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Author Topic: Blurring the lines  (Read 11726 times)

LesPalenik

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Blurring the lines
« on: September 27, 2014, 11:47:51 PM »

Not only in a particular image, but also between the photographs and paintings.

For a long time, I steered away from the painterly and soft looks in my images, avoiding even the slow-motion waterfalls, and blurry action photos that are now quite common in various photography galleries and portfolios. To create special looks and distorting the reality, photographers have been using for a long time specialized optical filters such as lens baby, gels, TS lenses, super-fast lenses to achieve extreme bokeh, and extremely wide lenses to distort the perspective. On top of it, people are converting their cameras to IR, taking advantage of extreme speed flash photography, time-lapse clips, and using HDR, cross-processing filers and tonal mapping to give that special and unique look to their images.

So taking it one step further is really not such a drastic step, especially at the time as the digital painting and transformation tools have become more capable and easier to use, and the general acceptance of this genre is also on rise. In my example, I converted a wildlife picture of two arctic wolves into a very soft painterly image.

As mentioned on another thread under Landscape And Nature Photography, I played recently with the new Topaz Impression program, and posted a "sketchified" image of a curvy desert road. More examples are shown on my blog in the review of this program.
http://advantica.wordpress.com/2014/09/21/topaz-impression/

Although the painting renderings may be spurned by the purist photographers, the general public seems to be quite receptive of the new looks, witnessed also by the popularity of Instagram and other artistic filters. I'm curious what has been experience of other photographers with creation and acceptance of this genre.

LesPalenik

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2014, 01:57:31 PM »

It can be viewed also as a different "finishing" of a product. Or a new interpretation of the reality.

For example, if someone uses to use a slow shutter speed to record the moving water, that has very little resemblance with the actual scene.
Similarly if you use a lens baby filter to blur part of the image, that may change completely the scene.
 
My examples are just quick examples of various renditions. Someone else may achieve much higher degree of sophistication. As you say, an artist could use such a filter to simplify an image and then finish it by adding actual digital strokes or by merging it with another layer or element.

Alan Klein

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2014, 03:22:18 PM »

 
A painting that has been copied from a photograph, by a painter using brushes and paint, is not usually an artistic exploration and resolution. (Counter-example, photo-realism.) In contrast, photographs as sketches or studies that are then used as elements in the creation of a new composition seems quite different - there's still the creativity. So to me, rendering a photograph through a painterly filter is just as lacking as a painter copying a photograph.

My friend Mel who is an illustrator mostly uses photos as the start for his painting creations.  Here is one of the pictures he took of me shooting and a picture of his subsequent painting with posing goose added.  There actually were a lot of geese around that day.  But none as cooperative as the one Mel painted.  Mel has a good sense of humor.



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Alan Klein

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2014, 03:24:12 PM »

Les:  I like your painted wolf shot.
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RSL

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2014, 03:25:55 PM »

I agree with Isaac all the way on this one, Les, which, I'll confess, is unusual. In addition, the "painterly" version simply looks like a pixellated photograph, which essentially is what it is.

LesPalenik

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2014, 03:35:03 PM »

Thank you all for constructive comments.

Good points in regards to applying the filter. I'm just starting, and was not brave enough to apply a stronger abstract effect. I guess that is something of personal taste, judgement and experience, and different artists would render it differently.

However, if the modified version is not displayed beside the original, then the too-much-resemblance argument would be mitigated.

Alan, I like your picture a lot. Such whimsical rendering is definitely much more than just a blurry filter, there is some magic in it.
It shows that one needs an artistic vision and good illustration skills.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2014, 03:58:46 PM by LesPalenik »
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luxborealis

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2014, 05:49:56 PM »

A painting that has been copied from a photograph, by a painter using brushes and paint, is not usually an artistic exploration and resolution. (Counter-example, photo-realism.) In contrast, photographs as sketches or studies that are then used as elements in the creation of a new composition seems quite different - there's still the creativity. So to me, rendering a photograph through a painterly filter is just as lacking as a painter copying a photograph.

I agree, as well. However, it depends on where you, as a photographer, are coming from. Is it "art", probably not, but the answer is irrelevant (unless it is important to you, for your work to be defined as art).

Is it photography? No, it's not. While a flowing stream and variable focus are both uniquely photographic qualities captured in camera without software application, what you have done to the photographic file is most definitely painterly in style and in no way reflects the fundamental qualities of a photograph. Using software, we may apply enhancements to accentuate aspects of a photograph, but there is a difficult to define line that is crossed when a file is manipulated past the point of being a photograph. There's nothing wrong with it, but it would perhaps be more correct to call it "mixed media, photography and software" (doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?)

It's similar to a painter who paints in the photographic effect of bokeh - it may sell more paintings, but it is a photographic effect that, as a photographer, I find rather amusing when I see it in paintings.

However, does it really matter? No, not one iota. Keep doing what do. Some people will scorn it as being a non-painter's crutch; others will say "Gee, wow, what a great effect, how'd you do it". You will never win over the "purists" (however that might be defined by painters or photographers), but you will win over many others. People like to compartmentalizations things. The more fundamental they are in their thinking, the more they want structure. When it doesn't fit their pre-defined world, they don't like it. Don't feel you have to define it as art or photography just to keep them happy.
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LesPalenik

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2014, 06:31:31 PM »

Quote
Well, I clicked each of the menu items in the software, you can do the same :-)

Well, not quite.
First, you need to have the right image to start with, and then you have to know when to stop clicking and how far to pull the sliders.

LesPalenik

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2014, 07:23:13 PM »

Glad you asked, Isaac, there is indeed more to the story.

The interesting part is that I already have large wolf pictures in my house (including the bedroom). Very large timber wolves, in real life size! One is 3 meters long (the picture, not the wolf!). Taken with a double-double MF method. For the benefit of the international readers, that's a Canadian phrase, coined by a well known national restaurant chain. To clarify, it was a Medium Format panoramic film camera with Manual Focus.  Actually, those prints turned out reasonably sharp (considering they were printed without any postprocessing and sharpening - right under a very large enlarger, actually a specialized panoramic photo processor that moves both, the paper and the film in sync during the exposure).
 
The photography and printing must have been exceptionally good, because those wolves look just too real. So it occurred to me, that a picture of a pack of soft and fluffy wolves might be a welcome addition and could bring more warmth to the house. But now I see, I may have to soften them even more.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2014, 10:08:23 AM by LesPalenik »
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elliot_n

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2014, 08:48:29 PM »

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LesPalenik

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2014, 08:58:13 PM »

Wow! Those two look very cute, like a porcelain figurine. Not threatening at all!
What program did you use Elliot, to make this image?
« Last Edit: September 28, 2014, 09:06:21 PM by LesPalenik »
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Alan Klein

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2014, 09:33:22 PM »

Maybe they are porcelain?
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LesPalenik

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2014, 10:20:46 PM »

You mean, all you need to make this picture, is a UV filter?

LesPalenik

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2014, 05:03:26 AM »

Terry,

I like your post. For most observers it doesn't matter how the special effect was achieved - in-camera, through special handling under the enlarger, or by a software program. If someone wants to spoil an otherwise good image by using a slow shutter speed, distorting optical filter or heaven-forbid a Photoshop plugin, it's their business and it won't affect the rest of the world.

What I wanted to point out in my opening post, that the lines between all the old and new treatments are getting blurred,  and we have now many options to choose from, including special finishes like textured paper, canvas or printing on metal.   If you like IR or cross-processing look, a strong HDR effect or van Gogh painting filter, that's OK. If the final product looks interesting and appealing to you, you are free to hang it on your wall or maybe you  can even sell it.   And we all know that whatever looks appealing to one person, may look awful or boring to another.

It's really not that different from paintings. Some people like the detail work of Thomas Kincade and Robert Bateman, others prefer Warhol and Picasso, and some like abstract and graffitti. And for others yet, nothing beats a full-chest multi-colored tattoo.

So while the purists will keep insisting on the conventional high-resolution in-camera captures and accepted finishing methods, many buyers or interior designers will choose the artwork by looks, price, availability or the latest color trend.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2014, 06:19:14 AM by LesPalenik »
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RSL

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2014, 12:52:18 PM »

There'll always be a sizable market for kitsch.

Exactly!  :D

Iluvmycam

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2014, 02:19:35 PM »

OP, I do a lot of what you mentioned. But I don't like photos on canvas and I don't do much with fake paintings from photos. That is about it for my dislikes. But I can still possibly appreciate them in others work.
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LesPalenik

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2014, 05:11:33 PM »

Quote
There'll always be a sizable market for kitsch (genre description rather than pejorative judgement).

Very true! And some curators call it Art Nouveau.

luxborealis

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2014, 07:44:38 PM »

What I wanted to point out in my opening post, that the lines between all the old and new treatments are getting blurred,  and we have now many options to choose from, including special finishes like textured paper, canvas or printing on metal.   If you like IR or cross-processing look, a strong HDR effect or van Gogh painting filter, that's OK. If the final product looks interesting and appealing to you, you are free to hang it on your wall or maybe you  can even sell it.   And we all know that whatever looks appealing to one person, may look awful or boring to another.

I don't believe the lines have been blurred anymore now than before. In fact there is still a difference between a photograph and a mixed media work that uses photography as its base. IR printed on textured paper, canvas or metal is still a photograph it's been done for over a century - I'm sure you are familiar with Daguerrotypes and tin types. A photograph that uses a slow shutter speed or a fast one is still a photograph, even if you don't prefer the effect.

However,  photograph with  Van Gogh painting filter I feel is no longer a photograph as it does not rely on the qualities unique to photography for its "success". Yes, a lens and shutter were used to make the exposure, but if it not longer exhibits the fundamental qualities of a photograph, it shouldn't be called one. That's my own personal feeling, though.

Anyone can shoot anything and do to it as they wish and call it what ever they want; I don't have to buy into it if I choose not to.
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Iluvmycam

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2014, 08:21:10 PM »

I forgot to say, I do like photos that are HDR hyper real.(painterly) They can look like illustrations. So that is as close as I get to photos that look like paintings.

nsfw

http://danielteolijrlep6.tumblr.com/
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LesPalenik

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Re: Blurring the lines
« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2014, 12:33:32 AM »

I don't believe the lines have been blurred anymore now than before. In fact there is still a difference between a photograph and a mixed media work that uses photography as its base. IR printed on textured paper, canvas or metal is still a photograph it's been done for over a century - I'm sure you are familiar with Daguerrotypes and tin types. A photograph that uses a slow shutter speed or a fast one is still a photograph, even if you don't prefer the effect.

However,  photograph with  Van Gogh painting filter I feel is no longer a photograph as it does not rely on the qualities unique to photography for its "success". Yes, a lens and shutter were used to make the exposure, but if it not longer exhibits the fundamental qualities of a photograph, it shouldn't be called one. That's my own personal feeling, though.

Anyone can shoot anything and do to it as they wish and call it what ever they want; I don't have to buy into it if I choose not to.

Personally, I do see and appreciate the difference in image acquisition between the two worlds, and I am interested very much in the technical aspects of all photo gear and other tools available to a photographer.

When I talked about blurring, I was referring to the appearance of the finished image, not to the actual process. As far as the average buyer is concerned, he/she couldn't care less about the artistic methods and processes. As long as it fits over their couch and complements the room decor, the price tag of the artwork is more important than what kind of brush, sensor, and plugin were employed in making it.
 
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