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

Started May 24, 2013 | Discussions thread
ZOIP Junior Member • Posts: 46
Re: I think it has less to do with softness ...

Hi Ron and others.  I know where you are coming from with regard to the lenses.

If I may I would like to add a few points to ponder that really set my mind to work around 10 years ago. Whilst attending a particularly boring conference my mind began to wander, (it needs little assistance and prodding to do so) and I began to wonder how might one achieve images that had that "being there look" and why was it that virtually all digital images I came across lacked it.

From that point after several years of testing and experimenting I developed a complete system of image creation that basically works on a completion backwards principle.  I am not going into that here, it is the subject of a 4 day workshop I run once a year but I will suggest a couple of things that I feel relevant to this subject.

Most modern lenses produce files that are too high in overall and local contrast, add onto this that the files then get further sharpened to add a little extra contrast and the images are pushed over the edge so to speak.  It is a very subtle thing but that higher initial contrast leads to a certain synthetic look that is almost impossible to tame.  Low contrast lenses sort of add a toe and curve to the file that makes post editing far more successful if one is after a natural realistic look.  Files from old Minolta glass can be in my experience and opinion particularly beautiful, and I will happily put my money where my mouth is, I have made more money out of my old Minolta 28-85 than any other lens I own.  Even those with little concept of photographic quality etc look at the resulting prints (and lets keep the talk to prints, web images are another breed altogether) and comment how "real" they look.

Another related issue, which someone sort of touched on is sharpening.  The issue is I feel that most sharpening is global in nature, which means you end up with things sharp that really shouldn't be, for example backgrounds that sit beyond the eyes natural ability to see clearly in real life, meanwhile closer up areas display the wrong sort of sharpening, often at a radius that it far too high.  Additionally most sharpening expands the brightness values of the highlights thus looking quite fake. One could spend a week discussing sharpening but agree with a previous poster most methods and peoples efforts are deficient and in the end really really good methods of sharpening defy automation and pre setting.

Going further I feel most exhibited digital work I have seen for sale and indeed much of what is placed on the net has the colour turned up to 11, it gives immediate punch but in the end draws far too much attention to itself and degrades the long term visual experience for the image in question.

In the end, reality (for want of a better word) is the hardest thing to acheive in photography, much easier to throw a pre-potted effect over the file or cover it with visual sauce and call it art, than to do the hard yards of actually creating an image that stands the test of time and subtly conveys the full emotion and message of a scene through thoughtful and subtly applied tools.

Noise is another factor that gets treated badly, noise of the right type is actually a positive in terms of real world print output, but most cameras are set up to virtually kill it stone dead so the files look good at 100% on screen views......

and on it goes

Digital processes are perfectly capable of delivering but I feel many modern tools, methods and short term instant approaches work against the end result.  I have little doubt that some camera/lens combination probably bring folk closer to the end we are talking about here by virtue of their supposed shortcomings.

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Trying to make the complex simple

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