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Archive 2012 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?
  
 
Camperjim
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p.2 #1 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


RustyBug wrote:
If you think about it ... how can it come out of their camera any different that it would come of your camera, if you stood there and took the same shot, same time, same exposure.

We know from our own efforts that what comes out of the camera is rather lackluster until it gets processed ... either by the camera's profile or by our PP efforts. Dynamic processing yields dynamic images. It starts in your mind (your vision), you do what you can to capture it, then you process it. not unlike hunting ... see, capture, process. The difference in
...Show more

Thanks, I think you did a better job of explaining my point. It is really post processing that becomes the big factor in moving a decent capture to the next level. At a pro level, I would suspect there are very few if any images that come out of camera and are easily processed and become great images. It almost always seems to take some seriouis PP to make a great image.



Dec 14, 2012 at 12:02 AM
RustyBug
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p.2 #2 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


"He Cheats" ... that was my response to learning of how AA transformed his images.

Well, today we have any number of people that can produce "AA-like" images ... not because of the cameras being better, but because people have learned how to process like AA ... through the entirety of the process to produce an image ... which includes the post-processing.



Dec 14, 2012 at 12:20 AM
ben egbert
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p.2 #3 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


Camperjim wrote:
Obviously my 10 post criterion was arbitrary. I decided to take a look at images with 20 or more posts. I only looked at 10 of these starting on page two of the landscape forum. One I discarded since it was an abstract so I really looked at 11. Of the 10, I would classify 4 of these as skillfully processed images. Actually one of these was Ben's current images from Utah Lake. Ben, nicely done. The other 6 images, I would classify as super processed and had been greatly transformed from whatever came out of camera from however many
...Show more

Thanks Jim, I went for moonlight shots and stayed for a sunrise. The on purpose shots were fairly novel and my attempt at something different, but the plain old fashioned sunrise was better liked. And it required no special post processing.

I suspect you have seen my doctored Watchman shot at my blog. I think I am going to start another thread about how far to go and use that as an example. For me, that one is too far.



Dec 14, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Bert DeMars
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p.2 #4 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


Let me take a run at this.

My uncle Lewis was a lifetime member of the musicians union back may years ago. He led a dance band and played violin. As kids, when we would visit him, he sometimes would be in the rear yard playing different kinds of music, classical, swing, western, popular standards, without sheet music. We’d ask him why, if he’s retired, did he go on playing the violin. And he would say: For my own amazement. He loved being in the music. He didn’t need an audience.

There is photography and then there is art. One has to decide whether he or she wants to pursue photography as a hobby, collecting memories in an album. Or whether he or she strives to make artistic pieces using a camera. Problem with trying to create art with a camera, is its a literal recorder. One definition of art that might apply is:

a : the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects; also : works so produced

Art made with a brush is non restrictive. You have a blank medium and only your imagination to guide you. Photography is a whole other ballgame. In film days, Ansel Adams would use lens filtration and printing techniques to make dramatic “representations” of scenic views. Today we use Photoshop. First, you must learn an appreciation of art, studying those artists and photographers that do outstanding work, and try to emulate their techniques, their compositions and treatments. Then you must become expert with Photoshop.

Neither of which is an easy pursuit.



Dec 14, 2012 at 01:35 AM
ben egbert
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p.2 #5 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


Very good take here Bert. I need to study on it a piece. Not sure who I want to emulate, Tom Till comes to mind.

I have attempted to do it for the sake of doing it, but find it sort of circular. If I only do stuff for myself I become pretty insular and I am already a first rate hermit.

I do enjoy the taking and the processing. But without showing I sort of lose interest.



Dec 14, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Camperjim
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p.2 #6 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


Ben, next time you are in Moab in addition to visiting the Tom Till gallery also visit the Bret Edge gallery. Tom got carried away with the tourist trade and went way overboard on the red saturation. He even had a recent article in Outdoor Photography admitting that he somehow got off track and was going to reform. He showed some before and after images and his reformed after images are still way overdone. Bret has a style very much closer to yours. His images are clean, technically good and realistic. As another example, Tom often prints iridescent metalics and Bret often prints on fine grained canvas. I have never met Tom Till. I met Bret and he is a heck of a nice young guy.

Edited on Dec 14, 2012 at 02:53 AM · View previous versions



Dec 14, 2012 at 02:03 AM
ben egbert
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p.2 #7 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


Thanks Jim, I will look up that gallery. I have also visited the Galen Rowell gallery in Bishop. I also like his work, and David Muench is another I admire.


Dec 14, 2012 at 02:41 AM
RustyBug
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p.2 #8 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


Here's something that gives me some perspective as well ... referring to the mindset of someone who makes images, whether that be with a camera or a brush. The painter gets to choose what he wants to portray for others to see ... so do we.

Rembrant or Monet, watercolor, oil, B&W, color, film or digital ... we are still making images ... that begin with our vision of what we want to present and then the execution to achieve it as we intend.

Without accepting that as part of the process, then our beloved camera is merely a heartless, soulless recording device. It doesn't matter if we desire to be realistic technician extraordinaire, avante garde interpretive or antiquated classical .... what does matter is that we know what it is that we are striving to portray to our viewers (self or others), and then we work to produce it to our satisfaction in concert with our vision.






Edited on Dec 14, 2012 at 03:17 AM · View previous versions



Dec 14, 2012 at 03:04 AM
AuntiPode
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p.2 #9 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


The thing about gear is it CAN matter. I remember the improvement going from a 35 mm Nikon to 2 1/4" Hasselblad. The images had a different look and the hassy obviously had a big jump in quality. I see the same advantage in going to medium format digital, but that's an upgrade I can't afford. If you can't stand out with pure image quality, there's novelty. However, it hard to find novelty when subjects have become cliche. For a while HDR had novelty. Now it can be trite when obvious. You not only must be good, you must be different. Puts a premium on creative thinking.


Dec 14, 2012 at 03:06 AM
ben egbert
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p.2 #10 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


Double take here. Everything monotone but the painting, the photographers jiggling with reality, and the painter inventing a missing sky. Is this yours?


Dec 14, 2012 at 03:09 AM
 

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RustyBug
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p.2 #11 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


From about a year ago ...

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1069341/0?keyword=painter#10170931

My PP skills hopefully have improved since then, maybe I should revisit it. My favorite part of the sooc ... is his lime green shoes, his high dollar easel attachment (bag) and the roll of paper towels. I watched him work for about 20 minutes and we chatted for about 10 or so.

ben egbert wrote:
the painter inventing a missing sky.


What makes you say that?

The painter was standing there for many hours (or multiple days) throughout the day working on his rendering. I'd at least give credence to the notion that he was showing you what you missed because you weren't there when it occurred. So, is he being "fake" for putting there what you don't see now, or being "real" at showing you what you missed? And, even if those were the clouds in the sky from yesterday ... it still fairly represents the scene, to communicate its message, imo.

I have no way of knowing what he saw earlier throughout the day, so for me ... it is totally plausible AND integral ... at least his painting anyway.



Dec 14, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Camperjim
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p.2 #12 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


So where do we draw the line on enhancements?

Can we make enhancements to compensate for the limitations of our cameras but not to enhance beyond what was "realistic"? Should we process in the field so we can match the actual scene or is it ok to process later by what we remember? Can we add a little bit of extra pop or is that dishonest?

Is is ok to use fill light, dodge and burn, hdr or other techniques to compensate for the poor dynamic range of our cameras? What about using the same techniques to enhance the image to be something much more than what we see?

How about letting our sensors run for a while on a dark night to capture what we cannot see with our eyes?

Is it OK to greatly underexpose the sky to capture details our eyes don't see? Should we also be able to blend that underexposed sky into a normally exposed foreground?

Is it OK to crop out a distracting branch? OK to move an element to improve the composition? How about moving a bird to a better position in the sky? Or adding a bird captured a few minutes before? Or weeks before from some other location?

I don't have any problem with enhancements and image manipulations. In fact if you do try to define what is honest and what is faked, you will quickly find yourself on a slippery slope.



Dec 14, 2012 at 05:23 AM
RustyBug
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p.2 #13 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


Great questions Jim.

Slippery slope / Pandora's box for many, to be sure. Here's how I've come to (loosely) wrangle this monster.

I once had an ultra-purist view that if it didn't come out of the camera that way (shooting slides back in the day), you we're cheating as a photographer, and it was an indication of your lack of skill. ("Youth is wasted on the young". )

I remember entering a photo competition that I received numerous monetary awards back in the 80's. I raked in about $600 (that was about 2 weeks pay for me back then as a service member) with several first's & seconds. But "Best of Show" went to a darkroom double exposure partial silhouette that was a short lit portrait and the American Flag. It was "killer" ... but I still felt "cheated", as that wasn't "photography" ... that was manipulation.

Much time has passed since then and my crying out "He Cheats" (same year) regarding AA's efforts. Ironically, the reason I went to shooting slides over prints was that I could never get the "lab" (one hour photo ) to get it right. All I wanted was to have it come out the way I shot it. If I underexposed it (i.e. intentional) for a silhouette or increased saturation, then I wanted it underexposed ... so I kicked prints to the curb and went to chrome to get a "what ya shot, was what ya got" relationship.

Going back to the prints, though ... the latitude of print film was much wider than that of chrome and so while slides essentially used "standard" processing only, print film negatives were "analyzed" by the computer / lab for the necessary adjustments. The point here for me was that I came to appreciate (over much time) that while AA did not follow the "standard" processing for a negative/print ... really, even consumer prints had a degree (much lesser) of manipulation involved to get the lab to reprint the image until they got it where I wanted it if it didn't come out that way on the first try.


I think the sticking point get's pretty slippery and/or hyper-opinionated when we try to ascribe the term "photographer" and how it is defined. That one can make for some pretty lively and sometimes polarizing discussion. To that end, I have come to consider that I am an "image maker" and my tools are a camera, lenses, capture media (film/digital/etc.) processing and display media (digital/paper/etc.). When I think about "image making", I tend to recall those who have been making images long before "photography" was born.

They mixed their own paints and were always striving to get a "leg up" on their contemporaries, developing different processes (Mona Lisa), styles and techniques to bring a "fresh" or "signature" approach to their craft. Things like trompe l'oeil probably fell into that category of is it "art" or is it "chicanery".

Everyone is going to have their own threshold at where they "draw the line" ... mine has changed from "He Cheats" and that diminishes his "value" as a photographer ... to trying to appreciate that "image making" is really no different today than it was thousands of years ago ... it is a visual communication. What & how you choose to deliver that message to your viewer(s)and the tools and techniques you use to create it ... that's your call. I suppose that part of the polarization on this is the degree to which we are ascribing to our produced works as a "trophy shot" (i.e. look what I did) vs. a "message" for our viewers (i.e. look at what I want you to see).

It seems the more I focus on the message, the less I care about sooc and purism ... striving more toward the understanding of the mastery of those image makers (photographic or other) before us and around us.

Even forensic photography has a "not real" element (ultra-niche) that is intentionally manipulated. This is in the case of a photograph that is trying to represent how a person would have seen a scene at night. This is not going to be a "properly exposed" image. It is one that has to be skillfully (and admittedly) manipulated (with intent of fair representation) to represent that "reality". So, if manipulation has its proper place in forensic photography, I see no reason to consider it "taboo" as long as we're honest about its representation, and it doesn't significantly alter the validity of the message. It's one thing to have a picture of an alligator at the North Pole and say, "How odd would that be." and quite another to suggest "I saw this alligator at the North Pole."

While there will always be the battleground for "upmanship" and garnering acceptance of our works, I think that if one focuses on the message that they are trying to convey to their viewer ... the perspective of "image maker" creates less internal angst than "photographer".

Sure, it is the photographic medium ... but it is still an image that is being made to convey a message. Your call at what you put into your message ... be that technical accuracy, aesthetic appeal or something far different from either. The degree to which you use "standard" processing vs. "non-standard" processing ... that's your call too. But, in all cases ... I strive for my message to be well delivered ... knowing that sometimes it will be well received, and other times not so much.




Dec 14, 2012 at 09:10 AM
Camperjim
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p.2 #14 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


Wow, you have given us lots to think about.

I think your description of a "trophy" shot is very important. I know I have spent lots of effort trying to get trophy shots. The trophy shot might involve hiking to some really remote location, or finding that special magical light or weather that only comes at rare unpredicatable times, or finding some other really unusual occurance. By its definition a trophy shot must be difficult to find. The idea of faking that can then become cheating.

I find that almost always my "trophy" shots are not popular. I guess that should not be a surprise. I know how much effort and skill and sometimes luck went into getting that special trophy shot. No one else knows or cares. They just look at the image and decide if they like it without all of the unknown drama that went into the capture. So rather than display the trophy, I need to create a shot that tells a story and interests the viewer.

I can think of plenty of examples of my trophy shots that fell flat. I spent a lot of effort finding water in the desert and then shooting a water reflection image. In fact I have done this quite a few times. I am the only one who knows that it was nearly 100 degrees and had not rained for weeks or months and finding that water was very difficult. No one knows or cares about that story. Instead I should be telling a different story. I need to tell a story that shows the viewer how magical it it can be when there is water in the desert. I need to show the contrast between the water and the desert or how water brings life to the desert or I need to tell how it feels to be in the desert when it rains. If I concentrate on the mood and story I am trying to create, then I have a different opinion of faking it versus showing that trophy shot.

I can think of another type of trophy shot that I do very often. I travel to some location, find a nice scene, and craft a technically decent image with a good composition, good exposure and everything in focus. So my trophy is a wallhanger. I send a message to the viewer that I was at a nice place and made a nice image. Instead I should be creating an image which invites the viewer in and makes them feel like they want to be a part of viewing the scene. That is a subtle distinction but a distinction that seems to be very important.



Dec 14, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Paul Mo
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p.2 #15 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


One other factor to consider is how and when one encounters an image; the context.

To me, the psychology of seeing a photograph in a popular photography magazine vs in a gallery at an exhibition in which I am interested... an exhibition lends a completely different gravitas.



Dec 14, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Camperjim
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p.2 #16 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


There is also a big difference between a cheap magazine print and a large sized high quality gallery print.


Dec 14, 2012 at 02:07 PM
RustyBug
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p.2 #17 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


Camperjim wrote:
The idea of faking that can then become cheating.


Yeah, I pretty much feel the same about my "trophy shots" ... they gotta be real or they don't count.

It just isn't the same thing to go over land & stream to find Bambi nestled in a bed of grass, or a Bald Eagle gliding along a ridge, as it is to use a picture from the petting zoo or bird sanctuary to PS into the scene. Judiciously and skillfully adding in an insignificant/mundane element like a couple of blackbirds or white fluffy's (no trophy there) to an empty sky to help balance it for our viewer (non-trophy message) ... two very different things for me.



+1 @ subtle distinction
+1 @ the effort doesn't always translate / transfer to the viewer.

Camperjim wrote:
I send a message to the viewer that I was at a nice place and made a nice image. Instead I should be creating an image which invites the viewer in and makes them feel like they want to be a part of viewing the scene. That is a subtle distinction but a distinction that seems to be very important.


In both regards, there is a message being sent to the viewer ... nicely presented.

I wouldn't necessarily say that we SHOULD be doing the latter moreover than the former. But, as you've mentioned, it is a subtle distinction and one that I think we need to be honest with ourselves at what our true objectives are. I think we cause ourselves some angst when we do one, then expect an outcome as though we had done the other. So, if our objective is more for the latter, then it probably is reasonable to approach it as such ... and if it happens to be that a viewer (self or others) is able to see BOTH messages, those are the really special ones.


Edited on Dec 14, 2012 at 03:55 PM · View previous versions



Dec 14, 2012 at 03:34 PM
ben egbert
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p.2 #18 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


Camperjim wrote:
There is also a big difference between a cheap magazine print and a large sized high quality gallery print.


And a big difference between what I see on my 26 monitor and what I print (nearly the same size but less DR on the print) and a web size image. The web size image is basically a thumbnail.

You might have a leaf with several tones of color and brightness but it gets scrunched to a single yellow dot of 20 or so pixels all the same color. Its not only sharpness that is effected, but colors/brightness as well.



Dec 14, 2012 at 03:53 PM
ben egbert
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p.2 #19 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


Camperjim wrote:
So where do we draw the line on enhancements?

Can we make enhancements to compensate for the limitations of our cameras but not to enhance beyond what was "realistic"? Should we process in the field so we can match the actual scene or is it ok to process later by what we remember? Can we add a little bit of extra pop or is that dishonest?

Is is ok to use fill light, dodge and burn, hdr or other techniques to compensate for the poor dynamic range of our cameras? What about using the same techniques to enhance the image to be
...Show more

Is it ok to clone in the same dramatic sky on every image that needs one? Heck you will get caught.



Dec 14, 2012 at 03:54 PM
ben egbert
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p.2 #20 · Must landscapes meet a higher standard?


RustyBug wrote:
Yeah, I pretty much feel the same about my "trophy shots" ... they gotta be real or they don't count.

It just isn't the same thing to go over land & stream to find Bambi nestled in a bed of grass, or a Bald Eagle gliding along a ridge, as it is to use a picture from the petting zoo or bird sanctuary to PS into the scene. Judiciously and skillfully adding in an insignificant/mundane element like a couple of blackbirds or white fluffy's (no trophy there) to an empty sky to help balance it for our viewer (non-trophy message)
...Show more

You guys got here early, great discussion you are having. I just want to add that a trophy shot is a personal thing. You might be able to create it in post processing, but the thrill of witnessing it in person cannot be faked.





Dec 14, 2012 at 03:56 PM
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