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General photography questions and answers: Discuss The Sky is the Limit...Expanding on a topic close to my heart in the 'Metering with Filters' thread, I thought this worthy of it's ...
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Old 25-08-2006, 18:05   #1 (permalink)
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The Sky is the Limit

Expanding on a topic close to my heart in the 'Metering with Filters' thread, I thought this worthy of it's own thread. I'd be interested in the poinions of others. I lifted this from my last reply in the other thread.

A point was made by Steve that balancing the sky and foreground in terms of exposure results in an un-natural photograph, because the sky is naturally the brightest part of the composition. Hope I've summed that up right, Steve.

With regard to the natural look of the end product, if you want a natural look, you must take this into account. One of my hobbyhorses is that how many pictures do we see where the sky and cloud details have been emphasied to the extent they often dominate the photograph? I think that we are all guilty to some extent of sometimes doing this, and whilst I accept that this detail can put a completely different aspect onto any shot, and I have to say I really enjoy seeing them, and appreciate the skill invoved in producing them, when the balance tips to the sky, and takes the eye from the overall effect, I think it has gone too far. (Unless you are doing it for a specific reason, of course). These pics are not natural, they are almost impressionist.

Discuss.
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Old 25-08-2006, 18:15   #2 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

Well I'm probably the guiltiest of the lot with my Mono conversions.....I'm usually out to get that sky near black

For me Photography is an art, & as such you have as much artistic leeway as needed
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Old 25-08-2006, 18:21   #3 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

I'm not entirely sure I'm qualified to comment on this but, in some instances, I do agree with you. There is a incy little it of me that thinks editing photos with anything more than a touch of cropping/lightening/darkening is cheating (I suspect this is because I haven't learnt how to create dramatic effects with editing yet! )

But, that said, many of the sky photographs I've seen here on Pixalo have the sky as the focal point and the foreground is really incidental to shot - just to give perspective to it. In that respect, why shouldn't it be emphasised to dominate the picture?

Photography is an art and each artist interprates what they see in their own way, in much the same way a painter might. Give the same photo to half a dozen people to edit and each one will edit it in a different way - but expressionist, abstract or whatever form the photographer chooses to show his final picture, it is still their own way of expressing what they see.

The development of editing software is taking photography to a completely new level - whether this is right or wrong perhaps depends on the circumstances - that incident recently where a photographer changed a "factual" picture to increase the smoke in the picture is perhaps a classic "wrong" way to use editing software - but like it or love it, editing is here to stay!
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Old 25-08-2006, 18:45   #4 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

Good topic, isn't it?

Agree totally with you Dave. It depends what you want from a photo. I like the drama you can achieve with imaginitive editing, I did say 'unless you are doing it for specific reasons', but I'm talking about the difference between taking a shot of a coast in dull conditions, and making it look like the sun is shining and you have had a good hoilday, that is modding it, but retaining the natural feel and look of the shot, and the artistic licence to create a fantasy, with a shipwreck pasted onto the beach and J-lo lying on the deck chair next to you with a tornado in the distance!

I think that there are three stages to editing.
1 Correction of exposure and composition (cropping), or copying and pasting a better face onto someone when you have several shots of a group when in one shot everone is looking good except the one poking his/her toungue out! This is effectively giving the shot better settings and composition, and could be achieved 'live' if you got it right when you realesed the shutter.
2 Making more significant changes to the extent you are changing colours, replacing sky, cloning out unwanted things and tweaking individual elements/colours etc.
3 Reconstucting the shot by seamlessly removing parts to improve the composition, enhancing elements to the extent it changes the balance of the picture, introducing things that were not there etc.

All are valid, and all have their place. The thing that triggered me off was Steve's comment on the filters thread about not maintaining a natural look to a picture by use of a grad ND filter.

I do like the creations that you and others make, and I try to emulate them too. My underlying point is do we do it to exess?
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Old 25-08-2006, 19:31   #5 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

I have done some bad things to skies both with using filters and in the processing

Two pictures of mine spring to mind that I have shared on the web where the comment has been about how unnatural the sky looks.
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Old 26-08-2006, 13:38   #6 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

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Originally Posted by Dabhand16 View Post
Good topic, isn't it?

My underlying point is do we do it to exess?
It's a good topic indeed, one which most member's will have their own personal take on it I think

My own personal view is no we don't do it to excess at all, as Dave mentioned (and followed up by yourself) photography is an artform and as such each photographer has licence to present his/her image in any way they like.

Photographer's have been altering images to different degrees since not long after the camera was invented, these days the "digital darkroom" makes doing this easier as well as offering different ways to alter the image but IMO an altered image is just that, an altered image, no matter how or when it was done.

As long as an altered image isn't passed off as natural I have no problems with it, and just view it as what it is to me... a piece of art
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Old 26-08-2006, 16:07   #7 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

Nicely summed up, Iain

I guess that's scuppered the thread!!!
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Old 26-08-2006, 16:47   #8 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dabhand16 View Post
Nicely summed up, Iain

I guess that's scuppered the thread!!!
LOL not at all mate, as I said I'm sure others will have a different take on it, maybe to the extent of completely dissagreeing with what I've said. There are many photographers (of the purist type) who hold the opinion that program's like Photoshop etc. are terrible things and shouldn't be used on a photo at all... I personally don't agree, but I find it very interesting to hear their reason's behind this way of thinking and getting a good debate going

As you have allready said -
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dabhand16 View Post
I think it has gone too far. (Unless you are doing it for a specific reason, of course). These pics are not natural, they are almost impressionist.

Discuss.
This shows to me that there's plenty of mileage in this topic yet, perhaps you could explain why you think this is going "too far"?
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Old 26-08-2006, 17:31   #9 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

This is difficult. First, let me say that I do not subscribe to the 'leave it be' theory.

I enjoy seeing the works of art that people create, and, indeed, do so myself, (although I am in no way an artist other than the p... type!) albeit without the results we see on the forum.

I think there is a line, a hazey line, between producing a pleasing, or good photograph, and the heavily modified work of art. Both are valid, and have their place in the order of things.

I can give an example of a set of photograhs a friend took in the Yorkshire Dales. The 'stock' landscapes were excellent, full of cloud detail and copybook compositions. They had minor corrections, but in every respect were 'records' of the scenes. Selected images then had the full works applied to them, and were amazing, but were not photographs of that place. Almost every element of the original had been changed. The more than adequate sky/cloud detail had been changed, colours were different and sections had been removed or added by pasting.

I have no problem with this, but if they were going to be shown to someone as 'Blueberry Hill', or whatever, then it seems a bit fraudulent, as anyone visiting the site would not be able to see that scene. It only exists in that picture. The clouds are probably not too good an example, because they do change regularly, but the way the skies had been altered, although brilliently done, were un-natural.

Many years ago I was chatting to an artist who was painting a street scene in a village where I was taking photographs. "The advantage I have over you", he said, "is that I can choose not to include that lamp post, or telegraph pole in my picture, and my picture will be better for it". Good point, although now, I can also have that option.

Here we come full circle. The heavily modded picture is, in essence, the same as the artisit's picture. It is no longer a photograph.

Having now had to focus on the topic in more detail than I had done previously, I can now answer my original question "do we do it to excess"? The answer, as you correctly said, is "No".
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Old 26-08-2006, 19:02   #10 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

The times I have seen this debate get very heated is when a heavy manipulated shots wins a Photography Competition.....usually with a few hundred pounds worth of prizes.

The usual comment is "I thought this was a Photography Comp , not a Graphic Design Comp !!!!!! "



It is a hard one, as on one hand I think the PC Software is an extension of the old darkroom, but on the other hand I appreciate the experienced PhotoShopper may have an advantage over a similar skilled photographer who has no PS skills.

Final thought though............ "You can't polish a Turd"
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Old 26-08-2006, 21:03   #11 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

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Old 27-08-2006, 09:10   #12 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

It’s a great topic

I guess there are three sides to the arguments though…

The first is if you are doing reportage photography then other than minor blemished and dust the picture should be untouched. Nothing should be added, taken away or moved to alter the ‘story’ in any way. This I fully agree with and it amounts to lying to the viewer about the scene or events that you are capturing. Just recently a New York Times staff photographer with a long service was fired for altering his shots and another from Reuter’s was also shown the door and all his images where removed from their catalogue – this I fully agree with.

The second is the shooting for a contract – if someone employs you to do them a photography job then you are not shooting for yourself and are more than likely working to their brief. In that brief it should be outlined what the results should be and how much manipulation you are allowed to use to get them the results they require. Whatever it says, you should not worry about it as it is not your problem. In some cases you will not be being employed as a photographer but as a person capable of creating a image using photography as the medium. The other side of the coin here could be something like wedding photography, where you would be expected to document the day but spice up the pictures to make the best out of the location and possibly remove blemishes, smooth the bride’s skin etc. The client probably isn’t knowledgeable enough to know what they want in the latter situation but are very likely to be pleased with the results when they see them.

The third situation is shooting for your own pleasure – this is the one that gets tricky. If you are shooting for your own pleasure then it shouldn’t matter what others think, however as we all know, we like to show off our photography and get feedback. Unless the feedback is given with an understanding of what you as the photographer were trying to create then it can often be negative or even miss the point completely. Some works are obvious that they have been heavily manipulated and are definitely in the ‘art form’ rather than ‘capturing a scene’ style of photography, take a look at anything from our very own member ‘automation2’ for great examples. Like them or not he is definitely aiming for the art sector with his works. The more ‘normal’ looking stuff is where the real arguments begin though as this is where good processing will become difficult to spot and the scene could be heavily manipulated and not represent the original but yet still retain total credibility. This to me is equally as valid as ‘automation2’s’ work as long as it is not being used in a reportage context or deliberately being presented ‘as shot’.

And the ‘can’t polish a turd’ theory isn’t exactly true anymore. Sure it is not easy, but for a very skilled PS user who may be a poor photographer, the results can be achieved. I know one such person who has a background in Photoshop work and receives great praise for his photography and has claimed numerous competition wins, yet his un-manipulated shots are very weak and probably a great deal worse than the average persons.
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Old 29-08-2006, 19:54   #13 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

Must admit that I have my own set of "ethics" and "rules" for my own pics which means that I don't add or subtract anything of significance to my shots.

On the whole I don't enhance them to extinction, tho' have in the past produced a heavily dodged and burned landscape (to 'chocolate box' moodiness!) and then the same shot as it was. Guess which everyone loved!

Sadly, current fashion dictates that dark and moody is more successful (and yes, I do occasionally still do them - but do find the composition dictates my subsequent processing)
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Old 31-08-2006, 09:04   #14 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

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(and yes, I do occasionally still do them - but do find the composition dictates my subsequent processing)
Are you finding that or is maybe that it what your vision of the scene was at the time of the shot that made you think, this could be a great shot if only I did this...

I sometimes find that I am photographing something and at the time of the shoot its almost perfect and the subsequent processing I do once at home is very minimal. Other occasions I will photograph a scene and think, this would be far better if the sky was moody or the light was hitting the scene from this angle, ultimately I seem to process those shots much more and the result seems to be more to my vision rather than a true representation of the scene at the time of the capture. I can change the mood of the shot but I would not change the scene if that makes sense?
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Old 31-08-2006, 09:31   #15 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
Are you finding that or is maybe that it what your vision of the scene was at the time of the shot that made you think, this could be a great shot if only I did this...
Tend to take the shot at the time according to how it apparently looks at the time. Subsequent viewing might nudge me in a direction - or, indeed, external influences might affect the final image.

These two shots are the two I mentioned.

First is the one dictated by what others would like (and went down a storm!) -



Second was more how I prefer and "remember" (and was much less popular) -



Quote:
I can change the mood of the shot but I would not change the scene if that makes sense?
Totally agree!
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Old 31-08-2006, 09:39   #16 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

I can see why people would prefer the first one and I understand what you are saying. This comes back to why you took the shot though?

Was it taken for you or for them and if it was for you then why are you bothered what they think

BTW I prefer the first but feel that the dark foreground is slighty too overpowering, I would be tempted to crop a tiny bit of it but still leave a small gap before the lowest waters edge. It will keep the power of the shot but stop it bearing down on you.

Great shot BTW
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Old 31-08-2006, 09:52   #17 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

I took the shot for me but as an exercise tried processing for others! Interestingly (or depressingly!) the ones that have received the most accolades are the ones that I like less - but if people buy them........

Tho' currently sales have not been too great (a few moody landscapes) but not marketed. And have concentrated more recently on corporate/charity shoots which pay

Was looking at the shot and thinking similar thoughts to you: bit overcooked. Would be a lot more subtle now (and will reprocess sometime). Shows how much I've changed (improved?) in the last year (taken 09/05)
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Old 31-08-2006, 10:24   #18 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Markulous View Post
I took the shot for me but as an exercise tried processing for others! Interestingly (or depressingly!) the ones that have received the most accolades are the ones that I like less - but if people buy them........
I think interestingly is the correct word Your second part of the sentence says much more though, if you are hoping to make money from your photography you have to shoot what people will buy. Its simple economics. The beauty of it for us though is that we can also process the pictures specifically for them and also do a different version to meet our own standards and expectations. Think of it as a win/win and honestly don’t linger on other peoples bad taste

Quote:
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Tho' currently sales have not been too great (a few moody landscapes) but not marketed. And have concentrated more recently on corporate/charity shoots which pay
Go where the money is! It also has another advantage, this will separate the two sides of your photography, what you enjoy shooting and what you make the money from. That’s a good thing because it will not get to the point where you don’t want to use your camera, you may chose not to do the corporate/charity stuff as the fun has gone from it but you should still get enjoyment from your personal stuff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Markulous View Post
Was looking at the shot and thinking similar thoughts to you: bit overcooked. Would be a lot more subtle now (and will reprocess sometime). Shows how much I've changed (improved?) in the last year (taken 09/05)
I agree but some would say otherwise I prefer to look at it that you understand much more now and can cater to the public coconscious or demand.
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Old 31-08-2006, 10:32   #19 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

Thanks, Steve! To be honest, just enjoy taking pics (and certainly not one to take my pics too seriously!) - whatever the scenario or occasion (and now don't feel too "pressured to perform" as know can get required results). Not financially critical but it'd be nice to at least pay it's way (getting there!)
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Old 31-08-2006, 19:36   #20 (permalink)
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Re: The Sky is the Limit

This has raged for decades hasn't it. Darkroom tricks and filters were around long before photoshop. Fuji Vs Kodachrome, Velvia film I remember the arguments. For my part photographs are seldom as I see them especially with digital cameras. They have got better but don't have the dynamic range of film, film in turn has no where near the dynamic range of the human eye so you could argue that using grads lets you capture "what you saw" in some circumstances more than not using them. If I have time a tripod and a humdinger in front of me I tend to shoot several shots exposed for the sky foreground and blend them for the best of both worlds, I do use grads and polarisers and UV especially at altitude. I think photography is an art form so am happy I can be creative unless I am not just doing it for record.

Of course I try can get it right in the camera but if you see a great shot and the sky is uninspiring then it could be creative if you see the potential and later composite in a great sky although Aurora can make this a no brainer.
VinnyP is offline  
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