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Amateur Ogwen valley photo

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 broken spectre 18 Nov 2022

This cropped up in my feed https://www.facebook.com/WalesOnline/photos/a.10150170768872183/10159496057217183/?type=3

It's the most stunning photo of the Ogwen valley I've seen, really something else, by an amateur photographer called Aled Lewis. Thought these forums might be an appropriate place to post it forward!

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 mrphilipoldham 18 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

Take away the editing and I don't really see it. I'm not keen on the composition, personally. I think you could have shot it portrait with the stile, Tryfan and beyond and it'd have been better balanced with nicer lines. Nice splash of light though, to be fair.

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In reply to broken spectre:

It’s a stunning photo indeed; I’m not even sure I would have recognised it. That’s Llyn Ogwen, I assume. The shape of Tryfan looks all wrong. It’s obviously too long since I’ve been.

jcm

 jethro kiernan 18 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

Another Ogwen view in the competition from a local Welsh photographer 😏 unfortunately Wales online went radio silent when mentioned there were two locals shortlisted.

https://www.britishphotographyawards.org/2022-shortlist/drone/sunlight-and-figure-at-dawn/f2d04484-f006-4985-9feb-042589623f7d

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In reply to broken spectre:

I think it's horrible.

An example of the over-processed anti-realism that seems to be favoured in these competitions.

Each to their own I suppose........

Post edited at 11:11
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In reply to jethro kiernan:

Go Jethro!

 midgen 18 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

Nice light and composition, but over-processed and the highlights are blown out in the top-right. 

Shame I think with a better exposure and less aggressive editing it would have been great, certainly got a great moment with the light cutting through onto Tryfan.

In reply to midgen:

> Nice light and composition, but over-processed and the highlights are blown out in the top-right. 

> Shame I think with a better exposure and less aggressive editing it would have been great, certainly got a great moment with the light cutting through onto Tryfan.

Yes, it seems like a badly exposed shot of a good scene which he has tried to rescue and ended up with something which would have been better written off as a bad job and deleted.

Some interesting comments in the link. "Mordor looks nice at this time of year" made me laugh!

3
 Fraser 18 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

You don't think it's maybe missing a cloud inversion do you?

 magma 18 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I think it's horrible.

> An example of the over-processed anti-realism that seems to be favoured in these competitions.

not a fan of the great landscape artists then? i quite like the HDR effect in moderation and not a bad composition/lighting?..

was kind of hoping it was a phone pic but prob not..

https://www.aledlewisphotography.com/

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In reply to magma:

> Not a fan of the great landscape artists then?

But this is a photo and I prefer photos which make an honest attempt to reflect what the photographer actually saw. I doubt this does so.

I first saw this photo on my phone and it looked pretty indistinguishable to me from one of those over-romanticised Victorian landscape paintings of which I'm not a fan. I actually prefer landscape paintings of a more abstract style, which get to some sort of essence of the landscape which a photograph cannot reach. I'm not a fan of "photographic" paintings which, although they obviously require great skill, leave me thinking that the artist might just as well have taken a photo. I suppose I'm one of those who see a line between art and photography.

7
 Graeme G 18 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

The link just takes me to the Facebook page? Would like to see the specific photo.

 Graeme G 18 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

It does. Thanks.

In reply to Robert Durran:

> I think it's horrible.

> An example of the over-processed anti-realism that seems to be favoured in these competitions.

> Each to their own I suppose........

I'm constantly perplexed as to how the same shots of the Quiraing (particularly the one of the tree), sometimes with marginal degrees of variation (but mostly just in terms conditions/ processing), seem to be shortlisted in certain British photo competitions every year. 

I'm not criticizing the photographers for taking them, or even entering them, it's more that it's just genuinely weird to me that it doesn't seem to occur to anyone judging these competitions that we've seen it before, usually the year before (and the year before that)...

Rant over.

Good luck Jethro - cracking shot there!

1
 magma 18 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

more your thing? https://www.ukhillwalking.com/photos/author.php?id=40136

need to put the hours in to get great landscape photos i reckon- as you gallery shows

Post edited at 14:58
 felt 18 Nov 2022
In reply to magma:

I really like the extremely consistent and minimal palette in most of that guy's photos. You can always tell just from a thumbnail which ones are his.

 magma 18 Nov 2022
In reply to felt:

composition, clouds and a graduated filter help as well, but i imagine that could be too artificial for mr durran

In reply to magma:

Yes, I am a massive fan of Nicholas' photos. They have the understated authenticity of light that I try to aspire to.

1
In reply to magma:

> composition, clouds and a graduated filter help as well, but i imagine that could be too artificial for mr durran

Well, every photo has a composition and clouds are not artificial. I don't use graduated filters or non-global adjustments but have no objection to them in principle; they can simply be compensating for the camera's limitations in capturing the natural contrasts in a scene. 

2
 alan moore 18 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

I saw this on the Facebook yesterday and immediately took a screenshot as it was so good.

Captures the way the light always seems to hit Tryfan, even on the stormiest days.

In reply to broken spectre:

It's an overshot and cliched viewpoint, the image is poorly exposed and the treatment is very heavy handed. That's what a lot of folk seem to like these days but what they perhaps don't realise is that achieving a natural looking image is a lot more difficult than creating a fantasy scene.

In landscape photography, subtlety and a reverent approach to capturing landscapes comes with experience and maturity.

I would be surprised if Aled has been doing it for more than a couple of years. Most of us go a bit mad when we start out and it's a phase that most of us grow out of.

Years ago when my photography shouted a bit louder I was getting 'Photo of the Week' every other week; these days I can barely get into the weekly top 10. pmsl, lol, etc.

Post edited at 17:56
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In reply to Robert Durran:

That's very kind, Robert, thank you

1
In reply to Nicholas Livesey:

> In landscape photography, subtlety and a reverent approach to capturing landscapes comes with experience and maturity.

I remember being given the advice when processing to push a slider until the effect looks immediately most pleasing, but then to push it back a bit. Good advice I think, but needs self discipline!

> Years ago when my photography shouted a bit louder I was getting 'Photo of the Week' every other week; these days I can barely get into the weekly top 10.

I think that if your priority is to get POTW, the best advice is to push that slider just a bit further..........

1
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I think that if your priority is to get POTW, the best advice is to push that slider just a bit further..........

 Definitely the case on things like instagram. Some of the stuff that gets 1000s of likes is just mind boggling bad. But people are scrolling and pressing like at such a pace that they won’t see any subtlety, all that matters is whether a photo jumps out when it’s flying past at a rate of knots and this favours garish over processing. 

In reply to Stuart Williams:

>  Definitely the case on things like instagram. Some of the stuff that gets 1000s of likes is just mind boggling bad. But people are scrolling and pressing like at such a pace that they won’t see any subtlety, all that matters is whether a photo jumps out when it’s flying past at a rate of knots and this favours garish over processing. 

I suspect simply the fact that people are now so often looking at photos on phones is an issue; subtlety apparent on a bigger screen is sometimes just not apparent on a phone. 

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In reply to Robert Durran:

> I suspect simply the fact that people are now so often looking at photos on phones is an issue; subtlety apparent on a bigger screen is sometimes just not apparent on a phone. 

I think that's true and images are consumed at such a rate these days that if they don't immediately smash your back doors in then they get very little attention. I think attention spans are rapidly decreasing too.

1
 Sean Kelly 18 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

Some on this thread do write a lot of crap commenting about blown highlights and the rest. The image before us is what the photographer has visualised. It might have been manipulated and if a RAW image this is unavoidable. When we look a a Turner painting we only have the finished image before us, and certainly not an exact photographic image of what the artist actually glimpsed. The painting is the artists vision of what they experienced. Much like the much criticised Tryfan landscape above. Standing just below Dolbadarn Castle this last couple of days I experienced very close to what Turner saw from his visit in 1802? The crags to the left were perhaps over dramatic  but the light was just as we both experienced, that blinding  diffused golden dawn of autumn. 

It is the photographer's vision which is important, not a perfect representation of the scene before them. Or else all photography would be the same. And how boring is that. Creativity is the most important element when making a photograph, painting, drawing, or whatever form of art. And Lewis's photograph is full of drama, a sense of time & place. It works because it is a stunning image, seen on a walk up to the Carnedds above Llyn Ogwen.

I rate it highly and can certainly understand why it has been shortlisted. I wish him well!

Post edited at 20:18
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In reply to Sean Kelly:

> It is the photographer's vision which is important.

Should have gone to Specsavers.........

Sorry, I know that's flippant. Shall reply properly when I have time - I profoundly disagree with your take on this but it is an interesting discussion to have.

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In reply to broken spectre:

Putting the aesthetics and the dreaded filter question aside momentarily, what I love about this image is how Lewis has stalked the natural world, aligning the composition, and yes, texture like some kind of photographical apex predator. I don't know this for a fact, but I believe he found a spot where the contours were pleasing and then sat and waited for the elements to align. Click, click. Click, click.

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 Mike-W-99 18 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

And then when he got home… click , click , clickity click?

It’s just massively over processed.

 nathan79 18 Nov 2022
In reply to Sean Kelly:

I can't disagree with the overall message of your post. An artist paints their interpretation of a scene. I feel that photography needs to be split in 2 branches: 1 branch dealing with "natural images i.e. a representation equivalent to what the naked eye would have seen and the other branch processed/edited/tuned images tweaked to show what the photographer wants viewers to see. There's a place for both (though I have little interest in the latter).

In reply to nathan79:

>There's a place for both (though I have little interest in the latter).

But not in the same competition - this is what really seems so wrong here.

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 Marek 19 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> But this is a photo and I prefer photos which make an honest attempt to reflect what the photographer actually saw. I doubt this does so.

I think you might be confusing "... what the photographer actually saw" with some sort of objective "reality". Seeing is much more than recording photons - what we see is significantly influenced by what's going on behind the eyes as much as in front of them. And then there's a potentially endless discussion about 'reality' (e.g., how 'real' are Hubble images), but that's for a deeper thread.

 65 19 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I remember being given the advice when processing to push a slider until the effect looks immediately most pleasing, but then to push it back a bit. Good advice I think, but needs self discipline!

Very!

> I think that if your priority is to get POTW, the best advice is to push that slider just a bit further..........

A few years ago I put a mixed set of pics on FB from a bike tour. Most were standard fare, with some B/W. There was one photo that I couldn’t quite get right during processing so just for fun I went mad and gave it the nuclear treatment, oversaturated, HDR etc. I thought it looked terrible, really crass and actually difficult to look at. It got more likes, hearts and wows than all the others put together.

I like big adjustments in B/W though. 

In reply to Fraser:

> You don't think it's maybe missing a cloud inversion do you?

And the moon🙂

 Fraser 19 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

Naturally! 😉

You might have seen this already but it'll be of interest to others on this thread too I'm sure. It's the latest from team Wedge:

youtube.com/watch?v=nB8S-9qhYtg&

 Duncan Bourne 19 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

I don't care what others say I like it

 John Ww 19 Nov 2022
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

> I don't care what others say I like it

So do I. And I don’t give a single shit how it was achieved, created, processed, dicked about with or engineered, it’s the image I find very pleasing and impressive to look at.

 Brass Nipples 19 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

Pricessed so much it’s almost a fantasy painting.

 Marek 19 Nov 2022
In reply to John Ww:

> So do I. And I don’t give a single shit how it was achieved, created, processed, dicked about with or engineered, it’s the image I find very pleasing and impressive to look at.

Therein lies the dilemma: Photographer tend to be interested in *how* the image was created as much as the final result. They also tend to see *through* the image back the the original scene (as best they can) and think "Is this the image I would have created?" On the other hand people who do not consider themselves to be Photographers (with a capital 'P') tend to only be interested in the final image. Who's right? No simple answer - there is no 'right', just opinions. It could be argued that this was and entry into a *photography* competition and as such it's reasonable to judge it on the basis of the apparent skills of the submitter as a photographer - *both* technical and artistic and I'd certainly say that there appears to be flaws in one or the other in this case. Perhaps the original was overexposed and this was a 'rescue'. Or perhaps it was fine and it was post-processed with a heavy hand. Who knows? Personally, if it was my effort, I wouldn't have submitted it (but then competitive photography isn't my thing), but that doesn't mean it's not worthy. It just might not win. Or it might?

In reply to Thread

Out of interest does anyone know how the competitors did? The awards were presented yesterday (18/11) but I can't find any info.

In reply to broken spectre:

It's wearing way too much make up. Dial it back a bit. Those sliders don't all have to go to 100

In reply to Longsufferingropeholder:

It's flattering how some people think this snap is mine, I don't know how they've jumped to this conclusion, IT ISN'T MINE. The photo has certainly polarised opinion though (getit?)

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 kaiser 19 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

All I see are all those RVs parked in the big layby car park

In reply to kaiser:

A disappointing detail, I agree.

In reply to broken spectre:

No, I know it's not yours. Wasn't talking at you. Sorry that didn't come across.

In reply to kaiser:

> All I see are all those RVs parked in the big layby car park

Yes, all that hideous editing yet he didn't digitally bazooka the motorhomes. I would have. A real missed opportunity. 

1
In reply to Robert Durran:

Zoom in and you can almost see the owners curling one out in the lake

 Sean Kelly 19 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

Well worth looking at the whole gammut of work in this years comp, all 279 entries. I love some of the animal pics, but some stunning images as a whole.

https://www.britishphotographyawards.org/2022-shortlist#portrait

In reply to Sean Kelly:

> Well worth looking at the whole gammut of work in this years comp, all 279 entries. I love some of the animal pics, but some stunning images as a whole.

Yep, there's the inevitable over processed Quirang tree that Brian was ranting about ;-(

Some nice landscapes in there though. Surely Aled won't win........

2
In reply to Robert Durran:

> ...over-processed anti-realism

Neuveux naive??

In reply to j_duds:

> You won 😉

 https://www.instagram.com/p/ClJLbkgjqwP/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY=

What an absolute joke. Really disappointing. Makes a mockery of the whole competition.

Post edited at 22:54
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 c9smith8 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

This thread has been quite an upsetting read, the amount of “you’re doing it wrong” comments flying around, suggesting there is only one “right” way to photograph a view in Snowdonia. Imagine how dull it would be if all art looked the same. 

To me, photography is an art-form. Like every other art-form, everyone has their individual tastes; both in what art-forms and styles they enjoy taking in, and what they enjoy creating. 

For some, the style of this photograph and the way it is achieved, isn’t for you. Which is fair enough, nobody likes every style. But to say it is “wrong” is like saying a Van Gogh isn’t art because you prefer Turner. Or that Dali makes a mockery of art because it’s not the true depiction of a Cezanne.

Your personal taste/style is not the sole definition of landscape photography ukc…

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In reply to Marek:

> I think you might be confusing "... what the photographer actually saw" with some sort of objective "reality". Seeing is much more than recording photons - what we see is significantly influenced by what's going on behind the eyes as much as in front of them. 

Yes, I'm aware of all that. It's complicated and fascinating. I suppose I am (perhaps clumsily) using "what the photographer actually saw" as a sort of shorthand for "something which, within the limitations of a photograph, conveys as authentically and honestly as is possible something of the aesthetics experienced by actually being there at the time".

2
In reply to c9smith8:

> This thread has been quite an upsetting read........

What upsets me is that photographers who have put in the time, effort, patience and skill to seek out something special and, through a photograph, produce something with some honest authenticity, are being squeezed out of this competition by a lazy cliche, badly photographed and then battered on a computer into a comically bad parody of a childish painting.

Sorry, but I genuinely think it is a really shit situation and this is the worst example of it I have ever seen.

> Imagine how dull it would be if all art looked the same. 

And photographs don't look the same if they are taken in different light and at different times, pointing the camera in different directions.

> To me, photography is an art-form. 

To me describing photography as art is problematical. Not least because it helps open the door to this sort of travesty.

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 Marek 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Yes, I'm aware of all that. It's complicated and fascinating. I suppose I am (perhaps clumsily) using "what the photographer actually saw" as a sort of shorthand for "something which, within the limitations of a photograph, conveys as authentically and honestly as is possible something of the aesthetics experienced by actually being there at the time".

I think the key word here is 'experienced'. A good art photograph somehow tries to capture the emotions as well as the photons and that's both incredibly hard (always) and satisfying (if done well). I can understand what the photographer was trying to do in that picture - I just don't think he executed it particularly well.

 Marek 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> To me describing photography as art is problematical.

Why? Perhaps it better to draw a distinction between 'art' photography and 'documentary' photography. If you put the picture in the former category, then there's surely no problem - You may just be of the reasonable opinion the it's not very good art (and there's plenty of that about).

> Not least because it helps open the door to this sort of travesty.

If you put it in the second documentary category, then I would agree, but I don't think that was ever the intention of either the photographer or the organisers of the competition. Different game, different rules.

In reply to Marek:

> Why? Perhaps it better to draw a distinction between 'art' photography and 'documentary' photography. If you put the picture in the former category, then there's surely no problem - You may just be of the reasonable opinion the it's not very good art (and there's plenty of that about).

> If you put it in the second documentary category, then I would agree, but I don't think that was ever the intention of either the photographer or the organisers of the competition. Different game, different rules.

Yes, as I said earlier, the problem is having this sort of fantasy "any processing goes" (art if you like!) stuff alongside authentic photographs; if they were in different categories then the fantasy stuff cold just be ignored. But I don't think saying the authentic stuff can just go in the documentary category solves the problem. What is needed are two separate landscape categories.

But there is hope with the Natural Landscape awards: https://naturallandscapeawards.com/competition-results-2022/

I think this is the only competition I can take seriously now. And I've just noticed that Brian Pollock of this parish won the "Frozen Worlds" category (scroll down to see his really beautiful photo). Interestingly this photo is only his 29th best one in his UKC gallery according to votes - I'm not sure what tells us...... 

Post edited at 14:23
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In reply to Marek:

> A good art photograph somehow tries to capture the emotions as well as the photons and that's both incredibly hard (always) and satisfying (if done well).

Absolutely, and it never gets any easier, but I'm not sure why you feel the need to include the word "art" here.

I took a photograph last week, which took time, effort and then, of course, luck to be in the right place at the right time for a subtly lit scene of, to me, sublime beauty. I've agonised long and hard over its processing, trying to produce something visually authentic which conjures up my emotions at the time when I look at it. I keep returning to it and I think I'm now satisfied. What I don't know is whether it it will evoke equivalent emotions in others, but maybe that doesn't matter!

1
 Sean Kelly 20 Nov 2022
In reply to j_duds:

So much for blown highlights! Doomsayers all got it wrong. Creativity to enhance the drama is what won this award. Congrats to Lewis. Well done!

1
In reply to Sean Kelly:

> So much for blown highlights! Doomsayers all got it wrong. 

No, the Doomsayers are entirely vindicated; the worst has happened.

Post edited at 14:56
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 Marek 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Absolutely, and it never gets any easier, but I'm not sure why you feel the need to include the word "art" here.

Purely to differentiate it from the documentary alternative. There's room (need?) for both. In the same way that in writing you have a distinction between 'history' and 'historical fiction' (for example). Do you berate works of fiction as being travesties of reality? Or do you accept that they have a justifiable existence on their own terms?

> I took a photograph last week, which took time, effort and then, of course, luck to be in the right place at the right time for a subtly lit scene of, to me, sublime beauty. I've agonised long and hard over its processing, trying to produce something visually authentic which conjures up my emotions at the time when I look at it. I keep returning to it and I think I'm now satisfied. What I don't know is whether it it will evoke equivalent emotions in others, but maybe that doesn't matter! 

Do you share your pictures with others? If so, then I assume  at least part of your motivation was to - as far as possible - shared the experience of being there. In which case yes, it does matter.

 Sean Kelly 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> No, the Doomsayers are entirely vindicated; the worst has happened.

Not what the judges thought Robert!

In reply to Sean Kelly:

> Not what the judges thought Robert!

My point is that the Doomsayers' fear was that this photograph would win. Their fear has been vindicated.

1
 Marek 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Sean Kelly:

> Not what the judges thought Robert!

The judges can only judge what before them. On that basis I can see why that picture might have won!

 Marek 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> My point is that the Doomsayers' fear was that this photograph would win. Their fear has been vindicated.

So Robert, if you had been one of the judges*, which would you have picked as the winner?

* I'm assuming the judges were not responsible for the shortlist.

In reply to Marek:

> The judges can only judge what before them. On that basis I can see why that picture might have won!

Well there was a mixture of photos, quite a few of which I think are overprocessed, but I think this is easily the crudest one (though one or two others are pretty hideous). It seems to me that the judges must be predisposed towards this style and I find that rather depressing.

1
In reply to Marek:

> So Robert, if you had been one of the judges*, which would you have picked as the winner?

This one I think: https://www.britishphotographyawards.org/2022-shortlist/landscape/misty-morning-in-the-lake-district/9d704c78-d9e0-467d-8abb-26236e7f3781

There are two or three others I really like too.

Which would you choose?

Post edited at 16:02
In reply to Marek:

> Purely to differentiate it from the documentary alternative.

Apologies if I misunderstood but you seemed to be saying that only an "art" photo can capture emotion. A "documentary" photo can and, I think, should evoke emotions - the same emotions as the photographer had being there.

> There's room (need?) for both. In the same way that in writing you have a distinction between 'history' and 'historical fiction' (for example). Do you berate works of fiction as being travesties of reality? Or do you accept that they have a justifiable existence on their own terms?

Yes, but the distinction needs to be made (obviously). The trouble with this photography competition is that the distinction is not made.

And, yes, I would berate bad fiction just as I have berated this horrible photograph. Some of the shortlisted photos are a bit fantastical but at least they have been done with some skill and have a certain beauty to them.

1
 Marek 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> There a two or three others I really like too.

> Which would you choose?

Funnily enough, the same that you did.

In reply to Marek:

> Funnily enough, the same that you did.

 Marek 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> ... A "documentary" photo can and, I think, should evoke emotions - the same emotions as the photographer had being there.

Hmm, perhaps. But when does that cross the boundary to being manipulative as opposed to documentary? Going seriously off-topic here, so feel free to ignore.

In reply to Robert Durran:

For info, I saw he entered the Landscape Photographer of the Year 2022 comp with the same/similar photo though with a different crop and in portrait view, but didn’t win that one. I can’t now find it on the official website, but it is shown as an editor’s choice though here https://www.countrylife.co.uk/nature/landscape-photographer-of-the-year-2022-the-best-pictures-as-chosen-by-our-picture-editor-249971 .

 John Ww 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

I have a suggest for you - in future, any photograph submitted for entry into a photography competition by a "photographer" must have been taken on a one-model globally agreed camera on fixed globally agreed settings with a globally agreed lens. Also, a complete ban on filters of any sort, and zero tolerance of any processing. How's that sound? Meanwhile, the rest of the world can get on with making pictures they (and other people) like looking at. 

2
In reply to Marek:

> Hmm, perhaps. But when does that cross the boundary to being manipulative as opposed to documentary?

I don't think the two things need to be mutually exclusive. With a realistic looking image, unless I was stood next to the photographer at the time of capture it would be impossible to know how true to the scene the processing was. Personally, I am all for artistic expression in landscape photography.

However, what I want to see in a landscape photograph is something that 'could' have been seen with the naked eye, as opposed to an image that looks completely unrealistic. It takes a lot of skill and experience to achieve natural (believable) looking results.

Throughout this thread I've read about the photographer's vision and personal interpretation etc. which is great, but the image in question is not a masterful expression of the photographer's 'art', it is cack-handed, overcooked and amateurish.

Another thing to consider is that popularity has never been a reliable indicator of quality, be it in music, photography or any other artistic medium. The problem comes when folk suddenly become experts because they like something. There is a big difference in liking something and it being good. It's perfectly ok to enjoy crap.

Post edited at 18:21
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 Marek 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Nicholas Livesey:

>... but the image in question is not a masterful expression of the photographer's 'art', ...

But how do you define 'masterful art'? Because it hung in a gallery? Because someone paid lot of money for it? Because it has a certain signature on it? Because some expert said so and gave it a prize?

Or because it gives pleasure to lots of people (i.e., the 'popularity' criteria)?

My knee-jerk reaction is to denigrate the popularity option, but then I think the other are even worse!

In reply to John Ww:

> I have a suggest for you - in future, any photograph submitted for entry into a photography competition by a "photographer" must have been taken on a one-model globally agreed camera on fixed globally agreed settings with a globally agreed lens. Also, a complete ban on filters of any sort, and zero tolerance of any processing. How's that sound? Meanwhile, the rest of the world can get on with making pictures they (and other people) like looking at. 

Good luck with that if you can get the agreement. One problem is that different subjects "need" different settings/processing to get authentic results so it would tend to push everyone towards the same type of subject.

1
In reply to Marek:

I suppose a useful analogy could go something like comparing the Bach Prelude in C major (one of his simplest pieces) to Agadoo by Black Lace. Only the least discerning of ears would fail to recognise greatness verses drivel. 

3
In reply to Nicholas Livesey:

> However, what I want to see in a landscape photograph is something that 'could' have been seen with the naked eye, as opposed to an image that looks completely unrealistic. It takes a lot of skill and experience to achieve natural (believable) looking results.

I basically agree with that. One problem though is that some things which "could" have been seen with the naked eye on rare occasions can be fabricated routinely and so end up having to be taken with a pinch of salt and so are devalued when they are actually real. An example (and a bugbear of mine) is how some photographers manipulate their skies either with filters or in processing so that they almost always look like a world-ending storm is approaching. Aled does this very crudely in many of his photos if you look at his website - I can just laugh at that but it is more of an issue when done skillfully enough to be credible.

1
In reply to John Ww:

> I have a suggest for you - in future, any photograph submitted for entry into a photography competition by a "photographer" must have been taken on a one-model globally agreed camera on fixed globally agreed settings with a globally agreed lens. Also, a complete ban on filters of any sort, and zero tolerance of any processing. How's that sound? Meanwhile, the rest of the world can get on with making pictures they (and other people) like looking at. 

Why not make it a stipulation that the RAW file is made available for viewing by the judges and let them ascertain if the photographer has over processed the resultant image to an extent that it no longer realistically reflects what was actually photographed at the time?
(The BPA do request RAW files occasionally, but seems to be the exception rather than the norm):
5.5 After the judging process has concluded, Entrants whose Entries have been short listed by the Judges may, at the discretion of the Judges and of the Admin, be required to submit the RAW camera file (or original film negatives, untouched JPEGS or transparency). Accepted RAW data (.CR2, .ORF, .NEF, PEF etc) DNG files are now permitted (even if it is not the native format of the camera and it was essential for editing). The file will not be circulated to any individual other than an Admin or Judges. Submission of the RAW data in accordance with this section 5.5 is to ensure ethical standards are maintained. This section 5.5 applies only for certain categories (as determined by the Admin in its sole discretion) where evidence of animal baiting/cruelty, misrepresentation of reality or an attempt to disguise unethical behaviour is suspected.

https://www.britishphotographyawards.org/terms-of-entry

In reply to Marek:

> >... but the image in question is not a masterful expression of the photographer's 'art', ...

> But how do you define 'masterful art'?

Probably the stuff that people will still want to look at or listen to in a hundred years time.

In reply to FactorXXX:

> Why not make it a stipulation that the RAW file is made available for viewing by the judges and let them ascertain if the photographer has over processed the resultant image to an extent that it no longer realistically reflects what was actually photographed at the time?

This what the Natural Landscape Awards do.

 Marek 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Nicholas Livesey:

> I suppose a useful analogy could go something like comparing the Bach Prelude in C major (one of his simplest pieces) to Agadoo by Black Lace. Only the least discerning of ears would fail to recognise greatness verses drivel. 

Although I know which I would choose, there's a danger in the concept of 'discerning' becoming simply 'like mine'.

Music however - since you raised it - has the extra dimension of composition vs. performance. So for instance would you consider Bach's Chaconne (BWV 1004) as played by Itzhak Perlman to be a over-romaniticsed travesty (as some do) or a justifiable expression of the underlying emotions in a baroque composition from a man grieving over his dead wife (supposedly). I can't help feeling that there are some parallels here - albeit perhaps subtle - with the arguments in this thread.

 Marek 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Probably the stuff that people will still want to look at or listen to in a hundred years time.

There I must agree with you again. Although relying on hindsight is cheating: How do you judge *today* whether something is likely to stand the test of time?

[Edit] ... And actually, does it really matter? If something 'arty' gives pleasure to millions today, does it matter if  tastes have changed in 50 years and people have moved on? What is the point of art anyway?

Post edited at 19:31
 John Ww 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Good luck with that if you can get the agreement. One problem is that different subjects "need" different settings/processing to get authentic results so it would tend to push everyone towards the same type of subject.

Ah, I see - the settings/processing you Photographers "need" trump the settings/processes of the rest of the world. A tad elitist don't you think?

2
 Sean Kelly 20 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

Then again Robert, in the pre-digital darkroom, did not Ansel Adams manipulate his images by dodging & burning, push-processing of negatives, selecting the paper grade for contrast, and selecting different focal length for lenses on the camera. I'm am sure sepia toning was also in his remit. And so it has always been. And nobody would dispute Adams place in the pantheon of great landscape photographers.

In reply to John Ww:

> Ah, I see - the settings/processing you Photographers "need" trump the settings/processes of the rest of the world. A tad elitist don't you think?

This is very common misunderstanding which I certainly had when I started getting interested in photography a number of years ago. All photographs are processed. It can either be left to the camera with a default programme (which the photographer can tweak with the camera settings) and then getting a jpeg straight from the camera, or the photographer can get the unprocessed RAW file from the camera and use any number of tools on their computer to process it and then export a jpeg. This can either be done badly or well and takes practice - an endless learning curve in fact. There is nothing special about the default jpeg from the camera and nothing elitist about doing the processing yourself. In general, the trickier the lighting conditions (high contrast etc.) the greater the shortcomings of the default jpeg and the greater the advantages of doing the processing yourself appropriate to that photo. When I started processing RAW files myself I was very quickly getting far more pleasing and realistic results with greater detail.

Doing your own processing is no more elitist than doing your own cooking rather than eating ready meals.

Post edited at 20:10
1
In reply to Sean Kelly:

> Then again Robert, in the pre-digital darkroom, did not Ansel Adams manipulate his images by dodging & burning, push-processing of negatives, selecting the paper grade for contrast, and selecting different focal length for lenses on the camera.

Yes, and now we just do the equivalent on our computers. It can be done well or badly in the darkroom or digitally. Nothing has changed.

> And so it has always been. And nobody would dispute Adams place in the pantheon of great landscape photographers.

Of course not.

1
In reply to Sean Kelly:

> Then again Robert, in the pre-digital darkroom, did not Ansel Adams manipulate his images by dodging & burning, push-processing of negatives, selecting the paper grade for contrast, and selecting different focal length for lenses on the camera. I'm am sure sepia toning was also in his remit. And so it has always been. And nobody would dispute Adams place in the pantheon of great landscape photographers.

Yes, but he also spent a lot of time waiting for the best light conditions before going into the darkroom and dodging & burning, etc.
The modern equivalent used by some is to try and bypass that waiting by the use of post process editing.
 

In reply to broken spectre:

Wow! Here's another! Similar aspect, by some gentleman named Peter Howse

https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=555144803284349&set=a.204834318315401

 John Ww 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

“All photographs are processed…” Yep, agree entirely - but why? What for? Surely the answer is simply “to make a more appealing image”. So, what is it about the actual image in question, rather than it’s processing, which makes your criticism so scathing and derogatory? It’s not a processing competition, it’s a final product competition. I repeat - what is it about the IMAGE, rather than its means of production, that you hate?

Post edited at 21:08
1
In reply to broken spectre:

> Wow! Here's another! Similar aspect, by some gentleman named Peter Howse

I love that. Captures the miserable weather really well. It is too easy to put the camera away in rubbish conditions.

1
 John Ww 20 Nov 2022
In reply to FactorXXX:

> Why not make it a stipulation that the RAW file is made available for viewing by the judges and let them ascertain if the photographer has over processed the resultant image to an extent that it no longer realistically reflects what was actually photographed at the time…

Who gives a shit?

“I say Vincent, what’s this crap you’ve got on the wall? Those sunflowers you’ve painted look nowt like the ones in your garden!”

Post edited at 21:15
1
In reply to John Ww:

> “All photographs are processed…” Yep, agree entirely - but why? What for? Surely the answer is simply “to make a more appealing image”.

It depends entirely on the photographer what their aim is. At one end of the spectrum some of us aim to evoke the scene and atmosphere realistically, at the other end some people use the RAW file to create something fantastical and unrealistic.

> So, what is it about the actual image in question, rather than it’s processing, which makes your criticism so scathing and derogatory? It’s not a processing competition, it’s a final product competition. I repeat - what is it about the IMAGE, rather than it’s means of production, that you hate?

It is hilariously crude, shallow and artless, stirring in me no recognisable feelings of actually being in the hills. It left me completely cold (once I'd finished laughing).

2
In reply to John Ww:

> Who gives a shit.

Lots of people. Those who see the value of realistic photography, including those respected photographers who set up the Natural Photography Awards in reaction to the direction things have been going in.

> “I say Vincent, what’s this crap you’ve got on the wall? Those sunflowers you’ve painted look nowt like the ones in your garden!”

That is because they are a painting, not a photograph.

2
In reply to Robert Durran:

> It is hilariously crude, shallow and artless, stirring in me no recognisable feelings of actually being in the hills. It left me completely cold (once I'd finished laughing).

Light travels two ways through an optical lens and your interpretation of the piece also renders an image. One of a man who prefers dynamism to pictorialism perhaps? I happen to prefer Howse's photo as well, although when I first saw Lewis's, I thought it to be the bee's knees. We learn as we go, that's half the fun.

 John Ww 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

And there you have it in a nutshell - your use of the term "artless" hits the nail on the head in both senses of the word. You neither value the way the final image was produced, nor do you consider it a worthwhile piece of art per se. So be it. I, on the other hand, think it's excellent, eye catching and hugely evocative, and having just had a look at the images on your profile page, I know which I prefer. 

2
 65 20 Nov 2022
In reply to John Ww:

> I have a suggest for you - in future, any photograph submitted for entry into a photography competition by a "photographer" must have been taken on a one-model globally agreed camera on fixed globally agreed settings with a globally agreed lens. Also, a complete ban on filters of any sort, and zero tolerance of any processing. 

This was pretty much the rules for a photography comp my mountaineering club set some years ago. I didn't bother entering. Oddly I'm trying to find a way to hold another competition but with absolutely no limits on capture methods, kit used or processing. If people prefer scenes that look like something from a Lord of the Rings film then I guess that will win, though it wouldn't get my vote.

In reply to John Ww:

> And there you have it in a nutshell - your use of the term "artless" hits the nail on the head in both senses of the word. You neither value the way the final image was produced, nor do you consider it a worthwhile piece of art per se. So be it. I, on the other hand, think it's excellent, eye catching and hugely evocative, and having just had a look at the images on your profile page, I know which I prefer. 

Fine and you are, of course, welcome to it. But the aims are completely different. As I have already said the issue for me is both being in the same category in the competition and realism getting squeezed out. 

2
 65 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> What upsets me is that photographers who have put in the time, effort, patience and skill to seek out something special and, through a photograph, produce something with some honest authenticity, are being squeezed out of this competition by a lazy cliche, badly photographed and then battered on a computer into a comically bad parody of a childish painting.

I agree but this is probably going down the road of considering Miles Davis to be superior to Coldplay or Mohsen Makhmalbaf to be superior to James Cameron. FWIW, I do in both cases but few agree. 

> To me describing photography as art is problematical. Not least because it helps open the door to this sort of travesty.

I consider my personal photography as art, on the basis that I 'make' the picture by first selecting a focal length to give the composition I want and then later processing it beyond what the RAW file shows or a JPEG has recorded. The only photos I 'take' are with my phone, and they are often overprocessed for my tastes. With regard to photography as art, what would you regard black and white as? Most of us see the world in colour, but I love B/W and to be honest I'd probably be happy 'making' B/W images exclusively. (And aside from Ansel Adams, Fay Godwin's work is a wonder). If visual authenticity was the benchmark of photography, B/W would have to be consigned to the weirder end of the sub-fringes.

As far as photography as technical recording and representation goes, I do this a lot with work, mostly on historic buildings. I still process the photos but only to highlight aspects of the subject in order to enhance visual communication to the viewer. There's no 'art' or creativity going on, what I'm doing is much closer to what you describe with your own approach. The nearest I get to eliciting an emotional response from the viewer is to make photos of a subject in its wider setting, to illustrate context, but this is far cry from making an image which is primarily to please and satisfy me, and secondarily to stimulate a hopefully positive reaction in other viewers. It gets slightly more complex if the other viewer is a client but ultimately they are still paying for my 'vision' as much as my expertise and restraint with sliders and colour channels. 

In both cases I am recording what I see and expressing the essence of the subject via an image but the intent and purpose differ massively between the two. 

I see two problems if we view the process as a technical one with an aim of recording the actuality of what the photographer saw when they pressed the shutter button. 

The first is that we'd have to exclude all lenses wider than, say 28mm*. Much wider and things begin to noticeably distort, distances between objects increase and the field of view becomes very different to what one sees at any given moment. By the same token, once you get beyond around 70mm compression becomes an issue and is very pronounced once you get to 200mm.

*full frame focal lengths.

The other is that light changes all the time so unless conditions are very stable and you immediately transfer the image to a laptop and edit it there and then, by the time you come to edit the photo at home you will be depending on memory. The best you can do is to render the image to look as how you remember the scene. There's obviously nothing wrong with trying to faithfully recreate what you saw, but the limitations have to be acknowledged.

But as others have pointed out above, pretty much all the images that we outdoors people and lovers of landscape and nature photography have enjoyed for over a century will have been augmented in some way. I do get the difference between naturalistic photography of the kind that you and Gordon Stainforth (for example) produce, and deliberately dramatised images, but with the latter, it comes down to taste and intent. Nothing wrong with using photography to create an image in much the same way an artist might use paint, but anyone trying to pass off an image like the Ogwen photo as naturalistic is, well I don't want to cast slurs so I'll call them mistaken. 

Personally, I think that Ogwen photo is actually difficult to look at but as my own small experiments on social media have shown me, lots of people like this stuff. These competitions aren't representative of photography though, and unless I've missed it, (which is possible) I've not seen coffee table books with these kinds of images shoving Colin Prior, Joe Cornish or our own Nicholas Livesey into the bargain bins.

 veteye 20 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

I agree with the vast majority of what you have said. The other side of the balance, producing images which are almost cartoon like, seems to be pretty much art-less, and aimed at a certain audience, whose gaze does not seem to consider what the original scene would be like.

I went to a meeting a few years ago, I think set up by "On landscape" (Landscape media, based in Ballachulish), and the talks were most worthwhile. I bought three coffee table books, including one from the photographer based in the North-East, whose name escapes me(Joe Cornish as referenced by 65). The latter's images have some post-processing, but it is done with finesse and subtlety). The meeting was at Rheged on the edge of the Lakes. 

Some of the images from others, were more "artistic", in that they photographed images of closer landscape, such as patterns on the surface of dunes or dry river beds. I would like to go again at some time.

Post edited at 23:32
In reply to John Ww:

> “All photographs are processed…” Yep, agree entirely - but why? What for? Surely the answer is simply “to make a more appealing image”.

Well, no. The answer is “to produce an image full stop”. All photographs are processed because a camera doesn’t record an image; in the case of digital it records a file of binary values that wouldn’t be particularly interesting to look at. A computer doesn’t know what you want it to do with those values until someone tells it. Even the base values recorded are determined by a human programming the camera to record different wavelengths in certain ways.

Same goes for analogue photos, except using chemical reactions rather than computer code. Just shining light onto a random bit of paper doesn’t produce a photograph. Even before you consider what happens in a darkroom, different films can give wildly different results. And then the film needs processing to get a photograph from a negative. 

There is just no such thing as an unprocessed photo. Asking “why are photos processed” doesn’t really make sense, because they wouldn’t exist if we didn’t. Any debate is about what characterises a “good” outcome from that processing and Robert’s criticism is obviously of the outcome not the means. 

 montyjohn 21 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

It has such an eerie feel to it. 

In reply to veteye:

> I went to a meeting a few years ago, I think set up by "On landscape" (Landscape media, based in Ballachulish), and the talks were most worthwhile. 

I think that is run by Tim Parkin who occasionally posts in here and is one of the people behind the Natural Landscape Awards.

In reply to Stuart Williams:

Agree entirely. I think there is a fundamental lack of understanding of the need for processing in pursuit of a realistic image. I attended an online course specifically about understanding processing (i.e. why as opposed to how) last year where this was demonstrated very effectively by providing an example of an image where the tonal value (i.e. relative luminosity) of every part of the image was 'correctly' represented on a scale representing the full tonal range visible to the human eye (e.g. ranging from the sun (pure white) to the deepest shadows (pure black) and everything in between).

The image didn't look real. It's hard to say exactly why but my brain just rejected it - in a similar way to how you can often tell when you are looking at an animated person over a real person, even with state of the art technology. The explanation for this was essentially that the human visual system doesn't interpret information in a linear way like the example. Our visual experience is more dynamic and our eye adjusts to overcome its own limitations and the brain interprets to create our perception of reality. For example, I can see detail in a shadow on a sunny day. To some extent I can still see that detail in my peripheral vision even if I look at a much brighter part of the scene (e.g. the sky). 

Camera are not that sophisticated. They do view the world in a linear way. Every pixel is represented within a finite tonal range. That is where processing comes in. Whilst processing cannot replicate what the human visual system can do, it can help reduce the gap between reality and the unprocessed image. For example, I can (and do) manipulate tones to the point where a few pixels of a foreground may be nearly as bright as some of the brightest parts of the sky (albeit, retaining a natural 'roll off' through the midtones into the shadows). Arguably that is 'wrong' as of course the sky is brighter than the rock or the blade of grass, etc. But if you looked at the processed image you would (or should - if I've done a good job) not think it looks wrong. It shouldn't even look obviously 'processed' or, at least, that is the goal. The point is I am attempting to overcome the limitations of a linear tonal range and mimic what the human visual system does (albest, in a much more sophisticated way).

That is why a skillfully processed image is more 'real' than an unprocessed raw file. It is also why often a skillfully processed image is also more real that a straight out of camera JPEG. This is, in my experience, something which is not well understood - even by many photographers. I didn't really understand it myself until I attended the course in question.

This misconception about the use and intention of processing can also help explain why photographers like Nick and Robert may get annoyed when told "everyone processes their images to make them look better". My interpretation of that statement is that what the person really means is "look better than reality", as if the RAW is 'real' and everything past that is 'artistic expression'. To some extent the latter can be true but, in my view, the former is not. 

So what I am trying to say is really: (1) processing is necessary if you want to create realistic/ 'truthful' images (perhaps with a few limited exceptions - some low contrast scenes just don't need much processing and could get away with none); and (2) a realistic/ 'truthful' image is a legitimate end goal of processing and it is not hypocritical for one photographer to be critical of garish processing used as a means of distorting reality (in the familiar Instagram style) simply because that photographer also processes their images.

And full disclosure, I've produced some nasty edits myself and you don't need to dig too deep in my gallery to find them. I'm not having a go at anyone or sitting on a high horse. I thought some of my worst edits were the bee's knees at the time. Now I find them hideous. That's just the way it goes. Nevertheless, I think the critique of the particular image in question here has been largely fair. In a few years the photographer might look back himself and cringe. Maybe he won't. Either way, critique is valuable even if it is harsh. 

In reply to 65:

> I consider my personal photography as art, on the basis that I 'make' the picture by first selecting a focal length to give the composition I want....

It is, of course, perfectly reasonable to call photography art, and I think it is probably appropriate for the over processed and fantastical stuff. However, I would prefer another word, perhaps "craft", for photography where the aim is more realistic. Although still a slowly learning punter, I put a lot of time, effort and thought into my photography but I would simply never think of myself as an artist or aspirant artist (it would just seem pretentious apart from anything else). Of course the boundaries are going to be blurred, but while the art photographer is using a RAW file as the basis for creating something, maybe the craft photographer is more trying to share something. I just feel the aims are different.

> ......and then later processing it beyond what the RAW file shows.

Does the RAW file actually show anything?

> With regard to photography as art, what would you regard black and white as?

I suppose if B and W didn't exist as a historical accident, it might well not be invented. An interesting question. I think maybe we are so used to seeing B and W photos that we see them as normal. So either art or craft. I'm not sure!

> There's obviously nothing wrong with trying to faithfully recreate what you saw, but the limitations have to be acknowledged.

Absolutely. Not least because, along with the other limitations you point out, we are reducing a scene to two dimensions.

> But as others have pointed out above, pretty much all the images that we outdoors people and lovers of landscape and nature photography have enjoyed for over a century will have been augmented in some way. I do get the difference between naturalistic photography of the kind that you and Gordon Stainforth (for example) produce, and deliberately dramatised images, but with the latter, it comes down to taste and intent. 

I think intent is the key word here. Whether the photographer is trying to create or communicate something which they didn't see or experience at the time of taking the photo, or whether they are trying to, as best they can within the limitations of a photograph, to authentically share something of.. what they saw or experienced

> Personally, I think that Ogwen photo is actually difficult to look at but as my own small experiments on social media have shown me, lots of people like this stuff. These competitions aren't representative of photography though, and unless I've missed it, (which is possible) I've not seen coffee table books with these kinds of images shoving Colin Prior, Joe Cornish or our own Nicholas Livesey into the bargain bins.

That is a very reassuring point. The fantastical stuff seems to be largely confined to social media and these competitions. It is weird how it has come to be so often the preferred style in competitions - where and why did it all start going so wrong?!

2
In reply to broken spectre:

> It's the most stunning photo of the Ogwen valley I've seen, really something else, by an amateur photographer called Aled Lewis. Thought these forums might be an appropriate place to post it forward!

Sorry, I think it looks awful. 

In reply to Brian Pollock:

Superb post. I think you have explained how processing works really well.

 Marek 21 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> ... where and why did it all start going so wrong?!

In so far as 'it went wrong' (I would prefer a less judgmental 'different'), I think it was the change in the consumption model rather than in the production. More than a decade (or two) ago, to see photographs in an exhibition you had to be interested enough and motivated enough to actually go to a specific bricks-and-mortar location and see them printed and hung on the wall. Photographers were being judge by a different set of people in different circumstances. I'm interested in photography, but I've only been to one such exhibition (Ansel Adams in SF) Today? Well I had a look at the online gallery link above in the thread, scanned the images (mostly just small thumbnails) giving each one probably no more than 1 second attention on average. It's hardly surprising that the criteria by which they are judged even by me would be quite different. Never mind those of my wife (say) who has little interest in photography, but had a quick look (even quicker than mine) anyway.

Subtlety has given way to immediate impact and I think even competition judges - consciously or otherwise - have followed that trend, perhaps only to try and stay 'relevant'.

Post edited at 11:42
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Yes, all that hideous editing yet he didn't digitally bazooka the motorhomes. I would have. A real missed opportunity. 

If he’d taken the picture from about two steps further right he could have included our club hut.  Sadly, it’s just hidden behind the wall.

In reply to broken spectre:

Another other big misunderstood or underappreciated part of the whole photography as representing reality versus photography as art (and the lack of mutual exclusivity between the two) is the reality that whilst some photography clearly and honestly presents itself as art (e.g. a black and white abstract to use a very obvious example, but there is obviously more to it than that), some photography which does not represent reality in an honest way nevertheless relies on the underlying belief of the viewer in the 'truth' of the image as a means of elevating the photo.

This is where the friction point often occurs from the perspective of photographers who value the 'eye witness tradition'. It has been argued that the inherent 'dishonesty' of such an approach erodes one of the most valuable and unique qualities of photography as medium. That is, the perception that photography is (or, at least, can be in its 'purest' form) an honest representation of reality. The belief in the 'truth' of photography is arguably its greatest asset. That belief allows a photographer to share with the viewer the inherent beauty of the natural world in a way which other artistic mediums can't - in other words, photography can bring the viewer as close to the experience of being there as possible (arguably, video/ time lapse is better still).

That belief in the 'truth' of photography also provides a platform on which to present the honest reality of the natural world, as it is, as a worthy subject in itself. This is the point of my early comment that photography as art and photography as representation reality are not mutually exclusive.  

The friction occurs because photography which has been manipulated to the point where it is no longer an honest representation of the reality of the subject, yet presented as 'real', inherently chips away at the perception of photography as real and, in doing so, erodes the 'magic' of 'honest' photography - that is, it's ability to transport the viewer and showcase the beauty of the natural world for what it is).

For the avoidance of doubt, I like many different kinds of photography and think everything has its place (whether I like it or not). The point of the above is just to try to give my understanding of why this stuff matters and why it isn't necessarily as simple as saying, it's all 'art' and everything goes all of the time.

There is a lot written about this and explained far better than I have the ability to do. This is just my attempt to present the side of the debate which most resonates with me. I appreciate there are other perspectives on this which make valid points also.   

 galpinos 21 Nov 2022
In reply to Nicholas Livesey:

> ....... that if they don't immediately smash your back doors in ........

I'd prefer it if photo's didn't do that! I like my "back door" as it is thanks.....

 deepsoup 21 Nov 2022
In reply to Brian Pollock:

> The belief in the 'truth' of photography is arguably its greatest asset.

And yet it has never really been the case that "the camera does not lie".  It would be a bit ironic to say the least to urge us all in the name of 'honesty' to continue to believe a myth that is more mythical now than it ever was.

For that matter, it isn't even the case that you can always trust your own eyes, as any number of optical illusions will attest.  There's an absolute ton of processing done between the raw 'data' coming off the retina of the human eye and the image subsequently constructed in the mind.  In some circumstances the scene that you are seeing (and certainly the one that you remember later) owes more to the imagination than to vision.

 65 21 Nov 2022
In reply to Brian Pollock:

Great posts, you've manage to articulate much of what I was trying to say and more but using far clearer language.

In reply to deepsoup:

I agree with a lot of that - as you will see from my earlier post - but I don't agree that the fact it is not true to say "the camera does not lie" in absolute terms itself undermines the value of 'honest' photography. Maybe it is a more aspirational view than one based entirely on what is, but if we only believed in what is and not what could be, what's the point of taking a stance on anything.   

 65 21 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> However, I would prefer another word, perhaps "craft", for photography where the aim is more realistic. Although still a slowly learning punter, I put a lot of time, effort and thought into my photography but I would simply never think of myself as an artist or aspirant artist (it would just seem pretentious apart from anything else). 

Craft is a fair word, but I do think we're at the splitting hairs point. Is craft the meeting point of art and technique? I don't think regarding it as art is pretentious, unless one thinks of art as inherently superior to craft. Re being a punter, join the club, I think almost all of us are, Messrs Stainforth and Parkin aside imho.

> Does the RAW file actually show anything?

Well, no, I should have said 'contains' or referred to a processed file.

> That is a very reassuring point. The fantastical stuff seems to be largely confined to social media and these competitions. It is weird how it has come to be so often the preferred style in competitions - where and why did it all start going so wrong?!

Democratisation of photography? As someone above said, the easy dip in and out nature of social media for viewers plus the relative ease of producing photographs compared the days of film. Anyone can go out and spend a grand or so on a camera and some software, scattergun their subjects and with a bit of luck, skill and vision, actually produce superb images. A far cry from turning the bathroom into a darkroom to process 12 or 36 very carefully considered negatives. Once the purchase of a camera and software has been made, there's no longer any investment in taking the photos. I'm not necessarily of the view that this is good for photography itself. I can't help but think it is analogous to listening to a 3 minute pop song rather than immersing oneself in something by JS Bach, or reading Viz rather than Ulysses. (Now that probably IS pretentious!) 

In reply to Brian Pollock:

Another brilliant post.

> The friction occurs because photography which has been manipulated to the point where it is no longer an honest representation of the reality of the subject, yet presented as 'real', inherently chips away at the perception of photography as real and, in doing so, erodes the 'magic' of 'honest' photography - that is, it's ability to transport the viewer and showcase the beauty of the natural world for what it is).

Yes. I think this gets right to the heart of the issue; the abundance of "unreal" photographs means that you very often simply don't know whether you are looking at something authentic or not and the whole experience is tarnished by the ever nagging doubt.

> There is a lot written about this and explained far better than I have the ability to do. 

I don't think I've ever seen it explained so clearly and concisely before!

 magma 21 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

set my camera in art mode this morning, just for you- check out the cool halos around the sun..

raw (converted to jpg): https://photos.app.goo.gl/4qxk8iCW27JFKC6b9

arty: https://photos.app.goo.gl/fhagefgxSzqbWPVa6

arty in newtonmore: https://photos.app.goo.gl/q16wVtkLXoqhEZuj9

 Brass Nipples 21 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Does the RAW file actually show anything?

No, in the same way a jpg or bmp file doesn’t show anything.  The software that reads it and interprets it, does the showing on a screen, 

 Marek 21 Nov 2022
In reply to Brian Pollock:

I suppose that if you get down to basic, there's no such thing as a universal 'reality'. Everyone builds their own 'model' of the world in their head. The model is based on inputs they receive via their senses and their own unique ability to interpret those inputs. We can all make statements about the specific model in our heads, but beyond that? Sometimes we seem to be able to construct these models in way that appear reasonably (apparently) consistent with those of others. Sometimes less so - does reality means the same to someone blind from birth as for someone deaf from birth? And sometimes we even have to accept that our own model actually doesn't correlate to whatever's out there however imaginative, clever and honest we are. For most people quantum mechanics has proved to be a watershed in their definition of reality, but that's just a particularly blatant gut-punch to out belief in universal reality. So what the status of my reality versus your reality? It's meaningless to compare them in absolute terms. All you can do is look at how my interpretation of my internal model (my own personal reality) affect what I do and how that affects how others perceive what I do.

But back to photography I'm not sure there's really much of an argument that can be made about images representing reality. How often have you seen pictures of landscapes in glorious sunshine (or whatever weather count as photographically 'interesting') when you know that in that location it's usually grey, overcast and miserable and totally not worth getting your camera wet for? Are those sunscapes reality? The same goes for much of the 'beauty' of the natural world - yes it's beautiful if you're there at just the right time, in the right place and with the right equipment - but the 'reality' is that 99% of the rest of the time there's really nothing there. So what's real? The 1% or the 99%?

So forget about the pursuit of 'reality'. It's a wild goose chase and we don't even know what a goose is.

In reply to 65:

> Craft is a fair word, but I do think we're at the splitting hairs point. Is craft the meeting point of art and technique? I don't think regarding it as art is pretentious, unless one thinks of art as inherently superior to craft. 

Not superior. Good art certainly requires good craft, but I don't think good photography necessarily requires art - just the vision to see a good subject and the craft to photograph it successfully.

 fotoVUE 21 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

A very popular viewpoint and composition. Like others have said, it is heavily processed in an unreal style.

All because you can, doesn't mean you should! But heh, digital art has its place.

If you haven't already, here are some great examples of images in reality style - what you actually witness or close to it.

https://naturallandscapeawards.com/competition-results-2022/

Mick

 fotoVUE 21 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

The fact that it was shortlisted at the British Photography Awards 2022 speaks volumes. 

In reply to fotoVUE:

Thanks Mick!

Straight away this one struck me (I clicked through to the photographer's page for a higher res photo)

https://www.ericephoto.com/Portfolio/Artist-Favorites/i-NKSwqxs/A

But what is going on here?

In reply to Marek:

> The same goes for much of the 'beauty' of the natural world - yes it's beautiful if you're there at just the right time, in the right place and with the right equipment - but the 'reality' is that 99% of the rest of the time there's really nothing there. So what's real? The 1% or the 99%?

If I go out on the hills for the day the light will probably be dull for most of the time and most views will be not particularly interesting. It is the occasional moment and glimpse of "magic" that I go for and will remember and also that I will photograph to help me remember and to share with others. I don't think there is anything unreal about that moment.

I took this photo a couple of days ago at sunrise on The Cobbler. It was so dull that my camera had stayed in my sack and I had to scramble for it to photograph this burst of light that lasted about two minutes. It was real and I've tried to photograph it authentically. Am I meant to show you another 99 photos to put it in context?


In reply to Marek:

> yes it's beautiful if you're there at just the right time, in the right place and with the right equipment - but the 'reality' is that 99% of the rest of the time there's really nothing there. So what's real? The 1% or the 99%?

They're both 'real'. You've really just hit the nail on the head as to the whole point of what makes a great photo special. The rarity of the 1% is inherent in its value. And being there "at just the right time, in the right place and with the right equipment" is the game. The fact it isn't as easy as clickity click on the computer is why its worth doing. It's the same argument for ethics in climbing - there is value in the method as much, if not more, than the result. 

In reply to Robert Durran:

Fantastic light. From The Light Fantastic... "When light encounters a strong magical field it loses all sense of urgency. It slows right down. And on the Discworld the magic was embarrassingly strong, which meant that the soft yellow light of dawn flowed over the sleeping landscape like the caress of a gentle lover or, as some would have it, like golden syrup. It paused to fill up valleys. It piled up against mountain ranges."

Love it Robert. I do genuinely.

1
 Marek 21 Nov 2022
In reply to fotoVUE:

> The fact that it was shortlisted at the British Photography Awards 2022 speaks volumes. 

But what does it say? Trump speak volumes...

 Marek 21 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

>.... Am I meant to show you another 99 photos to put it in context?

No, it's an exceptional moment in an exceptional place. The context (you were lucky) will probably be assumed by most viewers (here at least). But does it represent the hill-walking reality in a general sense? I don't think so.

In reply to Marek:

> >.... Am I meant to show you another 99 photos to put it in context?

> No, it's an exceptional moment in an exceptional place. The context (you were lucky) will probably be assumed by most viewers (here at least). But does it represent the hill-walking reality in a general sense? I don't think so.

But we go walking, go climbing, persevere with many things for the exceptional moments. In many ways that is what it's all about. It represents that.

 Marek 21 Nov 2022
In reply to Brian Pollock:

> They're both 'real'. You've really just hit the nail on the head as to the whole point of what makes a great photo special. The rarity of the 1% is inherent in its value. And being there "at just the right time, in the right place and with the right equipment" is the game. The fact it isn't as easy as clickity click on the computer is why its worth doing. It's the same argument for ethics in climbing - there is value in the method as much, if not more, than the result. 

I think I agree with all of the above, but purely on a personal (as opposed to public) level. It's why my photography (the process) has value to me. I can spend hours taking and processing one picture and them throw it away (metaphorically speaking) and for me that can be time well spent. The distinction come when I try to 'sell' it to others as a representation of not just my reality, but of theirs. That's where the 'value' becomes problematic.

I think with photography all you can say is "This is how *I* see the world. Make of it what you will." Nothing more.

Post edited at 14:14
In reply to Marek:

> I think with photography all you can say is "This is how *I* see the world. Make of it what you will." Nothing more.

Yes, but I think there is plenty of evidence that most people visually "see" the world in broadly similar way, even if our emotional responses vary. In fact I think a practically functioning society depends quite a lot on assuming they do.

 Marek 21 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> But we go walking, go climbing, persevere with many things for the exceptional moments. In many ways that is what it's all about. It represents that.

There I agree. It represents 'why' we go out there more than the reality of what we find when we do. It represent the motivation in our heads, not some physical reality. It says more about us than about the hills.

 magma 21 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

> But what is going on here?

the next level of artyness

arty: https://photos.app.goo.gl/bhcZCcQ6n8ti9Qvt5 

goarty: https://photos.app.goo.gl/mp3yVZN7nbg6gkuv9

 Marek 21 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Yes, but I think there is plenty of evidence that most people visually "see" the world in broadly similar way, even if our emotional responses vary. In fact I think a practically functioning society depends quite a lot on assuming they do.

Yes, society wouldn't function otherwise. The problems arise when 'visually' (the inputs) become 'conceptually' (the models). The assumption that other peoples' models are the same as ours is one to explore very gingerly.

 Marek 21 Nov 2022
In reply to magma:

> the next level of artyness

I quite like that!

Immediate reaction? Yes, I quite like that too. Algorithmic art - is there such a thing? Then I saw the NFT bit...

 fotoVUE 21 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

Not sure...that one did stick out as unnatural. Heavy snowstorm. I'll ask Alex Nail, one of the founders.

 fotoVUE 21 Nov 2022
In reply to Marek:

> But what does it say? Trump speak volumes...

Look at what they short list. A lot of over-processed click bait.

In reply to broken spectre:

> Love it Robert. I do genuinely.

Thanks

 magma 21 Nov 2022
In reply to Marek:

check out the geological structure revealed by the fauvism filter..

https://photos.app.goo.gl/4vCrba7MLM1WLbte8

 deepsoup 21 Nov 2022
In reply to magma:

I really like that!

In reply to magma:

> check out the geological structure revealed by the fauvism filter..

That's a big improvement on Aled's edit. Far less pretentious and much better executed. I quite like it.

 Marek 21 Nov 2022
In reply to magma:

Well at least no one would be complaining about 'blown highlights in the clouds'.

Questions: Would it have made a difference if it had been laboriously painted as opposed to 'over-processed from a poor capture'? And who is the 'artist'? The photographer or the algorithm designer? Does it even matter?

Post edited at 15:22
 deepsoup 21 Nov 2022
In reply to Brian Pollock:

> I don't agree that the fact it is not true to say "the camera does not lie" in absolute terms itself undermines the value of 'honest' photography.

I don't think I'm seriously suggesting that it does, and for what it's worth I don't think anyone else on the thread is seeking to disparage the value of 'honest' photography either.  I think there's just some pushback against a somewhat snobbish and puritanical view that that is the only kind of photography that has any right to exist.

 deepsoup 21 Nov 2022
In reply to Marek:

> So what the status of my reality versus your reality? It's meaningless to compare them in absolute terms. All you can do is look at how my interpretation of my internal model (my own personal reality) affect what I do and how that affects how others perceive what I do.

Away on a slight tangent to that, there's some very interesting reading to be found online about human culture and the perception of colour.  It seems the language you speak can genuinely affect the way you see the world.

In reply to Marek:

I think we're in for an AI fuelled artistic revolution across all the creative disciplines that will put the enlightenment into the shade. I really do. It won't hurt to embrace it.

 Marek 21 Nov 2022
In reply to deepsoup:

> Away on a slight tangent to that, there's some very interesting reading to be found online about human culture and the perception of colour. 

I think I've come across this before.

> It seems the language you speak can genuinely affect the way you see the world.

Correlation (obvious) but causation? How would you test it? Links?

 deepsoup 21 Nov 2022
In reply to Marek:

> Correlation (obvious) but causation? How would you test it? Links?

I think it's largely moot whether it's correlation or causation as far as language is concerned (as opposed to 'culture' more broadly).  But it's pretty obvious that people from different backgrounds are, on the whole, using identical 'hardware' to see the world around them.

I didn't really have any specific links in mind when I wrote that post.  But here are a few I've just rustled up now..  (Which include some suggestions as to how you might test it.)

https://theconversation.com/the-way-you-see-colour-depends-on-what-language-you-speak-94833
https://u.osu.edu/parker1211esltech/culture-language-and-color-perception/
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00551/full

 Marek 21 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

> I think we're in for an AI fuelled artistic revolution across all the creative disciplines that will put the enlightenment into the shade. I really do. It won't hurt to embrace it.

Really? I think all it will do is highlight the nonsense that is 'art' (beyond the "I like it" level). So yes, enlightenment and reason, I'm all for it.

 felt 21 Nov 2022
In reply to deepsoup:

> Away on a slight tangent to that, there's some very interesting reading to be found online about human culture and the perception of colour.  It seems the language you speak can genuinely affect the way you see the world.

It's been suggested since at least the 18th century.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_relativity 

 Marek 21 Nov 2022
In reply to felt:

> It's been suggested since at least the 18th century.

I wasn't questioning either the hypothesis or the correlation, more the direct implied causation (and how it might be verified). There seems to be some decent evidence in the links from deepsoup, but I'll have to read deeper. Tomorrow.

In reply to deepsoup:

> I don't think I'm seriously suggesting that it does, and for what it's worth I don't think anyone else on the thread is seeking to disparage the value of 'honest' photography either.  I think there's just some pushback against a somewhat snobbish and puritanical view that that is the only kind of photography that has any right to exist.

I don't think anyone is saying it shouldn't exist. For my part I just lament the fact that "honest" photography seems to be getting squeezed out of these competitions by it and the fact that the enjoyment of so many photographs is now compromised by the nagging suspicion that they might not be "honest".

2
In reply to deepsoup:

> I think there's just some pushback against a somewhat snobbish and puritanical view that that is the only kind of photography that has any right to exist.

From my earlier post: "For the avoidance of doubt, I like many different kinds of photography and think everything has its place (whether I like it or not). The point of the above is just to try to give my understanding of why this stuff matters and why it isn't necessarily as simple as saying, it's all 'art' and everything goes all of the time."

I think that's fairly even handed. Certainly not snobbish or puritanical.

In reply to Brian Pollock:

This piece on AI imagery takes the discussion about whether the final image is all that matters or whether the process and the "truth" are important right to the limit:

https://highlandwildscapes.com/the-era-of-ai-imagery-is-here-what-now/

 galpinos 23 Nov 2022
In reply to broken spectre:

I've enjoyed the discussion sparked by this photo. For me, the mess of a sky in the top right is so distracting that one can't not realise the sliders have been pushed too far!

The vertical crop is a lot better image imho, even if it is all "a bit much" for me.

 Marek 23 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> This piece on AI imagery takes the discussion about whether the final image is all that matters or whether the process and the "truth" are important right to the limit:

More so than an impressionist painting? In the AI image there is (in my mind) no suggestion - implies or otherwise - of 'truth', and that's fine. How can it be otherwise? If you're not implying truth then the lack of it is surely irrelevant.

I think the bag of worms it opens up is more in the definition of 'art' and the value of art.

Post edited at 14:41
In reply to Marek:

> More so than an impressionist painting? In the AI image there is (in my mind) no suggestion - implies or otherwise - of 'truth', and that's fine. How can it be otherwise? If you're not implying truth then the lack of it is surely irrelevant.

Sorry, but you have lost me here. The whole point is that the AI "photograph" is completely indistinguishable from a photograph and therefore the only difference is that one is "the truth" and one is "a lie" but we don't know which. It become possible to lie but imply truth at will. This is completely different from an impressionist painting (or indeed the Ogwen photo) where there is no attempt to appear "truthful" and therefore no lie.

 Marek 24 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

Ah, apologies - my bad. I was still thinking about the Ogwen pictures and hadn't followed the latest link. In the 'tree' context, yes, I have to agree with you, but I suppose it's not really any worse than what can be done already by a competent Photoshop user via editing/compositing. The adage "Don't believe everything you read" should have been extended to images a long time ago.

 ChrisJD 24 Nov 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> This piece on AI imagery takes the discussion about whether the final image is all that matters or whether the process and the "truth" are important right to the limit:

... even the AI has managed to blow some of the highlights, tssk.

Post edited at 10:42
 Ramblin dave 24 Nov 2022
In reply to Marek:

> The adage "Don't believe everything you read" should have been extended to images a long time ago.

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

Post edited at 11:53

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