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When is a photograph not a photograph ?

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musicianbruce

I've asked this question on another site (many years ago, and I no longer participate there); I got alot of flak for it ... especially from the site admin. Apologies if it does the same here. Just delete it; no offence taken.

But it is only a question and I wondered what peoples views are hereSmile

To give an analogy as a starter: Alot of people use chairs which are made from wood (trees). If I go into someones home I am invited to sit down in a chair, not a tree. So the tree has become transformed into someting else ... a chair; it doesn't look anything like a tree.

A photograph is light captured through a camera lens onto some camera medium (memory card/film) using the cameras parameters (shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc).
Some images are subsequently drasticallyaltered, in post processing, and get transformed into some other, quite different, art form; but, the final results get called photographs by alot of people. Now we all do some minor manipulation to correct the camera media representation to look like a fairly reasonable 'realistic' final result.

I believe the definition of a photograph stops when the final result looks nothing like the original; even though the result might be quite pleasant and appealing.

I think comments about 'how good a photograph is' in these drastic cases is just a complement on how good a person is in photoshop (or other) at applying special effect, after special effect, on the original camera media input.

HDR, when used properly and with care, can also produce some good results; but some peoples images look like a cartoon strip; despite it looking nice, I don't call it a photograph; it's just another transformed image artform.

So is a photograph defined as the light as seen through the camera lens with minor tweaks,or, is a photograph defined as any final result, even after drastic modifications.

Some people have said why do I care what people call it ? In that case I'll start calling a 'tree' a chair in futureSmile
I respect other peoples opinions, it's just a talking point.

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9 Oct 2011 - 9:09 PM

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ianrobinson
ianrobinson e2 Member 41107 forum postsianrobinson vcard United Kingdom8 Constructive Critique Points
9 Oct 2011 - 9:35 PM

This has been spoken about many times before and with respect this subject will probably open up a can of worms.
The way i see photography is in many forms as my eyes are wide open to new ideas that are done well, there is no right and no wrong but as long as processing a photo is done well in my opinion.
Photographs never stop being a photo after all they were taken in the traditional method of camera and lens what is done after that is no different to processing photos in a dark room, photo shop is a digital dark room and some people use it well and some not so well the same with HDR photography, personally i like my HDR images to look like a painting and that is what i try to achieve with software to help me, i find nothing wrong with this but then some people do not like HDR but i find nothing wrong with that either, the fact is we are all different and have different styles, of which some work well some don't.
We all have different ideas and technics and that's what makes photo's interesting when done well of course.
The tools that are available in photo shop and other software makes photography fun and enjoyable and some people like using there imagination which is great because they can produce some stunning results by what is termed as " MANIPULATED ", I do not see an issue with any photos processed in photo shop.
OPEN YOUR MIND Smile.

ripleysalien
9 Oct 2011 - 9:45 PM

I see nothing wrong with manipulating an image to what ever degree, as long as the photographer admits its altered and dosnt try to pull the wool.

HDR is tricky some like it some dont and different effects suit different shots, do what YOU like and let the others do what THEY like....... simples Smile

musicianbruce

I believe I said I didn't mind images being manipulated, and I even said I liked some of them.
I would just like to know if the final result should be called a 'photograph' !!

gpwalton
gpwalton  1390 forum posts
9 Oct 2011 - 9:54 PM

AS far as I am concerned, if an image is derrived from a photograph, taken by the author, then I will accept it as a photograph.

Nick_w
Nick_w e2 Member 73831 forum postsNick_w vcard England99 Constructive Critique Points
9 Oct 2011 - 9:59 PM

Photography is an art form, to me it's the final image that counts. Manipulation went on way before any digital camera. Where I draw the line is scientific studies and photo journalism.

It's like saying all art should look like Constables.

Last Modified By Nick_w at 9 Oct 2011 - 10:01 PM
Paul Morgan
Paul Morgan e2 Member 1314978 forum postsPaul Morgan vcard England6 Constructive Critique Points
9 Oct 2011 - 10:00 PM


Quote: When is a photograph not a photograph

When its displayed on a monitor Smile

Overread
Overread  63746 forum posts England18 Constructive Critique Points
9 Oct 2011 - 10:11 PM

A photograph is no longer a photograph when the final work is no longer the result of painting with light and is more the result of painting with photoshop Wink

Now as to how far you take things before you're painting more with photoshop than with light that is up for debate and, as far as I can tell, you'll only ever define the extremities of such and never really get down to a clear defined line in the sand as to the dividing point - just a lot of opinions and select situations.

In the end some say who cares its the end result whilst others care more about how you got there than what you got - so it all depends too on the viewpoint of the viewer.

keith selmes
9 Oct 2011 - 10:21 PM

If a tree falls in the forest and I sit down on it, is it now called a chair ? Wink

For some years we've discussed this topic, and it always seems to me that at one end of the scale you have a photograph, and at the other end you have digital art, but deciding where in the grey mushy middle ground you draw the dividing line is not really worth the trouble. And now we have people using systems like Second Life, and calling their screenshots photography, because although they don't use a camera, they are going through a similar process of posing and capturing an image.
Words shift sideways like that, and there is not a lot you can do about it.
(In the same way, photographers often talk about shooting and snapshots, but they are not using firearms)

In conventional photography, I think in fact an awful lot of transformation could be done and you could still claim a photograph. Consider the difference between an early and a late print made by Ansel Adams from the same negative. Worlds apart, with 20 years extra knowledge and skill in darkroom processing. I think we head toward digital art when we begin moving things around in the picture to get a more satisfactory composition, or maybe blending different images together, or perhaps changing colours completely. When we no longer claim to represent objects as they actually were, but build an image , we're moving across the divide.

This image is not a photograph at all, it is really a screenshot of a simple digital model. However it contains sections of about 7 photographs. It is very much like the chair made out of various bits of trees.

camera3ca.jpg



And this one, on the left is a photograph, on the right is a ... I don't really know ... it still looks like a tree more than a chair doesn't it ? But not quite true to life.

-mg-0147shop5e.jpg

mikehit
mikehit  46193 forum posts United Kingdom9 Constructive Critique Points
9 Oct 2011 - 10:21 PM


Quote: I believe the definition of a photograph stops when the final result looks nothing like the original;

That still leaves a lot of room for intrepretation. If a picture of a woman is recognisably still a womain does that count irrespective of what the 'artist' has done to it?



Quote: Manipulation went on way before any digital camera.

True, but that still involved 'writing with light' (which is the literal translation of photography). Even dodging and burning involved blocking light on its way to the print paper.
Digital manupilation involves no manipulation of light - it is all done electronically. The problem with that definition is that it would mean no picture taken with a digital camera would be called a 'photograph'.



Quote: Where I draw the line is scientific studies and photo journalism.

So Muybridge's pictures taken to show the gait of a horse were not 'photographs'. Interesting.
And photojournalism is not 'photography? You are entitled to your opinion of course but isn't that rather an elitist (even snobbish?) definition?

ianrobinson
ianrobinson e2 Member 41107 forum postsianrobinson vcard United Kingdom8 Constructive Critique Points
9 Oct 2011 - 10:25 PM


Quote: I believe I said I didn't mind images being manipulated, and I even said I liked some of them.
I would just like to know if the final result should be called a 'photograph' !!

Of course it should, it started as a photo and no matter how much manipulation as long as some part of that photo is in the finished product then it is still a photo.Smile

Eviscera
Eviscera  81098 forum posts United Kingdom149 Constructive Critique Points
9 Oct 2011 - 10:28 PM


Quote: When is a photograph not a photograph ?

When all the upload one a day compulsive obsessive one a day click pretenders who get massaged into thinking they are the best thing thing sliced bread , who darent upload to the c.g gallery and think they are the dogs bollocks if they get 50+ votes for some out of focus badly exposed piece of *****.

erm ,

etc

Nick_w
Nick_w e2 Member 73831 forum postsNick_w vcard England99 Constructive Critique Points
9 Oct 2011 - 10:32 PM


Quote: So Muybridge's pictures taken to show the gait of a horse were not 'photographs'. Interesting.
And photojournalism is not 'photography? You are entitled to your opinion of course but isn't that rather an elitist (even snobbish?) definition?

You miss understand me, I mean scientific/ photo journalism shouldn't be manipulated. BTW I take exception to been called a snob!.

For those that say it's wrong when it doesn't represent the scene you see. So is Black and White photography too far? Because I know I don't see in Black and White.

Last Modified By Nick_w at 9 Oct 2011 - 10:33 PM
pulsar69
pulsar69  101611 forum posts United Kingdom6 Constructive Critique Points
9 Oct 2011 - 11:20 PM

Ok so the Wikipedia definition is
A photograph (often shortened to photo) is an image created by light falling on a light-sensitive surface, usually photographic film or an electronic imager such as a CCD or a CMOS chip. Most photographs are created using a camera, which uses a lens to focus the scene's visible wavelengths of light into a reproduction of what the human eye would see

So if it is originally created by this method , then it is a photograph, if it is then manipulated you can call it a manipulated photograph , but it is still originally a photograph and was created as such no matter how many ridiculous filters or effects are added to it , lets put it another way , if we were to call it Art in its pure form , and then it was discovered to be a photoshopped to death photograph there would be an outcry , ' this is a photograph and not art '! would there not ?

all that aside , really all that matters is that either people like it , or people wish to part with hard cash for it , depending on where your aims lie Smile

Paul Morgan
Paul Morgan e2 Member 1314978 forum postsPaul Morgan vcard England6 Constructive Critique Points
9 Oct 2011 - 11:39 PM


Quote: So if it is originally created by this method , then it is a photograph, if it is then manipulated you can call it a manipulated photograph

But what if you manipulated in camera ? Smile

Photographers fall into two groups your either a recordist or an artist.

Recordist see with the eyes, artist see with there minds Smile

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