How far should you go?
/forum/topic/1173937/1

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ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 5456
Country: United States

I always tell my wife that bread is just to keep your fingers dry when eating a sandwich, and potatoes were invented for gravy. I also like salsa a lot.



AuntiPode
Registered: Aug 05, 2008
Total Posts: 6431
Country: New Zealand

I quite like good chips and eat them without salsa, too. Of course, more often than not, I add chili con carne to my breakfast oatmeal and and eat it with corn chips, salsa and sour cream....



ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 5456
Country: United States

I do like chips alone. I also like to make a ketchup and potato chip sandwich. When I was a kid and we ran out of meat, I subbed chips for meat to make a second sandwich.



Greg Campbell
Registered: Jan 10, 2004
Total Posts: 1197
Country: United States

Ben,

Even the 'as shot' has clearly seen significant post processing and is, IMO, already way past the point of 'How Far?' Adding the fake sky pushes it into the 'OMG!' zone...

Since 'Critique' implies an opinion...
To put it as politely as possible, "This is computer art, not photography."
(90% of photography should happen BEFORE you push the shutter, not after. )

What's doubly dismaying is that I suspect the original image (care to post a RAW?) is probably fairly pretty. I just don't understand this need to give everything the Munchkin treatment.



ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 5456
Country: United States

Greg Campbell wrote:
Ben,

Even the 'as shot' has clearly seen significant post processing and is, IMO, already way past the point of 'How Far?' Adding the fake sky pushes it into the 'OMG!' zone...

Since 'Critique' implies an opinion...
To put it as politely as possible, "This is computer art, not photography."
(90% of photography should happen BEFORE you push the shutter, not after. )

What's doubly dismaying is that I suspect the original image (care to post a RAW?) is probably fairly pretty. I just don't understand this need to give everything the Munchkin treatment.


Here ya go. I got 75% of the original in ACR.



Camperjim
Registered: Oct 17, 2011
Total Posts: 1710
Country: United States

Greg, I used to share your opinion but I am changing. I am starting to realize that photography was always a combination of making the shot and making the print. Ansel Adams clearly proved the point. His photography was by today's standards less than average, but his print making is still absolutely in the master category. Poor Ansel struggled to dodge and burn and now those are simple Photoshop tools.

I would certainly agree that Photoshop, Photomatix, Nik tools, and all the other software are more often abused rather than used well and creatively. I can also say the same about making the shot. It seems anytime someone points their camera at a colorful sunset, they think they are capturing great images. Not in my book. In any case I think photography is about making images and that means capturing on film or sensor and then processing. Camera technology and 2d prints and monitor images will never reflect what we see and feel when we view the world. Processing is a necessity and we might do better than just leaving that step to the Japanese engineers...even if we are limited to trying to achieve only realism in our images.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 11974
Country: United States

Greg Campbell wrote: "This is computer art, not photography."


That kinda goes along the same lines with me telling Dr. Michael Adams that I had exclaimed his dad "cheated" because it was "darkroom art, not photography". I was infuriated when I learned that Ansel Adams images were all a fabrication beyond the capture / straight print. It took me years to regain an appreciation for AA's work after that.



Camperjim
Registered: Oct 17, 2011
Total Posts: 1710
Country: United States

I have been thinking about the statement that 90% of photography should happen before you press the shutter. I guess some wedding photographers have streamlined their workflow to minimize the post processing. Probably the same might happen for some news and sports photographers. I don't shoot any of those subjects. My work is almost entirely nature and landscape. I have visited many galleries for well known landscape photographers and the sophistication and work they use in post processing has been amazing. Fatali even does his own color darkroom work. It is apparently so involved and such a massive project that he only prints once a year. I visited Tom Till's gallery and heard about his workflow. Mindblowing complex at least before when he shot film only. David Muench has great work but I doubt you would even be able to match his out of camera images to the final product. Maybe Moose Peterson would qualify but his landscapes have a definite very dark supersaturated style that would not be close to reality for anyone with normal eyesight.



ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 5456
Country: United States

Here is a very mild rendition of the dark file posted just above. Most was done in ACR. To avoid blowing the sky, I choose an exposure for the sky and opened up shadows. No HDR, no two image blending.

Since this has no sky drama, it is not a keeper, but I like the rest of it.



alatoo60
Registered: May 05, 2010
Total Posts: 2997
Country: United States

Replacing sky sounds like cheating to me. Pulling out a great image in spite of lousy sky sounds like an art. But it's up to your inner self to decide which way is right - and when.



Camperjim
Registered: Oct 17, 2011
Total Posts: 1710
Country: United States

alatoo60 wrote:
Replacing sky sounds like cheating to me. Pulling out a great image in spite of lousy sky sounds like an art. But it's up to your inner self to decide which way is right - and when.


So if replacing the sky sounds like cheating, is it OK to enhance the image so the sky changes from whispy clouds to dark and dramatic?

I know you spend time looking at and contributing to the Landscape forum. I would guess you have seen the current hopped up image that is getting some attention. The image in question has been processed to the point where the contrast is very high and the colors are cartoonish. The sky appears to be the original but like the rest of the image has only a tenuous connection to reality. It is some sort of special blend that goes beyond even the heavy hdr treatment. Typically such images receive tons of highly positive praise, but in this case someone said that the image, especially the color saturation, seems more than overdone. So I am curious. Is this stunning fine art, an example of poor taste, or maybe even cheating? You don't need to answer. I am just posing these questions as something to consider.



alatoo60
Registered: May 05, 2010
Total Posts: 2997
Country: United States

Jim, there are quite a few examples when something considered a stunning fine art turned into an example of poor taste in a stretch of time. Opposite may happen, too. Time will tell. As I already said, the inner artist in you is the judge.
Also, is it really "fine art" or just something that sells well? As Alain Briot said in his book, "Marketing Fine Art Photography", public likes high contrast, saturated images - which not necessarily represent "fine art".



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 11974
Country: United States

To my way of thinking ... "fine art" = "fine details" coupled with "fine skill".

Whenever the public is referenced ... imo, they are largely looking for something to entertain them with an "ooh" & "ahh" or "wow" or some form of novelty that is something that they aren't able to do themselves... rather than something to study for the excellence of fine details and an appreciation for the level of scrutiny involved with the multitude of tenets @ image making.

I'm not a big fan of the "fake sky" ... when differentiating between "fine art" and "entertainment". Yet, the use of double exposure to account for the dynamic range differences in a scene is to me is suggestive of more skill than cranking on some HDR sliders in post. I think you have to be honest with yourself @ entertainment vs. fine art.

It can be hard to put your finger on it or put into words how/where you draw the line objectively ... to Aleksandra's point @ a personal subjectivity in making such opinion. The world would largely call Adams work in the "fine art" realm ... I originally called him a cheater. I've since come to understand that he was an "image maker" ... the same as Rembrandt, Van Gogh or Liebewicz.

To what degree your image creation is "pure", "tweaked", or "fabricated" will be your call ... but I'm inclined to suggest that you cannot pretend that "fine art" image making is universally void of post capture creative processing. When & how & who determines what is / isn't acceptable or "fine art" is infinitely subjective & variable. For many people it's just a ... "know it when you see it" kinda thing.



Camperjim
Registered: Oct 17, 2011
Total Posts: 1710
Country: United States

"fine art"="fine details"

You lost me with this one.

But then it got worse: "the excellence of fine details and an appreciation for the level of scrutiny involved with the multitude of tenets @ image making."

I am trying to improve my photography but I have no idea about how to apply fine details and scrutiny.



ben egbert
Registered: Jan 31, 2005
Total Posts: 5456
Country: United States

Not all images need fine detail, some reflected sunsets come to mind. But when an image has fine detail subjects, it ought to be sharply rendered.

What I most admire about Ansel Adams work is the level of sharpness and dof. If the scene calls for it, it needs to be there. Unless a fine art print is all about color and lacks any real detail, I always get as close as possible to examine every single pixel. This is a great satisfaction when it is all good.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 11974
Country: United States

Fine details, imo, go well beyond sharpness.

For me, fine details can be things like moving your tripod two inches to get separation (or alignment) between two elements of composition (reeds extending into the far shore come to mind). Things like dodging & burning in a manner that no one can tell that you had a D&B or performing your D&B such that it is congruent with the scene's lighting. Adjusting your WB independently in highlights & shadows or mixed lighting corrections.

These are all "very little things". The "fine details" that I'm referring to are the degree of attention to the "very little things" that many wouldn't bother with. Striving to attend to all these little things associated with all the tenets (see other post) takes a tremendous degree of attention, art & skill that goes far beyond the "push a button" realm.

Most viewers (general public) don't bother with looking that closely (scrutiny) to see if an image has been that closely tended to in all so many areas that we concern ourselves with.

Not all photography is "fine art" ... nor intended to be (which is fine). Just offering how/where my idea of "fine art" starts to kick in ... but that a sculpture or a painting. Just about anything can be "art" to a varying degree, but for me to think of it as "fine art" it needs to exhibit attention to these kind of fine details by the artist ... or any other such things that strike me as requiring significant "refinement" by the artist.



Camperjim
Registered: Oct 17, 2011
Total Posts: 1710
Country: United States

Thanks, I think I understand. Instead of fine detail and scrutiny, I would describe this as careful technique and craftmanship.



alatoo60
Registered: May 05, 2010
Total Posts: 2997
Country: United States

Camperjim wrote:
So if replacing the sky sounds like cheating, is it OK to enhance the image so the sky changes from whispy clouds to dark and dramatic?

It is OK to replace/enhance or do whatever as soon as it looks GOOD and artistic. After all, in a past, the painters were not taking snapshots of the landscapes. They were painstakingly sketching, and memorizing, and omitting insignificant details, and it took quite a few days, so none of the landscapes of the past centuries we are admiring now is an exact snapshot of the reality. However, if the painter drew glowing red sky with the river surface reflecting gray clouds, how would you call him? surrealist?



AuntiPode
Registered: Aug 05, 2008
Total Posts: 6431
Country: New Zealand

All seems to me a question of who's the audience. Some folks will gripe and denigrate any image for any excuse they can find and "impurity" is a mighty handy excuse. Question is, do you care about their criticism? If you care, they own you.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 11974
Country: United States

Having been a former "purist" that is acclaimed to having exclaimed "He cheats !!!" upon finding out how AA created his images ...

It is now hard for me to escape the history of photography having been perpetuated and advanced by both kinds of photographers ... the purists & the creators. The judicious skill of each being the determinant of viability (imo) to our craft as "image makers".



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