Restate My Basic Assumptions

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Huminaboz, Jul 23, 2005.

  1. Huminaboz

    Huminaboz TPF Noob!

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    Ever seen that movie Pi? I like it when he says, "Restate my basic assumptions:"

    It's been a full year since I first grabbed up that camera from my house and started taking pictures all day every day. I've looked around alot on the internet for photographers, found forums, loaded my Live Journal friends list with photographers, and done random studies of information people put up. I've taken four college drawing and design classes. And now I'm gonna be learning all about communication design. In addition I'll be in a photography class next semester. Now any successful person without a college degree can tell you that you're wasting your time in college. It's true that if I tried hard enough I could become a successful photographer or artist/designer. But I'd rather increase my statistical chance of success by going to school. Seems kinda like the lazy man's path to hard work.

    Nonetheless, I've learned a bit since I picked up that camera. So now I restate my basic assumptions on photography.

    Realism in art is less important now that the camera has come along. Those who spent a year working on a masterpiece of painting something to look as real as possible are now overshadowed by those with no artistic experience who can pick up the devil box and steal several souls every second. Now knowing this, what makes photography an art? What makes anything art? It looks pretty, that's what makes it good.

    There are two simple paths to artistic photography that come to mind. Taking pictures of other people's work, usually this is architecture and saying, "Wow, don't you love my photo?"
    The second is taking pictures of oneself nonstop. This is a simple act of vanity. Usually the person turns their head in an awkward position to show his or her best side which in turn can get away with being called artistic. But once again, this is simple vanity, get over yourself. Either that or stop being insecure and forcing people to look at it and have no choice but to say, "Wow, that's a good picture - Ur Pritee"

    The purpose of black and white photography is to get a feel for composition. Its artistic use is to set up a good composition that is visually appealing where color would have otherwise distracted. It helps to think of a photo first as a blank canvas. Say someone paints three squares on it and now it is interesting. They set up the places of the squares to be visually appealing. With a photo, you could simply place three cubes or squares down and take a picture of them to look exactly like the painting. That is photo composition.

    Except its a bit harder now isn't it. Because so many things are distracting in any given picture. That's why we look for principles of design that will make a chaotic composition seem organized and therefore visually appealing. Now you've taken a picture of a cell phone, a wallet, and a CD case, but now they are arranged like that painting was and have the composition.

    As for color, color can distract, which is why black and white photography is so much easier. The natural state of things shoves so many colors in your face, but black and white allows you to force the natural state of things to be two opposing shades that look good together. Now you don't have to worry about color as you look for composition.

    But now you want to use color. That cell phone is a horrible puke-green and the wallet is an orange-pink. Black and white, they look good together, but color they look terrible. So say you spray-painted the wallet and cell phone blue and placed them on an orange sheet of paper and took a picture. Now it'd be more visually appealing.

    Another form of photography art that works is landscapes. Usually these are breath-taking scenes that make us gasp and find ourselves constantly amazed with the wonders this world can provide us. A theory on why alot of these work is because nature has alot of color that naturally goes well together. I assume that's in the basic fundamentals of color and was this way because of how nature always works out.

    The blue sky with white clouds above the green trees above the blue/black lake. Blue and green are analogous and white and black are neutral.

    And again, because landscape pictures are easy to work out with color, it's all about finding the composition. What makes some landscape pictures incredible is the unusual colors that nature present to those who wait for the right lighting.

    Then of course, there is portraiture. Where there doesn't need to be any real composition because the main appeal in the pictures are the people. Just by taking a picture of a person adds instant emotional appeal, you wonder about the person. A black and white photo of a person adds to the mood but allows for easy composition aloong with the emotional appeal. And then color you could do something like match up colors that look well together with a good composition and get all of those goodies at once. Then you could take a good composition of perfect colors of a person looking over a fantastic landscape and you've got photography perfection right?

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    What I like to do are macro photos. Just as black and white simplifies a composition, macro photos take out alot of the chaos by getting all close up. The landscape around here sucks so I feel like I have no choice. I don't plan my photos so I can't get people to pose for me all the time. But occasionally I get good moments.

    Then you have added effects like a blur in the background or up front and then artistic additions to the photos like a blank face in a dark room. Those are all things I find complicated to think about but will approach as I master more of the compositional techniques.

    And there's more but of course, these are my basic assumptions that I can remember right now.
     
  2. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    And your point is....?
    A lot of your 'basic assuptions' are erroneous.
    For example, realism in Art still holds the same place it always has and Photography has not, nor will it ever, supplant it. In fact, quite the opposite has happened.
    By making cameras easier to use so that they virtualy take the picture for you, the Photographic Industry has, in effect, devalued Photography and the photograph. One consequence of this has been to raise the status of the other Art forms that require skill and ability in their execution.
    Your other opinions are similarly misguided.
    My advice would be to forget all of your 'basic assumptions' so that you can start your photography class with a clear and open mind.
     
  3. Huminaboz

    Huminaboz TPF Noob!

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    I was hoping you'd reply to this... just not so... arrogantly. Truth is relative. I did like the thing about the realism in art, but that's still to be contended. Basically, just because you disagree don't accuse me of being "erroneous". I agree with the thing about cameras bein easier to use. Although there hasn't really been that much of a rise in the status of other art forms because of it, it kinda just always was.

    If my other opinions are similarly misguided, please tell me why, I'm interested to know. What I am not interested in is "this sucks cuz I say so". If it's a waste of time to express your point fully then why comment at all?

    And to anyone else, I'd like to know what you think as well. You know, in a more constructive manner.
     
  4. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    I don't see how merely telling you that you are mistaken in your beliefs can be construed as 'arrogant', but there we go.
    I didn't give you a full response because, firstly, you weren't asking any questions, just making statements. Secondly, your post was, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit of a wooly ramble.
    At this point you have the opportunity to say I'm being arrogant again. Go ahead if it will make you feel better, but it doesn't realy move the discussion along.
    Neither do cliche comments like 'truth is relative'. Relative to what, exactly? And where in my reply did I mention 'truth'?
    Let's have a look at your comment 'there hasn't really been that much of a rise in the status of other art forms because of it (photography)'.
    There are many ways of approaching this to demonstrate that you are mistaken.
    For example, the number of people who have an original painting hanging on their wall in pride of place compared to having an original photograph. A large number of people prefer to have a reproduction of a painting rather than a photograph.
    Look at the number of people who visit Art galleries compared to the number who visit photo galleries. If people go abroad on holiday many of them now include a trip to an Art gallery on their itinerary.
    Look at how much paintings sell for compared to photographs.
    You need to look at the Historical trends over the past 150 years or so to get the full picture.
    If photography is devaluing itself as an Art form because of the ease with which images can now be made - and their reproducability - then any 'one off' creation that takes time, effort and skill must, of necessity, increase in status by comparison.
    Next one:
    '...what makes photography an art? What makes anything art? It looks pretty, that's what makes it good.'
    Do I realy need to tell you where you are wrong with that one?

    'The purpose of black and white photography is to get a feel for composition.'
    Practical B&W films were around long before practical colour, for a number of technical reasons. There is also the cost factor and the image permanence factor.
    Black&white photography is therefore an Historical artefact.
    It has popularity with amateurs because it is easier and cheaper to work with.
    There is also the feeling that, in terms of Fine Art, colour photography can appear too real. If you take a straw poll you will find that most people consider B&W to be more 'artistic'.
    So to say that B&W is just about composition is to be very simplistic in your outlook.
    To look at it another way, would you say that drawing in pencil (or charcoal, or ink) is just to get a feel for composition? Of course not. So why say it about Photography?
    'we look for principles of design that will make a chaotic composition seem organized and therefore visually appealing'
    What we look for are patterns. The human brain works on pattern recognition. Design is just a way of codifying and formalising the patterns.
    So we don't look for principles of design - we impose them upon what we look at.
    I could go through more but it's getting late (or rather early) and I'm going to bed.
     
  5. Nikon Fan

    Nikon Fan TPF Noob!

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    First off, please don't take anything I say as arrogant just b/c I disagree with you b/c it's not intended to be that way, just as I don't really feel Hertz's comments were either.

    I think it would be interesting to see you type a similar paragraph after actually having the photography college class, I'm am quite sure that your entire opinion will be changed. Especially if you are required to shoot film, only black and white and use a darkroom...

    How? If anything IMO it seems more important. First, especially when doing digital work people are often concerned that things aren't really realistic...there may be added saturation, or for instance a portrait could be touched up, changed, manipulated, not reflecting realism. Just b/c a camera contains the image as it was, doesn't mean that's how the final product ends up, and therefore is it still realism if it is altered? Depends on your definition of realism...

    Interesting...I thought that there were more than two categories of photography. I didn't realize the only pictures that are artistic are architectures and self portraits. I guess Ansel Adams wasn't a true artist then.

    Just b/c someone takes a self portait doesn't mean they are conceited....who cares which way they turn their head. In fact there's much more to it than that, who cares what the person looks like, but what about the lighting choice, the positioning of the body, and camera, the angle they chose...many more things go into a self portrait than just "vanity"

    I think this may be the point in which I disagree most. Typically it seems composition is done in one of two ways...either thought of first and then the person waits for the right time and place and shoots, or opposite where the photographer goes and looks for a shot, then sees a nice composition and then shoots...not sure how black and white makes that easy. When looking through the viewfinder unless you're color blind you see things in color, so I still don't see how black and white has anything at all to do with your composition. And it certainly doesn't make things easier. You refer to two tones, which I would assume are black and white...but what about all the midtones, greys...if you've done darkroom work you will know that it is quite difficult to get those tones specifically to your liking. I'm not saying color is easier or harder, but your point about black and white just doesn't really make since to me.

    You contradict yourself in this paragraph. Earlier you state black and white is easy and color difficult, but now color is easy as well. Again I have to disagree here, look at Ansel Adams landscapes, there are no unusual colors that make these incredible, but the compositions, the tones...etc.

    Have you ever taken portraits? Composition is key...let's say you are so worried about the lighting and everything else that you cut a hand off, a foot off...that deals with composition. Determining how close or far away to set the camera up and what lens to use is all about composition, and even the act of setting the lighting up still deals with the composition you've chosen. Composition is the basic principle in which you establish everything else.



    Again please don't take these comments as arrogant. We are all still learning here, even those that have been doing this forever. These statements are merely to challenge your thinking. My mother always told me never to assume anything b/c it's usually ends up making an "ass u(of) me" you get the idea :) Try to be more open minded and learn everything you can :) That's what college is all about IMO.
     
  6. Huminaboz

    Huminaboz TPF Noob!

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    Now we're talkin.

    "neither do cliche comments like 'truth is relative'. Relative to what, exactly? "
    Relative to yourself. My ideas are not erroroneous, they just simply do not match up to yours. It's only cliche because one must remind themselves constantly.

    The example of people who have paintings on their walls rather than photographs are because of the historical value of the paintings. If not historical then it is modern art, which drives itself away from a reproduction of what appears real and more into a manipulation of what is real. And then modern art that has nothing to do with appearing real. Photography has made it to where less people desire to spend their life mastering the ability to paint accurate portraits or record exactly what they see through drawing/painting/etc. But I do like the point you made about how photography has become easier and therefore more saturated. That can also mean a higher flow of creative ideas, however.

    "'...what makes photography an art? What makes anything art? It looks pretty, that's what makes it good.'
    Do I realy need to tell you where you are wrong with that one?"
    Yes. Yes you do.

    "Practical B&W films were around long before practical colour, for a number of technical reasons."
    Exactly, it's an old system, we've moved on from it. I enjoyed all the old black and white photos I saw, now it's time to move on to what's new.

    And like you said, "It has popularity with amateurs" because of the simplicity of it, how it helps you move up the line. That is a good point that color photography can look too real, but many of the best color photos are more surreal because of the interest the color adds. Most people do consider black and white to be artistic simply because once the color is removed, a composition once distracted by color is now complete. A reason most people consider it this way could be because it's alot easier to do and look good and therefore more people have found success with it. An interesting thing to consider is that if you balance the composition perfectly and get the right harmony of color, would it look better than a black and white counterpart? But yeah, you can go with different things are different, nothing is better. I won't argue with that.

    "To look at it another way, would you say that drawing in pencil (or charcoal, or ink) is just to get a feel for composition? Of course not. "
    Yeah. I would say that. There's a reason classes start the students with black and white, it's to help them understand value, texture, composition, and more. Once the students have mastered that, they are graduated to color where more interesting works are created. But of course, different things are different.

    "'we look for principles of design that will make a chaotic composition seem organized and therefore visually appealing'
    What we look for are patterns. The human brain works on pattern recognition. Design is just a way of codifying and formalising the patterns.
    So we don't look for principles of design - we impose them upon what we look at."
    It would seem you agree with me about that. Recognizing patterns is a part of reducing the chaos to make something more visually appealing. And of course we don't look for principles of design. Principles of design are words we have assigned to phenomena to help us study and understand more about. This also helps for teaching.

    I'm glad you explained yourself some more before bedy-bye time.
     
  7. Huminaboz

    Huminaboz TPF Noob!

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    Your post didn't come off as arrogant at all, I rather liked it, and it has made me realize I need to touch up my wooly ramble a bit. But that's why I posted it here.

    "I think it would be interesting to see you type a similar paragraph after actually having the photography college class"
    Yeah, I definately considered that before I wrote it. I wanted to have something to go back and read after I took the class to see how relevant it still was. But I still fear getting caught up in the "do it this way because it's the only right way" kind of thinking.


    I previously stated that realism in art is less important now that the camera has come along and you leapt on it.I was refering to the nature of realism before cameras where people attempted to capture what it was they saw exactly as it was. Artists spent centuries attempting to figure out exactly what it was they were missing that could give their work the illusion that it was three dimensional. These people spent their entire lives devoting themselves to this purpose. And now a person can pick up a camera, point and shoot and have that. This is what I was refering to.

    Of course there are more categories of photography. I stated that there were two -simple- paths of artistic photography that -come to mind-. I'll agree that this was a bitter statement in the first place, but I can still explain it. The implication was that I was thinking about photography I saw in people's journals and so forth that annoyed me. These people were saying their best photos were pictures of buildings straight on. This had nothing to do with the knowledge they had of what makes a photo look good. They simply saw a fancy building, took a picture of the fancy building, and renamed it their fancy photo. I mean, the picture looks good, but should that person consider themselves skilled in art? Additionally, you tend to see online blogs and so forth flooded with people who have taken the exact same picture of themself time after time after time again. This picture is always taken on his or her "good side" and is always the same boring photo. It may not have been imediately boring, but the same photo again and again caused the boredom. It's stagnation. And once again, these people call themselves photographers when all it is is simple vanity. And really, I should have read this text more closely and taken out this part when I posted it on this forum because it was somewhat besides the point. A self-portrait is alot better than this simple vanity, I do not contest that.

    I concede to your point about black and white photography. What I have against it is that it is too relied upon for artistic value when one could be expanding their creativity to color, which I cannot seem to find as much. What I concede to, however, are the midtones and greys. This is most agreeably different than applying shades of color. But perhaps when I am more knowledgable of the dark room process and expand my ideal on color I will disagree with you once again. But I'm very glad you contested this.

    Refering to how I contradict myself in the color landscape paragraph, this is not much of a contradiction as it is a simularity of words. On the subject of Ansel Adams, I believe he could have produced some very amazing works of color using his same skills. What I refer to about color being easier in a landscape is that nature generally presents colors that work well together so they are not hard to find. This could be why a majority of good color photography seen today are landscapes.

    About portraits: Yeah, composition is important, that was a rather rushed statement. However, the point was that the appeal in the pictures are the people, that composition in terms of balance and whatnot can be rushed because a person makes a photo greater simply by being in it. But I guess that is an argument over the definition of composition. But that just becomes an issue of symantics.

    But yeah, your statements had no arroance in them. My purpose of writing and posting this was the same as your case against it. These statements are not merely to challenge your thinking, but to see what you think as well. When I have no formal education, all I got are assumptions. These assumptions can clash alot because a school of thought is alot stronger than one person's set of observations and ideas.

    Now I wanna know if anyone wants to add anything to this rather than call it a poopy-head.
     
  8. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    You claim that you would say that drawing in pencil is just to get a feel for composition, but you then immediately go on to say using it helps understand value, texture, composition and more.
    So you are saying, in effect, that drawing in pencil is just about composition whilst at the same time it's about more than just composition.
    Interesting logic.
    As for your notion of 'truth' being relative to oneself. If you read Schiller, or any other philosopher who has talked about truth, you will find that 'truth' is actualy relative to 'facts'. The more facts you possess and understand, and the more accurate those facts, then the more likely your statements are to be 'true' when based upon said facts.
    Which one of us is in possession of more of the 'facts' I will leave for others to decide.
    I can see that this is going to be a very long haul if I am going to have to explain first principles to you.
    Look at my avatar.
    When you can tell me who created it and what his point in doing so was then I will continue this discussion.
     
  9. Huminaboz

    Huminaboz TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, that wording is a bit confusing. I left the word composition a bit more open-ended than intended. So allow me to reword it. Drawing in pencil/charcoal/etc, is used as a precursor to color because it is useful in its simplicity to allow you to get a feel for these basic principles. And other than technicalities, I know you know what I meant.

    Schiller was also against idealism. If he wants to philosophize that truth is relative to a bunch of biased facts, he can go on his merry way, but I do not subscribe to such dogmatic ways. Who decides how accurate these facts are if each of our perceptions and truths are relative to ourselves? You can have as many "facts" as you like, it shouldn't mean you're more correct if you have a larger bag of "facts" than someone else. And really, why are you even attempting to defend why you should be allowed to say, "I'm right and you're not!" To me, that is the extension of a childs desire. If you accept that truth is relative then you don't have to so stubbornly hold on to your ideas and from there we can actually discuss things on a level playing field. This is why I felt you were being arrogant when you claimed I was "errorneous". In a more open field of thought it would have been stated, "I disagree because [reasons]" But perhaps I am too much of an idealist.

    And if there's one thing I've learned, we define art for ourselves. Almost everyone has their own reason. To me, it's because it looks pretty. It seems simple enough so that I don't have to waste hours being confused on why I like what I like. I've heard (hyperbole) thousands of different reasons of what makes art art. I disagree with subscribing to a school of thought that sets how I think about art in stone. No one truly knows why Davinci painted the Mona Lisa. Or rather, no one knows -exactly- why. Many consider it a riddle. It all just adds to the interest. If you take my reasoning, he found something beautiful and he wanted to convey it. "Looks pretty." Simple enough for me. But, it is still fun to sit down and wonder what he was thinking. Don't confuse me for simple-minded when I define what makes art what it is in my own words.

    Good has come out of this, I have learned much from what you have said. I can only hope you learned anything from what I have said.
     
  10. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    'Correct' is an absolute. You are either correct or you are incorrect. You cannot be 'more correct'.
    But what you appear to be saying is that, if our perceptions are relative only to ourselves then our 'facts' are relative only to ourselves and any 'truth' that we can derive from them is also relative only to ourselves.
    This would mean that each person's 'truth' is just as true as everyone else's so that, if I say you are female and you say you are male we are both equally correct.
    The fact that I have never seen you and so have absolutely no facts about your gender does not make any difference. I am still right. In fact, by your argument, if I claimed that you were a giant three-toed sloth called Brian then I am still correct.
    I think even you should be able to see the weak spot in your argument.
    Wrong. My avatar is not the Mona Lisa. Nor was it created by Da Vinci.
    You jump to conclusions far too easily.
     
  11. Huminaboz

    Huminaboz TPF Noob!

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    I think you're refering to nihilism. Who are you trying to convince, me or you? I mean, you're trying really hard just to say, "I'm right and you're wrong". "Truth is relative" is something I know you can agree with. I'm attempting not to get too deep into technicalities. I'm not saying the end all formula to life is truth is relative. I'm saying you apply the knowledge of it to everything you know and take the rest of the instructions into your own hands.

    But let me try a different approach outside of the pseudo-philosophic quagmire. When you quite simply stated that I was "wrong", do you feel that was a fair statement if you yourself are not the artbiter of truth? Do you not agree that it would have not been percieved as arrogant if you had stated that you disagreed because [reasons] instead so that I may decide for myself how faulty my statements were? Do you agree that facts can be biased and are not to be completely depended upon for a source of truth? Do you agree that you, as a seperate entity, does not decide what is right and wrong to me?

    My mistake. That is an interesting point you make, however. That type of "art" goes beyond "looks pretty". What that type of art says to me in its simplest form is "Fun". This is something I've realized before but have obviously forgotten. So now I add, "Art is pretty and fun". But that is a quarrel I've had with alot of art such as that. It seems a type of art that loses alot of it's artistic power in trying too hard to convey some sort of meaning. An example of "not-so-well-thought-out stuff" that gets undeserved attention. Stuff you need a lot of contextual information before you can understand what pieces are saying, which, in a way, destroys the whole idea of art as universal communication. Basically, it's B.S, and in a sense of idealism, people could really be trying harder than fad art for a giggle. Then again, it's all good. Will you continue the discussion now!
     
  12. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Upon what, then, do you base your idea of what is true?
    If facts can be biased then they cannot be trusted to tell you anything. This means that you have no information from which to draw conclusions and make assuptions. How do you know that you even exist? You can't because you cannot trust any facts upon which to make that assumption.
    Following your argument as to why I am in no position to tell you whether you are right or wrong in your beliefs, it must of necessity apply to you as well. Therefore you are in no position to tell me that I am right or wrong in my beliefs.
    It follows that neither of us can tell the other anything. In which case this discussion is pointless.
    And, as in my previous statement, I am not using my logic in the argument but yours.
    It makes me wonder why that, given that you have an unshakeable belief that no-one can tell you anything you think is valid, you initiated this discussion to begin with. Or perhaps the facts as I perceive them are biased and I haven't had this conversation at all.
    I strongly suggest you find out who created my avatar and what it was all about, it could help you find your way to the outside of the paper bag.
    But as you have been unable to answer my conditional question...
     

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