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Old Feb 19, 2004, 12:15 PM   #1
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Default Do the ends justify the means?

For lack of a better place to post this, I will do so in the General Q&A forum.

There appears to be a recent trend (technology driven, of course) that gives preference to "fixing it later" rather than doing it right the first time. While I don't wish to see us debate the moral or ethical issues related to digitally enhancing or altering an image, I would like to hear others ideas on the issue of taking the "fix it later" attitude. Too many times I've heard people say things like "shoot in RAW and you can adjust the exposure during processing". Is it easier to clone out unwanted power lines rather than reposition ourselves during the shoot to exclude the lines?

Are we exchanging one art for another? Are we moving from the art of photography to a new era where the art is in the digital darkroom? Or is it merely technological advances where we have a blend of the two arts?

Do the ends justify the means? Opinions?
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Old Feb 19, 2004, 12:32 PM   #2
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There was quite a lot of discussion on some other groups if the new digital stuff was photography or a new medium altogether.

I fell into the it is two different but similar catagories camp.
1)To me Photography is traditional film and development methods.
2)and Digital Imageing is digital capture by whatever method and manipulation and print from the digital workstation.
I enjoy both forms, quite often at the same time, making each image twice once on film and then replacing the camera on the tripod and exposing on digital capture

Of course many disagree completely and say they are one and the same, for everyone it is YMMV.

Ethics & Morals? Bah those are only for politicians ......
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Old Feb 19, 2004, 12:57 PM   #3
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Quote:
Ethics & Morals? Bah those are only for politicians ......
now THAT's funny!
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Old Feb 19, 2004, 1:06 PM   #4
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Ethics & Morals? Bah those are only for politicians
Don't you mean those are things that politicians care about so they can avoid them?

Considering how much can be done in the dark room, I think digital vs. film are more similar than most people realize. Sure, you can do a heck of a lot more alterations/recovery in digital... so it isn't exactly the same.

The darkroom was/is an art, and so is digital manipulation.

When I read your statement I took it in another direction.

Assuming you aren't great in the darkroom, you really had to get the picture right out of the camera or the picture isn't good. But since (I think) some of the basic stuff in the digital dark room is easier to recover from. You can fix being a stop off either way without much trouble in Photoshop. You can clone away a smudge or dust on the lens.

What this leads to, in some cases, is not being as good a photographer.

You don't have to be great at reading exposures and knowing when the in-camera metering will be wrong. You can just "fix it later".

You don't have to be sensitive to perfect composition because you can crop or erase the offending thing (wires, a head stuck out a window.) You just "fix it later".

You can be sloppy and not clean your camera lens before you go out because you can "fix it later".

But on your point about RAW files. There is a serious problem with digital cameras. If you compare them to the best films, they lack dynamic range. They just can't capture as many shades of light. Using RAW can give you a wider range than you would get otherwise. Yes, that is usually used to recover a badly/incorrectly exposed image. But it can also be used to capture what you intended.

And then there is another angle. Maybe those cables are unavoidable. Maybe there is no angle where you can not have the power lines (I've seen pictures of an Italian street. Wonderful color stucco, nice shapes... and loads of power lines. The picture looked much better without the power lines. Maybe you could have found an angle that would minimize the lines, or even incorporated them. But maybe your vision didn't include themÖ and without digital manipulation your vision would never been fulfilled.

Eric
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Old Feb 19, 2004, 1:14 PM   #5
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Maybe it would be better if we thought of digital photography as one of several aspects of digital imagery. If we do this, then we can separate out digital manipulation that goes beyond what can be done in traditional darkrooms. This is not to say we should reject the magical tools handed to us because they aren't chemicals. With this sort of thinking, we'd have to say that film photography isn't really photography because, in the beginning, there was no film.

Film photography cannot define its digital brother. It can, however, stand on firm ground when it dictates good lighting, creative composition, and knowledgeable use of camera controls. Is it cheating to fix up in Photoshop what's broken in the original photo? Rather than cheating, I think it limits the person. Walking down a path, you see something that brings a vision to mind of a final photograph. You bring the camera to your eye and try your best to come as close as possible to that final vision, leaving what you know just can't be done in-camera for later on in the darkroom, whether it involves chemicals or pixels.

In art of any sort, it's the vision that counts, but that vision will never come to much without technical know-how. A painter should use his brushes, paints, and varnishes well; a sculptor must know his chisels and the quality of his stone; a photographer must be intimate with his camera.

It's important to first use your tools well. Create beauty in the camera, and you're a photographer; create beauty in Photoshop, and you're a digital artist.

Anyway, that's how I see it.
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Old Feb 19, 2004, 2:57 PM   #6
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You canít correct exposure any better from a raw image than from another file format if you shot with minimum contrast. What you can set in post processing just as if you were setting it in the camera are WB, contrast, saturation and sharpening. I think my time is better spent thinking about the shot and getting the right perspective and framing than fooling with that stuff while shooting. Shooting raw you are concerned only with exposure, focus and framing. If you like fooling with the camera rather than thinking about the shot I guess we just donít see photography the same way. I wonít shoot other than raw with any camera that has raw and a decent buffer.

And I agree with eric s about the wires. If the perfect angle happens to have wires it is better to clone them out than take a less than optimal shot because you are busy being a purist.

It is bad to be just plain sloppy because post editing and cropping can bail you out. It is a lot of work and you end up with fewer pixels. And probably poor pictures even after the post processing But if you can concentrate on taking good pictures with the advantages of the digital darkroom then there is an advantage to the person who can do that.
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Old Feb 19, 2004, 3:23 PM   #7
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My intent of the question was directed more toward the artist in us than any specific tool. The examples I gave weren't meant to be the topic. I was merely invoking some discussion amongst us, trying to invoke thoughts about what I consider two arts that blend together to make one.

My personal thoughts are that we should strive to make a photograph that stands on its own without digital manipulations but at the same time be able to improve upon that photograph to produce the very best we can. The concept of digital processing isn't that different from darkroom work, albeit much more powerful. Forsaking photographic skills knowing that you can probably salvage it in Photoshop is, as Eric and Slipe pointed out, sloppy work.
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Old Feb 19, 2004, 3:29 PM   #8
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From a non-photographer's point of view, I see digital photography as a new medium. I do not consider myself a photographer but digital photography has turned me into a photo-enthusiast because my digital camera gave me far more flexibility than my film camera ever did. Just because I can see the results instantly I can shoot again and again until I get what I want. The end result is that I have got better at taking pictures - at least in composing pictures and fiddling around the camera weaknesses and strengths to get pictures I never dreamed of with my film camera.

And I try to shoot as best as possible because I hate having to edit pictures. I think good pictures should come good right out of the camera. I only edit pictures if composition bad and can be fixed by cropping (usually when I hand the camera to someone else to take my picture :lol or if a bit dark. If I notice that pictures are coming out dark while shooting I bump exposure compensation up a bit to avoid editing at home.

I say this because all my cameras have been mostly the point-and shoot type although the digital camera has some more advanced settings.
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Old Feb 19, 2004, 3:51 PM   #9
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When you step back from the situation and take a different view - the differences are not really that different.

I have known several people who, as devote film photographers, beleived the art of photography took place in the darkroom... dodging, burning, fresh chemicals vs flashed old chems. All the various technique of converting the image on the negative to something unique on the printed media. There is another group of people, with similar beleifs, who use their PCs instead of chems and lights to create their art. They are more alike than not.

There will always be the purists who beleive the unretouched image is where the art exisits. That group should be on that imbraces the RAW format. It is my understanding that a RAW image must be saved as something else and can not be saved back as the original.

In the end, who is to say what is art by today's standards. You could take a peice of used facial tissue, wad it up and toss it on the corner. Bammmm.... it's art. Too extreme? ok take 9 used facial tissues wad them up individually and place them in the corner in a 3'x3' grid. All lined up 1' apart except one which is over 1". There art. Now give me my NEA Grant!

Sorry... got off topic there for a bit... let's see... maybe what it boils down to is why do you take the photo? know that and you will know if the ends justify the means.
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Old Feb 19, 2004, 4:41 PM   #10
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Going back to Carl's original statement because it appears there's been a drift in topic:

Quote:
There appears to be a recent trend (technology driven, of course) that gives preference to "fixing it later" rather than doing it right the first time.
It seems to me he's saying he believes a person should strive for the best image possible in the camera rather than doing a sort of scatter-shot method, relying on an image editor to do what should have been done originally while taking the picture.

Knowing that he shoots exclusively in RAW mode says that he believes it has absolutely nothing to do with manipulation and everything to do with control.

Aside to "pdxkevin": Have you ever seen Picasso's bull sculpture? It's composed of nothing but a bicycle seat and handlebars. 8)
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