How much of the appeal of an image is the image itself?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by carbon_dragon, Jul 18, 2005.

  1. When you look at a photographic image (film or digital), how much of
    your enjoyment of that image is based on the belief that that image
    represents reality in some way (lens, film, viewpoint all allow a
    photographer to interpret the scene but it still represents reality in
    an interpretive way.

    Now suppose someone showed you a picture of some extraordinary nature
    scene that was completely constructed. Does this destroy the meaning of
    the picture? I thought about this when I saw a computer game that
    allows you to select a background and a car and it makes you a
    photographic quality image (at least to 4x6) that would be hard to tell
    from reality. Suppose tomorrow someone invents a program that lets you
    select a national park and then lets you just make nature photographs
    indistinguishable from the real thing. Are those images just as good as
    an image you had to go to Yosemite to get? And if not, does the ability
    to do this rob the act of photography of it's meaning?
    carbon_dragon, Jul 18, 2005
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  2. carbon_dragon

    Paul Furman Guest

    Try google earth, you can fly around the world & see anything on the
    planet from any perspective. Closeups like Yosemite are not that crisp
    but aerial & outer space distance views are spectacular. It's a fun way
    to take 'pretend' photographs of the world.
    Paul Furman, Jul 18, 2005
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  3. carbon_dragon

    Steven Woody Guest

    photography should has some kind of reality in its art. i like a pic which
    presents sense of time and space, which yet pasted.

    Steven Woody, Jul 19, 2005
  4. carbon_dragon

    chrlz Guest

    Now suppose someone showed you a picture of some extraordinary
    No, it doesn't destroy it, but - it puts it in a different category,
    just as a painting is not a poem.. And it may lessen it's value.

    There is a famous shot by Jim Brandenburg of an arctic wolf leaping
    onto an icefloe - it is all the more remarkable when you think about
    what JB went through to get it, how the wolf got there, and what will
    happen next*. And yet with a few flicks of a mouse button and a bit of
    photoshop wizardry, a very similar image could be *manufactured* while
    sitting comfortably at a computer... Would that image have the same

    Some might say Yes. I say No. There's room for us all.

    *PS - I know the answers to the questions about the Brandenburg photo..
    chrlz, Jul 19, 2005
  5. Let me answer with another question:

    Would artificial insemination satisfy you just as much as the "real thing"?
    Charles Gillen, Jul 19, 2005
  6. It depends on what I was trying to achieve. Your question implies that
    you believe that the means for achieving the picture don't matter --
    that all that is important is the final image. I'm not saying you're
    wrong, that's what the objective of the topic is to explore. However,
    part of what I personally get out of images is a sort of vicarious
    travel to the wild places of our planet. I don't get that out of a
    totally manufactured image. Even a painting which proports to be a
    depiction of a real place loses some value if it's completely
    photographers never actually went to Antarctica or Yosemite or Arcadia
    but instead manufactured their images with stock backgrounds and
    sophisticated programs such that the results were stunning images. In
    time the people manufacturing the images might never even pick up a
    camera or know how to operate one because field work would be obsolete.
    carbon_dragon, Jul 19, 2005
  7. carbon_dragon

    Paul Furman Guest

    Here's some examples from google earth like I was talking about:

    Paul Furman, Jul 19, 2005
  8. carbon_dragon

    Gordon Moat Guest

    I like the Cindy Sherman idea of photography "photographs lie". Of course,
    many people just want to record history, but I am not really into that. I
    also approach photography from my knowledge of oil painting, and formal
    training in art. I think a good term is representational, rather than
    Art Wolff did that several years ago for one of his books, and was highly
    criticized. However, I think now this would be less of an issue. If
    someone did not know it was constructed, they would not worry about it.
    PDN had an article in a recent issue about composite advertising images
    using the latest 3D imaging to place imaginary or future products into
    modern scenes. The use of 3D images in compositing images in advertising
    is likely to grow to a bigger presence in the future.
    Sure, why not. Of course, the experience of getting those images, or even
    being able to discuss a location are diminished.
    I don't think some photography is enough about reality, but that is one of
    the attractions. Consider that I approach this from a design and
    advertising view, and create un-reality. More simply, it could be stated
    that my job is to deceive people, since my imagery convinces them to buy
    some product or service. We could just have generic everything, which
    would nearly eliminate advertising, but of course people want something
    beyond a simple product or service.

    It is not the photograph that has meaning, just the ideas that caused it
    to be created. You don't need eyes to see, you need vision. :)
    Gordon Moat, Jul 19, 2005
  9. I don't want to knock arts like painting in which the product is the
    complete expression of the artist and how he sees the world. There's
    nothing invalid or inferior about this art. And yet photography, though
    it is interpreted reality, has a component of reality which is
    inseperable from my concept of photography. I would call image making
    without a camera being involved graphics arts instead of photography.
    Obviously photojournalism is totally meaningless if the images are just
    going to be constructed since they do not document anything. But even
    nature photography is supposed to document nature (at least in an
    interpretative way). If the pictures are completely constructed, then
    they cannot be said to document anything. They are just another form of
    electronic painting. This photographic role of "documenting something"
    is what is missing from camera-less image-making.

    I would not for instance want to read an article about the himalayas
    with pictures in which the pictures are just nice art with mountains
    and yaks and snow created because they are pretty but not taken at the
    article's location. Such pictures would be at best a false reality. No,
    this graphics art wouldn't be photography, but it would I think be a
    valid new art form. It might be valid enough on a calendar showing the
    art of some named artist, but not on a calendar proporting to show the
    majesty of Yellowstone Park.
    carbon_dragon, Jul 20, 2005
  10. carbon_dragon

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Well, photography is considered to be more believable. Many people do not
    expect that something photographed could be faked, though we know that is
    not true.
    Even a camera could be used in a way that the "reality" of the source
    cannot be discerned. Sure, that is more graphic design than photography,
    but not a reason to exclude using a camera.
    Going back to Art Wolff. His defence of manipulating an image digitally to
    create a larger herd of zebras was that it was difficult to wait for such
    a herd to come past his camera. He also stated that he had seen such herds
    as he constructed, but the shots he had at the time did not convey the
    feeling of the events to his satisfaction. This was in the late 1990s, and
    I think now it is an accepted practice.
    Compositing from several image source, whether in the darkroom or on a
    computer, is better termed photo illustration. There have been some recent
    magazine covers that were such, and criticized because the magazines were
    not more open that the images had been manipulated. There are also more
    famous examples, such as the news photographer in Iraq who composited two
    images because he felt the composition was better (he got fired).
    Like going to a zoo to get shots of animals that one could not find in the
    wild, then putting those into a book about "wild" animals . . . sure, that
    would bother me too.
    I think if the photographers were honest and open about revealing when
    something was created in post, then this would be less of an issue. I do
    some elaborate composite work at the request of some clients. My fine art
    work is straight out of the camera. Most of my design and advertising work
    uses straight images with nothing more than cropping. Manipulated images
    should be termed photo illustration, not photography.
    Gordon Moat, Jul 20, 2005
  11. carbon_dragon

    Steven Woody Guest

    that's exactly what i want to say, thank you for sharing opinions.

    Steven Woody, Jul 20, 2005
  12. I think I agree with all of this. As images become more "plastic" their
    "authenticity" becomes more questionable. The photograph itself is only
    as good as the word of the person who says it is authentic (unlike in
    film where experts can examine the negative to see if it had been
    tampered with). This concept of documenting reality can't be lost IMHO
    by constructing photographs completely on a computer (especially
    without there ever having been a camera involved) and still have it be
    called photography. The line has been blurred lately but unless
    photographs accurately reflect the world (at least to a substantial
    degree) they become worse that useless for some purposes and merely
    different for others. Perhaps the first step is accuracy in labelling.

    To me it matters a LOT in photojournalism, and it matters a fair bit in
    lots of other areas where you hope to learn about some location by
    means of the photographs taken there. It matters less to me in
    carbon_dragon, Jul 21, 2005
  13. carbon_dragon

    Bandicoot Guest

    The art world doesn't call this photography - it is tending to be called
    "Digital Art", which is not a bad term, I think.

    Bandicoot, Jul 23, 2005
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