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

Started May 24, 2013 | Discussions thread
Calinature Regular Member • Posts: 463
Re: I would like to discuss the aesthetics of photography...

Great Bustard wrote:

Calinature wrote:

Thanks for the interesting discussion.  Here's my take:

The human mind selectively sees just a few objects/scenes at any one time.  A good photograph should limit the scope of presentation through selective composition, effective contrast of lighting, etc.  Perhaps modern digital photography has fostered an overly ambitious, overly expansive, overly saturated look...because we have the technology to do so.  Mark Twain once said of Bierstad's paintings that they were better than the original. When I see photos like Galen Rowell's (which was originally film), I wonder if these brilliant scenes would eventually be too much as a print on a wall?

Another way to express this concept is fractals. Landscape studies have shown that an intermediate level of complexity is more appealing that either too simplistic or overly crowded, detailed scenes. Perhaps the appeal of black and white is that one element, color, is removed to that the composition can be accentuated.

Question:  which camera would be the ideal for landscape photography, all else equal (that means we are not figuring size, weight, price, and other operational considerations into the decision):

  • 6 MP
  • 12 MP
  • 18 MP
  • 24 MP
  • 36 MP
  • 35mm Film
  • Medium Format Film
  • Large Format Film

Of course this depends upon the size of printing. I have gotten spectacular photos with my Oly e five (12 mp), various SHF lenses, and using genuine fractuals to pixel up. My style of photos is to emphasize a few themes, such as an interesting fore or mid ground, with detail in the background. One might think of these as environmental portraits. I have toyed with the idea of a Nikon 800 or a medium format camera, but can't really justify the expense giving my style of photography. I might tend to stitch together several photos if I wanted something larger.  Of course, I would like to have a sensor with more dynamic range and low light/action capabilities, but that I reserve for the OMD.

Good photographs, as "art", should be somewhat stylistic/impressionistic/symbolic that leaves a little imagination for the particular viewer.  With too much detail and clutter, one cannot see the forest for the trees.  Or perhaps showing just a few trees is more effective than a whole forest. This is not to say that detail isn't important in some parts of the photo.

So, for example, you are saying landscape photos are best taken at wide apertures where portions will be outside the DOF, or very narrow apertures, where diffraction will soften the whole photo?

No, not for me. I simplify/reduce fractal dimension through other methods. To date, I haven't done much wide open/shallow depth of field photography.  I may in the future, but as a biologist/naturalist, I aim to depict realism in nature through composition, play of light, and color. In other words, simplicity can be achieved through more than one approach.

Is too much dynamic range also contributing to a digital look? Is lifting too much shadow giving a flat look to photos?

Just because you can push the shadows does not mean you should.  Just because you can shoot wide open doesn't mean you should.  Just because you can stop down to f/22 doesn't mean you should.  This is not a digital vs film thing.

You might be right: digital photography just gives one the option of going many directions, depending upon the purpose.

Again, thanks all for your many insightful comments.  JEFF


Thank you!

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