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Thread: Digital Culture in Photography

  1. #1

    Default Digital Culture in Photography

    Hi all, got the above topic for discussion. I flipped through a couple of photography mags from the UK and US, and came across some articles featuring editted photos. "Editted" in the sense that there is some form of superimposing and erasure of the contents in the image, not about trivial processing like colours/saturation etc.

    There was an amazing photo focussed on one flower against an entire field of flowers, with very good DOF, and the special touch was a butterfly flying across the frame, motion froze with blurred wings. It was when I read the fine prints that I realised the butterfly was superimposed. The photographer did encounter such a scene but before he could snap the butterfly flew out of sight. So he superimposed the butterfly to re-enact the same scene.

    There was another one showing an almost totally graphical photo, showing some kind of space-age backdrop and a sphere. On the backdrop and sphere are montages of hundreds of photos, real ones, not graphics. And this piece of work won the Photo of the Month for that mag. Some readers wrote in and argued that it shouldn't even be considered a photo, but the editor's reply was that, digital or not, a photo is still a photo. It's up to the photographer to explore his creativity.

    What do you guys think about going "too" digital? What's your tolerance of digital manipulation? Does it tarnish the true spirit of photography, or does it re-define photography, or does it merely extend photography further?

    I'd like to hear your views. This is a discussion so there's no right or wrong. Thanks in advance for any response.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Digital Culture in Photography

    Originally posted by Tweek
    Hi all, got the above topic for discussion. I flipped through a couple of photography mags from the UK and US, and came across some articles featuring editted photos. "Editted" in the sense that there is some form of superimposing and erasure of the contents in the image, not about trivial processing like colours/saturation etc.

    There was an amazing photo focussed on one flower against an entire field of flowers, with very good DOF, and the special touch was a butterfly flying across the frame, motion froze with blurred wings. It was when I read the fine prints that I realised the butterfly was superimposed. The photographer did encounter such a scene but before he could snap the butterfly flew out of sight. So he superimposed the butterfly to re-enact the same scene.

    There was another one showing an almost totally graphical photo, showing some kind of space-age backdrop and a sphere. On the backdrop and sphere are montages of hundreds of photos, real ones, not graphics. And this piece of work won the Photo of the Month for that mag. Some readers wrote in and argued that it shouldn't even be considered a photo, but the editor's reply was that, digital or not, a photo is still a photo. It's up to the photographer to explore his creativity.

    What do you guys think about going "too" digital? What's your tolerance of digital manipulation? Does it tarnish the true spirit of photography, or does it re-define photography, or does it merely extend photography further?

    I'd like to hear your views. This is a discussion so there's no right or wrong. Thanks in advance for any response.
    It's not wrong, it's ART. Digital ART.

    I am no fan of such digital manipulated images though. For me, a photo should be a capture of a slice of time. Unless you have very, very good reasons to, elements should not be added/removed from the image. For me, I can only accept adjustments like contrast, levels, curves, saturation, etc, to a certain extent, removal of certain distracting elements (with discretion).

    This digital manipulation thing is what made me post that poll on how much digital manipulation you can accept.

    Regards
    CK

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    I've got no problem with it as long as it's clear it's not a photograph. The time has come I think to use picture, photograph and image more carefully. A photograph should be a photograph... as in a recording of light on some material. That definition clearly precludes the kind of images you are talking about... which would legally probably fall under a "collage".

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    Originally posted by Jed
    I've got no problem with it as long as it's clear it's not a photograph. The time has come I think to use picture, photograph and image more carefully. A photograph should be a photograph... as in a recording of light on some material. That definition clearly precludes the kind of images you are talking about... which would legally probably fall under a "collage".
    For me, a photo has to be on paper. Afterall, photograph is derived from "painting with light" or something.

    Before it made it to the paper, I call them "images". Whether it's a latent image on film or digital image in your CF card, still an image.

    Of coz, if you use "picture", then it's a lot broader.

    Hey, what's your take on digitally adding a ball onto your football shots, for example? Or adding fake moons, that kinda thing.

    Regards
    CK

  5. #5

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    This is an old bugbear.

    I remember reading that there was a big hooha way back in the sixties, when Time magazine ran a picture of a scene during the UCLA shootings (some students were rioting, the National Guard was called in, and some students were shot). There was this picture where a woman had a pole just behind her, and it looked like it was sticking out of her head. This was removed by touching up the picture manually (this was in the sixties, remember - no Photoshop then). Even though it had nothing to do with conveying the "truth", many purists cried bloody murder, where's your editorial integrity, etc.

    And nowadays we have the tourist guy appearing almost everywhere.

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    Originally posted by ckiang
    For me, a photo has to be on paper. Afterall, photograph is derived from "painting with light" or something.
    Actually, legally a photograph is formed when it's recorded, or in other words fixed on any medium. This includes silver halide (debatable whether unprocessed film is considered as recorded) and CCD.

    For me, that's a photograph, along with changes that are not content changing. Localised dodging and burning, brightness, etc. Although it's a bit debatable as well because if you think about it, colour filters and even simple over-exposure can be used to alter "reality" in the sense of completely changing a mood.

    Images and pictures are anything really. Including photographs.

    Personally I don't add balls to pics, although the FA Prem license does allow (I think) ball placing if for editorial reasons. Not 100% sure. I do know a newspaper has moved a ball on one of my shots.

  7. #7

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    I think when a photo appears for editorial work, it should be a "true"photos, for almost everyother purpose, the rule is much much lax.

    anyone every flipped through a female magazine ? Every noticed that the models (especially the cover model) skin is porcelain like ?
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    To my mind adding a butterfly digitally takes the work from being a photograph to a 'graphic art' level. Collage is a term that would also apply.

    There's nothing new to manipulation of images by one way or another, as most digital techniques such as USM, contrast/colour adjustment, adding/removing objects and so on merely relfect traditional darkroom methods that have been used for many years.

    As for press manipulation, that's been doing the rounds for decades. It's reached endemic proportions over the past 15 years though and it's common to see print images with people removed, added etc.

    As for magazinesa and advertising, the less said about what goes on in fashion mags and teen mags the better as there's more image manipulation there per page than most people could imagine.
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