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Truth in Nature Photography


csurry
12 9.2k 92
19 Mar 2010 5:26PM
Not sure how many people have seen the article in this months OP but they asked ten top pro outdoor photographers for their opinion on the need for truth in nature photography.

The range of views is most interesting and with further analysis the photographers particular stance has a lot to do with their target market and intended use of their images.

Here are a couple of the quotes


Quote:There is only one answer to this as far as I'm concerned, and that's yes, it does matter - David Noton



Quote:Truth in photography certainly matter to me - Mark Hamblin



Quote:Does truth really exist in nature photography? No, and it never will - Peter Cairns



Quote:Wildlife photos are always economical with the truth - Steve and Ann Toon


Please note these are only the headline quotes from their piece and ou really need to read it all to get the full context.

So what do you think? Certainly plenty of members on here post in the wildlife category when the subject is clearly captive. Does it matter?

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justin c 10 4.5k 36 England
19 Mar 2010 5:38PM
Not seen the article but it sounds interesting.
I guess whether truth in nature photography is important depends on wheter you're a picture editor, a general member of the public or a fellow nature photographer.
My opinion is, yes it is important. I'd prefer to always see it stated clearly whether a subject is captive or wild.
lawbert 7 1.7k 15 England
19 Mar 2010 5:46PM
It certainly matters to me, the challenge is to learn your subject and its whereabouts and behaviour, its easy to pay your fiver and get in the local zoo or Raptor centre and get great captures but to me its not wildlife.
I guess everyones different and Im not knocking those that pay thier Fiver and are happy with the results but they could have a greater sense of achievement by using patience and research and capturing something truly wild.
get your knees dirty I say and spend a few hours or days in a ditch.
csurry
12 9.2k 92
19 Mar 2010 5:56PM
The title specifically said Nature Photography, I was very careful to avoid wildlife as the soul subject at that point, it was me that introduced the wildlife bit. Surely it is about more than just wild or captive, but also needs to include manipulation of the image, the subject or the viewer?
StrayCat e2
10 15.0k 2 Canada
19 Mar 2010 5:59PM
It isn't wildlife photography if it's controlled, such as a game farm where the animals are controlled by handlers and put in various poses in manmade environs. That's my opinion, and the way I view it, but everyone's entitled to their own opinions.

The final results may look very similar, but for me as the photographer, I'll remember my trip in the wild a heckuva lot longer than a trip to the zoo.
f8 11 9.2k 22 England
19 Mar 2010 6:06PM
To tell an untruth to can an advantage is wrong. ie if asked, or in a photo competition that requests no captive animals and you lie, its wrong.


But if a photo is required of a certain aspect of an animal (fur,colour, shape,size etc) then it matters not if captive or wild.

It is sometimesquite obvious its captive, other times most difficult.

BWC offer some really excellent opportunities to photographers in their natural habitat surroundings is a case in point.

I personally always say if it was a captive animal and where it was taken, I fool no-one to lie.
justin c 10 4.5k 36 England
19 Mar 2010 6:08PM

Quote:It certainly matters to me, the challenge is to learn your subject and its whereabouts and behaviour, its easy to pay your fiver and get in the local zoo or Raptor centre and get great captures but to me its not wildlife.
I guess everyones different and Im not knocking those that pay thier Fiver and are happy with the results but they could have a greater sense of achievement by using patience and research and capturing something truly wild.
get your knees dirty I say and spend a few hours or days in a ditch.




I totally agree with the above.
Using a fox as an example for instance. I've personally got no interest in seeing an image of a captive fox in a zoo or wherever, no matter how good it may be, I just don't find it particularly appealing in comparison with an image of a wild animal, where a dedicated photographer has spent a long time learning all about their subject, has pitted their wits against the wild foxes' acute senses, has invested considerable time, effort and patience into planning and getting their images. There's just no comparison in the skill required to produce the end result. Anyone that's fairly competant with a camera shouldn't really fail to get a well-exposed and pin sharp image of a captive animal with today's modern equipment.
Getting the same image of a wild, wary and often illusive creature is a whole different ball game and for that reason I would always prefer to know if the shot was of a wild or captive subject.



Quote:The title specifically said Nature Photography, I was very careful to avoid wildlife as the soul subject at that point, it was me that introduced the wildlife bit. Surely it is about more than just wild or captive, but also needs to include manipulation of the image, the subject or the viewer?


EDITPosted before reading the above.
brian1208 e2
11 10.4k 12 United Kingdom
19 Mar 2010 6:16PM

Quote:they asked ten top pro outdoor photographers for their opinion on the need for truth in nature photography.



for me its about context, what is the purpose of the Nature Photograph
- if its to inform / guide opinion then yes, truth is paramount
- if its to create a saleable image then it doesn't really matter
- as a book illustration or educational piece then so long as the image gets across the intent of the author again, it doesn't matter (to me)
- if its to win the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Comp then I guess its vital (that - or not to get found out! Wink )

So, for me, there isn't one definitive answer.

[For my own humble efforts its a key objective and I don't even use photoshopping to try to remove / improve what I see and capture. It does therefore aggravate when others assume that if I get a good shot it must have been done "Digitally" (Its usually competition judges or the public looking at prints in local wildlife exhibitions that have that view)]
lawbert 7 1.7k 15 England
19 Mar 2010 6:29PM

Quote:The title specifically said Nature Photography, I was very careful to avoid wildlife as the soul subject at that point, it was me that introduced the wildlife bit. Surely it is about more than just wild or captive, but also needs to include manipulation of the image, the subject or the viewer?


Nature to me is the same as Natural so I would expand that to a subject in its natural environment...which would not have boundaries.....Fences in other words.

Manipulation of the image....thats a whole different subject....you get set up for your natural capture that has taken considerable research and effort...your all set up and the weather conditions slightly change and your resulting image is slightly under exposed....do you bin it or adjust slightly in raw convertor?.....I would adjust slightly personally.

That said there are many images of Nature that show more knowledge of photoshop opposed to photography knowledge.

Its a never ending circle but in the truth the only viewer that needs to be satified is the photographer.
NeilS e2
7 903 United Kingdom
19 Mar 2010 6:51PM
Thought about this (not for very long mind) and there's

Pets
Captive
Feral
Baited/staged wild
Natural Wild

Before deciding if its wildlife or nature (makes no difference to me) the distinction between baited and non baited needs to be considered.

Is a kite at Gigrin wild
Is the robin at your bird feeding station wild
Is a feral animal wild
Is a frog in your newly installed garden pond wild

The answer has to be yes

Same goes for a pet frog/snake/rabbit/guinea pigs however horses, dogs, cats, cows, donkeys, pigs are generally considered to be domesticated and that in my view should be the dividing line . Feral cows on Strom excluded that is.

It is annoying when judges don't believe some decent wild life shots haven't been photoshopped, and mark downwards as a result.
joolsb 10 27.1k 38 Switzerland
19 Mar 2010 6:51PM
It doesn't matter at all - so long as the photographer is honest in disclosing how the image was obtained and doesn't try to misrepresent captive as wild.

Once you start telling fibs, and you're found out, you not only lose any respect from your peers for your own work but the public at large's trust in the veracity of the photographic image as a document is further eroded.
csurry
12 9.2k 92
19 Mar 2010 7:55PM
Talking about fences in determining if an animal is wild or not brings a whole new argument in to play, how far apart do the fences have to be for the animal to be considered wild?

I don't really have a problem with an image being captive taken if its intention is to educate or inform. Does it matter if you show a group of children a picture of a captive golden eagle or a wild one in order to illustrate to them local wildlife or the importance of conservation? Some images just can not be captured in the wild, but they can be staged to have the most impact on their intended audience. So if they are achieving their aim and the photographer admits how they were taken if asked or in captioning does it matter.

Many shots we currently see are of baited animals, brown bears in Finland, golden and sea eagles in Norway. Does the existence of these images add to our world or our understanding of it. Does the popularity of the sea eagles in Norway and the tourists that they attract benefit the local community and therefore serve a purpose unrelated to the manner in which the image is taken?

Of course there are situations where it matters, WPOTY being one case in point.

Looking further afield of course this debate affects not only nature photography, but also fashion photography and photojournalism. Manipulating the viewer by manipulating the image is commonplace, removing wrinkles, thinning a models legs.

Will anyone ever look at an image and just think wow without wondering what the photographer has done to achieve the final result?
lawbert 7 1.7k 15 England
19 Mar 2010 9:04PM
I see the point of the original post but you are getting a bit toooooo deep now.. Wink
brian1208 e2
11 10.4k 12 United Kingdom
19 Mar 2010 9:29PM

Quote:Will anyone ever look at an image and just think wow without wondering what the photographer has done to achieve the final result?



A case of "The camera always lies"?

I fear that more and more people I talk to in the gallery and at craft fairs are convinced that all photographers use digital manipulation. (but so long as they buy my pics, who am I to try to educate them Smile )
f8 11 9.2k 22 England
20 Mar 2010 12:24AM

Quote:It doesn't matter at all - so long as the photographer is honest in disclosing how the image was obtained and doesn't try to misrepresent captive as wild.

Once you start telling fibs, and you're found out, you not only lose any respect from your peers for your own work but the public at large's trust in the veracity of the photographic image as a document is further eroded.



That's my sentiments too ,Jools.

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