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Thread: Art of Photography

  1. #1

    Default Art of Photography

    I do feel many who venture into Photography has lose the old art of teaching.

    For example, the relationship between shutter/exposure, DOF, composition etc. With technology today and image editing, many of the great looking picture we see today are not created by nature but edited.

    Many dull looking or even uninteresting pictures can be enhanced and edited to look like PRO. To me, these are not the art of photography but art of image editing. Sad for people what wanted to learn Photography.

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    Touchy eh??haha, I'm a film user too. but then, art is so subjective. how do we define art?can we say that it's the art of manipulation?when i print B/W pics in the darkroom, i do dodge and burn to make my pics nice. when people shoot in digital and touch up it's not art? I feel that it's the same thing, just difference ways of doing things. when i metered wrongly and get some parts of my B/W pics over expose, i will burn in(touch up) the part which needs attention.Manipulation?? edited??

    I feel that what we need to do is not to change camera now and then but to spend more time on our composition instead...

    follow your heart.
    Last edited by vader; 29th October 2003 at 12:59 AM.

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    Vader's right... Lets say, for some people want to learn composition & so on...& avoid to spend too much money on film can start with digital first. As you progress further & know what you want to capture in that moment, that's where films comes in. Or am I talking rubbish? Anyway, this is just what I have to say in mind.

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    A picture with "Calibre" will stand out among the crowd, be it film or digital.

    I can understand why whoelse's feeling that way. I too started photography with film.Imaging going to locations shooting and not getting it right. then going again and the lighting not good, subjects not there, not nice etc. It's the will to excel and the will to get it right which gets me going.

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    That's why I'm still shooting film....

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by whoelse
    For example, the relationship between shutter/exposure, DOF, composition etc. With technology today and image editing, many of the great looking picture we see today are not created by nature but edited.

    Many dull looking or even uninteresting pictures can be enhanced and edited to look like PRO. To me, these are not the art of photography but art of image editing. Sad for people what wanted to learn Photography.
    Not necessarily true. There is only so much that you can edit and enhance. You original still needs to be good enough to be enhanced, and despite all the technology (be it your 50,000 point AF, 100,000 point metering, or suprasonic fast focusing, *name your own thingama*), I don't think we have yet reached the day when the camera is smart enough to auto-compose.

    For me, the real art of photography not only lies in the technicality of it (the shutter setting/exposure, DOF), but also how you compose a shot, how to make something that is seemingly mundane become interesting through your eyes. It is about capturing decisive moments, of being there at the right place and the right time, and clicking the shutter at the precise moment in time. Image manipulation has existed long before (dodging, burning, montage) and will continue to exist, although of course, technology has made it more readily accessible to most people.

    However, what ultimately matters most is conveying the mood and feeling that you intended to, to the viewers of your picture. And that may not be the easiest of things to achieve: manipulation or not, technology and all.

    My 2 cents worth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by teL
    Not necessarily true. There is only so much that you can edit and enhance. You original still needs to be good enough to be enhanced, and despite all the technology (be it your 50,000 point AF, 100,000 point metering, or suprasonic fast focusing, *name your own thingama*), I don't think we have yet reached the day when the camera is smart enough to auto-compose.

    For me, the real art of photography not only lies in the technicality of it (the shutter setting/exposure, DOF), but also how you compose a shot, how to make something that is seemingly mundane become interesting through your eyes. It is about capturing decisive moments, of being there at the right place and the right time, and clicking the shutter at the precise moment in time. Image manipulation has existed long before (dodging, burning, montage) and will continue to exist, although of course, technology has made it more readily accessible to most people.

    However, what ultimately matters most is conveying the mood and feeling that you intended to, to the viewers of your picture. And that may not be the easiest of things to achieve: manipulation or not, technology and all.

    My 2 cents worth.
    Well said.

    So don't get distracted by all that talk about the equipment and go shoot shoot shoot!

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by whoelse
    I do feel many who venture into Photography has lose the old art of teaching.

    For example, the relationship between shutter/exposure, DOF, composition etc. With technology today and image editing, many of the great looking picture we see today are not created by nature but edited.

    Many dull looking or even uninteresting pictures can be enhanced and edited to look like PRO. To me, these are not the art of photography but art of image editing. Sad for people what wanted to learn Photography.
    I beg to differ somewhat in the point of view. This has been debated hotly for some time with the advent of digital cameras becoming affordable and its technology advancing ever so quickly. I would say your views expresed above are mainly that from a purist's perspective.

    As we move into the 21st century, I believe technology should make life easier and what was once an "expertise" in the past only experienced by the so-called pros and techie-savvy should be enjoyed by the masses but with less difficulty. The use of film/digital cameras which calculate for you all the exposures, utilizing split-second AF and other nitti-gritties is one such good example.

    Even among the present day pros and many amateurs using high end cameras, how many actually bother or know how to use a manual flash? I don't think I want to go back into that era where I constantly need to know the film subject distance, be wary of the film speed I'm using and the guide number of the flash and then fiddle with the aperture. Just as how many of us actually know MS-DOS commands when the use of Windows icons "click and drag" technique is so much more convenient and faster?

    But of course, at the end of the day, no one is stopping anyone from going back to the 1+1 basics. There are still such people around. But by and large, I think we should be happy instead of feeling sad that technology can bring us such convenience in digital cameras and what nots. Look at the kids nowadays using sophisticated computer softwares to create marvelous professional-looking webpages and a hosts of other end products. I certainly don't want to be stuck in an old technology and yet be proud for being a purist for the sake of it. If there is a much faster to do something which took longer in the past, let's use and enjoy it!

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by whoelse
    I do feel many who venture into Photography has lose the old art of teaching.

    For example, the relationship between shutter/exposure, DOF, composition etc. With technology today and image editing, many of the great looking picture we see today are not created by nature but edited.

    Many dull looking or even uninteresting pictures can be enhanced and edited to look like PRO. To me, these are not the art of photography but art of image editing. Sad for people what wanted to learn Photography.
    I dont feel there's anything wrong with digital editing as post processing, you manipulate image to convey the picture just the way you want it to. I see it as Digital Imaging on the whole. Levelling, color balance, etc.. In the end, it's your output, your art, your very own masterpiece.. It's just a new generation of photography know how, to go beyond your equipment's limit.

    It is understandable that many film user despise digitals, photography moved on with technology, and technology's supposed to make our lives easier & more efficient, why resist it?

    Btw, i think films developing also go through some digital enhancements at the labs rite? how many people actually say "no enhancements pls" ? It's a digital world..
    Last edited by sk_online; 29th October 2003 at 09:12 AM.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi2
    Even among the present day pros and many amateurs using high end cameras, how many actually bother or know how to use a manual flash? I don't think I want to go back into that era where I constantly need to know the film subject distance, be wary of the film speed I'm using and the guide number of the flash and then fiddle with the aperture. Just as how many of us actually know MS-DOS commands when the use of Windows icons "click and drag" technique is so much more convenient and faster?

    But of course, at the end of the day, no one is stopping anyone from going back to the 1+1 basics. There are still such people around. But by and large, I think we should be happy instead of feeling sad that technology can bring us such convenience in digital cameras and what nots. Look at the kids nowadays using sophisticated computer softwares to create marvelous professional-looking webpages and a hosts of other end products. I certainly don't want to be stuck in an old technology and yet be proud for being a purist for the sake of it. If there is a much faster to do something which took longer in the past, let's use and enjoy it!
    Well.... I still use DOS commands on and off, and text-based ftp when I need to. My webpages are coded mainly using wordpad/notepad although I have been using Frontpage to format some elements, notably tables.

    The good thing about knowing the basics is that you can always fall back on them when your equipment fails you. I believe that is why the Nikon FM series of cameras have managed to survive through more than 20 over years, simply because, even in the most extreme of conditions, the camera can still function without any battery power. But you would of course have to have a basic grounding in your fundamentals if you were to take good pictures without any other "auto-aids"!

    Part of my own grounding in photography came from an SLR in the 1980s which had only shutter/aperture priority auotexposure modes. There was only centre-weighted metering and no autofocus. Even film had to be manually advanced although there was a motor drive available, which would more than double the weight of the camera! However, it taught me to appreciate the basics of photography so much so that even when I started dabbling in digital photography with a Powershot G3, and now a EOS 300D, the mode that I use 95% of the time is still plain good old manual metering. The difference with that? Freedom to get the exposure that I really want as opposed to a "dummy" setting that is decided by the camera (which will tend to cause overexposed highlights).

    Regards.

  11. #11
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    I think what the original poster wanted to say is that with the advent of digital imaging, what u get may not always be the result of the photographer's skill with the camera (digital or film) but some post-processing skill. It is much easier to produce a great looking shot from an ordinary shot (I'm referring to the technical aspects) in a digital lab compared to doing it in a wet lab.

    I think when we all look at pictures posted here and we find one which as good composition, excellent exposure and saturation, we all say "wow!" good shot. Then we read the byeline and find that our friend has cropped the shot digitally and touched it up digitally as well so that it looks pin-sharp and very well-saturated. Then it's like..... is that his skill with the camera or the computer? I think that is the issue.

    Manipulating negatives in a wet lab so that we achieve certain effects is a far cry from boosting the technical quality of a shot via a computer since the former is an art while the latter is just to cover up a lack of skill.

    For example, if someone shoots a scene and finds that he screwed up the exposure, he can easily alter that in Photoshop. Or if a person shoots a scene and finds that it ends up way too wide with no particular focus, he can easily just crop a tiny portion of the shot and show it. U can't do that with film. U have to live with what's in the frame on the negative or slide. To alter a print would require a certain level of expertise whereas doing it digital requires a few clicks of a button which can be totally automated without much user input.

    Therefore the point made here by me (and perhaps the original poster) is the dearth of skill in handling the camera to achieve the effect one wants since it has become so easy to take a few shots without much consideration and then "choose" what we would like to show.... and win plaudits for a "well-taken" shot.....

    Whatever automation has done for the camera, u still need to know the relationship between aperture and shutter speed and what effects altering these would give u in relation to the film speed as well as the flash and lens u are using. This knowledge which is necessary to create a photograph of quality must be present. What is happening now is that with digital imaging, a lot of the "quality" that we see are not because of a person's skill and knowledge of the camera and all its attendent aspects but because of skill with a computer. So in a sense, there is a loss of skill here... skill in taking a good photo the first time around without the need for substantial post-processing digitally.

    I'm sure the top photographers can usually shoot something of quality first time around (not exceptional) easily with either a digital or film camera blind (i.e. they have never used that particular model before) but many of advanced amateurs cannot do so without any processing after the shot cos they really do not understand the effect that we will be generating and hence fall back on digital processing to obtain what we want.... which is in a sense "false" since it did not come from the camera but from the computer!


    But that is not to say digital technology is not useful..... it's useful to the extent that it helps us master the basic relationships in photography such that it enables us to know what to shoot and how to shoot. It makes the learning curve less steep and less costly (u dun have to upgrade evey time something new comes along) and enables full control over the end product (i.e. no manipulation) compared to a traditional lab where u are at the mercy of the quality of chemicals they use, the temper of the lab technician and any initiative on his/her part to "improve" your shot despite instructions to the contrary among other things.....

    Just my 2 cents worth.... dun me please...

  12. #12

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    so.........

    the conclusion is ?

    with better technology we see more properly exposed and focussed crap shots ?

    crap shots are still crap shot even with the focus and exposure done properly, some of the best photos are not in proper focus (I'm talking about documentary here), sometimes OOF photos win awards (even non documentary ones).

    exposure it something you can learn in a day, or a week if you take time, but learning how to see, how to feel how to so call "be one with the enviroment and your subejct" takes a life time.

    and another point, technical knowledge is good, probably at VERY VERY crucial moments it differencieted the good from the VERY VERY GOOD.

    but then again, how useful is it to be able to tell exposure from eye ? or know how to grind your own lenses ? or how to build your own camera ? hehehe it has a feel good factor, but if you don't use it, it is still useless, just like a painting with a price TAG of $10,000, if no ones pays for it, it is still worth $0.

    chees
    rgs
    rueyloon

  13. #13

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    Ha TME,

    I did not reply because it seems like most did not catch what I mean in my original post.

    You are definately a good observant and probably a good listener.
    (That is a art by itself)

    That is why I use the word ART for both digital and analog. Both with different skillset ofcause. Digital make sense especially you need to earn a living and I did previously work with a professional taking product catalog. We previews the image and took them digitally. Digital are useful and best is WYSIWUG.

    For many picture taking like people, street I will take my automatic EOS system because I cannot afford to load film at my pace or compose picture at my own sweet time.

    For my kind of picture which are mostly landscape, I use all manual slr with mechanical shutter. I can take nitesky exposing like 30min where the battery on my EOS probably will died.

    I can take picture without refering to any light meter so I can use all kinds of camera and produce good result. While they are many great skilled photographers use digital and computer for reason stated above and do not be surprise that are many photographer do not understand the basic of time/exposure and with good advance equipments, they can still take very nice pictures -- ofcause that is nothing wrong with that.

    Why I use analog SLR? Simply for my kind of work, only higher end DSLR will satisfy my needs and I would probably spend like $5-10k and it does not make economy sense for me but ofcause for some others it is a necessity. It's just not for me and unnecessary for my work.

    To me, my SLR is like a tools, I use it extensively and fully understand it's characteristic and with many years to come, I can use it without any doubt for guessing until it fail. It's just an extention to my eyes, nothing technologically advance.

    Also if I would to spend like $10k, many better DSLR will be introduce once the technology has advance. I do not have that kind of money too.

    A normal mech. can use for 20yrs and can be repair or fixed since they are function via wheels and gear. Finding a approprite circuit box or chip might be a problem.

    Nothing wrong, use what make sense or work best for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by whoelse
    I do feel many who venture into Photography has lose the old art of teaching.

    For example, the relationship between shutter/exposure, DOF, composition etc. With technology today and image editing, many of the great looking picture we see today are not created by nature but edited.

    Many dull looking or even uninteresting pictures can be enhanced and edited to look like PRO. To me, these are not the art of photography but art of image editing. Sad for people what wanted to learn Photography.
    can you share with us what photography mean to you?

    and what is the 'old art of teaching'?

    I'm curious to hear your view

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowcrash
    can you share with us what photography mean to you?

    and what is the 'old art of teaching'?

    I'm curious to hear your view
    I'm not qualify to share lah because there are so many great photographers here. But in general, most people here knew them and may even have contridicting definition. To me, a good photographer can take great pictures with any equipments, any condition with bare hands. That itself require a lot of depth in one's eye. It's the form of making picture isn't it regardless of what you use. A great painter can paint and draw well with all kinds of subject, pencil, paper. Ofcos people like me cannot draw and can only produce drawing that sometime receive great comment too by tracing from material, copy from another work from comic like what I use to do in school? No wonder I never able to draw...

    Nevermind even if you are not from old school but if your work sell, you are good enuf too.

    "There is no lousy dish, only lousy chef and ingredients".
    Last edited by whoelse; 29th October 2003 at 03:19 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by whoelse
    I'm not qualify to share lah because there are so many great photographers here. But in general, most people here knew them and may even have contridicting definition. To me, a good photographer can take great pictures with any equipments, any condition with bare hands. That itself require a lot of depth in one's eye. It's the form of making picture isn't it regardless of what you use. A great painter can paint and draw well with all kinds of subject, pencil, paper. Ofcos people like me cannot draw and can only produce drawing that sometime receive great comment too by tracing from material, copy from another work from comic like what I use to do in school? No wonder I never able to draw...

    Nevermind even if you are not from old school but if your work sell, you are good enuf too.

    "There is no lousy dish, only lousy chef and ingredients".
    this is getting confusing.

    I repeat my questions

    1) What does "photography" mean to you?

    2) what is "the old art of teaching" you talk about in the first post?

    I'll like to understand your stand before dicussing further..

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    We should be more opened minded about the concept of photography. There are many ways to experience and enjoy photography. One's preferred way of photography should not be taken as the right and only acceptible way that others should follow. Technology related to photography is also evolving. If photography was only invented last year do you think there will ever be a film camera in the market?

    What is photography to you?

    If someone used a point-and-shoot film camera, sent the film to a lab for processing and printing, and the final print came out to be a great piece of work, should this photographer be praised or condemned? His only contribution to the creative process was to compose the picture and press the shuttle release. Every thing else from focusing to exposure setting to developing and colour adjustment of the final print was done by someone else. Even the ISO setting on the camera was done automatically thanks to DX coding.

    Is this P&S person less of a photographer than the purist who calculates and sets the exposure manually, focuses manually, processes the film and makes the final print himself in his DIY darkroom? What if the purist, despite being an expert in the "basics", never turned out a single piece of work that manages to impress anyone? Who is a better photographer then?

    For a newcomer to photography, choosing digital does not mean that he/she can get away from the basics any more than a photographer who chooses film.

    CCD/CMOS imager also has their limitations in exposure latitude. No amount of post processing can bring out details loss in blown out highlights. No amount of post processing can bring back the details lost due to poor focusing or camera shake.

    Photography is not only about figuring out the relation between shutter speed, aperture and DOF. While digital does provide some added convenience that are not available for a film photographer (such as instant feedback and control of the final result through post processing), the creative ingredient for both medium is essentially the same.

    Every individual who ventures into photography will have to decide for himself what photography means to him and what form of photography makes the most sense for him. If a person finds joy in turning uninteresting photos into masterpieces using digital post processing and becomes a real expert in doing so, good for him. There is nothing for a purist to feel sad about this person.

    It would be a different story if a person who is a master of post processing claims the results of digital enhancement as authentic "straight out of camera" results. That is a question of ethics and has nothing to do with digital photography missing out on the basics.
    As complexity rises, precise statements lose meaning and meaningful statements lose precision.

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    What is photography to you?
    Photographs (digital for me) are expressions of what I see, good or bad, happy or sad, of the moment and hold it there, frozen. Sometimes, I want to encapsulate another, more abstract ideal behind the picture and the choice of caption. There are those who can get it, there are those who don't. But the picture, the caption, represent that one fleeting glimpse into a very different mental model, a different world view.
    So rather than spend so many words, I sometimes let me pictures speak several stories. Some (yes includes those folks here cannot stomach) are taken to be duplicitious in meaning, others just plain vanilla. And in all, composition is what I place most value on, after all, many of the pictures I like to take are but fleeting moments.

    My cheapo contribution to this thread.

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    I think we need to distinguish between two areas in this discussion:

    1) Composition skill
    2) Technical skill

    What makes a photo great is (1) but what makes a photo good or competent is (2). I am not sure what is meant by various ones when they say a photo is good. But I would hazard that most mean that there is firstly good composition, then good technical skill.

    I think the issue of digital imaging reducing reliance on skill would apply both to (1) and (2) equally. I think the issue is not that the shot is so bad it cannot be saved but that it is not really good but digital imaging helps u out. For example, if your composition is cluttered, u can easily crop out what u want. And voila! U get a decent or even great looking shot in terms of composition. It's possible to achieve the above with cropping as most of u would know.

    As for (1), again the issue is not to "boost" a shot that is so off that it cannot be saved but rather for shots that are middling and digital processing can help it look better. For example, in a macro shot, there was slight underexposure and the focus was not spot on. Then of course using Photoshop, this can be corrected easily.

    And to combine both, it is of course possible to combine cropping with editing to create a photo that is actually very different from the original. I mean with digital wizardry, and if u are accomplished enough, then u can make your photos look much better than they actually are or are ever going to be (cos u lack the X factor - the eye of an artist). And this I think is the bone of contention.

    I must qualify here that some editing to bring out the best in a photo is not necessarily bad. But the editing must not radically alter the photo such that it is no longer it was. So there....

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by whoelse
    I'm not qualify to share lah because there are so many great photographers here. But in general, most people here knew them and may even have contridicting definition. To me, a good photographer can take great pictures with any equipments, any condition with bare hands. That itself require a lot of depth in one's eye. It's the form of making picture isn't it regardless of what you use. A great painter can paint and draw well with all kinds of subject, pencil, paper. Ofcos people like me cannot draw and can only produce drawing that sometime receive great comment too by tracing from material, copy from another work from comic like what I use to do in school? No wonder I never able to draw...

    Nevermind even if you are not from old school but if your work sell, you are good enuf too.

    "There is no lousy dish, only lousy chef and ingredients".
    I'm confused. Your above statements totally contradict what you were implying in your first post.

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