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Author Topic: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors  (Read 5176 times)

Torbjörn Tapani

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Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« on: September 19, 2015, 03:07:36 pm »

I like the article. But I don't worry too much about it. A picture will never capture the experience of a powerful aurora display anyway. Might as well just get some pretty pictures while we are out there.
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Telecaster

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Re: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2015, 04:54:18 pm »

+1. IMO Gareth frets a bit much. Humans are harrowingly gullible about lots of stuff, but I find folks I know & encounter increasingly get that photos are frequently processed for effect. I'd go even further and say there should be no default trust that photos portray things "as they are." They should instead be cause for curiosity, inquiry & investigation.

-Dave-
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aaron

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Re: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2015, 06:11:13 pm »

Integrity and landscape photography are not words often seen in the same company.
I don't think that even the casual viewer believes that your typical landscape photograph is a realistic rendition of what was in front of the camera.
Particularily so with night photography and long exposures.....
But in defense of the genre, it's not presented as journalism or reportage in any way so no body really being harmed.
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alainbriot

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Re: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2015, 09:39:36 pm »

It all depends if your goal is documentation or personal artistic expression.  Mine is the latest and I derive a lot of pleasure from enhancing color, contrast, changing shapes, distorting forms, stretching, warping, reformating and more. 

My audience is fully aware of the 'unspeakable' things I do to my photographs and I give a full refund to any purchase made of a non-manipulated image.  In the end it is my work, my money, my time, my efforts and I want to make sure that the results meets my expectations and that I have fun in the process.
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Alain Briot
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amolitor

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Re: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2015, 11:18:26 pm »

Some people, most people, approach a photo with the assumption that, barring evidence to the contrary, it looked pretty much like that.

There's a social contract in play here. Less and less so, but it's still a real thing.

Pretending that it's not so is disingenuous.
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David Sutton

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Re: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2015, 02:06:34 am »

Generally I don't care what the camera "saw" but what I recall seeing and experiencing. Folks can like it or lump it. But the exceptions are macro, and very long and super short exposures. What the camera recorded then can be very cool indeed.
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mjrichardson

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Re: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2015, 02:52:11 am »

It's an interesting article, I teach aurora photography but luckily in one of the best places to see aurora in the world, strong displays can be incredibly vivid and can produce amazing results but weak aurora are always going to look a little dismal. If you are asking your camera to collect light for an extended period of time, say 30 seconds, then obviously it is going to pick up far more than our eyes will register, how that is processed is down to the individual but I agree with others here, the notion of photographs only having value if they show exactly what your eyes saw is a little strange. Up here we have nights where you can drive your car without lights on the aurora can be that bright, I've had overexposed shots on a 1 second exposure, the eye can very clearly pick up whats happening in those situations but restraint is often lacking in aurora photography.

My biggest issue with aurora photography is less about processing and much more about the fact that as soon as there are lights in the sky, people seem to forget about all basic rules of composition. Camera straight up, tilted horizons, bits of trees or buildings, very wide angle lenses which show people and trees at 45 degree angles etc. etc. I really hate all of that stuff, it's a very personal thing but I always tell clients not to photograph the aurora, instead take photographs that have aurora in them, there's a big difference. Proper framing and composition to me is far more important and is missing from the vast majority of aurora photographs. Green in the sky does not trump just plain bad photography in my view.

Anyway, season is under way here in the North so hopefully there will be lots of good photographs!

Mat

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Thomas Achermann

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Re: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2015, 08:24:35 am »

It all depends if your goal is documentation or personal artistic expression.

I share your view, Alan.

Concerning auroras, there is one 'little catch' though...I live in Finnish Lapland, a place where thousands of people come every winter to experience this wonderful phenomena. And so many of them expect the aurora to be so extremely colorful, oversaturated as they have seen them in all those photographs.
There are many occasions where the aurora display really is so 'extreme' but this is definately not always the case. Many people are dissapointed because what they witness with their own eyes is not so 'colorful/extreme' as they have seen in all those photographs.
I always try to explain my guests beforehand the difference between what the human eye can see and what the camera can see.
So many people come to my gallery and then ask if all those photographs of the aurora 'are fake'...or in other words 'you made that in Photoshop...'.  ::)

Your clients, Alan, are fully aware of what they are getting...probably because they know you and your work and have read about it on your website.
Many of those 'unrealistic' aurora photographs flodding the social media channels are sometimes creating expectation that cannot be fullfilled in reality...and I can tell you how frustrating it is if you are taking people out into the field, where they witness a mind-blowing aurora display, then turn around and say 'oh well...it was nice but not what I expected'. But thankfully there are many more people that really enjoy the experience and go home with their own photographs in their cameras and their heads!
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Thomas Achermann - Muonio, Finland - [ur

Hans Kruse

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Re: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2015, 08:29:26 am »

The opinions expressed does to some degree go against the pictures posted on his website. These pictures do not present the view as it would look if you were standing next to the photographer. People often say they postprocess to the look of what they saw when the shot the pictures. Some say it is what they felt when they shot the pictures. It is almost like they try to legitimise what they do in post processing. My view is that post processing should bring out the potential in the image. Some would say that the pictures of Gareth is a very natural look and others would say not. But does it matter? No, absolutely not in my opinion. One should also not, in my opinion, edit pictures to the common denominator opinions. I edit my pictures to my own liking, but sometimes I come back I ask myself, what was I smoking when I edited that picture  ;D

Having said this and given that I never shot auroras, I find most aurora shots extremely boring. The aurora shots that I really like is when there is a real landscape lit up by the aurora and when the aurora can also be seen. Such shots will need quite a long exposure time and most likely also blending and nobody can say if this is real or not since your eyes cannot do a long exposure anyway. If it is a beautiful shot I don't care if it represents what the photography "saw" when he took the shot.

alainbriot

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Re: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2015, 11:52:38 am »

I share your view, Alan.

So many people come to my gallery and then ask if all those photographs of the aurora 'are fake'...or in other words 'you made that in Photoshop...'.  ::)

Your clients, Alan, are fully aware of what they are getting...probably because they know you and your work and have read about it on your website.

Many of those 'unrealistic' aurora photographs flodding the social media channels are sometimes creating expectation that cannot be fullfilled in reality...and I can tell you how frustrating it is if you are taking people out into the field, where they witness a mind-blowing aurora display, then turn around and say 'oh well...it was nice but not what I expected'.

Hi Thomas,

You can easily write an artist statement explaining what you just explained here.  In my experience, when asked if I manipulate my work, I found that it is simpler to answer 'yes' or 'yes I manipulate is this what you are looking for?' than to engage in a lengthy explanation without knowing what my interlocutor is looking for.

My clients know because I explain it to them.  Some, as you mention, are aware of my approach, others discover it on their first visit to my gallery or the first time they see my work online or elsewhere.

Regarding taking people in the field I face the same questionwhen I lead workshops and I address it by teaching students that the goal of art is interpretation, not documentation.  This is logical since I am teaching art and not documentation.  Of course the most important element here is to have made a clear choice about what I am doing, which is art and not documentation.  If this choice is not made, or not made clearly, or if your approach changes from one to the other because you create photographs for different purposes, the situation can turn very complicated very quickly!

Alain
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Alain Briot
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Torbjörn Tapani

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Re: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2015, 08:45:03 pm »

I tried making my own comparison. Setup is f/2.8, 10 seconds, ISO 1250. Tripod outside the window 3 feet from my computer. A completely dark room and monitor set at 120 cd/m2.

First edited as I perceive the sky outside my window an hour ago. It's quite dark. -2.5 reduction with the exposure slider in LR and a -35 saturation.
Second as shot in camera.
Third might be a typical edit. Boosted exposure, pulled highlights, pushed shadows, +whites, -darks, a little clarity.

Don't mind the fog on the lens and the rubble in my yard  8)


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Telecaster

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Re: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2015, 12:06:41 am »

Aside from the "rubble"   :)  this looks like thoroughly valid post work to me. Cameras don't see things quite the same way as we humans, no matter how hard we try to make them do so. IMO this should be something we feel free to make creative use of rather than try to suppress in the name of "accuracy" or "authenticity."

-Dave-
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dreed

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Re: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2015, 02:54:35 am »

I find that this also applies to sunsets and sunrises - both occassions where there is a lot that can be done to an image to enhance the colour that is not normally seen "out of camera."

But where do you draw the line?

Lens filers (colours or polarisers) can also change what the camera sees to not be what it really looked like.

Does anyone get upset about the use of polarisers or complain that they make an image "not realistic"?
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GrahamBy

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Re: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2015, 04:55:31 am »

Photography has many functions, one of which is faithful recording... but they don't all apply all the time. If one proposes to be an "artist", there is a supposition that one is bringing some sort of creativity to the final image, whether by digital manipulation, framing or selecting the critical moment. Those are not ideas that are typically compatible with forensic documentation.

In the end, the idea is to make pretty pictures  :) but if someone offers me money to express my outrage about something in words, that's cool too  :D
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MarkL

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Re: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2015, 08:12:42 am »

I remember shooting in some fog in the morning with a mixture of the original velvia 50 and provia 100, the provia looked as it had, the velvia had the fog looking like an epic pink sunrise.

It is an odd scenario when it isn't abuse of the saturation slider in post that has done it but what the camera recorded in the first place.

I was talking about this with some new photographers. They saw what came out of the camera as 'real' despite the fact a RAW file isn't even colour and goes through bayer interpolation/demosaicing which means the output is different in every profile in every pieces of software. It is all interpreted and 'edited' before anything is even done!
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BenTaylor

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Re: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2015, 11:44:57 am »

I have agree with this article. I also find the following objectionable: fisheye lens, telephoto lens, wide angle lens, long exposures, fast exposures, leprechaun photos, time lapse photography, and especially black and white photography  ;)
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NancyP

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Re: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2015, 03:10:45 pm »

Standard Milky Way shots are not "realistic", at least for my own older eyes.  :( The smaller aperture of middle-aged adult irises is ~ 5 mm, vs teenager iris 7 mm: the teen gets TWICE the light the middle aged adult gets per unit time. So a 35mm ISO 1600, f/2.8 10 sec exposure is way too bright (at least 5-fold) for what I see now in the fully dark-adapted state.
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dreed

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Re: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« Reply #17 on: September 21, 2015, 06:12:05 pm »

I have agree with this article. I also find the following objectionable: fisheye lens, telephoto lens, wide angle lens, long exposures, fast exposures, leprechaun photos, time lapse photography, and especially black and white photography  ;)

Those who are color blind would quite likely argue that there is no point in color photographs at all :)
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ednazarko

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I think you're worrying too much...
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2015, 05:43:54 pm »

I try to make the women I photograph as beautiful as you made the auroras.  Really, it's not a bad thing to do.
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johan

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Re: Auroras, Lies and Camera Sensors
« Reply #19 on: October 07, 2015, 05:08:54 pm »

First I felt a little offended, but then I realised that the author lives in a part of  the world were proper Auroras are rare. The I felt that he was suffering from the ”Sour Grapes” syndrome. I never have understood how somebody can judge the validity of other photographers work.
I wish that you could visit northern Scandinavia so you could see real Aurora that can never be trumped by a picture.
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