REALISM VS POSTPROCESSING

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by skieur, Jun 12, 2007.

  1. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    There seem to be a few here that are under the illusion that photography should be documenting reality. So here is the question. The subject and everyone else want the arm taken out of the following photo but others would interpret it as a necessary part of the reality of the shot. You see, the arm is holding up and supporting his head. What is your view? Please explain.

    [​IMG]

    skieur
     
  2. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You're asking the wrong question. It has nothing to do with what others are thinking, it's about what you want this picture to be. If you want to document the reality then leave it as is, if you want to make it look like he had his haircut on mars then crop him out of the frame and place him on a computer generated background.

    It's your picture, your art, and ultimately your decision of how you want to portray it.

    Also those who believe that pictures should not be processed and think photoshop is evil clearly have little understanding that photograph is an art, and people have been post processing since the art started. I even have a book here documenting how to use a pen to touchup a plate during development.
     
  3. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    Very good point and I think you are also implying that if it was your photo you would take the arm out.

    I certainly agree.

    skieur
     
  4. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Simple answer: If this shot is meant to document the scene, then leave everything in there.

    If it is supposed to serve some other purpose (advertising, illustrating, ...), then do what serves this purpose.

    If it is to become a piece of artwork, do whatever you want with it. (Just do not claim it still depicts the real scene then, but this is not what art is necessarily about anyway)
     
  5. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    This cannot be called an illusion, since the term illusion refers to perception of reality ... hence this should be called opinion.

    Anyway, photography with the purpose of documenting something, is documentary, and as such should not tamper with reality and the scene depicted.

    That does not mean, documentary photography cannot be art ... composition may still play an important role, and so will light, exposure and everything.

    [BTW, to me documentary applies to wedding photography, travel photography, event photography, journalistic photography .. everything which serves the purpose of keeping memories or showing past reality to people who where not at the scene personally.]
     
  6. Stretch Armstrong

    Stretch Armstrong TPF Noob!

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    For what it is worth, I wouldn't have known that that was necessarily an arm or that it was holding/supporting the individuals head had you not told me. I think it is just blurred enough not to make it too clear that that is what it is.

    With that said, perhaps blurring the background just a bit more if they demand the arm be removed. This may satisfy them; however, I am guessing that there is a lot of emotion attached to the shot given what little you have said about the subject/subject matter.

    Does that make any sense?
     
  7. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I think that distinctions should be made - and finer ones even than just saying: photography shall either be art, and in being that is very free to any artistic approach, or a representation of a (past) reality with should possibly serve some historical purposes later, even if "historical" only means reactions such as "Oh, you still had THOSE sofas back then?"

    Its use is way too diversified to put itself into only either one or the other of two categories.

    And the photographer as such is too much the personality who creates the image to have himself (herself, too!) pushed into the either/or-corner.

    Some feel that photos should only represent a momentary slice of history. Which I think they should if DOCUMENTATION is the given assignment (as in photojournalism, for example). The photographers who work in the refinery where also my husband works must NEVER EVER change anything about their photos, since their photography (lots of it macro-photography of details of the plants) is to show EXACTLY the present state of a piece of refinery equipment. To become "artistic" on that would be criminal! (An example which is self-evident, isn't it?).

    When you do portrait or wedding photography and work for clients, it may be their wish to get extra glamorous, extra soft, extra high-key, extra low-key, extra contrasty photos taken (produced) when "reality" was a normal day only, maybe made exceptional by the way the person dressed for the occasion (weddings are yet another very self-evident example for being kind of "extra" and going through a situation that is "special" and not the everyday reality). When out of artistic approach or upon request the photographer makes use of the filters he has in his case and softens the photo, or applies star-filters or whatever else there is, and set up lights and hair lights and one more here, arranges the bride's dress in a way I would never have fallen had she only just stopped and stayed, puts the person around her in a way they would never have been placed had he played "stop-action" with them, then he is already changing realities - in-camera this time. So wedding photography more often than not DOES change reality, produces something that goes BEYOND the exceptionality of the day as such.

    And there may be other occasions in people's lives where photography cannot or should not be the either/or-thing. An anniversary where the old person wants to look their very, very best, although at 80 they might no longer do in reality, or the fact that before any film team could ever come into my house I would need to do a MAJOR cleaning and tidying job -that, too, would take me beyond my everyday reality :oops: (too much time spent on too lengthy commentaries on TPF, that is why!!!).

    So that said: if you do not want to show that this person (who I assume is in hospital and had been in hospital for quite long so he needed to get his hair cut in his hospital bed) is still so weak he cannot hold up his own head for long enough for his photo to be taken, but if you want to give both this person and the viewers the feeling that "he`s back here with us, he may still be in hospital but he will be back to being his old self" and the arm is disturbing, then take out the arm.

    I personally find it disturbing because it does not REALLY look like an arm but like something that I see and think "Huh? What is THAT?"

    I shall stop rambling abruptly now ... this has become too long, anyway.

    (But, Alex, my own wedding photos ALL and exclusively are "captured reality", not one extra glamorous among them, for the extra glamorous wedding photography seems to be much more widely practised in the States).
     
  8. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    [Edit: removed my post not to stir further diskussions]
     
  9. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Please, don't YOU add it!
     
  10. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    I don't see that photography ever documents reality. The basic decisions that a photographer makes in technique and composition distort reality. By selecting and framing a small piece of reality one is changing the importance of the total picture. All lenses flatten or distort. All camera processors limit and adjust colour etc.

    I photographed a death scene of a student for an inquest into an accident as a court photographer. I knew that through choice of lens and angle, I could have strongly influenced the case for or against the negligence of the school. (The size of a snowbank.)

    Looking at the hospital shot, what is being "documented" is the haircut and the simple fact that he is in the hospital. (A quick shot by the way, since hospitals generally don't approve of cameras.) Everything else is unnecessary.

    The objectives of weddings and portraits are often to both "glamourize" the event and flatter the subject or subjects. As to reality...it depends whether it coincides with these main objectives and that is as it should be.

    Come to think of it, postprocessing is always necessary in digital photography anyway, to get closer to the real colour of the scene in the image.

    Digital cameras are not good enough to document reality and neither are photographers.

    skieur
     
  11. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    'illusion' means "false impression" according to the Britannica World Dictionary and goes beyond any strictly visual definition or perception.

    skieur
     
  12. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ok, then excuse this babbling of mine, ... maybe I was too biased towards the "visual" meaning since this is a forum about photography where most things are about visual perception.
     

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