UKH

Amateur Ogwen Photo (continued)

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In reply to Ramblin Dave

> It feels like Robert's problem is that he wants to be able to believe everything that he sees (that looks like a photograph).

Ideally, yes. I actually don't have a problem with the Ogwen photo (hideous though I find it) because it doesn't look anything like a photograph; I have no interest in, but no problem with, obviously photoshopped images.

>........ and rather than modify that assumption as no longer being workable (to the extent that it ever was), he's basically unhappy about the existence of any image that contradicts it.

Obviously I have no choice but to modify (or further abandon) that assumption, but doing so introduces a nagging doubt about many photographs and slightly spoils my enjoyment of them.

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In reply to magma:

I really love those. They are beautiful. As are some abstract landscape paintings.

Yes, but I'm satisfied that our brain/eye systems are similarly enough evolved that we all "see" roughly the same images when we look at a landscape. For example, while some people might legitimately like the Ogwen photo and find it resonates in some way with them about the landscape, I doubt anyone would describe it as realistic.

Post edited at 13:23
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 broken spectre 24 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

Although no doubt we "see" / "process" images in our brains in mostly a similar fashion, the cultural biases that we apply when interpretating an image (that's dependent on where we are at the time, physically and emotionally ) will vary enormously. For example, I first encountered a low res photo of the award winning Ogwen photograph whilst scrolling through Facebook on my phone. There, amongst the usual social media noise was a stillness, a familiarity and a wildness that was the image that you detest. Blow it up and stick it in a gallery and I'd despise it too. It is a bit weird though, the level of animosity you feel towards the photograph. Everything's getting increasingly fluid now that AI is here and it's an exciting time for lovers of the visual medium!

 magma 24 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I doubt anyone would describe it as realistic.

what do you mean by realistic? photo, super and hyper are a few types of realism..

maybe i should add floaters to the sky to make my photos more real?

nice to see Heisenberg quoted in the elephant parable..

We have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.

Post edited at 14:51
In reply to magma:

> what do you mean by realistic? photo, super and hyper are a few types of realism..

Aren't those terms normally applied to painting rather than photography?

 magma 24 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

maybe- not much into this arty farty stuff

 Mike-W-99 24 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

So continuing on from the AI generated photos. I took a recent ukc photo at random and put pretty much the photographers own caption to generate it. I was mildly impressed. I tried with some of yours Robert but it struggles with naked bodies.

https://labs.openai.com/s/6eEC6tpBulVozjXsYk2XWCDt

(Not accusing Jamie of anything of course!)

 deepsoup 24 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

> Although no doubt we "see" / "process" images in our brains in mostly a similar fashion..

"See", maybe.  Although we're not all using identical hardware, some of us have unusually sharp vision, some of us are colourblind etc.

But "process"?  That's a pretty dodgy assumption.  I posted a bunch of links in the other thread about how language and culture affect colour perception but you only have to look at magma's link in this thread for an even more striking example of how wildly differently two individuals can 'process' the same visual scene - synaesthesia.

 wee jamie 25 Nov 2022
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In reply to Mike-W-99:

> I tried with some of yours Robert but it struggles with naked bodies.

Obviously nothing can prepare a computer for mine......

Link doesn't work for me☹️

In reply to wee jamie:

> What I will say about the recent thread is this.  The aggressive online criticism of Aled's Ogwen photo by some is toxic, particularly when it comes from respected photographers. 

I imagine that some of the more outspoken criticism has come from people who take their photography seriously is because they will be the ones aware of the patience, effort and luck which so often need to combine to get a good shot and then of the hard won skill needed to process it authentically.

> Imagine if Aled read the thread (and he may well have).  He's just won a competition and now he's getting slated by photographers who he may well have looked up to. 

I think you could argue that, by choosing to enter the competition, he has knowingly opened himself to scrutiny, so I'm not sure he can complain too much. And, of course, there is the fact that authentic photographs and photographers are getting squeezed out by his sort of stuff. 

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In reply to Robert Durran:

Over processed photos don't do much for me personally because the unique, hard-won visual skills of the photographer 'in the field' are often obscured by the relative ease of processing in front of a computer. Highly processed images are, for me, more of a celebration of technology, rather than what was 'felt' at the time of taking; the atmosphere of the scene being synthesised in post to look like something it perhaps wasn't.

Having said that, if a high degree of processing is able to produce a convincing emotional response, it can be stunning - so long as the standard photoshop tools do not intrude in an obvious way, which is something more detectable by photographers who regularly use PS than those who don't. I know this is true because I went through a phase of over processing myself. Some of my old photos look shamefully awful, and have the obvious signature of Photoshop written through them.

I have no problems with photography exploring the realms of art, or art exploring the realms of photo realism (I attempt both myself with varying degrees of success). What is key for me, is that art and photography should elicit a viewer response to something much higher and wider than the sum of its two-dimensional parts. Of course that means that the failure rate is much higher!

In reply to Robert Durran:

https://alpinemag.com/fake-snow-leopard-photomontage-spread-around-world-kittiya-pawlowski

I saw this and thought of this thread. A pretty brazen example of the sort of thing that underpins the negative sentiment toward photos which are presented as real, but aren't.

I'm in no way saying this is even remotely comparable to the photo that prompted this thread. It isn't, at all. But it is a much better example of why truth in photography matters. By that I mean, being honest about how a photo was made.

In reply to Brian Pollock:

Again not casting aspersions on this particular Ogwen photo, there has been a tendency for Tryfan photos on social media to appear a little more "Alpine".

In reply to Brian Pollock:

Wow! There was a thread on here with some expressing doubts. Maybe if something seems too good to be true then, sadly, one has to assume it is. 

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 John Ww 22:03 Fri
In reply to Robert Durran:

Completely by accident, I’ve just seen the photo in question on Instagram - it’s got 46 comments, all saying how great it is. Just saying…

Post edited at 22:04
In reply to John Ww:

> Completely by accident, I’ve just seen the photo in question on Instagram - it’s got 46 comments, all saying how great it is. Just saying…

Well the whole discussion wouldn't be happening if it didn't have baffling popular appeal; that's kind of the point......

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In reply to John Ww:

A salient point if ever there was one; largely in that the insta-audience guzzle themselves giddy on artless, sensationalised images.

As I wrote in the original thread, popularity isn't a reliable measure of quality. If it was, then we would still be in the EU and be happily bereft of a Tory government.

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 65 00:33 Sat
In reply to Nicholas Livesey:

> A salient point if ever there was one; largely in that the insta-audience guzzle themselves giddy on artless, sensationalised images.

Quite, which highlights this and the previous thread as being useful triggers for some self-examination over why we take photos.

> As I wrote in the original thread, popularity isn't a reliable measure of quality. If it was, then we would still be in the EU and be happily bereft of a Tory government.

Very!

 Marek 13:38 Sat
In reply to Nicholas Livesey:

> ... As I wrote in the original thread, popularity isn't a reliable measure of quality....

So - at the risk of opening up a bag of worms - what is? How *do* you define quality in photography without descending in the self-serving morass of the 'fine art' world. Yes, there is an 'engineering' approach (based on measurable best use of equipment, e.g., no blown highlights), but surely there must be more to good photography than good technique and good engineering?

Post edited at 13:38
 felt 13:48 Sat
In reply to Marek:

You probably can't and it's just one of these: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_know_it_when_I_see_it

In reply to Marek:

First of all, I too despise the term 'fine art photography', it's a nonsense.

Of course, whether someone likes a photograph or not is very subjective but for landscape photography to be deemed good quality I'm sure we can agree on a couple of benchmarks such as technical competence at the point of capture and in post processing. That is to say good composition, a sharp image (if that is the intention) and processing that doesn't immediately draw attention to itself.

My approach is born out of a deep love and reverence for the landscapes I photograph. I don't want to sensationalise them, they doesn't need sensationalising! The psyche and intent of most landscape photographers is something that doesn't get talked about enough. To me, it's the elephant in the room.

You'll hear them talk about getting closer to nature while at the same time accruing huge carbon footprints in the pursuit of their images. You also see many spending time outdoors and then going home upset because they didn't get any decent photographs. There is a big disconnect there.

Landscape photography has become a competitive sport in which landscapes play second fiddle to the photographer's ego. The same locations are seen again and again with very few photographers taking an exploratory approach. The game is to photograph honeypot locations in increasingly outrageous conditions in order to garner likes and the brief dopamine hit they afford.

I totally get it and have fallen foul of this approach myself at times on my journey as a photographer.

You may ask, why does it matter? Each to their own etc.

It matters because the images that bombard us on various social media platforms influence the way we see and feel about natural environments.

The instagram generation now see the outdoors as a backdrop for epic captured moments with which to bolster their online image, places to be exploited and not enjoyed for their own sake. Many of the ills of modern consumerist society and the rampant mental illness they are causing can be tempered by quite reflection in nature. The very attitudes and desires that are so redolent of modern urban life are being brought to the wilder places and that negates the myriad benefits that spending time in nature can bestow on us.

Landscape photographers have become acquisitive, competitive and envious as they race around the same old places building bodies of work that consist of disparate images which contain little if any narrative. Art is about communicating emotion and all aspects of the human condition; if photographers see themselves as artists then they need to consider what it is they are trying to communicate. Few ask themselves this question and that is why the medium has lost it's way and we see so many images that seek to wow or thrill the viewer, often disingenuously.

Saddo dinosaur photographers shouting at clouds? It might seem that way to most, but there is a deeper subtext at work which needs addressing if the current and future generations are to experience our limited and precious landscapes with reverence and care. 

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In reply to Nicholas Livesey:

Excellent. So much food for thought there, and probably a few raw nerves touched.

5

For your collective consideration; I typed 'Kitsch mountain in Snowdonia' into Dall-e and it spat out these...

Next to zero carbon footprint in producing these, no ego's, even the fricking mountains do not exist! Bypassing those tired old views.

Reality has finally detached itself from, well, reality.


 Marek 20:38 Sat
In reply to Nicholas Livesey:

> Of course, whether someone likes a photograph or not is very subjective but for landscape photography to be deemed good quality I'm sure we can agree on a couple of benchmarks such as technical competence at the point of capture and in post processing. That is to say good composition, a sharp image (if that is the intention) and processing that doesn't immediately draw attention to itself.

Yes, technical competence is a reasonable starting point. But you've already touched on one point ('intention') that's going to be hard to follow through.

> My approach is born out of a deep love and reverence for the landscapes I photograph. I don't want to sensationalise them, they doesn't need sensationalising! The psyche and intent of most landscape photographers is something that doesn't get talked about enough. To me, it's the elephant in the room.

Possibly, but again, the 'psyche and intent' is something only the photographer is really in a position to appreciate. So it seems - at this point - that you're defining 'quality' with respect to your own work, but it's hard to translate that into the judgement of quality in someone else's work.

The other tricky point here is the 'sensationalisation' aspect. Many - but not all - exceptional landscape images rely on  being in an exceptional place at an exceptional time. You were there, but the photo viewer wasn't. It make the judgement (again) potentially very different depending on who you are. For you that image may be a true representation of that landscape, but to the photo viewer it's something quite different; "WOW! Sensational!"

<SNIP>

> Landscape photography has become a competitive sport in which landscapes play second fiddle to the photographer's ego...

Totally agree. So many photos not only are, but are intended to to be more about the creator than about the subject. And that is very rarely a compliment.

<SNIP>

> It matters because the images that bombard us on various social media platforms influence the way we see and feel about natural environments.

I take your point, but I think there a place for 'landscape-as-a-background' and 'landscape-as-a-statement-about-the-world'. Both have their legitimate places in the art, but I you're right: The balance and blurring-of-distinctions is worrying.

<SNIP>

> ... Art is about communicating emotion and all aspects of the human condition; if photographers see themselves as artists then they need to consider what it is they are trying to communicate...

That perhaps is where you can see 'quality' in other peoples' work (as opposed to the pursuit of quality in your own). Perhaps a 'quality' photograph says something unavoidably deeper about the world beyond just being a pretty picture. Something which captures your attention for more than that fleeting second while scrolling instagram on your phone. If so, it's pretty rare these days.

 deepsoup 21:29 Sat
In reply to Nicholas Livesey:

A thoughtful and insightful post, but since you mention it I'm afraid it does indeed have just a tiny hint of "old man shouts at clouds" energy.

I think you're running the risk of being a purist telling people they're enjoying their hobby all wrong.  A deep love and reverence for the outdoors, and an enjoyment of walking long distances in remote places are good things in themselves - but they are not landscape photography, they're the passion that you choose to combine with landscape photography.

Isn't this a bit like a beer-loving snooker player saying you can't play snooker properly unless you enjoy your beer?  Less facetiously, can you successfully photograph buildings if you don't have a deep understanding and appreciation for architecture?  Must you be an ornithologist to photograph a bird?

If somebody enjoys 'roadside' landscape photography, so what?  Who are you to tell them they're doing it wrong.  And who cares if their photo is a cliche because it's a view frequently photographed by others? 

It isn't like large numbers of climbers all wanting to climb the same 'honeypot' three-star route on the grit, there's absolutely no danger of them wearing out the view.  As long as they're treating the environment with respect (by which I mean not dropping litter, uprooting plants, etc. - nothing to do with the settings on their cameras), good luck to them.

> You may ask, why does it matter? Each to their own etc.

Well, yes - I guess that's exactly what I've been asking, thus far..

> It matters because the images that bombard us on various social media platforms influence the way we see and feel about natural environments.

I think that's deserving of a Wikipedia style [citation needed]. 

Is the way you see and feel about the natural environment changed by the images you see on social media?  How so?  I don't think that's the case for me - though I certainly have been inspired to visit places by photos that I've seen.

> The instagram generation..

People have been complaining that younger generations are living their lives all wrong for literally thousands of years.

And of course it's a common complaint that people these days take too many photos:  https://xkcd.com/1314/

> Landscape photographers have become acquisitive, competitive and envious..

There is a certain irony though I think, to making the case that landscape photographers shouldn't care about competitions in this, a thread whose entire raison d'etre is to whinge that the wrong photo won a competition.

> It might seem that way to most, but there is a deeper subtext at work which needs addressing if the current and future generations are to experience our limited and precious landscapes with reverence and care. 

I would most certainly agree with you that it's desirable (to say the least!) that current and future generations should share the love and reverence of our precious landscape that you speak of.  I'm just not convinced that has anything to do with how some of them choose to photograph it.

In reply to Marek:

> The other tricky point here is the 'sensationalisation' aspect. Many - but not all - exceptional landscape images rely on  being in an exceptional place at an exceptional time. You were there, but the photo viewer wasn't.

Of course. Ideally capture the exceptional moment with an exceptional subject in exceptional light to help remember it and maybe share it honestly. 

> It makes the judgement (again) potentially very different depending on who you are. For you that image may be a true representation of that landscape, but to the photo viewer it's something quite different; "WOW! Sensational!"

It can, of course be both; something that makes the photographer go "wow" at the time and then an authentic photograph that makes the viewer go "wow" for the same reasons.

There is a big difference between sharing something sensational honestly and sensationalising the ordinary by dishonest processing.

Post edited at 12:53
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