Where does photography stop and painting begin?

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

  1. freixas

    freixas TPF Noob!

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    I edit photos to try to match my memory/feelings/impressions of a scene. A camera sensors just captures numbers. This only roughly approximates seeing, in which scenes are assembled in our minds so as to appear to have infinite depth of field and super-high contrast rations. Plus, they are in 3D! And everything is colored by our emotional reaction. You can create an image that closely maps the captured numbers or you can create an image that tries, in 2 dimensions, with limited gamut, etc., to try to replicate what you saw when you took the photo. Either can be considered "accurate" in one sense and "inaccurate" in another.

    Consider the simple act of applying sharpening to sensor data—we are leaving the path of numerical absoluteness and entering the path of reproducing our vision. Heck, even setting a white point has less to do with capturing "reality" than with imitating our visual system. Editing out undesired elements might seem to cross the line, but our brains do this all the time.

    I spent about two days on one photo recently of a waterfall in Iceland. It required adjusting the exposure levels of four areas and I had to do a ton of clean-up to make the transitions appear realistic when viewed in a large print. I showed the finished product to my wife and she didn't bat an eye—the scene looked just the way she remembered.


     
  2. Jamesaz

    Jamesaz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    So, I've given some more thought to this question and it seems that with painting/drawing, you always start with blank page for the light reflecting finished product whereas with photographic manipulation, hand coloring or photoshopping, you start with an image taken, however briefly or interpreted, from somewhere in the world around us instead of the realm of pure imagination. All things being equal, that, to me, is the difference.
     
  3. Solarflare

    Solarflare No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Never.

    There is no clear border between those fields.

    Some people can paint so photo-realistic that its basically a photo.

    Some people do so much post processing on a single photo its basically a painting. I even remember seeing a YouTube videos of people post processing the photo of one famous person into a "photo" of a completely different famous person.

    And of course theres people who intentionally use extra soft lenses for a more painterly image. Etc.

    Both painters and photographers are magicians who create an illusion.
     
  4. cporten

    cporten TPF Noob!

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    I have hauled a camera around since I bought a Minolta XD11 awhile ago. Maybe 40 years. I still know nothing. I always felt it was my evolving knowledge, my experiences, Kismet maybe, that created a near perfect shot. More often than not the shots were/are throwaways. But the ones that still impress me now are the ones that had a multitude of things that came together. They still remain photos I can look at for some time and become engrossed in them. They were pure. Mostly I guess by happenstance. I understand enough to know that photographs have been manipulated since the beginning of image capturing. Even so, when I see 'shopped' images, I almost immediately have a disdain for them. I question the real talent needed to snap an unadulterated photograph. I wish sometimes I could have seen the original and let me decide which nuances are important. For me it moves out of the top tier meaning of photography and morphs into something else. I am surprised that no one talks of this purest view. Am I a photo parti pris? Are there others?
     
  5. SquarePeg

    SquarePeg hear me roar Staff Member Supporting Member

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    My feelings are the opposite. I think the talent is in the vision of what the shot could be and then realizing that vision through whatever means are available. Sometimes, I don’t like the photographer’s vision because it’s too overly done (hdr for example is not my favorite thing) but there are also times when I don’t like the end product because I can see the unrealized potential and the photo could have benefited from more work in post.

    Just showing up to a beautiful scene with an expensive camera and pressing the shutter doesn’t take much artistic talent, IMO. But there’s work and experience involved in picking the location and getting there at the right time and using the right settings.

    It’s all part of it. Envision the result, know what’s involved in getting there and what settings to use, make the most of it in post.
     
  6. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Define it. Define what is an "unadulterated photograph" as opposed to_____________. How would you take an unadulterated photograph? Are all photos from digital cameras adulterated and impure? Can you adulterate a "pure view" with a lens choice?

    Joe
     
  7. cporten

    cporten TPF Noob!

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    I thought I was with film camera, which I used for 35 years. I understand, I think, that Digital is not an unadulterated photo. The camera is much more active in the process. And there are pics I have that missed the boat when I took them, but become what I envisioned after some editing. Though I do some self flailing on those edits because I am not yet competent enough to use the proper settings on the camera. And that editing lets me leapfrog my ineptitude. I shoot a Nikon D5500 now. Film required me to be much more precise.
     
  8. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Then you shot only color transparency film? Even then arguments can be made that you manipulated the image, but setting that aside many photographers would support your claim to "pure" as long as you never shot negative film.


    I very frequently take photos in which there are no proper settings on the camera that could produced a passable image. The options on the camera are quite limited. Would "pure" require that I accept those limits? Why?

    Joe

     
  9. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Interesting. Digital requires me to be much more precise than film ever did.

    Joe
     
  10. AlanKlein

    AlanKlein No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Until digital, all my photography was slides that were projected unchanged from the camera shot. Even when I shot negative film, all the4x6" prints came back from the processors printed without my input. When I started shooting medium format thirty years ago and enlarging them to 16x20", I only had the printer crop in some cases to my liking. If he did anything special beyond that, which I doubt, it was without my input.

    Regarding changes to the original shot, since the camera is limited in catching dynamic range, contrast, etc., minor adjustments in the darkroom or on your computer is reasonable to adjust exposure. But that's different than changing the objects that were recorded by the camera to a scene that did not reflect the elements in the original picture.

    I also think people get sloppy thinking that PS will save their lousy shots. Post processing cannot change the angle of the shot, where it was shot from, ambient lighting, etc. If you needed to step two feet to the right to get the elements in the right way to excite the picture, post processing will not help you rearrange those elements afterwards. You get sloppy in arranging the scene when you shoot it leading to unexciting photos.
     
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  11. Jeff G

    Jeff G -Amateur Shutterbug- Supporting Member

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    Enhancing a photo is normal in the digital age, adjusting color, exposure, general clean-up etc. I remember retouching photos by hand and with an airbrush when I worked in advertising before the computer era.

    I would say the following image qualifies as a digital painting. I took a photo of my cat, then used the smudge tool to make "brush strokes". I think the work that went into this was definately closer to painting the old fashined way, but technically it's just an enhanced photo.

    houdini oil painting.jpg
     
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  12. AlanKlein

    AlanKlein No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Jeff that's digital art and it is obvious to anyone who has look at an unedited photo in their life. The problem is when the adjustments are not noticeable and change the elements of what was captured by the camera. People are fooled. Nice photo by the way.
     
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