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Green with envy over your beautiful photos

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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby SSSdave » Sun Oct 10, 2010 12:20 pm

I bet I can easily capture better small images with a cheap few megapixel compact digital camera and small tripod than 95% percent of camera toters regardless of the amount of gear they are lugging. So gear is not the important part of the equation at least initially but rather technique, experience with one's gear, and understanding and study of light in nature. One must invest some time understanding how to capture images and how to use their often complicated digital cameras and post processing photo applications in order to have good results. Unfortunately the vast majority of camera users don't although nearly all serious photographers do which in this day are many. One doesn't need to take some expensive course but rather simply buy any of the dozens of how to guides and actually read them and their camera manuals.

One of the prime faults of ordinary camera users is they don't understand how film or sensors capture light so they often point at contrasty subjects. As Galen Rowell emphasized, film (or digitial sensor) does not react like the human eye as the contrast range is significantly lower. So what looks good through one's eye will not necessarily be a good subject to try and capture. And they often aim their cameras in auto mode at wrong contrasty directions resulting in ugly shadows and blown highlights. Another common misunderstanding is the nature of depth of field. Thus amateurs often have considerable out of focus zones and elements in their image results that are not aesthetic. Finally few amateurs use a tripod causing blurry results for anything but small web sized pics.

Generally no one that shoots digital images, posts results right out of a camera without processsing. In my own case I purposely adjust my G10 for underexposure and undersaturation in order to be able to capture subjects without blown highlights or weird color so I can post process an image for results that have better fidelity to what I actually experienced with my eyes. As to your comment about image enhancements and maniputations post processing, it is true that 95% of more serious photographers today included those on this board have embraced manipulations and have little interest presenting images that have fidelity to what they saw with their eyes. However there are some of us whose style is still in presenting images that are reasonably accurate representations of 2-dimensional frames of what our eyes experienced. Although some of my images would look better if I jacked up contrast, increased saturation, changed hues, and cloned out awkward elements etc, long before the current generation of photogs, I learned to take top landscape images without having to resort to such even if that takes more time and effort.

David



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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby mokelumnekid » Sun Oct 10, 2010 6:57 pm

"Color enhancement filters? Photoshopping to bring out colors?"

There is so much over-sugared crap out there- that any real Sierra traveler knows is not the real bark-'n' weave of Nature....Ugh, double ugh. Lower the net far enough and it stops being special....and becomes Sierra porn IMHO.
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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby rlown » Sun Oct 10, 2010 7:09 pm

what i see and what i get from my Olympus P&S, pretty much says it all.. this was really close to what i saw on my last trip:
reality.jpg
Humphrey's looking south...


Filters are for professionals.. nothing bad intended there.. I don't retouch my photos. But, i don't sell them, either..

Russ
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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby John Dittli » Sun Oct 10, 2010 8:41 pm

mokelumnekid wrote:"Color enhancement filters? Photoshopping to bring out colors?"

There is so much over-sugared crap out there- that any real Sierra traveler knows is not the real bark-'n' weave of Nature....Ugh, double ugh. Lower the net far enough and it stops being special....and becomes Sierra **** IMHO.


Couldn't agree more, Kid. The interesting thing about the mis-conceptions of "photoshopped" is that it is inherently bad; it's just another tool, when used properly it allows for more "accurate" renditions of subject matter then film ever did. What many people don't understand, is that when they click the shutter on their digital camera, they are capturing electrons. Those electrons are then being "photoshopped" in their camera by software created by some engineer in Japan that has never seen the Sierra, and spit out as a finished jpeg.

Like film, those jpeg files can vary in color and contrast from camera to camera (remember Velvia next to Kodachrome?); film wasn't/isn't true either. This is one of the reason pros like to shoot "raw" images. Beside having more information, they have not been "manipulated" by software. But raw files are not representative of the original scene; they are flat in contrast and dull in color. But then, they must be "Photoshopped"

So this is where it get's interesting. Trying to create an image that accurately represents the scene as you remember it. It has been shown, time and time again, that the human memory is, shall we say, dynamic. Given the task to re-create the same scene weeks later, two people are very likely to create dissimilar representations. Oh, and speaking of inaccurate representations; the greatest American landscape photographer of the 20th century, that guy did nothing but mis-represent reality; unless of course ones reality is black and white!

With that said, those of us that have spent years, decades, lifetimes, living and working outside, have a pretty good idea of what does and can, happen out there. I think many of us do our best to keep that perspective. Is the final image a 100% accurate representation of what actually occurred? In photography, as in other visual arts, it never has been and probably never will be. I don't care how good you are, it will always be a representation (was the water really that shade of blue? or was it 10% more cyan? Sunset more red or less magenta).

In the end, it is if that representation is true to you as an artist. Or if your a pro, true or not, are your client going to like it! That last statement may be a sell out, but it's also a reality. I held on to Kodachrome until my clients insisted on the saturated colors of Velvia. Then I held onto film way to long, and for the same reason, forced into digital.

It is important to remember that photography is art, and that art goes through stages, radical stages with the introduction of new mediums i.e. digital photography. I recon the period of over done photography will fade at some point, and it will be looked upon like the psychedelic art of the sixties.

Just my 2 bucks worth

JD
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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby GH-Dave » Sun Oct 10, 2010 9:27 pm

Hello everyone,

I've made good use of time since my last post on this thread. The big news is that I ordered my new Canon EOS Rebel T1i with the kit lens.

In the meantime, while waiting for my new camera to arrive, I've done quite a lot of browsing on photography websites soaking up tips on how to take good landscape shots. A lot is coming back to me from my days of using a semi-auto film SLR -- depth of field, exposures, focal length, etc., all the things that I haven't had to deal with since using point and shoots.

One of the most interesting things I ran across has turned out to be one of the most controversial -- HDR photography. Not surprisingly, the HDR technique figures heavily in shots that are high up there in the "wow" factor.

So, with HDR in mind, I performed an experiment the other morning. I borrowed my daughter's little point and shoot camera, set it up on a tripod, and took some shots of the sun shining through the trees on the morning mist over the lake behind our house. It turned out about how I expected ... highlights blown out, foreground too dark, with nowhere near the almost surreal effect that I was seeing with my eyes.

Then, I took a series of three shots: one bracketing 2 exposure levels higher and one 2 exposure levels lower, and one normal. I then ran these shots through several HDR software packages that are available to download. The best one, no surprise, was produced by Photomatix. It came out looking much more like what I had seen with my eyes.

There is no question that the post-processing technique of HDR that is so derided among some purist photo circles produced the most realistic shot for me.

Anyway, this is just what I'm occupying my time with while I'm waiting (patiently) for my new camera to arrive. :)

Dave
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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby mokelumnekid » Sun Oct 10, 2010 9:51 pm

Hey JD- I agree completely- well said! Sorry my little shotgun rant didn't say much, and you said it well. (I understand the whole thing about electrons and optical physics and digital signal processing, but we'll remove that from the equation for the moment).

No doubt the essential tension between what you rightfully describe as, "With that said, those of us that have spent years, decades, lifetimes, living and working outside, have a pretty good idea of what does and can, happen out there" and what is pure hyped romanticism, is debated in the professional community. In fact at some level the integrity of the work depends on the base level of *craft* that passes muster. I am a glassblower, and that is a craft intensive enterprise (like music say) and either one has put in the hours or they haven't- the time domain in which the art is created is finite and in the moment- no post-processing. So these kinds of debates don't come up. And being art- what are the 'rules' if there are any? Tinkering with the filtering and color saturation of a photo does not rise to the same creative bar as taking the original representational image and making something that really transcends it. Instead we get pictures that are basically dolled-up versions of what is there. Is that art? I dunno- that gets slippery in a hurry- but I'd love to see someone take say, Sierra images and use them to transmit something other than what could pass for album art on a new age music cd ;-) Or calendar pics in that free calendar my real estate leaves on my porch. I am purposefully being provocative of course-

I just had a knee-jerk response to all the "magic hour" stuff out there where in fact (as an old hand like you knows) the really magic hours are few and far between, and the *artist* who works hard to get them, like you and others- Maverick too- finds their work in a marketplace of competing stuff that was cooked-up. For example some of my favorite work of yours are not the "premium" images, but rather the ones that you post as more informal (like the ice skating work) where I can see your skill in subject, composition and framing. My favorites of Maverick's images are the b&w.

But that's just me yammering on- I sure appreciate what you all do- trying to keep it real. Just saying.
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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby John Dittli » Sun Oct 10, 2010 10:06 pm

Ya thanks Kid. I think this stuff is good fun. Of course "What is art" has been infinitely debated, and it will continue to be as there is of course no definitive answer. Early and renowned painters of the west regularly represented the landscape (and culture) in a very exaggerated and romantic way. Yet these pieces are very much considered art. Art, is really whatever the artist feels like presenting. Society may or may not except it at the time, perhaps they will later, perhaps not.

Like to check out some of your glass work sometime.

JD
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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby mokelumnekid » Sun Oct 10, 2010 10:24 pm

Understood- Maynard Dixon is one of my favorite painters- so there ya go! He managed to infuse his landscapes with a sense of allegory and mystery. RE: Glassblowing, here's a few- I make large pieces generally. These are all pretty good size. (I know off-topic)

hole1.jpg
Picasso's toilet seat


water.jpg
Aquarium
water.jpg (30.42 KiB) Viewed 262 times


flame.jpg
Flamenco
flame.jpg (25.44 KiB) Viewed 261 times
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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby John Dittli » Mon Oct 11, 2010 6:10 am

Wow! Very nice work. I think I'll definantly call that art ;)

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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby fishmonger » Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:13 am

re "photoshopped" - I keep thinking of this graph I saw shortly after I saw an HDR image for the first time. I have yet to make one that I actually like, so maybe I won't fall into the "HDR hole?"

Image
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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby GH-Dave » Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:24 am

In reading these posts about post-processing vs. "reality" I'm thinking that we aren't talking apples and apples here.

Back in the day, when I was in J school putting in many hours in the photo lab, and later when I had my own darkroom at home, I spent a lot of time "post-processing" B&W negs that I had shot with my 35mm and 2 1/4 cameras. In fact, the "post-processing" began at the film development level. One could significantly change the outcome by how one processed the film, shot the print on the process camera, and developed the print. That was 30 years ago, so I don't remember most of what I used to do, but I do remember that I had a large repertoire of tricks that I could employ to make the final prints come out "just right."

Was this dishonest. Was it deserving of derision as "art" rather than "reality?" Personally, I don't think so, or we'd have to throw out all of Ansel Adams' work, as one example. I'll bet Adams' dark room waste basket was filled with tens or hundreds of trial prints for every "perfect" one he ended up with.

In my view, the only difference between then and now is the sophistication and ease of use of the post-processing tools. If one captures a shot that is outside the dynamic range of today's consumer digital cameras, and brings it home and renders it into a beautiful print using HDR technology on the computer, who's to say that that is dishonest or deserving of derision?

One can spend hours in a dark, smelly photo lab, inhaling poisonous chemicals, wasting a lot of sheets of expensive photo paper to get a perfect print, or one can sit in the comfort of his or her computer chair clicking a few keys to get the same results. What's the difference? Only the fact that I'd much, much rather do the latter.

It's possible I'm reading these posts wrong, and that most of the argument is really only against the garish, unreal, almost cartoony HDR photos that are being made these days. If that's the case, then I have to fall back on the prerogative of the artist to perform art as he or she sees fit. Art is all about subjectivity after all.

One doesn't have to like every bit of art that every artist is capable of creating. But, one shouldn't deride another for his or her artistic preferences ... unless of course outright fraud is an issue, as in today's media photoshopping news photos to advance their own agendas.

Anyway. Just my opinion.

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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby fishmonger » Mon Oct 11, 2010 2:52 pm

there is nothing dishonest about shaking the Tri-X a little less during development to get more grain or less contrast for a different look - there's no "this is the way to do it to get a realistic image" method to any photographic process. Ansel Adams probably burned and dodged his prints with the best of them - something I have never bothered to do once I left the undergrad darkroom behind, but when I was there, it was part of the skillset. But did we ever try to go beyond "average" and do better than the next guy using whatever technique was available to us.

No matter what the medium - what you see is NEVER what you get in photography. You can only make your own best version of it and use the tools available. Good equipment that captures more can give you a head start, but you still have to get it to a final version you feel comfortable with. If you shoot "in camera JPEG with the manufacturer's default landscale picture mode" you are just using somebody else's concept of what will work best for the most average shot over what may be much more appropriate.

In the end a good picture rarely has anything to do with technical issues. If the image has content, everything else becomes secondary.

To me the biggest difference between then and now is that I don't have to sniff selenium fumes any longer to tone my images slightly purple. I don't think things have become much easier - in fact, the only thing that's easy is that you can do it with a mouse on a screen, indstead of having to go through trial prints and endless hours of developing and drying before you get something you are happy with. wonder how Ansel Adams would have worked if he had had an undo-key in his darkroom :D
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