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Old Feb 26, 2010, 6:29 PM   #1
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Default How much is too Much?

Not sure if this has been posted before but how much manipulation of a photo is too much and causing it to be called a piece of art instead of a photo? Unless the photo comes directly from the camera to the screen/page then its getting manipulated in some way. We have come to accept Unsharp Mask and perspective correction but there are a lot of other things done which get by because they arent noticed unless the original untouched image is posted as well to show what has been done. Noise removal, color correction, scaling, cropping, and a host of other tricks capable of with Photoshop and finally turning the pic into an HDR image. I took a day scene shot at noon and turned it into a midnight shot. I turned on street lights, window lights etc to create that nightime image. Is it a photo?
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Old Feb 26, 2010, 7:58 PM   #2
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Not sure if this has been posted before but how much manipulation of a photo is too much and causing it to be called a piece of art instead of a photo? Unless the photo comes directly from the camera to the screen/page then its getting manipulated in some way. We have come to accept Unsharp Mask and perspective correction but there are a lot of other things done which get by because they arent noticed unless the original untouched image is posted as well to show what has been done. Noise removal, color correction, scaling, cropping, and a host of other tricks capable of with Photoshop and finally turning the pic into an HDR image. I took a day scene shot at noon and turned it into a midnight shot. I turned on street lights, window lights etc to create that nightime image. Is it a photo?
This, with your many examples, is a complex issue. Personally I believe that a photograph is meant to show the viewer the actual scene. Photo processing (something that's as old as photography itself) should be aimed at making the image an accurate depiction of reality. Whether sharpening, HDR, noise removal, etc, etc, All of these methods should be applied to hightening the realism of the image. The scene doesn't contain noise: the scene is sharp, the scene has the right colors...

You ask if turning day into night is art or a photograph? It's art - But you could post this image, and you could fool me into thinking it's depicting reality. But many frauds take place in this world, and a fraud, whether it is caught, or thought of as valid is still a fraud.

I can go out and buy a perfect replica of a brand name SLR. It's a fake. But perhaps I wouldn't discover this until I actually used the camera. Your posted fraud, whether it fools me or not, would not be as good as the actual scene taken at night.

Photography is both a craft and an art. The "art" in photography is using the skills of the craft to capture a scene. To frame it, compose it, to show the viewer what they're missing. But once the photograph depicts make believe, then it becomes merely a vehicle for making art, not a vehicle for making photography.

Just my opinion of course on a complex question.

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Old Feb 26, 2010, 8:30 PM   #3
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I think you have to look at it two different ways. Photography in my eyes is art, and the object is to create a pleasing image. So what if it is manipulated, filtered, etc. As long as the image is pleasing to the artist and/or others, then the goal is achieved. No other form of art is constricted in this way. A painter painting a scene isn't required to create a perfect duplicate. Yes i do believe things can be over done, and I'm not a fan of over saturated HDR's or over needlessly filtered images. But I do believe the artist can bend and tweak saturation, color, levels or use filters or hdr to create an image. Photographers regularly use blur, and DOF to manipulate how the image appears. I don't see background blur, or light streaks naturally. Why is this ok but other forms of manipulation not ok?? Airbrushing has been done for years to remove blemishes from faces. Is this not ok?

Photojournalism on the other handshould be restricted to presenting the image as it naturally appeared and should not be manipulated in any way.
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Old Feb 26, 2010, 8:48 PM   #4
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I think you have to look at it two different ways. Photography in my eyes is art, and the object is to create a pleasing image. So what if it is manipulated, filtered, etc. As long as the image is pleasing to the artist and/or others, then the goal is achieved. No other form of art is constricted in this way. A painter painting a scene isn't required to create a perfect duplicate. Yes i do believe things can be over done, and I'm not a fan of over saturated HDR's or over needlessly filtered images. But I do believe the artist can bend and tweak saturation, color, levels or use filters or hdr to create an image. Photographers regularly use blur, and DOF to manipulate how the image appears. I don't see background blur, or light streaks naturally. Why is this ok but other forms of manipulation not ok?? Airbrushing has been done for years to remove blemishes from faces. Is this not ok?

Photojournalism on the other handshould be restricted to presenting the image as it naturally appeared and should not be manipulated in any way.

RJ wrote up pretty much exactly what i was going to write. down to the photojournalism exception, which i would also add sports and to some extent wildlife.
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Old Feb 26, 2010, 8:53 PM   #5
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I think you have to look at it two different ways. Photography in my eyes is art, and the object is to create a pleasing image. So what if it is manipulated, filtered, etc. As long as the image is pleasing to the artist and/or others, then the goal is achieved. No other form of art is constricted in this way.
Not much of a line in the sand in the above. I don't even need a camera to meet the above criterion...

This is why I do make a distinction between art and photography.


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A painter painting a scene isn't required to create a perfect duplicate. Yes i do believe things can be over done, and I'm not a fan of over saturated HDR's or over needlessly filtered images. But I do believe the artist can bend and tweak saturation, color, levels or use filters or hdr to create an image. Photographers regularly use blur, and DOF to manipulate how the image appears. I don't see background blur, or light streaks naturally. Why is this ok but other forms of manipulation not ok?? Airbrushing has been done for years to remove blemishes from faces. Is this not ok?
Very few (And I mean VERY few) artists even attempt to make a perfect duplicate. They capture the scene by creating emotion in the viewer to make you "feel" the scene. Sometimes they capture the scene better than the best photograph...

Examine the paintings of this "realist" artist...
http://patriciamelvin.com/

Actually, the eye does blur or sharpen various scenes. Its simply that the eye focuses so rapidly that we have the impression of seeing with a greater depth of field. The maximum aperture of the eye is 2.1, the minimum is about 8.6.

Look, my definition may be too arbitrary - you, in practice, have no definition at all!

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Old Feb 26, 2010, 9:11 PM   #6
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RJ wrote up pretty much exactly what i was going to write. down to the photojournalism exception, which i would also add sports and to some extent wildlife.
And I would agree with this...

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Not much of a line in the sand in the above. I don't even need a camera to meet the above criterion
Why does there have to be a line in the sand?? I will concede that technically, you are correct, in saying you don't need a camera.


Again, though, photographers have been manipulating images forever. I mention again techniques like airbrushing blemishes, images featuring painting with light, soft focus, star filters, polarizing filters etc, all change the image slightly from how we see it naturally. Would you characterize images created with these tools and techniques as not photographs??

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Look, my definition may be too arbitrary - you, in practice, have no definition at all!
I don't think your definition is too arbitrary...I think it's too rigid, but only selectively applied (if you disagree with my above statement concerning how images can be manipulated beyond photo editing). My definition may be too loose, and perhaps a better word would be Imaging rather than photography.

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Old Feb 26, 2010, 9:35 PM   #7
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Again, though, photographers have been manipulating images forever. I mention again techniques like airbrushing blemishes, images featuring painting with light, soft focus, star filters, polarizing filters etc, all change the image slightly from how we see it naturally. Would you characterize images created with these tools and techniques as not photographs??

I don't think your definition is too arbitrary...I think it's too rigid, but only selectively applied (if you disagree with my above statement concerning how images can be manipulated beyond photo editing). My definition may be too loose, and perhaps a better word would be Imaging rather than photography.
None of the techniques you mention would I have a problem with, IF they are aimed at showing the actual look of the scene.

(True, photographs make ME look better than I actually do, and I can't recall restoring the ugly... )

An improperly lighted image can completely distort what a person really looks like. Processing the image to "get it right" is part of the craft.

People appearing on television had heavy make-up applied, not to hide what they look like, but to show what they look like.

So, manipulating a picture in the name of showing the real scene is ok with me. It's part and parcel of Post Processing.

Look, let's take advertising photography. After all, commerical photography employs a lot of people; are they not "photographers?"

An image is manipulated to sell a product. Neither the photographer or the client have any intention of showing the "real" image. It's a form or art, made to peddle their goods. Fine. But is it photography? It's made with a camera. And it's a fantasy. Heck, I participated in an ad for Konica Camera - 100 percent shot with a Canon...

Before this conversation continues any further, Mr. Dictionary agree's with you, Bynx and Hards, not me...

Quote:
pho·tog·ra·phy <a href=&quot;http://dictionary.reference.com/audi...tography&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot;><img src=&quot;http://sp.ask.com/dictstatic/g/d/speaker.gif&quot; border=&quot;0&quot; alt=&quot;photography pronunciation&quot; /></a> (fə-tŏg'rə-fē)
n.
  1. The art or process of producing images of objects on photosensitive surfaces.
  2. The art, practice, or occupation of taking and printing photographs.
So in a sense, we can drop the entire thread. I admit, that I am technically wrong.

But then again, I take "photographs" of my models, created without a camera. Pure imagination, which I can then print as "photographs."

I'm not happy at all with Mr. Dictionary. But since this IS a photography board, I believe we have more of a right to set definitions than Websters does. And besides, he's dead...

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Old Feb 26, 2010, 10:14 PM   #8
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There really is not a point at which one can separate the art from the craft. It is a continuum, and what you see depends on where you stand and which direction you are facing. Or as Einstein said "It's all relative." (well, that's a paraphrase rather than a quote, but you get the idea)

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Old Feb 27, 2010, 5:20 AM   #9
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After reading your responses so far, what I get is that anything done to a photo which corrects any distortions by the camera is ok – chromatic aberration, perspective distortion, color shift, focus problems, lens flare, exposure problems. But once you go beyond the scene shot such as I have illustrated here then it has crossed the line into the fantasy and shouldnt be considered a photograph, or at the very least an altered photograph. That said once Portrait Pro is applied to any photo then it automatically removes it from being a photograph to something further along. Maybe a portrait photograper should have another trade name like Portrait Manipulator. Im sure no photographer would let that big zit remain on the photo he/she expects to make some money on. Removing zits and wrinkles is done with the pure intention to deceive. In my above illustation Ive never seen that church at nite. I have no idea what the lighting would look like. I know the stained glass windows wouldnt be as bright because the outside has a protective frosty glass covering and the windows are meant to be seen properly only from the inside during daylight hours. So my imagination has forced it out of being a photograph but rather based on a photograph. Whether its art or not is another question. Thanks for your responses.
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Old Feb 27, 2010, 9:26 AM   #10
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After reading your responses so far, what I get is that anything done to a photo which corrects any distortions by the camera is ok – chromatic aberration, perspective distortion, color shift, focus problems, lens flare, exposure problems. But once you go beyond the scene shot such as I have illustrated here then it has crossed the line into the fantasy and shouldnt be considered a photograph, or at the very least an altered photograph. That said once Portrait Pro is applied to any photo then it automatically removes it from being a photograph to something further along. Maybe a portrait photograper should have another trade name like Portrait Manipulator. Im sure no photographer would let that big zit remain on the photo he/she expects to make some money on. Removing zits and wrinkles is done with the pure intention to deceive. In my above illustation Ive never seen that church at nite. I have no idea what the lighting would look like. I know the stained glass windows wouldnt be as bright because the outside has a protective frosty glass covering and the windows are meant to be seen properly only from the inside during daylight hours. So my imagination has forced it out of being a photograph but rather based on a photograph. Whether its art or not is another question. Thanks for your responses.
Maybe I wasn't clear. I would consider your image a photograph. Yes it's manipulated, but without a camera, you couldn't have created the image. I'm with you that nearly every portrait is manipulated, and has been forever. If the image comes from a camera, I think it's a photograph.
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