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Photos in the style of Middle Earth on acid
  
 
pipspeak
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Photos in the style of Middle Earth on acid


I've noticed an increasing trend in PP of what I'd describe as "overcooked" images and am curious if this is indeed a "thing" now, and what others think of it.

By overcooked, I mean images (often landscapes) that look like someone force-fed the clarity and vibrance sliders several doses of steroids, making some images look more like scenes from a Technicolor Middle Earth as seen by hobbits high on LSD.

I saw some touristy shots of a Hawaiian island the other day, for example, supposedly from a well-known local photographer (name escapes me) and the colors were screaming so loud that I almost had to reach for the shades. Having been to Hawaii many times I can tell you they looked utterly unrealistic, which is my main gripe with this apparent new trend. This was also way beyond what could be explained by poor monitor calibration (unless the photographer or content manager was working in a seriously de-saturated color space)

I've nothing against pulling out and highlighting unique lighting in a scene, but so often I see images that seem to push things far beyond what I'd call natural in an attempt, no doubt, to increase the drama and beauty. I know everyone has their tastes and opinions on what looks good and what doesn't, but it strikes me that this overcooking trend is gathering steam and it sometimes gives me the urge to revisit some of my images in Lightroom and ride those sliders!






Mar 23, 2014 at 11:58 PM
EB-1
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Photos in the style of Middle Earth on acid


25 years ago I at first thought that Velvia was overdone and unnatural, so the concept is nothing new. It's up to you if you need to change image styles to meet market expectations. I'm not a photographer so there is only myself to please.

EBH



Mar 24, 2014 at 01:43 AM
Paul Mo
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Photos in the style of Middle Earth on acid


Resulting in the gullible booking holidays to that brilliant sky blue paradise.


Mar 24, 2014 at 02:05 AM
time2clmb
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Photos in the style of Middle Earth on acid


So who says photography has to look realistic? Why do you care? Your authority on the matter of what is right or not is all in your head.


Mar 24, 2014 at 02:13 AM
pipspeak
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Photos in the style of Middle Earth on acid


time2clmb wrote:
So who says photography has to look realistic? Why do you care? Your authority on the matter of what is right or not is all in your head.


I wasn't saying it *had* to look realistic, just that I had noticed a trend that wasn't to my liking and I wondered if others had noticed what I had about how tastes and trends are changing. I care because I process photos and take an interest in what others are doing to process images, which is why I belong to FM. And finally, I did not claim to have any authority so I'm not sure why my attempt at humorously broaching a subject has apparently antagonized you so much.



Mar 24, 2014 at 02:54 AM
GoranPhoto
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Photos in the style of Middle Earth on acid


Sure, I've noticed it, but I don't have any problem with it. Color and detail / sharpness are just two of several elements which tend to capture one's attention when looking at a photograph. It is, therefore, no surprise that many photographers choose to enhance these elements in post. The appeal of the final result is a matter of taste. Is there really such a thing as right or wrong in art? Surely not. Popular or unpopular is another story.






Mar 24, 2014 at 03:37 AM
Bifurcator
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Photos in the style of Middle Earth on acid


Your title is a cute description of this effect. Most people just call it the HDR Effect. Although it should really be called by it's proper name which is "tone-mapping" or "tone-remapping".

pipspeak wrote:
I've nothing against pulling out and highlighting unique lighting in a scene, but so often I see images that seem to push things far beyond what I'd call natural in an attempt, no doubt, to increase the drama and beauty. I know everyone has their tastes and opinions on what looks good and what doesn't, but it strikes me that this overcooking trend is gathering steam and it sometimes gives me the urge to revisit some of my images in Lightroom and ride those sliders!


I don't think the "HDR look" arose out of the desire for "beauty and drama" as you suggest tho. I think it came about by poorly designed software who's tone-mapping default values produced this look every-time. Several packages did this and it became a genera all its own as folks with a taste for the surreal (or who were too ignorant slash lazy to correct the results) presented the default output. I now thank gawd, see a lot lot lot less of this than I used to. And again I attribute this to the same utilities now maturing to the point where their defaults are no longer so gaudy and/or where the user is presented with a dynamic interface allowing easy correction - not present in the earlier versions.

I of course agree that it mostly looks like crap but I will say that it can sometimes look better when printed and hanging on a wall than it does on a display screen. Since the beginning of color TV the public has been trained to use color, setup, hue, brightness and contrast correctly in a realistic way. This "effect" is juxtaposed to that training and probably why so many people (especially older people) dislike it so much - it looks just like some tard monkeyed with the settings on an old tube-television and got everything "wrong". I'm guessing that this is why I can appreciate the effect more when printed than when displayed on an electronic screen.




Mar 26, 2014 at 06:29 PM
Paul Mo
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Photos in the style of Middle Earth on acid


Indeed. 98% of HDR is awful. Even 'single image HDR' - dragging highlights down into the grays and boosting shadows into them more often than not results in flat, dull images.

The 2% must be done with taste and a keen eye.



Mar 26, 2014 at 11:49 PM
halie
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Photos in the style of Middle Earth on acid


I really started noticing the extremely positive reception of these CGI images last year sometime. I wouldn't be surprised if they're most popular with younger viewers, though I have no way of knowing. They certainly do not look realistic, but apparently that isn't important in landscape images. It does make me question whether images are actually of amzingly beautiful scenes, or of much more mundane scenes with a couple blotter papers mixed in. In any event, if you want to get raves and recognition, better get your pictures on the magic bus.


Mar 27, 2014 at 03:40 AM
 

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pipspeak
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Photos in the style of Middle Earth on acid


Paul Mo wrote:
Indeed. 98% of HDR is awful. Even 'single image HDR' - dragging highlights down into the grays and boosting shadows into them more often than not results in flat, dull images.

The 2% must be done with taste and a keen eye.


Yeah, I'm just not a fan of HDR or fake HDR most of the time, but I guess having the velvia-on-acid look is becoming an increasing trend that more people seem to be using to help their photos stand out from the crowd. And that's the problem IMO -- I see it HDR-type effects applied too often to otherwise uninteresting photos or applied badly to otherwise interesting photos, thus ruining them for me (obviously YMMV). Stylized images or using PP to subtly enhance aspects of a scene are one thing. Pumping everything up to 11 is quite another.

halie wrote:
I really started noticing the extremely positive reception of these CGI images last year sometime. I wouldn't be surprised if they're most popular with younger viewers, though I have no way of knowing. They certainly do not look realistic, but apparently that isn't important in landscape images. It does make me question whether images are actually of amzingly beautiful scenes, or of much more mundane scenes with a couple blotter papers mixed in. In any event, if you want to get raves and recognition, better get your pictures on the magic bus.


Sometimes I like it. For example, I know a photographer who has a nice business taking slightly stylized HDR-like photos of fast cars for their owners. He developed his own style in terms of PP and framing, and power to him for using it to carve out a niche for himself. It works for the subject matter -- big hunks of testosterone-fueled metal that lend themselves to a punchy, in-your-face image style.

But then I see some landscape or urban scenes processed to such an extent that to me they are actually less appealing than the actual scene might have been in real life (assuming it did indeed exist). In these cases, the PP just makes me mentally switch off because my mind tells me I'm looking at something fake.

But I guess we live in an age in which everyone is trying to get noticed online, so perhaps this image style is like the photographic equivalent of clickbait headlines



Mar 27, 2014 at 05:28 AM
ben egbert
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Photos in the style of Middle Earth on acid


The cameras are at fault. When you open a raw file and its dull and drab, unsaturated and fuzzy because of that dratted AA filter, it can't be used as is. We are obliged to bring it back up to what we saw in person.

Now we are supposed to put back the DR, the sharpness the clarity the contrast and saturation we remember. But who can remember? And when do you stop?

I have a tendency to overcook, and the hardest part for me is when to stop. I always prefer my overcooked versions to the ones I think others will perceive as natural. For me its a constant battle to tone it down and sometimes when I tone down an image I don't like it anymore and trash it.

I sometimes but not often perceive other peoples images that look overcooked, but I often see many images I think are dull. I need color and I far prefer images with lots of bright color and I don't like B&W at all. I have no use for an image that is not sharp everywhere. I hate the trend in video of selective focus.

In my film days I shot Kodachrome 25. Other than poor DR, it had many of these overcooked attributes.



Mar 27, 2014 at 02:07 PM
chez
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Photos in the style of Middle Earth on acid


ben egbert wrote:
The cameras are at fault. When you open a raw file and its dull and drab, unsaturated and fuzzy because of that dratted AA filter, it can't be used as is. We are obliged to bring it back up to what we saw in person.

Now we are supposed to put back the DR, the sharpness the clarity the contrast and saturation we remember. But who can remember? And when do you stop?

I have a tendency to overcook, and the hardest part for me is when to stop. I always prefer my overcooked versions to the ones I think others
...Show more

Who says you have to reproduce what you saw? I post process each image differently, some might have less saturation than was in the real scene and others might have more. I am not forensically documenting a murder scene...I am making art and trying to reproduce the original scene is not required. We already manipulate the original scene by the lens choices, shutter speeds and apertures so why are we so hung up with how we process these images.

Harry



Mar 27, 2014 at 04:20 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Photos in the style of Middle Earth on acid


chez wrote:
Who says you have to reproduce what you saw? I post process each image differently, some might have less saturation than was in the real scene and others might have more. I am not forensically documenting a murder scene...I am making art and trying to reproduce the original scene is not required. We already manipulate the original scene by the lens choices, shutter speeds and apertures so why are we so hung up with how we process these images.

Harry


Just a response to the question which implied to me that realism is a given requirement. I like to make my images believable but then I often have to post them here and ask if they are overcooked since I can't see this problem myself unless its bad.

I can see halos, and some lack a good black point, but stuff like saturation and contrast and clarity are hard for me to see when I have gone too far. Color cast is another issue, I get nailed for this often and have no way to know if its true.









Mar 27, 2014 at 06:02 PM
leterpee
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Photos in the style of Middle Earth on acid


I couldn't agree more.
I come from Australia and there is has been a trend amongst exhibition /competion photographers at the highest level to produce over edited images that are supposed to grab viewers attention eg the Canon Australia AIPP Appa awards.Very contrasty and oversaturated colours to the extent that they even make HDR look tame.
It has become so commonplace that Judges are only looking for these types of images and so the bad taste perpetuates.If someone put a subtle fine art print with beautiful content it would be rejected from the short list.
What to do about - nothing !!
keep producing the types of images that you like and can identify with, not just ones that will win your competitions



Apr 01, 2014 at 05:40 AM
Paul Mo
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Photos in the style of Middle Earth on acid


leterpee wrote:
What to do about - nothing !!
keep producing the types of images that you like and can identify with, not just ones that will win your competitions


It'll swing around again to more natural imagery. There is a lot of group think at work in those things - competitions, etc.



Apr 01, 2014 at 07:03 AM
Bsmooth
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Photos in the style of Middle Earth on acid


I've always wondered after looking at so many images, how many are even close to what the actual scene was in front of the camera.
We all "saw" it when we took it, after that anything seems to be up for grabs. I asked John Shaw once at a class he was doing one weekend about that.
He told me it was how he remembered it, but at the same time he had to make up for the deficits that the equipment he had couldn't capture, or something to that effect.
Our cameras don't capture what we see through our eyes, not yet anyways. There getting closer all the time, but there not there yet.
I've done HDR or tonemapping, and the software definately puts its own twist on things. I still have images up on Flickr and even I look at them now and wonder why there still there. What they do is attract attention, but there not realistic.
But If one can find a balance between the realistic and not realistic, whose to say it still isn't pleasing to the eye ?
Everyone adds something to an image, they literally have to, especially If they shoot in RAW.
If everyone posted RAW shots without any adjusting at all, they'd look pretty boring indeed.
Every photographer has a little artist in him, some a lot more than others, but If it helps you "grow" as a photographer I'm all for it.
Eventually everyone grows weary of that overcooked process, but it does bring attention and thats not necessarily a bad thing



Apr 02, 2014 at 04:37 PM
OntheRez
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Photos in the style of Middle Earth on acid


Every time this sort of plaint arises about a style or approach that's "not real", I try to point out again that nothing we do is real. The very act of imposing a camera between our eye and the uni-dimensional "reality" we experience and capture said minuscule slice of "reality" on a silicon sensor, it is no longer any sort of "real." It is in fact an artifact of our creation. It is only at "best" loosely related to the time/space intersection we were in when we intervened with our gadget.

Even when I'm working as a photojournalist say shooting a sports event, every pix I take is a slice of an organic whole. I pick this player rather than that, this action over another. Having captured a RAW image I then develop it to its "best" appearance. In doing so I will ignore 100s of other images take of the same contest. I'll crop it. Work with its temp, brightness, sharpness, noise in search of a photo that conveys the impact of the moment pictured.

When I move to so called "art" photography then I am clearly trying to capture the feeling, the sense, the "thereness" of the moment. I dislike many styles and such styles come and go. Like the so called "high key" or "high tone" stuff were everything seems completely washed out. Or the "gansta" school or portraiture where everybody has to be bad and the pix are only in alleys. EB-1 notes his startled response to Velvia. I remember that same thing. Wow! Weird! Interesting! Do I like it??

There is a standard rant against HDR, a perfectly valid and absolutely useful tool especially when trying to capture tonal ranges beyond the camera's very limited spectrum. A great many of my landscapes make use of the technique and generally one can't even tell unless they are aware that the dynamic range of the photo is beyond current capabilities. Sure a lot of this stuff doesn't do anything for me, but I fail to understand how it gets "bad." It has affected to some extent what some people want from me - particularly high school kids. I adapt as far as I'm comfortable with.

Yep, no doubt we are in a CGI era. Not exactly surprising. I've toyed with it a bit and in fact have a photo or two that is beyond what I normally do. A battered slag processing plant with its dust and black heaps of material after a monsoon rain - glistening wet and green sprouting up in the dust. It is pushed past reality, but to me it captures something about the light at a moment that a simple snapshot wouldn't have been able to do.

The styles come and go. Use what you like. What doesn't change is real craftsmanship, attention to every nuance, command of one's tools, and most important a vision of light.

As for dissing "Middle Earth" well if you haven't been there, really don't know what it's like

Robert

Here's an "overdone" shot.






rsorrels 2014


Overcook, but so damp and cool.




Apr 02, 2014 at 05:49 PM





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