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Thread: "Amputating" Limbs

  1. #1

    Default "Amputating" Limbs

    I've noticed that in the portraits section many people comment on how one shouldn't "amputate" an arm/leg/fingers etc... from the model. Is this a very major flaw one should take note of in portrait photography? Anyone have any general guidelines to follow regarding this?

    For example, would this be considered a bad shot because it looks like she's missing her right arm? (Pic taken off google)

    http://i16.tinypic.com/6ujarfa.jpg
    Last edited by p7m13; 20th January 2008 at 12:51 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    take a look at these pictures from one of my favourite model shots gallery, and tell me:

    do you really care?

    one
    two
    three
    four
    five
    six
    seven
    eight

    another good example is zemotion's latest post here. you got see people picking on amputation of limbs or not?

    if you can do it tastefully, and there is a purpose in doing so, why not?

    the shot above is not a good shot because of many other reasons. since it is not your work, and the person who has shot it has not really asked for comments, i will not elaborate.
    Last edited by night86mare; 20th January 2008 at 01:04 AM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    Quote Originally Posted by p7m13 View Post
    I've noticed that in the portraits section many people comment on how one shouldn't "amputate" an arm/leg/fingers etc... from the model. Is this a very major flaw one should take note of in portrait photography? Anyone have any general guidelines to follow regarding this?

    For example, would this be considered a bad shot because it looks like she's missing her right arm? (Pic taken off google)
    When you are starting out, guidelines such as rule of thirds, 1/focal length min shutter speed, use of short tele for portraits, don't cut off people's arms/legs, etc. are very useful.

    When you understand photography well enough, you'll understand when to break the rules.

  4. #4

    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    Quote Originally Posted by waileong View Post
    When you are starting out, guidelines such as rule of thirds, 1/focal length min shutter speed, use of short tele for portraits, don't cut off people's arms/legs, etc. are very useful.

    When you understand photography well enough, you'll understand when to break the rules.
    Yea.. Because when you break the rules well, it makes a good photo
    When you break the rules anyohow, it's breaking the rules!
    Meow!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    Don't get confused between compositional cropping, and accidental amputation. And I don't like that word in this context but I'm going to use it for want of a better one.

    For example, none of the pics night86mare listed as examples, are actually examples of amputation, except maybe five and seven. The rest are just examples of non-full-length shots, like head and shoulder shots, that by their very nature involve missing arms and legs. I know some of them have one arm concealed by the body but I really don't think amputation refers to that; the whole problem with chopped off limbs is that it looks unnatural, whereas when an arm for example is hidden by the body, this is perfectly natural because it happens all the time when we look at people in the world around us.

    Using the specific examples, I think five is an example of an amputation (fingers and forearm trimming) that works, primarily because the composition suggests the leaning against and supporting a frame. Particular with the added black and white border around the image, it complements the shot very well, and even suggests added depth to the image.

    Seven on the other hand, actually I find two examples of amputation that to me, are very worrying. Night86mare asks if we care; personally in this shot I do very much! First the missing right hand to me just looks slightly weird; I'd much have preferred to have seen a little bit of the hand (doesn't need to be the whole hand). Don't know, I'm looking at it again trying to figure out why I feel uncomfortable about it, but I just do. The other amputation concerns the model's left arm which disappears off the right edge of the frame. Now, I don't normally find this objectionable (like in one of the other examples), but in this case I do because of the whole issue of balance - the model is touching the wall (at least this is implied) and the tilt of the camera suggests the whole set is tipping off to the right as we look at it. Because I don't see her arm supporting herself (as is also implied), I just mentally keep expecting her to fall over.

    Ultimately it comes down to specific images, and even after that to specific interpretation. But I think the above two examples are a good illustration of how it can complement the image, as well as (imo anyway) detract from it.

    Chances are if you intended the composition with the chopped limb, then it will work; but if it wasn't intended that it might well end up looking... unintended.

  6. #6

    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    you mean, #4 and #6 are not amputations? or if you take out the entire limb together it doesn't count?

    i won't know, not a portrait shooter.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    Some people advocate that you do not chop it off at the joints...

  8. #8
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    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    you mean, #4 and #6 are not amputations? or if you take out the entire limb together it doesn't count?
    No, I wouldn't consider 4 and 6 amputations. Well you could argue 4 is, it is the example that I referred to that I didn't mind, because there isn't a sense that she's going to fall over like there is in seven. Certainly I don't see anything in 6 that's a problem whatsoever.

  9. #9

    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    you mean, #4 and #6 are not amputations? or if you take out the entire limb together it doesn't count?

    i won't know, not a portrait shooter.
    I have been looking at yr gallery for quite some time now and I have to confess that I'm yr secret admirer . Where on earth did u draw yr inspirations from???
    "ashes to ashes; funk to funky..we know major_tom's a junkie
    strung out on heaven's high....."

  10. #10

    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    Quote Originally Posted by Jed View Post
    No, I wouldn't consider 4 and 6 amputations. Well you could argue 4 is, it is the example that I referred to that I didn't mind, because there isn't a sense that she's going to fall over like there is in seven. Certainly I don't see anything in 6 that's a problem whatsoever.
    i hope you do not think i am being difficult because a different viewpoint was expressed, but i'm really puzzled by the definition of amputation, etc.. so please bear with me.

    granted that some of the photos quoted were indeed - side views, understandable why they are not considered amputations.

    but for four i think everything is just in some sense, abruptly chopped off. as for six it is not really a side view, but rather head-on. definitely placing the subject at the position might add to interest and also add a touch of something different (the signage) in the bg. but you would not call it amputation?

    or simply put, is it because it works, then it is not amputation. if it doesn't then it is amputation? then what is the definition of amputation? something that doesn't work and leaves the limbs out of the picture? i thought it should be amputation that works, and amputation that doesn't work.
    Quote Originally Posted by major_tom View Post
    I have been looking at yr gallery for quite some time now and I have to confess that I'm yr secret admirer . Where on earth did u draw yr inspirations from???
    thanks major_tom.. like i always say, i shoot a lot, so probably just have to select the better of all of them and something will be relatively ok. but to be fair, this is not really the place to talk about it, hope you understand.

  11. #11

    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    Quote Originally Posted by p7m13 View Post
    For example, would this be considered a bad shot because it looks like she's missing her right arm? (Pic taken off google)
    I would more like to know why not using your own images as samples? Because if it is not your own image, than you need permission from the photographer to pinch his/her image, regardless how good or bad the image is, or for which purpose it is used for. Of course, if he/she stated the image is public property it is a different thing, but unless it is stated otherwise, it is coyrighted. It does not have to say Copyright xxxxxxx, the Berne Convention is still valid and the owner is the photographer.

    So, rule number one to learn, before amputating limbs is: never use other peoples images unless you are permitted to do so. I just assume you asked, or...?

  12. #12
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    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    night86mare,

    No, I quite see where you're coming from it's no problem. As mentioned before I don't particularly like the word amputation, I'm really using the term to refer to the unwanted cropping of items from a photograph, in particular limbs.

    Looking at the specific photographs, let's consider 4. On the one hand there is clear chopping involved, but I don't find it objectionable so in that sense I didn't flag it. Now, let's imagine a conventional head and shoulders shot, slightly wide to include the full extent of the shoulders, and maybe even a bit of the chest. If the subject had both arms down by his or her side, then they would get chopped at approximately the same place as the subject's right arm was chopped in shot 4. Yet, I'm not sure many people would consider a conventional head and shoulders shot to be a bad case of composition. As I think I said in the first post without specifying that it was shot 4, I find it to be a case of non-objectionable cropping.

    No, I wouldn't call 6 amputation at all... I think for me the problem with amputation is the suggestion of something beginning, but then not being taken to its logical conclusion. In this photograph there is not beginning to the missing arm at all because it is clearly and completely off the frame.

    I think it's hard to quantify exactly, at the end of the day. But I feel that if you stick to the intent behind it then it shouldn't be too far wrong, although again each individual viewer will read different intent behind different shots. What I mean is, avoid accidental cropping, but feel free to crop when you intentionally want to crop it there. Accidental cropping just looks exactly like that - accidental, and therefore sloppy. On the other hand if the crop is intentional, and it helps to contribute to the composition, then by all means go ahead and do it.

    That's maybe where I got in a bit of a muddle. For me amputation has negative connotations, so while I would identify both intentional and unintentional cropping where they were present, I would only call the objectionable ones amputations. And even then, only with great reservation!

  13. #13
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    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    Quote Originally Posted by OlyFlyer View Post
    Because if it is not your own image, than you need permission from the photographer to pinch his/her image, regardless... which purpose it is used for.
    My opinion is that the only thing the OP has done wrong in this case is not acknowledging the original photographer (went halfway by saying it wasn't his and that he had taken it off google, but not the whole way and preserving the moral rights of the original author).

    That doesn't constitute legal advice, and it doesn't take into account the specific jurisdiction that you fall under.

  14. #14

    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    thanks jed for the bothering to explain

    much appreciated

  15. #15

    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    Quote Originally Posted by Jed View Post
    My opinion is that the only thing the OP has done wrong in this case is not acknowledging the original photographer (went halfway by saying it wasn't his and that he had taken it off google, but not the whole way and preserving the moral rights of the original author).

    That doesn't constitute legal advice, and it doesn't take into account the specific jurisdiction that you fall under.
    What he did was undoubtedly wrong. If you think it is OK to pinch your images to use for whatever reason it may be is your own opinion. You can not speak for the photographer, only for yourself. Not asking for permission is wrong. Period. The level of severity can not be decided by you, unless you are representing the photographer and you are a layer AND your 'client' has accepted your interpretation.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    Quote Originally Posted by OlyFlyer View Post
    What he did was undoubtedly wrong.
    No, it is not "undoubtedly" wrong. There is quite a lot of doubt about it, because over here the law permits the copying of an image for fair use purposes, including such use as reasonable use for the purposes of research, or for review or comment. This use certainly falls somewhere within those areas. The OP should still have respected the author's right to acknowledgement, as I pointed out, but aside from that, I would call the use fair.

    Quote Originally Posted by OlyFlyer View Post
    If you think it is OK to pinch your images to use for whatever reason it may be is your own opinion.
    I am not in any way saying that it is ok to copy or claim someone else's intellectual property as your own. My only statement was that there had been no violation of the author's rights beyond acknowledgement, in this specific given instance.

    Quote Originally Posted by OlyFlyer View Post
    Not asking for permission is wrong. Period.
    No, it's not. See above.

    Quote Originally Posted by OlyFlyer View Post
    The level of severity can not be decided by you, unless you are representing the photographer and you are a layer AND your 'client' has accepted your interpretation.
    Actually, the level of severity can never be decided by anyone other than a court of law, really. Doesn't matter if I'm representing the photographer, the person who allegedly infringed, or if I'm actually the infringer or the infringed against.

    As I stated, there might be individual differences depending on the juridiction that you are under; I speak with reference to the UK system which I believe from various past encounters with Vince, has large influences on the Singapore system. The American system similarly acknowledges the right to reproduce a work for purposes such as "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research".

    Now, if you suggest that the usage here is not fair use, then yes there has been an infringement. But the usage here could quite comfortably fall under fair usage.

  17. #17

    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    but to be fair, this is not really the place to talk about it, hope you understand.
    understand. It was a rhetorical question and wasnt expecting a direct response to it. Apologies for the OT
    "ashes to ashes; funk to funky..we know major_tom's a junkie
    strung out on heaven's high....."

  18. #18

    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    Quote Originally Posted by Jed View Post
    No, it is not "undoubtedly" wrong.
    Yes, it is. Just have a look on this map.



    You will find Singapore, UK and most other countries in blue, indicating they have signed the agreement. Since CS is Singapore based it MUST follow the same law, regardless what you personally think or where I live.

    The Berne Convention is valid whatever you say, but of course, you are right, only a court of law can pass the final judgement.

  19. #19

    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    OlyFlyer: Maybe you got off the wrong side of the bed this morning. I'm merely a humble newbie asking for advice on improving my phototaking skills. In theory, I'm not denying that what I did was wrong. I should've asked the original photographer for permission etc... but what I think you need to do is chill a bit.

    There are thousands of other fourm users in the world out there which grab images off the net to illustrate/beautify their posts and I doubt many of them ask for permission before posting the images. I did not say that the above image was mine, nor try to sell the image for monetary gain, nor use it in a commercial publication, I was just using it to illustrate my post, that's all.

    I'm really enjoying my time at clubsnap. Really. *Rolls eyes*
    Last edited by p7m13; 23rd January 2008 at 09:51 PM.

  20. #20

    Default Re: "Amputating" Limbs

    Quote Originally Posted by p7m13 View Post
    OlyFlyer: Maybe you got off the wrong side of the bed this morning.
    No, I didn't. I just know what's wrong and what's right in this question, and since you are a newbie, and post in the newbie part, I think it is important that newbies learn even some very basic rules, not really related to photography techniques. Especially considering some may have a career ambition, and hopefully one day will make money on photography.

    Quote Originally Posted by p7m13 View Post
    I'm merely a humble newbie asking for advice on improving my phototaking skills. In theory, I'm not denying that what I did was wrong. I should've asked the original photographer for permission etc... but what I think you need to do is chill a bit.
    Hey, I am not the one in flames, I don't feel I am burning, nor am I in rage, I just made my point clear, that's it. It is good that you admit you did wrong anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by p7m13 View Post
    There are thousands of other fourm users in the world out there which grab images off the net to illustrate/beautify their posts and I doubt many of them ask for permission before posting the images. I did not say that the above image was mine, nor try to sell the image for monetary gain, nor use it in a commercial publication, I was just using it to illustrate my post, that's all.
    Just because thousands do the wrong thing it does not make it into right. As for not making money on it, well, that has nothing to do with it at all actually. If you have a camera, take an image and use that. Surely it can not be that difficult to illustrate what you are asking? The fact is, your question is so general, and unanswerable it does not need any illustration at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by p7m13 View Post
    I'm really enjoying my time at clubsnap. Really.
    I really hope so. There are many people who are helpful here, including myself. Even if you not always like my answers.

    Quote Originally Posted by p7m13 View Post
    *Rolls eyes*
    Roll eyes = , click on 'more' and you will see more smilies to use.

    BTW, since you finally came back and replied, the case is closed for my part. I don't think there is much more to be said since you are a reasonable guy and understood my points. Let's go and take some pictures. Here is one of mine with amputated limbs. I like it anyway, since I wanted to catch the face expressions on the two young women. Taken i a large crowd in London last summer.



    It is part of a dpreview series, "Shoot the shooter".
    Last edited by OlyFlyer; 23rd January 2008 at 11:05 PM.

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