Technical Perfection vs. Emotion

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by dave_nitsche, Nov 17, 2003.

  1. I have spent a lot of time recently looking through many portfolios
    here. I have read many comments. I have noticed tons of comments about
    technical issues in images and how they should be corrected. I have
    been on the recieving end of many of them. Crop a quarter inch off
    here, too dark, too light, clean up the grain, colors too saturated,
    etc... I recently gave a presentation of some of my images at a local
    gallery. Not once did the people in the gallery mention any of the
    issues brought out in these forums. They commented on the general
    emotion felt in the images and how it made them feel. Not highlights,
    cropping or any other technical issues. Not once.

    My question. Could the fixation on technical "stuffs" create a loss of
    emotion in our work? Yeah, a highlight shouldn't be blown, but does
    the general public really care if the image is really strong? A stray
    cloud in a blue sky. Should it be removed or who cares?

    I am really struggling with this lately and would like others input. I
    know the correct answer is both, but sometimes they conflict.

    Thanks for all your time... Dave
  2. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    The answer to what you are asking has more to do with the nature of online "critique" than to the question itself. Some people do focus on technical perfection in images, and some people prefer an image that speaks to them. However, this has little to do with what happens online.

    In online forums, most people lack the critical skills (both analytical and verbal) to discuss the images themselves. Instead, the critiques focus on "nits," things that could be "improved." Interestingly enough, looking at most of the photographs hanging in museums and published in fine art books, these same criticisms could be applied. Of course nobody does because they are basically irrelevant.

    I've shown my portfolio to famous photographers, paid professionals who evaluate portfolios, and people who cjhoose art for galleries and other locations and always had a similar experience. Even when it's negative, it has been on the appropriateness of what was said.

    However, to answer your question about causing a loss of emotion in one's work - only if one accepts surface critiques.
  3. This is as good an answer as any....
  4. Hi Dave
    Good question. I love cameras; they are wonderfully tactile precision engineered and beautiful instruments. That said I try never to forget what they are for.
    Too many photographers seem to become fetishistic and fixated with equipment and technique. I’d far rather see an inspired but technically poor image than an image that is technically perfect but ultimately boring.
    The technical side of photography is easy, or at least it should be. A knowledge of chosen film, focus and exposure, that’s it. The difficult bit is the idea, the inspiration, selecting the subject, framing, waiting for the light (can take years). This is also the creative bit, the bit that brings most to the image.
    The viewer (not of the photographer species) has a distinct advantage over us snappers, they don’t have to worry about the boring stuff, the technique, and can simply view the subject. Bliss!
    Dave, doesn’t look like you’re "struggling" to me mate, just keep on doing what you’re doing bloody well.
  5. Re the above answer, as I remember it Capa's shots of the landings were nearly all ruined during processing - this was one of the few that, to a certain extent at least, survived. This image didn't have to 'compete' with any similar shots. <br>Likewise, there were shots of JFK at the moment of his murder that may have had major technical failings but, again, they did not have to 'compete'.<p>IMO this is not, or should not be, an either/or or one v another issue. Both emotion and technical excellence are essential. Nobody wants to look at a technically-perfect shot that lacks emotion and the ability to capture emotion is not in itself enough either - the photo should be pleasing to the eye in both technical and compositional terms.
  6. How much of the gallery comment was negative? My experience in galleries is that there is little useful criticism that goes on there, and that comments tend to be designed to (i) show off the commenter and (ii) please the listener.

    Here, you are presenting to others who toil trying to make their images come to life, and they are looking at your image as raw material, thinking about what they would do, whether they would do it at all, and what in that image is relevant to them as they look through a viewfinder. It is a very useful perspective, and I have learned much from it, but it is not the only perspective.

    A loss of emotion? Most definitely a possibility. And more comment on when and what a photograph inspires or communicates would be good. But someone needs to come up with a comment on emotion other than "Wow!" or "I love this" ("I love this because ________" would be a good start).

    Now, that having been said, wouldn't it be interesting to install some computers in a gallery running, put some photos on the wall with great big pieces of newsprint next to them, and invite everyone to comment on the paper or in the computer and see what happens?
  7. It would really depend, but I'd almost always prefer a technically inferior image with great emotion/meaning (assuming there's enough there to convey/visualize something) to a technically superb photograph of sometime uninspiring or of something with no aspects of design or aesthetic appeal.
  8. Garry, the reason that Capa shot says it all is that it's possible to debate almost every aspect of this issue around that shot.

    On the one hand it is true that there wasn't any competition -- this was one of only eleven frames from the beach at D-Day. On the other hand (and thanks in part to the darkroom accident, I think) this frame is one of the great war photos of all time, because the blurring speaks of the experience of combat. The photo shouts action. Few of the thousands of other combat photos ever made come close to the visceral impact of those photos from Omaha beach.

    In this case, the technical fault actually becomes a strength, just as in other cases, technical shortcomings may ruin a photo. There is no either-or.

    Jeff's point about the nature of online critique is well taken. Any number of great photos, pulled from the canon and put up for online critique, would attract no end of negative comment. In a critique forum context, people are simply looking for fault, rather than looking at what the image says. It's not unusual to see people picking nits that have nothing to do with how well a photo works, or alternatively, praising empty technique.
  9. weak question. All of the tewchnical aspects of making a photograph are only
    important if they make the image stronger or weaker. Bad & slopy technique only
    hurts an image. The Capa D-Day images are the exception that proves the rule;
    besides which they are a powerful photo-journalistic / documentary images of an
    important event. Which leads to a second aspect: genre and subject matter are
    important. Try doing the same thing with your next still life or landscape and see
    where it gets you.
    A third aspect: most photographers tend to be insecure perfectionist technocrats by
    nature. And with rare exception other photographers are not the audience.

    So finally: yes making your images more wholely realized is very important.
    eliminating all the distracting bits is very important. But making technically perfect
    images that follow some artistic formula is just a dead end unles all that that
    technique is in service and secondary to the image.
    one last question : did the audience in the gallery voice ther approval by opening
    their wallet?
  10. I seem to like images that have some flaws in them. Nice crisp, clean shots seem rather sterile to me. Plus I realise that many photographers here (myself included) don't have a good scanner so it is difficult to come up with a really perfect image anyway. I take this into account when I am rating, commenting etc. There are also many photographers that do not use (or do not know how to use) photoshop to clean up their images, I take this into account also. I will go for feeling and emotion in an image anytime over technical wizardry. There are many flaws in this whole rating, commenting thing but it still seems like a pretty good system. Thanks, Tim
  11. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    did the audience in the gallery voice ther approval by opening their wallet?
    Ellis, I have to say that this is a weak question.
    As history has shown over and over, there is little connection betweeen art and commerce. For commercial photography, this is obviously not true, but that's why it's called commercial. Some great art may never sell, at least not in the artist's lifetime. And some is very venue-specific - imagine Diane Arbus in 1964 walking into a gallery in Alabama instead of MOMA.
  12. Andrew, I understood your point the first time you made it. But that particular image would have worked with or without technical faults.
    No doubt if someone had taken it 59 years later they would have produced a nice, sharp image, blurred it in PS, posted both versions on PN and asked "Which version do you prefer?"
    Personally I don't think it matters for that particular image because it is so strong, and because there were no 'better' shots to compare it to.
    But surely, you're not saying that technical faults are a necessary ingredient of great emotional pictures? If you are, does the shot of the fireman carrying a dead child from the Oaklahoma City bombing fail to arouse emotions? Or does Migrant Mother fail? And what about the technically beautiful chiascura shot of the Japanese mother bathing her deformed child?
  13. I think few people would argue that technique takes precedence over content, although many might rate these equally. However, it's hard to critique "emotion". How does one improve on it? Very few people would argue that, ideally, you shouldn't have both content and technique covered if the circumstances allow it. I mean, you can't have too much technique, really, and if critiques help to highlight any weakenesses or oversight, then they can only be a good thing. Photography is a highly technical artform, so at least a basic knowledge of technique is something to strive for, as it can only improve the photograph. Otherwise, we may as well just all use a digital camera on full auto, or for that matter, a disposable camera.
  14. "But surely, you're not saying that technical faults are a necessary ingredient of great emotional pictures?"

    No, definitely not. Just that what's technically correct in one context may not be technically correct in another. How a flaw affects a picture depends on the picture, not on some rigid standard of correctness. So in some cases, to pick an obvious example, it's appropriate to have blur. And in other cases, it's not.

    As Ellis said, when your landscape or still life looks like Capa's D-Day pics, then it fails. Unless you call it a "landscape abstract," in which case everyone raves over your artistic vision. ;-)
  15. I asked: "did the audience in the gallery voice ther approval by opening their wallet?"

    Jeff replied: " Ellis, I have to say that this is a weak question."

    not if your goal is to sell prints! As you say : Venue is everything
  16. I have always thought 'technical perfection' to be in the same category of odd ideas as 'rules of composition'. It is simply a strait jacket of conventions that reduce creative options and so lessen the likelihood of interesting work.

    The only use I can see for the concept is as a stage of development of craft. Can you consistently control the technical aspects of your images rather than rely on chance?

    If a creative photographer breaks all of the 'rules' consciously (key word that - informed choice rather than blissful ignorance) then we should acknowledge that s/he is using photographic devices in unconventional ways to achieve a more powerful expression. They are more articulate in using the 'language' of photography.

    The textbook example is Frank's The Americans. Blur, strange angles, underexposed, etc. All of these technical 'errors' are the very reasons the images are so strong.

    Dave: The fact you are thinking about this (and your work here too)shows you are a creative photogrpher rather than a slave to convention.
  17. A loss of emotion, huh?.... Friends, I am *certainly* not of the caliber of much of what I've read or seen here at the .net. But I have realized one very important thing about photography: it REQUIRES strong emotion to EVOKE strong emotion. I am far happier with my work as a result of being, perhaps too, emotional. (Prior to a very recent personal battle in my life, I see, in retrospect, that I was a purely TECHNICAL photographer...again quite marginal when compared to work on this board.) Some of the most stirring images I've seen recently have been in old, amateur photo albums. These images were made with consumer-grade and department-store quality cameras, yet speak volumes about the photographer's vision of his environment. Reviewing my past work, I see strong commercial possibilities in every photograph that was staged, or technically analyzed. They have no emotion, just fine form, good lighting, and composition. Soothing. Politically correct. "Normal." Perfectly acceptable to make a living with, but not worth the time, (for me,) to bother to retouch them. At the other end of the spectrum are those that lean on the crutch of "shock-valued" photography...which is why I left the "gallery and fine art" crowd. Somewhere in between are those who see LIFE. Life in its balance, life under God, life in crisis, life in war, life in peace... they not only see it, but they FEEL IT. If they're dedicated, (or lucky,) they achieve technical prowess and use it to execute LIVING PHOTOGRAPHS well. A person's photograph is ALWAYS an easier target than a person's painting. The thought "I can do that" enters the mind of almost every critic, customer...every viewer. Another respondent above mentioned a similar effect, "...would I even have bothered to take that photograph..." The digital age has just compounded this feeling. The viewer places a MUCH different value on a photograph than they do on a painted or sculpted piece of artwork, and this is obvious at "art shows." It was already alluded to, but would these critics have the same response if they were facing you in person? I think not. The same thing happens in "The Gallery Community." Once the crowd leaves the gallery, friends get together to expound their elitist views and make themselves feel better criticizing something they themselves could not create. By definition, this "criticism" is nothing but gossip. I remember a few different perspectives that I've had over the years, as I've grown in both social and photographic experience. I once believed that the photographic "artist" was a person who lived their life in a way that perpetuated misery, and thus forced a creative edge. I once believed that the technical photographer had no real creativity. That the commercial, or wedding photographer was nothing but a "wh_re." I once looked down on the casual amateur, the mistakes they made, the subjects they chose, the equipment they purchased, and their disregard for technique. But I always remember: not only have I been in each of their shoes at one point in my life, but I repeat the mistakes that each make every time I shoot. (Oh, yes; I've done a dozen weddings this year. I've taken multiple "Best Of Show" awards, and enjoy blasting off film of my 3-year old and the landscape.) It's perspective. Beware of the extremes. Make sense? Good shooting, -Shawn
  18. The contemporary German painter Gerhard Richter made a career out of huge painted enlargements of bad photographs...
  19. I'd recommend a look at the work of Jimmy Forsyth. He was a ship-yard worker in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the north-east of England who lost the sight of one eye in an accident. He was pensioned off and, as he said, "to keep myself occupied", he began to photograph the Scotswood Road community as the bulldozers moved into clear away the old houses and create the 'brave new world' of tower-blocks. By the age of seventy-three he had a collection of thousands of negatives which he offered to the city library. Fortunately the city archivist saw them and realised the significance of the work. They now form a pictorial archive of a period of the city's history. The work is sound but not technicaly perfect, but what it conveys about a man and his view of the world is priceless.
  20. The work of Atget is rife with 'technical imperfections', but no one
    questions its artistic significance. Ditto Frank, Arbus, Weegee
    and many others.

    Most critiques here are in the form of comments about
    technique, either because the work in question has no aesthetic
    merit worth discussing, or the commentor(s) lack the
    understanding and/or vocabulary to be able to offer more
    meaningful critiques. Everyone has an opinion, but few have
    bothered to do their homework first.

    Incidentally, comments about cropping have nothing to do with
    technique, that is always an aesthetic consideration.
  21. My work is technically perfect to me at the time of display; I would not show it if I could detect an error. It's just that my definition of "technical perfection" is developing, so what was acceptable yesterday may no longer be today.
  22. This is a tricky question. On one side of the argument is this: using a specific technique or process to get a specific final look on the image which you previsualized before you even snapped the shot. Sort of like a artist choosing oil, watercolor, pastels or whatever he feels is going to give him the desired final look on his project. The trap many photographers fall into (which I have done myself) is that they sometimes get carried away with the technique end of it, working on mastering a specific technique. What is created then, is a picture about technique, not subject. If that's what you want, great, one thing to keep in mind however, is that the average viewer looking at a picture is usually drawn to the picture primarily because of the subject matter... the technical aspects are secondary.
  23. Some artists would appear to create work that is deliberately devoid of any emotional significance. One artist that falls into that category is Richard Estes. He has created a series of oil paintings
    that are indistinguisable from photographs. Some of these images look like they could have been produced (via photography) by any casual photographer equipped with a "point and shoot" camera.

    Check out:

    Would a critic infer that since these images are devoid of any emotional content, and also closely resemble photo-realistic depictions of various scenes, that their only interest and value is as a demonstration of the technical competence of the artist?
  24. Bill,

    I looked at the paintings you mentioned. Technically they look to be about as perfect as you can get. And yes it is difficult at first look to distinguish them from photographs.

    In this particular example I would argue that Estes used a technique that he has mastered to come to a final image that he has envisioned. I would also argue that his paintings are not devoid of emotion. Emotion doesn't neccessarily have to come from subject matter chosen. In this case I would argue that there is plenty of emotion, but it comes from the artists vision - how he sees his subject matter - rather than what his subject matter is.

    The image that really says this to me is the painting of the Roman Bridge with the village on the other side. He's not on the bridge to the village, and he isn't in the village. There are many reasons he could have chosen this perspective. For me I wonder why he chose the perspective, is he an outsider or does he feel like one? Some of the other images have this same sort of eerie quality to them.

    That said however, I think if he continues doing these kind of paintings it might start becoming about how talented a painter he is rather than how talented an artist he is, no?
  25. To answer your question, one would have to research the original motivations and context of Photo-realism as a movement in modern painting. As for its relationship to photography (or rather, vice-versa), I recommend the essays in "Diana & Nikon" by Janet Malcolm. Suffice to say that the posturings of William Eggleston et al look a heck of a lot less original, seen through that particular 'lens'.
  26. OK, so let me see if I understand this. First, all I read was that people are upset because there are not enough, if any, comments being left on their postings -- only ratings. NOW, the comments being received are not what people want. I think you may be asking too much. Seriously, if someone writes more than "Bravo!" "great job!" "the best ever" what would you expect besides technical comments. Oh yes, on the very rare occasion a photo will grab you emotionally and blow you away and you've got all kinds of interpretive comment to make but honestly that is EXTREMELY rare on this web site. For every 30 photos of flowers, trees, buildings and ROCKS there might be one come along that is "intended" to illicite an emotional response and 90% of the time the photograph fails in its aim as is evidenced by the ratings it receives (and when I say ratings I mean a plethora of 4/4's for yet another terribly average baby pic or artsy nude or "fill in the blank"). And I suppose the photographer COULD say, "Well, the average viewer just doesn't get it." Well guess what, if you're the only one that "gets it" it doesn't WORK. I write many comments and yes, they are often about technical aspects but those are (in my opinion) well founded. Someone shoots a landscape that tilts about 4 degrees to the right. Is the proper response to give them a 3 on asthetics and leave no comment for the sake of not leaving a tech. comment? I don't think so, even though that is precisely what the vast majority of viewers do.

    I'm all for the more meaningful, emotional, visceral photographs. I wish this was what made up the majority of shots on P-net. And technique is not absolutely the most important thing. But think about it. If your photographs are successful, you ARE using good technique whether you want to admit it or not.
  27. Tony, my thoughts were not a commentary on the type of comments brought forth on It wasn't meant to get into the usual "comments suck", "comments are great", "rating system sucks" discussion that everything seems to deteriorate too here. I didn't say that technical comments are bad. I just said that they are abundant here as apposed to "this image makes me feel (fill in the blank).

    It was merely a comment on whether the quest for technical proficiency inhibits the emotion growth and development of artists. Many here (myself included) are purely in the learning stage.

    To clarify. I am a guitar player. Have been since I was 12. I was a studio player for years. When I was young all I did was run scales. I was as technical as you could get and fast as they come. When I decided I wanted to do studio stuff I couldn't get a gig. I was technically proficient but I had no soul. There was no emotion. The quest to be technically perfect, although achieved (sort of, LOL), wasn't really what it was all about.

    Hope I stated my point a little better... Thanks to everyone for their thoughts. Really great stuff and it is helping me immensely...
  28. David B:

    Concerning your statement:

    "...I would also argue that his [Richard Estes'] paintings are not devoid of emotion. Emotion doesn't necessarily have to come from subject matter chosen. In this case I would argue that there is plenty of emotion, but it comes from the artist's vision - how he sees his subject matter - rather than what his subject matter is..."

    Your point is well taken, although I confess I cannot personally
    empathize with the artist's (Richard Estes) emotional connection to the scenes that he depicts.

    I cam across an interesting quote by the writer and art critic Adam Gopnik concerning the work of the artist Wayne Thiebaud. Thiebaud is a realist painter in the "eccentric empirical tradition". Gopnik describes Thiebaud as "an artist of charm, comedy, precise observation, and a pensive sense of longing ". A "pensive sense of longing" would certainly qualify as an emotional attitude towards
    the subject matter that the artist might choose to depict. That said, I would challenge that critic (or any interested viewer) to explain how that characterization of his style could applicable to the following work:

    Note that there is an "Image Viewer" link on that page that will pop up a much larger version of the painting.
  29. Dave,

    My comments really had less to do with your original post as those that had evolved from it later. As usual the topic seems to have strayed. I agree with the essence of what you are saying, I just feel like when you rate a photo on the low end it is hard to say "3/3, it just doesn't MEAN anything" or "doesn't evoke emotion". I don't think that is fair to the photographer. On the other hand, if I see a photo that DOES create that emotional stir, I'll rate it high regardless of technique most of the time.

    But to get back to your original question on the technical fixations draining emotion I think you're right, it does. But once a person has the technique down that emotion should become the driving force.

    And there are times when a technical suggestion can actually improve the emotional impact of a photo. I critiqued a photo not long ago of a guy doing stunts on a bicycle and my suggestion was to crop the large empty space above the rider's head, that it would give him more altitude in relation to the rest of the photo and increase the impact. A tech issue but with an emotional purpose.

    Let me ask you a question. You said when you gave a presentation in the gallery not one person made any comment ont eh technical aspects of the photos, not on highlights or cropping or anything. Do you really think the general public is going to walk into ANY gallery and tell the artist what THEY would have done to make it better? Doubtful. They have more respect than that.

    I agree, it is a struggle. I have no photos posted and one of the reasons is while I like my photos I am having a hard time deciding if they are worth taking someone else's time to look at them. I don't feel like I have much direction, they don't necessarily say anything. I guess I'm searching for a voice beyond the technique.
  30. I think just about aeverytghing I can think of has been covered.

    On way I like to think about it is that my pictures are pretty much for my own enjoyment. Someone else may have already taken the pic, but I certainly don't have their film, or even rights to use the image!
  31. I come here to learn. I started taking pictures in August of this year when I got a camera for my birthday and have only shot 17 rolls of film. I like to see the technical information on a photo so I can learn more about photography. Thru this discussion I've realized that it's the emotional aspect of a photo that first draws me to it, and then I want to know how the photographer did it. I made a comment on a photo once (a bit negative perhaps) on how I would improve it. I didn't like the picture and I don't understand what the photographer was trying to do. Perhaps if the photographers intentions and the technical aspects where provided up front, we could all get more out of this site. I know I would anyway.
  32. Perhaps a sidebar to this discussion is in the area of techniques used to simulate lack of technique. In modern advertising, the use of grainy, poorly exposed, shot from the him images are used to convey certain emotions and manipulate the viewer. The madison avenue image is a technical masterpiece, a combination of carefully calculated elements designed to achieve a single effect on the viewer, and they are ALWAYS successful. That's why we buy all that crap.

    There are also trends such as including the whole negative with all the frame info and jagged edges, as well as the decision to leave the extraneous smudges of emulsion when printing on handmade paper.

    These are sort of anti-techniques, employed to create or emphasize the authenticity of an image.

    I find that I have become hardened to the alure of technique and anti-technique. I am glad that I know the camera well enough that I can get a reliable negative the way a jazz musician gets a tune out of his horn, without really having to concentrate. I want the presence of technique to be as transparent as I can; if someone looks at an image and marvels at the technique I think it is at the expense of exploring the image. But that feeling only really applies when I am talking about my shots.
  33. Excellent thread and shockingly civil!!!! I'm also at a loss to come up with an answer or even a question!! I think Jeff Spirer had the right idea when he talked about this being the nature of online posting and critiquing. Most postings are going to be physical in nature and then they are open to technical advice because they rely on technical aspects. Those that are meant to carry more or a different meaning probably will not 'speak' to everyone, or at least not in the same way. These are the hardest to critique IMO, especially since a simple crop won't make any difference.
  34. Ward:

    Same here. I seem to be repulsed equally at all-too-perfect photography and 'grunge' work. One particularly irritating technique is the use of the P/C lens to throw the focus into a narrow strip. It looks so inane...

    The photographers and art directors have to become cleverer. Particularly irritating in commercials is the use of hand-held cameras with 'fake shake' and 'white blinks' that are supposed to resemble home movies.
  35. Technique should be sufficient to the subject. I respect, admire - and even aspire - to Adams' and Weston's technical standards, but that technique is appropriate to a certain type of subject. The photojournalist cannot, and does not need, to achieve such technical perfection.
  36. Even a fairly flat representation of a processed leaf made with an experimental technique can stir emotions.

    While technical "perfection" helps to make good photos.
    No one can predict apriori how an image turns out (to some extent)and
    (more so) will have what kind of an impact on the viewer.

    However, any self criticism and using that as the drive to achieve
    many different things could/would/does always bring in the
    rewards. Keep searching and up the good work Dave!
  37. I don't understand why people separate the two.. There are plenty of technically proficient photographers who can create a highly emotional photograph. People who claim that technicality is not important are just too lazy to do so. And it's quite ironic the same people who claim that technicality is not important are the same people who are shooting SLR. Isn't an SLR too technical? Because in order to eliminate all technical aspects of photography, you're gonna have to be shooting with a P&S camera!!!

    I personally beleive that people are willing to excuse what they don't want to have to learn. Sure you may know aperture, shutter, ISO, and the concepts of focus. YES, THOSE ARE TECHNICALs!!! Yet you're not willing to learn how to calibrate your own film, modify contrast through development, etc.

    Think of it this way. What if you have someone who is absolutely new to photography and it was your job to teach them how to photograph. And you begin by teaching this person, aperture, shutter, focus, etc. And this person says "TECHNICALS BLAH BLAH BLAH, I shoot for emotions!". You would obviously feel offended since you know what you already know, therefore you feel it is important for the beginner to understand those concepts to make a basic image.

    SAME THING for the technical photographer. They are the same person you are that is carring that mentality towards the NEW photographer. They know something that you may not, and feel that it is a vital role in making great images. Just like you are feeling towards that new person rejecting the concepts of even BASIC photography.

    Hope you can relate.

  38. A couple of wonderfully insightful images conveying how valuable technique can be to bring out the emotion that is inherent in an image. The image by Ansel Adams of Georgia O'Keefe and Orville Cox bantering that was part of a roll of film he dropped on the floor of his darkroom and stepped on ruining most of the images. Yet through his mastery of "technique", he was able to make a very emotional image from it. And his "Clearing Winter Storm". Without the mastery of technique this image would be as flat and uninteresting as the light in which it was taken. His "Trailer Park Children" from the FSA days. Without his mastery of understanding light and exposure, then development and printing, this wonderfully emotional print would have become just a passing moment in time. How about The famous Hindenburg image with it's flames shooting into the sky? The photographer/printer who porocessed and printed this historic image had enourmous difficulty determining how to bring out the best in this image because of the incredible contrast range he knew exisited in it. Yet through good technique, he was able to pull a silk purse from the sows ear. Shelby Lee Adams images from his work in Appalachia. Without technique, these images would be none existent. Technique in and of itself is nothing with out a good idea or happenstance. But without good technique, many a great image is lost. Both go hand in hand. As I am so often times guilty of, I offer Jeff's images. All wonderful images. But the guy has good "technique". Marry the two in your work, and watch the emotions pour forth.
  39. Q1: Are the aspects of technical perfection and emotional content of a photograph mutually exclusive?
    My answer: I don't believe so!

    Q2: Do visitors of gallery exhibitions normally offer advice to the artist in question?
    My answer: I don't really know, but I guess they don't: I would expect them to either like something, or not to like it, but never to offer advice on what the artist should have done...
    As someone else said earlier, this site is set up for critique; whereas (I believe) a conventional gallery presentation of art (including photography) is more of a "take it or leave it" kind of thing. I don't pretent to be an expert though - these are just my opinions, nothing more.
  40. "Photography is not 'art'."
    I disagree; art is whatever is deemed to be art...
    Therefore, photography can be, but need not always be, art.
    I'm not sure if Hans was directing his comment at me or not - if he was, no offense was taken! However, just in case he was referring to me, I will redraft the second part of my previous post, confining myself to the specific topic of photography (see below - all references to 'art' or 'artists' have been replaced with 'photography' and 'photographer').
    Q2: Do visitors of gallery exhibitions normally offer advice to the photographer in question?
    My answer: I don't really know, but I guess they don't: I would expect them to either like something, or not to like it, but never to offer advice on what the photographer should have done...
    As someone else said earlier, this site is set up for critique; whereas (I believe) a conventional gallery presentation of photography is more of a "take it or leave it" kind of thing. I don't pretent to be an expert though - these are just my opinions, nothing more.
  41. "Could the fixation on technical "stuffs" create a loss of emotion in our work? Yeah, a highlight shouldn't be blown, but does the general public really care if the image is really strong? A stray cloud in a blue sky. Should it be removed or who cares?"

    My answer: first, know what you do. Then, do what you like.

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