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Old June 18th, 2004, 02:34 AM
Tim L. Walker's Avatar
Tim L. Walker Tim L. Walker is offline
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Photography is Crumbling

Article: Photography is Crumbling

Quotes:
  • "Photographs have been much in the news. The most powerful government in the world has been badly shaken by one portfolio of shots of American soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners."
  • "People don't know how to look at pictures any more... [photographs] may be reconstructions, but they are still showing you something true."
  • "...Photography has become yet more present in our lives. Our understanding of war has been transformed by the digitalisation of visual media. The American prison photographs are a product of this technology. Anyone is now able to take such shots anywhere, using a miniature camera or a mobile phone. And it is these amateur snaps - not orthodox war reporting - that have had such a powerful political impact."
  • "Photography is morphing into a type of painting - but not, by and large, a very good kind."
  • "As more and more modifications are made, the space and detail of the image become a creation of the hand and eye, rather than the lens".
  • "Virtually no photography in advertisements is digitally unaltered. And, of course, much of what one sees in feature films is the product of computerised legerdemain. In fact, what the camera mainly does these days is lie."

Question: "In fact, what the camera mainly does these days is lie." True? Not True? What are your thoughts on this article and the arguement that "photography is crumbling"?
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Old June 18th, 2004, 03:29 AM
GerryDavid GerryDavid is offline
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The camera tells the truth, it captures what it see's. Now what we do with the image after, then it can lie. But whats the difference between putting a model in makeup to remove blemishes or altering the image after in photoshop to remove the blemishes? Whats the difference between spending an hour in the darkroom treating each print to get something perfect, and having to do that for every print, than to sit infront of photoshop for an hour and have a digital negative they can print unlimitedly. Theres always been some level of modification. Its just the average person can do more now.
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Old June 18th, 2004, 08:31 AM
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I don't believe photography has ever really captured "truth." Even a shot straight from a negative, no post processing is at best the photographer's vision of the truth. A completely unaltered photo can be completely misleading depending onwhat the photographer chooses to include or exclude from the frame.

Most of the general public believes that a photograph is a straight-forward documentation of an event. Even in the days before Photoshop, however, that was not literally true. It is the photographer's interpretation of that event.

Also, there have always been darkroom guru's who could do nearly anything in the darkroom that a computer geek can do in photoshop. I have seen postcards from over 50 years ago with kids standing beside "giant" pumpkins, etc. that looked completely authentic, but were pure fantasy.

The photographic practices being criticized today have always been available since the very early days of photography. The difference is it's easier now than it used to be, and it's more publicized, so the general public is more likely to think about whether a photo has been altered or not.
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Old June 18th, 2004, 10:15 AM
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Kara Kara is offline
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Very interesting....

I have to say that I have been a fan of David Hockneys photo collages since I was 16. As to the state of photography these days, for the longest time weve been able to spend hours in the dark room on photo manipulation, I think that PS is just the more modernized, more convenient way of doing it.
Unless your a photographer in the Purist sense, meaning you compose it, you shoot it, you print it.... no alteration whatsoever, it may be the only time the camera does not lie. But in all honesty who does that these days. Almost everyone crops theyre photos in the post process stage.
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Old June 18th, 2004, 10:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kara
Unless your a photographer in the Purist sense, meaning you compose it, you shoot it, you print it.... no alteration whatsoever, it may be the only time the camera does not lie.
Even then, you don't see the whole truth. You see what the photographer wants you to see. Without the context of the scene (eg, what's happoening behind the camera or off to the side that the photographer decided not to include in his photograph) you can't make a judgement about the truth of what you see.

It's the photographer's version of reality. But that is not reality, any more than a picture of an apple is an apple. The most famous example of this is in the art world, Magritte's famous painting "This is not a Pipe." (translated from the French).

The other aspect of this is what happened next, or what happened first. A photograph is only half of the "action-reaction" sequence of events. What caused the scene depicted, or what did it cause?

I know this is slightly off-topic from the intent of the original article. But imo, the basic premis of the article is misguided. There has always been "trickery" and editorialization in photography. It's just easier now and gets more popular press time.
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Old June 18th, 2004, 12:57 PM
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Tim L. Walker Tim L. Walker is offline
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Interesting thoughts and comments... So basically, we're manipulating the truth (reality) with every shot we take, whether we actually change things in post production, or frame things differently when actually taking the shot...
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Old June 18th, 2004, 10:10 PM
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That's my humble opinion, which will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks if you add $5 to it.
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Pictures, regardless of how they are created and recreated, are intended to be looked at. This brings to the forefront not the technology of imaging, which of course is important, but rather what we might call the eyenology (seeing).
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Old June 19th, 2004, 12:56 AM
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I think I would tend to agree with you, more or less, drlynn... though I hate to admit it... I didn't really think about it much until I read this article, though... I guess that's sort of what art is, though... a manipulation of reality, with the artists twist to it...
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Old June 19th, 2004, 01:23 AM
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drlynn drlynn is offline
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That all being said, I don't really believe photography is crumbling. Eventually the fad of photo-manipulation will die down (by this I mean the fad of trying to pass manipulated creations as straight photography), and the criticisms will die down.

Truly good photography is in no danger, imo. What would National Geographic be without photos? Or Sports Illustrated? Or [insert magazine name here]?

This hurrah reappears ever so often, and then dies down as the pendulum swings back towards straight photography. Look at Man Ray;s work back in the 30's. Or Wynn Bullock's early solarizations, etc. from about 30 years ago.
How often do you hear people arguing over whether Man Ray's work was photography or art now? The same will happen again.

Life is cyclical. Photography, like nearly everything else, follows this cycle. Today, photo-manipulation is back on top. Tomorrow, photo-realism will make a surge.
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Pictures, regardless of how they are created and recreated, are intended to be looked at. This brings to the forefront not the technology of imaging, which of course is important, but rather what we might call the eyenology (seeing).
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Old June 19th, 2004, 01:30 AM
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Tim L. Walker Tim L. Walker is offline
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True enough, drlynn... I'm sure it's just a fad to a certain extent, though this digital age will change photography... I don't think it will ever swing back to "pure photography" again, though. However, I agree that photography is not crumbling... just changing...
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