Where does Photography end and Graphic Design begin?

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Comments (9)

magic surf bus on September 13, 2007

Where does Photography end and Graphic Design begin?

State your opinions here.

Nawitka on September 14, 2007

The photograph is an inexact capture technique. I've been in that exact situation you have shown above. The "real" colours I saw with my eyes were more like #2. The photo, as displayed by the camera, looked like #1, yet I could see brighter reds and yellows right before me. Even more intense than your #2. #3 is pure fantasy.

If you want to show what the (imperfect) camera sensors saw, then #1 is that. #2 is more like what you saw, but still not "exact".

Jessica G. on September 14, 2007

I'd agree with Nawitka. #2 might have been fiddled with, but it still ends up looking "real" - maybe more so than the original. For graphic design, well, #3 is definitely that. But #2, which looks like it's still in the original colours, would be "photography."

Jeff Sullivan on September 14, 2007

At a high level, deleting minor distractions is consistent with the photographic process of burning and dodging details in or out of a shot. Adding an entirely new subject, background, or other major scene components is graphidc design (and seems like a potential ethical issue if it's presented as photography). Your example is somewhat more subtle.

For perspective, here are some excerpts from the Ansel Adams Gallery biography of Ansel Adams:

"Nineteen twenty seven was the pivotal year of Adams's life. He made his first fully visualized photograph, Monolith, the Face of Half Dome..."

In 1930 Adams met photographer Paul Strand, whose images had a powerful impact on Adams and helped to move him away from the "pictorial" style he had favored in the 1920s. Adams began to pursue "straight photography," in which the clarity of the lens was emphasized, and the final print gave no appearance of being manipulated in the camera or the darkroom. Adams was soon to become straight photography's mast articulate and insistent champion. [Ed. Note: Manipulated in this instance meaning altering the clarity or content of the photographed subject matter. Techniques such as "burning" and "dodging", as well as the Zone System, a scientific system developed by Adams, is used specifically to "manipulate" the tonality and give the artist the ability to create as opposed to record.]

'I hope that my work will encourage self expression in others and stimulate the search for beauty and creative excitement in the great world around us' - Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams specifically departed from a strict recording of what was present, and in that moment, with his Monolith photo of Half Dome, he is credited with establishing photography as an art form.

The creative control and manipulation of a scene is a key component of photography as an art. Photography as a sterile recording medium involves as much art as a copy machine or a court stenographer. Anyone can show up with a camera and trip the shutter. Knowing how to exercise control, and how much control to exercise, is what separates artistic results from well-intentioned attempts.

The answer to the question of how much control to excercise could come from your intent: what is the subject you're trying to highlight, and what is the feeling or thought you're trying to evoke from the viewer? You may make different exposure, composition, and editing decisions depending upon which elements of the scene you're trying to emphasize and what mood you're trying to evoke.

With these 3 shots #1 seems more stenographic (might work in a textbook but not an art book), #2 appears realistic and may serve the artistic intent, and under most circumstances #3 would be a botched editing job but could fit with an artist's intent, whether we individually like it or not (I don't get the intent on this shot, so I'd assume it was a mistake).

At a more basic level however, if you're challenged or distracted by exposure or for any other reason snapping photos without primary concern for a subject, or with no intent regarding how it'll be viewed, well, that'll show in the results no matter how you edit it. Even after you master your camera, the exposure, and image postprocessing, if the your work isn't clearly communicating something it runs the risk of being dismissed as "snapshots."

In this example if the subject is the tall power line tower I'd like to see that made more clear by moving it further into the frame, reducing the dead space towards the left. I like the power lines out of the upper right corner as leading lines taking us to the tower, but by the photographer taking a few steps to the right you might be able to add lines from the small tower in the distant background coming up from the lower right corner, while still having the ones come down from the top right. Like a painter, get the subject/composition figured out first or you don't need to worry about the colors contrast, or other editing decisions.

I don't mean to present any of this as "right," just food for thought. Lately I've started walking away from shots that are scenic but don't have a clear subject. Usually I discover a subject nearby to focus on and the result is much more compelling than what I would otherwise have wasted my time and storage space on.

magic surf bus on September 15, 2007

JeffSullivan: A fascinating response there - many thanks. I hope you don't mind me reproducing it in the related Panoramio Forum thread so others can see it.

AlexMatos on September 21, 2007

Well done job, joining the three options together.

And a great photo too.

Cheers, Alex

magic surf bus on September 21, 2007

AlexMatos: Thanks - personally I don't think it's a great photo. I think it's a very dull photo made a bit more interesting with software trickery ;-)

AlexMatos on September 21, 2007

Maybe you right, not really a great photo, but a great weather capture is!


© Ana García de Pabl… on October 1, 2007

A good question!, for me, the photography begin when you shot. The postproduction is a another matter. Maybe, any picture whith photoshop will be great, but I think is not a picture, is a another think!...

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  • Uploaded on September 13, 2007
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    by magic surf bus