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View Full Version : when a photo is no longer a photo



Bambi
01-30-2010, 09:05 AM
Jimmy and I had a brief discussion on this in http://www.photography.ca/Forums/f11/mars-journey-7096.html.

and that got me to thinking-when does a photo cease to be a photo?

AcadieLibre
01-30-2010, 01:18 PM
I think we have had this discussion here before but than I could be wrong lol. Once you remove, add or distort the image to the point it no longer looks like it did when the camera took the shot it is no longer a photograph but digital art. I am very much a purist, what comes out of the camera should be fit to print and if it needs minor adjustments thats fine but when you manipulate the image to where you are altering it to change it from what the camera shot it is not longer a photo. I play with PS a lot just for fun but my PHOTOS pretty much are ready for print right of the camera, if I want a B&W shot I do the change on my camera so I am shooting in B&W. That is just my opinion, I am sure I am in the minority here, most do not see anything wrong with PSing out items that that wish were not in the shot, to me well you should have taken the shot without that object in or fit it so it looks like it belongs.

PS has done more harm to photography than any other preceding technology. All images are now assumed to be PSed or questioned about their authenticity which sucks. Sorry but what you shoot should be printable, once you start to digitally manipulate it you no longer have a photo but digital art. I have become well known in the market as a purest and it has not hurt but helped my sales immensely. In the end it is up to each photographer to make that decision, I only have these standards for me and think they apply to no one else who feels differently, they can do as they please but it has changed photography for the worse not the better. It means you can take horrid photos, go home, PS the many mistakes than pass it off as a good photo, which it isn't, it is a good piece of digital art. All I really have to say on it, it is well known how I feel about it and no need for me to discuss it more that what I have said here. It is up to each and every photographer to make their own decision and not anyone else's and it is my opinion and it means nothing to anyone but myself.

penodr
01-30-2010, 11:38 PM
AcadieLibre, so what would you call Ansel Adams' images? Are they photos or art? He used a darkroom to "alter" his photos. He would "burn" and "dodge" his prints. Photoshop just moves the darkroom into the computer. For example, when I process a photo as a B&W I use photoshop to alter the color channels. I might bring up the blue or red channel or lower it. This is no different than putting a filter on the camera before taking the photo, the effect is the same. It just saves me the time to change 10 filters on my camera and take the same photo. I would disagree that every photo is assumed to be a photoshoped photo. As long as you are not shooting for the news then go ahead. They are still photos just run through a different darkroom process than my grandfather used.

To answer Bambi's question when does a photo stop being a photo? I don't think it ever does. If it starts out life as a photo then it just becomes a editted photo. You just have to be honest about any processing you have done if asked, and never submit you work as uneditted when it was.

Dave

P.S. For the record, all my photos are processed in lightroom or Photoshop, before being presented anywhere.

Dave

casil403
01-30-2010, 11:57 PM
I think you can have both...at least I try to do both. I have photos that I have taken and posted here that are straight out of camera with no adjustments and I have photos that I have both minorly and majorly manipulated in PSE and lightroom. For me It depends on the effect I want and what I want the image to convey as a whole. I think that is what art is about...taking a scene or an image and presenting it in a way that an artist wants to convey...there is no right or wrong answer on how to get that IMO.

I think a photo can also be called be a mixed media image and a mixed media photograph when it gets into the extreme end of processing....Just like a painting with more than one medium is often called mixed media artwork. What I find interesting though is the reaction I sometimes have observed is that when people qualify it as no longer a photography, it is almost taken (on both sides...by the commenter and the author of the work) like it is a bit of a slight against the image....which I don't believe it is nor should it be. :)
So all that said , I like the term mixed media photography and JJJ's term he coined in another thread called Artography. :)

Michaelaw
01-31-2010, 12:34 AM
At the end of the day, it seems to me that if photography is to be considered an art form (which it was not in its early life) then it's ability to speak to me, alter my viewpoint, or appeal to my emotions is dependent on the artist. How the artist arrives at a point where I am moved is entirely dependent on how they present their vision. Ansel Adams was indeed heavily involved in his darkroom post work as are many other great pro's. I don't think there is anyway to blanket the whole idea of when a photograph ceases to be a photograph in light of its manipulation, one has to decide for oneself where the line has or has not been crossed. To AL I have to say it's your choice to be a purist but when you are shooting for B/W whether you flip the switch in camera or in PS is simply a matter of where you flip the switch. I prefer to switch in post as I then have the color info should I decide later to use it:)

Mad Aussie
01-31-2010, 01:27 AM
Answer = When JumpinJimmyJava does anything with a camera! :headslap:




Serious Answer = When my eye tells me it's more graphic that photo. My eye sees when something is no longer life like. At that point it ceases to be a photo to me.

Michaelaw
01-31-2010, 01:33 AM
Answer =



Serious Answer = When my eye tells me it's more graphic that photo. My eye sees when something is no longer life like. At that point it ceases to be a photo to me.

And that's as it should be, the heat would only go up if you tried to get me to believe you were right :laughing::laughing::laughing:

Mad Aussie
01-31-2010, 01:36 AM
And that's as it should be, the heat would only go up if you tried to get me to believe you were right :laughing::laughing::laughing:
You've lost me :confused:

Michaelaw
01-31-2010, 02:22 AM
:sorry:

Mad Aussie
01-31-2010, 02:24 AM
:sorry:
Great ... but for what??? :shrug:

Bambi
01-31-2010, 08:45 AM
all good points!
(Just looking for a little discussion to liven up a cold january day! )

I agree that even if I say something is no longer a photo that that's not a slight. I quite like abstract art and dont care if it stemmed from paint or pixels. I too like the term 'artography' and plan to use it in the future.

I actually don't have a problem with processing-whether it occurs in a darkroom or a computer. I do get annoyed when people think that the only reason a photo is good is because of PS.

jchurill
01-31-2010, 10:47 AM
It's all in the eye of the beholder. I've been struggling with others on this same question? Not on the question itself, but rather the way my work is critiqued?

I had one PS artist say I can do that with some simple filtures and textures. Well that's true, but this is real! I've also had a photographer say I don't know what I'm looking at, rather then just appreicate the textures, colors and shapes.

The real question is, no matter how much PS is done, it's weather the origin is real or not! Fiction or non-fiction? Based on a true story if you will. It adds a level of interest to the piece! Just as much as knowing a piece is near 100% as shot! That's what excites me!

So to answer the question.......I don't think you can!.............It's just not that B&W!.............:headslap:

Marko
01-31-2010, 10:50 AM
We have had this one before for sure :)

I mostly agree with A.L and MA here, but we are old timers (even though we are not that old...but we come from darkroom world thinking), and our points of view are dying fast.

I'm pretty much okay with basic editing in pshop...and there is a HUGE muddy middle ground after that. Certainly, for me, running a filter and achieving a result that I could never obtain w/my camera, makes the image digital art/mixed media and not photography...... and almost NOBODY cares about this...except the purists :)

Michaelaw
01-31-2010, 02:57 PM
Great ... but for what??? :shrug:

For being too cryptic. All I meant was that it's a matter of personal opinion but I've seen the debate get pretty heated when that opinion is attempted to be forced on another.:)

Foots
01-31-2010, 03:18 PM
Okay - it is a blah January day and all I am doing is chores - so I would like to throw something else in the mix.

You all have probably seen the Dove commercial on YouTube - where a woman was processed to look essentially more beautiful - although she looked perfectly fine beforehand.

This whole world of modelliing, magazines and advertisement to a whole new level of "digitally enhanced".

Is the image of a model, digitally enhanced, a photo of the model or is it art?

Did I mention I was doing chores .............. must be making me crazy .....

AcadieLibre
01-31-2010, 04:39 PM
Okay - it is a blah January day and all I am doing is chores - so I would like to throw something else in the mix.

You all have probably seen the Dove commercial on YouTube - where a woman was processed to look essentially more beautiful - although she looked perfectly fine beforehand.

This whole world of modelliing, magazines and advertisement to a whole new level of "digitally enhanced".

Is the image of a model, digitally enhanced, a photo of the model or is it art?

Did I mention I was doing chores .............. must be making me crazy .....

Digital art, and there is a backlash against all this digital enhancements of models, although I really doubt it will stop it is just a current topic and backlash until the next thing to rail against comes along. I have been shooting a lot of models as of late and do not digitally enhance at all, so again it is up to the photographer and the people paying for the work.

PS: Why I am here blah January day and I cannot even do housework so I am really bored lol, and need a break from looking at my own work so here I am just rambling on.

One more PS: Just saw this on Newsweek (http://www.newsweek.com/id/231629?GT1=43002)and just recently did a small photo story on it.

Mad Aussie
02-01-2010, 12:04 AM
For being too cryptic. All I meant was that it's a matter of personal opinion but I've seen the debate get pretty heated when that opinion is attempted to be forced on another.:)
Ah ok. Hence why I said 'my eye' and 'to me' to make it clear this is 'my' opinion ... at present at least.

Mad Aussie
02-01-2010, 12:15 AM
Okay - it is a blah January day and all I am doing is chores - so I would like to throw something else in the mix.

You all have probably seen the Dove commercial on YouTube - where a woman was processed to look essentially more beautiful - although she looked perfectly fine beforehand.

This whole world of modelliing, magazines and advertisement to a whole new level of "digitally enhanced".

Is the image of a model, digitally enhanced, a photo of the model or is it art?
.....
I'm going to say 'photo' because she still looks real. Assuming that she does.

Although ... if it includes making her more skinny .... bumping up the boobs, adding beauty spots etc then I'd go for 'digital enhancement.'
If all they've done is brighten her lips and eyes, some sharpening, smooth the skin, maybe remove a blemish or two, that sort of thing ... then I'm perfectly fine with accepting it as a photo.
WHICH is almost a double standard ... but where do you draw the line? How much digital enhancement is too much? Subjectivity comes into play big time here I think.

Although many of the digital techniques and tools are actually digital copies of long practiced photography and film techniques from the film glory days, they are actually able to be applied in stronger ways than ever before in many cases.
I'm happy to accept this as technological improvement and can't see much point in using a digital camera if I wasn't willing to accept that, and enjoy the choices it provides and extra ways to express our 'art.'

I don't call myself a purist, and my film camera days amount to not a lot really ... just a hobby I had for a short while. The digital age and the internet have provided me with a medium to express my creativity through photography but also to be able to share it, receive feedback, help others, and even make a few bucks from it from time to time.

casil403
02-01-2010, 08:05 AM
That newsweek article just makes me mad looking at it....mad to the point I just can't even go there as far as being able to competently express myself. :mad:
When are body images in print going to get realistic? :mad: :mad:

Marko
02-01-2010, 09:56 AM
That's right, the whole hyper-retouching thing.....yup it definitely applies here....AND it gets my blood boiling more than overfiltering a subject. At least there, it's obvious the photo is no longer a photo.

With over-retouching, the photo still looks real (usually).
It is just that it is completely fraudulent and meant to sell more panty hose, make-up, the magazine itself etc. It's a pernicious force; especially in the beauty industry.