Life is not perfect, so why should the photograph be?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by aqualarue, Dec 22, 2008.

  1. I thought I would start a new topic of discussion, merely seeking to engage in an area of documentary/street/people photography where so many of the images we see today are too nice. Now in order to prevent misunderstanding here let me elaborate: Nicely composed images, strikingly sharp, spring-cleaned tonalities and generally cleaned up warts and blemishes on images that, in reality, were perhaps aesthetically unpleasing at the time of capture. This is what I mean by: life is not perfect, so why should we make the image too presentable, have we been sub-conciously trained by the media at large, the photography tutorials and the gift of creating perfection in photoshop? by the way I love what photoshop can do, and I too have been sucked into the cleanliness teaching and the present day aurora of what has been deemed as an excellently presented image. Are blown out highlights always to be frowned upon? Does this show"un-professionalism"? And so as to eleviate miscontrued ideas here, I am not advocating thoughtless, happy-go-lucky image making.
    Maybe this discussion might go somewhere edifying,
    regards, Chris.
     
  2. Does this show unprofessionalism? Dont know about that. I've seen too many images in newspapers, and magazines (even photography mags) that had images that to be quite frank: lousy.
    I try my best to give a clean image, I think most of do. But you have an excellent point. Before the days of the computer and photo editing programs - we would see photos that today we would be embarrassed to have people see.
    I think we have all (assuming we are talking about the digital image, wether from a digi camera or a scanned neg) cloned something out, or adjusted something or other. But at the same time, are we not doing via the computer that others did in the wet darkroom?
    Maybe its because Im getting older but I'm kind of getting tired of seeing those 'perfect' images. I'd like to see the before photos!
    Now that I'm getting into film again (black and white, and developing the negs at home), I think I'm being more conscience of what I am seeing in that veiwfinder. Cropping out in camera that distracting element.
    Maybe people should just say no to photo editing programs for a while, get back to basics. Do their editing in camera.
     
  3. "an area of documentary/street/people photography where so many of the images we see today are too nice."
    How about some links to the kinds of images you are referring to?
     
  4. In street/documentary one approach/philosophy would be to render "ugly" scenes with the best photographic technique possible as a means of generating contrast (not luminance contrast, but contrast between the subject and the rendering of it).
     
  5. For many doing the Fashion magazine cover treatment is an irresistible Photoshop exercise that must be done. I myself often deepen the contrast to bring out more of the pores and imperfections to give an aged or ruddy complextion to faces. It's all a matter of what the photographer wants as an end result. There is no hard and fast rule that photos have to be exactly processed to match the human eyes vision in the natural world. In order for photo's to achieve the desired effect that the photographer had in mind, post processing is a need that should not be looked upon as a dishonest cheat.
     
  6. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    we would see photos that today we would be embarrassed to have people see.​
    Examples?
    so many of the images we see today are too nice​
    Ditto Don E. Examples?
    Nicely composed images, strikingly sharp, spring-cleaned tonalities and generally cleaned up warts and blemishes on images that, in reality, were perhaps aesthetically unpleasing at the time of capture.​
    Composition, sharpness, tonality, and clean-up has always been a choice of the photographer or photo editor, if it's being published. However, based on what I see online, most people are able to take a pleasant scene and make it aesthetically unpleasing. Photographs should be aesthetically pleasing or informative. Aesthetics is a choice, though, and not universal.
     
  7. Is the Mona Lisa too perfect? Doesn't it depend on your goal for a particular image? If original reality is an important part of your intent, then leave all the warts in place. If beauty or simplicity are primary, then some removal of distracting defects seems reasonable.
     
  8. I fear that the emotional response to the photograph has taken a back seat to perfectionism. The "wow" factor of what can be achieved in post processing is so alluring that we tend to overlook why the image was taken in the first place. Maybe somewhere in the time between reacting and capturing the shot, and processing it on the computer, the emotional connection is lost. We then open the image and view it with an unbiased eye and treat it more as a document, fitting it to an acceptable technical standard. Many movies suffer this fate, throwing CGI at you left and right, and as beautiful as it may be, the story and the characters get left behind and the emotional impact of the movie suffers. Just a theory.........
     
  9. I think it is safe to assume we will not get a link to a street or documentary photograph that is an example of "perfectionism" or even 'too niceness', which means this will likely turn into a bitch-session about "photoshopping".
     
  10. Perhaps it's about intention.
    If a highlight is blown unintentionally and doesn't fit with the vision the photographer is conveying, it's just a mistake. If it is, on the other hand, intentional, and aids in the desired expression, great. Knowing what you're doing usually helps in any art and/or craft.
    Haphazard photographs and lack of attention to technique seem often to be excuses by some who don't want to learn or do the hard work involved in conveying a vision. "Art" is a magical thing in the right hands and an excuse for sloppiness and laziness in others. The "art-is-anything-you-want-it-to-be" mentality generally leads to a degradation. Don't ask me to define art, because I can't. I can just talk about it for hours. But I know it's not just anything you want it to be. And learning a craft seems most often to accompany great art.
    Photoshop doesn't make me want to clean anything up. It helps me create what I want. It usually helps me to get my prints or computer images to express what's in my mind's eye. Framing something with a camera is already "cleaning away" a lot, if that's how you want to see it. You get rid of all the distractions of the world outside the frame. Peripheral vision has influence but is not captured in the same way within the frame. Movement is frozen, time is stopped. Is that a cleaning up of reality? I don't know. It's a photograph. A new object. Something to be seen.
    The perfectness of a photograph comes in its being (most of the time) a finished product, although viewings of it and perspectives on it may continue endlessly. I think "sterile" might be an important word here. Weston's pepper may be perfect but it is not sterile. His pepper isn't messy but it's ok with me. In photography and in art, there are many ways to skin a cat. Spontaneity can be messy and effective, but a good setup and staged scene or pose can be equally effective.
    It's more about transcendence than anything else. Hurrell's Dietrichs have it, no warts to be found. Avedon's American Westerners have it, warts and all.
     
  11. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I think it is safe to assume we will not get a link to a street or documentary photograph that is an example of "perfectionism"​
    Of course not, it was a strawman.
    Avedon's American Westerners have it, warts and all.​
    I went three times when the show was at Stanford last year (or was it the year before?) These prints are some of the most heavily processed I have ever seen, very much altered to fit what the photographer wanted to show. To a great extent, the "warts and all" are emphasized for effect. This is why I make the comment above about aesthetics being a choice - it's not something for which there is a universal standard.
     
  12. "I thought I would start a new topic of discussion, merely seeking to engage in an area of documentary/street/people photography where so many of the images we see today are too nice."
    I think mine are kinda nice. What would be too nice? How would I make them nicer so that they were too nice? It's like the girl on the left here... http://www.photo.net/photo/8377733
    ...I think it is really nice the way she's glancing admiringly at the man passing to her left. And probably the girl on her right is laughing about it. Well, this can all be seen better in the print, but it is surely a plenum of niceness.
     
  13. "Now in order to prevent misunderstanding here let me elaborate: Nicely composed images, strikingly sharp, spring-cleaned tonalities and generally cleaned up warts and blemishes on images that, in reality, were perhaps aesthetically unpleasing at the time of capture."
    I think you are not preventing misunderstanding by writing an incomplete sentence. In the preceeding sentence, then, the "too nice" does not refer back to "street etc", but is a forshadowing of the next snippet, where what you mean by "too nice" is elaborated.
    "This is what I mean by: life is not perfect, so why should we make the image too presentable, have we been sub-conciously trained by the media at large, the photography tutorials and the gift of creating perfection in photoshop?"
    I doubt many good photographers waste time attempting to 'clean up' bad exposures and by some alchemy turn them into "nicely composed images, strikingly sharp". Where did you get that idea? Why do you think they would do that to an exposure they found "aesthetically unpleasing"?
    "And so as to eleviate miscontrued ideas here, I am not advocating thoughtless, happy-go-lucky image making."
    Then what are you advocating?
     
  14. Jeoff wrote:""Composition, sharpness, tonality, and clean-up has always been a choice of the photographer or photo editor, if it's being published"".
    And why do you think he does this? is it because todays cultural aesthetics demand it? (Ps, the tone of my voice is not inpolite here)
    Tim wrote: ""I fear that the emotional response to the photograph has taken a back seat to perfectionism""
    Tim is getting to close to how I feel in his post,
    Fred wrote: ""Haphazard photographs and lack of attention to technique seem often to be excuses by some who don't want to learn or do the hard work involved in conveying a vision"" So what do you think of Martin Parr? Even Kudolko? Even Egglestone has been widely accused of swinging a cat around on a piece of string and snapping away.
    Jeoff commented:"" This is why I make the comment above about aesthetics being a choice - it's not something for which there is a universal standard""
    Not universal I agree. But there are most certainly cultural standards as evidenced in practically all the photography magazines at least in Europe. No messy photos there, I doubt whether martin parr would have been published. Aesthetics is a learned process and cultural standards dictate aesthetic values every day of our lives.
    Kind regards to you all - Chris. Oh and Don, i like your images. Maybe a wee on the clean side for my tastes.
     
  15. Photography is a language, like painting is, like writing literature and poetry are , did you know how many times a writer is working again and again to change and choose the right word to express what he want to express, in the most compatible form? How many drawings are made by a painter when he start preparing an idea for a painting on a new canvas?

    PS is a way to help a serious photographer to express what he wants in the most "grammatical" way the language of photography afford , be it film or digital. To start with a bad photo in order to express significance, no PS will help. There are photos that are overexposed here and there, very dark here and there, no sky, etc, and the result is touching because it has the extra something that is defined as "art." When a photo or a painting or a book are uploaded or published, they are having their own life ,they will last or perish?, time will tell.
    I think that development is to try and "polish" ones intention, and significance of what he/she wants to express.
    Life are not perfect, right, we still try to make them better , so is creating.
     
  16. " Oh and Don, i like your images. Maybe a wee on the clean side for my tastes."
    What do you mean by "clean"? Do you suggest I take them to photoshop and mess them up a bit? You wrote above: " life is not perfect, so why should we make the image too presentable" What do you think I did to them that made them "too presentable"?
    Life isn't as messy and foul as you seem to think it is. That appears to be the lesson you have not yet been taught.
     
  17. "So what do you think . . ."
    I think swinging a cat randomly sometimes works and often doesn't.
     
  18. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    But there are most certainly cultural standards as evidenced in practically all the photography magazines at least in Europe.​
    The standard is set by European photography magazines? When did that happen? Did books, museums, galleries, the internet, all just become irrelevant without anyone telling me? Jeez, I should have been more vigilant in obtaining information.
    And why do you think he does this?​
    Because of he (or she) doesn't do it, the photographs are random snapshots. Photography is about learning to use the tools and doing something useful with them, not ignoring them. Without these tools, a photography is nothing.
    You confuse aesthetics, tools, cultural standards, and technology into one meaningless glob, which is why you are getting so many of the responses you are getting. Some critical thinking before posting, and maybe reading some critical and historical material on photography would go a long way.
     
  19. Pnina wrote: ""Photography is a language, like painting is, like writing literature and poetry are.."" Yes but the painter and the writer are creating something ex nihilo, photographers can not do that, they are representing what is already in existence. So the comparison is a bit, shall we see, not suitable.
    Jeoff wrote: ""the standard is set by European photography magazines? When did that happen? Did books, museums, galleries, the internet, all just become irrelevant without anyone telling me? Jeez, I should have been more vigilant in obtaining information."" To use an analogy which could take several historical articles to describe, think about fashion in the last 400 years: or think about the bodily odour that today is unacceptable but in victorian times was perfectly acceptable; or think about the hair styles of yester-year or the ear-rings worn by men today, that were not worn 60 years ago yet 1000 years ago were worn by men. Who sets these standards of acceptance in dress and fashion and cultural appeal. what is appealing today for women was not appealing to them 100 years ago, the list is totally infinite, who dictates these culturally acceptable changes over time? So yes, the photography magazines, the use of the digital cameras, the media at large Do set definate trends, and you and I are brought up to believe that these values are the only correct values.
    Jeoff also said: """"You confuse aesthetics, tools, cultural standards, and technology into one meaningless glob, """No I asked a question, and this question is intended to raise the issue of what has become acceptable in the photographic industry as the correct presentation of an image. Why oh Why was egglestone's image of a red ceiling so controversial? think about it, was it because it was an image of a ceiling? NO, i have seen images of ceilings that are very aesthetically constructed and are 'nice'? No, the response he got was because it fell outside of what people expected and believed was good photographic practise. This is what I am driving towards. What is good photographic practise is not dictated by what is good and professional and artistic, it is dictated by the cultural time in which we live. These are two very different modes of appreciation.
    Kudolko's work lacks many of the aesthetic qualities of our time, yet it is admired. Yet again it would not be admired by Any of the photographic magazines or shows of today, except for the fact that we have been told that Kudolko is to be admired, who tells us who is a good photographer? Who sets the standards?
    Kind regards, chris.
     
  20. Chris--
    "the painter and the writer are creating something ex nihilo"
    No, they're not. A painter is choosing paint and canvas that already have certain properties. A writer uses words that have already been used and taken on meaning through historical usage. The painter often works with symbols and signifiers that have long been understood to mean something in particular, precisely in order to make a visual point that is NOT ex nihilo at all. The writer may do something similar with words. And, unless the painter is blind and the writer deaf, they are likely -- at least to some extent -- adapting what they've already seen or heard to their own imagination's vision.
    "photographers can not do that, they are representing what is already in existence."
    No, they're not necessarily doing that. Much photography is non-representational . . . especially if looked at with a certain kind of eye. Many photographers create.
     
  21. "we have been told that Kudolko is to be admired"
    You may have been. Who the heck's Kudolko?
     
  22. I guess not many others have been told, either.


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      The steady and unshakable conduct of Offizier–Stellvertreters Kudolko was remarkably noteworthy. The artillery was relocated successfully. ...
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  23. "...strikingly sharp, spring-cleaned tonalities and generally cleaned up warts and blemishes on images that, in reality, were perhaps aesthetically unpleasing at the time of capture."
    Chris, there are many websites (including this one) and galleries out there with plenty of photos to which that particular description doesn't apply. Here's one site, just as an example. (NOTE: includes nudity, if that's a problem for anyone...):
    http://www.completelynaked.co.uk/intimacy7.htm
    I'm really not sure what your point is, TBH...
     
  24. Chris
    Fred's answer saved me answering you, as his words are part of what my answer would have been, I will add only that many painters nowadays, but also after the camera was invented, used to look at photos or even using a camera to photo what they wanted to paint. So ex nihilo is a " limited guarantee"..... The history of art is full with examples of how painters and writers were influenced in their works by artists preceding them. No one starts from scratch, but photographer/artist needs a lot more than just looking at something, he needs vision, imagination, ideas thoughts, experiences, and a lot more to create! The camera is only a tool to quarry from within himself.
     
  25. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    you and I are brought up to believe that these values are the only correct values.​
    You know nothing about how I was brought up, so please don't pretend to. I grew up without television, which has had far more influence than European photography magazines, and without slick magazines. However, I don't believe that how one is brought up creates a value system that is maintained. The most popular photographer in Japan is Araki, and if how people are brought up there makes him the most popular, then one would have to assume that the Japanese are brought up on a steady diet of fetish magazines and foreign skin mags.
    Also, please try spelling my name right, it's not very difficult, it appears to be a deliberate attempt to provoke given that you have done it multiple times across multiple posts.
    the photography magazines, the use of the digital cameras, the media at large Do set definate trends​
    And really, provide any evidence that photography magazines, which are read by a very small and select audience, and digital cameras, which are merely a tool, set any "definate (sic) trends." Any data, any studies, or is this just another strawman?
     
  26. Chris, I too feel at conflict with the imagery that is, strikingly sharp. I recently sold an xpan, partially due to the too sharp optics of the lenses. I have often returned lenses after testing them because they were too sharp for my eye. Too clean, too sharp, sterilized, i often respond to photos with these words. taste of course.
    I often felt that audio cds seemed too clean, i realized that i was only missing the warmth and textures that vinyl offered. I still feel drawn to the sounds offered by vinyl when compared to cd.
    Two of my personal favorite (well known) photographers, whose imagery would be greatly diminished if they were 'cleaned' (provacative label) up are Sudek and Moriyama. The poetry I feel from Sudeks approach would become sterilized if the optics and process he used were to maximize sharpness. I am obviously assuming that given the choice he would not choose to in fact maximize sharpness. Something that i believe Edward Weston was doing at the end of his life in Carmel. I did not respond to his later images as deeply as his earlier ones with his cheap lens finds. When i look at Daido Moriyamas work i have a nearly incomparable visceral response. I cannot imagine the critiques he would/has receive/d. So many of the older photographers i admire would be less significant for me if it were not for the limitations imposed either by choice or of limited technology of the day. This does not mean that there content was without merit. I choose to admire the photographer who masters the tool. This often includes the context of place and time. Optics today are fantastic yet i often prefer older lenses that many consider inferior, when clarity is the guide.
    When i see a very sharp image i often feel that there is a hyper real quality..... case by case of course. I simply don't see that sharp. Thankfully there is a choice. There are countless photographers who do not choose to, or care to.. polish it. They may just want to refine, careful to not polish away something of value.
    btw Kris, are you talking about Josef Koudelka? do you shoot?
     
  27. Koudelka? Ok. Nobody's told me to admire him, either.
     
  28. Hey folks, I am not attacking, I am not judging your image making, I am not provoking. I am not being personal. I have had this kind of casual discussion here with a few other students of photography. There has never been a misunderstanding about the general nature of this topic that I began with. Some of us agree with each other, we do not deny the place that creative imagery has, nor de we attack the digital side of things and the creative possibilities that exsit for photographers to express themselves and to define their work.
    Some of the phrases I have used have been seized upon in isolation, Sharp images for example, for crying out loud folks I sharpen at least 80% of my photos to varying degrees. I employ channels and masks and luminance masks and density masks. but I also sit back and I think sometimes, do I do this because it is sub-conciously expected from me as a photographer? Honesty with myself is sometimes asking wether or not I do really do this for me, or for some future publisher that I think might not accept it because it does not meet with aesthetic tastes, rather I want to say something through it by Not thoroughly "cleaning" , I hit this situation a number of times.
    I posted this question because it was not about being critical, it was about engaging my thoughts and responding with an argument (not to be provocative) but because I am questioning practises tha I see dominate the industry.
    Now my view of the photographic industry is, without a doubt limited I'm sure, but it is the only access that I have and the only view that I see being trumpeted around. I would not dare to send some of my images to a magazine competition purely because I see the standards set by them are on, or seem to be on only one level, and the only articulated words that I can use to describe this level is with words such as "too clean, sanitised, nicley toned with highlights at 242 and shadows at 12 and midtones between 120 and 130.
    So give me room to breathe please, I am learning, I am a student, I am naive to many things in the photographic world. And sorry Jeff, i did not look properly at your spelling. We always spell Jeff as Jeoff and I carried on addressing you without paying attention to the spelling.
    regards
    Chris.
     
  29. Chris, i thought it was a very interesting question, and certainly not worded as an attack.
    Provocative and critical can be good.
     
  30. "...but I also sit back and I think sometimes, do I do this because it is sub-conciously expected from me as a photographer?"
    Why refer to it as "subconscious"? It obviously isn't. You seem to be preternatually aware of it. Who would expect you to, anyway? Who are you answerable to? And if someone did, why should you care? Jeff and I both have noted the sloppiness of your writing. Why would you expect anyone to parse your snippets of text in a meaningful way?
    "I have had this kind of casual discussion here with a few other students of photography."
    Casual photo conversations is another forum. Expect the philosophy forum to parse your ideas in a critical way -- or hope it does, otherwise what is the point posting here? Jeff's advice to organize your thoughts better is worthwhile.
    Your several recent threads are not unique; the questions you think you have raised are a common theme here, too often presented in a sloppy and casual way. In no instance I can recall in the last three years has anyone raising the question responded to a request for a link to images as examples of what they refer to. Why is that? I think it is because they think they are offerring a hypothetical, but instead they personalize it as if it refers to actually existing photographs and actually existing photographers, but they ignore any request for simple evidence of their argument.
     
  31. For example:
    "I do this because it is sub-conciously expected from me as a photographer?"
    Why the passive voice? Why are you splitting yourself up into several agents holding a casual conversation among your selves?
     
  32. The first question which needs to be answered is what is perfect?
    for me,if an image touches me in a way,if it moves my soul,it is perfect,if it has moodit is perfect..it must show feelings for me,a special moment in life..those things make it perfect for me..but perfect might mean something else for someone else.
    So coming back to your question, a photograph can never be perfect in genral cuz perfect might not mean the same for anyone,it can be perfect for an individual but that is where it stops i think.
    For me it is enough if it touches me and fascinates me and speaks to my sense of beauty...but is it perfect then,someone else might say it is not...lol.
     
  33. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    FWIW, the last "European photography magazine" I purchased is Gente di Fotografia, published in Sicily. There is nothing in it that meets the criteria of "strikingly sharp"or "generally cleaned up" although, as you would expect for any good photograph, it is well composed. (Why anyone would want badly composed photographs is beyond me.) So it's hard to understand what you talking about. As Don E and I have both pointed out, this is not critical thinking, it's random potshots. Spend some time reading and thinking about a well-composed, sharp, and cleaned up post that is not filled with strawmen and comments about images that don't appear to exist.
    Gente di Fotografia has a website. I can't read most of it, but there are some photos there .
     
  34. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    And more FWIW, Ellen von Unwerth was regularly published in Vogue for many years, as big and slick a magazine as you can get. A typical EvU photo from Vogue can be found here. Now tell me, how does your premise fit?
     
  35. My people portfolio has examples of a variety processing, but with the exception of my angelic grandson ;<) there is little of what I consider overly processed. Most of it falls into the street category from my perspective.
    How does this sit with you Chris? I think there's a lot of blemished reality there.
     
  36. Well well well, Don and Jeff. I had no idea that I was in the presence of masters. save your unreasonable attitude for the university, please. Or maybe you should have added pre-conditions to posting on this forum, I thought it was about the freedom to discuss at street level, consumer level, learning level, the level where most people talk and converse without the need to parse their every phrase. I was conversing on a conversational level and did not expect to have to provide empirical evidence about what is commonly 'felt' by - Mmm ...some, (Sorry, dare I refer to that 'other' forum' that I am not allowed to mention here)?
    You have, both of you, either failed to come down from your Royal perches and been able to actually listen to me, prejudiced by your academic need for me to provide you with a truly complex philosophical and photographically mature argument, or I have failed to speak in a manner which befits the vocabulary of this forum.
    Whatever you think, you have missed the point, the subject's simplicity overly complicated by your own exacting standards. And I really must asay that just a few of your statements (not all - i like to remain fair) are clearly sloppy in that they reveal an absence of fair and just consideration about how the human concious and perception works.
    PS, I forgive you though, It's christmas.
     
  37. " I have failed to speak in a manner which befits the vocabulary of this forum."
    You refuse to write normal English sentences. You write like a drunk slurring his words and is offended when he is asked to speak clearly. I'm told that the upper classes have a taste for bad grammar. Is that what you are demonstrating?
     
  38. O Don, what is the matter with you? You do not know me, I do not know you. have you lost your reason here along with the plot, so much so that you are stooping to childish outbursts? Attacking me personally because I have failed to reason in a manner which does not meet with some Critique type of orthodoxy, all i have done is to try and reason my way through what seems to have become a minefield where I am doing my hardest to remain impersonal. Why are you insistent that I am somehow of an upper-class grammatical failure of a lesser breed? Why have you resorted to personalising that which was never about 'photographers or their persdonal definitions of their own image making?
    All i have done is to try and desperately reason. Reason is not philosophical or empirical enough for you in this matter so it seems. You have not allowed for the fact that I am seeking and questioning the mode of photography which is daily presented to the average consumer, that leads to a subconcious teaching about what an acceptable image should look like. Never mind the professionals, the masters of history and photographic practise, these people are not known by the average man on the street, their work is not accessible to the general public. Ask 100 members of the general public who Henri Cartier Bresson is, how many do you think will know who he is. Give 5 Martin Parr images to each of these members of the public, they will not react to them as though they were not professional or thoughtful or meaninful images, the public at large has an idea of how a photo should be, take them to a gallery where photos of a drain pipe and a rubbish dump, along with a lamp post and an empty sky hang, they will walk out and prefer to visit the gallery with swans and pictures of flowers close up. this is because the public does not understand the "Other" language of photography, that language that requires a thoughtful and meditative stance, rather than to be expected to be entertained by the image and to have arrived at the meaning within 10 seconds.
    You know Don, i really want to thrash this one out, but I think maybe? it is time to stop. You want evidence, Buy a subscription from the top 5 photographic magazines that are available in England. They are good magazines, I do NOT mock them, I was brought up on them, i was brought up on the cleanliness, and maybe this was a word I should never have used in the first place. But I did not mean, by that, that cloning and dodging and burning were wrong etc etc, i meant it in a conceptual manner to be understood within a context that I erroneously believed was clear.
    I accept fault and blame for being unable to provide you with the evidence that you require, I imagined that you would know what I was talking about since one or two others have clearly understood this. You may well have a certain way of thinking that I can not appreciate. Again that would be my problem.
    By the way, i am not upper class, I have been an international truck driver for many years, and before that I worked as a forklift driver. Any education I might have is self learned. I write (now that has got to be a joke for you right now), and found photography an excellent medium to convey things that I am busy working on. Enough said, just thought you might like to know a wee bit about me.
    kind Regards
    Chris.
     
  39. "Attacking me personally because I have failed to reason in a manner which does not meet with some Critique type of orthodoxy, all i have done is to try and reason my way through what seems to have become a minefield where I am doing my hardest to remain impersonal."
    I don't know how you reason as you have not written well enough to communicate with anyone besides maybe your mates. I have asked you for examples illustrating whatever you are attempting to communicate, but you provide none. I've even linked to one of my images. You reply mine are a bit too clean for your tastes. I ask what that means, thinking, now we've got some meat to chew on, but you don't reply. So, we still don't know what you are referring to.
    "I was brought up on them, i was brought up on the cleanliness, and maybe this was a word I should never have used in the first place. But I did not mean, by that, that cloning and dodging and burning were wrong etc etc, i meant it in a conceptual manner to be understood within a context that I erroneously believed was clear."
    Why would you think it was clear when you are being asked to clarify your meaning?
    "By the way, i am not upper class..."
    You do not have to be to "demonstrate" it.
     
  40. Don, you said:
    I think mine are kinda nice. What would be too nice? How would I make them nicer so that they were too nice? It's like the girl on the left here... http://www.photo.net/photo/8377733
    ...I think it is really nice the way she's glancing admiringly at the man passing to her left. And probably the girl on her right is laughing about it. Well, this can all be seen better in the print, but it is surely a plenum of niceness.
    Then I said: Kind regards to you all - Chris. Oh and Don, i like your images. Maybe a wee on the clean side for my tastes.
    Because you were sarcastic in your multiple use of the word - 'nice' I decided to respond light-heartedly BUT with a compliment in the main clause, and my humour in the sub-clause. does that answer your question?
    Don said: I have asked you for examples illustrating whatever you are attempting to communicate, but you provide none. Don, I have provided my reasoning twice by making references to my evidence; namely the volume of magazines that are accessible and to be bought by the general public, and have tried to clarify this in my last post. And please stop making references to upper class, it's nice, but I admit that I can not hope to ever enter into this category. Or maybe you would now be kind enough to demonstrate how I demonstrate an upper class mentality.
    The kind regards ending does not seem to work so I will end simply with... Chris.
     
  41. So, let us try again. You wrote: "I thought I would start a new topic of discussion, merely seeking to engage in an area of documentary/street/people photography..."
    When you say photos can be too clean, too nice, and some other 'toos', how can that apply to the areas you wish to discuss? On the street, in order to meet the criteria of not too this or that, should one pass on getting a shot because it doesn't reflect those criteria? Should one's documentary photography be driven by aesthetic concepts -- a kind of 'art documentary' or 'art street photography' -- rather than accuracy in capturing a moment?
    I would argue that aesthetic concepts should not drive documentary because one ends up with photos of a concept -- a 'proof of concept' demonstration -- instead of a document related to the moment of exposure.
     
  42. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Don, I have provided my reasoning twice by making references to my evidence; namely the volume of magazines​
    This is not the kind of example that proves anything. Give some specific examples of photographs. I pointed out that the only European photography magazine I have in my home has photos that are hardly "clean" or "nice." You ignore this because it does not fit your faulty thesis.

    You have proved nothing regarding your claims with vague references to magazines and you haven't been able to make a comprehensible point, from what I see. I don't think we have a clear picture at all of what a "clean" street/documentary photo is. Nor do I know of any "top 5 photographic magazines" that are running street/documentary photos regularly.
    You really need to prove that there is something here rather than just making idle chatter.
     
  43. Don, I agree with you here. I meant precisiely that. A document related to and a true representation of the character of the moment. An accurate representation of the moment. Now I am unable to upload photos at this moment because I have to finnish scanning and editing in photoshop in order to balance out where my scanner falls short. Your images are good by the way, I actually like them.
    But to get back to your comment, I wonder whether that accurate representation of the moment can be swamped by the desire to clean up to a certain standard in say photoshop. I have seen photos of the gulf war, for example, (and I am genuinely sorry that I can not recover the links,it was a year ago), where what disgusted me most was the sanitation of the image, what should have been a moment to reflect was disturbed (in my opinion) by the obvious corrections and too clean atmosphere of the scene. I mean there were quite a number of them. I like james Natchwey's images, but an overall impression, after viewing so many of the suffering images, was that this is too clean, too well framed, as if he seemed to be slightly favouring the artistic side. His images are strikingly impressive, and that was precisely my problem, I was hit more with the artistic composure than with the reality of the moment.
    regards
    Chris
    Your comment about Proof of concept;
     
  44. jtk

    jtk

    Philip Seymour Hoffman (actor in "Capote" and "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" etc) seems on point here, regarding "perfection" vs "reality", discussing his role in "Doubt" in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine:
    He's averse to "right, wrong, black, white" and embraces "messiness."
    "To feel confident that you can wake up and live your day and be proud instead of living in what's really true, which is the whole mess that the world is (in)." "...being a human on this earth is a complicated messy thing." "I, personally, am uncomfortable with that messiness, just as I acknowledge its absolute necessity." "I only want to do things that I'm passionate about."
     
  45. Natchwey is very good. One reason I request examples is that in other discussions of the sort "How can I get this (color, contrast, skin tone etc) in photoshop?" and the poster links to what they want to achieve. Quite often the answer is: a softbox and a good makeup artist. Nothing to do with photoshopping. If you are looking at photojournalism in a magazine or newspaper, there are odds that any corrections were done by the editorial people and not the photographer who likely mailed the film or uploaded the digital files. If you mean an exhibit by a photojournalist, then they have made, or have had made, prints. One has to consider the output: prints for exhibit and likely sales, rather than news.
     
  46. "I wonder whether that accurate representation of the moment can be swamped by the desire to clean up to a certain standard in say photoshop."
    When I print the photo I linked to, I can guarantee I will crop it and work the values to enhance what I imagine the photo should look like. Shooting from the hip like that because I recognize that there is a good photo right in front of me doesn't mean I am in the best position for the photo I see, or that I have the best camera or lens for it, or the best light. I don't see why I shouldn't do that, if that is "cleaning up". There is nothing sacred about what supposedly 'comes right out of the camera', and a photo bears no simple one-to-one relationship with the moment. It is up to the photographer to complete the process, and only the photographer knows what is accurate and what is not.
     
  47. I think this is more an issue of chosing to photograph with an impressionist / pictorialist view or an hyper-realist view, and everything
    inbetween those ' extremes '. Life is not perfect...but it isn't imperfect either. It just ' is '. So why not let a photograph just ' be ' ?
     
  48. Just be what? What is the purpose of making the exposure? A print? If I let an exposure just be, I don't have a print. In order to get a print I have to do stuff to it. If it is either film or raw data, I don't have any image at all yet, just what I imagine.
     
  49. The following is a link to a blog with photos by Garry Winogrand, Josef Koudelka and others. There's a video of a VERY young Bill Moyers on Winogrand. The pictures are not "perfect" but boy are they interesting. I happen to like "pretty" but a great street shot will always grab me. Enjoy.
    graememitchell.com/blog/category/audiovideo
     
  50. "Just be what? What is the purpose of making the exposure? A print? If I let an exposure just be, I don't have a print. In
    order to get a print I have to do stuff to it. If it is either film or raw data, I don't have any image at all yet, just what I
    imagine."----------------------------------------------------------------------------------





    I wasn't referring to the act of photographing but more to the photograph itself and how it's being experienced. Obviously,a
    conclusion after viewing a photograph is always going to be made, but limiting this conclusion to the photograph being either
    perfect or imperfect ( for whatever personal reasons ) is like thinking to have regained something when there wasn't anything
    lost in the first place.
     
  51. Well put. I understand, Phylo, and I agree.
     
  52. Hi howard, great littile gem there. I was amazed. I had read about winnogrand and his strobe light in peoples' faces, but now I have seen it, in all honesty i would be to scared to walk next to him. Some of Koudelka's less exoctic masterpieces are not here, I guess I will have to buy the book.
    Chris.
     
  53. Sorry Sorry, i meant Bruce Gilden, I was thinking Gilden but writing Winnogrand.
     
  54. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    too clean, too well framed​

    I think I get it now. Actually knowing how to take a good photograph is a bad thing. Is this to make life easy or part of some misguided post-modern project?
     
  55. Oh, you have to scroll down some to get to the Winogrand video. Sorry.
    HT
     
  56. Here's my contribution. The end of the roll light strike helped create this portrait. It works for me as the darkness poses questions: 'Is death rolling in on the subject as he smokes a toxic cigarette?' 'Does the smoking matter at all given the onslaught of blackness?'
    Others might see it as a flawed attempt but I accept it as an accidentally-conceived image charged with more meaning as a result ofthe accident
    Also see:
    .http://www.users.cloud9.net/~bradmcc/trotsky.html
    This photo has suffered the ravages of time, yet the scrapes in the emulsion enhance the overall message of Trotsky's intensity.
    00RtxG-100619584.jpg
     
  57. This is a false dichotomy: technical perfection vs. the messiness of life. You use your chosen medium to show what you want to show. E.g. I think 1/60s is where it's at to show action, but most photographers like to freeze motion with crazy high shutter speeds. Whatever - if it shows what you are trying to show it is good. It is a question of intentionality, not what is right or wrong for the entire medium of photography.
    The reason to insist on technical perfection - which does not exclude blurs or odd exposures - is that photography is a visual art. At least it can be. You are trying to show an audience exactly what you found interesting in a particular view in a particular moment in time. You either suck at it or you excel at it - simple as that.
    A lot of photographers' idea of perfect skin tone looks comically overexposed to me. They want to see makeup ads from magazines; I want to see glorious translucent skin with pores and hairs and whatnot. If we can each execute what we want, we are both correct.
    Some photographs are compelling despite technical problems, but that in no way excuses the problems. It merely means that there is enough significance there to draw the viewer in through the distractions caused by the photographer's ineptitude.
     
  58. What's a perfect photograph?
     
  59. Jeff Cosloy, I think that image by Robert Capa is great. If it had been cleaned up in photoshop with restoration techniques and made to look presentable, then its accidental layer of depth and significance would have been invisible I think. It's a fantastic piece of visual poetry with all its flaws revealing the flaws of that era. I wonder if Robert Capa would have seen it that way?
    "Life is not perfect, so why should the image be"
    Regards, Chris.
     
  60. Okay.. thats really a heated discussion. I think It depends on what people consider to be perfect. And im talking bout the guy/girl behind the camera. I havent had time to publish since I became more serious because I take like 1500 shots on a one day mission. Alot ?? yeah.. but since im very busy I dont have time to spend hours in Lightroom. So what I do is that I carry extra batteries and 16 GB cards for my Canon 50D. I take alot of photos in situations where there is no second chances, so I just fire away while I work the zoom lens and I move around as well. Always short burts. So maybe many oldschool photographers will turn in their grave (or on their sofa if they are not dead yet) but if I have this tecnological advance then why not use It ?? So I dont crop and I dont tweak. The 50D is a fine camera and with a massive amount of footage I mostly find what im looking for. And like I mentioned ealier.. In some situations you have to take the shot in a matter of 2 seconds or less.
    Personally I find arranged photos annoing. So maybe Im just a snapshot photographer, but hey... I can live with that.
    [​IMG]
     
  61. [​IMG]

    Gypsy houses being demolished. This woman just lost her home and she is in despair. This is what I need and I dont want to crop or edit such a photo. Its all there and doesnt get any more real. Trick is also to be really fast because I dont want this woman to feel abused. Mostly I pretend to look away and do nothing and then I turn really fast and take between 2 and 5 shots. Not the optimal solution but I dont see any other way. Risky and unethical ? yeah... but getting the job done is always highest priority.
     
  62. "I think that image by Robert Capa is great. If it had been cleaned up in photoshop with restoration techniques and made to look presentable, then its accidental layer of depth and significance would have been invisible I think. It's a fantastic piece of visual poetry with all its flaws revealing the flaws of that era."
    You can achieve the same effect by taking your film to the 1 Hour and letting the proverbial pimply-faced teenager have his or her way with it :cool: Or mess up your digital images in Photoshop. I'd rather have what Capa intended.
    Of course it is a useful image for the hauntologically inclined. Spectres of Marx, indeed.
    "I wonder if Robert Capa would have seen it that way?"
    He'd probably wonder: Again? Why me?
     
  63. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    What's a perfect photograph?​
    It's a strawman.There's been no justification for the whole premise here, it's just a false dichotomy. Every request for any kind of examples has been met with vague references to low circulation photography magazines in a small country.
    This is what I need and I dont want to crop or edit such a photo.​
    How does anyone take a photo without both cropping at editing at the time of shooting? It's not possible. So how does cropping and editing after it's taken become some sort of major crime? There's no rules for photography, there's nothing that says cropping after it's taken is better or worse than cropping when it's taken. It's photography, it's what it's always been.
     
  64. "What's a perfect photograph?"
    So far, either Koudelka's photos are perfect or perhaps they are the antithesis of perfect (I am not clear on that), i.e. "flawed", which might be the new perfection, because life is not perfect anyways so why should the photograph be.
    Try and keep up :cool:
     
  65. I don't even think it was made clear it was Koudelka ...? maybe i missed it.
     
  66. Martin Sobey: asked - What is a perfect photograph?
    When photography can be objective, its parameters standardized, its methods categorised and assigned strict scientific rules, when its results and consequences can be predicted. Only then can there be the perfect photograph.
    Inherent in art is the fact that it is a subjective experience on all levels. The feeling of having achieved Perfection often does not even lie with the creator, much less the admirer. the best that any creator can say is: I am finally happy with this. It is how I want it.
     
  67. I have seen the perfect photograph. But i doubt you would agree with me. And it is not the same perfect photo that i saw
    20 years before. I have been working on capturing the perfect images since i first saw one a very long time ago. Too elusive,
    but it has been a wonderful and dreadful journey. There was this one time I came very close .....
     
  68. If someone see's the "Perfect Photograph" is it worth looking at all those millions of imperfect photos ever again? I think this Perfect Photograph should be locked in a safe never to be seen, or just destroyed. This perfect photo of which you speak is a threat to all things photographic.
    It is similar to the deadly joke from the"Monty Python" skit that killed anyone who read or heard it by laughing to death.
     
  69. Michael, now i am glad i kept it secret all these years.
     
  70. ROFLMAO, too many people are as the opening comments states, and the problem, too many people have become absorbed in producing a technically perefect image than an esthetic and artistically pleasing image.
    The shouts of idignation are usually loudest from those committed to the technical and avoid discussion that would undermine or cast doubts on the merits of their own principles.
    The reference to magazines, the space given to the technically perfect are usually for adverts that required a image to associate with the product.
    Step back to Brassi, Doisneau, Kertesz for example and again appreciate the the artistery of photography and not the talents of the Photoshop wizard.
    Or, Exactly who is to be appreciated, the snapper, the manipulator, or the end product with all its intrinsic processes.
     
  71. Let's stipulate to the standards of a high quality stock photo service as "perfect". Chris has offered two alternatives, a flawed (ie, one that doesn't conform to the "perfect" standard) photograph, and a photograph that has been shabbily treated over time (Capa's shot of Trotsky). I'll add a third: photographs from Holgas and Dianas and other "toy" cameras.
    Phylo, I think, pointed towards the falseness of this dualism of "perfect" and "flawed". I think Jack misses this point as well and creates another dualism out of the "perfect", this time with "artistic". Neither is any more compelling a notion than film vs digital, pc vs mac, Nikon vs Canon, or Ford vs Chevy. Just something that callow youth and bitter old grumps while away their hours of tedium.
     
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    Go easy on me, I'm new here! You’ve brought up a very good point. Why is it good? Well look at the discussion. Here is a point: Why have most been trained that everyone has to agree (politically correctness)? That's a whole different can of worms...
    1) Thank you, a good debate is a healthy exercise, and you usually learn most from it. You may even make some friends a long the way. People tend to only talk to others or associate with others whom agree with them. Hence sort of why people drive on freeways in packs as there is a false safety in numbers, and why we get the same results in this country regardless of which talking head you “vote” for.
    2) The end result? It's just different for everyone. Most landscape photographers learn the basics/rules first. This demonstrates that you know fundamentally how to operate the camera....then from there you move on to your idea....then the end result. I agree with you, I'd love to see a thread just comparing a raw image vs. raw+photoshop. Ansel Adams was noted from what I've been told by people who've reprinted/archived his work as having a significant number of average negatives. And no I'm not saying his work is average or that all of his negatives are average. He was however, great at composition, and was a master print maker. People mostly look at his prints, not his negatives. The same holds true for today. I think we have some great photographers, and photographers who are great at photographing + photoshop. Invariably some are more patient with one or both processes more than others. Some of us just have more time on our hands, while some of us would rather be out taking more photographs.
    3) Culture: Overall your thoughts bring up the bigger picture in a lot of sense. Most, like myself, were sat in front of a TV growing up. My mind has been trained to an extent to value the perfect composition, lighting, etc over one that is not. So is this good or bad? Am I the only one today that just cannot listen to the radio anymore on my commute to work? Sports talk, politics, and the music are usually the same rehashed, mass marketed, and culturally acceptable ideas. So then we move on to the extreme marketing as a reaction: the "reality" show. But even that isn't truthful as it's carefully choreographed more often than not. I guess we’re left just with shows like “Cops,” and the Blair Which project on the extreme end of the spectrum. So that's what we have in America for the most part. 99% of people I meet and talk to all pretty much agree to agree with one and other and carry on the same thoughts, values, ideas, and overall way of life.
    4) Corporations, Profit, and Goals: This is the most significant part of the problem for the majority of people. A corporation is afraid to take risks, as the more risk the more likelihood of "someone" being offended. All media we see on TV and other forms of advertising are produced by corporations. Think of how much the News made it a point to make "Politically Correctness" the "in" thing to be in the '90's, maybe I don’t want to “accept” everyone!!! Think of all of the meaningless/mindless chatter you overhear from people while you're working at your corporation. I cannot just speak openly and be "me" as I might "offend" someone and then in up being fired over it. So blame whomever as I'm not sure where it started, but this notion that we all have to have the same values for 40 hours a week (I'm sick of the same rehashed sports conversations at work by the way)... Maybe the hourly wage is supposed to cover masking of ones identity, however it’s interesting that it does for some, while others it’s not even close.
    5) Everyone on this forum if they are not already, would rather be out getting paid to take "perfect" photographs rather than sitting in a cubicle or whatever else people do for a living on here. (hopefully not telling people to just mail the bank their keys like I get to do). I know I have the same mundane talk about home equity accounts over and over to where I now repeat the same 5 ideas over 30 conversations per day. Exciting! So for some, they pursue the "perfect" picture, as that is the only way they know how to make money with their work. Photo editors and stock photo agencies generally want "perfect" landscapes unless they support a very small “nitch” market.
    5) Degrees of Difficulty and Boredom. Most people eventually either learn how to take the "perfect" photo, and then become bored. Once boredom sets in, they run out and try to take even more perfect photos, and they want the more perfect camera, and the cycle continues...(just like consumerism and debt in this country). Some people see the light. They eventually face the fact that they will have to find new ways to challenge themselves, and learn to take risks (stop spending money, and learn to value other things). Those people get to what you speak of: images that stand out. Think of the musicians, image makers, etc that stand out to you. They are usually the ones that were the "first" to do x or y. As media changes over time, historians will categorize photography based on style: Film/wet process/dark room/printing vs. digital and photoshop. No different from taking Art history where painting styles reflected the culture of differing times. Maybe for the gifted few, they just have something to say, and they do not care what others think; therefore being "safe" is not anywhere on their priority list. Ask a woman if she likes the bad boy (unpredictable) or the nice guy (predictable). Most women secretly lie and state they want the nice guy, but they don't, atleast not until later in life. Again, most photographers start out in the pursuit of perfection, to hopefully their own individual voice. No different when you probably had no opinion about the Federal Reserve 10 years ago.
    6) Leaders and Followers: As it's been said: "lead, follow or get the _ out of the way." Maybe it's not that simple. Maybe for some it depends from one day to the next or from one stage of their life to the next. Think of all of the musicians/artists/etc that have to "sell out" in order to just get their work distributed, as again, see #4. Once they "sell out" they are then more able to do what they WANT to do over time. This is truer today than it was 30-40 years ago.
    7) The FCC and Rupert Murdock. Hopefully most people on here know of one or the other. While people were running around trying to buy homes they could not afford, the FCC was busy relaxing its standards on corporate media regulation. There used to be rules. One guy could not own every tv station, newspaper, and radio station in town. The idea was to get differing view points which would hopefully benefit society. Well thanks to laws passed in 2004, we now get Rupert Murdocks corporate slave approved viewpoint on pretty much 85% of media we're exposed to. Don't believe me? Try calling a radio station and requesting a song you've never heard them play over and over before! Try it. Chances are you'll be dead before they even play it, and if they do play it, it'll probably never be played again by the same DJ as he/she will be collecting unemployment shortly thereafter.
    Okay, I’m done. Again, thanks for bringing up a topic that makes people think. I know the TV doesn’t.
     
  73. Life is not perfect, so why should the photograph be?​
    Why? Because life is not perfect. Isn't there already enough ugliness in the world without me adding to it? There are so many images of war and disasters and accidents and crime scenes and human suffering - isn't it okay for some of us to want to make pretty pictures instead?
     

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