Luminous Landscape Forum

Site & Board Matters => About This Site => Topic started by: wolfnowl on September 02, 2011, 03:22:43 pm

Title: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: wolfnowl on September 02, 2011, 03:22:43 pm
Interesting article, but what Person #1 doesn't seem to understand is that Person #2 looks through the viewfinder and moves the camera one degree more to the left or three degrees down.  Person #2 decides to include this branch or exclude that stone.  Person #2 sets a focus point of _____ and chooses an f/stop of ___ which will yield a field of focus from _____ to _____ and chooses a shutter speed of _____.  If that's 'cheating' then an artist cheats in mixing colours before setting the first brush stroke upon a blank canvas.  It's called 'vision'.

My $0.02!

Mike.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Kirk Gittings on September 02, 2011, 03:41:43 pm
This is still fundamentally the same old discussion I have been hearing my whole career. Is photography art? If it is then there are no constraints. If it isn't if it is just a means of recording reality, then throw aesthetics aside and just hire a chimp to point the camera.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: AFairley on September 02, 2011, 05:27:54 pm
This is still fundamentally the same old discussion I have been hearing my whole career. Is photography art? If it is then there are no constraints. If it isn't if it is just a means of recording reality, then throw aesthetics aside and just hire a chimp to point the camera.

+1  I'm an artist, not a photojournalist, so the idea of "cheating" is just silly.  Nothing to see here, move along.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: petermfiore on September 02, 2011, 05:39:57 pm
All Fine Art is Manipulation! All, no matter the medium.

In my case I'm a painter.


www.peterfiore.com
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: MHMG on September 02, 2011, 05:43:56 pm
This is still fundamentally the same old discussion I have been hearing my whole career. Is photography art? If it is then there are no constraints. If it isn't if it is just a means of recording reality, then throw aesthetics aside and just hire a chimp to point the camera.

Well, for sure, this subject has been debated since the dawn of photography, and we won't solve it in this discusion. But it's fun to try ;D. My take on this topic is that the issue is not so much about photography being art, or photography being the most trusted medium for recording perceptual reality, or photography as a clever tool to manipulate the viewer's perception of reality.  It's about the basic definition of a photograph and how the photographic process differs from other forms of image rendering. In other words, is there a fundamental distinction between a "true" photograph and other 2-dimensional images created by other means such as painting, or drawing?  I've thought about this subject a lot over the years, and even more so now that digital image editing and image compositing techniques allow even more modes of "reality distortion". Yet, as others will quickly note, many opportunities to distort reality have been there in full spectrum of photography right from the start.  I concluded that my definition of a "true" photograph (digital or film workflows are equally valid photographic processes) ultimately hinges on the act of recording of a naturally occurring scene with but one single, uninterrupted exposure of light on a light sensitive substrate. The substrate can be film, electronic sensor, or even human skin.  It is the concept of a single unifying exposure as opposed to multiple exposures that sorts our photographic endeavors into two camps - the photograph versus the photo illustration. Tone and color manipulation are all fair game with a true photograph, but compositing separate exposures together render the final image into a photo illustration rather than a true photograph, IMHO. There's nothing less noble with photo illustration, but I don't consider it a true photograph.  For example, Philip Halsman's "Dali Atomicus" as published in Life Magazine is thus a brilliant photo illustration, but the camera original negative, printed without the additional retouching (which both added and took away visual elements in the scene) is the true photograph. That said, the rendered photo illustration is the "vision" that Halsman imagined. His true photograph was merely a means to that end. In contrast, Ansel Adam's "Moonrise" achieves its justifiable fame precisely because it's a true photograph. Had Adams composited a second negative together with the base image of graveyard to add the moon or the clouds or both to the image (something that would have been trivial to do in the darkroom even in 1943), he could have achieved the same final "artistic" vision in photographic print form, but the work would never have achieved the acclaim it has today because we know that the final image was indeed a decisive single exposure capturing a unique moment in time. Again, tone and color accuracy is irrelevant to a true photograph (black and white prints being an obvious distortion of tone and color reality), but the single exposure, whether long or short, is the key to a satisfying definition for a true photograph rather than a photo illustration, at least for me :)
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Kirk Gittings on September 02, 2011, 06:10:56 pm
Using your verbiage but from my POV b&w is not "true" photography to begin with as it is an extreme abstraction of reality. Extreme burning and dodging (including chemical intensification of the foreground like Moonrise) or extreme color enhancement also is a significant manipulation of the original scene and therefor in my world a not "true" photograph either. BUT I DON"T CARE! Because:

 
we are talking art here not courtroom evidence.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Jeremy Roussak on September 02, 2011, 06:52:59 pm
Kirk et al are, IMHO, obviously right.

This topic has the potential to occupy a great deal of time and effort. It has been debated since the dawn of photography and will continue to be debated until its demise. Ultimately, thought, it's intellectual masturbation: good fun, immensely enjoyable even if only transiently, but ultimately unproductive.

Oh, and, like the physical form, probably even more fun if someone else does it for you.

Jeremy
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Eric Myrvaagnes on September 02, 2011, 09:21:27 pm
I'm with Kirk and the others who don't care what you call it.

I will add that one of the characteristics that some photographs can have is what I would call "plausibility." I tend to enjoy images that I find believable, even if they are far-fetched or have been substantially manipulated. Jerry Uelsmann comes immediately to mind as someone who combines images to create mysterious worlds that feel as if they could have actually existed in some alternate universe, and I love his work.

Good fantasy writers like J.R.R. Tolkein do something similar in fiction.

But if the mechanical contrivances used to try to create an illusion are too obvious (--- I'm recalling the infamous "aspirin moons" that used to appear in camera club landscapes of the mid 20th century ---) then the result doesn't work (for me, at least).

So I guess I'm saying that IMHO there is no such thing as cheating in photography. Well, I admit that even I prefer some semblance of "accuracy" in photos in merchandise catalogs, but nowhere else.

Eric
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JimGoshorn on September 02, 2011, 10:23:58 pm
Compositing has existed for years in traditional analog photography done in the darkroom but that fact has often been missing in these conversations. Best example I can think of is Jerry Uelsmann:

http://www.uelsmann.net/
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: tom b on September 03, 2011, 01:02:53 am
Frank Hurley is a good example of an Australian 'cheat'. A good example can be seen here (http://aso.gov.au/titles/documentaries/frank-hurley/clip2/). The first clip is also interesting.

Cheers,
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: John Camp on September 03, 2011, 01:42:19 am
The problem with all of the above is, documentation is about all that photography ultimately has to offer. You start getting into compositing, by Jerry Uelsmann or anybody else, the result is almost always an embarrassing mishmash of images, a kind of crappy collage. It reminds me of stuff that we used to do back in photo class in college in 1962, though his technique was better. But come on, a tree and roots cupped by hands? It's embarrassing. It's like black velvet paintings of Elvis. Then, on the other kind of manipulation, done by Jeff Wall and others, where we have phony documentation, the obvious question is, So what? I was once sitting on a couch playing with a digital camera and watching a well-shot thriller movie, on a big screen TV, and began taking shots of it. Some of them looked pretty good, because the guy who set up the original shots was a skilled cinematographer and had the benefits of skilled costumers, actors, location scouts, lighting, etc. But if you look at MY shots, you ask, So what? It looked good, but was essentially meaningless because it's bullshit.

Ansel Adams manipulated his images (with filters and other devices) but within certain ethical guidelines. As far as I know, he never snipped a moon out of one photo and composited it into another. The same with Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Nan Goldin, whoever. When Avedon went out west, he took a studio with him, with assistants, and posed his characters, but he didn't *invent* the characters. They invented themselves.

So, there *is* cheating. And it's like one of the Supremes said about pornography, "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it."  
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: David Hufford on September 03, 2011, 04:27:34 am
Adams manipulated his images (with filters and other devices) but within certain ethical guidelines. As far as I know, he never snipped a moon out of one photo and composited it into another.


He never snipped a moon out and composted it in another photo, but he did go pretty far. On one of his photos, Winter Sunrise, he did some retouching to remove school initials: "I ruthlessly removed what I could of the L P from the negative (in the left-hand hill), and have always spotted out any remaining trace in the print.”
 (http://focusonphotography.blogspot.com/2008/07/ansel-adams-and-lone-pine-photograph.html)

I don't know, of course, but I suspect had he Photoshop, he'd of cloned the letters out.

Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: dchew on September 03, 2011, 05:59:01 am
We have a local art show that has two main categories:  Art is the first (with oil, watercolor, etc. as sub categories), and photography is the second!  Makes me laugh every year when I get the brochure.  Apparently whoever runs that show isn’t shy about their opinion, yet is smart enough to realize you can rake in more entry fees if you include photographs.

I entered another juried art show last year. As a winner, I attended the “meet the artist” night where the judges explained their picks and the artists answered questions.  The show had the usual mix of oil, watercolor, sculpture, photography, etc.  Sure enough, when the group got to photography, someone made the cheating statement. In this case it was an oil painter.  Her point was specifically about digital photography simply being too easy.  

The funny thing was the photo I submitted had very few adjustments from the raw image.  White balance, highlight/shadow adjustments, minor clean up and that was it.  Now I was not going to argue with an oil painter about the difficulty of our crafts.  However, I did make a few points:


Dave
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: petermfiore on September 03, 2011, 06:23:14 am
Of course when we are talking about ART, things can and should get "embarrassing". What that really means is that artist is taking chances, stretching their vision. When you play by the rules too much you get images with perfect composition, color, correct balance of values, exposure ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

www.peterfiore.com
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: pegelli on September 03, 2011, 07:35:30 am
By coďncidence I happen to be rereading "Ansel Adams, An Autobiography" where in chapter 6 he recites a conversation relevant to this subject:

Adams: "Stieglitz, what is a creative photograph, and what is this creative photography you are talking about and how do you go about making a machine be creative?"
Stieglitz: "I have the desire to photograph. I go out with my camera. I come across something that excites me emotionally, spiritually, aesthetically. I see the photograph in my mind's eye and I compose and expose the negative. I give you the print as the equivalent of what I saw and felt."

I think this principle still holds and as long as the photoshop manipulations are used creatively to genuinly translate the vision of the photographer to a print it can never be a cheat in my mind.  
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 03, 2011, 08:15:06 am
We have a local art show that has two main categories:  Art is the first (with oil, watercolor, etc. as sub categories), and photography is the second!  Makes me laugh every year when I get the brochure.  Apparently whoever runs that show isn’t shy about their opinion, yet is smart enough to realize you can rake in more entry fees if you include photographs.
I entered another juried art show last year. As a winner, I attended the “meet the artist” night where the judges explained their picks and the artists answered questions.  The show had the usual mix of oil, watercolor, sculpture, photography, etc.  Sure enough, when the group got to photography, someone made the cheating statement. In this case it was an oil painter.  Her point was specifically about digital photography simply being too easy.  
The funny thing was the photo I submitted had very few adjustments from the raw image.  White balance, highlight/shadow adjustments, minor clean up and that was it.  Now I was not going to argue with an oil painter about the difficulty of our crafts.  However, I did make a few points:
  • I don’t think the art of photography is any easier.  I made the comparison to an oil painter with a magic “undo” brush.  It is not any easier to create the art, but the magic brush makes it much easier to experiment and to practice.
  • What photographers do have now is control.  Control over brightness and color, both global and local.  And, control over the entire process from capture to print.  But that control is what painters have had for a long time!
  • As fine art photographers we still have limitations.  If she and I were standing next to each other working a scene with flowers in a slight breeze, I’m going away with nothing while she paints away.  I could of course change my artistic intent and photograph blurry wisps of color, but that requires me to, well, change my artistic intent!  Photography is still a time-sensitive, or event-related craft much more so than other forms of art.  Michael's previous home page image is a perfect example. The beautiful angle of the shadow that just misses the coke sign will change very quickly.  And that is precisely what I love about photography.
Dave


I have to take issue with you here!

Photographing a landscape is BY FAR easier than painting one. That you may have to go home and tinker with it in Photoshop does not make your art "just as complex" as a guy who has to start painting it, and getting all of the detail and proportions right by hand!

* With 1 week of training, the amount of people who could bring an excellent camera to a nice sunset, aim and press the shutter, and come out with a very nice shot is in the hundreds of millions.
* With 1 week of training, the amount of people who could bring a bare canvas and some oil paints to that beach, and create a work of art from scratch, is in the thousands (maybe tens of thousands).

Re-creating the scene before your eyes is only a finger-push away in photography;
Re-creating the scene before your eyes can take days/weeks in oil painting.

There is absolutely no comparison in how much the level of difficulty is against the painter ...

Jack


.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: dchew on September 03, 2011, 08:33:50 am

I have to take issue with you here!

Photographing a landscape is BY FAR easier than painting one. That you may have to go home and tinker with it in Photoshop does not make your art "just as complex" as a guy who has to start painting it, and getting all of the detail and proportions right by hand!

Sorry Jack, I meant the art of today's digital photography vs. yesterday's film photography isn't any easier.  I should have qualified that.  I completely agree from my perspective that painting is significantly more difficult.

Dave
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: michael on September 03, 2011, 09:39:13 am

There is absolutely no comparison in how much the level of difficulty is against the painter ...


You are conflating effort and craft with art. I don't believe that there is a priori any correlation. It wouldn't take much to find many paintings that were apparently easily executed, that are brilliant and moving, and ones which took hundreds of hours of effort but which are crap.

A friend of mine is one of the only people in the world who makes carbon pigment photographic prints. Each print can take as much as a week and some 40-60 hours to complete. They are exquisite as objet d'art, but are only as good artistically as the image from which they are made (which happen in his case to be very good as well).

Art and craft are not the same thing. They are partners. The worth of a work of art lies in its intrinsic ability to move the viuewer, not in how many coffee breaks needed to be taken during its creation.

Michael

Michael
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: petermfiore on September 03, 2011, 02:54:48 pm
Very True Michael. Art and craft are different. When they are present in the work, it is most definitely magic.




www.peterfiore.com
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: graphius on September 03, 2011, 04:20:02 pm
I have to take exception to the "painting is harder, therefore it is more ART" argument. If a landscape artist paints a scene they can "remove" the ugly power lines in front of a sunset. If a photographer removes the same power lines in photoshop, they are suddenly a cheat. In the same vein, a painter can enhance colour, contrast, add a person for scale, etc without the wrath of critics.
Maybe it is because an average Joe understands, at some level, the work that goes into painting, while they just see photography as "just push the button...."
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: petermfiore on September 03, 2011, 06:24:51 pm
I think that perception comes from the fact that very few have ever painted, while everyone uses a camera. After all "All you have to do is press the button, the camera does all the work". Right? Before some of you become unglued my tongue is in my cheek.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: John Camp on September 03, 2011, 09:05:27 pm
Because photography is a newer art than painting, it hasn't become so differentiated. There are a very large number of people who do painting-like things (illustrators, designers, planners, architectural artists, etc.) who use all the tools of a painter, and many of the skills, but don't claim to be "high artists." They are craftsmen or professionals, and everybody thinks that's just fine. I'd say that there are also other categories that are extremely art-like, that most painting critics would not really consider high art: commissioned portrait painters, plein-air hobbyists, and so on, and they are considered valued craftspeople.

In photography, people simply assume the mantle of "artist," and so you have guys who shoot weddings or airplane pictures arguing that what they do is fine art, and there really isn't a big critical structure (as there is with painting) to say no, what you're doing is a craft, but "That's okay, we highly value your craft." If you tell a photographer that he's a craftsman, not an artist, he's likely to be insulted. So, the situation with photography is simply more confusing.

As far as craft goes, the element of craft has some importance in photography, but not too much. Since the thing that makes an image "art" is how it is conceived and how it is received, it's entirely possible that good art could be made with the simplest of cameras, and very little instruction -- David Hockney's collages may be an illustration of this. The situation is somewhat different in painting. I think that if a person were to undergo an intense course in photography, you could learn everything you needed to know to function at a very high craft level in a matter of months. In very heavy-duty art schools, with an extreme emphasis on craft, it usually takes several years before a student could function at a comparative level (in terms of craft only.)

That doesn't mean that one is better than the other; they're just different. It's the concept and the final image that's important.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 03, 2011, 09:13:41 pm
You are conflating effort and craft with art. I don't believe that there is a priori any correlation. It wouldn't take much to find many paintings that were apparently easily executed, that are brilliant and moving, and ones which took hundreds of hours of effort but which are crap.

Hi Michael;

I don't believe I am conflating anything. I have several artists for friends (one of whom is world class), and I know many professional photographers as well, and the level of talent it takes to paint at a very high level is light years harder to "get to" than it is to get to a point of producing exceptional photographs.

Basically, world class artistic ability cannot be "taught." The ability to paint exceptionally well is a gift that a person is either born with or they are not. For example, one of my friends graduated from UCLA with an "art degree" ... and in point of fact he has several top-end clients (ranging from Time Warner, Sony, DCon, AOL, Ford, Mattel, and many other Fortune 500 companies who buy his work) ... and I have another artist friend ... who dropped out of school and who has no degree ... and yet it is the second dropout artist friend who is truly world class. Here are some examples of his work:

(http://www.johnkoerner.org/KennyMiller/indian1.jpg)

(http://www.johnkoerner.org/KennyMiller/jimi1.jpg)

(http://www.johnkoerner.org/KennyMiller/boxers001.jpg)

Now then, the point I am trying to make is this Michael: you have over 40,000 members of this board. And I say that virtually none of them, in their lifetime, could ever be able to freehand paint with prismacolors and achieve anything remotely as good as what my friend can draw while drinking a cold one.

And yet, I would say that virtually ALL OF US (including me!), if we had a reasonably-decent camera) could take photos of all 3 subjects ... and with a little training in Photoshop could produce a similar results. When you "push a button" and take a photograph, the camera does everything for you in regards to proportion, lines, accuracy of detail, etc. It is simply a cakewalk to learn "how to focus" ... "how to set ISO" ... and "what S/S to use" ... to "take a clear picture" ... compared to the amount of difficulty and natural talent that it takes to draw freehand with ultra-precision. In other words, it is anything but a cakewalk to take a blank piece of paper, and with nothing but inks/paints/pastels to create all of the dimensional accuracy, color accuracy, facial expressions, etc. BY HAND.

So, no, I am not talking about "the amount of time" it takes to make a "crappy" painting, I am talking about the level of talent it takes to make a truly accurate painting AND a work of art, on top of the amount of time that it takes ... all with nothing but your bare hands.




A friend of mine is one of the only people in the world who makes carbon pigment photographic prints. Each print can take as much as a week and some 40-60 hours to complete. They are exquisite as objet d'art, but are only as good artistically as the image from which they are made (which happen in his case to be very good as well).
Art and craft are not the same thing. They are partners. The worth of a work of art lies in its intrinsic ability to move the viuewer, not in how many coffee breaks needed to be taken during its creation.
Michael

I understand what you are saying about craft versus art, but a photographer always has it easier than a world class freehand artist. Why? Because when a photographer "clicks his finger" the detail of the face, the eyes, the expression, the color, etc. are instantly "there" with precision. The photographer does NOT have to "create" this kind of precision by hand, off of a blank piece of paper. Hell, with a basic understanding of how a camera works, and a halfway decent camera, any newbie could go visit a magnificent sunset and within a few moments "snap" a breathtaking shot. But to paint that same sunset would take weeks, months in some cases, and the amount of people who could do "this" with a little training is much more limited. It simply takes a much higher degree of natural talent to paint at a high level with skill.

Regarding the "art" end of things, two people may have the same "artistic eye" for beauty, but the photographer just sets up his gear and pushes a button and he has his vision onhand. The painter not only has to have the same eye, but he has to have a degree of natural talent that is just not very common. He doesn't just have to spend weeks/months in creating his vision ... he has to have the talent to get all of the proportions correctly from scratch ... whereas anyone who points a good camera at a subject gets "that subject" automatically handed to him by the camera.

There is simply a world of difference IMO ... no disrespect to any photographer, including myself (http://www.johnkoerner.org/Emoticons/laugh.gif)

Jack


.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Schewe on September 03, 2011, 10:22:11 pm
In other words, it is anything but a cakewalk to take a blank piece of paper, and with nothing but inks/paints/pastels to create all of the dimensional accuracy, color accuracy, facial expressions, etc. BY HAND.

Hum...Jimmie Hendrix is dead...I wonder where your artist friend got the reference material to "paint him" and just how different the "painting" looked from the reference photo. I've seen the reference photos that great painters make (well, in the 20th century say like Norman Rockwell) in order to "paint" their subjects. Putting ink/paints/pastels to paper is no harder nor valuable a talent that knowing when and how to click the shutter.

If you disagree, then you are ignorant of the facts of what it takes to create great art, regardless of the medium. You are guilty of classing various mediums as having greater or lessor inherent value–uh, no, I don't think so bud-it don't work like that. The value of a piece of work has little to do with the difficulty in producing it and is based more on what a pice of art lookes like and how many people are attracted to it. That's what determines value...

No, I can't draw well...so I'm not a painter (which is what I wanted to be when I was a kid), but I can shoot pretty well. Does that really make me less of a talent than your painter friends? Really? Ya might want to rethink what you've said cause what you've said is really pretty stupid...course, that's just my opinion so take it for what it's worth.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: michael on September 03, 2011, 10:27:35 pm
Jeff, you do have a way with words, but I can't say that I disagree with a word you've said. I just would have said it more politely. But then, I'm Canadian, eh!

Michael
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: graphius on September 03, 2011, 10:36:49 pm
I may get into trouble here, but some people seem to be thinking that because it can be technically easier to produce a REALISTIC image with a camera, it must de facto be easier to create great art with a camera.
Look at some of the traditional Japanese ink drawings. They are very simple, yet can express a lot. You could also look at some abstract painters like Pollock, et al who, on the surface, look like unplanned paint strokes. The same can be said with photography. It may be "easier" to get a proper exposure*, but that is irrelevant. Is a writer who uses a word-processor less of an artist than one who uses a pen and paper?
Craft is only the very first, very minor point in any art.

*On an aside, taking this argument to extreme, are older photographs more "art" because they had to hand coat glass plates etc
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: tom b on September 03, 2011, 11:01:19 pm
I did a reverse image search for the Jimmy Hendrix image and came up with this (http://www.mandremcorp.com/music-photography/mike-ruiz/jimi-hendrix-by-mike-ruiz/).

Cheers,

Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: bopbop on September 03, 2011, 11:14:22 pm
To digress from the weighty matter earlier discussed, digression being the better part of valor:  I like Mr Schacter's composite 'cheat' more than his final 'cheat', given the inexactitude of web jpegs.  The darker clouds and foreground I find move me more.  What do y'all think, eh?
George
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: MHMG on September 04, 2011, 12:13:56 am
I think that perception comes from the fact that very few have ever painted, while everyone uses a camera. After all "All you have to do is press the button, the camera does all the work". Right? Before some of you become unglued my tongue is in my cheek.

Actually, everyone I know has made a painting or drawing.  We often forget that we were encouraged or told to do so in elementary school.  And many children can create paintings or drawings which are judged to be unique, evocative, and definitely transcend by anyones definition the threshold of what is art and what is not. I suggest that this means it's essentially as easy to paint or draw as it is to use a camera.  However, most people usually fail to continue with painting and drawing in our adult lives, whereas they have other motivations to pick up a camera, i.e., reasons that have to do with personal record keeping and not artistic expression. Sure, most of us can't paint a portrait or landscape competently because it requires great talent and skill, but most people aren't competent at photography, either... because it requires great talent and skill!  Photography is not a lesser pursuit to painting in this regard.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: John Camp on September 04, 2011, 12:50:02 am
I once wrote a book for Rizzoli, about the watercolorist John Stuart Ingle. In talking to Ingle over a period of weeks, we touched upon training. In his opinion, as an excellent artist himself (most major museums have his works) and as a University of Minnesota professor of art, almost anyone who can learn to write can learn to draw very well, at least up to about age 20 or 21. After that it gets harder, because you *know* too much, and stop responding simply to what you see. And by very well, he meant like Raphael. Drawing is simply a skill, and at one time, all kinds of people acquired it. It was even a required course at West Point, which was one of the places Whistler learned it. Ingle has died since the book was published, and I don't want to put words in a dead man's mouth, but I would venture to say that he would argue that even Schewe could learn to draw very well. The difference between learning to draw and paint competently, on one hand, and learning to take competent, technically correct pictures on the other, is mostly a matter of time and determination -- it takes longer to learn to draw and paint. But that doesn't mean that it's better, or that it gets you further. *Art* is something completely aside from technical competence, and I think photography and painting simply appeal to different kinds of minds. One is as likely to produce art as the other.

JC
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Schewe on September 04, 2011, 01:49:20 am
I did a reverse image search for the Jimmy Hendrix image and came up with this (http://www.mandremcorp.com/music-photography/mike-ruiz/jimi-hendrix-by-mike-ruiz/).

yep...not at all unusual and in this case highly derivtative (if not worse)...
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Wayne Fox on September 04, 2011, 01:59:29 am

Maybe it is because an average Joe understands, at some level, the work that goes into painting, while they just see photography as "just push the button...."

The average Joe is also exposed enough to Photoshop via various things like television (which make PS seem even simpler to use to manipulate images) to question and distrust almost all images they see.  This is one of the fundamental problems and I'm sure we've all seen it.  The lack of knowledge of digital photographic processes and photoshop itself is even more challenging because the average Joe has no clue you have to do something to the raw data captured by any camera.. they assume the picture from their phone or point and shoot is how it's supposed to be, clueless of the manipulation that occurred before they could chimp their shot ...

then you get photographers who make claims they don't manipulate their work - they get it all in camera - yet looking at the images you know some pretty serious work was done to the files.  Even those shooting "film" who claim to be purists have to scan and then work with their files. And my favorite one out of all these .. a pretty high end landscape guy shooting film who passes off a double exposure of a moon which is pretty easy to spot based on the direction of light of the subject vs the moon, but imply they didn't cheat because it was done with film.

 .... and the debate will never end ...

Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Rajan Parrikar on September 04, 2011, 02:20:13 am
 
Quote
...and the level of talent it takes to paint at a very high level is light years harder to "get to" than it is to get to a point of producing exceptional photographs.

This is a fallacious claim.

Let us look at an example drawn from music.  Consider two instruments, A and B.  Instrument A is much easier to get started (eg. a piano), instrument B is very hard to get a grip on from the get-go (say, a fretless lute).  But it is not true that producing memorable music on A is in any way easier or requires less talent than a work of equally high calibre produced on B.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: tom b on September 04, 2011, 02:58:39 am
One of the hardest things I found when starting up landscape photography was finding locations that worked. Then when you find a location you have to study it to find out when and where it works best. Sites on the Turon River that I visited last week needed local knowledge to find them. At one time of day they can look brilliant at other times they can be dull and uninteresting. In this one spot I had been shooting with a telephoto lens, I changed to a wide angle lens and there was this whole new world in front of me. Finding and seeing locations is an art form in itself. I remember standing next to a small permanent waterhole in Kata Juta, Northern Territory. I walked around the waterhole taking shots of the reflections and then I saw a fantastic reflection. In this nothing like environment was a great shot. A woman walked up and I got her to stand in the same spot and told her how to take the shot with her camera. She couldn't believe how good the image on her screen was. If I hadn't told her she would have walked on bye.

Cheers,
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: graeme on September 04, 2011, 06:11:12 am
Here are some examples of his work:

Jack

I wouldn't call this stuff art - more like hack illustration worked up from reference photos. Your friend should do some life drawing.

IMHO the spider photos you post are artistically much more interesting than this stuff.


'Hell, with a basic understanding of how a camera works, and a halfway decent camera, any newbie could go visit a magnificent sunset and within a few moments "snap" a breathtaking shot.'

Don't agree with this either.

I was looking at another LuLa forum members' site the other day: The subject matter of the images was very similar to stuff I often photograph. The difference was that my photos are crap and this guys' work is terrific. And it's not technical quality that lets mine down ( tho' this can be an issue at times ).

Regards

Graeme
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: svein-frode on September 04, 2011, 07:03:23 am
To me the whole argument seems silly. Photography has never been and can never be an excact reproduction of reality. Truth in photography is all about photographic truth. As Winogrand touched upon, photography is about how something looks like photographed. To me, that will always be the definition of truth in photography.

Truth is not black and white. There are degrees of truth, just as there are degrees of manipulation in photography. One can trivialize the importance of photographic truth, and for those using photography to create fantasy and art truth might seem unimportant, but for those using photography to document the world, it is of outmost importance.

Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: pegelli on September 04, 2011, 09:52:10 am
Basically, world class artistic ability cannot be "taught." The ability to paint exceptionally well is a gift that a person is either born with or they are not. For example, one of my friends graduated from UCLA with an "art degree" ... and in point of fact he has several top-end clients (ranging from Time Warner, Sony, DCon, AOL, Ford, Mattel, and many other Fortune 500 companies who buy his work) ... and I have another artist friend ... who dropped out of school and who has no degree ... and yet it is the second dropout artist friend who is truly world class. Here are some examples of his work:

Jack, I agree that artistic ability cannot be taught, but it can be developed if there is a seed present in the form of artistic talent.
That is true for all forms of art and cannot be compared as "harder or easier". It's an absolute that is not measurable.

And about your friends. You didn't give any examples on the first so it's hard to comment on its artistic value, but the fact it's being sold doesn't prove anything. Kitsch wouldn't be made if it wouldn't sell either.
And the second, I have a hard time seeing that as art, only as a craft tracing photo's but that's it.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Peter McLennan on September 04, 2011, 02:56:14 pm
The OP was about cheating and its relationship to photography.

Let's face it.  All artists cheat.  That's what we do.  For photographers, the cheating begins when we raise the camera to our eye and ends when we stand back and look at the print on the wall.  It's all cheating.  Every step of the way.

If you read "The Girl With the Pearl Earring", you'll understand how Vermeer realized his amazingly photorealistic painted images.  It took patience, sensitivity, careful manipulation, knowledge and hard work.  And cheating. Cheating to the best of his ability.

If you look at Monet's "Impression Sunrise", you can see just how how far cheating can take art.  No sunrise looks like that, but in that image you can feel the sunrise.  It's cheating at its best.

Recent whining about "cheating" in photography results from the unprecedented increase in the quality and quantity of the photographic tools that we have available.  Now, we can cheat like never before.  It's up to us to use these tools wisely, skillfully and creatively.

Just like artists have always done.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 04, 2011, 03:26:19 pm
Hum...Jimmie Hendrix is dead...I wonder where your artist friend got the reference material to "paint him" and just how different the "painting" looked from the reference photo. I've seen the reference photos that great painters make (well, in the 20th century say like Norman Rockwell) in order to "paint" their subjects. Putting ink/paints/pastels to paper is no harder nor valuable a talent that knowing when and how to click the shutter.

True, but my friend does live work as well, and has done personal portraits of most of the great racecar drivers, as well as several other major sports figures, including having several of his works hanging in the Boxing hall of Fame.

Jeff, I think it is simply ingenuine on your part to say it is "no harder" painting a hand-crafted oil of a landscape than it is to record that same scene with a camera.




If you disagree, then you are ignorant of the facts of what it takes to create great art, regardless of the medium. You are guilty of classing various mediums as having greater or lessor inherent value–uh, no, I don't think so bud-it don't work like that. The value of a piece of work has little to do with the difficulty in producing it and is based more on what a pice of art lookes like and how many people are attracted to it. That's what determines value...

Well, I think if you disagree with my premise that painting takes more skill then it is you are living in denial. However, I would like to point out that it's not necessarily the "level of difficulty" that determines the value, but the level of skill required combined with the difficulty. For example, being a brain surgeon may not be any "more difficult" to do than picking crops for 15 hours a day on a farm ... but brain surgery does take more skill ... which is why it pays more as a vocation than picking crops.

This same truth is why a great painting by one of the masters will always sell for more to private collectors than any "great photograph" ever will ...




No, I can't draw well...so I'm not a painter (which is what I wanted to be when I was a kid), but I can shoot pretty well. Does that really make me less of a talent than your painter friends? Really? Ya might want to rethink what you've said cause what you've said is really pretty stupid...course, that's just my opinion so take it for what it's worth.

I don't see any justification for calling me "stupid" Jeff ... especially when you don't seem to be aware of the fact that you just admitted you were a wanna-be painter ... who didn't have the skill to make the grade ... so you became a photographer instead.

Do you not realize that you pretty much proved my point? (http://www.johnkoerner.org/Emoticons/lol.gif)

Jack


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Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 04, 2011, 03:31:39 pm
I did a reverse image search for the Jimmy Hendrix image and came up with this (http://www.mandremcorp.com/music-photography/mike-ruiz/jimi-hendrix-by-mike-ruiz/).
Cheers,


What does that have to do with anything, Tom?

Yes, my friend uses photos quite often to work off of, if the live subject isn't available. But it still doesn't change the fact it requires more skill to recreate the exactness of a photograph by drawing than it does just to take "another photo" of the photo.

Jack


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Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 04, 2011, 03:42:51 pm
The average Joe is also exposed enough to Photoshop via various things like television (which make PS seem even simpler to use to manipulate images) to question and distrust almost all images they see.  This is one of the fundamental problems and I'm sure we've all seen it.  The lack of knowledge of digital photographic processes and photoshop itself is even more challenging because the average Joe has no clue you have to do something to the raw data captured by any camera.. they assume the picture from their phone or point and shoot is how it's supposed to be, clueless of the manipulation that occurred before they could chimp their shot ...
then you get photographers who make claims they don't manipulate their work - they get it all in camera - yet looking at the images you know some pretty serious work was done to the files.  Even those shooting "film" who claim to be purists have to scan and then work with their files. And my favorite one out of all these .. a pretty high end landscape guy shooting film who passes off a double exposure of a moon which is pretty easy to spot based on the direction of light of the subject vs the moon, but imply they didn't cheat because it was done with film.
 .... and the debate will never end ...

This is a good point, Wayne, and mastering Photoshop is itself a complex set of skills that some people are better at than others. As someone who is still trying to master Photoshop myself, I am in complete agreement with you here.

However ... it is still an easier bargain than painting from nothing. For starters, you are working with a photograph, so all of the lines, features, colors, etc. have basically been "handed to you" by the camera. So all you're really doing in Photoshop is doctoring and working with what's already there in perfect proportion ... whereas the artist has to FIRST create this perfection from nothing by hand. Then the artist is required to mix his own colors, blend/adjust, etc. ... and every color he uses is a physical thing.

In Photoshop, none of your colors or features "cost money" to use ... and if you screw up and want to "go back" you can just "undo" more than a hundred different steps that you took in an instant. Whereas, with a painter, if he does something he didn't like ... he is stuck with that physical reality ... and has to spend several more hours "blending and retouching" to work around the error, rather than just being able to click an "undo" button.

So, yes, I absolutely agree with you that mastering Photoshop is a skill that takes a whole lotta time to learn, and that some people have far better skill at it than others. Yet, though I agree with this, I still think a painter's job is FAR harder to master and produce excellence with, and by a country mile really.

I could take a hundred perfectly clear shots of a landscape in a few hours ... but I couldn't even draw one in a whole day ... I don't have the skill.

Jack


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Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 04, 2011, 03:55:01 pm
I wouldn't call this stuff art - more like hack illustration worked up from reference photos. Your friend should do some life drawing.

Well, you are entitled to your opinion of course, but my friend is much more than that. He does do live work, and in fact (as previously mentioned) has performed personal works for multiple sports figures in their homes, the Rockefeller foundation, the City of Daytona Beach and their museum, etc.




IMHO the spider photos you post are artistically much more interesting than this stuff.

Thank you for the compliment, and I agree (LOL), but it still took far less skill on my part to accomplish than what my friend did. The Indian portrait that Kenny did took him several days ... whereas my best spider shot took maybe 2 hours, from set-up to post processing.

I think anyone with the same camera could do the same thing I did, but I don't think hardly anyone with the same charcoal pencils and linen cloth could draw the Indian portrait that Kenny did.




Don't agree with this either.
I was looking at another LuLa forum members' site the other day: The subject matter of the images was very similar to stuff I often photograph. The difference was that my photos are crap and this guys' work is terrific. And it's not technical quality that lets mine down ( tho' this can be an issue at times ).
Regards
Graeme

I understand what you are saying here Graeme, and I agree. The difference between a great artistic portrait ... and a clear shot of a face ... is substantial. I agree 100%.

But the point I am making is, it is STILL easy for anyone to take a clear shot of a face, even if it is not a work of art, where it is NOT easy to paint a clear and perfect face, be it a work of art or not. The skill it takes in drawing/painting is astronomically harder to develop, just to get the proportions right by hand, than it is to snap a photo and get them.

Cheers!

Jack



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Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 04, 2011, 04:06:37 pm
Jack, I agree that artistic ability cannot be taught, but it can be developed if there is a seed present in the form of artistic talent.
That is true for all forms of art and cannot be compared as "harder or easier". It's an absolute that is not measurable.

I agree Pagelli.

Something can be beautifully artistic, without being that hard to achieve. So good point. However, when something is beautifully artistic and is hard to achieve, the value is going to be greater.



And about your friends. You didn't give any examples on the first so it's hard to comment on its artistic value, but the fact it's being sold doesn't prove anything. Kitsch wouldn't be made if it wouldn't sell either.
And the second, I have a hard time seeing that as art, only as a craft tracing photo's but that's it.

I don't want to put my other friend's work up as a "bad example," because I do not want to publicly-badmouth my friend (http://www.johnkoerner.org/Emoticons/laugh.gif)

But I agree, just because "it sells" doesn't make it good, which was my point exactly. Same with an education. My first friend has "the education"; my second friend has the talent.

For you to say he "traced photos" is a great injustice, however, as he would never do any such thing.

He does just as superb work with live subjects, and is a master of both facial expression and hand proportion, which are two of the hardest things for artists to master. In fact, many so-called "great artists" actually had their subjects wear gloves, or otherwise hide their hands, because they could NEVER master the intricate detail of the hands. Other artists can never produce faces and facial expressions with anywhere near the accuracy of Kenny.

Take care,

Jack


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Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: John.Murray on September 04, 2011, 04:29:07 pm
My response to those who question using PS or LR to manipulate my images; please review Ansel Adams' dodging and burning notes for "Clearing Winter Storm"

http://www.masters-of-photography.com/images/full/adams/adams_storm.jpg

From "The Print"  (emphasis mine):

"The subject was predominately gray, but the emotional impact was quite strong; my visualization was rather dramatic; hence I gave a reduced exposure and Normal-plus development.....

... During the main printing exposure I hold back the shadowed cliff area near the right edge for 2 seconds and the two trees in the right-hand corner area for 2 seconds....  
... after basic exposure I burn the bottom edge for 1 second and the lower left corner for 3 seconds; I then burn the left edge of the print for 2 seconds and the right edge for 2 seconds, in each case tilting the card to favor the sky.
"
There is no doubt in my mind he would have embraced the technology we are lucky enough to enjoy today..

Jack:  you're points are well made, but let's reverse things a bit, consider the above image, and sheer amount of work, talent and foresight it took to create it - now consider Bob Ross on public tv calmly whipping out a similar image for us in 20 minutes......
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Schewe on September 04, 2011, 10:56:43 pm
I don't see any justification for calling me "stupid" Jeff ... especially when you don't seem to be aware of the fact that you just admitted you were a wanna-be painter ... who didn't have the skill to make the grade ... so you became a photographer instead.

Do you not realize that you pretty much proved my point? (http://www.johnkoerner.org/Emoticons/lol.gif)

No, actually, I got into photography not because I was a "wanna be" painter but because my skills and talents lay elsewhere (and this was when I was 18 and I'm now 57)...and I was fortunate to have an award winning commercial career shooting instead of painting.

As for the "stupid" comment, ok, let me amend that to "ignorant"...ignorant of the facts and what makes a stellar image regardless of the medium used. Ironic that one of your examples of world class painting was a direct ripoff of a photo...and so it goes.

Really, you might want to reevaluate your world view...it's a bit skewed towards classic arts and away from photo as a fine art.

And exactly why do you shoot photos? Is it your medium of choice or is that the best you can do? For many, it's the medium of choice...
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: kwalsh on September 04, 2011, 11:48:12 pm
However ... it is still an easier bargain than painting from nothing. For starters, you are working with a photograph, so all of the lines, features, colors, etc. have basically been "handed to you" by the camera. So all you're really doing in Photoshop is doctoring and working with what's already there in perfect proportion ... whereas the artist has to FIRST create this perfection from nothing by hand. Then the artist is required to mix his own colors, blend/adjust, etc. ... and every color he uses is a physical thing.

You keep bringing up this point, and it reinforces that you don't seem to understand the difference between art and craft to my mind.  For instance, near as I can tell since the advent of the photograph the issues of perspective and color reproduction in painting have been greatly minimized.  With the advent of the photograph most serious painting has moved away from accuracy of reproduction.  You keep emphasizing aspects of the craft of painting that don't seem very relevant to the art form anymore.

Since you brought up sales price as a metric, this is the most expensive painting ever sold:

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/4a/No._5%2C_1948.jpg)

And the second:

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e7/Woman3.jpg)

And the third:

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/84/Gustav_Klimt_046.jpg/300px-Gustav_Klimt_046.jpg)

I'm not seeing how a camera would be of any help here.  I'm not seeing how what you keep claiming are the "skills" of painting as an art are at all on display here.  No doubt there is flawless craft on display here behind the art but the larger point is that it only serves the artist.  Being an expert craftsman in no way guarantees success as an artist - regardless of the medium.

I completely agree that the craft of painting is far more time consuming both to master and execute than photography in general (there are of course exceptions on both sides).  For that matter, sculpture even more so than painting.  What of it?  There is a sea of painters with excellent craft and technique who produce paintings of no value or relevance to anyone beyond a by wrote demonstration of craft.  The craft of painting being challenging hasn't done anything to prevent the endless production of technicaly excellent banal paintings that litter dime stores.  Adam's hated "sharp image of a fuzzy concept" is produced by painters as easily as by photographers. 

From the other side of the fence, despite the relative triviality of properly exposing and printing a photo the number of photographers truly skilled in the art of photography who can command the public's attention with images of their own creation rather than just executing the craft for clients is very small.

There are gobs of wedding photographers executing the craft of photography with little or no artistic intent.  Similarly, China has factories full of technically skilled painters producing oil on canvas family portraits from photographs uploaded from America.

I just don't see what you are driving at.  Painting is hard to learn.  So what?  In my experience the harder the craft the more likely the artist is to be distracted by executing the craft and in the process neglect the art.  I can't see how "painting is hard to learn" is relevant to the current discussion nor the relative merits of the art forms or artists. 

Ken
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: pegelli on September 05, 2011, 01:26:02 am

Yes, my friend uses photos quite often to work off of, if the live subject isn't available. But it still doesn't change the fact it requires more skill to recreate the exactness of a photograph by drawing than it does just to take "another photo" of the photo.

Jack

What has that to do with art  Jack?
Your friend better watches out he doesn't get sued by the author of that photograph.
People have been sued for much less obvious cases, or does he have an agreement with the photographer?


Something can be beautifully artistic, without being that hard to achieve. So good point. However, when something is beautifully artistic and is hard to achieve, the value is going to be greater.

Value is set by artistic merit and desire for the artists work, not by any means of skills or difficulty in executing the craft.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 05, 2011, 07:40:12 am
No, actually, I got into photography not because I was a "wanna be" painter but because my skills and talents lay elsewhere (and this was when I was 18 and I'm now 57)...

Yes, actually, you're just saying the same thing all over again, just in different words. The end result remains the same: you originally wanted to be a painter, but you couldn't do it, so you found it was easier to excel as a photographer. I hear you Jeff, the same is true for me too (http://www.johnkoerner.org/Emoticons/laugh.gif)



and I was fortunate to have an award winning commercial career shooting instead of painting.

Well, congratulations on that!

The same is not true for me here though :-[




As for the "stupid" comment, ok, let me amend that to "ignorant"...ignorant of the facts and what makes a stellar image regardless of the medium used.

You forgot the apology for being rude, Jeff. (Is that from bad breeding or just your own personal bad manners?) I was never rude or insulting to you, and I still don't know why you were to me. Just because I have my own set of beliefs, that differs from yours, doesn't give you license to be rude. Again, I am not even going to say you're "ignorant" to the facts, but I do think you are in denial of them by not giving credence to the level of difficulty it takes to excel at painting versus photography, especially when your own story is a confirmation of these facts.




Ironic that one of your examples of world class painting was a direct ripoff of a photo...and so it goes.

Oh lord, those weren't his commecial works Jeff ... Kenny's original works have no duplicates and are hanging on private walls and in museums, not at his home. He just created those pieces, for fun and for practice at home, and had them lying around for his own use. I took photos of these particular pieces, that were laying around his pad when I paid him a visit, because I thought they were cool ... not to sell them (either for myself or for Kenny). If you wish to digress the topic to the ethics of using photos for subjects, to take focus off of the facts of the original subject, that is your choice, but let me remind you of the fact that it sure was a lot easier for "me" to photograph Kenny's work than it was for "him" to create it by hand (http://www.johnkoerner.org/Emoticons/laugh.gif)




Really, you might want to reevaluate your world view...it's a bit skewed towards classic arts and away from photo as a fine art.

Not so. I absolutely appreciate photography as fine art very much. However, I am not blinded by my love of photography to the extent that I don't acknowledge the fact that it takes far more skill to be able to paint well than to take a photo. I am also not the one who invented the saying, "Photography is the artistic pursuit of those who can't paint." That saying's been around for awhile Jeff, which means I am not alone in my beliefs.




And exactly why do you shoot photos? Is it your medium of choice or is that the best you can do? For many, it's the medium of choice...

I shoot nature photos because I love nature. I try to see the beauty in nature and capture it to camera. I shoot macro photos in particular because it brings to clear focus that which cannot be seen well with the naked eye, and so it allows me to celebrate beauty that is otherwise missed in our day-to-day lives. Photography is both my medium of choice and a pursuit I enjoy because I can't paint. And I love macro photography!

Even if I could paint, I personally enjoy the instant gratification of photography more than I would painting (especially for macro shots). With photography, I can set my tripod and camera up, take several photos with these tools, and with a little bit of processing enjoy seeing the beauty of nature immediately ... whereas even if I had the ability to "paint" what I saw, it would take too long and limit me to the number of "images" I could create. And that is if I could paint. Yet, because I can't paint, I could never be satisfied trying to capture images of nature pursuing this medium, simply because I don't have the skill to record what I see as clearly and beautifully "by hand" as I can get it by camera.

Which brings us back to my original premise ...

Jack



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Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: graeme on September 05, 2011, 07:48:13 am
Jack

Three points:

1. A thought experiment: When you're looking at a work of art ( or craft ) forget about the process that went into making it or the person who made it - just try and let the finished piece work on your emotions and intellect.

2. Instead of getting too awestruck by the technical skills of a professional painter ( or artist of any kind ) remember that:

it's their job and they do it all the time.

My partner & I work in stained glass ( serious stuff - fully painted new commissions & restoration work ). Most of the processes aren't too difficult but the glass painting is tricky to get into and requires a fair bit of perseverence to reach a basic level of competence, but:

the more you do it the easier it gets.

3. If you handed your camera gear over to your friend and told him to go and photograph some spiders how quickly would he get to grips with the process? My aforementioned partner is the talented half of our relationship - she trained in fine art before turning to stained glass. Her drawing is excellent and she's a good watercolourist as well as being a top notch glass painter. But... watching her trying to operate a camera is both painful & hilarious...

Regards

Graeme

PS I don't want to come across like I'm dissing your friend: Good luck to anyone who can make a living from visual art ( or music, or sport, or craft ) it's certainly better than getting a proper job.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: dchew on September 05, 2011, 07:49:11 am
Well it was my original comment that made this thread take a left turn.  Although I should have explained myself a bit better, there is some relevance to all this “which is harder” discussion.  I believe Jack’s position is quite common in this respect:  Everyone can take photos, and most do not understand why their photographs don’t come out the way they want; we’ve all heard it at cocktail discussions.   When viewing one of my images, I have never had The Average Bear (TAB) ask me what I was thinking when I took the photo.  Instead I’m asked, “What camera did I use,” or “Did I mess with the color?”  But, as Michael pointed out recently, an "enlightened" photographer (or another artist) just might ask about my artistic thought process (the 'what were you thinking' question).

Those two common questions listed above are pretty good evidence for the following: A common leap made by TAB is that the difference between what “they” get on the back of their cameras and what “we” frame on a wall is either 1) the money we spent on our cameras, or 2) the post work we did in Photoshop.  The whole pre-visualization and artistic talent is either unrecognized or at least undervalued.  Not to mention mastery of the craft.

TAB does look at B&W photos with more artistic recognition.  Obviously there is no color, but the choice of using B&W as a medium screams artistic intent, so it is harder for TAB not to recognize the artistic influence in a B&W photograph.

Now to bring this back to the original cheating topic: TAB’s common assumptions that miss artistic intent are important.   Without artistic intent, what is the purpose of “messing with the color?”  Hmmm.  Adding or removing contrast, clarity, saturation, blacks, highlights… All to force a more dramatic photo than TAB would get.  

Or to put it another way, without artistic intent the obvious purpose is to cheat!  

Dave
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 05, 2011, 07:51:08 am
You keep bringing up this point, and it reinforces that you don't seem to understand the difference between art and craft to my mind.  For instance, near as I can tell since the advent of the photograph the issues of perspective and color reproduction in painting have been greatly minimized.  With the advent of the photograph most serious painting has moved away from accuracy of reproduction.  You keep emphasizing aspects of the craft of painting that don't seem very relevant to the art form anymore.
Since you brought up sales price as a metric, this is the most expensive painting ever sold:
XXX
And the second:
XXX
And the third:
XXX
I'm not seeing how a camera would be of any help here.  I'm not seeing how what you keep claiming are the "skills" of painting as an art are at all on display here.  No doubt there is flawless craft on display here behind the art but the larger point is that it only serves the artist.  Being an expert craftsman in no way guarantees success as an artist - regardless of the medium.
I completely agree that the craft of painting is far more time consuming both to master and execute than photography in general (there are of course exceptions on both sides).  For that matter, sculpture even more so than painting.  What of it?  There is a sea of painters with excellent craft and technique who produce paintings of no value or relevance to anyone beyond a by wrote demonstration of craft.  The craft of painting being challenging hasn't done anything to prevent the endless production of technicaly excellent banal paintings that litter dime stores.  Adam's hated "sharp image of a fuzzy concept" is produced by painters as easily as by photographers. 
From the other side of the fence, despite the relative triviality of properly exposing and printing a photo the number of photographers truly skilled in the art of photography who can command the public's attention with images of their own creation rather than just executing the craft for clients is very small.
There are gobs of wedding photographers executing the craft of photography with little or no artistic intent.  Similarly, China has factories full of technically skilled painters producing oil on canvas family portraits from photographs uploaded from America.
I just don't see what you are driving at.  Painting is hard to learn.  So what?  In my experience the harder the craft the more likely the artist is to be distracted by executing the craft and in the process neglect the art.  I can't see how "painting is hard to learn" is relevant to the current discussion nor the relative merits of the art forms or artists. 
Ken

Hi Ken,

No, what I am doing is pointing out the level of difficulty that a painter has to have in skill and natural talent before "the art" even comes into play.

A photographer who has an artistic eye can capture his art with relative ease "by camera" ... compared to a painter who has the same artistic eye but has to capture what he sees to a blank canvas with nothing but a brush and some blobs of color on a palatte. It is just a longer, more intensitve process for the painter, requiring uncommon skill and natural aptitude just to get the colors and physical dimensions right by hand ... before "the art" even comes into play.

With a camera, the detail and colors are all handed to you immediately by the camera, so all the user has to to is concentrate on finding "the artistic compositions."

I will just leave it at that, and not keep repeating myself.

Jack


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Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 05, 2011, 08:01:37 am
What has that to do with art  Jack?

I don't know Pagelli, what is art?




Your friend better watches out he doesn't get sued by the author of that photograph.
People have been sued for much less obvious cases, or does he have an agreement with the photographer?

Pagelli, what do I say to a guy who was so naive that you actually believed Kenny "traced" these photos to create those pieces? (http://www.johnkoerner.org/Emoticons/lol.gif)

Kenny cannot be sued for practicing his art at his home, though perhaps "I" could be sued for displaying them in public :o

Don't know what they would sue me "for" though ::)




Value is set by artistic merit and desire for the artists work, not by any means of skills or difficulty in executing the craft.

Artistic pleasure is one thing; artistic value is another.

For example, everyone likes looking at sunsets, but not everyone can paint them. This is why there are 100,000 people who will try to "photograph" a sunset, for every 1 person who brings a blank canvas and some paints to try to re-create what they see by hand.

And this is why a truly great painting will always inspire more "admiration" (and generally a higher price tag) by the knowing public than will a great photo.

Jack


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Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 05, 2011, 08:13:25 am
Jack
Three points:
1. A thought experiment: When you're looking at a work of art ( or craft ) forget about the process that went into making it or the person who made it - just try and let the finished piece work on your emotions and intellect.
2. Instead of getting too awestruck by the technical skills of a professional painter ( or artist of any kind ) remember that:
it's their job and they do it all the time.
My partner & I work in stained glass ( serious stuff - fully painted new commissions & restoration work ). Most of the processes aren't too difficult but the glass painting is tricky to get into and requires a fair bit of perseverence to reach a basic level of competence, but:
the more you do it the easier it gets.
3. If you handed your camera gear over to your friend and told him to go and photograph some spiders how quickly would he get to grips with the process? My aforementioned partner is the talented half of our relationship - she trained in fine art before turning to stained glass. Her drawing is excellent and she's a good watercolourist as well as being a top notch glass painter. But... watching her trying to operate a camera is both painful & hilarious...
Regards
Graeme
PS I don't want to come across like I'm dissing your friend: Good luck to anyone who can make a living from visual art ( or music, or sport, or craft ) it's certainly better than getting a proper job.


Interesting post, Graeme, and for the most part I agree with you.

If I handed my friend my camera, there is no doubt he wouldn't know how to set it up the way I do, but I still think if he wanted to he could get a handle on it pretty quick. For example, it took me about 3 years to go from "beginner" to being able to take macro shots that are pretty nice by comparison to what the average photographer can do.

Yet, by comparison, I have known Kenny for over 20 years, and I have tried to draw and paint for about the same amount of time, and I will simply never get to that level. Just to give you an idea of what I am talking about, Kenny was pulled out of "regular" school at the age of 9 because of scribbling on his desk like a master sketcher, again when he was only a child. He simply has a gift that, no matter how long I try to practice for and equal as a person who is not gifted, I will never be able to achieve myself.

Regarding the skills I have learned as a photographer, I think pretty much anyone could take lessons, learn to focus, learn to use the right f/stop, ISO, and shutter speeds ... and gain the wisdom only to shoot in early morning light ... and get macro shots comparable to my own ... while I think most people could try for all of their lives and never be able to draw and paint like Kenny.

Jack


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Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Hans Kruse on September 05, 2011, 10:10:17 am
Regarding the skills I have learned as a photographer, I think pretty much anyone could take lessons, learn to focus, learn to use the right f/stop, ISO, and shutter speeds ... and gain the wisdom only to shoot in early morning light ... and get macro shots comparable to my own ... while I think most people could try for all of their lives and never be able to draw and paint like Kenny.

I agree with you that many people could master the basic mechanics of photography, but that's only requirements and not sufficient to make great photos, not to speak of art. The selection of the scene, light, composition and post processing really makes the difference and that's not mechanics and most never master it no matter how much they try.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Schewe on September 05, 2011, 01:19:18 pm
Yes, actually, you're just saying the same thing all over again, just in different words. The end result remains the same: you originally wanted to be a painter, but you couldn't do it, so you found it was easier to excel as a photographer. I hear you Jeff, the same is true for me too (http://www.johnkoerner.org/Emoticons/laugh.gif)

Actually, i went from painting & drawing to 3d design and sculpture because I could draw well enough to satisfy myself...from there I got into theater and set and prop design and from there photography...so I didn't get into photography because I couldn't draw.

My sculpture talents served me well as a model maker for my own photography-some assignments taking weeks to produce not merely a shutter release. Which is really the story here...you presume that photography is a matter of being in the right place with the right equipment and clicking a shutter when the light is right.

That's simply not the case for studio still life which must be built in front of a camera and lit. In the old days, I would think of nothing spending 3-4 days of prepro and setup and running several tests to confirm a shot well before it was ever actually shot.

Your presumption that photography is "simple and easy to do" is really your downfall. Again that value of art does not have a direct relationship to the difficulty to produce it....good art can be difficult or easy to produce but simply because it's difficult doesn't add to the real value. Doing photo-realistic paintings is really pretty easy–heck even I can do that (and did) but I didn't particularly care for photo-realisitc which is why I went to 3d design and sculpture...which, by the way ain't all that easy.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: fredjeang on September 05, 2011, 01:55:22 pm
Actually, i went from painting & drawing to 3d design and sculpture because I could draw well enough to satisfy myself...from there I got into theater and set and prop design and from there photography...so I didn't get into photography because I couldn't draw.

My sculpture talents served me well as a model maker for my own photography-some assignments taking weeks to produce not merely a shutter release. Which is really the story here...you presume that photography is a matter of being in the right place with the right equipment and clicking a shutter when the light is right.

That's simply not the case for studio still life which must be built in front of a camera and lit. In the old days, I would think of nothing spending 3-4 days of prepro and setup and running several tests to confirm a shot well before it was ever actually shot.

Your presumption that photography is "simple and easy to do" is really your downfall. Again that value of art does not have a direct relationship to the difficulty to produce it....good art can be difficult or easy to produce but simply because it's difficult doesn't add to the real value. Doing photo-realistic paintings is really pretty easy–heck even I can do that (and did) but I didn't particularly care for photo-realisitc which is why I went to 3d design and sculpture...which, by the way ain't all that easy.

Agree 100% !
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: graphius on September 05, 2011, 01:58:34 pm
This topic has definitely hit a nerve, especially with me. It is also interesting in that I am planning a photo workshop that addresses this exact topic. I believe that the technical aspects of photography are very secondary to the artistic aspects. You can put your camera on auto and get a very good approximation of exposure.
I don't think the difficulty of a craft has any relation whatsoever with the value of the work as an art form. In fact there was an article on The Online Photographer  (http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2011/05/no-one-cares-how-hard-you-worked.html) about this topic as well.
As I said, this topic has raised my hackles, but really it comes down to personal preference, and your own definition of Art.
Maybe it should be put into the rules of polite conversation, Never talk about politics, religion or art..... ;D
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: pegelli on September 05, 2011, 03:56:05 pm
So, no, I am not talking about "the amount of time" it takes to make a "crappy" painting, I am talking about the level of talent it takes to make a truly accurate painting AND a work of art, on top of the amount of time that it takes ... all with nothing but your bare hands.

I don't know Pagelli, what is art?

Why do I have to define it? you called it art first.


Pagelli, what do I say to a guy who was so naive that you actually believed Kenny "traced" these photos to create those pieces? (http://www.johnkoerner.org/Emoticons/lol.gif)

Kenny cannot be sued for practicing his art at his home, though perhaps "I" could be sued for displaying them in public :o

Don't know what they would sue me "for" though ::)
Well I also naively assumed he sold these pictures, if he doesn't there is little to fear.
Let's agree to disagree on wether he traced it or not, it just doesn't meet my "funny looks test" but also I'm not really interested.



Artistic pleasure is one thing; artistic value is another.

For example, everyone likes looking at sunsets, but not everyone can paint them. This is why there are 100,000 people who will try to "photograph" a sunset, for every 1 person who brings a blank canvas and some paints to try to re-create what they see by hand.

And this is why a truly great painting will always inspire more "admiration" (and generally a higher price tag) by the knowing public than will a great photo.
I think this is opinion and not a fact. You'll find many people disagreeing with you on this.


Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 05, 2011, 05:20:02 pm
Why do I have to define it? you called it art first.

Actually, the photos of my friend's work I don't really consider "art" either (except for the Indian); I was just showing the incredible detail of his work.




Well I also naively assumed he sold these pictures, if he doesn't there is little to fear.

Kenny just constantly draws and paints, both professionally and recreationally, and he happened to be working on these the last time I stopped by. Most of his actual professional work is by private contact.




Let's agree to disagree on wether he traced it or not, it just doesn't meet my "funny looks test" but also I'm not really interested.

Let's just agree that you don't know WTF you're taking about, and have you sit down and be quiet on this. And let's just say that a person who needs to "trace" his work doesn't get hired by many of the top sports professionals in the world to do personal portraits in their homes ... nor get hired by the Mayor of Daytona Beach to paint a 12' high, 150' mural all across the main show room of the Daytona Beach International Speedway's museum (http://www.johnkoerner.org/Emoticons/lol.gif)



I think this is opinion and not a fact. You'll find many people disagreeing with you on this.

It is okay to disagree on a topic. It is not okay to make disparaging (and totally inaccurate) remarks about another person when you know absolutely nothing about either the subject or the individual.

Jack



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Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 05, 2011, 05:22:08 pm
Actually, i went from painting & drawing to 3d design and sculpture because I could draw well enough to satisfy myself...from there I got into theater and set and prop design and from there photography...so I didn't get into photography because I couldn't draw.
My sculpture talents served me well as a model maker for my own photography-some assignments taking weeks to produce not merely a shutter release. Which is really the story here...you presume that photography is a matter of being in the right place with the right equipment and clicking a shutter when the light is right.
That's simply not the case for studio still life which must be built in front of a camera and lit. In the old days, I would think of nothing spending 3-4 days of prepro and setup and running several tests to confirm a shot well before it was ever actually shot.
Your presumption that photography is "simple and easy to do" is really your downfall. Again that value of art does not have a direct relationship to the difficulty to produce it....good art can be difficult or easy to produce but simply because it's difficult doesn't add to the real value. Doing photo-realistic paintings is really pretty easy–heck even I can do that (and did) but I didn't particularly care for photo-realisitc which is why I went to 3d design and sculpture...which, by the way ain't all that easy.


Good points Jeff, thanks.

I actually do not assume photography is "easy to do," not at all. I just know that painting from scratch with the same level of detail is much harder to do.

Would love to see some of your own personal drawings and paintings!

Jack


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Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 05, 2011, 05:23:56 pm
I agree with you that many people could master the basic mechanics of photography, but that's only requirements and not sufficient to make great photos, not to speak of art. The selection of the scene, light, composition and post processing really makes the difference and that's not mechanics and most never master it no matter how much they try.

Well said, Hans.



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Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: pegelli on September 06, 2011, 01:22:41 am
Actually, the photos of my friend's work I don't really consider "art" either (except for the Indian); I was just showing the incredible detail of his work.
Make up your mind Jack, first you present it as art, now you say it isn't

Kenny just constantly draws and paints, both professionally and recreationally, and he happened to be working on these the last time I stopped by. Most of his actual professional work is by private contact.
Let's just agree that you don't know WTF you're taking about, and have you sit down and be quiet on this. And let's just say that a person who needs to "trace" his work doesn't get hired by many of the top sports professionals in the world to do personal portraits in their homes ... nor get hired by the Mayor of Daytona Beach to paint a 12' high, 150' mural all across the main show room of the Daytona Beach International Speedway's museum (http://www.johnkoerner.org/Emoticons/lol.gif)
Make up your mind Jack, first he only "executes his art" in his private home, now he sells it by private contract and does big commercial murals. Only thing I was saying is that he better gets permission from the photographer who's work he is copying if he uses his product commercially. Nothing more, nothing less.

It is okay to disagree on a topic. It is not okay to make disparaging (and totally inaccurate) remarks about another person when you know absolutely nothing about either the subject or the individual.
Sorry for hitting a nerve there, while my statement may be inaccurate it was absolutely not disparaging.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Bryan Conner on September 06, 2011, 07:10:52 am
I think that it is impossible to determine if it is easier to produce a great painting, or a great photograph.  It depends on the individual person trying to do either.  Some people can produce paintings that are awe inspiring works of art, and do so without much effort, thought, training, or preparation.  To them, it is very easy and they may not be able to imagine why everyone can not do the same.  Other people, can capture images with a camera that are awe inspiring works of art, and do so without much effort, thought, training, or preparation.  To them, it is very easy and they may not be able to imagine why everyone can not do the same.  Each person is an individual, with different talents and skills.

It also is relative that some people are seemingly incapable of having an open mind.  Some people seem to be incapable, or unwilling, to respond to posts in a mature, thoughtful, open-minded, and considerate way.  These people seem to believe that their own opinion is the only correct one and possibly could have their own personal problems, and mental/emotional handicaps that lead them to try to make themselves look superior by putting others down.  All of the above is relevant and not meant to offend anyone in particular....but, if you feel offended, then you should take a long hard look at yourself.

If you need me, I will be in front of the mirror.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 06, 2011, 08:34:20 am
Make up your mind Jack, first you present it as art, now you say it isn't
Make up your mind Jack, first he only "executes his art" in his private home, now he sells it by private contract and does big commercial murals. Only thing I was saying is that he better gets permission from the photographer who's work he is copying if he uses his product commercially. Nothing more, nothing less.

Stop trying to bait me into an infinite digression of petty arguments, Pegelli. It is not a matter of me "making up my mind," it is a matter of you making up one false accusation after another in order to perpetuate a contentious atmosphere.

Talking about permission wasn't the "only" thing you said; you have repeatedly crossed the line of polite debate by making continual insinuations that Kenny "traced" his work, which not only is childishly preposterous on your part, but it means you are being intentionally disrespectful and deliberately argumentative. Now you are trying to be petty and argumentative yet again by quibbling over whether Kenny does "private" or "commercial" work. He does both genius. If you want to question whether he does both, why don't you take your doubting self over to the Daytona Beach International Speedway (arguably the most famous race track on the planet), and go into their museum, and check out the massive mural covering the inside ... and see whose signature is on the wall. Then take a trip to to the Boxing Hall of Fame and see how many of his works hang there. After you complete this effort, I will then give you a list of the leading sports figures for whom Kenny has done private work as well, but that is neither here nor there. The simple fact is, ALL of my friend's work is of the kind of technical skill that few people have it in them to equal.

However, since some members of this forum wanted to split hairs about "artistic merit" versus "technical skill," I reasonably had to admit that the Jimi Hendrix (while technincally outstanding) is pretty sterile. The Tyson portrait, again while technically-excellent and somewhat colorful & artistic, is still of an ugly subject IMO (http://www.johnkoerner.org/Emoticons/lol.gif)

Within the context of this kind of hair-splitting, I personally favored the Indian portrait as "art," because of the rich textures, and because I know Kenny was experimenting for an "authentic, oldstyle look" in this particular portrait, by doing his work on a piece of linen cloth for an aged effect. Thus I think it is more of an "artistic portrait" than the other two, but it really doesn't matter, because all of the works are technically outstanding. However, none of this has to do with the point, which is the simple fact that drawing these images with such precision is light years harder to do (and requires much more skill to do) than merely "snapping a photo" of these same subjects.

That was the only point I was trying to make here and it reflects my sincere belief. Others may believe differently, no big deal, so I can understand debating some of the complexities it takes to produce great photos versus great paintings. What I can't understand are the sour attacks and insinuations.




Sorry for hitting a nerve there, while my statement may be inaccurate it was absolutely not disparaging.

I agree that you are sorry, Pegelli, but not in the apologetic sense. You were not only being totally inaccurate in your petty statements, but you were being intentionally disparaging as well.

There is no need for me to respond further to you, since you are not trying to have a conversation here, you are just trying to have me field your petty accusations, which I am not going to do anymore.

Jack



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Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: pegelli on September 06, 2011, 01:19:06 pm
Stop trying to bait me into an infinite digression of petty arguments, Pegelli. It is not a matter of me "making up my mind," it is a matter of you making up one false accusation after another in order to perpetuate a contentious atmosphere.

I'm not baiting you, and if you can't bear the truth about the inconsistency of your arguments it doesn't help to get mad.

I'm not making false accusations and anyone reading the thread above will see that.

As I said I'm sorry I hit a nerve but if you keep lashing out very impolitely without any reason I will stop here
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Wayne Fox on September 07, 2011, 02:49:15 am
However ... it is still an easier bargain than painting from nothing.
I made no mention of this discussion in my post, intentionally.  I only discussed the challenge of getting the average Joe to realize post processing of images is something that every image needs to go through (without it as the article pointed out they won't look like the scene at all), and using tools to enhance and improve the image should be considered artistic license, not something to be scorned or looked down on (unless you are representing to the viewer absolute realism such as in photo journalism).

But trying to compare the difficulty of two art mediums seems a pointless discussion, as the visual results are what counts and not how long it took to create or how long it took to acquire the skills to create. To be considered an artist probably only requires some viewers appreciate your work as an art form.  certainly there are different levels of that appreciation, and some may worry about "legitimizing" themselves as artists ... in fact most photographers are frustrated because it seems the "art world" in general doesn't consider photography a legitimate art.  Funny, because if an "artist" takes a lousy picture of some place, then paints the scene (a great many artists paint from photographs, some even tracing outlines via projection),  adding anything they want and removing anything they want they may create a beautiful painting and because it's a painting, it's art.  If I make the effort to take a beautiful photograph of the same place and then enhance it so it is visually stunning using post-processing tools, I'm a cheat, and I'm not an artist.

Back to my point, as to whether it is harder to paint than it is take a picture, that seems sort of an irrelevant discussion (no disrespect, I do see where you might be coming from).  But to gain the skill to excel at photography at the highest level, which takes considerable practice and mastery of several areas of a craft is no easy task, and indeed I see many try that don't do very well.  I also know many people that can "paint", but I wouldn't call them artists.  There is an inherent creative spark that is required to elevate ones work to that level ... images that inspire awe and amazement in viewers, be it with a brush or with a camera.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 07, 2011, 01:57:48 pm
I made no mention of this discussion in my post, intentionally.  I only discussed the challenge of getting the average Joe to realize post processing of images is something that every image needs to go through (without it as the article pointed out they won't look like the scene at all), and using tools to enhance and improve the image should be considered artistic license, not something to be scorned or looked down on (unless you are representing to the viewer absolute realism such as in photo journalism).

Oh, well, I thought you were making reference to what prompted my original post. My original post was to DChew for the specific statement he made, "I don’t think the art of photography is any easier.  I made the comparison to an oil painter with a magic “undo” brush.  It is not any easier to create the art, but the magic brush makes it much easier to experiment and to practice."

I simply thought this was a self-contradiction. Because of things like "undo," "reversable color sliders," etc., in point of fact this is precisely why photography is easier to work with as an art form than painting. Heck, a good photographer can take, adjust, and post-process hundreds of images a day ... while a painter can barely get through one complicated piece a week, if he's lucky.

I do see your point, though, and I don't mean to imply that there is "no" difficulty or skill level that needs to be gained in photography, far from it. The best photographers need to develop complex lighting skills, an innate perspective and capturing skills, as well as a degree of post-processing skills that most people will never even fathom. But my own original point was, that it's still easier to create "art" with a camera and Photoshop than with a blank canvas, colors, and a brush. And the very fact that a top photographer will come back from his photo shoot with hundreds (or even thousands) of images ... while a painter will still be working on the very first piece of work he started with ... is pretty much proof positive of which form of art is "easier" to create.




But trying to compare the difficulty of two art mediums seems a pointless discussion, as the visual results are what counts and not how long it took to create or how long it took to acquire the skills to create. To be considered an artist probably only requires some viewers appreciate your work as an art form.  certainly there are different levels of that appreciation, and some may worry about "legitimizing" themselves as artists ... in fact most photographers are frustrated because it seems the "art world" in general doesn't consider photography a legitimate art.

I am not sure if it's a pointless discussion, Wayne, precisely because you just finished saying that the art world in general doesn't consider photography a legitmate art form. Why do you think that is Wayne? Could it be that this "general view" makes my point, rather than makes what I said pointless? The very fact that there has been an inherent lack of respect for a photographer's "finger push" to create his work ... when compared to the time, effort, and skill a painter must employ ... is the point, I would think.

And yet, having said this, let me argue the other side of the coin ... for, as a developing photographer myself, I also understand that there is a whole lot more to taking a good photo than what the Average Joe understands. For this reason, I completely disagree that photography is "not" an art, I am quite well aware that photography is an art (at least in some cases), an art that I personally enjoy, love, and have quite a bit of fondness for. But a form of art that, while there are skill levels that need to be mastered, is still easier to master than painting.




Funny, because if an "artist" takes a lousy picture of some place, then paints the scene (a great many artists paint from photographs, some even tracing outlines via projection),  adding anything they want and removing anything they want they may create a beautiful painting and because it's a painting, it's art.  If I make the effort to take a beautiful photograph of the same place and then enhance it so it is visually stunning using post-processing tools, I'm a cheat, and I'm not an artist.

Interesting points, Wayne.

Let me respond with a couple of beliefs:

1. I think it is perfectly okay for a painter to use a photograph for reference, but IMO any painter who "traces lines" from that photograph is a no-talent cheat IMO. (Why? His skill did not create the image.);
2. Because of the above, I don't think "post-processing a photo" as an art-form can be held in the same regard as creating a work of art, from scratch, by hand. (In point of fact, you basically just admitted that it is not held in as high a regard by the general art community.);

And yet I still think photography is both a legitimate and worthy form of artistic expression ... for those who can't paint (http://www.johnkoerner.org/Emoticons/lol.gif)

Don't get me wrong, I love photography, and I respect every photographer who has more experience than I do and who has learned his craft well. I also love looking at other people's photos and creative vision, because they inspire my own. And I realize that I have a long way to go to being able to achieve all of the results I want to achieve in my own efforts. And yet, despite these sincere feelings and convictions on behalf of photography, no "great photograph" will ever earn my deepest respect and admiration in the way that a great painting will.

In other words, if we can step back from the trees so that we can see the forest, Ansel Adams (as popular as he may be to other photographers) will never command the level of overall respect and admiration from the public as DaVinci, Picasso, Michelangelo, etc. Never in a million years. Why? Because the average person "with a good camera" knows he can come a lot closer to taking photos like Ansel Adams ... than the average person "with a brush and a canvas" knows he will ever get to painting works of art like Michelangelo, Picasso, and DaVinci, that's why. This is an innate knowledge that people simply have.

In fact, our forum moderator Michael previously scoffed at the a priori aspect of it all, but I believe this truth is a priori! Again, this is why, if you ask the average person about Ansel Adams ... 95% of them will say, "Ansel who?" ... while pretty much every literate person on the face of this earth knows who Michelangelo is. There simply is an innate respect for the Master Painter that the "master photographer" will never have ...

IMO, denial of this fact isn't rebuttal; it is only denial.




Back to my point, as to whether it is harder to paint than it is take a picture, that seems sort of an irrelevant discussion (no disrespect, I do see where you might be coming from).

Well, I certainly don't mean any disrespect to you either Wayne (or any other photographer, including my own aspiring self). I merely wanted to make a quick comment to DChew about what he said, regarding a matter that I thought was pretty self-evident, but apparently it has hurt a lot of sensitive feelings on this subject. Sometimes that's the way it goes though ...

I think there are a couple of things being muddied here, namely the appreciation for beauty and the skill it required to capture that beauty.

If I take a beautiful photograph, I think I can rightfully appreciate the beauty of the image. And if the shot took some skills to acquire & process (that the average person might not be able to appreciate), I think my peers will appreciate both the beauty as well as the skills it took to take the shot. But maybe my lack of post-processing didn't allow the shot to be all it could be.

Case in point: I recently took a pretty cool and well-composed photo of an old truck ... but my post-processing skills (and artistic vision) were severely limited and so the image I posted was quite ordinary "as is." However, three of the members here liked my basic image and, with their own post-processing knowledge and artistic vision, transformed my original shot into 3 different "works of art," each of which had a totally different look and feel to it, all off of the same original image. And I truly did enjoy all 3 "artistic interpretations" of my original core image ... all of which were rendered by the 3 members in a FAR better manner than I could render them myself ... and I completely understand and respect the fact that all 3 of these fellows expressed better artistic vision than I had, as well as possessed more post-processing skills to realize their vision than I had.

And yet I still don't think any of these men "moving sliders" and "applying layers" to the original image, through Lightroom and Photoshop, could compare skill-wise to the ability to actually draw/paint the image, from scratch, by hand. They are simply two totally-different levels of talent and difficulty.




But to gain the skill to excel at photography at the highest level, which takes considerable practice and mastery of several areas of a craft is no easy task, and indeed I see many try that don't do very well.  I also know many people that can "paint", but I wouldn't call them artists.  There is an inherent creative spark that is required to elevate ones work to that level ... images that inspire awe and amazement in viewers, be it with a brush or with a camera.

I agree with this, and I personally enjoy all forms of creative expression, nature photography in particular, and I am always trying to do better and learn more in my own abilities as a photographer. Hell, I don't even think about painting most of the time, I am simply obsessed with photography and enjoy looking at (mostly nature) photos immensely.

I just wanted to make a little comment here ... but, unwittingly, I wound-up opening a Pandora's Box of feelings and beliefs on what appears to be a very touchy subject ... for photographers (http://www.johnkoerner.org/Emoticons/lol.gif)

Cheers!

Jack



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Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Wayne Fox on September 07, 2011, 10:57:45 pm

I am not sure if it's a pointless discussion, Wayne, precisely because you just finished saying that the art world in general doesn't consider photography a legitmate art form. Why do you think that is Wayne?


The discussion to me is pointless because it's been discussed for many decades, there is nothing new and everything there is to say has pretty much been said in a thousand different ways, and while I made the comment, don't read between the lines that I actually care, because I don't.  If you do care, then you can go ahead and beat your head against the wall to feel legitimate like hundreds of photographers before you.  Personally I just do my thing because some will feel it's art, some won't and nothing I can do or say will change that so why lose any sleep or time worrying about it.

Nothing against those that do worry about it, I'm just not one of them.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Jim Pascoe on September 08, 2011, 04:29:13 am
Jack

I think you are flogging a dead horse here.  I can see exactly where you are coming from - but can't agree with your way of thinking.  As wayne and other have said it's all been debated before and trying to categorise what is and isn't art, and which is more difficult, is pointless.
The painting by your friend of Jimmi Hendrix I would not call art because it is an exact copy of someone else's artwork.  True he is a great craftsman in making such a remarkable copy, but it doesn't for me make him an artist (that is not to say he isn't).  I also cannot understand your scathing attack on any suggestion that the picture is traced.  Why would he not trace the basic outline if he wanted to make such an exact replica?  And by tracing, as somebody else has already pointed out, we could be talking about projecting the image onto the canvas.  The picture you have shown looks to have zero creative input if you compare it to the original photograph of the musician, because he has painstakingly copied every nuance of the original.
Surely some painters spend weeks on an art piece, but I have seen other artists produce the most amazing pictures in a matter of minutes - anyone from the UK above a certain age will remember Rolf Harris or Tony Hart with a 4" paintbrush and a blank wall.
Similarly I have known photographers painstakingly plan a shoot before executing their vision, and I have seen people with a pint of beer in one hand and a camera phone in the other hand shooting a landscape which they think will look wonderful.

The skill as far as I am concerned is the creative vision in the artists head.  The visual arts are just a means of communicating what is in the artists head.  I use the term 'artist' in the loosest sense.  The medium used to produce that art is immaterial as far as I am concerned, and to hint that people choose to be photographers because they cannot paint is often wrong.  There are lots of things I would love to paint, and perhaps one day I will try, but none of them are things I could photograph. They are imaginary. If I want to make an exact likeness of an object or person I cannot see why it would not be better to photograph it.

One last thing Jack.  I do find your posts a bit threatening because of your use of BOLD TYPE.  I know it's just a perception but it comes across (to me) as either shouting or finger pointing.  I'm sure you aren't doing these things, but you write very fluently (better than me) and so I think the bold type and underlining are probably not necessary and will just inflame readers who do not agree with some of your points.  I mean even Schewe doesn't need to use bold type when he wants to dis-embowel someone!

Jim
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Bryan Conner on September 08, 2011, 06:43:06 am
Heck, a good photographer can take, adjust, and post-process hundreds of images a day ... while a painter can barely get through one complicated piece a week, if he's lucky.

Just because I take, adjust, and post process hundreds of images a day does not mean that any of these images are going to be inspiring works of art.  And, just because a painter finishes one complicated piece a week does not mean that the painting will be an inspiring work of art.  If the only criteria is the perceived artistic value, then the speed of production is irrelevant.  

But my own original point was, that it's still easier to create "art" with a camera and Photoshop than with a blank canvas, colors, and a brush. And the very fact that a top photographer will come back from his photo shoot with hundreds (or even thousands) of images ... while a painter will still be working on the very first piece of work he started with ... is pretty much proof positive of which form of art is "easier" to create.

The hundreds (or even thousands) of images that a photographer captures at a photo shoot will not all be equal.  Out of those hundreds or thousands of images, the artist (photographer) will probably be able to single out one image that is the single favorite.  So, at the end of the day, both artists may only have "one" best image.  In fact, at the end of the week, both artists may be dissatisfied with what they have produced and reshoot or repaint.  This is proof positive that neither of the art forms is "easier" to create.  

How many images can you capture and process in the same amount of time that it took Jackson Pollock to create the "No. 5, 1948?  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No._5,_1948  This painting sold for $140,000,000.  Pollock's painting was considered by at least one art critic to be "a joke in bad taste.", and another opinion was that Pollocks work was “mere unorganized explosions of random energy, and therefore meaningless.”.  I propose that the level of difficulty in producing a copy of this painting (that the majority of people could not distinguish from the original) is much lower than the level of difficulty in producing a similar quality copy of any of the works of the great portraitists, still photographers, nature photographers and even landscape photographers.....even with the best equipment.

It is my opinion that a well composed, well lit, and properly processed image (landscape, portrait, or still) takes more time to execute, and is much more difficult to create, than it took Pollock to create the most expensive painting ever sold....the painting with the highest determined value in the world.  


The very fact that there has been an inherent lack of respect for a photographer's "finger push" to create his work ... when compared to the time, effort, and skill a painter must employ ... is the point, I would think.


I am quite well aware that photography is an art (at least in some cases), an art that I personally enjoy, love, and have quite a bit of fondness for. But a form of art that, while there are skill levels that need to be mastered, is still easier to master than painting.

The photographer's "finger push" is not all that there is to many great works of photographic art.  Some photographs took much more time, effort, and skill than some paintings.  If only some photography is art, then only some paintings are art.  I can not state that one of the art forms (Painting or Photography) is easier to master than the other because I have not mastered either one.  In order for you to make such a statement, you must have mastered both.  Have you?  If not, you are not qualified to make such a statement.

And I realize that I have a long way to go to being able to achieve all of the results I want to achieve in my own efforts. And yet, despite these sincere feelings and convictions on behalf of photography, no "great photograph" will ever earn my deepest respect and admiration in the way that a great painting will.

Why in the world are you spending time with posting your beliefs on a PHOTOGRAPHY forum?  I suggest that you join a painting/drawing forum and tell the members there how much superior they are compared to photographers.  I am sure that your chances of having someone with the same opinion would be higher there.  At least you would be able to view "art" that is the most respectable and admirable to you.  Why are you settling for less by looking at less respectable and admirable things?





Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: stamper on September 08, 2011, 08:42:20 am
Quote

Personally I just do my thing because some will feel it's art, some won't and nothing I can do or say will change that so why lose any sleep or time worrying about it.

Nothing against those that do worry about it, I'm just not one of them.

unquote

This should be the epitaph to this thread. With respect to the amount of words typed preceding the above sentences this sums it all up, imo.  ::)
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 08, 2011, 09:11:53 am
Jack
I think you are flogging a dead horse here.  I can see exactly where you are coming from - but can't agree with your way of thinking.  As wayne and other have said it's all been debated before and trying to categorise what is and isn't art, and which is more difficult, is pointless.
The painting by your friend of Jimmi Hendrix I would not call art because it is an exact copy of someone else's artwork.  True he is a great craftsman in making such a remarkable copy, but it doesn't for me make him an artist (that is not to say he isn't).  I also cannot understand your scathing attack on any suggestion that the picture is traced.  Why would he not trace the basic outline if he wanted to make such an exact replica?  And by tracing, as somebody else has already pointed out, we could be talking about projecting the image onto the canvas.  The picture you have shown looks to have zero creative input if you compare it to the original photograph of the musician, because he has painstakingly copied every nuance of the original.
Surely some painters spend weeks on an art piece, but I have seen other artists produce the most amazing pictures in a matter of minutes - anyone from the UK above a certain age will remember Rolf Harris or Tony Hart with a 4" paintbrush and a blank wall.
Similarly I have known photographers painstakingly plan a shoot before executing their vision, and I have seen people with a pint of beer in one hand and a camera phone in the other hand shooting a landscape which they think will look wonderful.
The skill as far as I am concerned is the creative vision in the artists head.  The visual arts are just a means of communicating what is in the artists head.  I use the term 'artist' in the loosest sense.  The medium used to produce that art is immaterial as far as I am concerned, and to hint that people choose to be photographers because they cannot paint is often wrong.  There are lots of things I would love to paint, and perhaps one day I will try, but none of them are things I could photograph. They are imaginary. If I want to make an exact likeness of an object or person I cannot see why it would not be better to photograph it.
One last thing Jack.  I do find your posts a bit threatening because of your use of BOLD TYPE.  I know it's just a perception but it comes across (to me) as either shouting or finger pointing.  I'm sure you aren't doing these things, but you write very fluently (better than me) and so I think the bold type and underlining are probably not necessary and will just inflame readers who do not agree with some of your points.  I mean even Schewe doesn't need to use bold type when he wants to dis-embowel someone!
Jim

Good post, Jim.

Sorry about the bold type ... I just use it for emphasis, not to threaten. Some people gloss over everything, and really don't take the time to read, so the bold type is intended to stop people in their tracks and at least make them read "that part" :)

Jack


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Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: jeremypayne on September 08, 2011, 09:15:39 am
I just wanted to make a little comment here ...
Cheers!
Jack

Wow ... this was a "little comment"?  

I'd love to see what happens when you turn off the regulator and really let her rip ...  ::)
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 08, 2011, 09:42:13 am
Wow ... this was a "little comment"?  
I'd love to see what happens when you turn off the regulator and really let her rip ...  ::)

Yes it is.

What happens when I really feel strongly about a subject? I write a 300,000-word book, that's what (http://www.johnkoerner.org/Emoticons/lol.gif)

Jack


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Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Kirk Gittings on September 08, 2011, 11:18:58 am
(http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20080202231409/uncyclopedia/images/1/11/Beating-a-dead-horse.gif)
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: JohnKoerner on September 08, 2011, 01:40:44 pm
I guess I have to kick the horse one more time (http://www.johnkoerner.org/Emoticons/lol.gif)



Just because I take, adjust, and post process hundreds of images a day does not mean that any of these images are going to be inspiring works of art.  And, just because a painter finishes one complicated piece a week does not mean that the painting will be an inspiring work of art.  If the only criteria is the perceived artistic value, then the speed of production is irrelevant.  

True.

However, respect must be paid to "level of difficuly" as well as "level of skill."

For example, if I capture a woodland image with a click of my camera ... and then turn it into a "digital watercolor" simply by going into Photoshop and hitting Filter > Artistic > Watercolor ... you may enjoy the effect and my image, artistically, but please don't tell me you'd have the same level of admiration for what I did to make it as you would if I painted the image with precision by freehand.

IMO the person who can't admit this just isn't being honest.




The hundreds (or even thousands) of images that a photographer captures at a photo shoot will not all be equal.  Out of those hundreds or thousands of images, the artist (photographer) will probably be able to single out one image that is the single favorite.  So, at the end of the day, both artists may only have "one" best image.  In fact, at the end of the week, both artists may be dissatisfied with what they have produced and reshoot or repaint.  This is proof positive that neither of the art forms is "easier" to create.  

On the contrary, because the photographer can make (and choose from) thousands of images is all the more reason to appreciate the work of the painter, who has to make the one image he's working on count by getting it right the first time ...

And because a photographer can "undo" a hundred steps in an instant in post-processing, without losing a penny, he loses nothing by experimenting ... whereas, if the painter doesn't like what he's doing, he can't "undo" anything and is stuck with the physical reality ... not to mention being out-of-pocket on his wasted canvas and colors, as well as his time.





How many images can you capture and process in the same amount of time that it took Jackson Pollock to create the "No. 5, 1948?  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No._5,_1948  This painting sold for $140,000,000.  Pollock's painting was considered by at least one art critic to be "a joke in bad taste.", and another opinion was that Pollocks work was “mere unorganized explosions of random energy, and therefore meaningless.”.  I propose that the level of difficulty in producing a copy of this painting (that the majority of people could not distinguish from the original) is much lower than the level of difficulty in producing a similar quality copy of any of the works of the great portraitists, still photographers, nature photographers and even landscape photographers.....even with the best equipment.

I agree ...




It is my opinion that a well composed, well lit, and properly processed image (landscape, portrait, or still) takes more time to execute, and is much more difficult to create, than it took Pollock to create the most expensive painting ever sold....the painting with the highest determined value in the world.  

I agree.

But then I didn't mention Pollack in my own post; I spoke of DaVinci, Picasso, and Michelangelo ... and if you repeated your previous paragraph, but inserted the names of these men (instead of Pollock), I would strongly disagree with you.




 
The photographer's "finger push" is not all that there is to many great works of photographic art.  Some photographs took much more time, effort, and skill than some paintings.  If only some photography is art, then only some paintings are art.  I can not state that one of the art forms (Painting or Photography) is easier to master than the other because I have not mastered either one.  In order for you to make such a statement, you must have mastered both.  Have you?  If not, you are not qualified to make such a statement.

I agree with the first part, not the second part. I have tried to "do both" for years, and it is much easier to gain skills in using a camera than it is to gain skills with a brush and blank canvas. Even the greenest neophyte can buy a good camera, point it at a subject, push a button, and get the dimensions and proportions preserved accurately (thanks to the camera) ... whereas most people could try painting/drawing all their lives and never be able to get these things recorded with any kind of exactness by freehand.




 
Why in the world are you spending time with posting your beliefs on a PHOTOGRAPHY forum?  I suggest that you join a painting/drawing forum and tell the members there how much superior they are compared to photographers.  I am sure that your chances of having someone with the same opinion would be higher there.  At least you would be able to view "art" that is the most respectable and admirable to you.  Why are you settling for less by looking at less respectable and admirable things?

You're starting to become petty yourself Bryan.

Why do I come here? I come to this forum because I enjoy photography, and there are a lot of good photographers here who have helped me immensely. In point of fact, I like photography more than I like painting. If I could trade my camera in for the ability to paint well, I wouldn't do it. I would not want to have to "paint" macro photos, precisely because it is so much easier just to photograph them. I want ease and convenience and results, which is why I would never trade my camera for a paintbrush.

For that matter, and speaking strictly about photography, I also realize it takes more skill to make a camera and a lens than it does to "take a picture" with them, but that does not mean I want to strive to become a camera-and-lens manufacturer either (http://www.johnkoerner.org/Emoticons/lol.gif)

So your logic is severely flawed here. Just because I give credit where it is obviously due doesn't mean I strive for that myself. It merely means I realize the difference between what takes more skill to do versus what is more enjoyable "for me" to do.

Let us look at photographic software as another example: would you not agree that it takes more skill to design Adobe Photoshop than it does to "learn how to use it" properly? Is it really a contradiction for me to give credit and respect to the designers of these programs, and to believe that "their" skill is considerably higher than a person who merely uses the program? Is it really a contradiction to believe and say this ... and yet still appreciate the art of those who make pretty pictures with Photoshop ... but who could never design it ... and also without wanting to become a software designer myself?

It is not a contradiction at all ...

Well, in the same fashion, I can recognize the level of difficulty in painting a complicated landscape versus taking a breathtaking photo of one ... and yet at the same time I can also appreciate the photography too ... while having no desire to be a painter. In the end, Bryan, there is simply no contradiction is giving credit and respect where it's due, while having no desire to do likewise, and finding more enjoyment in pursuing the less-complicated path.

Okay, that is my last kick of this horse (http://www.johnkoerner.org/Emoticons/lol.gif)

Jack


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Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Bryan Conner on September 08, 2011, 02:44:46 pm
Here are my last kicks of the dead horse.

Just because it is easier for you to take a very good photograph of something as opposed to creating a very good painting of the same object does not mean that the same is true for everyone.  Painting is easy for some and difficult for others.    Photography is easy for some and difficult for others. The same goes for the learning of either craft.   The two arts are different, and they are not the same. Some people are never great, or even good at either.  Maybe mechanics is their thing.  All of your statements comparing photography and painting are true for you.  You can not speak for everyone.

My point using Jackson Pollock was simply that his painting brought the highest selling price of all paintings that have been sold.  That is the only way that I know of to put a concrete real value on any art...unless you are only putting a value on the materials involved. Ask some people what is the best piece of art that they have ever seen, and they will tell you that it is the drawing their 5 year old child/grandchild created that is now on the fridge.  They may not even consider trading it for an original Michelangelo.  The value and quality of a work of art is only an opinion relative only to the person holding the opinion.  There is nothing concrete about this....outside of the value of the raw materials.

A photographer makes a thousand captures and ends up with one choice image, but each image is captured with a single push (stroke) of the finger.  The artist paints with a thousand strokes and ends up with one picture.  Both take time, both involve refinement, both involve individual decisions, both involve personal opinion, both have the same result.  But, they are only the fruit of their maker....like apples and oranges.

I truly respect your right to have an opinion.  But, I do not agree with your opinion, and do not see any logic in it.  So, we will have to agree to disagree.

Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: stamper on September 09, 2011, 04:27:50 am
John you blundered here.

Quote.

who has to make the one image he's working on count by getting it right the first time .

Unquote.

I know very little about painting but I know that a lot of painters will spend a lot of time painting a canvas and then paint over what they have done and start again. The famous Scottish painter Peter Howson re started a commission several times delaying the finish of what was eventually a "masterpiece". I would suspect that very few painters get it right first time. Unfortunately I think you are painting yourself into a hole with the continuance of this thread.  :)
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: jbrady on September 19, 2011, 10:12:08 am
After viewing some proofs with a client a couple of years ago, I made comment about how over used the bridal portrait is with the bride looking into a mirror.  She quickly told me that just because every other bride has a shot like that, this one is with her in it and therefore it special to her.  I like to try new poses, but it seems like the majority of my clients want the same poses that they have seen for years.  It feels like I’m just copying others work a lot, but I’m in business to give my clients what they want.  That’s my 2 cents.
http://www.judsonbradyphotography.com
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: James R on September 22, 2011, 02:08:48 am
Either you like a photograph or you don't.  There is no right or wrong.  A photograph, whether it is thought to be art by many or a few, still must move the viewer, which is what a photographer strives to do.   The art world has artistic criteria it applies to an image, but that is meaningless unless I'm moved by the image--nobody's opinion matters, only my judgment.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: theguywitha645d on September 22, 2011, 04:14:38 pm
Actually, I can paint cubist pictures like Picasso. I can even dribble paint like Jackson Pollack. Painting ain't so hard. I also know a lot of painters who suck at photography.

It is rather silly to compare two different processes. To say a painter takes a month to complete a work and a photographer can create a hundred pictures in the same time is not an argument. The painter gets to constantly return to a canvas to keep correcting it--just like in Photoshop. And if you know anything about photography, the photographer does not make one hundred final images, he/she is working to produce only one, but unlike the painter that can simply repaint a section of the canvas, the photographer need to get everything there at one time. It is a different skill set. A different process.

But none of this translates into value. The value comes not only in the process, but also in the execution of the work. A part of the execution is when the artist had the vision--Picasso is only valuable in relation to when he did his work, if he were starting today, he would not stand out. This is the same for Adams.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Andres Bonilla on September 24, 2011, 08:41:32 pm
Well I have never understood why the use of Photoshop or any other software is sacrilegious in some circles. I have tried to do digital paintings out of my photographs with mixed results but the constant complain from a select group is why I don't leave the photograph alone. There is a stigma in some circles that if you use too much the digital darkroom you are somehow cheating the viewer. I see technology as a tool to get what I envision for that piece.

I just came back from Santa Fe and Taos, I went inside a photographic gallery where one of the photographers had these gorgeous shots of an iconic church. He was quick to point out that these were film photographs done with a large format camera ( Horseman I think he said ) and nothing but the beauty of light, pristine, unaltered photos. When I went to see the church I was shocked to see that from the exact same angle you could see a electrical meter at the back of the church, this apparatus was missing from its photograph. So Mr. Purist had somehow erased the electrical meter out of his artsy, purely photographic piece. Why the lies? Would his fellow anti Photoshop, anti digital purist ban him out of their select circle?
At the user critique forum someone posted a composite of two photos, I thought it was cheese in the execution but not unethical. So If I love a photograph but the sky is not perfect I may combine it with another sky and tell everybody about it.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Michael West on September 24, 2011, 09:41:35 pm
He was quick to point out that these were film photographs done with a large format camera ( Horseman I think he said ) and nothing but the beauty of light, pristine, unaltered photos. When I went to see the church I was shocked to see that from the exact same angle you could see a electrical meter at the back of the church, this apparatus was missing from its photograph. 


Im in the North San Francisco Bay Area.

A local photographer who was until recently a "Mechanical Camera" purist is now using a small digital camera for much of his recent work, yet his statement about using said "mechanical camera" is still on the "about" page of his website.

I'm guessing that such seemingly dogmatic points of view are far more common that most of us could guess.

No "mechanical" dodging and burning allowed?  I think not.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Ray on November 21, 2011, 06:02:34 am
You guys must surely realise that cheating is a great human skill, whether the subject is photography, painting, economics, war, or just everyday social interaction.

The human species is the supreme master of cheating, deception and plain lying. No other species comes close to us in this respect.

But don't worry about it. The discipline of the scientific method is designed to take care of that.

Painter's have engaged in deception for thousands of years, whether by design or ineptitude.

Is there some law that decrees photography should be an exception?  :o
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Rob C on November 21, 2011, 12:35:07 pm
Dear me, Ray, that's some heavy tongue-in-cheek: I almost took you seriously for a terrified moment!

;-)

Rob C
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Ray on November 22, 2011, 01:45:19 am
Stick your tongue in your cheek, speak, your words are garbled - don't be surprised or blame others when you are misunderstood.

Oh! I see. My words are garbled. Perhaps I made a grammatical error. Let's check. So I did. Surprise! Surprise. I wrote painter's when I should have written painters. Now, with that in mind, are my statements clearer? No?

Okay! I'll take the trouble to explain and amplify the principles. Since I'm not sure which aspects of my statement you're having trouble with, I'll try to be precise and specific, addressing each point.

(1) Cheating is a great human skill.

This appears to be a biological fact. One may quibble about the use of the word 'cheating'. Deception might be more appropriate. Whichever synonym you choose, this skill of cheating, deception, or telling lies, whether big fat lies or little white lies, is a talent in which Homo Sapiens excels. It's a consequence of our big brains.

(2) The scientific method of controlled observation and repeated testing to verify the truthfulness of any theory or hypothesis, is our saviour from the mayhem that results from uncontrolled cheating.

(3) Painters have engaged in deception for thousands of years.

This is undoubtedly true. Artists, whether painters or music composers, have traditionally lived the role of servants to the ruling class, doing their best to please.

If one is commissioned to do a portrait of a wealthy and powerful aristocrat who is possibly, probably, and very likely, a bastard, a hypocrite and a cruel, unthinking and rather stupid man,  then one's carreer would end if one were to portray him as such.

(4) Is there some law that decrees photography should be an exception?

There appears to be no such law that I'm aware of. However, we should not dismiss the tremendous effect that the camera has had on painting. It had a significant effect even before photography was invented. I'm using a date of 1826 for the first, permanent photographic image that was created.

Long before that, we had a device or phenomenon called the Camera Obscura, the principles of which go back to Ancient Greece (Aristotle), and the Chinese about the same time, around 400BC.

The camera obscura is basically a pinhole camera without any photographic plate. The image is presented upside-down, and the size of the image depends on the size of the camera obscura, which can be as big as a room.

Unfortunately, the sharpness of the image depended on the smallness of the hole, which also affected the brightness of the image when displayed on a wall or canvas or whatever.

The invention of the lens occurred well before the time of Galileo, and was later instrumental in improving the the effectiveness of the camera obscura for painting purposes.

No longer was one limited by very fuzzy images from a large hole, or very dim images from a small hole. One could get a reasonably sharp and bright image with a good lens installed in the camera obscura.

Not only that, with the use of mirrors one could inveret the upside-down projection and get an ideal image on one's canvas, as a painting guide.

Do you think that Renaissance panters would not have grabbed this opportunity to create a never-before-seen realism in painting? You bet your arse they did!

For centuries before the first photographic plate that could permanenty record the image was invented, art in general had assumed an obvious degree of photorealism.

That's not to say that every painter used the projections of the camera obscura; of course not. A style was set and other painters imitated it, to the best of their ability.

When the 'real' camera was invented, in the early 19th century, the first people to take up the new technology were painters, or would-be painters. Manipulation by whatever means was part of the course.

Nothing much has changed.

Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Ray on November 23, 2011, 04:13:16 am
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Well, deception, and counter-measures to deception, are commonplace among forms of life that don't have brains at all ;-)

Isaac, that's a very strange concept you've got there; forms of life without even a brain engaging in acts of deception??  I have to state bluntly that I think you are confused on this issue.

An act of deception requires at least some degree of awareness. By definition, a brainless creature is not capable of any act of deception. A brainless creature, or a form of life such as a bacteria, for example, will tend to engage in the same behaviour pattern in the same set of conditions in a repeatedly rigid fashion in accordance with its genetic encoding. That's not called deception.

An example of deception in our nearest relatives the apes, that I read about recently and found amusing, was a witnessed event of a young male gorilla being chased by an older, dominant male, perhaps because the younger male had made inappropriate advances to one of the females in the group.

At some point in the chase, the younger male, perhaps thinking he was losing the race, suddenly stopped dead in his tracks and pointed in agitated alarm to the horizon.

The older male was dutifully concerned, because he had a harem to take care of and any threat to the group would have to be dealt with.

Whilst he struggled to discern the apparent threat in the distant horizon, taking his time perhaps because of his failing eyesight, the younger male made his get-away. Now that's deception.

I repeat, Homo Sapiens excels in its capacity for deception. No other creature comes close.

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He who pays the piper calls the tune - there's always some awkward despot who wants the warts-and-all portrait :-)

That may be the case. I think a warts-and-all portrait of Oliver Cromwell exists. The point I'm making, which I hope you haven't missed, is that the situation of the 'piper calling the tune' is the norm. The entire advertising industry would fit into that category.

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In many situations, people seem to experience photographs as "real" in a way not approached by trompe-l'oeil or the photorealism movement. In many contexts, people seem to have a different expectation about the veracity of photographs than about other representations.

Absolutely true! At least we agree on something. But we should distinguish between acceptable cheating and unacceptable cheating. I'd be surprised if any lady were to object to the photographer cloning out a few pimples and blemishes on her portrait.

However I would not be at all surprised if there were very serious repercussions should any forensic photographer attempt to clone out a bullet hole in the head of the dead person he'd just photographed.

There's a long-standing adage that the camera doesn't lie, which is of course completely true. Inanimate objects, or even brainless creatures, cannot possibly lie. It takes a creature with a brain to lie.

Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Rob C on November 23, 2011, 09:25:12 am
As they almost used to say on the Rowan and Martin Laugh In, very interesting, but I'm still no closer to being sure whether you were being t-i-c or not.

Also, my closest relative was never an ape: it was a she: my mother, a human of extraordinary qualities. I have before me her old Spanish/English dictionary which I inherited after she was gone but not forgotten, and written inside the dust jacket I found these three words: defiant, flamboyant and triumphant. I'm never (in this life) going to know for sure whether it was accidental, a coincidence or whether she was leaving me a mental bequest, but I wish to hell I'd come across that message many many years ago when it mattered and could have made a difference. Some ape!

;-)

Rob C

 
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Lost on November 23, 2011, 02:45:57 pm
This issue seems analogous to that of drugs in sport - except that no one is willing or able to ban extensive editing of a photograph (even if "extensive" could be defined).

The reality is that modern editing techniques can produce images that are more commercially popular or potentially more artistic than would be the case without them. In such an arms race, the only thing that makes sense is to use whatever tools and techniques best support your vision, regardless of what is "real".

The real problem is when the tools define the vision - rather than the other way around (iPhone-ography?).
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Ray on November 23, 2011, 08:50:15 pm
Describing a situation as deception is certainly anthropomorphic, but the phrase can communicate so much about what we understand of the situation that it still is an appropriate description. (Arbitrary reference - Mimicry: The Orchid and the Bee (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/01/1/l_011_02.html).)


This is an excellent example of self-deception, which also requires a brain.

The bee, in failing to distinguish between a real female bee and a shape within the orchid flower that resembles a female bee, is engaging in self-deception, which requires a brain.

The human observer who ascribes the act of deception to the orchid, is also engaging in self-deception, and at the same time misunderstanding the processes of evolution.

If an orchid relies upon visits from bees in order to propagate, then the orchid that is the most attractive to the bees, for whatever reason, will be the orchid that survives and proliferates. Those orchids that are less attractive to bees will become rare and perhaps eventually become extinct.

As I'm sure you know, all forms of life are continuously subject to some degree of random mutation and genetic change through breeding, over which they have no control, which changes may or may not provide some survival advantage.

I'm reminded of the quip from George Bernard Shaw to a woman who suggested it would be a good idea if they were to get married because any child with her beauty and his brains would have a wonderful advantage in life. He replied along the lines,  "But madam, think what might happen if our child had my beauty and your brains".  ;D

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If everyone shared the same expectations about a photo and agreed the photo was acceptable, then why would they speak of "cheating" at all?

Clearly we don't all share the same expectations about anything under the sun, whether cheating or any other matter, so I'm not sure why you've raised that point.

Cheating or deception clearly takes place in Photography, so perhaps the only issue to consider is whether or not any specific act of cheating is harmful, and to what degree it may be harmful to any individual or group.

Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Ray on November 23, 2011, 08:57:05 pm

Also, my closest relative was never an ape: it was a she: my mother.......
 

But your mother is not my closest relative, Rob. I did use the collective plural 'our'.  ;D
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: stamper on November 24, 2011, 03:55:46 am
Quote

This issue seems analogous to that of drugs in sport - except that no one is willing or able to ban extensive editing of a photograph (even if "extensive" could be defined).

Unquote


Photography isn't a sport so there isn't any resemblance of a connection. What I do when editing an image is between me and my conscience. If someone likes my edited version then I am happy. If they don't then it isn't a problem. Most of the photographers who say that editing is cheating are jealous of the ability of someone to edit an image. Instead of stating they don't know how to do it they knock it. :(
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Lost on November 24, 2011, 04:42:19 am
I think that the art world can be very competitive, much like a sport. People compete for attention and (if professional) money.

BTW, the recent record price for a photograph of the Rhine is a good example of the recent editing/processing arms race. If I read correctly, it used what was at the time innovative editing techniques and it is partly this that defines some of the appeal of the image (rightly or wrongly!). Once upon a time, dodging and burning (eg Adams) was state of the art, and something that only a few people could do - giving them an artistic advantage.

Rather than standing back and lamenting how easy it is for modern tools to reproduce these old techniques, shouldn't art always embrace the very edge of possibility to support the artist's vision - much as it always seems to have done?
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Bryan Conner on November 24, 2011, 03:18:13 pm
Photography isn't a sport so there isn't any resemblance of a connection.

Apparently, you have never chased a two-year old around with a camera trying to get a decent portrait.... ;D
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Rob C on November 24, 2011, 05:05:58 pm
Apparently, you have never chased a two-year old around with a camera trying to get a decent portrait.... ;D




In the case of the paparazzi it's a blood sport.

Rob C
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Peter McLennan on November 24, 2011, 05:10:23 pm
Apparently, you have never chased a two-year old around with a camera trying to get a decent portrait.... ;D

Well said, Bryan.  Like dance, photography is a real-time art.  Comparisons to sports performers are equally apt.  We are athletes - photographic athletes - subject to many of the constraints that face sports athletes.  We need training, endurance, agility, lightning reflexes and practice, practice, practice.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Bryan Conner on November 25, 2011, 12:45:09 am
Well said, Bryan.  Like dance, photography is a real-time art.  Comparisons to sports performers are equally apt.  We are athletes - photographic athletes - subject to many of the constraints that face sports athletes.  We need training, endurance, agility, lightning reflexes and practice, practice, practice.

I remember this one two year old back in 1997...I was strongly considering taking up martial arts...LOL.
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on November 29, 2011, 11:34:55 am

Why debate... there is an app (http://bit.ly/vtM4xp) for that.


P.S. ...and perhaps even a legislation coming soon to photoshopped images near you ;)
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on November 29, 2011, 04:12:26 pm
Or even better comparison (http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/farid/downloads/publications/pnas11/).
Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Les Sparks on November 30, 2011, 11:38:34 am
The only reason we get this discussion about photographs and cheating is that we remember the important photos we've seen of the American Civil War, the civil rights struggle, the demonstrations in Egypt, etc. that move us because they are "real".  Paintings and drawings of the same events don't normally move us in the same way because they are not "real". We then assume that all photos are real in a way that other art is not. We see a portrait photo and assume that the person really looks like that--there might be a few blotches retouched out, but by and large we expect that the photo is what the person really looks like. But we don't hold the same belief for a painted portrait--we (or at least I) assume that the painter took pains to make the subject look as attractive as possible and did more than retouch a few blotches.  This expectation that a photograph represents reality is just something we have to face. It's OK if we retouch or manipulate to better represent our vision, but we have to expect a few to object--how many object often depends on what our vision or intent is.


Defining cheating is not easy and depends on the photographer's intent and our conventions and expectations. I don't think anyone really expects advertising and clamor photographs to represent reality and we accept a great deal of manipulation in these. Journalism photographs we expect to be real and un-manipulated.

For example: Assume that I'm out hiking and come across a beautiful small stream and think what a great picture this will make.
As I'm setting up, I notice that someone has left a dozen beer cans, several fast food bags, and an old tire that pretty much destroy the beauty. If I'm taking photos for the chamber of commerce to show of the beauty of the area I can:

1. Change my viewpoint by moving slightly and changing the lens and the mess disappears and I've got my beautiful picture--is this a cheat?
2. Take the original photo and clone out the mess--is this a cheat?
3.  Remove the mess, take the photo, and carry the mess to the dump--is this a cheat?
Or assume that I want to show what slobs are doing to destroy the beauty of the countryside and I change my viewpoint by moving and changing lens to emphasize the mess--is this a cheat? If I manipulate the photo to add more emphasis to the mess, is that cheating?


Les



Title: Re: When is a Photograph a Cheat?
Post by: Isaac on December 01, 2011, 01:39:17 pm
We then assume that all photos are real in a way that other art is not.
I think we find it difficult to escape immediately responding to a photograph as-if it were a frozen reflection.

Sometimes as-with a distorting mirror we experience both the apparent reality and unreality of the photograph; other times we only experience the apparent reality and, without further examination, will not discover that we're looking into a mirror-world.

Defining cheating is not easy and depends on the photographer's intent and our conventions and expectations.
"When does a photograph document reality. When is it propaganda? When is it art? Can a single photograph be all three?"

I don't think anyone really expects advertising and glamor photographs to represent reality and we accept a great deal of manipulation in these.
In general, I don't think we realise just how distorted those photographs have become. In general, I don't think we get the opportunity to see just how distorted those photographs have become.

2. Take the original photo and clone out the mess--is this a cheat?
Mark Schacter's essay (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/am_i_a_photographic_cheat.shtml) was somewhat defensive on this point. We might read PERSON 1's "Isn’t that sort of cheating?" as - isn't that sort of cheating other photographers who actually did the hard work to be there for those fleeting moments when the landscape was luminous.