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Thread: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

  1. #11
    Benjamin's Avatar
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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gingikinz View Post
    What do you guys experience when you see a great shot taken on a cheap phone? A mediocre shot from a full-frame or large format camera? Are you surprised? Does a picture's format instantly change your attitude toward the photo and/or the photographer?
    First, I just shopped for a new one, and I can tell you there's no such thing as a "cheap" phone

    Second: no. A uninteresting photograph is an uninteresting photograph, no matter what it was shot on. The opposite is also true. We all know acknowledge this, whether openly or not - I mean, how many time do you run into a pic on a photography forum that has tons of info on camera and lens make and model, film and developer used, and you go "Yeah, but so what?"...?

    The other thing - and probably more important - thing is that there is such aesthetic freedom today that we are constantly revising what is meaningful or not in a photograph, what makes it interesting or uninteresting, etc. We live in a world of images - a world in which Winogrand's axiom "I photograph things in order to see who they look photographed" has become generalized through Facebook and Instagram, a world in which people "image"' themselves as "influencers", a world in which the question of quality has fallen behind the question of content (as proof, you can have amazingly interesting podcasts featuring really cheap sound recording, and it doesn't matter to the listener), etc.

    So the question is less and less what medium was the shot made on, but how do you define "great" and "mediocre". Leave it to "personal taste" and "to each his own"? (I personally find that approach mediocre.) Go by "rules of composition"? And do you put all genres - from documentary to photojournalism to street to landscape - in the same bag?

    Frankly, I find all these questions extremely fascinating. They fall into the heart of what photography means for us today.

    Which is probably not where you wanted this thread to go...

  2. #12

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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    Not the format. Extraordinary work is done in all formats, just as it has been done since the advent of photography by various means. Although it strays just a bit from topic, I'll add the following, allowing "format" to include film or digital.

    My choice of film and darkroom prints, in three formats (35 to 4x5), is reinforced by what has grown to be my distrust of digital results as representing the challenges the photographer faced when releasing the shutter. By that I am referring, essentially, to the lure of the ease with which the digital domain allows extensive retouching, recombination, and a host of other alterations. In saying so, I recognize that some will immediately jump to challenge me, with all the alterations possible in film photography, as shown by Jerry Uelsman, skilled olden-days advertising retouchers, propagandists, Pictorialists, and so forth.

    To attempt to save all the jumpers some effort, let me just say this:

    Now that you know I am not unaware of the changes possible in the film medium -- some of which I use regularly in my B&W-only photography, including cropping, dodging, burning, bleaching, and toning -- I am simply conveying that my approach to the medium constrains me from such actions as removing telephone poles or people, adding or subtracting (except by cropping) objects, combining images, and so forth. I accept as a challenge the constraints of what I am able to have the lens present directly to film. My choice, not everyone's, including many digital or "hybrid"photographers'.
    Philip Ulanowsky

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  3. #13
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    Format is the wrong terminology

    Image Capture Process is clumsy

    Process!

    Format here is SIZE
    image

  4. #14
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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ulophot View Post
    Not the format. Extraordinary work is done in all formats, just as it has been done since the advent of photography by various means. Although it strays just a bit from topic, I'll add the following, allowing "format" to include film or digital.

    My choice of film and darkroom prints, in three formats (35 to 4x5), is reinforced by what has grown to be my distrust of digital results as representing the challenges the photographer faced when releasing the shutter. By that I am referring, essentially, to the lure of the ease with which the digital domain allows extensive retouching, recombination, and a host of other alterations. In saying so, I recognize that some will immediately jump to challenge me, with all the alterations possible in film photography, as shown by Jerry Uelsman, skilled olden-days advertising retouchers, propagandists, Pictorialists, and so forth.

    To attempt to save all the jumpers some effort, let me just say this:

    Now that you know I am not unaware of the changes possible in the film medium -- some of which I use regularly in my B&W-only photography, including cropping, dodging, burning, bleaching, and toning -- I am simply conveying that my approach to the medium constrains me from such actions as removing telephone poles or people, adding or subtracting (except by cropping) objects, combining images, and so forth. I accept as a challenge the constraints of what I am able to have the lens present directly to film. My choice, not everyone's, including many digital or "hybrid"photographers'.
    While I enjoy the challenges afforded by analog capture and wet printing and if the final product brings me great satisfaction when everything turns out as I like, in the end it is the final product that matters to the viewer. So whether it is a digital photograph, manipulated or not, made with a smartphone or a point-and-shoot, or an analog photo made and printed with an obsolete process, who cares except those involved in the production?

    As an aside, the images Apple uses for their advertising (still and motion) with the "Shot on iPhone" tagline, are almost exclusively shot by pros with the same support they use on other commercial projects (location scouting, sets, props, assistants, lighting, models, hair, wardrobe & make-up, etc.).

  5. #15

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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    Finding a well-done medium is rare.

  6. #16

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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    Thank you all for your thoughts. They have been interesting to read! I am of the opinion that the medium isn't as important as the end result.

    A follow-up question: If the medium/format/whatever isn't as important as the end result, why does it matter to you (if it does) what format you use for your photography?

  7. #17
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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gingikinz View Post
    Thank you all for your thoughts. They have been interesting to read! I am of the opinion that the medium isn't as important as the end result.

    A follow-up question: If the medium/format/whatever isn't as important as the end result, why does it matter to you (if it does) what format you use for your photography?
    Sometimes the medium provides challenges and satisfaction that are unique. It is the experience of making the photograph and final print that is part of why I photograph.

  8. #18

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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    If one separates a photograph from its medium it becomes something else.
    Digital is different, because there is no 'medium.' Binary is not a 'medium' it is an abstraction.
    What would you consider a photograph that is separated from its medium?

    I would debate against your point about digital being an abstraction. Digital (binary code, electrical pulses moving through a circuit board) is just as much a medium as film or print are for sharing the way you see the world through photographs.

  9. #19

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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pieter View Post
    Sometimes the medium provides challenges and satisfaction that are unique. It is the experience of making the photograph and final print that is part of why I photograph.
    I feel the same way. That is one of the reasons I started learning large format photography in the first place. I wanted to see how it felt different to create a photo than with digital/35mm film.

  10. #20

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    Re: Does a Photograph's medium change your opinion of it?

    I started with 4x5 to make big prints and to have movements. I started with wet prints because it was the only way to make big detailed prints at the time.

    Now you can make bigger, faster, more repeatable, digital prints. I've made some. They are pretty cool.

    I always thought I would switch to digital when it got big enough (had enough detail). So I bought a 5dsr. The screen was/is too small and the viewfinder is only good for "regular" photography. Great camera, but I found myself needing a view camera to shoot what/how I wanted to shoot.

    I always love knowing what gear someone uses. It adds to the story of the art. Moonrise is so much more interesting because it is on 8x10. Knowing how Weston made his negatives and prints adds to the story of his amazing images.

    Art can be great without technique but great art is so much more interesting when you know more about the creation process. The reason behind an artist choice of tools or technique. That said, no one cares what kind of paint or canvas or brushes Rothko used.

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