Photo-manipulations vs. photography

Started 3 months ago | Polls thread
gary0319 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,061
Re: Photo-manipulations vs. photography

knickerhawk wrote:

gardenersassistant wrote:

gary0319 wrote:

I make my own distinction as between photo “taking” and photo “making”. If I make in camera changes before the shutter is released, be it changes in aperture, change to mono, or even applying an in-camera filter, it is all part of the taking process. Once the image is captured, from than on I’m in the making process.

I think similarly, and to that end I think in terms of taking (or capturing) a photo (or photos) and then making an image from it (or them).

I'm content to refer to the photo taking and image making activities collectively as photography. In fact, I would even use photography for images made by stacking frames extracted from videos. Despite the obvious logical/definitional flaws in this usage I can't think of a more appropriate term to use.

OK, but where does that "distinction" get us with respect to defining what is "photography" and what is something else (call it "digital art")? Consider the difference between using an optical filter and a digital one. The former presumably is part of the so-called "taking" stage and the latter is part of the "making" stage. The results with respect to the final image are often virtually identical. Is one approach somehow more "legitimate" than the other?

Or consider the even more extreme case of a pretty bird-on-a-branch image with a very blurry background. There are two ways to achieve that effect. The "taking" solution is to use a long focal length and large aperture to create the background blur. It requires some physical effort (the presumably extra weight of the lens) and expense in terms of the presumably extra cost of a fast telephoto lens. The "making" solution is to use software to blur the background (these days, the software solution might be automated/AI based or it might involve lots of manual manipulation that cost in terms of software and editing time and effort). It used to be that the "making" solutions were pretty easily recognizable and the results were not as satisfying as the "taking" solution, but that's less and less the case, depending on scene, success of the software and skill of the "maker" and we should assume that it will only get more and more difficult to see any differences in this particular taking/making scenario. One point to bear in mind is that neither solution that results in the blurred background is particularly "realistic" in the sense of that's how we "see" a bird sitting on a branch. They are both significant manipulations of "reality". So, where does that leave us?

One final thought here. Adams introduced us to the notion of "previsualization" - i.e., even at the beginning of the "taking" stage, it's important to think about the image-making process holistically. It involves a feedback loop of anticipating the necessary "making" manipulations and then adjusting the "taking" manipulations accordingly. The human capacity to plan means that the photographic image-making process should be considered as a continuum with lots of possibilities for shifting the manipulations to one stage or the other for reasons of convenience, available equipment, available time, individual skill-sets and preferences, etc. which may have little or nothing to do with aesthetic values or intentions to mis/represent what the photographer "sees".

It's a very slippery slope and I don't think the making/taking distinction does much to help us understand where we're at on the slope.

In my mind you have unnecessarily complicated the issue. It's simple, if you use any of the technology in your scene recording device prior to the time the sensor is offloaded to the recording medium, be it an SD card, a tethered computer, or some is part of the taking process. Once the image is recorded on the storage medium, the taking has ended and the making begins.

The dividing line is that exact moment the image, as adjusted by the photographer, has been "frozen" by the camera,

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