Artistic vision vs technical perfection?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by SquarePeg, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. Tim Tucker 2

    Tim Tucker 2 TPF Noob!

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    Absolutely. ;)

    What is *technically correct*? An understanding of how a camera forms an image and how to record an image with a camera?
    Then the image demonstrates this understanding, that you know how to get maximum detail and sharpness.

    People rarely view images with a technical understanding of how cameras work, (except on photo forums), but by how they relate to the world as humans. When I look at tone-mapped and sharpened images where every detail is recorded and shown I don't see the technical mastery of the photographer. I just see how it differs from the natural world I see every day, how the sense of light, depth and colour has been de-familiarised. The image becomes sterile, removed from my experience of walking through this world. The photographer doesn't see this because they've taught themselves to judge images against the technical understanding of the camera and how it records rather than a human understanding and how we see the world.

    As you say, somewhere along the line you realise this and have to make that leap.


     
  2. Fred von den Berg

    Fred von den Berg No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Being neither very artistic nor technically proficient, I tend to bear some compositional guidelines in mind which I encountered as a student dabbling in art history for a couple of semesters many moons ago whilst trying to make up my mind what I really wanted to study. I avoided computer studies in school taking geography instead and have very little knowledge or understanding of editing software and programs. The photo stuff that was on the laptop when we bought it is all I use and it's more than enough. I tend to use the camera the same way as I always have, taking advantage of the different modes where they are available according to what I think will get me the sort of result I'm looking for. Cropping is very much something my stomach does: it's gut feeling mainly.
     
  3. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    I'm the blind pig in the woods that finds an acorn every now and then. From a technical side I "try" to remember everything but then the artistic side kicks. Now I shoot with both eyes open to constantly be aware of the entire scene, and focus on composition.. I use the histogram initially to assure that I'm getting a full exposure, and don't pay much attention to it after.
     
  4. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    One thing to bare in mind is that the average person might not comment on the exposure, but its just the same way most won't mention the brush strokes on a painting or the grain of the wood on a sculpture. There are a LOT of subtle elements that combine together to make a photograph (or anything) and many of them will go by totally unnoticed by the average person.

    Or rather they will be noticed, but only on the fringes of their attention. It contributes toward it and if you made a mistake on all the little things they would add up. Furthermore any fan who gets more involved will start to see those little things too.


    Of course along with that comes personal preference. Some hate to see heavily tone-mapped photos; others love them and some are either way depending on the photo and context.
     
  5. Gary A.

    Gary A. Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    One of my earlier photography professors said "... When all else fails, use the Rule of Thirds." That is not only how I photograph ... but ... in retrospect, how I have transversed much of my life.
     
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  6. jcdeboever

    jcdeboever TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    I am over technical because I need to understand my tools. As most of you know, I haven't been at it that long, 2 years is all. I have a pretty good understanding of the tools and what they can do now, so I am venturing out into my imagination more. I am also shooting different things (drag cars lately) to get better at focusing under the gun. I would say 90% of my shooting has been to learn my camera and practice what a couple of mentors have been guiding me towards. I assume they are a little frustrated with my boring photos ans slow progress. I am very happy I took up film shooting as it really makes me slow down, so as I better understand the tool, and execute the image with confidence. I have a journal that I compare what I wanted and what actually happened, very beneficial in my personal development. I really feel I can be more free moving forward. Did I learn everything? No. But I feel I have earned the right to get more creative. I shoot more film than digital because I can and want to. I use digital when I have the desire to do so.

    As far as histogram, I used to do it a lot in the beginning because it was a tool available to me. However, I can pretty much see it in the viewfinder now. I almost never use the LCD, other than converting the raw in the camera. Even when I was using the histogram, I would view it in the viewfinder. I hardly ever chimp, only because I don't think to look at it, that comes from shooting film I suppose. I always forget how to turn the darn thing on when I need to.

    Funny thing is, my highlights are almost never blown out on B & W film. Even those look pretty good from the scanner. I'm almost always around 7-8 seconds on the enlarger, only go longer if it's a problem shot, like chrome on a bumper of a car or I want to enhance a shadow area and need the time to screw it up, LOL.

    I really don't take myself to seriously though. After many years of drawing and painting, I learned everything is a process, including the creative thought process. It really is about putting the little things together to make one big one. But the big but is, you have to know your tools or you'll never but those small things together.
     
  7. bulldurham

    bulldurham TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Just for the record, I never look at a histogram on my camera, and for that matter, I never or rarely look at images on the rear screen as I know at times I am going to shoot up to two stops over or under and let Photoshop handle the exposure issues if there are any. If, in the PP examination I do find I have blown highlights, in 99% of the cases I am going to dump the file. It's a part of having learned the Zone system. I cannot ignore my past and embrace the "new" stuff in photography...no apologies. I didn't' start shooting digital until 2004 When I purchased a set of Nikon D40's for my class and though I did have a fairly extensive BG in Photoshop doing commercial advertising, using it strictly for photography was a whole new ballgame. For me, there is a very fine line between art and technical. Technical is a must for understanding what is happening inside the camera while art is something you acquire through experience and from innate "talent," though I don't give that nearly the credence some people do. You can count the number of people who can play classical piano without any lesson on one hand, but the number of professional photographers who become instant pros on maybe one-half of an ingrown fingernail. I could never teach "art" but I could give the student all the tools to understand what made an artistic print and what just constituted a snapshot.

    Though I still do some shooting for wildlife and whatever else strikes my fancy, most of my "one dimensional" work is in Pt/PD, Salt, Albumen, and gum bichromate. I love the old processes, old cameras, old chemicals, etc...but then I am an old fart so why not.
     
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  8. Bollygum

    Bollygum TPF Noob!

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    All very good sense and beautifully put. I think many people miss the point of what photography is all about. At it's very best, a photo is "just a record shot". That record shot may be technically superb and it may be artistically extraordinary, but it doesn't have to be.

    I'm a photographer of nature and particularly macros of fungi (both still photos and time lapse). It is a highly technical field. I don't think I put a lot of "art" into my photographs, but there is a lot of creativity that does go in. People seem genuinely enthusiastic when they see them and they they certainly do help with conveying knowledge about fungi, but I have no idea if they are art or not. I doubt that it matters as their purpose is to show what is, in as accurate and attractive a way as possible.

    When I hear the techno types discuss photography I always think "but what about the subject?" and when I hear the arty types discuss it, it seems that everything is anthropomorphic and I think "but the universe isn't all about us". I should put a note here that I really do not understand what art is, except that I do like good art and some people seem to have a talent for it and others don't. Mozart could apparently imagine an entire symphony in his head as a single entity. I can't even imagine that with a very short piece, at least not consciously.
     
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  9. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Art is a very variable term and in a sense almost has no fixed meaning that you can "work" toward. I've heard it said that art is works created to encourage or create an emotional response in the subjects viewing it.

    Others try to attach elements of quality and skill to the term, but those often end up very contrived and tend to show bias from the person creating the list to limit it to specific things that they like/respect. At the same time most of us know that a square inside another square on a wall is not "art" even if places like the Tate Modern call it Art (and also stick an insane price label on it).


    In the end Art is what you make of it be that in viewing and/or creation.
     
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  10. weepete

    weepete TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Yes, I use the histogram while editing. I find it useful to help judge exposure especially since light levels vary at my desktop and I'm eding on a TN panel more geared towards gaming than photography. I also find exposure hard to judge when using a backlit screen. I pretty much do the same thing with highlights and though I don't mind if the specular highlights are blown I do normally try and keep them tight. It does really depend on how intrinisic is is to the image however, sometimes it may be what you are shooting for.

    As for composition and croping, yeah, I have it in mind when I'm shooting and when I edit. Breaking composition down into rules is a bit strong though. I've been lucky to have a good education in the fundimentals of composition, so what I look for is balance in an image and where your eye goes within the frame. I'll try and create boundaries to keep the viewer contained in the image while providing a visual path to follow.

    I'm definatley on the more technical side, I could totally understand some who'd think my images are boring and twee. Indeed I'm not even doing anything unique, merely above average. But that, to me is where a little bit of the beauty lies. I can show people my images of Scotland, and largley they are suprised. Not that I'm a unique talent, just that I'm showing a side of the landscape that often people who live here don't know is there. And here there is beauty in abundance, if you know where to look.

    Addendum: Technical and creative are kind of two sides of the same coin. Often these are seperated, especially when it comes to dealing with art. To be really good you need a bit of both, the artistic vision and the technical skill to pull it off. A prime example would be Salvador Dali and his surrealist illusion paintings. They work so well because he had both. Lacking in either it wouldn't have worked. Or to take the Adams quote and turn it on it's head a bit you need the the technical knowledge to turn a sharp concept into a blurry image.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
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  11. weepete

    weepete TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    I think you've lost me in some places Tim, I suspect if I was to hear it in person I'd understand a bit better, but I think we'd agree on the main points.

    What I'd say is it totally depends on the image and what the artist was trying to convey. Let's take an extreme example of something emerging from the dark. In that situation you wouldn't want detail in the deep shadows. Take for example Toulouse-Lautrec's "The Hanged Man" (link below)

    https://www.moma.org/media/W1siZiIs...B4MjAwMFx1MDAzZSJdXQ.jpg?sha=fe7e0ba8e7820952

    Large parts of that image are blacked out quite deliberatley for adding interest, definition and emphasis.

    Or Rembrandt and his Slaughtered Ox (link below)

    https://nielsbergervoet.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/ox.jpg

    again using a lack of detail in the shadows to de emphasise the unimportant.

    So I'd argue that having the ability to choose whither or not to use that type of technique is a valuable tool in the box. But it totally depends on your initial vision.

    I'd also say that the technical details of how that darkness was achived is acedemic, as lonv as it was in line with the quality of the finished article.
     
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  12. Bollygum

    Bollygum TPF Noob!

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    To Weepete - Geez. I don't think I'd want either of those paintings hanging on my wall, certainly not the slaughtered ox. Are they art? Well, I'd be loath to suggest that anything by either of those two wasn't art, and they certainly did evoke a strong emotion. I guess that they were very much more topical and common place when they were painted, but I'll bet that many were repulsed and shouted "this is not art". The definition of art seems to tend towards - "that stuff that is created by an artist", and Rembrandt and Toulouse-Lautrec were definitely artists.
     

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