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Author Topic: Creating Meaningful Photographs  (Read 55957 times)

LesPalenik

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Re: Creating Meaningful Photographs
« Reply #80 on: June 02, 2012, 01:15:45 am »

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I was riding the bus in Denali a couple of years ago with a very well-known photographer.
Once in Banff, I came across a photographer who carried in his backpack a stuffed squirrel. Apparently, he used it as a prop in various scenic locations.  I don't know if he was well known or not, but I can imagine that he has produced prolific series on squirrels in North America. I'd be interested in a beaver.



 
« Last Edit: June 02, 2012, 08:17:41 am by LesPalenik »
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HSway

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Re: Creating Meaningful Photographs
« Reply #81 on: June 02, 2012, 03:15:19 am »

That was the point I was trying to explain to Hynek...in terms of photographing a scene, what the camera captures is not what we see. You can't capture what humans see because what we are seeing is a mental perception of the scene. Our eyes have adaptive color and brightness capabilities and the sensation of color is strictly a perception of color not color in the physical sense.

Yes, if somebody pointed a gun to my head, I would perceive the threat...but I'm not into guns so my perception would be vastly different than a cop or soldier who knows guns and might be able to determine whether the safety was on or off or whether it was loaded on not. I couldn't tell so I would have to assume it was loaded and the safety was off. Perception is not reality...




No we all see and perceive things in a remarkably similar way. That’s what is so unique about humans. We can also understand each other by a blink of an eye (and in a blink of an eye) without saying a single word although we all express very differently when talking. The differences start to show up when we try to reproduce to others what we saw. At this point we run into most differences both among the photographers and among the people in general. It makes that impression we see very differently.
I, of course, am assuming at least moderately capable observer. That is a person that is at least used to observe and reflect consciously a complex scene or an object.

And for the ‘realistic photography today’ in a consistent manner I indeed assume a very capable and trained observer that has developed adequate skills for this very difficult task. It has its special challenges and the ability to do it is rare. One will need an extra motivation for it.. a discipline.. and a serious reason..but that gravitates back to my initial post again (which was inspired by your comment but not necessarily aimed only at you and assumed the widest audience of readers).

Besides and a bottom line, the possible differences in our perception and the degree of differences in processing, I am sure everybody knows what potential and also practical variabilities we are talking about here, simply are beyond any sensible comparison.

Hynek
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Justan

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Re: Creating Meaningful Photographs
« Reply #82 on: June 02, 2012, 09:35:58 am »

> No we all see and perceive things in a remarkably similar way. That’s what is so unique about humans. We can also understand each other by a blink of an eye (and in a blink of an eye) without saying a single word although we all express very differently when talking. The differences start to show up when we try to reproduce to others what we saw. At this point we run into most differences both among the photographers and among the people in general. It makes that impression we see very differently.

The operative word there is “similar’ as evidenced by the following test

http://www.xrite.com/custom_page.aspx?pageid=77&lang=en

And for that reason, there is no one answer to this kind of question.

Isaac

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Re: Creating Meaningful Photographs
« Reply #83 on: June 02, 2012, 12:14:32 pm »

My 2c worth before this thread degenerates into Isaac talking to himself.
Drat! I'm too late. :)

Your reply to your own previous post seems a very literal example of talking to yourself.
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dreed

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Re: Creating Meaningful Photographs
« Reply #84 on: June 02, 2012, 12:25:25 pm »

No we all see and perceive things in a remarkably similar way.

So how do you explain colour blindness?
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dreed

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Re: What is a photograph? Or a digital photograph?
« Reply #85 on: June 02, 2012, 12:38:55 pm »

Sorry but the definition you provided does not say anything about whether a photo is still a photo once you remove material. On that question the authority of reference.com is silent.

No it is not.

I'll say this once.

The definition of a photograph is what is recorded by the photosensitive material. (from reference.com)

If you remove something from an image that was created from a photograph then what you then have is quite clearly not what was recorded by the photosensitive material and thus is no longer a photograph. Similarly, if you add something to the image then it also ceases to be a photograph.

If you still find difficulty in understanding how I reach that conclusion then I would suggest taking some courses in logical thinking or English or both. Or if you're trolling, just stop.
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Isaac

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Re: Creating Meaningful Photographs
« Reply #86 on: June 02, 2012, 12:44:41 pm »

So how do you explain colour blindness?
Also, the possibility that a small percentage of women are tetrachromats has been mentioned in previous LL discussions.



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Isaac

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Re: What is a photograph? Or a digital photograph?
« Reply #87 on: June 02, 2012, 01:10:32 pm »

Sorry but the definition you provided does not say anything about whether a photo is still a photo once you remove material. On that question the authority of reference.com is silent.
No it is not.
In that case, you will have no difficulty quoting the part of your chosen definition that says anything about whether a photo is still a photo once your remove material.


If you remove something from an image that was created from a photograph then what you then have is quite clearly not what was recorded by the photosensitive material and thus is no longer a photograph. Similarly, if you add something to the image then it also ceases to be a photograph.
These are your additions to the quoted definition.

In your eyes, can the LP removed -- Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, California (1944) -- be a photograph?


If you still find difficulty in understanding how I reach that conclusion then I would suggest taking some courses in logical thinking or English or both. Or if you're trolling, just stop.
Instead of resorting to personal insults, please just use the tried and tested childhood formula - I'm right! You're wrong! I'm right! You're wrong!
« Last Edit: June 02, 2012, 01:29:02 pm by Isaac »
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dreed

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Re: What is a photograph? Or a digital photograph?
« Reply #88 on: June 02, 2012, 01:36:37 pm »

I now understand the comments made earlier about Isaac but alas I had to learn the hard way. Sorry folks.
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theguywitha645d

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Re: What is a photograph? Or a digital photograph?
« Reply #89 on: June 02, 2012, 02:02:08 pm »

No it is not.

I'll say this once.

The definition of a photograph is what is recorded by the photosensitive material. (from reference.com)

If you remove something from an image that was created from a photograph then what you then have is quite clearly not what was recorded by the photosensitive material and thus is no longer a photograph. Similarly, if you add something to the image then it also ceases to be a photograph.

If you still find difficulty in understanding how I reach that conclusion then I would suggest taking some courses in logical thinking or English or both. Or if you're trolling, just stop.

So two photographs that are combined are OK because both were made by a photosensitive material. A dye-transfer print or inkjet print of those photographs is no longer a photograph because it is a mechanical process. If I spot out something from my photograph, it is not longer a photograph either. Interesting point of view...
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HSway

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Re: Creating Meaningful Photographs
« Reply #90 on: June 02, 2012, 02:22:53 pm »

@Justan


Hi Justan,

thank you. I appreciate your point. And I thank others that are pointing at me as well. Let me push mine one more step forward.
As someone who studied physiological zoology of vertebrates included (human) vision and someone used to biology environment both myself and via contacts with people in the field, it’s clear to me that we can be pointing all this sort of variabilities. I am getting at something else, though, and that is our remarkably similar perception and visual experience in complex. (Severe and apparent deviations aside – colour blindness etc.)

We have a group of people looking at a photograph or old painting. They see a night at old castle, half-lit figures sitting around the fire, reddish glow of the flames casting the light and a white dog in the shadows. They see the Moon and the stars' light coming through the sky, the dark blues of the river, boat on the sand, all this greenish-brownish colour composition, all this atmosphere that is not easy to describe – pretty much identically and just like the painter that painted it despite the obvious differences we will find in the lab testing particular and strictly separate colours, values, tones, intensities etc. – We all get very, very similar impressions of things we see and perceive in a complex. It’s because our brain is a way ahead of our tests and analyses fortunately and works (in many other ways but also) compensating for naturally occurring differences that we can map separately resulting in visually very similar impressions of particular individual in practice and in a real world of perceiving, sharing and conveying. Changes made to the said photograph or painting (on computer for example) will be also immediately perceived by these viewers and again in remarkably similar fashion.
The natural evolution needs us to be getting very similar signals and impressions (evolutionary benefit of natural deviations aside for now), it’s in a way crucial for us to survive, especially in the very long past. This similarity is also the very principal of the Art, Photography and other means of conveying a message visually and wouldn’t be possible without it in their fine form. We understand very well each other here in this sense and get very, very similar impressions via this path. In fact, the mental, intellectual and other natural physic differences will cause significantly more variety in perceiving a visual message of colour/texture complex than naturally occurring separate anomalies of our senses’ receptors. A known fact and experience we are literally coming across every day.
I think we see the differences and all the complexness behind it but let’s get to the whole point and reflect the fact of our real world experience of everyday reality in way that is decisive for what we do (and in vast - decisive - majority of cases).

Very nice weekend to all, :-)

Hynek
« Last Edit: June 02, 2012, 05:11:43 pm by HSway »
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GeraldB

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Re: Creating Meaningful Photographs
« Reply #91 on: June 02, 2012, 08:34:35 pm »

Camera vision and human vision/perception are so completely different. I was in the forest seeing a beam of light illuminating a tree with different colored leaves some 30 meters away. I photographed it. What I got was a mass of intervening out of focus leaves and branches that completely obliterated the scene I saw. OMG, I realized, I HAVE PHOTOSHOP IN MY BRAIN. I had done a content aware removal of a lot of fine detail to enjoy that scene. It seems we cannot create what is not already in our structure. If we have a product called Photoshop then we are photoshop (and all the others).

Tony Jay

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Re: Creating Meaningful Photographs
« Reply #92 on: June 02, 2012, 10:09:13 pm »

Interesting take on a well known, to some anyway, phenomenon that vision is not a "photographic-like recording" of a scene but an intensely processed result.

The retina itself is a transplanted chunk of brain cortex and is definately not just a passive recorder of a scene.
An immense amount of editing goes on in the retina well before the visual cortex gets involved.
The visual cortex consists of a massive chunk of the back part of the brain (occipital cortex). In fact more cortex is given over to vision than any other single brain function.
Again, massive amounts of interpretative processing occur here that literally allows individuals to miss objects that were clearly visible in the scene.
Additionally, identical wavelengths of light are not necessarily interpreted by different individuals as representing the same colour. Colour blindness is only the most obvious manifestation of this phenomenon.

So, vision is actually a very subjective process.
In the example given the camera clearly recorded details that were not that apparent to the photographer despite the fact that both were "viewing" the same scene.
The question as to what then represents reality is not merely a question for the philosophers but actually a mundanely practical one.
Many of our more experienced collegues speak of learning how to see what the camera sees to avoid exactly these sorts of surprises.
This is a process that needs to be learn't - I will readily admit that for me this is still a work in progress.
The whole process of marrying our, admittedly subjective, view of a scene with what a camera can capture to produce a creatively aesthetic result seems, to me anyway, to represent the entire crux of the synthesis of the art and science of photography.

Post-processing, again, in my view, is subordinate to the process when applied to landscape photography in the sense that one uses post-processing tools to create what one experienced at the time of shooting.
The divergance of opinion should not be whether these tools should be used (in my original post I make mention of several tools that in my opinion are still underused), although again I personally do not go the lengths of recreating landscape images by editing out or in whole features, but rather the ethics of disclosure about what sort of post-processing and editing tools have been used.

Many genre's of photography produce results that are obviously fantasy. Michael Reichman seems to like selectively desaturating his images to highlight parts of the image. The results are striking and beautiful but no-one believes that the resultant image represents reality in the sense of what a third party would have witnessed were they to have been present to view what Michael was shooting. Moreoever, due to the obvious nature of the image no further explanation is required by the photographer.


Landscape photography (and also wildlife and bird photography) is different. As already stated the charm, allure, and power of these images resides in the very fact that these images represent a recognizable reality at a real point in time. Notwithstanding the subjective nature of vision as already explained third-party observers of one shooting these sorts of images should recognize the resulting image. Subsequent viewers and possibly buyers of the image will nearly always assume the same thing - that the image that they are viewing did indeed represent a recognizable reality at a real point in time. Most often they will not be able to independently verify this. The more sceptical will ask whether and how the image may have been altered precisely because they are wanting an answer to the question: does this image represent recognizable reality?
Personally, I have never met anyone who ascribed much, or any, value to a photographic landscape image, that they knew had been edited to ultimate fantasy, yet are held spellbound by dramatic images that, to their satisfaction anyway, would be recognizable to them had they been present at the time the image was shot.

Yet, those same viewers also understand those same images cannot represent reality in an absolute sense. Most dramatic wildlife and bird images have a very narrow depth of field that can have the very useful effect of highlighting the subject while reducing any distracting elements to mush. No-one views the world in the way that extreme telephoto lenses do.
Landscape images can never be documentary in the absolute sense either, even if one has achieved a massive depth of field combined with wonderful detail, since the composition, of good images anyway, is a highly refined one deliberately engineered to avoid distracting or displeasing elements being captured in the image.
Line up ten good photographers, all with their cameras pointing in the same direction, and let them loose. It is highly unlikely that they will capture the same image. It also likely that they will marvel at the others compositions, since despite viewing the same scene they all saw it differently and this fact is reflected in their different compositions. Nonetheless, they will all be recognizable to everyone. Postprocessing will be more of the same. To some the image is all about the colour, to others the texture, and the postprocessing will reflect this. Yet again, the result will still be recognizable to the other photographers.
Viewers and buyers are very cognizant of the artistic and creative interpretation that goes into the creation of a good photographic landscape image yet, in my experience anyway, for them, the power and value of that image inescapably resides in that image possessing a recognizable reality in time and place.

Selling or displaying landscape images, I feel demands an honest and upfront statement of intent as to how the image may have been altered. Alain does this and no buyer of his work should feel cheated that they bought an image of his that does not have a recognizable reality in time and place.
However, to engage in that sort of wholesale editing as done by Alain and not provide disclosure, given that to many in society the entire power and value of the landscape image resides in that image possessing a recognizable reality in time and place, to me is unethical and fraudulent.
With appropriate disclosure, however, the viewer and the buyer can then decide for themselves what the inherent power and value of that image may be.

Regards

Tony Jay
« Last Edit: June 02, 2012, 10:16:01 pm by Tony Jay »
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LesPalenik

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Re: Creating Meaningful Photographs
« Reply #93 on: June 02, 2012, 11:32:37 pm »

Quote
Selling or displaying landscape images, I feel demands an honest and upfront statement of intent as to how the image may have been altered. Alain does this and no buyer of his work should feel cheated that they bought an image of his that does not have a recognizable reality in time and place.
However, to engage in that sort of wholesale editing as done by Alain and not provide disclosure, given that to many in society the entire power and value of the landscape image resides in that image possessing a recognizable reality in time and place, to me is unethical and fraudulent.
With appropriate disclosure, however, the viewer and the buyer can then decide for themselves what the inherent power and value of that image may be.
I would only add that the creator should also specify whether he moved that flower or rock manually or using the Content Aware Move feature in CS6.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2012, 11:34:40 pm by LesPalenik »
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Ray

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Re: Creating Meaningful Photographs
« Reply #94 on: June 02, 2012, 11:44:35 pm »

OK, lemme get this straight.

It's not OK to move a mountain (or a pyramid)  but it is OK to move a flower.  So it's a size thing?  Who decides where the divide is?  How about a hill instead of a mountain?  A tree instead of a flower?

As for removing man made objects, a Pepsi can is OK, but a stick isn't?

Whatever Ansel did is fine, but if we make black skies with the Channel Mixer, it's wrong?

One day in a Burger King, I held up my Whopper in front of a photograph of one in an advertisement.  You can imagine.  Some of the other customers were not amused.  I regret not taking a photo of the two-shot.  Get over it.  Other than the forensic/scientific exception (and even they compose, frame, expose, focus)  it's ALL manipulated.  Every single image.  From Niepce on out.

"Photography"  Writing with light.   Heck, next we'll be accusing Steven King of making things up.

Okay! I'll help you get it straight.

There's  nothing wrong in essence, in any of these photoshop manipulations you describe above. What may be wrong, and if not wrong, certainly confusing or misleading, is the deception that may accompany such manipulation.

When we see a Picasso painting of a lady with a triangular nose, triangular breasts, and weird eyes that have been very oddly positioned on her face, we understand that this is a particular style of modern art that got divorced from realism, perhaps as a result of the painter feeling it was quite pointless to compete with the photograph which has a reputation of very accurately depicting things as most people actually see them.

I don't believe anyone gets deceived by Picasso's style of cubism and believes that's how these models really did look when Picasso painted them. There's no deception here, but an attempt to explore a very different world of feeling and emotion. However bizarre these reults may seem, we understand they are a particular style of modern painting, as Impressionism is, Expressionism, Pointillism, Primitivism and Surrealism etc. We understand they are attempts to get away from the sort of realism that is the forte of the camera.

When we start extreme manipulation of photographs, such as replacing, removing, adding, or repositioning permanent feateres in the scene, then we need some terminology to describe such photographic styles.

The term, 'photoshopped', as understood by Jeff's daughter, is not sufficiently precise. Any image that has been processed in Photoshop has literally been 'photoshopped'.

We need to distinguish between normal adjustments of images in Photoshop, such as raising shadows, increasing vibrance, selective contrast enhancement, removal of non-permanent features such as distracting litter on the ground, or passing tourists who annoyingly  got in the way, etc etc..... and major alterations such as divorcing the scene from reality, as Picasso did.

We need a term for such major alterations. I don't think 'Fine Art' will do. I think some clearer term is required, such as 'Photographic Fiction'.

When a prospective buyer enters a Photographic Gallery, there should be two broad categories, as there are in most bookshops; fiction and nonfiction.

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LesPalenik

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Re: Creating Meaningful Photographs
« Reply #95 on: June 02, 2012, 11:52:46 pm »

Quote
When we see a Picasso painting of a lady with a triangular nose, triangular breasts, and weird eyes that have been very oddly positioned on her face, we understand that this is a particular style of modern art that got divorced from realism, perhaps as a result of the painter feeling it was quite pointless to compete with the photograph which has a reputation of very accurately depicting things as most people actually see them.

I don't believe anyone gets deceived by Picasso's style of cubism and believes that's how these models really did look when Picasso painted them. There's no deception here, but an attempt to explore a very different world of feeling and emotion.

I know, what you mean. That's exactly the feeling, I get when viewing some HDR photos.

Quote
We need a term for such major alterations. I don't think 'Fine Art' will do. I think some clearer term is required, such as 'Photographic Fiction'.
When a prospective buyer enters a Photographic Gallery, there should be two broad categories, as there are in most bookshops; fiction and nonfiction.

That would be a good step in the right direction.
However, in interest of completeness, I would also add "Horror" category.

« Last Edit: June 03, 2012, 01:37:57 am by LesPalenik »
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dreed

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Re: Creating Meaningful Photographs
« Reply #96 on: June 03, 2012, 04:13:20 am »

...
When we start extreme manipulation of photographs, such as replacing, removing, adding, or repositioning permanent feateres in the scene, then we need some terminology to describe such photographic styles.

The term, 'photoshopped', as understood by Jeff's daughter, is not sufficiently precise. Any image that has been processed in Photoshop has literally been 'photoshopped'.

We need to distinguish between normal adjustments of images in Photoshop, such as raising shadows, increasing vibrance, selective contrast enhancement, removal of non-permanent features such as distracting litter on the ground, or passing tourists who annoyingly  got in the way, etc etc..... and major alterations such as divorcing the scene from reality, as Picasso did.

We need a term for such major alterations. I don't think 'Fine Art' will do. I think some clearer term is required, such as 'Photographic Fiction'.

When a prospective buyer enters a Photographic Gallery, there should be two broad categories, as there are in most bookshops; fiction and nonfiction.

I think that fiction and non-fiction photographs is at the very least a good place to start in trying to classify digital images and prints made from them.
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Isaac

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Re: Creating Meaningful Photographs
« Reply #97 on: June 03, 2012, 01:26:54 pm »

Isaac - believe it or not you are substantiating my point.
That wouldn't perturb me too much - afaict being mistaken is a norm of human experience.


Let's catch up with your latest post --

Landscape photography (and also wildlife and bird photography) is different. As already stated the charm, allure, and power of these images resides in the very fact that these images represent a recognizable reality at a real point in time.

I completely accept that for you "the power, charm and allure of landscape images" is based on your assumptions about agreements between that representation and what you may have experienced if you had been present in that place at that time -- but that doesn't make it a universal truth, others may just like pretty pictures.


Selling or displaying landscape images, I feel demands an honest and upfront statement of intent as to how the image may have been altered. ...a recognizable reality in time and place. ...unethical and fraudulent.

From the images accompanying Alain's articles on LL; I would guess that if we went to those places, we would recognize both how the representation agreed with what we could see, and how the representation differed from what we could see.

Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, California (1944) -- Do you consider display of this image (without "an honest and upfront statement of intent as to how the image may have been altered") to be unethical and fraudulent?
« Last Edit: June 03, 2012, 01:37:59 pm by Isaac »
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daws

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Re: Creating Meaningful Photographs
« Reply #98 on: June 03, 2012, 01:54:48 pm »

If it's okay to stretch mountains, remove rivers and reposition plants in a landscape, why isn't is okay to do the same with buildings, streets and signs in a cityscape? (Or is it?)  ???
« Last Edit: June 03, 2012, 01:57:23 pm by daws »
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alainbriot

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Re: Creating Meaningful Photographs
« Reply #99 on: June 03, 2012, 02:51:01 pm »

If it's okay to stretch mountains, remove rivers and reposition plants in a landscape, why isn't is okay to do the same with buildings, streets and signs in a cityscape? (Or is it?)  ???

All that, and more, are OK if your goal is to create art.  Expecting art to faithfully duplicate reality is a misconception, a misunderstanding of the very purpose of art.
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Alain Briot
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