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Faking It: Manipulated Photography before Photoshop


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<p>http://www.amazon.com/Faking-Manipulated-Photography-Photoshop-Metropolitan/dp/0300185014/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1364138530&sr=1-5&keywords=Faking+It</p>

<p>Just finished this book, and would recommend it to every photographer.</p>

<p>Filled with iconic retouched images like these:</p>

<p>http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/190036426<br /> http://www.masters-of-photography.com/S/strand/strand_city_hall_park_full.html</p>

<p>And what these maestros had to say:</p>

<p>"In fact, every photograph is a fake from start to finish, a purely impersonal, unmanipulated photography being practically impossible." -- Edward Steichen</p>

<p>"I've always felt that you can do anything you want in photography if you can get away with it." -- Paul Strand</p>

<p>There is also a photo of a grinning Ansel Adams in front of two Moonrise prints, one straight and one retouched.</p>

<p>http://www.jimalinder.com/portfolios/portfolios/portraits/AA%20with%20straight%20and%20fine%20print%20of%20Moonrise.psd.jpg</p>

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<p>In a way Photoshop was derived from some of the special effects used in the fim industry for years. Walt Disney and others used a form of Layers extensively for their animated films and this was during the analog days. I'm still amazed by the special effects in the movie "Jason and the Argonuts" which was shot back in the 1960's. The special effects in that movie rival those of films shot today. </p>
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<p>15 years ago my local camera club had a big controversy over Photoshop. People who didn't use it thought the Photoshop users had an unfair advantage. Some wanted the Photoshop images to be in a separate category. </p>

<p>Well, we had few guys who could do some amazing manipulation using only slide film, such as re-photographing a foreground object with a background on a rear-screen projector, multiple exposures with a slide duplicator setup, etc. I prepared a slide presentation with 10 or so images, some manipulated with Photoshop, others manipulated with only film. I challenged them to tell me which were Photoshopped; nobody could tell the difference.</p>

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<p>I think that its accepted as fact that photographs were manipulated from the earliest times and that the titling of the thread seems a little inflammatory- as if you expect that lots of other people believe that anything pre-Photoshop is gospel. </p>

<p> I would say that Photoshop and its cheaper brethren have democratised photo manipulation, which previously was able to be carried out competently by fewer people for themselves. I have to say though that some of the manipulations made on portraits of my family in the 1920s/1930s- and apparently carried out by mid to high end studios, looks absolutely appalling. So maybe its the case that there has always been manipulation of which some has been well done and some atrocious. There's more "good" now because there's more, period.</p>

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<p>I have runs of <em>Popular Photography</em>, <em>Modern/Minicam Photography</em>, and some others running back to Vol. 1, No. 1 (though not complete like Marc's collection ;) ). From the earliest issues, there was advice on manipulation.<br>

<br /> From the earliest discussions of making photographic prints more generally, there was manipulation.</p>

<p>Just for one of the earliest "straight" photography examples, it was very difficult to get clouds and foreground both properly exposed on the early plates, so typically a separate "cloud" shot would be combined with the "ground" shot so as not to have a blank sky.</p>

<p>As David said, it's the "democraticization" of the process that so galling to some, just like typographers and desktop publishing.</p>

<p> </p>

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<p>Robert, thanks for the interesting accounts, particularly that of the Steichen image of Rodin at 60 in his studio. This image is incredible, a thousand times better than any straight photo the photographer may have made.</p>

<p>I dislike the words "faking it" or "manipulated", although I understand your usage as these are popular views of any photo image that is not "real"or representative of what the camera captured. In fact, those words should be replaced by a word like "creative image", as that is what most excellent photography is.</p>

<p>The ability to modify what comes out of the camera has never been greatly limited, but (and because of this) there is an enormous difference in the quality of the result among photographers, just as there is between artist-painters. Just as true with digital technology as it was with silver emulsion based photography. </p>

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<p>Years ago when I was still at Kodak, a pro photographer came for a presentation. He composed all sorts of multiple exposures on a single sheet of Ektachrome film (usually 4x5). He would shoot a canon in one exposure, fireworks in a second exposure, and a time exposure of a moving car in a third exposure. The result was a car being shot out of a canon. He knew his lighting and exposures well enough so that He rarely needed re-takes. </p>
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<p>Even if there was something as 100% manipulation when it came to images that come out of a camera, the main goal of camera manufacturers, lens manufacturers, film manufacturers and digital sensor manufacturers, has always been to reproduce or mimic reality as accurately as possible. That is the bottom line, otherwise it would not make any sense.<br>

<br />Whether you as the photographer decides to use various techniques to bend that reality into something else, it is at your own discretion or at the dicretion of your client.</p>

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<p>A little clarification is in order.</p>

<p>I did not coin the title of this thread. It is actually the title of the book. The book, OTOH, was published to accompany an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of the same title: <strong><em>Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop</em></strong>.</p>

<p>http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-museum/press-room/exhibitions/2012/faking-it</p>

<p>I started this thread partly as a followup to a recent thread about "truth" in photography.</p>

<p>http://www.photo.net/casual-conversations-forum/00bT4u</p>

<p> </p>

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<blockquote>

<p>Robert, thanks for the interesting accounts, particularly that of the Steichen image of Rodin at 60 in his studio. This image is incredible, a thousand times better than any straight photo the photographer may have made.</p>

</blockquote>

<p>Then you may find what Strand had to say about his "City Hall Park" print of interest.</p>

 

<blockquote>

<p>"I shot down at some people in City Hall Park. Well, there was one group of three people that really should have been two people. I took the third person out. Retouched him out in the darkroom. I had no great feeling of guilt about that."</p>

</blockquote>

<p>The book is full of nuggets like that. Well worth a read.</p>

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<p>Harry, do you not think that reality is but just one of the many possibilities of the camera and lens? Once a creative person has produced something approximating reality, for whatever that means in the the form of a 2-D image of a 3-D subject, life would be boring if he or she could not create art by working with the many variables characterising a final visual product.</p>

<p>Robert, thanks for the clarification, but because some museum director uses the popular term of faking it doesn't mean all will agree with that usage. I guess "truth" in photography may have as much to do with the nature of aesthetic, emotional or other communication a photographer conceives for his final image as it does to an exact facsimile of what was first perceived.</p>

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<p>I've mentioned this before on similar threads, but take a peek at the "Technique" section of <a href="http://www.f45.com/">Rolfe Horn's website</a>. He provides six examples of traditional wet darkroom printing techniques that illustrate these techniques more clearly than any other examples I've seen online. <br />Horn's technique influenced me so much that I borrowed his notation method, although I'd sketch the notes on the back of work prints rather than in notebooks. But if I revisited those prints from 10 years ago I'd have a good reference point just from those notes sketched on my work prints.</p>
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<p>In B&W photography I find it fascinating to make modifications to bring the final print to the state that represents either my subjective view of the scene at exposure (quite different often from what the negative recorded), or a later subjective impression that evolves in my mind when considering the negative and the post exposure work. I make up standard sheets of 8 x 11 paper with pre-printed subtitles for each of negative identification, paper type, enlarger lens, head height or magnification ratio, paper size, f-stop chosen, paper grade and time of exposure. Once the depart conditions are chosen, extra lines below allow filling in data related to subsequent test prints (usually on selected sections of the image to reduce paper usage when developing successive test prints) and their variation of time, f-stop exposure (dodging or burning and shape/size of tool used) and paper grade variation from overall.</p>

<p>As a more or less linear process of exploration it sometimes does not always lead in the best direction and I am forced to return to some intermediate point and try something else. Sometimes I will sketch out the overall operations on a sheet of paper that contains all modifications made to different parts of the image. With a reference point of that image analysed under the enlarger with an inexpensive Ilford incident light meter, the modifications made can be later repeated in a print of different size.</p>

<p>I guess that most of us who do darkroom work employ somewhat similar procedures to track and record our process.</p>

 

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<blockquote>

<p>Jerry Uelsmann...all done in the darkroom.</p>

</blockquote>

<p>Even an old dog can learn a new trick, or at least be jealous of what his former student and current wife can do.</p>

<p>http://www.studio360.org/2012/nov/16/faking-it-jerry-uelsmann-maggie-taylor/</p>

<p>http://maggietaylor.com/</p>

<p>I wonder what the dinner table conversation between the couple is like.</p>

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<p>I doubt it, Robert. While his wife does amusing (little frivolous) things, they don't have the same monumentality or effective false reality that the Uelsmann B&W images do.</p>

<p>For their sanity, I hope that their dinner conversations are far from photography and art. </p>

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<blockquote>

<p>For their sanity, I hope that their dinner conversations are far from photography and art.</p>

</blockquote>

<p>"Honey, I sold a print of mine today at the same price you charge for yours. Now I'll have to click a mouse to print another copy. Pass the gravy please."</p>

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<p>Brad, when an unknown artist crosses your path do you not provide a quick response? Does that response remain fixed forever? Probably not, but sometimes immediate impressions are fairly long lasting and that does not mean we are impervious to new experience or ideas.. If I spend more than a few minutes perusing small internet images (like those on Photo.Net) of Mrs. Taylor's work I may find something of interest or that will challenge me. I know from what I read that she spends very much time composing her composites and without much pre-conception of the final work.</p>

<p>Jeff, my dismissals are rarely made from simple parameters and not as whimsical as Mrs. Taylor's prints. They are just subjective and not governed by the praise or dismissals of other viewers. If you want to post a constructive criticism and interpretation of one of her works that will demystify it, be my guest. It would add some meat to these often twitter-like fore-shortened discussions of image content.</p>

<p>I don't think she is faking photography at all, but simply using photographic elements of an image to produce what is not really photography, but a creative art involving collage. I may change my mind in regard to a few images if given enough time with them, but it probably won't be the beauty of the packaging or print that will upstage what may or may not be its message.</p>

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