Luminous Landscape Forum

The Art of Photography => But is it Art? => Topic started by: tom b on October 19, 2010, 12:07:39 AM

Title: To clone or not to clone
Post by: tom b on October 19, 2010, 12:07:39 AM
At work I clone, crop, deep etch and manipulate to my heart's content. Being an educator, pedagogy comes first.

In my own work I tend to keep the images quite straight, maybe a bit of cropping and some cloning out of dust spots, rubbish etc.

Whilst working on the mock-up for Russ's new splash page the first image I grabbed was from his Asia portfolio. Then there was this terrible urge to clone. The temptation was there… to cross or uncross that is the question? Tell me what you would do! The picture is here:


P.S. link rot, Russ has updated his site.
Title: Re: To clone or not to clone
Post by: wolfnowl on October 19, 2010, 12:22:49 AM
Depends on what you want the image to say...

Title: Re: To clone or not to clone
Post by: stamper on October 19, 2010, 03:12:25 AM
Personally if it had been my image I would have cloned out the cross above the head, nothing else. Maybe Russ sees some kind of symbolism in leaving it there? It does make you think but if it wasn't there then nobody would have known or even suggested that the shot should have been framed in this manner. Then again Russ may have deliberately framed the shot to include the cross? Or was it an accident? Interesting.  ;)
Title: Re: To clone or not to clone
Post by: RSL on October 19, 2010, 01:06:45 PM
Stamper, It's been 57 years since I made that shot so my recollection of what I was thinking at the time is less than 20/20. But obviously I shot it wide open to throw the background out of focus. I was shooting with a Zeiss Ikoflex, which is a TLR very similar to the Rolleiflex. The camera was at waist level and I was looking down into the ground glass, keeping the focus on the man's face. I'm sure that when I snapped the shutter I wasn't noticing the line of telephone poles behind the subject, so the first time I really realized the cross was behind the man's head was when I developed the film. It's not symbolic. The man could well have been Christian, but more likely he was Buddhist, so symbolism doesn't really enter into it. I thought about cloning out the cross once I scanned the picture, but I tend to do straight work and leave things as the Lord (Christian or Buddhist) intended them.
Title: Re: To clone or not to clone
Post by: Ken Bennett on October 19, 2010, 02:01:43 PM
I would leave it in. Not out of any ethical principles on my part, but because I think it adds to the photo. Not the religious symbolism, but more a certain amount of depth.
Title: Re: To clone or not to clone
Post by: fredjeang on October 19, 2010, 02:15:44 PM
I remember various interesting articles by Michael Reichmann saying basically this: don't fear to manipulate and to shoot like crazy.

I'll put it that way: I think Russ philosophy to leave things as they where done is excellent when you want to improve skills and visions.
It's also very rtespectfull to the moment, and that certainly has some value.
IMO, the mistake generally attributed to manipulation is that it leads to false, or in other term, that autenticity is linked to you-got-it-on-shot.

In my current assistant work, I've been learning from the masters that they don't hesitate to burn an extremely high number of pictures, those men who knows very well how to take pictures are actually shooting like crazy, and they would choose 10 images among 800. (just watch Peter Lindberg in action and you'll see. Now, nodody would say that Lindberg doesn't know how to take picture. He has the technique extremely well mastered for ages, but he shoots an incredible number of frames/minute). Why? because it actually makes the difference. The genious has very little to do with "I got it at the first frame".
Remember actually a Russ comment about that fact when I asked a question about the "secret sauce" of the masters. They shoot really a lot.

Same about manipulation. Manipulation is really interesting because if there is an art of the shooting in action and get it right, there is also an art of seeing something in a picture after the action.
If you manipulate because you are insecure and unexperienced, better being hard with oneself and decide to not manipulate until you are ok in the shooting.
But if you manipulate consciously and know why and what you are doing, doors are welcome opened.

At the end, what matters is the image. When I watch photographies, I've never found myself thinking "if this is a crop or what grade of pp was involved..." I just watch the pic, and the pic is the only existing thing actually. The rest is just speculation.

Curiously, the P.P in fashion is not what I thought it was, many many things, in fact most of the imagery is done with lights in the plateau. PP is there for other reasons that has to do with the overall context but not the picture itself as a photograph.

In the case you mention, I would certainly leave the pic as it is. I don't even noticed the irony before you pointed it, and that has to do with what keep our attention is completly different, it depends on each one constitution (cultural codes, conditionning, mind settings etc...), and as Mike said, on what you want to say.
Title: Re: To clone or not to clone
Post by: tom b on October 19, 2010, 07:01:36 PM
An interesting response response so far. I wonder what would have been the response if instead of saying uncrossing I had said, "I just wanted to clone the power pole growing out of his head"?

Title: Re: To clone or not to clone
Post by: on October 19, 2010, 07:29:37 PM
Since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as is the interpretation of an image, I will venture my reaction of Russ's picture, regardless of Russ intended or did not intend the cross-like telephone pole to be in the image. 

The old man appears to be a religious figure, and clearly represents an old, non-Western way of life.  The telephone pole is a somewhat jarring object that does look like a cross, giving the image the immediate symbolism of east vs west, spirituality vs technology, and certainly old vs new.  Further, it suggests Christianity vs Buddhism.  The fact that the telephone pole is blurred also could represent differences in the strength of the opposing realities, clash between cultures, etc.

By no means am I saying that Russ intended this, and I am also not saying that the above symbolism is what the picture means.  However, I would leave the telephone pole in and feel that my interpretation is one possible way to see the image. 
Title: Re: To clone or not to clone
Post by: tom b on October 19, 2010, 08:22:10 PM
I've just been asked to clone something out of one of my images.


Something about not being appropriate in a 1930's pub.

Title: Re: To clone or not to clone
Post by: RSL on October 19, 2010, 09:30:42 PM
Tom, It could just be a plain old picture hung in a weird manner. Besides, if it were early enough in the thirties there wouldn't be any pubs in the U.S., just speakeasies. That one must have been in Australia. I've served alongside Brits, Canadians, and Australians, and the Australians were more like Americans than any of the others, even though they talk funny, but they never were dumb enough to cut off the booze.
Title: Re: To clone or not to clone
Post by: tom b on October 19, 2010, 10:02:20 PM
Kinda like Australians, but would the US elect an unwed, atheist, woman as their president? Oh yeah and she has red hair and she's foreign born to boot.

And yes, the Australians are too sensible to indulge in anything like banning alcohol.