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Author Topic: rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?  (Read 2911 times)

bwana

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rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?
« on: March 01, 2014, 06:41:05 PM »

When you take a photograph, you are there. You remember the light, the feeling, the atmosphere. And when you render a raw, your reference is that memory. However, you as the photographer represents only an infinitesimal fraction of who will see the photograph. Countless others (but all ignorant of the original true scene) will see it. And the success of a photograph depends on how they respond emotionally to the image. There are well defined precepts of what makes a good image. We often speak of exposure, dynamic range, contrast, sharpness, etc. How do you choose how much to massage an image? For example here are two renderings of the same raw file. The photo is taken in early morning of the houseboats on Dal Lake in Srinagar, India. The darker, bluish one is what I actually saw. However, the brighter, exposure adjusted one is actually preferred by the lay people to whom I have shown these photographs. I am thinking of reprocessing my images (the full set are posted here:  http://kashmirsnow.shutterfly.com) to reflect the popular preference but somehow it doesn't feel 'right'. This is not a new phenomenon. So much of the web is littered with HDR-look images and before that, photoshopping was a popular sport that attracted eyeballs. I almost wish I could present a photo with a little slider beneath it labeled 'truth' at one end and 'beauty' at the other. That way each viewer could adjust the image to his liking. The image could have a little built in database that records each adjustment. And I could get an idea of what people REALLY like.
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petermfiore

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Re: rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2014, 07:08:51 PM »

It depends. Are you documenting or creating a work of art? Answer that, and you have your answer.

Peter
« Last Edit: March 01, 2014, 08:01:42 PM by petermfiore »
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BrianWJH

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Re: rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2014, 07:14:44 PM »


  • When you take a photograph, you are there. You remember the light, the feeling, the atmosphere.
  • The darker, bluish one is what I actually saw.


I think you have answered you own question above.

If your images are documentary then adjust for the flat rather washed out look, if your images are meant to reflect your interpretation then adjust to your liking, it's your image (unless you have a commission from a client to document the location and not apply any 'artistic' license).

How the images are rendered is important as different media or displays may change the coolness or warmth as well and until images are routinely 'printed' or I should say rendered on an electronic display your 'truth' and 'beauty' sliders must wait.

Brian.
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Glenn NK

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Re: rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2014, 08:22:56 PM »

First rule of photography:

1)  There are no rules.
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LeonD

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Re: rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2014, 10:22:39 PM »

I usually choose to render my photographs to convey the emotion I felt when I took the picture.  Which is usually not how the scene actually looked.
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Ken Bennett

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Re: rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2014, 11:34:11 PM »

It means nothing, but I strongly prefer the blue one. :)

My personal feeling is that documentary photography is for documentary photographers. If you're shooting for art, then the raw processing can be whatever you need to create the final image that you want. On the other hand, in this particular case, I feel like the blue one is the stronger photo, and that the "popular preference" should be ignored. But that's just my humble opinion.
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kikashi

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Re: rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2014, 03:20:31 AM »

Beauty is truth, truth beauty - that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.


Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn.

Jeremy
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petermfiore

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Re: rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2014, 03:56:53 AM »

Beauty is truth, truth beauty - that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.


Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn.

Jeremy

It's how one defines Beauty. That's the journey of a lifetime.....

Peter
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ripgriffith

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Re: rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2014, 10:57:01 AM »

First rule of photography:

1)  There are no rules.
2nd Rule of photography: See Rule 1.
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ripgriffith

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Re: rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2014, 10:58:00 AM »

There is no "truth" in photography, so choose beauty every time.
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Lightsmith

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Re: rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2014, 07:41:14 PM »

There is no "truth" in a photographic image regardless of how it was taken, processed or printed. If you use the OP's logic then every single print made by Ansel Adams and Minor White and every other photographer working with negative film is being false.

A photographer using film would alter the capture of a scene by their choice of negative film or chrome film. Big difference in the rendering of a scene by Kodachome, Ekatachome, and Velvia. Same applies to black and white film and the chemicals used to develop it and the choice of paper and how the paper is dried.

Even before that stage the photographer decides what to include and also what to exclude from the picture at the time of exposure. How many have taken a shot and waited for people or critter to move out of the frame? Selecting the aperture and the focal length has an impact on the perspective, image magnification, compression of distance, and depth of field in the image. So does the choice of the shutter speed if it blurs motion or stops motion in a picture. If I pick up a gum wrapper or a Big Gulp cup before taking a picture have I distorted the "truth" or reality?

What I dislike are affects that I as a photographer know involved heavy manipulation that has no subtlety and get in the way of viewing the picture. It may be HDR or the toning or even with portraits the post processing that gives people's skin a plastic look and turns them into mannequins. But this is still my subjective appraisal.
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?
« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2014, 01:22:39 AM »

Hi,

As a photographer you have a freedom to render as you wish. Another question is if the rendition is credible? The blue images are credible if the image is supposed to be taken early morning or late evening, in the "blue hour", not very probable a scene would look like that mid of the day.

I prefer the blue rendering, but I associate to early morning or late evening.

Best regards
Erik


When you take a photograph, you are there. You remember the light, the feeling, the atmosphere. And when you render a raw, your reference is that memory. However, you as the photographer represents only an infinitesimal fraction of who will see the photograph. Countless others (but all ignorant of the original true scene) will see it. And the success of a photograph depends on how they respond emotionally to the image. There are well defined precepts of what makes a good image. We often speak of exposure, dynamic range, contrast, sharpness, etc. How do you choose how much to massage an image? For example here are two renderings of the same raw file. The photo is taken in early morning of the houseboats on Dal Lake in Srinagar, India. The darker, bluish one is what I actually saw. However, the brighter, exposure adjusted one is actually preferred by the lay people to whom I have shown these photographs. I am thinking of reprocessing my images (the full set are posted here:  http://kashmirsnow.shutterfly.com) to reflect the popular preference but somehow it doesn't feel 'right'. This is not a new phenomenon. So much of the web is littered with HDR-look images and before that, photoshopping was a popular sport that attracted eyeballs. I almost wish I could present a photo with a little slider beneath it labeled 'truth' at one end and 'beauty' at the other. That way each viewer could adjust the image to his liking. The image could have a little built in database that records each adjustment. And I could get an idea of what people REALLY like.

tived

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Re: rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2014, 04:55:54 PM »

purpose - will dictate the choice of processing of the final image appearance.

at least it should if its an intellectual process.

Henrik
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langier

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Re: rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2014, 09:29:27 PM »

This is just a start on your individual path to image nirvana. Do you choose literal or do you choose to place your spin on the photo? A good approach to comparing two totally different and valid processes would be the work of Stephen Johnson (National Parks in a new light) where he choose to make literal images with little interpretation nor emotion, to show the Parks as they were without crafting his emotion into the color or final image. Technically superb photos pushing the limits of exactitude of the moment.

Compare this to Ansel Adams in the National Parks a generation before. Ansel chose to interpret the scene at hand and put his spin on the photos, usually rendering the emotion he felt both at the time of the exposure and later as he crafted his feelings into the final print. For Ansel, it was the equivalent of the performance of his music. He used not only great technique, but also added the art and emotion to the final photograph.

Both Ansel and Steve are masters of the craft creating photos to two audiences, one wanting the technically-perfect photograph, the other catering to the interpretive and more emotional photograph. Is one approach better than the other? No. Both are valid.

However you approach your work, take time to push the limits and craft the image with your spin and individual style on the photograph and separate yourself from the literal or interpretive versions shown here. Use that as a spring board and push yourself to the next step where one can look at the photograph and see that it is YOU who created it.
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Rob Reiter

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Re: rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2014, 08:48:53 PM »

There is not a single print anywhere that looks like the landscape that was photographed. No digital capture, no piece of film-ever-captures anything accurately, so we are always working from memory. Given that, you can try to match what you think you saw, or can get let your imagination  fly and go for the emotional impact you felt at the time, or anything else. Remember, too, no two people view the same color exactly the same. Personally, I go for emotional impact...and that's not often far off from what I remember seeing. The world doesn't need my help. Not often, anyway!
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digitaldog

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Re: rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?
« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2014, 11:10:10 AM »

It depends. Are you documenting or creating a work of art? Answer that, and you have your answer.

I agree. But the image is never a true visual document of what we saw. Raw or rendered, there's just too much going on to produce an image to call it a true document of what was there, color is something that occurs deep in our brains. The intent however is clear as you point out.
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Chris Kern

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Re: rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?
« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2014, 02:12:25 PM »

But the image is never a true visual document of what we saw. Raw or rendered, there's just too much going on to produce an image to call it a true document of what was there, color is something that occurs deep in our brains. The intent however is clear as you point out.

Or, as Garry Winogrand famously said: “There is nothing as mysterious as a fact clearly described. I photograph to see what something will look like photographed.”
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jjj

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Re: rendering a raw- should i choose truth or 'beauty'?
« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2014, 04:01:30 PM »

I almost wish I could present a photo with a little slider beneath it labeled 'truth' at one end and 'beauty' at the other. That way each viewer could adjust the image to his liking. The image could have a little built in database that records each adjustment. And I could get an idea of what people REALLY like.
This is an interesting idea in itself.

Lots of good answers above to your question.
What I would add as another thought to consider is what do you want to achieve via your photography, to please yourself or to please others? Which is entirely separate from the beauty/truth or art/documentary question.
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