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Thread: Just where will image processing end

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    ajohnw's Avatar
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    Just where will image processing end

    I came across this on the web. The processing was done by some one who works in his spare time on an open source raw and jpg processing package called Photivo. I often wonder if this sort of thing is processing gone mad. Some of the ideas are interesting though.

    This is a link to a processed fish eye shot and the steps after that are linked to as well. It's worth looking at the jpg as that shows what the camera actually took.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/40436369@N04/5578401930

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    Andrew76's Avatar
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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    I kinda like the 'corrected' version - all of the land-based anchors look 'normal', but the sky is crazy! He's chosen an interesting colour to tone it with.

    I'm not sure if it's 'processing gone mad', in my opinion, I prefer these kinds of shots where at least what's in the photo is 'real', albeit enhanced drastically (maybe that's how the photographer actually sees it), compared to shots where physical elements have actually been altered, added, or deleted. But then, I have a hard time understanding why some don't like HDR effects - even over-the-top ones. Provided the elements of composition are there, and nothing has been altered, I think that contrasty, over-toned processing is just way of expression.

    Adding things to images that were never there, or manipulating people into believing they're seeing something that doesn't exist, is in my opinion 'processing gone mad'.

    But there's me ranting again!

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    ajohnw's Avatar
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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    I thought that the end result on this one could be called artistic. Many shots for instance have way way over the top sky's - my pet hate.

    Looks like a couple of interesting Gimp plugins to find. Will I make use of them? Pass. I'm not sure how much of that was done in Photivo. The geometry correction may have been.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew76 View Post
    I But then, I have a hard time understanding why some don't like HDR effects - even over-the-top ones. Provided the elements of composition are there, and nothing has been altered, I think that contrasty, over-toned processing is just way of expression.
    I personally don't mind HDRI, even over the top ones, with wierd colours, halos, etc, so long as they are well done. Unfortunately, there seem to be very few of those out in the wild

    What people have not figured out that is that a mediocre image, even with over the top tone mapping, is still a mediocre image. When tone mapping is applied tastelessly, we get a tastelessly tonemapped mediocre image.

    Adding things to images that were never there, or manipulating people into believing they're seeing something that doesn't exist, is in my opinion 'processing gone mad'.
    Here is where we do have a difference of opinion. If a painter comes up with a beautiful piece of art, that enhances reality, it's viewed as artistic licence. If a photographer does the same, it's "processing gone mad". I've seen some stunning photocomposted pieces that are truely works of art, as much as a painting is.

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    Andrew76's Avatar
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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    Oh, don't get me wrong. I appreciate everything you're saying, and agree with most of it. I also think that a mediocre image that is under processed, or processed poorly is still a mediocre image. The composition, and 'punctum' as Barthes would have it, has to be there to make the shot - which is what I think even MORE people have not figured out.

    As for artistic licence, I know the 'Is photography art?' argument can be discussed until the end of time with no final outcome, but is there, or should there not be some sort of assumed realism in a photograph, given the media used to create it?

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    I kinda see what you mean Andrew

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew76 View Post
    But then, I have a hard time understanding why some don't like HDR effects - even over-the-top ones.
    How can I put it? - to me the ultra tone mapped (oft described as "HDR") look is like someone singing out of tune and with inappropriate cadences to boot

    (Dave ducks for cover)

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    Andrew76's Avatar
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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    Hahaha! No need to duck! Just a friendly conversation!! I of course understand that photography IS art, and personal preferences abound. I'm sure there are a lot of PP methods that I don't agree with, or just cringe thinking, Jeez, I could really fix that up for the poor guy.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew76 View Post
    As for artistic licence, I know the 'Is photography art?' argument can be discussed until the end of time with no final outcome, but is there, or should there not be some sort of assumed realism in a photograph, given the media used to create it?
    Since I am in an anology-ical mood tonight
    (bet you can't say it)

    Think of writing;
    we have journalists who should write the truth for the masses to be informed of what goes on in the world.
    we also have "court reporters/stenographers, who (I believe) record verbatim what is said in court under oath.
    we have documentary authors who describe how things work, or otherwise document the real world.
    then we have fiction authors, who spin an entertaining yarn.

    Is fiction "writing gone mad"?

    I don't even need to list the photographic equivalents do I?
    Many here want to produce the best image possible and don't mind a bit of artistic licence to achieve that.
    It doesn't matter, as long as they are not passing off zoo animals as wild, etc.


    Here's a moral dilema; should a photographer ("leave only footsteps" and all that) take the shot and clone out that bit of rubbish that missed the waste bin, or pick it up and dispose of it in the bin before taking the photo? Thus depriving the next visitor of 'enjoying' the scene as it was found.

    OK, I think it is time for my meds

    Goodnight,

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew76 View Post
    Hahaha! No need to duck! Just a friendly conversation!!
    Absolutely, hope the post above gets a giggle too

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    Andrew76's Avatar
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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post

    Think of writing;
    we have journalists who should write the truth for the masses to be informed of what goes on in the world.
    we also have "court reporters/stenographers, who (I believe) record verbatim what is said in court under oath.
    we have documentary authors who describe how things work, or otherwise document the real world.
    then we have fiction authors, who spin an entertaining yarn.

    Is fiction "writing gone mad"?

    Goodnight,
    True enough, but when I go to the library and choose to pick up a copy of the Hobbit, or The Globe, and Mail (both may be equally fictional - just to clarify!!), I'm an informed consumer.

    I don't get upset or feel like I've been manipulated when I look at melting clocks dripping off table tops, or tree limbs in the likes of say Dali - whether I like it or not aside. On the other hand, there is a feeling of almost betrayal when I see images of Siberian white tigers that were superimposed into Swiss Alps, in the summer time.

    Which brings up another moral issue. Should then the photograph somehow be branded as a fake? I'm all for artistic expression, don't get me wrong, I just feel that given it's a photo, and not a drawing/painting, or other form of self made artistic medium, the viewer has some right to believe what they're viewing has some base in reality. Otherwise, I think we should be informed.

    Wow, this has really gone awry, huh??

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    Andrew: Now you are getting into philosophy, rather than photography. I've had people tell me that having a model wear makeup is okay, but retouching a photo to create the same effect is not. They couldn't tell me why they thought that this was so, but they just intuitively knew it was wrong. They seemed okay with lighting or posing someone to look more attractive or skinnier, but did have an issue with using Photoshop to do it. It does seem like a bit of a double standard to me. I know one of the photography instructors at the local community college reasonably well. He told me of one instance where he was teaching a class that had a philosphy professor from one of the local universities attending his course and while he was okay with Photoshop work for anything other than anything to do with the human body, even to the point of being against touching up a temporary blemish, like acne.

    Take a look at any image in a magazine ad, and I'm positive it has had a good dose of PP to make it look at good as possible; anything from beer to fashion models. Are we okay with it because we know know that advertisers are feeding us a line to make their product look as perfect as possible?

    Siberian tigers in the alps are taboo, because that could happen, but dinosaurs in the alps are okay, because we know it can't possibly be true?

    As I said at the beginning of this note, it's a question for the philosophers, not photographers, but even then, I'm not sure if I would trust what they might come up with...

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    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    Interesting discussion so far.

    Just for fun, have a look at this post at this site (I added my comments about four post down).

    http://www.naturescapes.net/phpBB3/v...?f=39&t=221420

    There are many other interesting and creative examples on this forum (Photo and Digital Art).

    Glenn

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    Interesting examples here, perhaps not quite my taste in art or photography.

    Where does this one fall; this is definitely a combination of makeup and photoshop.

    Just where will image processing end

    I thought the makeup artist didn't quite go far enough, so I did a fair bit of PP work. The lady in the image loved the final product (I gave her a print); her mother didn't recognize her. Image was side lit with an umbrella using an SB900 Speedlight and fill light from the opposite side with a silver reflector. Double catchlights were removed in PP.

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    Andrew76's Avatar
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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    Good points Manfred - touche. I will digress. Interesting conversation we going there....

    PS - I really like that shot. I haven't had a chance to really 'read' into it, but from a first quick glance, it really caught my eye - which usually means there's something there I like!

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    John Morton's Avatar
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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    Wow, I thought I really had something there!

    Seeing a news report on the Internet today about a 1943 American penny that sold for one million dollars, I remembered a Canadian penny I had from the same year that seemed to be of a different composition than most pennies.

    I had checked before, but found Canadian pennies from that year are worth, well, a penny. Today I checked again a little more closely, and found that all Canadian pennies from that year were made of copper. This one wasn't; but it did look like the nickels made in 1943, which were cast from a metal called "tombac."

    Maybe I had an incredibly rare coin that was struck using the wrong metal blank!

    Just where will image processing end

    Setting up my macro equipment, I soon established that:

    Someone, at some point in time, had plated a common penny, possibly with silver and then with gold.

    Perhaps they had it on a chain, or a charm bracelet, as a war related remembrance. Perhaps it fell off, broke free, or was otherwise lost only to find itself placed back into circulation as a common coin.

    It meant a lot to someone; a lot more than a penny, that is to be sure. And while I would very much have liked it to have been a million dollar rarity, it is an interesting item in the context of this discussion. Someone made that basest of coins into something it obviously wasn't; and I think it almost certain they did so for personal reasons. I will never know what those reasons were but they seem to have been important enough for that person to go to a fair bit of trouble and expense to create something very meaningful to themselves but at the same time almost absurd to everyone else.

    Perhaps we are on the wrong track when we insist that the most extreme examples of post processing should nonetheless hold some kind of significance for each of us, all. Perhaps we should consider that even the simplest of photographs, as a common penny, might warrant some special treatment in the hands of a committed photographer due to a personal interest that we may never know of or fully understand.

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    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    Really cool shot Manfred.

    When I browse the Naturescapes forum, there are some I really like, some I really don't.

    This is why the topic is interesting - but unsolvable.

    Case in Point: Why did the National Art Gallery of Canada spend $1,000,000 on a painting that was a big white square with a single vertical red stripe down the middle? Back when a million was a lot of money.

    Glenn

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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    The example presented in the original post is not my cup of tea but I certainly don't have a problem with it, whereas I think Manfred's image is superb and I honestly wouldn't mind one way or the other if it was all PP and no makeup, or vice versa.

    Ever since we started scratching visual representations of our world on cave walls we have manipulated images to represent the world as we choose. As such I've always held a degree of scepticism about the veracity of any published image. I'm not saying I don't believe the things I see represented in images but I always assume the possibility that any image is not completely representative.

    Apart from anything else I can't really complain about image manipulation when I do it so readily myself. For example I recently shot an event for a corporate client that took place in a private car park. After the event I spent some time in PP removing some signs/logos for a competing business who share the same car park, while pasting in their place alternatives that included the company logo of my client. Is this an acceptable and pragmatic response to the expectations of the client or is it an unacceptable misrepresentation of reality?

    The only absolute line I have been able to draw is that deliberate misrepresentation to cause harm or disadvantage to others is without doubt unacceptable.

    It is possible that my perspective is informed to some extent by the fact that I tend to think of myself a 'digital imager' rather than a photographer. I started working with digital images through the use of early desktop scanners and graphics/DTP software to produce halftoned separations for computer-to-film and computer-to-plate offset litho. As a result I'd been working with and manipulating images in a digital environment for some years before digital photography was a viable option. So it may be that I'm working to a self generated ethical framework that is somewhat different to that of a true photographer.

    I don't really know any photographers other than you guys so I tend to take my lead on 'how photographers think' from these forums

    Cheers,
    A

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    Quote Originally Posted by Ady View Post
    The only absolute line I have been able to draw is that deliberate misrepresentation to cause harm or disadvantage to others is without doubt unacceptable.
    Adrian

    I think you have struck at the very crux of the question for many people, including me. I find that this is much more important than the philosphical question dealing with the image being an accurate represention of the subject matter. Any photographer knows the limitations of that point of view; just try taking a full-size, closeup headshot of someone with an ultrawide angle lens. You'll have a lot of problems convincing me that the person really looks like the image...

    That being said, it then becomes difficult to define harm, or at least an acceptable level of harm that can be tolerated. Are the product embellishments that we see in advertising materials put out by marketing departments as just inside the line of being misleading? I think camera manufacturers are one of the biggest offenders here. They publish beautiful images in their product literature, taken by professional photographers and cleaned up my Photshop experts. No wonder beginners think that will wonderful images if they buy that top of the line camera gear.

    On the other hand there has been much criticism of how women's bodies are portrayed in fashion publications, with Photoshopped images being the target of scorn by both politicians and quasi-judicial bodies. This has done nothing to enhance what post-production can do for an image, and unfortunately, when these groups get involved the tend to botch things up. I remember discussing this with someone. I remember suggesting Barbie dolls being banned, because they habe the same body shapes that seem to outrage people, Sadly, this has not happened.

  19. #19
    ajohnw's Avatar
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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    There is one sad aspect to more moderate processing. It can lead relatively inexperienced people to believe that if they buy this camera, this lens and this software they too will be able to produce pictures like that when in real terms the main aspect is the software and the ability to use it.

    This causes all sorts of confusion including not realising that cameras can't capture what the eye can see and a failure to realise that often shots finish up being "better" than they were in reality. Often there is no point explaining that either.

    Then there is another type of person skilled at processing that produces results that look artificial and "wrong".

    My metric for a really good photo is would I hang it on the wall or could I imagine any one else doing that. The answer to that on the final result of the shots I started this thread with is not me but some one else might so it is art. Anything else is really just a record or a demonstration of some ones abilities. In this case the shot falls into that category as well, he's showing what his software can do as well. This is an excellent example of that

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/4043636...in/photostream

    The chances of catching lighting like that along with clouds like that is close to zero. Personally I would much prefer the lighting to suite the scene. Also reminded of entering a competition where the judge said we could all of taken that if we were there. These days though processed sympathetically a shot like that might win. I have no argument with that. Again it might be hung on some ones wall. Super clarified ducks etc that show nothing about the animal do absolutely nothing for me. Similarly other subjects treated in the same way. Technically they may be great but that's about it really.

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  20. #20

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    Re: Just where will image processing end

    I think it a mistake to consider processing as a distinct and separate procedure to image formation.

    The manipulation of light photons by means of lenses, and the conversion of those photons into electrical charges in the sensor are at one end of the process stream, and the finished image at the other.

    In the days of photochemical photography, the photographer's contribution to the production of the finished product usually ended with the formation of a latent image, which would then be subjected to further chemical processes, re-sizing and printing by others, except for the small minority who did darkroom work themselves. The great majority handed over their rolls of exposed film to others, and received back their finished prints or transparencies, without having to think of the number of distinct processes and procedures the film had undergone to produce the finished product, processes of which most people had little or no knowledge and no control.

    Today, we have a high degree of control over most of the procedures from the beginning of the processing stream when we take the picture, to the end where we view our finished work on screen, or print it out. This can only be to the good.

    Misguided beliefs in 'authenticity' often underpin discomfort over digital processing, and thereby diminish all the darkroom arts, the many manipulations, procedures, and processes through which a latent image evolved into a finished print in the photochemical age.
    Last edited by Brocken; 28th September 2012 at 11:21 AM. Reason: typo

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