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  #1  
Old June 15th, 2015, 12:55 AM
Lee Tracy Lee Tracy is offline
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Default What is a Photograph?

In our post-digital world - what (in your opinion) is a photograph? Is it the image out the camera - or is it the post-processed result of digital manipulation? On the continuum of processing from camera to post-processed, manipulated, composited digital creation is there a point at which a photo stops being a thing created by the capturing of light by a camera and becomes something else created by the computer? Is there a difference or is it still a photo? If there is a difference should we attempt to define it? Or categorise it?
  #2  
Old June 15th, 2015, 01:15 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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..... Is it the image out the camera - or is it the post-processed result of digital manipulation? ...
This must be one of the toughest misconceptions which is extremely hard to eradicate.
The so called "image out the -digital- camera" is already post-processed and digitally manipulated by the camera itself.
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Old June 15th, 2015, 01:39 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Originally Posted by Lee Tracy View Post
In our post-digital world - what (in your opinion) is a photograph? Is it the image out the camera - or is it the post-processed result of digital manipulation? On the continuum of processing from camera to post-processed, manipulated, composited digital creation is there a point at which a photo stops being a thing created by the capturing of light by a camera and becomes something else created by the computer? Is there a difference or is it still a photo? If there is a difference should we attempt to define it? Or categorise it?
Lee,

I'd rather consider each exposure as offspring with possibilities!

Asher
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  #4  
Old June 15th, 2015, 01:51 AM
Lee Tracy Lee Tracy is offline
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Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
This must be one of the toughest misconceptions which is extremely hard to eradicate.
The so called "image out the -digital- camera" is already post-processed and digitally manipulated by the camera itself.
Well manufacturer algorithms are not directly under your control - what you do after is. So I guess from that POV what you get out of your camera is only influenced by what lens and what settings you chose - while manipulating that image digitally is an entirely different process.
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Old June 15th, 2015, 01:57 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Well manufacturer algorithms are not directly under your control - what you do after is. So I guess from that POV what you get out of your camera is only influenced by what lens and what settings you chose - while manipulating that image digitally is an entirely different process.
Have you give any thought to camera user presets? Which define how much contrast, sharpness, etc. an out-of-the-camera image gets? Or the white balance setting? Would you still say that the image produced by the camera is the "real-thing"? "Manipulating the image" actually already starts right there in the camera.
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Old June 15th, 2015, 02:09 AM
Lee Tracy Lee Tracy is offline
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Lee,

I'd rather consider each exposure as offspring with possibilities!

Asher
That is where I feel conflicted on the subject.

I look at the debate in journalism over manipulated images and I can feel for the photographer who was caught creating a composite image because none of the individual photos he took reflected what he felt was the truth of the moment so he composited two images to create one image that was closer to what he observed. However what he did was still wrong.

Then you have the fact that a great many images are sent to a particular company which only does post-processing where the image is "altered" to make it "better" and in doing so the emotion / impact of the image is altered - a gun is emphasized, other aspects de-emphasized to draw the eye to a certain area - are these manipulations still within the boundary of what is acceptable? Or are they crossing a line in terms of journalistic integrity? The question is being hotly debated.

But then there is my emotional reaction to finding out just how much Ansel Adams manipulated his images - and quite honestly I feel cheated. And I wouldn't feel the same if his work was labeled 'art'. As a photograph I expect a certain degree of truthfulness in the record of the image. That I can go to the place and see that scene, but his scenes are not truthful records, they are manipulated, created, even drawn! And that is art, not photography. Great art, that expresses a truth about the American landscape that perhaps a photo would not have captured or told in the same way. By labeling it photography though, my expectation is different and as a result I feel lied to when I discover that the images are not intrinsically the result of what the camera captured, but a long and involved process after the image was taken.
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Old June 15th, 2015, 02:12 AM
Lee Tracy Lee Tracy is offline
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Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
Have you give any thought to camera user presets? Which define how much contrast, sharpness, etc. an out-of-the-camera image gets? Or the white balance setting? Would you still say that the image produced by the camera is the "real-thing"? "Manipulating the image" actually already starts right there in the camera.
Let me think on that :) I don't know. Yes, maybe, no, I don't know. How much can you actually affect the outcome with those presets anyway?

Can an image out of a digital camera be compared to a film negative in that the negative is unequivocally 'the image out of the camera'? Or is the fact of it being digital somehow different?
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Old June 15th, 2015, 08:46 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Lee,

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Originally Posted by Lee Tracy View Post
In our post-digital world . . .
Well, I hope we are not in the post digital era! If so, what is our current milieu?

Best regards,

Doug
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Old June 15th, 2015, 08:56 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Cem,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
This must be one of the toughest misconceptions which is extremely hard to eradicate.
The so called "image out the -digital- camera" is already post-processed and digitally manipulated by the camera itself.
Quite so.

And indeed this "conundrum" is not unique to digital photography. If we consider "film" photography (and I don't for example consider cameras that use "printing out paper"), what comes out of the camera (the piece of film) does not have an image we can see or use.

That only appears by virtue of processing, in this case chemical, and not at all in a singular or fixed way. I in particular note regular practice in the film-based motion picture industry, where great attention is given as to exactly how to process the roll from a particular scene.

In any case, I think trying to define just "when is there a photograph", and the related, and recurrent, issue, "how much can a photographic image be manipulated before it is no longer 'real'", or even "legitimate", is a process looking for a problem.

Pursuing the latter takes us inevitably to the matter of, if I frame the shot so the "black sheep of the family" is out of the frame, have I "manipulated" the process? Or suppose I decide not to take a shot when he is in the group.

Best regards,

Doug

Last edited by Doug Kerr; June 15th, 2015 at 02:51 PM.
  #10  
Old June 15th, 2015, 09:15 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Default The "Veracity" of a photograph!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Tracy View Post
Let me think on that :) I don't know. Yes, maybe, no, I don't know. How much can you actually affect the outcome with those presets anyway?

Can an image out of a digital camera be compared to a film negative in that the negative is unequivocally 'the image out of the camera'? Or is the fact of it being digital somehow different?
Hello Lee,

First, let's get legal and press imagery out of the way. The picture, as a reliable witness, (the crime scene or news photograph), must include all the elements needed to interpret that view without selective exclusion, inclusion or other manipulation that would change the value as un altered evidence of what was there and what happened.


In every stage, there has already been major "manipulation". The actual film can be B&W or color and the sensitivities to parts of the visible light spectrum can be very different with each particular MFR and film type. The grain can be small or large! The chemical processing can increase or decrease the contrast and pop of the developing image and the paper used to print it can be one of 50 choices, all different in sheen, texture, whiteness and "pop".

Similarly with digital, except it's all done through algorithms!

However, no arform adds up to the complete "Truth" of something. This holds for the most exacting art photograph too! Even technically perfect photographs are merely filtered abstractions of a fleeting observation. In fact, for all art, this is necessary! We actually depend on manipulating the truth of the matter!

Asher
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  #11  
Old June 15th, 2015, 09:24 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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I do agree with Doug here. Silver Halide crystals or Digital Sensors. Each preprocess the image.
That's why we have ( had ) various film types..from b&w ( multiple variations ) to color ( multiple variations ).

I remember various cooking recipes for different film types. Who can forget the dodging and burning; not to forget the masking process. The ' pull ' and the ' push '. ( developing film, of course ).

Then came the digital sensors. Raw, as they call it nowadays..is it really raw? Just look at the specs of the latest digital sensors..cooking is already going on. Let's not forget the len"s corrections, the NR, the adjustments for DR..the list goes on and on.

So we gave our film to the printer..more cooking. We now present our image to our SW..more cooking. The printer too, is in the loop. The most important job, imho. Which paper, which this and which that.

Even prior to all this ' cheating ' in and out of camera are the lenses. What glass? What type? What angle on incidence? What refractive measures?. How many elements of glass? What coating to be applied on a lens? What filtration/s to apply? Even what filters do you put on a lens? A simple UV or some polarizer or something more exotic?

How to fool a person. Expand or compress. WA, standard, or tele? What about macro ( micro )? Slow motion, time lapse?

So anything captured and viewed subsequently by a camera, however basic or advanced, has never been
the raw image that one saw.

Do you use different focussing screens? Do you use Flash? And on and on. What photography do you do? Infrared , Ultraviolet. Or mapping the galaxies in space?

The question, then, is what did each one of us actually see? This brings me to the issue of our eyes and brain recognition mechanisms. Honed over thousands, if not millions, of years.

Do you see what I see? Not a hypothetical question? Physically, organically, biologically each one of us sees differently..because our recognition systems, too for various biological reasons, might be different. Our eyesights might be different..

Do you wear glasses/contacts and take photographs?

That there ever was a ' pure ' photograph is a myth. Never was and never will be. There is no ' cheating '.
Maybe the expectations were based on unsound reasoning and understanding.
  #12  
Old June 15th, 2015, 11:48 AM
Lee Tracy Lee Tracy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fahim mohammed View Post
I do agree with Doug here. Silver Halide crystals or Digital Sensors. Each preprocess the image.
That's why we have ( had ) various film types..from b&w ( multiple variations ) to color ( multiple variations ).

I remember various cooking recipes for different film types. Who can forget the dodging and burning; not to forget the masking process. The ' pull ' and the ' push '. ( developing film, of course ).

Then came the digital sensors. Raw, as they call it nowadays..is it really raw? Just look at the specs of the latest digital sensors..cooking is already going on. Let's not forget the len"s corrections, the NR, the adjustments for DR..the list goes on and on.

So we gave our film to the printer..more cooking. We now present our image to our SW..more cooking. The printer too, is in the loop. The most important job, imho. Which paper, which this and which that.

Even prior to all this ' cheating ' in and out of camera are the lenses. What glass? What type? What angle on incidence? What refractive measures?. How many elements of glass? What coating to be applied on a lens? What filtration/s to apply? Even what filters do you put on a lens? A simple UV or some polarizer or something more exotic?

How to fool a person. Expand or compress. WA, standard, or tele? What about macro ( micro )? Slow motion, time lapse?

So anything captured and viewed subsequently by a camera, however basic or advanced, has never been
the raw image that one saw.

Do you use different focussing screens? Do you use Flash? And on and on. What photography do you do? Infrared , Ultraviolet. Or mapping the galaxies in space?

The question, then, is what did each one of us actually see? This brings me to the issue of our eyes and brain recognition mechanisms. Honed over thousands, if not millions, of years.

Do you see what I see? Not a hypothetical question? Physically, organically, biologically each one of us sees differently..because our recognition systems, too for various biological reasons, might be different. Our eyesights might be different..

Do you wear glasses/contacts and take photographs?

That there ever was a ' pure ' photograph is a myth. Never was and never will be. There is no ' cheating '.
Maybe the expectations were based on unsound reasoning and understanding.

I'm kind of at a loss as to how to respond. Yes I agree and yet somehow - no. Yes this is all true and we could bring in even more things than all this, and they would all be true too - but somehow I feel that all of this, while on a technical level true, on a philosophical level it's a little irrelevant.

A photo is a photo is a photo - light captured by a camera, for me its not even how it's printed that is relevant - the means of creation is. If the image is not fundamentally the product of the interaction between light, camera and photographer then I start having questions in my head about it. I find myself conflicted when I want to improve my own photos. I do some post-processing but not a lot, and every time I do I have a moral crisis (minor one). There is definitely a point at which I stop thinking of my photo as a photo and start thinking of it as art, as a digital image which is no longer a photo. I realise this may be a POV that is in some respects insupportable logically but its how I feel.

Yet ... I find when looking at photos that I can't deny that some processing is of a standard that definitively and quantifiably has produced a better image than what came out of the camera ... and that makes me feel conflicted. Do I have to process more to produce high standard work? And that creates conflict because there is a part of me that has a problem with doing that - it feels somewhat dishonest - yet if I call the product 'art' and not a 'photo' that conflict disappears. Ridiculous right?
  #13  
Old June 15th, 2015, 12:20 PM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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Lee, what you say is appreciated.

However, I cannot offer more, in the context of this
discussion, than to mention that your way of thought is
scientifically incorrect.

You mention the interaction between light, camera and the photographer
could/might somehow lead to a ' pure ' photo capture..whatever that might mean.

Unfortunately, the very act of gazing at, looking at something has already
altered it. Even before a camera comes into the equation.
  #14  
Old June 15th, 2015, 12:41 PM
Lee Tracy Lee Tracy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fahim mohammed View Post
Lee, what you say is appreciated.

However, I cannot offer more, in the context of this
discussion, than to mention that your way of thought is
scientifically incorrect.

You mention the interaction between light, camera and the photographer
could/might somehow lead to a ' pure ' photo capture..whatever that might mean.

Unfortunately, the very act of gazing at, looking at something has already
altered it. Even before a camera comes into the equation.
How I feel isn't scientifically measurable :) I know that, but that doesn't alter what happens in my head.

Here is a not very fantastic photo of a flower I took yesterday - fading light and the flowers were in deep shade - I was being optimistic even trying. However instead of deleting it, I decided to play with it, because there was still something in the softness that appealed to me.



This is the final result.


Converted to filtered black and white and applied fractalius effect. Just two processes. And yet I will not post that image as a photo. I feel quite strongly that I created a beautiful image from a photo, but it is no longer a photo. Illogical I know, but it's how I feel.
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Old June 15th, 2015, 02:46 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Let me give an historical example of something that is still considered a photograph:


Of course, this is considered a retouched photograph, but it is a photograph nevertheless. The original is the following:


(Courtesy: Wikipedia)
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Old June 15th, 2015, 09:01 PM
Lee Tracy Lee Tracy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
Let me give an historical example of something that is still considered a photograph:


Of course, this is considered a retouched photograph, but it is a photograph nevertheless. The original is the following:


(Courtesy: Wikipedia)
noo that's cheating! Gets my conscience in a tither it does.
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Old June 15th, 2015, 09:43 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
Let me give an historical example of something that is still considered a photograph:


Of course, this is considered a retouched photograph, but it is a photograph nevertheless. The original is the following:


(Courtesy: Wikipedia)
This was produced, not as art, but to distribute the news and then to "edit" in or out, one short statured, (or badly placed) comrade either into or out from history! In a state where, "The end justified the means", (~ "The Rumsfield doctrine", LOL), it becomes reasonable to continually "manage" history to update the narrative to today's "truths", expediencies and "necessities"!

The problem with such thinking is that it then becomes harder to learn from history as what actually happened has been become obscured beneath fused layers of lies, exaggerations and self-serving rhetoric!

In landscape or street photography, some photographers won't edit out a scrap of litter or an unwanted branch that mars the scene, they are so controlled by the need to be truthful - and that's the other indefensible conceit - as if any sampling of a scene is "some truth" in the first place!

Asher
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  #18  
Old June 15th, 2015, 10:16 PM
jake klein jake klein is offline
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I personally don't care what others do in between pre-shot and final image production. The final image is all that matters. Does it move me? Does it make me feel some sort of way? That is what matters to me at least.

When it comes to documentary and photojournalism I feel a bit different. I want to see images that are not manipulated like the image in the posted above.
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  #19  
Old June 16th, 2015, 12:13 AM
Lee Tracy Lee Tracy is offline
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"History is written by the victors"

"truth" on one level is always relative.

There are a few disciplines within photography - journalism, street and wildlife immediately spring to mind - where any manipulation either of the image or the subjects within the image are severely frowned upon. Others like fashion photography allows for a great deal of manipulation of the finished photo - to the point of creating a version of reality that just isn't real ie no-one actually looks like that.

Between these two extremes there is a continuum of degree of processing. Between an unaltered image (journalism for example) and the extreme alteration you see in, say magazines - is there a point at which the amount of alteration becomes unacceptable?
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Old June 16th, 2015, 12:15 AM
Lee Tracy Lee Tracy is offline
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FYI - I kind of feel for this guy - on an emotional level his final image tells the story of the moment far better than either of the images he combined. I can see why he did it, even though from a journalistic point of view it was utterly wrong.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv...per/030409.htm
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Old June 16th, 2015, 07:05 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Tracy View Post
noo that's cheating!
You asked a question, I give an answer. If the answer makes you think, it probably is a good answer.

Quote:
Between an unaltered image (journalism for example) and the extreme alteration you see in, say magazines - is there a point at which the amount of alteration becomes unacceptable?
Now you are asking a completely different question and one that cannot be answered. You are not asking what is a photograph but whether altered pictures are acceptable. What is acceptable depends on how one can make others "accept" it. Editing out Nikolai Yezhov in the photograph above was "acceptable" in the USSR of the times, because people had to accept the official version under penalty of death. Accepting to edit out the stigma of malnourishment on anorexic models or not accepting to move around the participants on a war incident is decided on terms which are just as arbitrary, even if slightly less brutal.

Everything is acceptable if you are powerful enough.
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Old June 16th, 2015, 07:19 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Tracy,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Tracy View Post
FYI - I kind of feel for this guy - on an emotional level his final image tells the story of the moment far better than either of the images he combined. I can see why he did it, even though from a journalistic point of view it was utterly wrong.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv...per/030409.htm
I understand your point.

Had he painted the very same scene, it would gave been hailed as great art and a wonderful depiction of an important happening.

We need to keep in mind that in "verbal" (as contrasted to "graphic") form we have this all the time as reporters and writers put words together to tell us "what happened" in some event. Often the resulting text is inaccurate and/or misleading. "Three members of the public spoke in favor of the proposal". Not mentioned for lack of space was that four people expressed reservations about it.

This is not always the result of an ethical lapse on the part of the writer. More often it is just lack of skill in their craft. And of course there is the matter of plagiarism, which all to often enters into the matter!

In another milieu, I often receive (sadly, usually from distant members of my family) partisan political "bulletins" that are cobbled together from semi-fact and outright untruths (typically salted with misspellings and outrageous typography).

And then we have the filmed story about how Alexander Graham Bell (played by Don Ameche) invented the telephone. It contained many fragments of reality stitched together in a way that would be almost unrecognizable to any student of the matter. But it was a lovely story. (When I was much younger, that film was responsible for many jokes in the vein of "I'm sure glad Don Ameche invented the telephone or else we would not have heard so quickly about Bill's new son.")

My wife's first published book was her memoir. She occasionally has to remind people that this was not the transcript of her life, done perhaps by a series of stenographers, but rather a "memoir" - her life as she now remembers it.

So there is a wide spectrum of "accuracy" in all "works of art". And it is perhaps most important to realize that "the world as we see it" is just that - "as we see it". And if we are asked, "was Harriet part of the group that received awards at last night's banquet", we may say, "Well, I have no idea."

Best regards,

Doug
Just an old Scottish telephone engineer
  #23  
Old June 16th, 2015, 07:53 AM
Lee Tracy Lee Tracy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
You asked a question, I give an answer. If the answer makes you think, it probably is a good answer.



Now you are asking a completely different question and one that cannot be answered. You are not asking what is a photograph but whether altered pictures are acceptable. What is acceptable depends on how one can make others "accept" it. Editing out Nikolai Yezhov in the photograph above was "acceptable" in the USSR of the times, because people had to accept the official version under penalty of death. Accepting to edit out the stigma of malnourishment on anorexic models or not accepting to move around the participants on a war incident is decided on terms which are just as arbitrary, even if slightly less brutal.

Everything is acceptable if you are powerful enough.
I see it as part of the same question - if the answer is 'yes' there are actions that are unacceptable then the question is - if the alteration is unacceptable how does that affect our perception of the photo?

(Acknowledging the fact that I find that I will accept alteration in art that I will not accept in a photo. )
  #24  
Old June 16th, 2015, 07:57 AM
Lee Tracy Lee Tracy is offline
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Hi, Tracy,



I understand your point.

Had he painted the very same scene, it would gave been hailed as great art and a wonderful depiction of an important happening.

We need to keep in mind that in "verbal" (as contrasted to "graphic") form we have this all the time as reporters and writers put words together to tell us "what happened" in some event. Often the resulting text is inaccurate and/or misleading. "Three members of the public spoke in favor of the proposal". Not mentioned for lack of space was that four people expressed reservations about it.

This is not always the result of an ethical lapse on the part of the writer. More often it is just lack of skill in their craft. And of course there is the matter of plagiarism, which all to often enters into the matter!

In another milieu, I often receive (sadly, usually from distant members of my family) partisan political "bulletins" that are cobbled together from semi-fact and outright untruths (typically salted with misspellings and outrageous typography).

And then we have the filmed story about how Alexander Graham Bell (played by Don Ameche) invented the telephone. It contained many fragments of reality stitched together in a way that would be almost unrecognizable to any student of the matter. But it was a lovely story. (When I was much younger, that film was responsible for many jokes in the vein of "I'm sure glad Don Ameche invented the telephone or else we would not have heard so quickly about Bill's new son.")

My wife's first published book was her memoir. She occasionally has to remind people that this was not the transcript of her life, done perhaps by a series of stenographers, but rather a "memoir" - her life as she now remembers it.

So there is a wide spectrum of "accuracy" in all "works of art". And it is perhaps most important to realize that "the world as we see it" is just that - "as we see it". And if we are asked, "was Harriet part of the group that received awards at last night's banquet", we may say, "Well, I have no idea."

Best regards,

Doug
Just an old Scottish telephone engineer
for me the terms "works of art" is the defining factor around which all hinges. I can accept a great of looseness with truth / accuracy in art - but less so in a photo.

This might be just semantics or a poor attempt to rationalise how I feel but for me there is a point at which a photo stops being a photo and becomes a 'digitally manipulated/created image' / 'art'.
  #25  
Old June 16th, 2015, 08:11 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Tracy View Post
...(Acknowledging the fact that I find that I will accept alteration in art that I will not accept in a photo. )
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Tracy View Post
..for me the terms "works of art" is the defining factor around which all hinges. I can accept a great of looseness with truth / accuracy in art - but less so in a photo...
So are you saying that art and photography are two mutually exclusive things?
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Old June 16th, 2015, 08:44 AM
Lee Tracy Lee Tracy is offline
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So are you saying that art and photography are two mutually exclusive things?
Nope not at all - far from it. I had a sudden thought about the issue today actually - I have huge personal issues with lying - don't like it, don't do it, don't do it to me - and it feels like lying when I try to call an image a photo when it wasn't made by the camera. Although discovering the source of the issue for me, doesn't change how I feel about it :)

My original question - what is a photo, was actually quite subconsciously insightful - how I define a photo (something made by a camera) is part of the issue. If you define a photo by different standards - when is a photo a photo and not something else - that could change how I feel about when a photo stops being a photo.

Lets look at it another way - is CGI that is indistinguishable from a photo a photo or something else?
  #27  
Old June 16th, 2015, 11:18 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Hi Lee,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Tracy View Post
...(Acknowledging the fact that I find that I will accept alteration in art that I will not accept in a photo. )
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Tracy View Post
..for me the terms "works of art" is the defining factor around which all hinges. I can accept a great of looseness with truth / accuracy in art - but less so in a photo...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
So are you saying that art and photography are two mutually exclusive things?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Tracy View Post
Nope not at all - far from it. I had a sudden thought about the issue today actually - I have huge personal issues with lying - don't like it, don't do it, don't do it to me - and it feels like lying when I try to call an image a photo when it wasn't made by the camera. Although discovering the source of the issue for me, doesn't change how I feel about it :)
I understand what you are trying to say, I really do. But I feel obliged (at the risk of being seen as an A.R. person) to point out the problem with your reasoning and your answer to my question. :)

Your answer is that art and photography are NOT two mutually exclusive things. If so, a photograph can be a piece of art. As you said earlier, you accept alteration in art. It then follows that you also accept alteration in photographs which are classified as art. But as you have also stated, you think that a photo is no longer one if it is altered, it is then just an image. Therefore, there can be no photos which are altered and classified as art. Do you see where I am heading with this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Tracy View Post
...My original question - what is a photo, was actually quite subconsciously insightful - how I define a photo (something made by a camera) is part of the issue. If you define a photo by different standards - when is a photo a photo and not something else - that could change how I feel about when a photo stops being a photo.

Lets look at it another way - is CGI that is indistinguishable from a photo a photo or something else?
Your current definition of a photo as being something "made" by the camera and untouched in the post-processing, is extremely limited. At the beginning of this thread, I have tried to explain that there is not a single digital photo which is not post-processed in one way or another, in or out of the camera. If so, then there is no such thing as digital photography. Actually, there is an OPF member, Maris Rusis, who claims exactly that. To him, a photo is a photo only if it is created by light on analog film and contact printed on photo paper. Search for his previous threads if you are interested.
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  #28  
Old June 16th, 2015, 11:44 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Lee,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Tracy View Post
for me the terms "works of art" is the defining factor around which all hinges. I can accept a great of looseness with truth / accuracy in art - but less so in a photo.

This might be just semantics or a poor attempt to rationalise how I feel but for me there is a point at which a photo stops being a photo and becomes a 'digitally manipulated/created image' / 'art'.
And again I have to ask how you feel about:

With a film camera, tailoring the developing process to attain certain results, and

When making a print from a negative, burning and lodging to get the desired results in localized areas.

Now of course that is far different from deleting a certain person from the image. But I call attention to those examples to caution against too much reliance on the ideal of "as it came from the camera".

As images came from my Canon EOS 40D, they are about 36 43 mm and about 5 mm thick. And all I can see on them is "Compact Flash".

I well understand your interest in the ethics of photography, especially in the context of "journalism". But I think it is as futile to seek simplistic definitions of "what is unethical modification of an image" as it is to seek simplistic guidelines as to whether what you brother told you about your other brother was "untrue", or whether a sign that says "6 puppies for sale - all cute" might be lying.

Perhaps in a photo I take of two people the perspective makes it look as if Betty is shorter than Carol, whereas I know they are the same height, so I do some work so that to me they appear to be of comparable height in the delivered image. Is that ethical? Suppose I in fact make it look, to the average viewer, that Betty is a little taller than Carol? Is that unethical? Suppose I make Carol look a lot taller than Carol. Is that ethical? How much taller can I make Betty look than Carol before that is unethical.

Suppose I take a picture of Jean, intended to submit to the local newspaper with an article announcing her new real estate sales office, and I use Portrait Professional to enhance her appearance. It makes her mouth a little different shape and takes out some skin blemishes. Is that unethical? Does it depend on how much of that I do? At what point does it become unethical?

So I think you quest to quantify "the point at which . . ." is futile and fruitless. If you could get an answer, what would you do with it.

Best regards,

Doug
  #29  
Old June 16th, 2015, 12:30 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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I am pleased the question is raised about, "what is a photograph".

The discomfort of departing from perceived "realism" and honesty into a realm of "creative versimilitude", is obvious and natural. We just all have different alarm settings! Cem has pointed out that photography can be art. So, perhaps, since art allows for creative expression we have more freedom to sculpt the final image we deliver. We'd now reasonably be allowed to smooth out wrinkles that didn't contribute to the intended esthetics and meaning of the work! But that's so dishonest!! Well, let's examine what standards we're applying here?

We are very respectful of "truth" but also of people's right to express themselves. So let's look at what being "a woman" might mean, just as we ask what being a photograph inherently demands.

One can say that "woman" should in the purist state be without makeup, as that is "lying" and does not allow us to see the real person! Same with hair color,LOL! But we allow that cover up, enhancement and decoration as they promote the inner wishes and purposes of that person. Why should we be so much more truth-bound with a picture of the same woman where we could allow her to smile without showing a dark cracked tooth at the edge of her smile?

One might have in one's mind a sense of dishonesty if you knowingly add or remove something or otherwise alter the "facts of the matter" like moles, acne or pustules. But then one has to ask why on earth is the picture being taken?

Imagine discovering that the bride had a fly on her cheek in your best picture?

What if your customer only has a blue dress to put on the model and the artistic director demands lilac instead? Such a change can be made but would you squirm?

The object of photography, after all is to "draw with light'" and drawing also includes erasing and redrawing in a second pass or better defining edges or obfuscating distracting clutter in the b.g.

Photography is not made except by the control from our minds. It's pretty arbitrary to accept manipulation by our angle of view and split second timing or contrast development, but eschew erasures or abstractions that deliver what the photograph I needs to do for its current purpose.

However, each of us has their own level of comfort with lots of social choices: vulgarity, nudity, flirting, teasing, sarcasm and "white lies". Similarly it has to be that we accept we have different thresholds for accepting alterations in a picture once the camera/film process has delivered a usable film negative or digital file.

It still remains that the only way one discovers "what a photograph might be" is to visit galleries and museums and read the book from the Museum of Contemporary Art Director....and also ask Maris Rusis. The answer then is going to be as diverse as there are human personalities, but that doesn't mean that we can tolerate them all!

Asher
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  #30  
Old June 16th, 2015, 12:40 PM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Asher,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
I am pleased the question is raised about, "what is a photograph".

The discomfort of departing from perceived "realism" and honesty into a realm of "creative versimilitude", is obvious and natural. We just all have different alarm settings! Cem has pointed out that photography can be art. So, perhaps, since art allows for creative expression we have more freedom to sculpt the final image we deliver. We'd now reasonably be allowed to smooth out wrinkles that didn't contribute to the intended esthetics and meaning of the work! But that's so dishonest!! Well, let's examine what standards we're applying here?

We are very respectful of "truth" but also of people's right to express themselves. So let's look at what being "a woman" might mean, just as we ask what being a photograph inherently demands.

One can say that "woman" should in the purist state be without makeup, as that is "lying" and does not allow us to see the real person! Same with hair color,LOL! But we allow that cover up, enhancement and decoration as they promote the inner wishes and purposes of that person. Why should we be so much more truth-bound with a picture of the same woman where we could allow her to smile without showing a dark cracked tooth at the edge of her smile?

One might have in one's mind a sense of dishonesty if you knowingly add or remove something or otherwise alter the "facts of the matter" like moles, acne or pustules. But then one has to ask why on earth is the picture being taken?

Imagine discovering that the bride had a fly on her cheek in your best picture?

What if your customer only has a blue dress to put on the model and the artistic director demands lilac instead? Such a change can be made but would you squirm?

The object of photography, after all is to "draw with light'" and drawing also includes erasing and redrawing in a second pass or better defining edges or obfuscating distracting clutter in the b.g.

Photography is not made except by the control from our minds. It's pretty arbitrary to accept manipulation by our angle of view and split second timing or contrast development, but eschew erasures or abstractions that deliver what the photograph I needs to do for its current purpose.

However, each of us has their own level of comfort with lots of social choices: vulgarity, nudity, flirting, teasing, sarcasm and "white lies". Similarly it has to be that we accept we have different thresholds for accepting alterations in a picture once the camera/film process has delivered a usable film negative or digital file.

It still remains that the only way one discovers "what a photograph might be" is to visit galleries and museums and read the book from the Museum of Contemporary Art Director....and also ask Maris Rusis. The answer then is going to be as diverse as there are human personalities, but that doesn't mean that we can tolerate them all!

Asher

All well said.

Best regards,

Doug
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