any arty-farty considerations.

Consider the following attached image as an example. This could be considered basically a snapshot. It was taken in a crowded part of the city in the early evening during a Christmas celebration and prior to a show. These two girls sitting on the steps, looked rather unusual and caught my attention. I took a quick shot, unobtrusively, as I walked by. The camera was the D800E with 24-120/F4 zoom lens which I'd set at 92mm for the shot. The ISO was preset at ISO 200 and the shutter speed at 1/200th. The shot was underexposed by 2.6 stops. An ETTR exposure would have required an ISO of 1250, but that would not have produced a noticeably cleaner or sharper image, in my experience.

Now, when processing this image, I noticed a few aspects of the scene which had not been apparent to me as I'd framed the shot. I could see that one of the girls had some sort of tattoo on her legs, but I couldn't see the details. I could see that the other girl had something in her hand, which I thought at the time was probably and iPhone, but wasn't sure.

If I'd been using 35mm film instead of a modern DSLR, I'd have been none the wiser regarding these details, and the image would have been of less significance to me as a result.

However, after processing the shot, and being able to see clearly what one girl had in her hand, which is a cigarette and a brochure with the words, 'Smoking Causes Heart Disease', and being able to see clearly the wording on the tattoo on the other girl, 'Follow the White Rabbit', the image took on new dimensions of meaning for me.

One girl is apparently concerned about her smoking habit, and she should be.

The other girl has a very seductive tattoo in an eye-catching location, the white rabbit of course being a mystical figure that leads one into a hole of psychological discovery.  Wink

Three cheers for high-resolution cameras.  Grin
« Last Edit: December 27, 2013, 09:25:17 PM by Ray » Logged
Alan Klein
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« Reply #15 on: December 27, 2013, 10:48:11 PM »
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Quote
If I'd been using 35mm film instead of a modern DSLR, I'd have been none the wiser regarding these details, and the image would have been of less significance to me as a result.

While the details of the tatoo are interesting, we can't be dependent on catching things like that to make a picture interesting, film or DSLR.  Then it's just luck. Had the fellow above been leering down at the girls and you saw that and then captured it, in film or DSLR, you would have had a picture with real interesting content and comment.   Then you could honestly say that you were the artist that did it.  No luck involved.   The quality of the film or DSLR wouldn't have mattered in that case at all.  In the end, it's the picture that counts.
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Ray
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« Reply #16 on: December 28, 2013, 12:52:51 AM »
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While the details of the tatoo are interesting, we can't be dependent on catching things like that to make a picture interesting, film or DSLR.  Then it's just luck. Had the fellow above been leering down at the girls and you saw that and then captured it, in film or DSLR, you would have had a picture with real interesting content and comment.   Then you could honestly say that you were the artist that did it.  No luck involved.   The quality of the film or DSLR wouldn't have mattered in that case at all.  In the end, it's the picture that counts.

You seem to have missed the point, Alan. The scene was sufficiently interesting for me to take the shot regardless of whether the guy at the back is leering, (and from his position there was probably no reason to leer), and regardless of the fact I couldn't read the tattoo or the brochure that the other girl had in her hand.

If one takes a photo of a high resolution scene, and most scenes have far more detail than even an D800E can capture, then one can always be surprised by the additional detail one discovers during processing.  Sometimes that additional detail will add to the general interest of the photo. Sometimes it might be a distraction.

Sometime the presence of that additional detail will enable a more interesting composition to be created through cropping.

I don't know where you get the idea that one might take shots of uninteresting subjects in the hope that the high resolution of the camera will make it interesting. Unless one is a commercial photographer who has to please the client, one takes the shot if one finds the scene interesting, period.

If the camera is low resolution with low SNR and dynamic range, as my first digital camera was, the 6mp Canon D60, then one often gets unpleasant surprises during processing. That's the only reason I ever upgraded my cameras.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #17 on: December 28, 2013, 01:00:39 AM »
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Hi,

No, but scientists can be photographers and photography can be used in science.

Best regards
Erik

The definition of scientist does not include photographer.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientist
« Last Edit: December 28, 2013, 01:02:54 AM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #18 on: December 28, 2013, 01:12:23 AM »
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An interesting example is Carl Zeiss.

He studied mathematics, experimental physics, anthropology and optics. Later he started making microscopes. In order to make better microscopes he teamed up with Ernst Abbe, a physicist. The third person behind Carl Zeiss was Otto Schott a young glass chemist who recently got his doctorate.

The developments by these scientists led to what is known as Zeiss today.

In development, science turns into engineering, but a piece of science is always around.

Best regards
Erik
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Rob C
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« Reply #19 on: December 28, 2013, 03:15:33 AM »
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Nope, you're the one missing the piont, Ray: the point being, why on Earth would anyone photograph such an unattractive pair? Those hideous pop socks would have been enough to put me off for life. Their purpose, however ugly they may be per se, is to be worn under trousers and eliminate the need for tights, whilst allowing the while the more comfortable wearing of shoes; tights of course, being yet another foul, misogynistic invention of the rag trade. As for tattoos, they represent such a vile insult to both human kind and common sense that the wearers pass themselves into a category at which cameras should never be raised; rather should one call the large gentlemen in white coats.

Rob C
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