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Author Topic: Eschewing Perfection  (Read 46970 times)

Ray

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #60 on: June 04, 2015, 08:38:51 pm »

It is easy to over-think the technical aspects of a photo, especially for amateurs who may still be on the steeper slopes of the learning curve. But the most important thing an amateur can do when evaluating their own photos after a shoot is to notice their gut reaction to the photo, not just ask, is it perfectly sharp, perfectly exposed, etc.

Nancy,
My impression of people who are 'not into photography' is that issues such as sharpness and an ideal exposure do not generally concern them. They have a gut reaction as to whether or not they like the photo.

The person who has some sort of passion for photography is the one likely to be more interested in the technical qualities of the photo, but not only interested in the technical qualities. The circumstances where I find myself only interested in sharpness, noise or correct exposure etc, are those circumstances when I'm taking test shots, sometimes of resolution charts or brick walls, for the purpose of fine tuning the autofocus of the lens, or to determine which camera/lens combination produces the sharpest result, or which camera has the best dynamic range, and so on.

Generally, I take a photo of something that interests me, or grabs my attention, as I imagine most photographers do. Issues such as sharpness and correct exposure are only of concern if they either detract from the appeal of the final result, or enhance the appeal. For example, if a pattern of clouds were a major attraction of a particular scene, it would be only sensible to ensure that one didn't overexpose the shot. A blown sky would detract from the appeal of the shot.

If the main attraction in a scene is a colourful bird sitting on a branch, I imagine in most circumstances one would prefer to get the bird in focus and sufficiently sharp to appreciate its fine plumage; in fact, the more detail in the plumage the better. Sharpness in these circumstances enhances the result.
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amolitor

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #61 on: June 04, 2015, 08:47:34 pm »

My go to anecdote:

I have had a number of contact prints from 4x5 negatives on my wall for years. They are gloriously sharp. The tonal butteriness is everything you might expect.

The number of times someone has commented on any of these characteristics is zero.


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ripgriffith

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #62 on: June 05, 2015, 03:10:48 am »

My go to anecdote:

I have had a number of contact prints from 4x5 negatives on my wall for years. They are gloriously sharp. The tonal butteriness is everything you might expect.

The number of times someone has commented on any of these characteristics is zero.



Invite more people over  ;D
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NancyP

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #63 on: June 05, 2015, 10:49:38 am »

I was just speaking for myself, as an amateur. I find myself spending a lot of time thinking about technical issues, because I am still on the steeper portion of the learning curve, but sometimes I like a not-absolutely-technically-perfect photo better than similar technically superior photos, for subject position or behavior (wildlife). I just enjoy what I get, and plan better the next time.
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Isaac

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #64 on: June 05, 2015, 12:18:49 pm »

But the most important thing an amateur can do when evaluating their own photos after a shoot is to notice their gut reaction to the photo, not just ask, is it perfectly sharp, perfectly exposed, etc.

Ask - What do you want people to feel when they look at the photo?

Ask - What do you want them to see?

Ask - Does the focus and exposure and add-to or detract from that?



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ripgriffith

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #65 on: June 05, 2015, 01:10:13 pm »

Ask - What do you want people to feel when they look at the photo?

Ask - What do you want them to see?

Ask - Does the focus and exposure and add-to or detract from that?




+1
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Ray

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #66 on: June 05, 2015, 07:39:45 pm »

I have had a number of contact prints from 4x5 negatives on my wall for years. They are gloriously sharp. The tonal butteriness is everything you might expect.

The number of times someone has commented on any of these characteristics is zero.

Andrew,
That's quite understandable. To fully appreciate exceptionally fine detail on a print of approximately postcard size would require the use of a magnifying glass. One might consider that any visitor to your house, who were to carry a magnifying glass to view your contact prints, would be at least slightly obsessive.  ;D

The impressive thing about sharpness is when the print is really large and more detail becomes apparent when the print is viewed from a progressively closer distance. It's impressive because this is how we perceive reality.

In reality, the closer we get to any object, the more detail we perceive, assuming normal eyesight or compensating spectacles. Photographs have the reputation of accurately portraying reality. That's their allure. If I walk up close to a large print, which looks impressive from a distance, and discover that normal objects and textures in the foreground, such as tree bark, leaves and grass are all a blur, I'm not impressed. The allure of the photo is diminished. The illusion that the camera has captured what we see, albeit in a 2-dimensional form, is shattered.
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amolitor

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #67 on: June 05, 2015, 08:09:58 pm »

The point, though, is that really only photographers give a damn about how sharp a print looks.
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Isaac

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #68 on: June 05, 2015, 11:04:54 pm »

The point, though, is that really only photographers give a damn about how sharp a print looks.

That may be the point you wish to make, but let the non-photographers choose -- present both an unsharp print and an appropriately sharp print and ask which they prefer.
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Ray

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #69 on: June 06, 2015, 12:01:13 am »

The point, though, is that really only photographers give a damn about how sharp a print looks.


So, do you reckon that 4k video doesn't stand a chance of ever catching on, and especially not 8k?  ;)
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stamper

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #70 on: June 06, 2015, 03:11:27 am »

Andrew,
That's quite understandable. To fully appreciate exceptionally fine detail on a print of approximately postcard size would require the use of a magnifying glass. One might consider that any visitor to your house, who were to carry a magnifying glass to view your contact prints, would be at least slightly obsessive.  ;D

The impressive thing about sharpness is when the print is really large and more detail becomes apparent when the print is viewed from a progressively closer distance. It's impressive because this is how we perceive reality.

In reality, the closer we get to any object, the more detail we perceive, assuming normal eyesight or compensating spectacles. Photographs have the reputation of accurately portraying reality. That's their allure. If I walk up close to a large print, which looks impressive from a distance, and discover that normal objects and textures in the foreground, such as tree bark, leaves and grass are all a blur, I'm not impressed. The allure of the photo is diminished. The illusion that the camera has captured what we see, albeit in a 2-dimensional form, is shattered.

I think the vast majority of photographers would disagree with that. Some complain that an image doesn't relate to reality when they see an image and others boast that an image doesn't relate to reality because they have processed the image to suit there "vision"

AreBee

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #71 on: June 06, 2015, 04:13:59 am »

Isaac,

Quote
Ask - What do you want people to feel when they look at the photo?

Ask - What do you want them to see?

If people do not feel what you intend for them to feel; if they do not see what you intend for them to see, what should one conclude?
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ripgriffith

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #72 on: June 06, 2015, 05:29:29 am »

Isaac,

If people do not feel what you intend for them to feel; if they do not see what you intend for them to see, what should one conclude?
Perhaps they're bringing something to the viewing experience you're not in charge of.  Hope might be a better word than intend.
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Ray

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #73 on: June 06, 2015, 05:47:58 am »

I think the vast majority of photographers would disagree with that. Some complain that an image doesn't relate to reality when they see an image and others boast that an image doesn't relate to reality because they have processed the image to suit there "vision"

I think you've misunderstood my statement, even after you highlighted it.  ;)

The key word is 'reputation'. I don't see how anyone could sensibly argue that photographs don't have the reputation, or expectation, of accurately portraying reality.

If this were not true, there would be no reason for certain photographic exhibitions to exclude Photoshop manipulation, outside of normal processing, and there could be no confidence in the veracity of forensic or journalistic style photos, even though such photos had not been manipulated in Photoshop.

Of course there are many examples of the camera producing 'trompe l'oeil' effects, but those tend to be characteristics of human vision rather than characteristics of the photographic process, and such effects can also be created with a pencil or brush.

There are also examples of the photographer deliberately using camera settings in order not to represent what the eye sees, for artistic effect.  Some obvious examples are, using a wide aperture to create a shallow DoF, a slow shutter speed to create a silky smooth waterfall, and an ultra fast shutter speed to freeze a bullet as it leaves the barrel.

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stamper

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #74 on: June 06, 2015, 05:54:28 am »

Ray, you don't address the word .....accurately. That is the one word that most photographers would disagree with. There are dozens of threads on here alone disputing the fact that photography is mostly not an accurate representation of reality.

Ray

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #75 on: June 06, 2015, 06:33:51 am »

Okay! I'll address it. Accurate, like so many ordinary, non-scientific words, is a relative term. Its meaning varies according to context, like 'hot' or 'cold'.

Within the context of the history of image making, the camera is generally, or can be, extraordinarily accurate in its portrayal of what the eye sees. With a telephoto lens attached, it can vastly exceed what the unaided eye can see.

What's the problem?  ;)
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stamper

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #76 on: June 06, 2015, 07:01:20 am »

Ray you are now dancing on the head of a pin. Difficult for someone your age? ;) :)

Ray

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #77 on: June 06, 2015, 07:49:13 am »

Doesn't feel like it. Feels like I'm on solid ground.  ;)
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #78 on: June 06, 2015, 07:51:44 am »

Okay! I'll address it. Accurate, like so many ordinary, non-scientific words, is a relative term.

Sorry to interfere, but Accurate has a precise meaning in science, as does the word Precise.

A number may be very precise, e.g. 3.00153001, but it not very accurate if we meant it to represent the mathematical constant 'pi', or even the number 3 exactly. There are even specific controls for them in scientific programming languages, like Wolfram's Mathematica.

Maybe you intended to say something like, many words that are used outside of a more scientific context, may inaccurately describe what they intend to describe.

Cheers,
Bart
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== If you do what you did, you'll get what you got. ==

Ray

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Re: Eschewing Perfection
« Reply #79 on: June 06, 2015, 08:20:25 am »

Hi Bart,
Did you miss my reference to context? Degrees of accuracy will vary according to the context within which the word is used. In certain branches of science, great accuracy is required. An example would be the design and construction of a digital camera sensor.

Certain styles of painting, in the photographic style, attempt to achieve great accuracy with regard to perspective and detail. The word accurate in this context is appropriate only in relation to the less accurate representations of earlier or other cruder art forms.

There are degrees of accuracy, just as there are degrees of heat, or temperature.
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