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Site & Board Matters => About This Site => Topic started by: John Camp on December 15, 2005, 11:48:44 PM

Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: John Camp on December 15, 2005, 11:48:44 PM
This series of essays by Alain Briot could be pretty interesting, though I have to say that so far, I disagree with most of his main points. First of all, photogaphy ain't science. It's a mechanical aspects do represent a form of technology, but that's not science. Science is that thing about observation, hypothesis and repeatable proof; technology is about the wheel and how many spokes it should have. Further, a statement from a trained painter that photography is more technical than painting seems passing strange. The technology of painting is so complex that even very good painters have a hard time with it. Supposedly, you can find small parts of Jackson Pollock paintings on the floor beneath the paintings themselves, because he didn't understand the technology of paint and grounds -- and I think you could make a pretty good argument that almost *nobody* yet fully understands the relationship between paint and grounds. And that's just one tiny aspect of painting. If you are smart and went a good photography school for a year and studied diligently, you'd know just about everything you need to know about the technical aspects of photography to make very good photographs (assuming you have the artistic ability to do that.) Can't say the same of painting; the technical problems are endless. I don't do much math, but assuming that Winsor and Newton produce about 140 different hues of oil color, and that you can often mix as many of three of them without getting mud, how many different combinations would that be, using equal amounts of color for each mixture? Then think about varying amounts of color in each mixture...No, the technology of painting is far more complex than the technology of photography, at least as it applies to the artist. You can be a very good photographer without knowing much about how a chip counts photons, but a painter even controls how photons are absorbed and reflected.

I personally don't think painting and photography have much to do with each other, in an essential artistic way, as opposed to a business way (photography ruined most of the low end portrait business, for example.) Roland Barthes' idea that "the referent adheres" is the essential core of photography; in painting, a referent may not even exist outside the mind.

JC
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Ken Tanaka on December 16, 2005, 02:25:05 AM
I, too, think that Mr. Briot's essays might be interesting judging by his previous series.  This is obviously a fellow who likes to muse matters of aesthetic theory.

But Briot's first essay of the series , "Art and Science", made me wince.  It was a strained, contorted train-of-thought spaghetti bowl of flimsy assertions and weak similes that read more like a high school composition than a well considered essay.  It was awful.

I knew Briot was in trouble as soon I read the first paragraph, which was a seminal statement for all that followed.  It read:

Quote
Photography consists of two separate elements: art and science. It is through the successful combination of these two elements that the creation of world-class photographs can be accomplished.

No. For starters, photography is not intrinsically an art form, "world-class" or otherwise,  as is implied in this paragraph.  An insurance adjuster taking pictures of your bashed fender is not seeking self expression.  Art is a matter of intention, not a matter of medium.  So to be more precise, albeit less rhetorically dramatic, we might restate that paragraph as,

"All photographic processes rely upon science.  Using photography for artistic expression must therefore, in effect, amalgamate science with art."

But that's still an awfully lame thesis, isn't it?  It just got worse from there as more strands of pasta were mixed into the bowl.

Briot seems to have a problem quite common today:  an utter misunderstanding of what "science" means.  He misused the word and concept as a prop for his thesis.  "Science", as a noun, refers to a contiguous body of knowledge.  (Ex: genetics, electronics, et.al.)  "Science", as a verb, refers generally to the "scientific method" which is a structured process of discovery through experimentation to build that body of knowledge.

"Technology" is not a synonym for science; it's a different matter altogether.  Technology refers to the application of a science.  Consequently, all art forms -photography, painting, sculpture, drawing- rely on various technologies, not directly on sciences.  But I suppose that might be pedantic.

Here's hoping that Briot's future essays will be somewhat more cooked.  We can always use good 10,000 foot essays on photography and its aesthetic, emotional, and intellectual factors.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: David Mantripp on December 16, 2005, 06:10:53 AM
As a trained scientist I fully agree about the misuse of the terminology. I would describe the technical side of photography as "engineering" myself.

For a good treatise on the art & philosophy of landscape photography, I would strongly recommend David Ward's short but wonderful book, which  I commented on here (http://www.snowhenge.net/pblog/archives/000187.html).

I'm a little puzzled about Alain's direction. He seems to have really kicked into high gear on the "educator" front. I appreciate what he writes, and find much value in it - and indeed quite enough to buy some of his stuff - but I do wonder of he is over-extending himself.  I'm also a little disapointed that his long overdue article on the business of photography - which subscribers have paid for in advance - seems to be a low priority. Whilst he is erudite and knowledgeable, I can't help but wonder if he might not consider letting his photography speak for itself just a touch more.  I don't think anybody would dispute that on that front he is rock solid.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: russell a on December 16, 2005, 08:34:44 AM
I too, like the commenters above, found much to question in Alain Briot's beginning essay.  It was replete with assumptions that are highly challengable.  

I have a suspicion that his whole Art + Science thrust is aimed at placing photography on a plane on which it doesn't necessarily exist and attempting to immunize it from the situation that photography has the lowest entry barrier of just about all the Art media.  I have commented elsewhere about this.  To wit - one's un-tutored Uncle Ned or Aunt Sally has a better chance of taking a great photograph than creating a work of merit/substance in any other medium - think ballet, music, painting*, etc.  Look at the recent interest and elevation to Art status of Anonymous photos.  Uncle Ned's and Aunt Sally's Master work may not be recognized as such simply because they are not connected to the Arts community.  Also they may not have access to the post-processing that can elevate snapshots into Art.  The fact that their output may be drugstore-processed 4x6" prints is only a drawback in that they don't have a critical support group touting "ordinary-ness" as a virtue.  (Think William Christenberry's Polaroids.)

Much of the photography that is produced and exhibited in Art venues is created somewhat in spite of technology.  Artists muddle through and obtain expressive results without much knowledge of the technology, in fact, often through an inadvertent or even willful mis-understanding of technology.  Calibration, pristine histograms, etc. are not necessary ingredients.   Luck alone may suffice.  Luck plus a good eye can increase the odds of repeated success.  From that point on, a knowledge of the technology just functions to increase consistency and repeatability, but only in service of luck and a good eye.  As we all know, technology alone cannot carry the day and can be applied to the point that it contradicts the results.

I recall hearing the proprietor of an artist's printing service (one which runs Artisans, Epsons, Imageprint, etc. all the "requisites") admit that, when working with artists they ran through lots of paper doing trial and error.  Well, doggone!


* although much of the history of painting of the last 50 years has lowered the entry barrier significantly.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 16, 2005, 09:14:01 AM
I find all these dichotomies between "art" and "science" and "photography" and "art" to be not terribly useful. Science underpins the technical potential of both media - in different ways to be sure - and there can be just as much art in photography as there is in painting - depending on what one means by "art" and whether the person doing the painting or the photographing has the kind of vision and mastery of technique needed to create "art". I'm not going to write a parallel essay on a definition of "art" or the meaning of art in photography - whole books have been written about this and I'm sure many of us have read at least one or several of them. While Alain's first essay was amusing, frivolous, flawed and interesting all at once, let us await the next instalments with open minds.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Scott_H on December 16, 2005, 09:38:12 AM
I liked the essay.

Semantics aside, the camera is between me and what I want to create, and if I do not understand the technical limitations and requirements of the medium, the camera can actually be a barrier.  Even if if I understand the technology, having to stop and think about something technical can derail my train of creative thought.

I have given some thought to the difference between painting and photography.  Both have their technical limitations, but in my mind, the technical aspects of photography are much more rigorous.  Of course, if my hobby was painting and not photography, I might feel quite differently about that.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: David Mantripp on December 16, 2005, 11:32:29 AM
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* although much of the history of painting of the last 50 years has lowered the entry barrier significantly.
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I'd say that was debatable. Whilst it may be that pure technique is less valued in recent decades, there is then an underlying assumption that technique == art. The legions of technically competent journeyman portrait or landscape painters that predated the photographic era where not artists, at least not in the strictest sense of the word.  Art is about communicating a concept, essentially, through abstract or literal means, but the significant point is that a work of art is multilayered.  The concept is the key, not the technique.  An example would be Rachel Whiteread's incredibly moving "House" - effectively a plaster cast of the interior of a house, made prior to demolition. The artist had no part in the technique.  The casual onlooker just didn't get it, or worse, decided it was rubbish. But at an emotional, and intellectual level, it was very, very powerful.  

I have say that I'm pretty sceptical about most photographers who describe themselves as "fine artists". There are some, and I'm sure Alain Briot is one, for whom the term is justified. Michael, I know from personal experience, is certainly at times also within that group. But most are competent, maybe even highly gifted, technicians (I'd classify myself as an incompetent technician, but I have had enough exposure to trained, professional artists to understand what I lack).

The reason I find David Ward's writings so appealing is that he has actually thought a lot about what an artistic process actually means, how it relates to the wider world, and how it is applied to landscape photograpy - an area which has a hard time escaping from the "pretty pictures" trap.

I think that elsewhere, Alain Briot has made a very good job of describing his view of the intersection between photography and the artistic process. In this new article, if you do a global edit on "science" and replace with "technique", I think it reads just fine.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on December 16, 2005, 01:17:37 PM
Quote
This series of essays by Alain Briot could be pretty interesting, though I have to say that so far, I disagree with most of his main points. First of all, photogaphy ain't science. It's a mechanical aspects do represent a form of technology, but that's not science. Science is that thing about observation, hypothesis and repeatable proof; technology is about the wheel and how many spokes it should have.

This is ridiculous. While it is true that there isn't much "science" involved in the mere act of pressing the shutter release, having a good grasp of the scientific principles of optics, the behavior of photodiodes and A/D converters, and the chemistry of film and developers will go a long way toward enabling one to master the equipment to achieve the desired result, instead of employing blind guesswork and generally being disappointed in the results. And how is the scientific method not applicable to the technical aspects of photography? Much of learning to be a technically proficient photographer can be thought of as using one's technical expertise to formulate a hypothesis regarding what lens and camera settings are appropriate to the task at hand, shooting with those settings (AKA conducting an experiment), and comparing the results obtained to what the hypothesis predicted, then adjusting the hypothesis as necessary based on the results of the shoot (experiment). Given decent quality equipment, the results are testable and repeatable. With a disciplined approach, there's nothing unscientific about the technical side of photography at all.

Quote
Further, a statement from a trained painter that photography is more technical than painting seems passing strange. The technology of painting is so complex that even very good painters have a hard time with it.

...

If you are smart and went a good photography school for a year and studied diligently, you'd know just about everything you need to know about the technical aspects of photography to make very good photographs (assuming you have the artistic ability to do that.) Can't say the same of painting; the technical problems are endless. I don't do much math, but assuming that Winsor and Newton produce about 140 different hues of oil color, and that you can often mix as many of three of them without getting mud, how many different combinations would that be, using equal amounts of color for each mixture? Then think about varying amounts of color in each mixture...No, the technology of painting is far more complex than the technology of photography, at least as it applies to the artist. You can be a very good photographer without knowing much about how a chip counts photons, but a painter even controls how photons are absorbed and reflected.

This is also ridiculous. A year of dedicated study of photography will indeed ground you fairly well in the basics of operating a camera competently (getting focus and exposure correct), but when you start throwing in things like lighting and the vagaries of different types of photography (shooting food is not the same as shooting a horse show, which is not the same as shooting a wedding, which is not the same as shooting artistic landscapes), truly mastering all aspects of photography takes a lifetime.

And given the fact that most color print processes can duplicate the range of colors found in a painting with only 4 to 8 inks, your example of 140 paint colors complicates the issue unnecessarily. Painting with a specific color is no more difficult than photographing and reproducing that color; given the difficulties many people have with color management, one could make a fairly convincing case that the photographer has a more difficult path to follow than the painter.

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I personally don't think painting and photography have much to do with each other, in an essential artistic way, as opposed to a business way (photography ruined most of the low end portrait business, for example.) Roland Barthes' idea that "the referent adheres" is the essential core of photography; in painting, a referent may not even exist outside the mind.

This is also quite off base. The basic idea of both photography and painting is to express something visually--an idea, an emotion, or perhaps a record of the appearance of a person, place, or thing. Both disciplines can be used to create a very literal representation of something (although photography can do so somewhat more conveniently than painting), and both can be employed to create images that are far removed from from "reality". The end product of both disciplines is a static, two dimensional image that is generally interpreted as representing a single moment in time. THe only real difference between photography and painting is the process between the concept and the finished product.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: alainbriot on December 16, 2005, 01:25:42 PM
"If you do a global edit on "science" and replace with "technique", I think it reads just fine."

Doesn't art make use of technique?  And if so, wouldn’t titling the series "Art & Technique" be confusing the issue?

And, as an example, aren't certain, if not most, reviews of lenses done scientifically?  A number of reviewers may be insulted if they are told that such reviews are not scientific when they aim at making use of facts, facts, and only facts.  

And aren't those who purchase lenses based on these reviews making a decision informed by scientific facts?

And isn't profiling a printer a science? And aren't many photographers profiling their own printers and studying the science of color management?  

Or is all this not science?  And if it is not science, what is it if not art?

Alain
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: paulbk on December 16, 2005, 03:02:36 PM
I agree with Jonathan. I think the posts above are being unnecessarily pedantic regarding use of the term science. Here I use “science” to mean an understanding of the principles which explain the physical world. Scientific principles are both deterministic and objective. They apply the same way for everyone, whether you believe them or not. There is little need for science in literature. However, a photographer ignorant of the principles of optics, color, and exposure (time, aperture, and ISO) is lost.

As for Jonathan, unfortunately I must tell Rummy to cancel your Army tour since leaving this forum without the benefit of your well reasoned input presents more of a national security risk than the additional security you can provide as an Army of one. Think about it. Is there anything more disheartening to the morale of a nation then a bunch of bad photos? Sorry Jonathan. You are hereby ordered to put the M-16 down and pickup the 1Ds.

Respectfully,
p
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: russell a on December 16, 2005, 03:20:46 PM
"And aren't those who purchase lenses based on these reviews making a decision informed by scientific facts?"

No.  Making an informed purchase based on a review is not "doing science"

And isn't profiling a printer a science? And aren't many photographers profiling their own printers and studying the science of color management?"

No.   Profiling a printer is not doing science anymore than repairing a flat tire is doing science.  (Let's see, I'll do this experiment to see if placing a plug in the hole and filling the tire with air will restore its functionality.  Eureka!  Call the American Journal of Physics!)  Studying color management (which may be a craft, not a science) is not doing science.  

This is fuzzy thinking.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: John Camp on December 16, 2005, 04:10:26 PM
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THe only real difference between photography and painting is the process between the concept and the finished product.
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Well, this part we agree on, Jonathon. Just like the only difference between a raft and a lunar lander is the process between the concept and the finished product; I mean, hey, they both take you somewhere.

Technique and technology are not science, and to think that making the distinction is pedantic demonstrates a thorough misunderstanding of the differences. Understanding optics -- studying a physics text -- does not make you a scientist, it makes you a student. I don't want to sound like a jerk here, but the differences between science and technology are critical, and Mr. Briot doesn't seem to understand them. Think: science on this hand, engineering on the other. People may cross-over, but the root concepts don't.

As for the idea that a few inks can reproduce color in a painting, again, I really don't want to seem like a jerk, but that concept is laughable -- ask any pro who works for a museum, trying to get the colors right. My example of Winsor and Newton colors was not pulled out of thin air: and if you look at references on paintings, you'll find whole treatises just on color, and where it comes from, and how to use it, and how even to use the texture of oil color to pick up highlights...

I don't have a problem with photography. I like it. I just think it's distinct from painting is essential ways -- not better or worse, just distinct, and it sure as hell is not less technical.

JC
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on December 16, 2005, 04:34:10 PM
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As for the idea that a few inks can reproduce color in a painting, again, I really don't want to seem like a jerk, but that concept is laughable -- ask any pro who works for a museum, trying to get the colors right.
So explain how it is that commercial and fine art photographers are able to match colors in their prints for the most demanding corporate clients using printing processes that use only 4-8 ink colors. What you're calling "laughable" is done every single day, and it seems to work quite well. Setting gamut issues to the side for a moment, are you seriously proposing that painings in general cannot be accurately color matched without using hundreds of ink colors?
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: alainbriot on December 16, 2005, 05:33:40 PM
"Studying color management (which may be a craft, not a science) is not doing science."

I trust that GretagMc Beth, Chromix, Color Vision, X-Rite, Epson, ColorByte and numerous other companies involved in color management will be delighted that you are setting them straight on the exact nature of their endeavors.

Yours looking for the Gretag McBeth Spectrolino/ Spectroscan bundle in my local craft store,

Alain
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: russell a on December 16, 2005, 05:53:56 PM
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So explain how it is that commercial and fine art photographers are able to match colors in their prints for the most demanding corporate clients using printing processes that use only 4-8 ink colors. What you're calling "laughable" is done every single day, and it seems to work quite well. Setting gamut issues to the side for a moment, are you seriously proposing that painings in general cannot be accurately color matched without using hundreds of ink colors?
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I have to demur here.  The matching of color in printed materials is an approximate process and one shouldn't give the impression that there are slam dunk methods.  My wife is frequently disappointed by illustrations in "mail-order" clothing catalogs that do not accurately represent the color of the garment that arrives, in spite of what I am sure is a lot of effort expended to attempt accuracy.  As for the reproduction of paintings - I believe that no one-layer printing process can adequately reproduce the effect of underpainting and what it does to the top layer of color - not to mention issues of irridescence and other optical effects in transparent/transluscent layered paint.  The aformentioned proprieter of an artist's reproduction printing service feels he is most successful when he or his staff works with an artist to "achieve a result better (my emphasis, I might read 'different') than the original".

This sub-topic is drifting a bit from the original thrust - but this should give Alain Briot some sense that subsequent articles in his series will be read by an active rather than passive audience.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on December 16, 2005, 07:21:31 PM
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My wife is frequently disappointed by illustrations in "mail-order" clothing catalogs that do not accurately represent the color of the garment that arrives, in spite of what I am sure is a lot of effort expended to attempt accuracy.
That means nothing. There are still a lot of graphic artists and printing establishments who don't even know what color management is; they don't even use Adobe Gamma, and if you ask them for a printer profile so you can soft proof to their press, they look at you like you have cockroaches crawling from your eye sockets. I've dealt with quite a few of these outfits, some of which print books and catalogs, signs and even photo enlargements, and certainly ought to know better. Most mail order catalogs are generally printed by the lowest bidder; certainly not always the one with the best color management practices.

Texture aside, color matching is fairly easy to do to a high degree of accuracy if one uses a decent spectrophotometer to profile one's gear. This is particularly true when matching text color to a specific item; you can use the spectrophotometer to measure the color of the item and then export that color to Photoshop in RGB or CMYK, and if you've profiled the printer with the same spectro, the color match can be close enough to be startling when you place a print next to the original object. I've done this a few times, so I'm speaking from experience here.

Color matching isn't nearly as approximate as you claim if you use good quality cameras, monitors, printers, and calibration equipment, and use good measurement and calibration practices when profiling.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: alainbriot on December 16, 2005, 07:24:29 PM
"Subsequent articles in his series will be read by an active rather than passive audience."

I very much appreciate that, whether readers agree or disagree with me.  If I wanted a passive audience I would be writing essays that everyone agrees with ;- )

Alain
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: John Camp on December 16, 2005, 08:45:07 PM
The best, highest-level art books don't claim to match color precisely, because it can't be done (yet.) I know there are all kinds of color measuring tools and so on, but I also know that you can't perfectly match the colors in paintings. You can come close on some, but you don't get the cigar for getting close. As to the point about matching fabrics, we're not dealing here with people who don't know about color matching -- with high-end catalogs, we're talking about the best catalog pros and fashion shooters doing the work, and you'll still see warnings that the color is not precise.

That is, after all, what the whole term "out of gamut" was invented to express, when it comes to photography and color matching. Is there ANY photographic color set that will match all visible colors, all at once?

This discussion has grown a bit more testy than I intended when I started it. I like the idea of these essays, and think this kind of discussion has been missed on the LL; it gets a little bit tiresome for the non-technically oriented to read even more articles about bit depth. I personally look forward to further essays by Alain.

JC
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on December 16, 2005, 11:19:28 PM
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That is, after all, what the whole term "out of gamut" was invented to express, when it comes to photography and color matching. Is there ANY photographic color set that will match all visible colors, all at once?
No, "out of gamut" refers to a color that is brighter, darker, and/or more saturated than the inkset can reproduce, not a color within the gamut that is not reproduced sufficiently accurately. There is a significant difference between "out of gamut" and inaccurate color matching.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 17, 2005, 12:54:16 AM
Jonathan's distinction is correct, but "out of gamut" poses an additional color matching challenge for those colors that are out of gamut - we vary rendering intents and do a number of other things to improve matching in these situations.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jo Irps on December 17, 2005, 09:49:33 AM
Further to John Camp's initial critique. I have looked up in the "Oxford Advanced Dictionary of current English" (Oxford University Press) what the words "science " and "technique" really mean.

Science: knowledge arranged in an orderly manner, especially knowledge obtained by observation and testing of facts; pursuit of such knowledge.

Scientific: of, for, connected with, used in, science; guided by the rule of science.

Technique: technical or mechanical skill in music, painting etc., method of doing this expertly; method of of artistic expression in music, painting etc.

Technology: study, mastering and utilization of manufacturing and industrial methods: systematic application of knowledge to practical tasks in industry etc.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: alainbriot on December 17, 2005, 10:10:48 AM
Jo,

Thank you for looking up these definitions.  Personally, I am very careful regarding which words I use in my essays.  I literally spend months working out details of my writings as well as verifying the definition of the terms I use.

Alain
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on December 17, 2005, 12:56:03 PM
Pardon me for intruding in a thread where people actually do know what they are talking about  

The 'technical' side to photography, or art for that matter is something that the photographer/artist must have under their belt before even starting. There is no point to taking a photo as an artistic endevour if you cannot use the equipment to express what you wish it to, ditto a painter who doesn't know how to get the correct mix of paint onto the canvas.

Cartier Bresson writes that a photographer needs to have the technical aspects of photography as a subconscious reflex, he compares it to changing gears on a car.

Once I do have that technical expertise, I can paint what I have in my mind, that which I want to express using the tools I have. If I have used my choice of film, lenses, filtration, exposure, post processing and printing to bring to life on paper the emotions I wish to convey from a particular scene, is that not art? Composition is not a science, it's not even technical, it could not be done by a machine programmed with all the technical aspects of photography. Composition is in essence how one 'sees' the scene, it is where photography stops being technical and starts becoming art.

As far as I understand, this basic theme is what has run as an undercurrent in the previous series of essays and is hinted at in this essay. Who cares how you define science?

If I've missed the point of this entire thread, I refer you to the first line of my post  
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: alainbriot on December 17, 2005, 02:19:00 PM
"As far as I understand, this basic theme is what has run as an undercurrent in the previous series of essays and is hinted at in this essay. Who cares how you define science?"

That is absolutely correct. The underlying theme is the same, but in the new series I address subjects that do not fit neatly in categories such as the ones I use for the Photography & Aesthetics series, namely composition, exposure, lenses, seeing, film choice, keepers, portfolios, personal style, being an artist and the upcoming being an artist in business which is currently 2/3rds done.  In this new series I address subjects that are more problematic, subjects that are rarely, if ever addressed.  

In regards to the definition of science, my take was that everyone agrees on the dictionary definition of science.  However, somehow the discussion took a different turn.  In my regard, that changes nothing.  As you say, there are two aspects to photography, and a world class photograph demonstrates mastery of both.  

Now most people find themselves, at first, stronger in one of those two aspects and that is the basis for my essay.  The goal is to excel at both, and to do that we have to bypass our natural tendency to lean towards the side we are naturally better at.  To do this we have to make changes, and to make changes requires a willingness to learn.  Change is good, but change is also difficult.  My next essay focuses on the concept of change, so we will be able to clarify what changes we are talking about.

Do keep in mind that this is the first essay in this series.

Finally, I do believe you know what you are talking about  :- )

Alain
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Eric Myrvaagnes on December 17, 2005, 08:08:58 PM
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Finally, I do believe you know what you are talking about  :- )

Alain
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Right! I suspect that everybody reading the essay would agree that there are two complementary "aspects" of photography (or at least of those types of photography that have anything to do with aesthetics), even if they might quibble about the names being used.

I want to thank Pom for bringing the discussion back to the main point of the essay, and I certainly look forward eagerly to the rest of the series.

Eric
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: alainbriot on December 17, 2005, 11:28:51 PM
Eric,

Thank you.  What is very interesting is that this discussion has given me a unique idea for the next essay.  So there is good coming from exchanging views, and I want to thank everybody, whether they agree or disagree with me.  

Alain
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: opgr on December 18, 2005, 05:03:38 AM
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To do this we have to make changes, and to make changes requires a willingness to learn.  Change is good, but change is also difficult.

Would that be a classic case of self-reflection?

If the majority of the readers understand the two aspects in photography to be "Art & Technology", then you might consider *changing* your choice of words...

For further reflections I propose the following sentences:
1. The Science behind Art.
2. The Technology behind Art.

I would think sentence 1 poses the same ambiguity as your example of "Art & Technique".

On the other hand: isn't it interesting that an essay about Art & Whatever raises a discussion primarily about "Whatever"? Is that a result of anal overfixation on the "Whatever" aspect of Photography? Word A fits better than word B. No, no, word B is better.

It is clear that one can "learn" the science behind technology, and one can learn to use the technology to ones advantage. Can one learn Art? Or Creativity? And if so, can one learn to balance Art and Technology? Is this what the essays will be addressing? I personally would like to see one of those essays titled "Art & Innovation". And I'll leave it open what aspect "Innovation" is referring at.

ps. for the colorgeeks: don't be too dogmatic about color. Shoot some golden jewelry. How do you know you reproduce the right color? Note that in painting you at least have the choice of using a gold paint...
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: BlasR on December 18, 2005, 07:29:41 AM
Any of you ever seeing  Normall Rockwell, Painting?  He was a science ,or he was a GENIUS?  I really beleave he was I GENIUS.


BlasR
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: alainbriot on December 18, 2005, 01:00:03 PM
"can one learn to balance Art and Technology? Is this what the essays will be addressing? I personally would like to see one of those essays titled "Art & Innovation"

These are certainly right along my line of thinking and at the core of the first essay.  To innovate one first has to free himself and be open to change.
 
Alain
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Digiteyesed on December 18, 2005, 03:00:36 PM
Speaking for myself, I find that photography is a lot like writing poetry. There are some people who can produce decent poetry without understanding the intricacies of the language they're using, but the better poets usually try to understand both the artistic side of their craft and the technical underpinnings of the language they're using.

Of course, it's possible to know a language very well and to never write or appreciate poetry. Such is life.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: jani on December 18, 2005, 04:01:19 PM
Quote
On the other hand: isn't it interesting that an essaySixtine chapel  about Art & Whatever raises a discussion primarily about "Whatever"? Is that a result of anal overfixation on the "Whatever" aspect of Photography? Word A fits better than word B. No, no, word B is better.
Yes, and I find it especially interesting that the notion of art as a form of self-expression hasn't been challenged. The popularity of this notion comes from the 19th century.

Yet we still allow that e.g. Michaelangelo's on-demand decorations are not only art, but great art.

In Norwegian, the corresponding word's dictionary meaning stresses that it's an imaginative, creative achievement of an aesthetic expression of inner or outer experience.

Even this somewhat broader definition is rather recent in Europe, and in India art had strict and very specific rules on how things should be crafted until the 17th century. Yet we persist in calling it art and not a craft, don't we?

I'd say that seeing what makes a photograph is an art, but the technicality of delivering the vision with bytes, film or paint is a craft.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on December 18, 2005, 04:08:51 PM
Quote
I'd say that seeing what makes a photograph is an art, but the technicality of delivering the vision with bytes, film or paint is a craft.
I'd agree with that. The visualization of the final product/image is artistic, doing what's necessary to achieve the desired result is technique/craft. This applies equally to painting and photography.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: jule on December 18, 2005, 04:39:18 PM
The craft of Art.      
Julie
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: John Camp on December 18, 2005, 04:54:10 PM
Quote
I'd say that seeing what makes a photograph is an art, but the technicality of delivering the vision with bytes, film or paint is a craft.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=53845\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I dunno. Perfectly realized visualization, combined with great technique, might also make a photograph a postcard. On the other hand,  "bad postcards" have recently been compiled by a famous photographer into an "art" book. That is, what a few decades ago was just tourist junk, is now art; and it's commonplace that what was art a few decades ago is now considered junk. I think nailing down what makes an "art" photograph is pretty slippery. I think Ansel Adams "Moonrise" is a serious work of art, as is "Clearing Winter Storm," but I'm not so sure that all of his photographs would qualify (and when I say 'I'm not so sure,' that's exactly what I mean: my mind could be changed one way or another.) Ultimately I have a feeling that what defines an object as "art" is the acceptance by a wide range of knowledgable people that a certain work IS "art," and that it would be difficult to come up with a more specific definition. It may be the plight of many technically competent photographers that what they believe is art is actually nothing more than postcards, and they'll never know differently, because the final verdict may not be rendered for 50 or 100 years...

In sculpture and painting, I have a very difficult idea accepting the work of many "minimalists" as art. The producers of this stuff wrote aesthetic treatises, worked like artists, acted like artists, were interested in art, sold their work in art galleries, and have had it installed in major museums...and yet, I think the final verdict may be that what they produced is junk.

JC
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: DarkPenguin on December 18, 2005, 05:38:56 PM
I stand by the "It's art because I say it is art" definition.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: jdemott on December 18, 2005, 05:52:38 PM
In the essay, Alain describes how the technical (scientific) aspects of photography can be a barrier to the aesthetic aspects of photography.  He asserts (correctly I think) that there are far more photos that are technically proficient but lacking in art than the converse.

Coincidentally, last night I watched a DVD that describes the converse situation--photos that have significant artistic strengths, but lack technical proficiency.  The movie is Born Into Brothels.  For those who haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.  It is a documentary describing a project to give cameras to children living in an impoverished red light district in India and to encourage them to explore their world through the cameras.

The children appear to be using simple point and shoot type cameras with color negative film.  All the scientific aspects of their photos have been thoughtfully provided by the engineering and research staffs of Canon and Kodak.  The children are of course totally unconcerned with the science of photography; instead, they evidence the simple joy of exploring the visual world around them.  While they do not have an adult's ability to describe art in terms of composition, line, form, contrast, etc., many of them have a fantastic intuitive ability to capture not only the emotions around them, but also to capture the colors and shapes artistically.  Some of the photos from the project can be seen on-line at http://www.kids-with-cameras.org/kidsgallery/ (http://www.kids-with-cameras.org/kidsgallery/).

In my own photography, I know that technical proficiency can certainly be a barrier to seeing the world artistically.  When I look at a scene and have my mind preoccupied with metering, dynamic range, focal lengths, filtration, etc., then I am not giving my full energy to seeing the real possibilities in the scene.  Certainly, I have produced my share of photos that are technically competent but lacking in spirit.  Perhaps for that reason, I find that some of my favorite shots are ones I took 25 years ago with an OM-1 that I scarcely knew how to use; the photos may lack a little on the technical side but sometimes I succeeded in capturing something that still seems significant today.  Perhaps that is also the reason why so many photographers seem to ask the question: what camera can I buy as decent digital point and shoot camera--a camera that produces decent results without interposing a barrier between the photographer and his or her vision of the world?  

Anyway, I you haven't seen it, the movie is worth watching.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: DiaAzul on December 18, 2005, 05:59:52 PM
Quote
If the majority of the readers understand the two aspects in photography to be "Art & Technology", then you might consider *changing* your choice of words...

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=53816\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Pesonally I would prefer Alain to use the term 'Arts et Metier', but the downside it would confuse all the non French speakers - though perhaps that would save all the discussion about which dictionary we are working to.    
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: David Mantripp on December 19, 2005, 03:19:21 AM
Quote
So explain how it is that commercial and fine art photographers are able to match colors in their prints for the most demanding corporate clients using printing processes that use only 4-8 ink colors. What you're calling "laughable" is done every single day, and it seems to work quite well. Setting gamut issues to the side for a moment, are you seriously proposing that painings in general cannot be accurately color matched without using hundreds of ink colors?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=53711\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well, they use software produced by engineers, and apply their experience and skill to get it to work for them.  The engineers themselves may have referred ro colour science, or optics, or other areas, and may even have conducted research. But the photographers are most certainly not "doing" science. They are, at best, using the fruits of science.

I don't think it is pedantic to insist on the correct use of terminology. Photographers are pretty damn pedantic when it comes to their area of expertise, and should extend the same courtesy to others. Sure, there is technique in art. And there is art in photography. And there is technique in photography. But, unless you are involved in the sort of work such as the guy who has come up with a way to focus images after the event, then science doesn't come into it.

Oh, and Jonathan, weighing into an interesting, and developing thread starting off with "This is ridiculous"... is this an example of the diplomatic tact and sensitivity that the US military is so renowned for ? Or are you just trying to bring us down to the usual level ? Just wondered.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jack Flesher on December 19, 2005, 12:00:46 PM
Quote
It was a strained, contorted train-of-thought spaghetti bowl of flimsy assertions and weak similes that read more like a high school composition than a well considered essay. 

Skipping all the discussion inbetween, the above pretty well sums up my feelings about this writing too...

If Briot wants to enter the mainstream of journalism, he'll need to learn to keep his articles focused on the point(s) he's trying to make instead of the arcane ramble exhibited in his recent articles on LL...  

Cheers,
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on December 19, 2005, 12:08:09 PM
Quote
Oh, and Jonathan, weighing into an interesting, and developing thread starting off with "This is ridiculous"... is this an example of the diplomatic tact and sensitivity that the US military is so renowned for ? Or are you just trying to bring us down to the usual level ? Just wondered.

Sigh....
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Ray Maxwell on December 19, 2005, 05:12:03 PM
Hi Group,

My Name is Ray Maxwell.  I am an electronics engineer, a silver gelatin print maker, chromogenic print maker, and digital printmaker and photographer.  I am also a storyteller.

Once upon a time there was a young person who came to a Japanese Master Potter and asked if he could become his apprentice.  The old Master agreed.  He took the young apprentice down to a river and taught him to dig a clay body and then how to wedge clay (this is mixing with the hands to remove all air pockets and make the clay homogeneous).

The next day the apprentice arrived and asked what he could do.  The old master sent the apprentice to the river to wedge clay.

The next day the apprentice arrived and asked what he could do.  The old master sent the apprentice to the river to wedge clay.

This went on for months.

One day the apprentice asked when he could make a pot.

The old Master said, "Before you can be creative, you have to learn your medium."

The old Jazz master also said, " First you have to "pay your dues"."

All creative art has technical aspects that have to be mastered before you can express yourself in a deterministic way and become a "Master" of your art.

You can use trial and error and come up with art that is serendipitous.  This is also valid art created via accident.  But pre-visualized deterministic art requires that you master the medium before you can accurately express yourself.

Painting requires that you understand pigments, canvas, light, perspective, brushes, thinners, and a whole list of technical things.

Digital photography requires that you understand CCD and CMOS arrays, A/D converters, digital file systems, light, optics, and the many more technical items.

I once worked with a painter who understood color science.  He limited his oil palette to only the colors that could be reproduced on my inkjet printers so that we could approximate his work without going out of gamut. He understood the limits of the reproduction methods that were available.  Don’t you wish there were more artists like that.

Ray
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: rlebel on December 19, 2005, 06:08:56 PM
Quote
"Studying color management (which may be a craft, not a science) is not doing science."

I trust that GretagMc Beth, Chromix, Color Vision, X-Rite, Epson, ColorByte and numerous other companies involved in color management will be delighted that you are setting them straight on the exact nature of their endeavors.


Alain
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It is not clear to me why Alain chooses to make this response rather than responding to what the author actually meant. The companies who produce the software could quite correctly be described as doing engineering, which is the practical application of science. Maybe they occasionally stretch into doing science, but I doubt it. On the other hand, the users of these products are ordinarily doing neither engineering nor science.

I suggest that the proper term for use in Alain's article instead of "science" might be "craft" or "technique". In any art there is a need to make use of physical tools to create the end result. (Give me a break and allow that even Photoshop is a "physical tool"; it uses electrons, right?) One can come to grips with the tools in a variety of ways, ranging from a basic understanding of the physics to "it looks right when I wiggle it this way". If you fail to learn how to use your tools you will have inconsistent results, but no one needs a PhD in image processing to use Photoshop effectively, nor a Masters in chemistry to make a competent print in the darkroom.

Photography today makes use of a lot of tools that have required an amazing level of engineering, and basic science including optics, chemistry, computer and semiconductor. A large amount of the engineering effort by the camera, printer and software companies is devoted to making it possible to take photos with good technique without needing to understand the science and engineering that are fundamental to success, just as I can write this post with no clue about how the hundreds of thousands of lines of code work when I hit "Add Reply".

I am also mystified as to how Alain thought he would improve the point of his article by dismissing the craft or technique required by painters. I myself cannot guess if painting is technically easier or harder than photography, but I appreciate that painting well is hard. If I am writing about technique and/or art in photography, why does this point matter?

I hope that future articles will help me blend craft and art to make better photographs, rather than inspire me to blather on about the proper use of certain English words!
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: jani on December 19, 2005, 06:25:34 PM
Quote
I once worked with a painter who understood color science.  He limited his oil palette to only the colors that could be reproduced on my inkjet printers so that we could approximate his work without going out of gamut. He understood the limits of the reproduction methods that were available.  Don’t you wish there were more artists like that.
I know you're not soliciting a response here, but I'd like to point out that no, I don't wish that there were more artists like that on a general basis.

While such artists may be a pleasure to work with if their work is primarily intended for reproduction, and it indeed may spark off a new trend in painting techniques, I don't like the idea of artists limiting themselves in this manner.

It would also be convenient if image artists limited themselves to formats that were either 1:1 or 3:2, since those are easiest to find frames for, but ...
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Ray Maxwell on December 19, 2005, 07:52:04 PM
Quote from: jani,Dec 19 2005, 11:25 PM

While such artists may be a pleasure to work with if their work is primarily intended for reproduction, and it indeed may spark off a new trend in painting techniques, I don't like the idea of artists limiting themselves in this manner.

Ray replies:

Masters of an Art understand the physical limitations of the medium that they are working in.  Being ignorant of these limitations does not mean you are free from them.

A serendipitous Artist sometimes produces happy accidents.

Both are valid modes of Art.  However, they are not the same.

However, a Master understands his "project" end to end.  He knows the market that he wishes to reach.  He knows the price point he wishes to hit.  He makes choices to produce his art within the constraints of his project.

Those who create in ignorance are not regularly successful.  They do enjoy the occasional accidents of sucess.  Some of these are beautiful.

I have been entertained by Art by accident, however, I prefer to work with Masters who can pre-conceive their work from beginning to end.

One is not right and the other wrong.  I make a personal choice to prefer the Masters.

Ray
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 20, 2005, 03:56:42 AM
Interesting discussion, don't know how I managed to overlook it these past few days.

It struck me that those condeming the essay for its supposed lack of accuracy didn't bother to acknowledge the fact that the message it attempts to convey comes across clearly. At least it does for me, even if this was perhaps partially supported by this very discussion.

Even if the discussion surrounding the usage of "science" vs "technique" could reach a conclusion, would this really add value to an essay that already provides plenty?

As somebody else pointed out, isn't the focus on the technicallity of the article a great metaphore for the very point Alain was trying to make?

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: alainbriot on December 20, 2005, 05:17:11 AM
"Isn't the focus on the technicallity of the article a great metaphor for the very point Alain was trying to make?"

Il est plus facile de voir la paille dans l'oeuil de son voisin que la poutre qu’on a dans le sien (It is easier to see a straw in your neighbor's eye than a two by four in your own eye) - French proverb.

Alain
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: russell a on December 20, 2005, 08:45:51 AM
Quote
Il est plus facile de voir la paille dans l'oeuil de son voisin que la poutre qu’on a dans le sien (It is easier to see a straw in your neighbor's eye than a two by four in your own eye) - French proverb.

Alain
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Maginot Line - defensive French construction - functions as a metaphor for the erection of an elaborate and highly engineered position which, however, can be simply ignored and circumvented by others who adopt a different view of the world and go about their business - rendering the position irrelevant.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: DiaAzul on December 20, 2005, 09:03:51 AM
Quote
Maginot Line - defensive French construction - functions as a metaphor for the erection of an elaborate and highly engineered position which, however, can be simply ignored and circumvented by others who adopt a different view of the world and go about their business - rendering the position irrelevant.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=53963\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That's a great metaphor for this thread - a certain obtuseness which has been deployed to avoid discussing the true merits of the article written by Alain. Perhaps if people step back, take a breath and allow the series of articles to develop there may be more substance to the discussion.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jack Flesher on December 20, 2005, 10:56:42 AM
Quote
(It is easier to see a straw in your neighbor's eye than a two by four in your own eye) - French proverb.

Alain
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Wrong again!  Has nothing to do with the French.  In fact the French weren't in existence when that quote was first spoken.  

So who said it originally?  Jesus, Mat 7:3.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 20, 2005, 11:21:32 AM
Jack, totally off-topic - because I've already said what I wish to say about this topic for now, but just a short rejoinder that the "French" most likely were in existence at that time - but not in the political or social configuration familiar to us today!

Cheers, Mark
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jack Flesher on December 20, 2005, 01:01:16 PM
Quote
that the "French" most likely were in existence at that time
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=53978\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Agreed -- it is OT, but...

The ancestors of the people that ultimately became "the French" were most certainly around and probably even lived inside the boundaries of what is now "France".  But "France" and "the French" were very clearly not even communal concepts at the time Jesus was walking the Earth.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: DarkPenguin on December 20, 2005, 01:22:05 PM
"My cat's breath smells like cat food." - Ralph Wiggum, Simpsons:1F17.

So, when is the next article due out?
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: alainbriot on December 20, 2005, 01:45:57 PM
"totally off-topic - . . . the "French" most likely were in existence at that time - but not in the political or social configuration familiar to us today!"

Absolutely.  Plus, just because something was first said in Biblical times doesn't mean that it has not become a French proverb later on  

"So, when is the next article due out?"

I have it ready.  In fact, I have the next two ready.  This discussion has proved to be extremely helpful in this regard.  Thank you to all who are participating, whether you agree or disagree with me as I previously said.

Yours watching the Maginot line being built,

Alain
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jack Flesher on December 20, 2005, 03:14:54 PM
Quote
Yours watching the Maginot line being built,

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=53991\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

And while we're at it, let's not forget that the Maginot Line is known as one of the great "Military Blunders" ...

      ,
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: DiaAzul on December 20, 2005, 03:15:49 PM
Quote
But "France" and "the French" were very clearly not even communal concepts at the time Jesus was walking the Earth.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=53986\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Sorry to rain on your party, but the 'French' did exist as a communal concept within, what are roughly, the existing boundaries prior to the birth of christ. The kingdom was Gaul and was populated by the Gauls (of Asterix fame). Obviously, European history with its ebb and flow of kingdoms, republics and such like has necessitated various alliances and changes of border - but in principle, there has existed a tribal grouping of people within what we class as modern day France for over 2,500 years.

Given this is a photographic forum it is of marginal relevance in this discussion. However, there is good grounds to agree that Jesus probably did come up with the original quotation (even if 2x4 planks didn't exist in his day); but we know for fact that it was the French and not Jesus that invented photography ;-)
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: BlasR on December 20, 2005, 03:33:07 PM
I'm very happy I'm drinking french wine right now,,To bad I can't get my hands on the bread too..But I need to look where I walk because the dogs are around in not buddy pick up after.
Now let continuo about love ops arts.
I need help.

BlasR
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 20, 2005, 04:38:27 PM
OH BOY - is there ever a whole debate about who invented photography. There is a strong case that it was a French invention, but check the literature....................
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: DaveW on December 20, 2005, 04:40:33 PM
Well, unfortunately I'm not drinking french wine right now..
.. however I do look forward to reading more of Alain's articles - I found his first series to be very helpful and inspiring.

I do hope future discussions of his work don't devolve into pedantic quibbling ....
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on December 21, 2005, 10:35:43 AM
Quote
Oh, and Jonathan, weighing into an interesting, and developing thread starting off with "This is ridiculous"... is this an example of the diplomatic tact and sensitivity that the US military is so renowned for ? Or are you just trying to bring us down to the usual level ? Just wondered.
As I said before, photographers use the scientific method all the time, even if they don't think of it in those terms. Every time you use your experience to set up the camera and lens and other equipment prior to a shoot, you are formulating a hypothesis based on your photographic experience regarding how the camera and other equipment should be set up and configured to achieve the desired result. The shoot itself is an experiment that either validates or invalidates the hypothesis, depending on whether the desired result was achieved during the shoot. And the experience gained results in modifications to the hypothesis that will hopefully improve the result achieved next time.

Every technically competent photographer uses the principles of the scientific method whenever he or she picks up a camera. Claiming that technically competent photographers don't use "science" is ridiculous.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: larryg on December 21, 2005, 11:34:46 AM
Alain,  I appreciate your effort and attempt at sharing your experiences in fine art photography.

this thread reminds me of many years ago  (I was a top insurance sales person with an insurance company)  I was invited to speak at a small group of newer insurance want to be's.  
I gave my talk and tried as best I could to give practical tips on how to be successful in the business.  I told them some specific things that certainly worked for me.

At the end of the speech an agent approached me (and I was thinking he was going to thank me for the great advice and tips, especially since he was really struggling trying to make ends meet).  and told me that he kept track of my speech and counted   # of ahs   # of ohs and so on.
It appears there was no connection between my thoughts and his ability to hear what I was saying?

I appreciate any new approaches, ideas that can move move down the road to being a better artist, as I am sure most here are.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2005, 11:38:00 AM
Jonathan, re your last post, the same goes for post-capture processing. That is one of the reasons why I suggested quite some posts ago that the dichotomies being proposed between art and science (craft, technique, etc) and photography and painting are not useful.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: David Mantripp on December 21, 2005, 01:45:24 PM
Quote
Every technically competent photographer uses the principles of the scientific method whenever he or she picks up a camera. Claiming that technically competent photographers don't use "science" is ridiculous.
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I don't agree. I certainly don't use the principles of the scientific method (of course, you may then make the obvious deduction). But anyway, what about grab shots ?  And, even if it is as you say, using the principles of the scientific method does not necessarily equate to doing science.

I think that perhaps you equate "using science" with "doing science". Who knows. Arguably we use science every time we switch on a light. But anyway, as far as I'm concerned, photography is at the very best heuristic. I certainly don't go through whatever little theory I know whenever I look through a viewfinder.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2005, 02:56:08 PM
That is because if you take many photographs and you do it conscientiously, alot of your decision-making becomes instinctive, or second-nature, but it is still based on photographic principles that have both artistic and scientific foundations. Hence, your work is the combined result of art and science. And if you were painting pictures it would be the same in principle, but with a different set of creative constraints and possibilities influenced by the medium. I find all of this so obvious that the discussion is kind of pointless - unless I'm missing something?
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: jani on December 21, 2005, 03:22:38 PM
Quote
That is because if you take many photographs and you do it conscientiously, alot of your decision-making becomes instinctive, or second-nature, but it is still based on photographic principles that have both artistic and scientific foundations. Hence, your work is the combined result of art and science. And if you were painting pictures it would be the same in principle, but with a different set of creative constraints and possibilities influenced by the medium. I find all of this so obvious that the discussion is kind of pointless - unless I'm missing something?
Yes, you and Jonathan are both missing something, and it's something really obvious.

Applying HDM is not science. It's not even the same as using science, doing science or imitating science.

This is something we learn during our first year at a university, guys.

Yet it's completely irrelevant to the points Alain Briot appears to make, or to anything but the meta-discussion of "what does this particular word mean".
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: John Camp on December 21, 2005, 03:27:34 PM
Quote
That is because if you take many photographs and you do it conscientiously, alot of your decision-making becomes instinctive, or second-nature, but it is still based on photographic principles that have both artistic and scientific foundations. Hence, your work is the combined result of art and science. And if you were painting pictures it would be the same in principle, but with a different set of creative constraints and possibilities influenced by the medium. I find all of this so obvious that the discussion is kind of pointless - unless I'm missing something?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54072\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

You may be missing something. People who think that a creative form like photography or painting involves science (and some famous artists, like Seurat, actually thought that) tend to be unable to either see past the structure of the technology they're using, OR they make fruitless attempts to achieve art by doing what scientists to, which is to reduce a problem to its most basic elements, and then rebuild from there. Art doesn't seem to work like that.

I'm now going to make a generalization which will annoy some people, and to which I am sure there are exceptions -- and that is, people who take scientific and engineering approaches to art generally fail. Engineers in particular seem to be drawn to photography, perhaps because of the aparatus involves a lot of technically interesting aspects (optics, materials, timers, chemistry, etc.) and yet may produce art. Still generalizing, I find that there are a lot of engineers who make photographs of extreme competence, but of little interest, because they tend to focus on the reductive -- the most perfect exposure, the best edge sharpness, the greatest dynamic range. This leads to preoccupation with subjects like aspen trees, water leaping over rocks, slot canyons, and so on, which really demonstrate the technology, but when you look at it...well, who really gives a sh*t? You've already seen 10,000 photogaphs like that in your life, why do you want to look at another one?

The application of technology doesn't lead to art, it leads to repeatability. Good art tends to be unique, each and every time, and is unrepeatable. If you sent Ansel Adams back to Herndanez New Mexico to shoot moonrises a hundred different times, chances are he'd never exceed the results he got the first time.

What you're missing here is that ART doesn't involve science except in the most useless sense; so if you want to make art, approaching it from a scientific point of view is essentially useless. The Briot essays would be better off discussing methods for achieving a personal vision...

Jonathon tends to throw around words like ridiculous, which no longer bothers me, because I've been a forum member for a while, and value his other insights, but frankly, saying that photography involves science is about like saying riding a bicycle involves science. Bike riding may illustrate a lot of scientific principles, and make use of a lot of technology, but getting up the mountain first ain't science.

JC
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: DarkPenguin on December 21, 2005, 04:02:57 PM
Quote
[chomp]
What you're missing here is that ART doesn't involve science except in the most useless sense; so if you want to make art, approaching it from a scientific point of view is essentially useless. The Briot essays would be better off discussing methods for achieving a personal vision...

[chomp]
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54075\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

So, what are the other essays about?
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: DiaAzul on December 21, 2005, 04:49:49 PM
Quote
I'm now going to make a generalization which will annoy some people, and to which I am sure there are exceptions -- and that is, people who take scientific and engineering approaches to art generally fail. Engineers in particular seem to be drawn to photography, perhaps because of the aparatus involves a lot of technically interesting aspects (optics, materials, timers, chemistry, etc.) and yet may produce art. Still generalizing, I find that there are a lot of engineers who make photographs of extreme competence, but of little interest, because they tend to focus on the reductive -- the most perfect exposure, the best edge sharpness, the greatest dynamic range. This leads to preoccupation with subjects like aspen trees, water leaping over rocks, slot canyons, and so on, which really demonstrate the technology, but when you look at it...well, who really gives a sh*t? You've already seen 10,000 photogaphs like that in your life, why do you want to look at another one?

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54075\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I would tend to agree with you - but (the inevitable but), I would take things in a slightly different direction.

IMHO, I believe that photography is a craft which is technical in its execution and, hopefully, repeatable over a number of varying situations. It involves a certain set of tools which, in a master craftmans hands, can produce any range of works. This is, as far as I see it, what you are describing above and dependent upon the design that the craftsman is working to will determine whether the output is functional or artistic. (At this point in time I have the image of a woodworker in my head, who is using various chisels, planes and hammers to produce output - this may be utilitarian or artistic depending upon the design that they are working to).

On the other side of this equation we have the Art Director (AD). The AD has a creative vision of what they would like to see on paper, but not necessarily the technical skills to take the picture. In such cases they will employ a photographer to execute their artistic vision.

So, within a polar view of the world we have photographers who provide technical execution (but little artistic vision) and ADs who provide artistic vision (but little technical execution). In the real world though we each have a little bit of both Photographer and AD, though being exceptionally skilled in both domains is rare. What I personally see in these discussion boards are a lot of Photographers (highly skilled in the technical domain) who have not at the same time developed as ADs. Therefore, as JC points out we see lots of photo's with technically perfect execution, but of limited artistic value. It is also why an AD with a point and shoot is able to provide compelling images even if the technical execution is not necessarily brilliant.

I believe that Michael has been succesful because he has not only grown as a technically competent photographer with a good working knowledge of how to get the best from the equipment, but also as a skillful AD who is able to marshall the resources of a scene to provide an arresting image. A good example of his skill, and what a real AD would work to achieve, is the fisherman pictures in China where the vision was in place of what he wanted to achieve.

This is primarily a photographic forum, but perhaps sometimes we need to put down the equipment and actually think things through from the ADs perspective.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2005, 05:01:00 PM
Yes, which all boils down to say that in photography, as in painting, there is a combination of art, science, craft, technique - it is not either or in one or the other. I don't know what Alain has up his sleeve for the next essays, but I am one of those who think that more intellectual attention to the artistic and existential foundations of the photographic medium could make a more useful contribution to knowledge than the largely false and irrelevant dichotomies between art, science, photography and painting that the first essay and ensuing discussion has generated.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Peter McLennan on December 21, 2005, 05:55:52 PM
Perhaps photography is more like dance than painting.  The "real time performance" aspect of shooting can be critical.

Peter
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on December 21, 2005, 06:05:03 PM
Quote
Jonathan, re your last post, the same goes for post-capture processing. That is one of the reasons why I suggested quite some posts ago that the dichotomies being proposed between art and science (craft, technique, etc) and photography and painting are not useful.
I agree with your first point re post-capture processing, but not your second. I see Art and Science (or at least the application of the scientific method to the technicalities of photography and post-processing) as symbiotic complements of each other, neither complete without the other, at least in the context of photography and painting. Art answers the question "Where do I want to go?" and Science answers the question "How do I get there?"

Realizing that a subtle, soft glow around a candle flame imparts a romatic mood to an image falls within the domain of Art. Science guides the techniques used to create that glow, whether through the applied mathematics of a partially transparent Gaussian blur in Photoshop, or determining the optimal formulation of the paint used to create the glow and the optimal pattern of brush strokes necessary to apply it with the desired result. It's not a dichotomy, but rather a partnership; two aspects of a process that must be united to achieve the best possible result.

There seems to be an attitude among some of the posters in this thread that if it doesn't involve people in white lab coats standing in front of a complex apparatus jotting notes with obscure chemical formulae or mathematical equations, it's not "science". This is is a wrong-headed and narrow-minded view of science. As pointed out in the definition posted earlier, science is the organized application of knowledge, whether that knowledge pertains to the explosive properties of chemical compounds, the mating habits of bats in Central American caves, or the proper aperture to use when shooting a head-and-shoulder portrait of a college coed. While it is certainly possible for untrained and inexperienced amateurs to get lucky and capture a memorable photo, the application of the scientific method to the technical side of photography will certainly increase the probability of achieving the desired result. Experience is nothing more than the practical application of the scientific method, regardless of whether the application is made consciously or unconsciously.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 21, 2005, 06:24:21 PM
Quote
The application of technology doesn't lead to art, it leads to repeatability. Good art tends to be unique, each and every time, and is unrepeatable. If you sent Ansel Adams back to Herndanez New Mexico to shoot moonrises a hundred different times, chances are he'd never exceed the results he got the first time.

What you're missing here is that ART doesn't involve science except in the most useless sense; so if you want to make art, approaching it from a scientific point of view is essentially useless. The Briot essays would be better off discussing methods for achieving a personal vision...

Jonathon tends to throw around words like ridiculous, which no longer bothers me, because I've been a forum member for a while, and value his other insights, but frankly, saying that photography involves science is about like saying riding a bicycle involves science. Bike riding may illustrate a lot of scientific principles, and make use of a lot of technology, but getting up the mountain first ain't science.

JC
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54075\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

John,

I understand your point, but I feel that you and Alain actually mostly agree.

Beyond the distinction between science and technology, you perceive as well the temptation to focus on that "mechanical" dimension instead of letting art take over.

IMHO, the mgt of these 2 dimensions is the essence of the message Alain is trying to put across.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2005, 06:38:21 PM
Jonathan - there is no disagreement between us on my second point - what I said negatively you said positively - i.e. when I say that drawing dichotomies is not useful, it is not useful because of the symbiosis you mention. We are on the same page about that!
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on December 21, 2005, 06:43:50 PM
Quote
Jonathan - there is no disagreement between us on my second point - what I said negatively you said positively - i.e. when I say that drawing dichotomies is not useful, it is not useful because of the symbiosis you mention. We are on the same page about that!
OK, that makes more sense then. To-MAY-to vs To-MAH-to!
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: alainbriot on December 21, 2005, 06:50:59 PM
"I'm now going to make a generalization which will annoy some people, and to which I am sure there are exceptions -- and that is, people who take scientific and engineering approaches to art generally fail. Engineers in particular seem to be drawn to photography, perhaps because of the aparatus involves a lot of technically interesting aspects (optics, materials, timers, chemistry, etc.) and yet may produce art. Still generalizing, I find that there are a lot of engineers who make photographs of extreme competence, but of little interest, because they tend to focus on the reductive -- the most perfect exposure, the best edge sharpness, the greatest dynamic range. This leads to preoccupation with subjects like aspen trees, water leaping over rocks, slot canyons, and so on, which really demonstrate the technology, but when you look at it...well, who really gives a sh*t? You've already seen 10,000 photogaphs like that in your life, why do you want to look at another one?"

I think you have done an excellent job of summarizing one of the main points of my essay and of providing possible examples to illustrate it.  

"The Briot essays would be better off discussing methods for achieving a personal vision..."  

Some of the next essays in this series will address that, and my previous series did include an entire essay on personal style.

Alain
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: DiaAzul on December 21, 2005, 06:53:01 PM
Quote
Yes, which all boils down to say that in photography, as in painting, there is a combination of art, science, craft, technique - it is not either or in one or the other. I don't know what Alain has up his sleeve for the next essays, but I am one of those who think that more intellectual attention to the artistic and existential foundations of the photographic medium could make a more useful contribution to knowledge than the largely false and irrelevant dichotomies between art, science, photography and painting that the first essay and ensuing discussion has generated.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54078\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yes, but no, but yes, but no...

From my perspective there is a big difference between photography (as an execution) and producing a piece of art (having the vision). Whether the terms 'science' 'technology' 'craft' are used to explain the execution of photography is immaterial. I also stongly believe (because I see it on a regular basis) that the 'creative' and the 'execution' can be seperated into two different individuals working together. Yes, a successful photograph is the combination of art, science, craft, technique; but that doesn't mean that all those elements come together in one set of hands. Perhaps photographers are guilty of assuming that they are masters in all domains required to produce successful creative artpieces and that leveraging other resources in the conceptualisation of the final vision is not something that comes naturally.

I agree with you on everything else that it needs more emphasis on the creative (and assume/hope that is where Alain is going), but also wanted to posit that not everyone is going to have both creative and execution skills to produce top quality work.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: jani on December 21, 2005, 06:58:46 PM
Quote
OK, that makes more sense then. To-MAY-to vs To-MAH-to!
What about to-may-TOE?
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 21, 2005, 08:03:27 PM
Only in Oslo  

David, the difference between photography and producing a piece of art happens when people use photography for purposes other than producing a piece of art. Photography is a medium for producing art, as well as a medium for forensic analysis, as well as a medium for historical documentation, as well as medium for medical research, or for commiting family events to memory, etc., etc., etc. IT DOESN'T MATTER, this is totally pointless dichotomy and a totally pointless debate, because within its technical parameters photography can be anything anyone wants it to be - including art. Let us get off this and move on.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jack Flesher on December 22, 2005, 01:21:56 AM
Quote
Still generalizing, I find that there are a lot of engineers who make photographs of extreme competence, but of little interest, because they tend to focus on the reductive -- the most perfect exposure, the best edge sharpness, the greatest dynamic range. This leads to preoccupation with subjects like aspen trees, water leaping over rocks, slot canyons, and so on, which really demonstrate the technology, but when you look at it...well, who really gives a sh*t? You've already seen 10,000 photogaphs like that in your life, why do you want to look at another one?"


Alain
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54096\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I'm not an engineer, so I have no idea what motivates engineers in photography...

But overall the above seems a very strange comment, especially coming from you, as you've just described about 80% of the images you have displayed in your galleries on your site...   Are you saying you don't give a sh*t about your own images?
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: alainbriot on December 22, 2005, 02:20:14 AM
"Alain, I appreciate your effort and attempt at sharing your experiences in fine art photography.

this thread reminds me of many years ago (I was a top insurance sales person with an insurance company) I was invited to speak at a small group of newer insurance want to be's.
I gave my talk and tried as best I could to give practical tips on how to be successful in the business. I told them some specific things that certainly worked for me.

At the end of the speech an agent approached me (and I was thinking he was going to thank me for the great advice and tips, especially since he was really struggling trying to make ends meet). and told me that he kept track of my speech and counted # of ahs # of ohs and so on.
It appears there was no connection between my thoughts and his ability to hear what I was saying?

I appreciate any new approaches, ideas that can move move down the road to being a better artist, as I am sure most here are."

Larry,

I think this is a great story, and I agree that people don't always take the time to listen to (or read) what you have to say. Thank you.

Alain
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on December 22, 2005, 06:51:41 AM
I'm totally confused by this whole discussion.

When I'm taking a light metering, setting up studio strobes for a correct fill ratio and angling and diffusing them to suit, when I'm selecting a telephoto lens to compress the landscape/portrait or vice versa with a wide angle, when I'm taking a WB reading, when I'm choosing the correct support system for a long exposure, etc, etc

with all of these things I'm using my knowledge of the physics/technology of photography to enable me to carry our my artistic vision. Without those I would not have a photo however artistic my composition and vision.

This photo was pretty difficult to execute on a technical level. I needed an extremely stable tripod/head combination which together with a wide angle lens focused at the correct hyperfocal distance to provide front to back DOF at f11, shooting at 1/10 iso 1600 on the 10D for a beautiful print of 18X12". I've not even mentioned the post processing work.
All the above has been an explantion of the technical aspect of the photo. You've not seen it yet and therefore the technical aspect has no relevance to the idea I was trying to portray, by definition.

Now look at it: The Western Wall (http://www.bphotography.co.uk/fineart/bightml/kotel.htm) (might be bigger than your screen, resize till you can see the whole thing, sorry)

I went there with the express wish to convey the peace, serenity and scale of The Western Wall (Old City Jerusalem), the holiest of Jewish sites, at night when the tourists are gone leaving just a few men praying there. This photo taken at 3am, I believe, conveys the idea that I wanted, and in print you could almost be there, you can reach out and touch the wall. I sell this picture at a rate of about one a week.

Do the people who buy it care about how I took it? NO. Do I? not particularly, I had an idea and set out to make it real using the skills that I have. But without the technology of photography I would have been unable to take this photo, period.

You can't seperate the art and the science when without the science there would be no art?

No doubt I'm misunderstanding the whole thing again....
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: John Camp on December 22, 2005, 08:11:53 AM
edited out by JC
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: John Camp on December 22, 2005, 08:21:36 AM
Quote
I'm not an engineer, so I have no idea what motivates engineers in photography...

But overall the above seems a very strange comment, especially coming from you, as you've just described about 80% of the images you have displayed in your galleries on your site...   Are you saying you don't give a sh*t about your own images?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54106\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Not at all. I just don't confuse them with art. Some are illustrations for scholarly magazines, some are PR shots for the website and popular archaeology magazines, some are snapshots. None of them stand alone, as a work of art should. You're not looking at the object, you're looking through the object at the subject. One of the key aspects of art that it's the art object that counts, not the subject. Nobody -- well, very few people -- cares about the models in Manet's paintings, and how many people know the names of Diane Arbus' subjects? It's the painting or photograph that counts. In my stuff on the web site, the photo itself counts for almost nothing -- it's the subject that counts. It's photography as a recording device, not as art.

JC
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 22, 2005, 09:13:28 AM
Pom, firstly, that photograph is excellent. I can see why it sells well. Congrats. That is art - you had an image in your mind of what you wanted to express, and you have the smarts and materials to implement it.

So, secondly, the point you are making is valid, and the same thing Jonathan and I have been saying in other words - art, science, technique are symbiotic - partners in the production of artistic photography.

Hence, thirdly, it is not you who are confused.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 22, 2005, 09:26:24 AM
Jack Flesher, I agree - you cannot know what motivates engineers in their photography any more than you can know what motivates any one else in photography except to look at their work and see what it says. So the whole idea that engineers or scientists or doctors would approach photography any differently than anyone else is just complete nonsense. A most recent corroborating experience - last month I returned from participating in Michael's photography workshop in China. The group included people having highly varied professional backgrounds, but a common dedication to photography - readers can judge for themselves whether they think how one makes a living determines vision, artistry and technical skill in making photographs. (You can see contributions from some members at http://www.luminous-landscape.com/workshop...members.shtml.) (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/workshops/china-members.shtml.))
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: BlasR on December 22, 2005, 09:34:32 AM
Those elefants the paints in Asia, do they are Ingeneer, Science, or Doing just art?

I just like to know because they are animal.

BlasR
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on December 22, 2005, 09:45:59 AM
It is interesting, talking of how art comes into the photographs, sometimes I will go to a site with a specific photograph in mind. This photograph was inspired by MR's photo of the same scene. When I saw that I realised that this picture screamed B&W at me and with the idea of expressing the lonely serenity that this picture shows (I made sure no people were in it!) I went and shot this picture in Iceland.

(http://www.bphotography.co.uk/fineart/pics/Seljalandsfoss.jpg)

the other pics are on my (sub) site: www.bphotography.co.uk/fineart/fineart.htm

On the other hand I wasn't particualrly impressed with my other pictures from Iceland in that I had gone with preconceptions of the type of photo that I'd intended to capture, instead of letting the scenery suggest a way for me to portray the 'feel' and ambiance of any given scene. I tried to force a certain style or type of photo without just letting the camera paint my emotions. It became painfully obvious (I realised it at the time and it was fustrating the heck out of me) in exactly the way that Alain describes, faced with a popular scene that I had envisaged photographing in a certain way, I found that my idea clashed with the realities of the scene, be it with the lighting, the composition, access or whatever. I then tried to photograph it using the rules and the photos did nothing for me. I walked away with 4 sellable images only 3 of which I consider to be original (the dettifoss waterfall is almost textbook and doesn't excite me in the slightest) and it was only those three that followed my 'personal' style of pulling out an element of the scene and letting it speak and convey a message or emotion of it's own through its simplicity of composition.

Don't know what the answer is except to let the landscape show your emotions through the lens and not to get tied down to preconceptions!

That doesn't change the fact though that if I didn't know how to take the photographs or my equipment wasn't up to it then I'd have been in a much worse situation!
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on December 22, 2005, 09:51:59 AM
Elephants (and other animals, such as gorillas) that paint aren't creating art in the context described in this thread, where an end product is envisioned at the beginning of the process, and then a deliberate course of action is undertaken to create something resembling the previously envisioned goal. It's not like the elephants have their Impressionists and Cubists and Realists, some preferring to accurately recreate the world around them in their images, and others preferring to create more abstract representations of things that may not have a physical reality.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: opgr on December 22, 2005, 10:25:32 AM
Having read this discussion so far, I think we all generally agree. Technology is a means to an end, and Art is the product. A certain balance is needed between knowledge and ingenuity. Knowledge about the means, and ingenuity in reaching the creative goal. The balance is not a dichotomy, but more like a symbiosis.

But the following question keeps my mind pondering, so I would like to offer it for general consideration:

Does an advance in technology mean an advance in Art?

And I mean conceptually and/or ideally.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: DiaAzul on December 22, 2005, 10:42:07 AM
Quote
Does an advance in technology mean an advance in Art?

And I mean conceptually and/or ideally.
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Generally the answer is yes, but it takes someone to break out of the current paradigm to be able to exploit it; and, even then it may take several years of refinement; plus several more for the general populace to apreciate what has taken place.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on December 22, 2005, 10:46:49 AM
Quote
Does an advance in technology mean an advance in Art?
I would say yes. The invention of photography spawned a completely new medium of artistic expression that did not exist previously. Advances in paint technology allow a wider range of colors, greater longevity of the finished work, etc. Improvements in metal working technology allow easier and more precise shaping of metal than before.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jack Flesher on December 22, 2005, 10:48:41 AM
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By the way, I clicked on the wrong tab on the entry above this one, and don't know how to get rid of it. If anybody knows, tell me, and I'll edit it out.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54120\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Click the edit button, hilight what you don't want and hit the "delete" key
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jack Flesher on December 22, 2005, 10:50:10 AM
Quote
Pom, firstly, that photograph is excellent. I can see why it sells well. Congrats. That is art - you had an image in your mind of what you wanted to express, and you have the smarts and materials to implement it.

So, secondly, the point you are making is valid, and the same thing Jonathan and I have been saying in other words - art, science, technique are symbiotic - partners in the production of artistic photography.

Hence, thirdly, it is not you who are confused.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54121\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well said Mark!
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jack Flesher on December 22, 2005, 11:01:09 AM
Quote
That doesn't change the fact though that if I didn't know how to take the photographs or my equipment wasn't up to it then I'd have been in a much worse situation!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54127\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Amen. And IMO that is a very nice image Pom!  

Moreover it certainly looks like art to me as well -- even though it appears to be "water leaping over rocks" ...   (Sorry, couldn't resist   )
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: russell a on December 22, 2005, 11:30:30 AM
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Does an advance in technology mean an advance in Art?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54134\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Definitely no, I will say.  One could argue that the essentials of Art were fully expressed in the caves of Lascaux, Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc, etc.  Since then there have been changes in media (extending to film and video to cite obviously more technological options) and changes in how society views the practice and products (the expression of ideals of body beauty in Ancient Greece, Art in service to Religion in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance search for increased verisimilitude, the 20th century span of Modernism which took Art to the point where it dissolved into Philosophy - read Arthur C. Danto's writings.  Along with these tracks were the non-figurative works of Islam and the Magical fetishes of African Art.)  While there is no critical record from Palaeolithic times one can easily speculate that the motivations of the cave artists were little different from those of artists today, once one strips away the thin veneer of "civilized" discourse and the shift of emphasis to the ego and superego.  Studies of the work and motivations of Picasso, the quintessential 20th century artist, shows the same magical thinking that informed the most "primitive" work of the past.

Is better poetry written using a pencil, a ball-point pen, a word processor?  No, better poetry is written by better poets.  The original oral tradition of poetry required no technology at all.  Homer had the essence - the play and power of words.

The entire range of photographic expression may be found in Atget's work.  We are just doing our variations.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on December 22, 2005, 12:31:50 PM
Thanks guys!

Quote
Does an advance in technology mean an advance in Art?

Does it? Is the reason we have (mostly) gone digital because of anything but convenience (control, getting med frmt quality with 35mm, getting the grain of a 6X7 with 35mm, instant feedback, etc). My 2 best selling pictures were taken on a Canon A1 with a Vivitar 28-200 f3.5-6.3 lens of Fuji Superia 200, on a really crappy tripod I may add and with no polariser. They are regularly printed to 18X12".

My boss used to say that a pro can take a better picture with a disposable camera than a beginner with a top pro camera, because they understand light!

It's true though, vision is far more important to the pursuit of art than technology. People buy my shots from my film 35mm or Mamiya 645 days eventhough there is noticeable grain in the skies even on  8X10" prints where there is none on a 18X12 from my 10D. The technology is useless without the vision and the vision can be made using yesteryears technology if it is powerful enough. I'm sure all will agree that the art aspect of their fine art photographs is not a result of their machines!

You could argue that the digital era means that technology increases enables us to actualize our vision in the way we meant it to, but lets face it, if we were to have shot the same images on film then they would have been up for exhibition while we still tinker in PS. Digital technology in many many ways only serves to play catch up to the convenience that a film workflow offered pre the digital era and therefore cannot be said to be improving our art, just getting it back to where it was 10 years ago.

I'm not arguing that film is better than digital, just that the technological advances have not improved our art, just the conveniece of making it. As a wedding photographer I can very strongly put forward the point that convenience in the field of photography has, in some ways, only served to harm the 'art' put forward. Witness Uncle Bob with his digital rebel shooting weddings and then the B&G coming crying for help, it's not uncommon...
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: opgr on December 22, 2005, 01:39:00 PM
Personally, I tend to agree with Russell's view. Clearly more megapixels does not mean better Art. It merely means sharper images; making the concept all the more fuzzy in comparison, to quote loosely. And a B&W Art expression should work as well on your 10 year old HP with a density of your average windowpane, vs a double K3 epson print with a black that has all the characteristics of deep space... Because "ideally" it is the message that counts, not the technical execution.

And I wouldn't be surprised if painting actually was incepted because people conceptualized photography. But they just didn't have the technology back then. No different then us being able to conceptually imagine a 3d holographic Art expression today.

But that would come dangerously close to a dichotomy.

Yet I also agree that most people have a tendency to think within constrains, which basically means that if technology advances, so will most artists advance as they fool around with the *new* capabilities of the medium. That would be another way of defining the symbiosis.

Could I be so bold as to say that that is what allows the "real" Artist to be separated from the chaff? His/her ability to be creative beyond the bounds of technology?
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on December 22, 2005, 02:12:33 PM
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Is better poetry written using a pencil, a ball-point pen, a word processor?  No, better poetry is written by better poets.  The original oral tradition of poetry required no technology at all.  Homer had the essence - the play and power of words.
IMO that's a deeply flawed analogy. When someone is reading a poem, the listener has no way to tell whether the reader is reading from a carved stone tablet, a parchment inscribed with a quill pen, or the monitor of a laptop computer. But if the performance is recorded, the listener's experience changes significantly depending on whether the performance was recorded from the other side of the room with a $30 pocket-sized microcasette recorder, or in a studio with reasonably state-of-the-art recording, mixing, and mastering equipment.

While it is true that there are times when the artistic intent of a photograph comes through even when captured with a Holga with a scratched lens and film well past its expiration date, it is also true that there are also many times when such a lens and camera would detract from the impact of the image. This is why people who shoot with a Phase One back or a 1Ds usually do not Gaussian blur their captures to match the look of the scratched Holga.

Art and science/technology/technique need to be used together for best results. Improving either will improve the result to some degree, although for best results neither should be neglected. Having the ability to shoot at ISO 1600 does not by itself improve a concert photo, but it does offer the photographer a greater arsenal of tools with which to practice Art.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: alainbriot on December 22, 2005, 03:12:02 PM
(http://www.bphotography.co.uk/fineart/pics/Seljalandsfoss.jpg)

Pom,

I like it. A very expressive image combined with a strong visual quality.

Alain
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 22, 2005, 03:12:30 PM
Technological change can open-up new and/or improved avenues of artistic expression.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: David Mantripp on December 22, 2005, 03:15:01 PM
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On the other hand I wasn't particualrly impressed with my other pictures from Iceland in that I had gone with preconceptions of the type of photo that I'd intended to capture, i

Well your Dettifoss shot is excellent. A really difficult place to photograph, in my opinion - and shared by several other far more talented people than me.  But you nailed it.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Mark D Segal on December 22, 2005, 03:42:05 PM
Pom/Beni, just visited the rest of your website - the work is excellent. But are you truly still making chemical-darkroom prints, or have you now converted to inkjet? (What is said on your site about inkjet prints being short-lived is of course quite out-of-date as a generalization.)
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: russell a on December 22, 2005, 06:14:41 PM
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IMO that's a deeply flawed analogy. When someone is reading a poem, the listener has no way to tell whether the reader is reading from a carved stone tablet, a parchment inscribed with a quill pen, or the monitor of a laptop computer. But if the performance is recorded, the listener's experience changes significantly depending on whether the performance was recorded from the other side of the room with a $30 pocket-sized microcasette recorder, or in a studio with reasonably state-of-the-art recording, mixing, and mastering equipment.
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Speaking of flawed - your example deals with the parameters of the reproduction of a performance, not with the work itself - so your intended point is left floating in the air as it were.  

One shouldn't confuse the relative merits of a tool set with the essential artistic impulse of the individual.  The Art of Art either rises to a level of intense evocation of the human spirit or it doesn't.  And, more colorful doesn't guarantee more intensity just as louder, sharper, or hyper doesn't.  The quality of the greatest Art rises to the same level it always has and always will.  Art has played out its essential variations over the arc of Modernism - so we have run out of "-ism's" - which only masked variations of the same impulse.  We will see Art performed in different ways, using different tools and from here forward it will echo the past, as it always has, but more obviously than ever.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on December 22, 2005, 06:43:30 PM
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Speaking of flawed - your example deals with the parameters of the reproduction of a performance, not with the work itself - so your intended point is left floating in the air as it were.
You're completely confused. The relationship between an audio recording and the original performance is quite similar to the relationship between a photograph and its subject. The analogy regarding the medium of the poem (handwritten vs typed) is more like the difference between storing data on a compact flash card vs a computer hard drive vs a USB thumb drive. In each case, while the physical size of the media and speed of data retrieval may vary considerably, the information can be stored and retrieved equally well on all of the different media. No one here would argue that switching from Compact Flash memory to SD/MMC will make anyone a better photographer or improve the quality of their images, but you're going to have a hard time convincing anyone that a pinhole camera is just as suitable for sports photography as a 1D-MkII and some L glass. Just because one aspect of technology (storage media format) has little or no impact on the final result does not prove that all other forms of technology (lens, sensor, color calibration, printer design, ink and paper formulation, etc.) are equally irrelevant.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on December 22, 2005, 07:40:15 PM
Firstly thanks all, I just wish I had the time and money to shoot more, I'm still recovering from an operation on my foot and won't be fully mobile for a while yet.

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(What is said on your site about inkjet prints being short-lived is of course quite out-of-date as a generalization.)

It's called creative marketing    . In honesty inkjet prints with true longevity of 80+ years are pretty new on the market and although you folks are concerned with that issue in your printing, is the majority of the market? I didn't say that inkjets arn't good, just that you can't automatically assume that a modern inkjet print will have true archival properties.

I print on Ilford Hi Gloss paper, the digital equivelent to Cibachrome with far better contrast but the same feel and look. They are printed by a tech who I happy to print of my samples and do it again and again until they get it right. I pay the same amount for an 18X12" print that you inkjet boys pay per sheet of the just released new cibachrome look alike that MR mentioned recently and I don't have any hassle with ink, metamarism, profiling, updating printers, longevity, etc, etc. Give me a LED print any day....

I print my wedding/event/studio work using a frontier, it's so much cheaper and more convenient for the quality and longevity that inkjet doesn't even start to come into the picture. To bother with the hassle of a printer to get the same quality of print for the small volume I shoot, especially as I can choose a 30X20" print as easily as an 8X10", there is no question as far as I'm concerned.

Everyone to their own...
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: collum on December 23, 2005, 05:56:30 PM
well.. i'm an engineer. .have been for as long as i've been a photographer (> 25 years). day job as been software development, and software testing.. mostly as close to the hardware as i can get (driver work,network,  etc).

almost all of the people i work with are also engineers.. and of those people, i'd say about 10% have serious artistic hobbies.. musicians mostly.. but painters, sculptures, and photographers. i'd say if you were to poll a large construction site, you'd find a similar number.

the range of personalities in the engineers that i have known are as broad as within any group of people. some are very linear right brain thinkers.. others have completely non-linear ways of thinking.. with most scattered between the two. some engineers approach problems (and photography/art) in that linear fashion.. while others hit it in completely different/unexpected ways.

          jim
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: drew on December 29, 2005, 07:58:31 AM
I have been following this thread with interest and realise that I am coming late to the discussion. However, I think the thread has meandered a bit and it contains some of my pet hates, namely confusion between art and craft, art and technology, art and reputation (historical or otherwise) of the person making it, art and monetary value etc, etc....
The first posters to this thread were absolutely spot on in criticising Alain Briot's essay. I prefer a reductionist approach when considering art which is completely concerned with the classical definition of art 'the expressive arrangement of elements within a medium'. The medium itself may be based on science, technology, craft etc, etc, but that is not important in relation to what is being visualised or heard. Have the elements within that medium been arranged in an expressive way? If the answer is yes, then to that observer, it is art. If enough observers of power, influence and wealth agree that the elements have been arranged expressively, then probably that piece will end up in a gallery/museum/concert hall. It still does not stop another individual coming to their own conclusions about the same piece. For example, I generally find nothing particularly artistic in Renoir's paintings, but I find works by Degas very artistic, because they produce a strong emotional response (no, not tears, you know what I mean).
To those who say this is simply semantics, I totally disagree. Making the distinctions between the words is essential to understanding why a cave painting can be art just as much as a Picasso or whatever. It has nothing to do with science or technology or value etc, but everything to do with the definition above.
Also, I totally agree with those who say that the practice of photography is not science any more than riding a bike is.
BTW if Alain is reading this, can I point you to an excellent essay on photography and art by the British photographer Joe Cornish in this month's Outdoor Photography magazine. Much better written and far easier to understand than David Ward's tortological and turgid prose. 'Art is in the eye of the beholder' and 'one man's art is another man's poison' are as true as they ever were and they apply as much to photography as any other medium, technology and science and craft notwithstanding. As someone else has said, explanation of 'inner vision' and examples that illustrate this together with some historical perspectives and analogies would be of more interest.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Ray on December 30, 2005, 08:48:46 AM
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Pom, firstly, that photograph is excellent. I can see why it sells well. Congrats. That is art - you had an image in your mind of what you wanted to express, and you have the smarts and materials to implement it.

So, secondly, the point you are making is valid, and the same thing Jonathan and I have been saying in other words - art, science, technique are symbiotic - partners in the production of artistic photography.

Hence, thirdly, it is not you who are confused.
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Interesting thread this. I have to jump in somewhere, so why not with a criticism of Pom's Wall. I don't think you got this right Pom. My first imression was you used a strong flash, too strong, and have blown some highlights. The effect is garish and not at all suggestive of the quiet meditative state of a 3am vigil, yet you used a tripod and a long exposure. What went wrong?  

I'll now read Alain's essay to see what all the fuss is about.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Ray on December 30, 2005, 10:17:08 AM
Having now read the arguments, I have to come down on the side of those who think that using a camera is not science but a craft or a skill. It's certainly true that science lays down the principles that make the production of modern DSLRs possible, but the use of a camera is in the same category as the operation of any equipment. The photographer may well be an artist, but on the technical side he's an operator of equipment. If the controls are a bit more complex than driving a car, it doesn't necessarily place the operation in a different category.

It's been often said that a goal of photographers is to become so familiar with camera adjustments that they become second nature, almost like riding a bike or driving a car. Decisions often have to be made in a split second. If you're a bit tardy in turning that steering wheel at the precise moment, you're likely to at least scrape against another car if not have a serious accident. If you're a bit tardy in setting the right aperture for DoF and right ISO for an appropriate shutter speed, you've messed up the shot. I do it frequently and I'm hampered by the fact that I'm long sighted and need glasses to see the f stop in the camera's LCD screen.

I consider myself a juggler of mainly 3 parameters; f stop, ISO and shutter speed. They all need to be spot on to get the basis of a good result.

To some extent there is a trial and error process, feed back from results and a corresponding adjustment to technique. I think this is Jonathan's concept of science. I see a line of mules carrying heavy loads down a steep slope against a Himalayan landscape. They're slow moving but at f11 and ISO 100 a shutter speed of 1/60th is not adequate. I learn by trial and error that I should have used ISO 400 for that shot. It's too late for that particualr scene, but next time I'll use ISO 400. I've learned something on a very practical level, but is that science?
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on December 30, 2005, 10:43:36 AM
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I've learned something on a very practical level, but is that science?
If you apply that experience in an organized fashion, absolutely. Your hypothesis that 1/60 is a sufficiently fast shutter speed for that situation turned out to be erroneous based on practical experience (AKA an experiment), so you've formulated a new hyhpothesis. If studying the mating habits of flatworms is "science", I don't see why studying the optimal configuration and settings of a camera when photographing a particular subject under specific conditions wouldn't be.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: John Camp on December 30, 2005, 11:05:20 AM
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If you apply that experience in an organized fashion, absolutely. Your hypothesis that 1/60 is a sufficiently fast shutter speed for that situation turned out to be erroneous based on practical experience (AKA an experiment), so you've formulated a new hyhpothesis. If studying the mating habits of flatworms is "science", I don't see why studying the optimal configuration and settings of a camera when photographing a particular subject under specific conditions wouldn't be.
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No, no, no. You might consider a photographer to be using the forms of science if, say, Ray were to codify his mule-shooting experience in a letter to Nature, and then experimenters all over the world could replicate Ray's experience without fault. But they can't, because the subject of Ray's experience will never be the same, not even for Ray. That's one reason why sports photographers are concerned about frames-per-second -- they know that one shot, taken a 1/20th of a second before the last, isn't as good. One shows, say, a basketball player six feet from the net with his arms starting up, the ball hidden and his face turned away, the next shows him smashing the ball through the net with a smile on his face. In a science experiment, what counts is the duplication of condition and technique; essentially, the elimination of variables. If you can do that, results ought to be pretty close between experimenters. In the photography world, you can never duplicate condition, and probably not technique, and you certainly don't want to eliminate variables -- photographers grow older and slower, but more experienced and savvy; and abilities certainly change betweeen photographers; and the world changes. It's not science, Jonathan. Give it up. Write something on light wells; comment on the vertical RRS plates; I will read your comments with great interest.

JC
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Ray on December 30, 2005, 11:31:12 AM
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If you apply that experience in an organized fashion, absolutely. Your hypothesis that 1/60 is a sufficiently fast shutter speed for that situation turned out to be erroneous based on practical experience (AKA an experiment), so you've formulated a new hyhpothesis. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54750\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Okay! This is the scientific approach to a practical problem. However, the science relating to the appropriate shutter speed for a certain degree of movement at a required angular resolution has already been done. In a sense, I'm reinventing the wheel from a purely scientific perspective. I'm adding nothing new to the total body of scientific knowledge. I'm just finding out for myself in a practical manner something that could be calculated and probably has been calculated before.

But this does raise an interesting dilemma. If I apply a scientific procedure to solve a problem that has already been solved many, many times before, but I haven't heard about it (because I'm dumb, not well-read, whatever), am I doing science? Perhaps the answer is logically, yes.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on December 30, 2005, 01:41:29 PM
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No, no, no. You might consider a photographer to be using the forms of science if, say, Ray were to codify his mule-shooting experience in a letter to Nature, and then experimenters all over the world could replicate Ray's experience without fault. But they can't, because the subject of Ray's experience will never be the same, not even for Ray.
Yes, yes, yes. If Ray records the ambient light level, camera-to-subject distance, focal length, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, there's no reason he (or anyone else with a sufficiently similar camera) couldn't go back some other day, compare current light levels to Ray's records, make appropriate adjustments for any differences, and get a technically well-executed exposure of the same subject from the same vantage point from the get-go.

Let me give you another example. I have a fairly standardized 4-light portrait setup I use for yearbook photos and the like, and I know the details well enough that I can position the lights and set their power levels and configure the camera so that my first exposure is pretty close to right-on without even using a light meter. Anyone else who placed the lights in the same position, set their power levels the same, and dialed in the same camera settings would get the same result. There's nothing magical about who sets up the lights and configures the camera; as long as the setup is consistent, the results will be as well, at least technically. They are observable, repeatable, and consistent to the degree that the setup plan is followed. They have to be, or I'd drive myself crazy shooting 40-80 sorority girls on different days while trying to get all of the photos to match. Technically proficient photography is not voodoo; if you approach it with a bit of discipline and keep detailed notes of what worked and what didn't, there's no reason why one photographer can't successfully utilize the experiences of another, as long as any differences in equipment and shooting conditions are properly accounted for. This is especially true when shooting digital; the random vagaries of varying batches of film stock, processing chemicals, and print papers afford far more opportunities for random fluctuation than a properly-configured digital workflow. Getting two identical optical prints from an enlarger is much more difficult than getting two identical prints from an inkjet.

Of course the artistic side is different; the model may be in a different mood, what works to get a genuine-looking smile with one person may annoy someone else, an animal may get bored and simply refuse to cooperate, etc. So that aspect is not formulaic, consistent and repeatable, and thus is not within the realm of science.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Jonathan Wienke on December 30, 2005, 01:54:43 PM
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But this does raise an interesting dilemma. If I apply a scientific procedure to solve a problem that has already been solved many, many times before, but I haven't heard about it (because I'm dumb, not well-read, whatever), am I doing science? Perhaps the answer is logically, yes.
Absolutely yes. And if you take advantage of the experiences of others (by reading photo magazines, browsing the LL forums, taking classes or whatever) to "get it right the first time" technically, you are engaging in scientific activity just the same as the geneticist who, after reading the details of a new cloning procedure in a scientific journal, duplicates the procedure and its results in his laboratory. If he's a "scientist", then so are you when you use a DOF calculator to figure out what aperture to use to get the desired DOF in a photo.

I'm not arguing that every shutter-button-pusher is a "scientist", but that photographers who engage in a disciplined and logical approach and methodology to consistently achieve the desired technical result (keeping notes of shooting conditions, camera settings, etc. and using that knowledge to address technical shortcomings encountered) are using scientific methods and principles to do so, even if they aren't consciously thinking of the process in those terms.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: jani on January 01, 2006, 10:17:56 AM
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I'm not arguing that every shutter-button-pusher is a "scientist", but that photographers who engage in a disciplined and logical approach and methodology to consistently achieve the desired technical result (keeping notes of shooting conditions, camera settings, etc. and using that knowledge to address technical shortcomings encountered) are using scientific methods and principles to do so, even if they aren't consciously thinking of the process in those terms.
In that case, I only have a quarrel with the phrasing you've used earlier, because there's a difference between "using science", "doing science" and "applying/using scientific methods and principles".
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on January 01, 2006, 10:31:23 AM
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Interesting thread this. I have to jump in somewhere, so why not with a criticism of Pom's Wall. I don't think you got this right Pom. My first imression was you used a strong flash, too strong, and have blown some highlights. The effect is garish and not at all suggestive of the quiet meditative state of a 3am vigil, yet you used a tripod and a long exposure. What went wrong?

Ray, it is ambient light only of course. I don't know what you are seeing but if your monitor is correctly profiled then you should be seeing the same as everyone else.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: jani on January 01, 2006, 10:51:18 AM
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Ray, it is ambient light only of course. I don't know what you are seeing but if your monitor is correctly profiled then you should be seeing the same as everyone else.
There are parts of the wall that appear too bright to me, too, and although I haven't performed my own calibration and profiling yet, the color picker tool shows me that there are indeed many areas of the wall with RGB values around 255,255,25x or 25x,255,255.

While these may actually be fair representations, it isn't very comfortable to look at.

Maybe that's what Ray was thinking about.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 01, 2006, 11:39:36 AM
Well, what one thinks about should be grounded in facts. And how one perceives the facts depends on the quality of the evidence. So to check the quality of the evidence and the facts on my monitor, which is properly calibrated and profiled with ColorEyes Display and an X-Rite DPT94, I downloaded the image and took some measurements. Firstly, I created a Levels adjustment layer and looked at threshold values (right slider with Alt depressed). No highlights are totally clipped in all three channels. The worst it gets is clipping of two channels (red and green) in the specular highlights, which are very small and scattered. Secondly, I ran the eyedropper over the brightest areas (using 5x5 average, to represent what we may actually see) and L values never got higher than 0.96, many of them being in the range of 0.88 to 0.93. A high proportion of the image's total luminosity is above the mid-point of the histogram, but that most likely reflects a fact that the scene is bright. I've never been there, but it makes sense that the scene would be brightly lit because people are reading prayer books, and from the quality of the light it is most likely illuminated with strong floodlights that do tend to project harsh light. So then the question becomes whether the photographer wishes to portray the scene more or less faithfully in a print, or tone it down to something that would be more comforting to some people's monitors and visual taste. That is purely a matter of judgment and we cannot make those judgments from an sRGB monitor JPG. The reason is that when the image is soft-proofed, printed and viewed by reflected light, it may sit on a bit (or more than a bit) lower overall tonal key than what appears over the internet. I find that if I email photos to be viewed on monitors, I need to cut down a bit of the contrast and luminosity I build into a soft-proofed version for printing, in order to simulate equivalent viewing conditions.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on January 01, 2006, 11:47:22 AM
I don't know, my screen is calibrated to print and in print it looks great, not at all uncomfortable.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 01, 2006, 12:20:16 PM
Yes, that confirms what I see. When I turn-on soft-proofing - to simulate what the print would look like printed on Epson Enhanced Matte using the Epson profile, the overall luminosity is comfortable.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Ray on January 01, 2006, 12:49:22 PM
Quite right! You've nailed the problem Mark. With softproofing on and simulate paper color in PS the image looks much more natural. This is something to bear in mind when posting images on the net.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on January 01, 2006, 03:36:32 PM
I have to admit that as I always work images for print, I'm a wedding shooter, I've calibrated my monitor and then wound down the brightness to match prints from the lab I use. I find it more convenient to always be working an image at the brightness level that it will be printed at rather than have to tweak the picture at the end of the workflow. This does result in a lot of images looking too bright on many peoples screens, it can be really annoying when I have to yank up the brightness in ACR by up to a stop eventhough the histogram was perfect, and that brings with the resulting noise issues, but it can't be helped, I have to process with the print in mind.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 01, 2006, 04:22:03 PM
Makes sense.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: jani on January 01, 2006, 04:45:48 PM
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I have to admit that as I always work images for print, I'm a wedding shooter, I've calibrated my monitor and then wound down the brightness to match prints from the lab I use. I find it more convenient to always be working an image at the brightness level that it will be printed at rather than have to tweak the picture at the end of the workflow. This does result in a lot of images looking too bright on many peoples screens, it can be really annoying when I have to yank up the brightness in ACR by up to a stop eventhough the histogram was perfect, and that brings with the resulting noise issues, but it can't be helped, I have to process with the print in mind.
Yes, that makes sense.

But web images are also to some degree one's shopping window to the world (depending on what you do with it, of course). I understand that there are quite a lot of photographers who don't publish any of their images on the web simply because they feel those images misrepresent the prints they want to sell.

Since I haven't been doing many prints (and definitely haven't sold any yet ...), I haven't had a personal advantage of your kind of workflow, pom, but I'll consider it seriously if and when I get there.

Thanks!
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: Mark D Segal on January 01, 2006, 05:34:38 PM
Jan, what you'll find is that an image optimized for a printer is not optimized for the web and vice versa. It doesn't take much to adjust between the two so they have similar appearance; usually some tweaking of contrast bridges the gap between them, as well as saving web images in sRGB rather than RGB colour space. Adobe has a "Save for Web" command which helps alot to get the images just right for web-viewing conditions. Although I am not in this business myself, it is obvious that any photographer trying to sell images over the internet must know how to manage these adjustments so that the web view will look very similar to the finished print, and it is feasible.
Title: Art 'n Science 'n Photography
Post by: jani on January 01, 2006, 06:26:46 PM
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Jan, what you'll find is that an image optimized for a printer is not optimized for the web and vice versa. It doesn't take much to adjust between the two so they have similar appearance;
Oh, yes, I know, but I hadn't even considered tweaking my workflow towards printing from the very start of it.

I usually do tweaking for web or printing as the last thing.

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usually some tweaking of contrast bridges the gap between them, as well as saving web images in sRGB rather than RGB colour space.
I've made a nice pair of keyboard shortcuts for the most-used commands in that regard; "Edit"->"Convert to profile" and "Image"->"Mode"->"8 bits/channel". An action could probably be justified, since function keys can be assigned to running these directly.

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Adobe has a "Save for Web" command which helps alot to get the images just right for web-viewing conditions.
The "Save for Web" feature is kindof nice, but I've stepped away from it for my own web images, because I want to share most of the EXIF information. "Save for web" strips all the interesting bits.

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Although I am not in this business myself, it is obvious that any photographer trying to sell images over the internet must know how to manage these adjustments so that the web view will look very similar to the finished print, and it is feasible.
It is feasible if your customer-to-be is using a calibrated monitor of sufficient quality. Otherwise, almost all bets are off. I've gotten the strangest complaints about how some of my sRGB converted images look on uncalibrated monitors, even though they look fine on the six or seven different monitors I can check them on myself.