I would like to discuss the aesthetics of photography...

Started 11 months ago | Discussions thread
Detail Man
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Re: I would like to discuss the aesthetics of photography ...
In reply to Great Bustard, 11 months ago

Great Bustard wrote:

panos_m wrote:

Great Bustard wrote:

panos_m wrote:

Great Bustard wrote:

...based on this post:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51516317

Particularly, this paragraph, and particularly the portion I highlighted in bold:

I had a recent (very successful!) gallery show of prints up to 20"x30" from the E-3. Got many comments about how "natural" the prints looked. Several people said they didn't realize at first they were photographs. They used terms such as "relaxed, smooth and inviting" to describe them. Several, including other photographers, thought they were from film, though the photographers said they were puzzled by the lack of film grain. They were surprised to hear they were digital. Several, including buyers, said they generally don't like prints from digital cameras because they are too "self-conscious" in that they have too much unnecessary detail, too obviously photographic, and too unpleasant to live with on the wall, even if initially striking.

What do people think?  It's a very interesting observation, in my opinion.

Is this a question on realism?

Not really.  The question is on the relationship between the detail in a photo vs the appeal of the photo.

Yes but isn't more detail another step closer to reality?

Hmm.  Good question.  No, I don't think it necessarily is.  Photos are so far removed from reality from the get-go, being 2D and static in time, that I think of photography as primarily being artistic.  A video, even a low res video, is much closer to reality, especially if it has sound.

We sometimes forget that what we throw the term "reality" at is but an inherently subjective construct necessarily arising out of our individual sensory perceptions. It is in no way transferable - as we cannot possibly step into each others' heads and know what they experience perceptually.

Our field of view is so limited in angle that we can only take the world in via small angles of view with acutance. Additionally, the spatial frequencies that we can within that angle resolve are fairly limted.

When somebody views an image of a wide and deep landscape scene, it appears to the eyes as very different, indeed. While it can for some be a joy to be able to resolve detail far and wide wherever one looks (I like that), it appears that it can also strike viewers as "dissonant" relative to their normal angle of view and acutance within that narrrow angle. It is as if (some) minds are made more comfortable when spatial frequency resolution limitations are imposed that seem more familiar to their perceptual experience when viewing such scene themselves.

It is not uncommon when I present my "wide and deep" landscape shots that have been processed using deconvolution deblurring that viewers find them somehow "dissonant" to their minds, and/or they claim to see what they declare to be "sharpening artifacts, halos, blah, blah, blah" where I myself do not see much if any of what they allege to so surely "technically" perceive.

I have come to think that different viewers have their own comfort levels of preferred "myopia", and will in some way or another aesthetically reject that which exists outside of the perceptual zone that comports with their personal expectations. The familiar limitations resonate more readily.

On the other side of the coin are those who may come to enjoy "false detail" that likely represents aliasing (or processing artifacts having a similar effect). Once again, the sense of perceptual "reality" is something that arises out of the mind's eye - not the other way around. We see (and perceive in general) largely what we as creatures have come to expect to see.

Some of those pre-ceptive expectations (I suspect) exist as result of previous viewing experiences (environmental nurture). People more familiar with film photography (may) approach more modern technologies, resolution, and signal/noise ratios with with a pre-formed set of expectations. I am doubtful that there exists some "golden eye" as a universal objective template.

The height of pretentiousness is to assume or to require that others will or should happen to possess similar aesthetic preferences and tastes - yet these forums would likely be mostly barren of posts if the subject matter was limited to truly objective knowledge claims about hardware/software. Far more fun (but substantively fallacious and rather futile) to play "statistician of aesthetics" implicitly in search of confirmatory agreement when throwing around terms like "better", "best", "optimum", and ethereal phrases like "image quality", "more natural", etc.

DM ...

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