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Thread: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

  1. #1
    RonH's Avatar
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    Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    (Early morning ‘thoughts’ over the first coffee )

    I find the whole subject of digital photography fascinating … but what do our professional photographers think of it now that they are meeting stiff competition from computer experts?

    Having personally now spent a few enjoyable months learning and participating in CinC, it seems that substantial time is spent ‘modifying’ pictures distinct actually being photographers.

    • So is digital photography more of a computer skill rather than a photo art?
    • Is it more like Gaming on a computer where you start with set parameters and then go about ’modifying’ them?
    • Is it more important to hone skills to manipulate pictures than to hone skills in composure, exposure and the myriad of other camera skills that one enjoyed when the actual taking of the film or slide shot was ‘all important’?


    We take the ‘shot’ then can adjust the exposure and colour (or change to B/W), crop, change the sky, combine more than one shot to get the best result, place a rock in the foreground, remove items we do not want included in the shot, enhance sharpness … and … the list goes on. Camera mags are much more akin to computer mags it would seem.

    The argument that you must have the shot to start with is of course true … but to a much lesser extent than in the days of non-digital. The ability to rapid RAW shoot e.g. moving subjects, almost can guarantee a ‘good one’ for subsequent processing and this has opened up the market for novices to become ‘instant experts’. Even for portraitures where lighting skills play a big part in the final result, we have so many variables we can ‘tamper with’ to get the result we are looking for.

    What do our expert panel think of these modern times? Has it significantly changed the way in which professional photographers go 'about their business'.

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    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    Hi Ron,

    Personnally I'd much rather spend time out shooting (photographically that is) than sitting in front of my PC, which I do for a living anyway. I try to get as much right in-camera as I can and only PP when I have to. I've also started using film much more recently, although I have to admit that this is a bit trial and error as I wasn't into photography before the advent of digital so a steep learning curve but I'm really enjoying the journey.

    Peter

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    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    Quote Originally Posted by peterb533 View Post
    Hi Ron,

    Personnally I'd much rather spend time out shooting (photographically that is) than sitting in front of my PC ...
    Peter
    Hei Peter,
    Must agree its a lot better than getting square eyes!
    I wonder ... should we run the occasional comp 'No post production other than crop'

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    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    Hei Peter,
    Must agree its a lot better than getting square eyes!
    I wonder ... should we run the occasional comp 'No post production other than crop'
    I'd be up for that. If its a digital capture we should allow capture sharpening for RAW files I guess.

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    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    Well that leaves Panorama and HDR out then, but if you have a good set of filters and great light or lots of remote controlled flashes you will have an advantage. No PP appeals to me though; even though it was a hundred years ago I can remember the dark room where being creative was using a weak solution of something I can't remember the name of and bits of masking paper. Now it takes hours to do a pic using complicated stuff.

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    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    should we run the occasional comp 'No post production other than crop'
    So, Ron. Are you suggesting we just post up RAW files, with no sharpening etc?

    I have stayed out of these discussions in the past. But your post does pose fundamental and important questions

    What we do with the thing on top of the tripod and then the data that we load into the computer are two parts of a continuous process that results in image that reflects our vision of what we wanted to produce.

    I cannot understand how we get to the view that somehow digital is a corruption of the 'purity' of photography. If it is, then the hours that Adams and his like put in in the darkroom are a similar corruption. We are using a technology that was not available to them. They, in turn, used a technology that was not available to their forebears. We seem to, conveniently, forget that these past-masters spent more time post-processing that many of us to with our computers.

    The technology that we use is not, in my view, going turn anyone into an 'instant expert'. If someone hasn't got the vision, knowledge and skill to get the right thing in the viewfinder in the first place, then no amount of knowledge and skill in relation to the second part of the process (PP) is going to turn him/her into an artist.

    The logical conclusion to the argument that we don't engage in PP is that we all shoot JPEGs and that's an end to it. Is that what people are really advocating?

    I notice Peter saying:
    If its a digital capture we should allow capture sharpening for RAW files I guess
    So, we're now into 'No post-processing ...except...' Which means we do some post processing!

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    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    I have stayed out of these discussions in the past. But your post does pose fundamental and important questions
    Oh yes ... I thought tongue in cheek over this morning's coffee that my thread would stir up a bit of reaction on this subject
    Must have more of the early morning coffee

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    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    Must have more of the early morning coffee
    Yeah, but do us all a favour and don't type at the same time
    Just look what comes out

    Now, more seriously....
    You are welcome to copy and modify the mini-competiton header and start a thread called No PP Mini-Competition, but do add that capture sharpening is allowed as that's a technical thing. Oh, and please stick with '10 max. and start over' to reduce admin.

    I'm not sure cropping is valid, can't people get the composition right and shot level in-camera these days? but I'll leave that decision to whoever sets it up!

    Cheers,

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    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Yeah, but do us all a favour and don't type at the same time
    Just look what comes out
    Cheers,
    Look who got out of bed the wrong side this morning ... have a coffee

    Thanks Dave for offering a possible mini-comp opportunity. Lets wait to see if there is any interest among members and yes, cropping maybe should not be 'in' but sharpening should be allowed.

    Hey guys ... I was only trying to be a bit controversial ... now I am a bit upset Better go and consume my Guinness ... hohum, on your bike Ron

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    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    Better go and consume my Guinness
    We would just like your better half to know that we can in no way be held responsible or accountable for your levels of Guinness consumption. You and your fondness for Guinness (by the way, like the photo of the can) must remain a matter for you and your conscience. And, anyway, a good argument is good for the soul!! Now, where's my wine?

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    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    Hey guys ... I was only trying to be a bit controversial ... now I am a bit upset Better go and consume my Guinness ... hohum, on your bike Ron
    Mean't to add that I have my 'protector' at the ready should any of you obtain my home address
    Heavily cropped ... who would want to get that close!

    Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

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    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    Ron, a poor photo is a poor photo. It may be perfectly exposed or perfectly PP'ed but it is still only a perfectly poor photo.

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    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    Quote Originally Posted by benm View Post
    Ron, a poor photo is a poor photo. It may be perfectly exposed or perfectly PP'ed but it is still only a perfectly poor photo.
    So true Ben ... but the interesting thing is that we see so many 'poorish' photo's reworked in the photo mags which become OK photo's according to the mag experts!

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    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    For me, the computer side of things is just part of the process - keeping in mind that photo manipulation was around long before the computer was invented. Also, it's a fact of life that cameras don't work the same way our eyes do ... and one can use digital tools to make a scene more like the one you saw (or more like the one you remember, which is different again), or one can make it into something else altogether ... totally up to the artist.

    Should digital photography still be classed as art? Absolutely.

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    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Should digital photography still be classed as art? Absolutely.
    Nicely put Colin. At the bottom of my initial post I added ... Has it significantly changed the way in which professional photographers go 'about their business'. You are in the business; have you found it a much more competitive industry due to a an influx of new instant expert arrivals around the photo scene ... Certainly in the news industry, times seem to be tougher with all the 'send us your pics' links to 'fame'.
    Hey ... I've just realised, we are now in the 'Arts' in both photography and computing

  16. #16

    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    Who cares?...but I will explain my thoughts anyway I think we need to consider a few things...

    Art in Britain is a middle class pigeon holed ethos. The control exercised by the art critics is an order that the middle classes MUST have in their existence. Politics, food, health...everything. We are told what 'art' must be in no uncertain terms. Art in Britain is a superfluous discussion over wine and fondou sets. So digital photography cannot be art unless our puritanical middle classes say it is so. Free minded artists (practicing or otherwise) find 'art' in all media, styles and in anything that provokes emotion. They do not need to be told it is art by a man called Satchi and a bewigged columnist in a self appointed high court of a newspaper column . A camera is a tool that can be used in expression of thought and vision. I can also be used for many other things and not least of all it's technical nature attracts technicians. The technicians need to measure and evaluate against known standards (or their heads explode) so free expression is derided as inept use of a complex tool. That is why much credited 'Art' photography is too perfect, too ordered, and often limp. So digital photography is 'Art' if we want it to be. Trying to get it accepted by men with clip boards in tweed jackets immediately kills the art we create.

    Am I ranting?

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    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    have you found it a much more competitive industry due to a an influx of new instant expert arrivals around the photo scene ...
    Not really

    It's one thing to own a digital camera ... knowing about lighting, dynamic range, workflows etc is a different kettle of fish though.

    I'm reminded of the time I had a mole cut out, and ended up with 4 stitches ... after about 8 days it was time for the nurse to take out a couple of the stitches, but she had to "dig" with the sizzors to get under the stitch, which was "not altogether painless". A couple of days later it was time for the other two to come out and (given that they were pulling even more) I wasn't looking forward to the pain associated with even deeper "digging" with the sizzors (I'm a wimp!). On this occasion the Doctor did the removing - he simply lifted the stitch with tweezers - touched it with a scalpel blade - and it popped out with no pain at all! When I related my experience a couple of days earlier with the nurse he just smiled and said "there's still a few things that us doctors know that the nurses don't".

    Same for pro photographers in relation to "instant experts" I imagine

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    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    There are places for both altered photographs and "straight out of the box" photographs. With some venues, photography contests and some travel or lifestlyle magazines, altered photos are not accepted. There is a great artlcle that addresses this subject, it was published in Outside magazine titled "the big idea This Photograph is Lying to You" written by Rob Haggart in the September 2009 issue. Part of the story included examples of a sports photographer photoshopping a surfer against a back drop of twenty feet waves, and the Time Magazine photo darkening of OJ Simpson to supposedly make him look more menacing. There was also a recent online debate regarding photoshopping models and actresses to make them look thinner. Part of the defence of some photographers who use photoshop is that as long as they disclose their editing method, their works should be viewed on the same level as an unaltered photograph.
    outsideonline.com

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    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    From my point of view, if it earns me money you can call it whatever you like.

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    Re: Should Digital Photography still be classified in the ‘Arts’

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    There are places for both altered photographs and "straight out of the box" photographs. With some venues, photography contests and some travel or lifestlyle magazines, altered photos are not accepted. There is a great artlcle that addresses this subject, it was published in Outside magazine titled "the big idea This Photograph is Lying to You" written by Rob Haggart in the September 2009 issue. Part of the story included examples of a sports photographer photoshopping a surfer against a back drop of twenty feet waves, and the Time Magazine photo darkening of OJ Simpson to supposedly make him look more menacing. There was also a recent online debate regarding photoshopping models and actresses to make them look thinner. Part of the defence of some photographers who use photoshop is that as long as they disclose their editing method, their works should be viewed on the same level as an unaltered photograph.
    outsideonline.com
    This raises a great point. It seems there's a series of levels in the processing:
    1. Making the image faithful to reality: capture sharpening, getting the curves right, removing color cast, fixing lens distortion.
    2. Improving the visual appearance: increasing contrast, cropping, cloning out something that's in the way of the image, or touching up a blemish on a face.
    3. Creating something that doesn't exist in reality: thinning out a model, putting a subject against a different background.


    I don't think anyone would argue against doing number 1. It isn't making the photograph lie, it's making it tell the truth.

    I think number 3 will be okay, unacceptable, or "if necessary," based on what the intent of the photograph is: there are obvious differences between what's allowed for photojournalism, and what's allowed/expected for various kinds commercial photographers.

    Number 2 seems the most fuzzy, but I'm sure it's driven by the field, as well. Does a photojournalist touch up a pimple on a foreign minister's face? Is that reality? The foreign minister has the blemish now, but it isn't something fundamental about his/her face.

    This may be an entirely separate discussion from Ron's original point, but it seems closely related.

    Cheers,
    Rick

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