Quite often during a critique one of my fellow students make the vauge comment about their work, (painting, photography, or whatever): "It was REALLY that way" Though it's been a few years since I was in school, there are lingering questions about comments like that I have trouble with. Does Photography represent reality? Is photography a form of reality? How much intent of the observer is within a photograph? I shall start with one critique in particular that I recall. 5 of us made a plaster cast replica of a man's head, made meticulously using clay and calipers to increase the proportions of a poor model's head scaled to 150%. For 3 weeks or so, the five of us engaged in seeing this man's head, using our calipers to measure the width of his nose, or his left eyebrow, and as exacting as possible increased the measurement to scale and recreated his form in clay. After a month we had each made a large head. As presise as we tried to be, a funny thing occured. None of our five heads looked the same! We could tell they were from the same model, easy, but there were variations that were not easy to find, causing them to look like different people. During the critique, some fresh eyes fell upon our heads, and they saw immedeatly what the 5 of us had not. Each of our plaster heads resembled the model, and also ourselves. Somehow, my plaster head had a longer face then the others, resembling my own face. One girl's had more pronounced cheekbones then the others, just like her own face. We had unknowingly each incorporated ourselves into some methodical process of copying a man's head. One girl said something like, "But, I don't see how it's possible, I measured EVERYTHING, and it was all REALLY that way" When a person observes something, he or she extracts a "reality" from what they observe. Our funny brains and eyes tend to miss many things. We see what we want to see as the old saying goes. We extract pieces of information from the universe, be it by physical limitations (as in the ability to only see certian wavelengths of light) or intentional limitations (by looking the other way). We reconstruct information in our minds and build a "reality" that we believe in. Magicians play upon this by redirecting our attention, and making us believe something imposible has happened. Its seems then, that the universe is only information. Modern Comological sciences are leaning to the though of a holographic model of existance where existance is merely information. We can extract only so much of this information for our purposes, to find dinner, or paint a masterpiece. In both cases we construct a "reality" in our minds or on the canvas. THE PHOTOGRAPHER, uses his camera to extract information from the universe. The thing is, Photography does this much better then our eyes can. The camera captures information all at once. Be it film or glass or a digital sensor, it is all still information recorded of light intesities and the angle at which it entered the lens. A telescope enhances ones information collecting capabilities just as a photograph from a camera. In fact the surfaces of the moon and the rings of saturn were once discreted as not "real" as they were not DIRECTLY perceptable by man's eyes. And then humans actually set foot on one of the places and sends probes to the others. The reconstruction of information is in the print, or digital file. If it is manipulated by brush or by some photoshop filter does it loose information, or gain information? Does that make an image more real, or less real? IS it ever Real until it actually enters the mind? It is my opinion that photography only represents reality, as it only retains some of the information of a scene. Our simple minds still see in the photograph almost all the information we would be able to gather if we were actually there at the place the photograph was made. All we ever see in a photograph is a closer approximation to the scene then we can achive by any other means, and we are fooled by information in the print into seeing reality where there is only representation. Anything else percieved, a feeling, a thought, that is something we bring to it ourselves, just like my class did with the big plaster heads.