Group 83 Bulletin Board

34 threads - 188 total comments

This page is dedicated to discussions about our theme (Monochrome) that are outside the scope of our monthly images.

Thread Title: Not just photographers but historians!

Michel Biedermann   Michel Biedermann
UNRELATED to monochrome photography

I love following Jeff Cable's blog because it often describes the (very) behind the scenes of his experience as an official photographer for Teams USA at the past 7 Olympics.

At any rate, today's blog was about how we are not merely photographers but actually keepers of history. Fascinating stuff!

NOTE: Since this is not related to monochrome photography, I have no problem if this thread gets moved to a more suitable location, or heck, even deleted.   Posted: 02/23/2024 10:05:35
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Michel, this is a wonderful Discussion or Talking Point for our Bulletin Board!

We are, indeed, stewards: recording and (hopefully) archiving bits, pieces of history seen through our eyes / lenses.

Though the authors story is sad, it does bring home the impact of the sometimes important stories we record with our photographic devices, regardless if using a DSLR or cell phone camera, indeed. His story alludes to another interesting point ... we often do not realize we are recording "the" history of an event or subject until later: in his case, a catalogue of a family images was "repositioned" to offer a sentimental photo-history of the young lad and his family.

Similarly, but not as personal, I have enjoyed recording the beautiful beaches along Long Boat Key, Florida for more than two decades ... recently visiting was shocked by the (almost) complete destruction of the beaches and its amazing Driftwood decorated aesthetics ... that were all gone! I realized immediately I had in my possession a History of the now lost beauty decimated through coastal erosion. (I am still writing a piece for a local newspaper).   Posted: 02/24/2024 06:03:24
Michel Biedermann   Michel Biedermann
Lance - I love your example of documenting areas of the Florida coast, something that may become more and more valuable as hurricanes and rising water levels may transform them dramatically in our life time!   Posted: 02/24/2024 09:07:32
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Again, any subject related to photography is valid for the Bulletin Board.
Thank you, Michel!   Posted: 02/25/2024 16:40:59

Thread Title: Digital vs Digital Conversion And The Obligation To Disclose Or Not

Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
This thread has to do with Lance's February image(s) and Michel Biedermann's question about direct digital vs digital film conversions and Lance's reply thereto.

Lance, I know your thinking on many subjects has layers upon layers of nuance that I have to admit I don't always get. your CD (digital) / Vinyl (analog) distinction, do you view those referenced CD's from the mid-90's as "imposters" the same as you would view a digital image made to look analog? I get your distinction...but I don't really find it all that important. Same with the disclosure part. While I respect your opinion, I disagree. For me the end result is all that matters.

I know you are passionate about labeling things for what they are - i.e., a "Digital Image" vs a "Digitally Converted Film Image" vs a "Digital Pictograph", etc. But in the end, does the label really have much bearing on the appreciation a viewer might have while contemplating the final piece of art? For me, personally, the answer is no.

I have a friend, John, who is an accomplished organist and he has had the good fortune to have been able to play some famous instruments in various countries. A few years ago he commissioned a UK organ maker to build him an organ for his home. The console is like any other pipe organ but the guts of the thing are 100% digital. He has purchased the digital simulations of two world-famous organs. The sound is amazing. I closed my eyes, listened to the music and I swear I was there in the cathedral listening to the real thing - the tone, the reverberation, the whole thing. I sure couldn't distinguish that the sound was digital, nor did I care. All I knew was that the music was sublime. In your view would it be incumbent upon John to announce to the audience that what they are about to hear is digital? Furthermore, if John didn't disclose the digital nature of the performance and a passionate member of the audience were to have found that out, would it be fair to John for her to shout "imposter!" and tell John he should just go buy a real pipe organ? I think not.

I want to be clear that I am not saying Lance's opinion is wrong, nor that mine is right. They are just opinions. I would love to hear what other members of the group have to say on the matter and thank you in advance for engaging in what will no doubt be a lively exchange.   Posted: 02/07/2024 19:25:21
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Michael, as always, I really enjoy your thought provoking questions/comments and it does help in elevating interest in our group, indeed.

The digital photography revolution spawned new means to which we can manipulate images: here, a dominance of hands-off (mostly, mind-independent) workflow ensued. Another way of seeing this … Dr. Daniel Rubinstein describes, where seemingly … ‘the locus of power shifts from the optical nerve to the fiber-optic cable’. In other words, we have moved from a mostly hands-on approach to manipulate images to one where instead, the artist photographer (or author) sits comfortably in front of illuminated screens never touching a single tool including negatives, knives or an enlarger, coloring pencil set …. the list goes on. (More recently, AI generated photographic imagery is endangering the likes of photojournalism and visual sociology as these types of images posing as representative of the real, in effect, further dilutes the integrity of authors using them; several articles highlighting this effect already being played out).

What does this “mind-independent” characterization mean? It imbues actions that are less skill intensive, and actions that can be learned and operated more easily. These actions easily understood on the latest/greatest iPhones, for example. After 15 plus years of having images seemingly undulated the space around us and the realization that so many represent subjects, objects, and events, that “could” be fabrications, the masses entered a new phase in “appreciation”: I argue, in general, 21st century photography post-production practices have manifested a paradigm shift in the way the masses initially approach and view photographs mostly under a canopy of skepticism. Katherine Thomson-Jones writes … ‘it is still worth noting the ways in which our awareness of the possibilities for digital image manipulation change our relationship to photographic images … perhaps this suggests a general lesson about the conditions of appreciation in the digital age’.

I argue, it is the general knowledge of ‘our awareness of the possibilities’ that Thomson-Jones suggest, or otherwise the “prospect” of digital image file manipulation we should ponder as being at the heart of the paradigm shift in the way people now initially approach and contemplate photographs.

So, indeed, knowing how/why a photographic image was created goes a long way in how viewers “appreciate” a work. It is not a matter of how good the art looks, but as important, how did the author get there. Let me repeat that … ‘how did the author get there?’ The wine taste fabulous … how was it made? Did wine makers “add” flavoring? Instead, was this great wine the work of a great master-blender not using additives? Such questions are common in the Art of Wine, and now, the masses are asking the same questions within the Art of Photography.

The Digital Organ

Yes, John’s Digital Organ should be presented for what it is …. can you imagine sitting for the evening and listening to this amazing music (and sound) only later to find out … while you were sitting and listening (what you thought) was in the presence of an actual organ, suddenly the pianist announced, …oh, it was all digital! The immediate collapse of how the audience appreciated the overall work (and if they were never told, and later found out … the integrity) of the musician would change dramatically! If they were told before the performance, they, then could have prepared their thinking (and ultimate appreciation) accordingly. And yes, such “appreciation” would be far different than if listening to an actual traditional organ. But it is very important to add, it is not that the audience would not like the performance … it would define “how” they liked it. Similarly, I would likely still enjoy the great tasting wine with dinner, but my appreciation how the great taste came to be imbued in the wine would be appreciated (and how much I would pay for it) accordingly. Indeed.

On CD’s

The CD was never an imposter: this in virtue of its obvious “tag”: the CD (and nowadays) digital (streaming or digital file) music is an alternative music format. This being said, the nascent CD format was simply antiseptic in its presentation, later better recording techniques/tools helped bring the sound a more natural, life-like (perhaps analogue) aesthetic. Because the “CD” is a proper “Tag” or identification of a particular (format) we can “appreciate” it accordingly. Audiophiles are able to clearly identify the music-format they are listening to and decide if they like it, and as important, does the ”sound” imitate, for example, Vinyl: in this sense, again, we are being properly notified of the method and format to create this sound (and in the last couple of years) techniques traditionally used in recording vinyl albums are being utilized, similarly, for both CD and digital music recordings. My appreciation when listening to vinyl surely changes compared to listening to digital music files. Each format offers their own aesthetics, regardless, if the digital music file sounds analogue, it never does imbue the nuances of my old vinyl’s (1958 through 1985) produced albums … and it is fun to watch/listen to reactions of listeners to several music formats in my sound room.

Lance A. Lewin
PSA Global B&W Photography Mentor
PSA South Atlantic Area Membership Director
  Posted: 02/08/2024 07:33:26
Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Lance, in thinking more in depth about your stated position, I wish to concede a point but I will also make an additional distinction.

Your experience in photography goes back to the analog era and, correct me if I'm wrong, you had the opportunity to work for many years in those processes, honing your skills along the way. So OF COURSE you would have a stronger view and appreciation of the differences between the two processes.

I may be wrong, but I just don't think that distinction is important to the majority of people who might view and still very much appreciate your (our) art. My experience with hands-on analog photography was in my high school darkroom. After that, my film (mostly slides) was sent away for processing and was hands off. I adopted digital photography early on. My interest in and appreciation for the differences is more from a historical perspective than a personal one. Can a person who has never stepped into a darkroom, never smelled the chemicals and never watched their image magically appear on the paper truly appreciate the analog/digital differences in the same way as you do? I think not.

In reading your response (multiple times), I realized I have an example from my own experience. Many years ago I took up wood carving / sculpture. I loved working with the medium and loved the whole process of using gouges and chisels to rough out my design. Then, finishing the piece with finer and finer cutting tools, multiple grits of sand paper ending with several coats of finish. So naturally I would have a higher appreciation for a hand-crafted wood sculpture over that of a machine-made one. And, to your point, I am adamant that something machine-made ought be labeled as such!

But, we live in a world where technology progresses ever more rapidly. When I started out in dentistry, dental crowns were hand-made by skilled technicians. Each gold crown was first sculpted by hand, in wax (a unique work of art!), then cast and finished. If it were a front tooth, a base would be waxed and cast and then multiple layers of porcelain powder would be hand-applied on top to produce a life-like tooth replacement. Beautiful and functional. Now technicians sit at computer terminals and use CAD/CAM software that designs and mills a crown out of a solid block of porcelain in a fraction of the time. Beautiful and functional. My point: Mrs. patient simply doesn't care that her tooth wasn't hand-made. All she cares about is the end result.

And (finally 😜), it is my opinion that appreciation of the nuanced differences of which you speak and about which you are so passionate may, alas, only be shared by an ever smaller subset of people who pay attention to and care about such details. Thank you for caring!   Posted: 02/08/2024 13:13:32
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
"Finally", Michael states ... not a chance!

Michael, the last item you speak about is very important to my ongoing efforts to share (disseminate) the ideas, concepts and various notions discoursed within the philosophy of photography: in this sense, there are so many important (and relevant) "thinking" that never makes it to the end user ... the artist photographer. My goal is to eventually open these often hard to cross borders and let spill over this amazing knowledge: indeed, a very small part of (all levels) within photography community are not aware of range and depth of discussions that have ensued for decades. What is most sad, many of these philosophical studies are intended, also, for the end user, but this key group, which all these discussions are about, rarely ever read a single word what is being presented.

Some of your other comments (e.g., patient care, for one) is not relevant to my examples: your examples are NOT comparing apples-to-apples. That is, there is no common or relative parallel to how/why your patience cared about results ... their "appreciation" for results is unwavering: regardless how you created implants they need/want great results. This is not the same for how we "appreciate" a bottle of wine, as per my example, or a particular piece of photographic art; I suggest this is clearly illustrated in my writing.

Again, thank you, Michael, for contributing to this provocative discussion.   Posted: 02/09/2024 06:18:18
Michel Biedermann   Michel Biedermann
Michael - Thank you for putting into words so eloquently my feelings about the analog versus digital debate. Your story about the organ is wonderful and helps expand this discussion beyond merely photography. Danke vielmal! Merci beaucoup!   Posted: 02/08/2024 11:38:33
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Hi Michel! So, what did you think about my explanation that sorts out Michaels's initial inquiry? Also, What is you response to my response/explanation between film and digital you asked while critiquing my image? Thank you.   Posted: 02/08/2024 13:19:33
Michel Biedermann   Michel Biedermann
Gentlemen - I needed to organize my thoughts on this because I struggle understanding the importance of the path taken to the value of the final result.
[1] I hope we can agree to exclude generative AI (GAI), or at least inform the viewer that it was used, since it doesn't reflect the reality observed by the artist (unless "real good stuff" was involved I'm told). ;-)
[2] RE: Vinyl vs CD: it seems to me that either way, the 'master files' were recorded using digital equipment. Then, for reproduction from vinyl, fancy and very expensive D/A (digital to analog) equipment was used to press the vinyl. Either way and unlike a few decades ago, the golden master is archived in digital format.
[3] RE: Film vs Digital: In my teen years, I tried making photos using a film-based Canon A-1. I stopped very quickly because of [a] the lack of immediate feedback loop, [b] the cost of buying film and chemicals, and [c] the delay of developing exposed film. I will grant you that slowly seeing a picture emerge from a chemical bath was magical. Anyhow, it took me 30 years to resume photography until I got my first digital camera. My main point about film vs digital is that even when shooting on film first, images are transferred to digital format for in-depth processing. If this initial or at least very early step is correct, then what is preventing us from thinking of this as digital art?
[4] RE: "...appreciating the work because we know the path taken by the author..." I struggle with this point since it seems to imply that knowing how much van Gogh suffered is what makes his paintings so special. If this is true, should we then differentiate between before his madness set in and after? Should we differentiate Beethoven's work before or after deafness set in? How about Mozart? Should we discount his genius because for the longest time he had very little to worry about and therefore didn't suffer for his art?

BOTTOM LINE: I hope I'm not coming across as flippant in my arguments. The final result should stand on its own and not be influenced by the path taken. A picture taken in a war zone should strike us by its content, not merely by where it was taken.   Posted: 02/12/2024 20:26:52
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
This is becoming quite the remarkable, thought-provoking discussion! I Love it! Allow me to Continue with another 1000 words ...

CD vs Vinyl:
i. Michel, your assessment needs some direction: Pure vinyl process (pure analogue process or AAA) is mechanical. Period. Pure Digital Process (or DDD) has no analogue trace within the workflow … and thus a huge difference in sound characteristics between these recording genres. ii. Nowadays, “vinyl reproductions” may go through one of two processes: a. pure analogue using 20th century equipment (very costly albums), and b. yes, a mostly digital process (ADD or AAD). The other two deciding factors (for all practical purposes) a. Mic set up, and type of DAC amps engineer is using, and b. type of HiFi equipment used for playback, including speakers and room dynamics.

This all said, getting back to Michael’s suggestion that the CD (original 1980’s digital process) can often “imitate” or offer a fake “analogue” sound, compares to those who apply a “Film-like grain” to their otherwise pure digital photographic images … no it is not a direct comparison at all: within the realm of photography (visual art) we are simply “adding” or applying a Boxed (or imitation film aesthetic pre-set) onto (or into) a digital image file: this does not compare to mix and matching of different sound qualities (that are inherent) to a specific type of sound production (or reproduction or genre of music format) … and thus similar to my example of the Master Wine Blender mixing and matching different grapes, barrels and level of Char, and length these liquids remain in the Rickhouse … all to “create” a flavor (or sound in a CD or Vinyl), as opposed to the other Master Blender simply “adding” a pre-set of flavored ingredients into each barrel. As such, the CD vs Vinyl has no relevance to discussions about using “pre-sets” to enhance or otherwise embellish a digital image file, often with the click of a finger.

On “Appreciation”:
It is widely discoursed Van Gogh most profound work was created when he was mentally challenged and lived in the mental hospital and continued to paint: “Starry Night” for one example created during this time in his brief, and mostly sad life. It is an “added” bonus if we understand his place in the world when viewing his work. The viewers sense of Gogh’s intense inner battles goes a long way in “appreciating” or evaluating, understanding, regardless, if we like his style of art or not. However, someone with no knowledge of his personal history can still “appreciate” his work (regardless, if they like or dislike the style), but not in the same manner as those who understand his otherwise often turbulent life. I can pay 75 dollars for a bottle of wine and enjoy its intense aromas and flavor, but my level or degree of “appreciation” for it is far greater if I knew how the Master Blender created the wine.

Why would anyone wanting a Fine Wine (as opposed to a an every-day wine) Not want to know how the wine was made. Similarly, almost every Gallery Exhibition begins with a large (text or video) explanation on the artist, his motives, and inspirations for creating the work you are about to view … indeed, it is very vital we learn as much as possible to “fully” appreciate Why and How the work was visualized and then completed, respectively.

On Film vs Digital:
Your assessment of the process is not accurate, and this is an often misdiagnosed one: when I register a subject or scene through the lens of my Film Camera all the “characteristics” of the subject are reflected (or registered) onto the slice of film (and including the characteristics from the chosen camera settings). When I engage a very high-quality scan of my negative, all these characteristics are held firm, the process of scanning does not affect them. If I follow with digital post-production editing, mimicking darkroom exposure correction workflow (Dodge and Burn, for example), again, this has no effect on the original registered characteristics … we are only applying chromatic and / or luminance modifications: these digital manipulations have no more an influence on the film aesthetic then similar edits in the wet darkroom. My only reason to Scan and edit digitally is simply for accomplishing an easier workflow process, but indeed, one more expensive, unfortunately.

Alternatively, the only way to “induce” a Digital Aesthetic is to initially register a subject or scene with a digital camera. Period. In other words, there is not pure process to mix and match film aesthetics with digital ones unless you “add” pre-made Film-like ingredients (pre-sets) onto/into a digital image file. It goes a long way in “appreciating” work we know which was “actually” composed with film, then the digital image that someone “added” with artificial (induced) film-like aesthetics: and here, the artist should then Tag or Categorize her work accordingly to maintain a high degree of integrity. Indeed.

The CD vs Vinyl comparison, as I described above, becomes clearer now: within these two music production methods we can easily blend different “auditable aesthetics” through a variety of techniques and tools: this being understood, we then “appreciate” the processes and sounds derived from these processes.

Thus, there is no logical comparison to “adding” or “applying” a pre-set to create “fake aesthetic” in one’s photograph, to the sounds derived from analogue and digital sound production (and reproduction) each own their unique and inherent qualities (like the inherent qualities the Wine Master uses via technique and hardware).

I am really enjoying this intense discussion. Thanks, everyone!

  Posted: 02/14/2024 07:48:05
Mark Holbrook   Mark Holbrook
Lance and Michael,

I have read, and attempted to understand your positions on the subject of this discussion. I feel and think that both of you have made cogent points to emphasize your opinion, but, from my understanding of the discussion, it seems to me that you are arguing, from a philosophical perspective, two very different points.

Michael, it strikes me, is arguing from the point of the "man on the street" while Lance is arguing from the point of view from a more technological or purely artistic/histological (to borrow a term from medical science) perspective. To a psychologist engaged in researching important questions, there are alway two points that must be answered; one of validity and the other of reliability. I think both of you have points that are valid, but neither are 100% reliable, because you are talking about two of different types of viewers.

In reading the responses I found myself thinking of a painting in the Louvre I saw many years ago. It was of a man, probably very middle to lower class, slumped alongside a bed that I presumed contained his recently deceased wife. The look on the man’s face conveyed everything I needed to know about the circumstances surrounding the scene. I do not remember the name of the artist or the technique used, because, it was irrelevant to my understanding of the significance of event portrayed. I don't think I've ever seen a scene as deeply sad, that conveyed the absolute tragedy of the moment, as the scene in that painting. I also don't know how well thought of that painting or the artist is to the art world, but it was meaningful to me on a very deep level. I will never forget that painting.

Now, if I had been an art teacher guiding a group of student, or an art student needing to understand the techniques used to produce the affect desired, there undoubtedly would have been a different understanding and appreciation, and therein lies Lance's point.

I thank you both for a great conversation. It has done much to enhance my appreciation and the value I was hoping to find by joining the PSA.   Posted: 02/14/2024 21:53:34
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Mark, thank you for this well composed addition to the conversation.

For the record, as it relates to "appreciating" and knowing more "changes" how the viewer, listener and even the reader interpret or define their "appreciation", there are still so many pictures that initially speak loudly (or softly) to elicit a heightened emotional reaction: in other words, when I speak of learning more about how/why/who painted or composed the photograph, it is not to imply one "must" do this to appreciate the work on some level.

Instead, it is a means to further investigate the origins of, for example, the work you enjoyed in the Louvre, to learn more about how such work could be so powerful, but indeed, you are still enjoying it to a heightened level without knowing: in fact, the very reason I go on to learn more about a work of art (and including a bottle of wine) is that I was initially drawn to its unique visual qualities or intriguing flavor on my palate. In the case of the wine, if I find out the flavor is a product of an additive, my appreciation for that wine will likely change dramatically in such a way as to cancel plans on purchasing it.

I argue, in general, the concerning patrons of the arts evaluate art in this manner.   Posted: 02/16/2024 06:24:50
Mark Holbrook   Mark Holbrook
Interesting, and I think I understand your point. While I don’t pursue the kind of information you might for a painting I see, I do for photos that I appreciate as evidenced by my request of Michael H’s photo.   Posted: 02/16/2024 10:32:03
Michel Biedermann   Michel Biedermann
TONGUE IN CHEEK AND UNRELATED TO PHOTOGRAPHY - Regarding the resurgence of vinyl records, here's a completely unrelated 'LeBron stat' that blows my mind. Last year, 436,400 (436'400 for Michael) cassette tapes were sold in the United States with Taylor Swift accounting for about 50% of them. Can anyone tell me why such a 'medium' fidelity device with a relatively short life expectancy is still so popular? Mixed tapes? I get it, of course, but you can just as easily create mixed CDs. Compact size? USB keys are smaller. Nostalgia? Sure, but that's a lot of nostalgic Swifties who are the age of Taylor's parents. Michel, you just don't get it, do you? Correct, please educate me! ;)   Posted: 02/20/2024 10:02:29
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Gee! I was not aware of the reassurance in Cassette Tapes ... but am aware of the amazing resurgence in vinyl appreciation: here, if I am not mistaken, in 2022 more albums were sold than CD's ... since 1980's when the CD was first introduced.

1. I do not understand the resurgence in Cassette's, as you pointed out, they really have nothing to offer from a fidelity perspective or one of longevity, however, the devices to use them (I would assume) are cheap/inexpensive to own/use and thus may be a key attraction to a certain age group. ??

2. On the other hand, the resurgence (for appreciation) in vinyl records is more clear in light of vinyl's (sometimes) unique sound characteristics (talked about in my previous remarks) and owning a record player, indeed, may be a nostalgic thing ... but its also cool!   Posted: 02/22/2024 05:46:29
Don Chen   Don Chen
I have read all the conversations with great interests. I think I understand the different view points. Thank you all for the great conversations. This is totally an awesome perk for joining PSA. I don't think I have anything to add from theoretical or phycological point of view, however, one of my very recent experiences indeed told me that knowing the process of producing an artwork has an great impact on my emotional feelings. Let me tell the story. I posted an airplane wrack picture few months back. It was taken in an remote beach in Iceland which is a popular tourist spot. In order to get to that place, it took my aging legs over an hour. The shots I came back were not that different than any of the 250 tourists out there that day. But then there was another time I randomly ran into a photo of it with beautiful northern lights as background. It was stunning and winner of some contest (don't recall exactly). I admired it so much and almost cried out loud knowing how difficult to get there and what kind courage and dedication to have to stay that late to get the shot. One day, also coincidently, I was in an photo club discussion meeting, one of the members presented a photo just like that, stunning and award wining image. Than the author told us it was a composite. The northern lights were from different location. Even though it was flawlessly produced (composition, color matching) and it took quite some efforts to make it, I suddenly feel an hero disappeared from my heart...   Posted: 02/16/2024 16:27:07
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Yes, Don, a very good example of what Katherine Thomson-Jones writes … ‘it is still worth noting the ways in which our awareness of the possibilities for digital image manipulation change our relationship to photographic images … perhaps this suggests a general lesson about the conditions of appreciation in the digital age’ ...

Indeed, Thomson-Jones argument seems valid and also helps me solidify my own argument, we have seen a paradigm shift, in general, how the masses initially approach and contemplate photographic images with skepticism.

Of course you were let down, Don. Your "appreciation" for the work became different ... and because you personally visited and photographed the site yourself, and purely in the traditional sense ... your reaction to this persons work was underwhelming. If that same person presents his work as a "Conceptual, Composite variant" ... a different type of appreciation may ensue. Wonderful example ... Don. Thank you!   Posted: 02/17/2024 04:17:05
Michel Biedermann   Michel Biedermann
Good story Don! I, too, would feel betrayed if someone had "composited" a picture from a site hard to reach... Next, you'll see a picture of Billy Bob (???) who posted himself at the top of Mt Everest in a very realistic fashion. Not cool!   Posted: 02/22/2024 09:54:50

Thread Title: On Toning

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
On Toning

This short piece was inspired through questions on the subject asked of me during lectures or here within PSA Digital Dialogue, and Mentorship space … I will keep a rather short articulation, but by all means if what is spoken here inspires others’ thinking and like experiences on this subject, please share your thinking with us, here, and also within other Digital Dialogue groups.

We will describe two specific ways of thinking/using Tone in photographic images, regardless if the work is film or digitally based.

A. Monochromes to help elevate narrative: in this sphere the artist photographer (or author) uses a specific Tone to help establish or elevate spectators’ contemplation of the visual work. For example, either a medium or darker Blue Tone can be applied to the image to enhance a cool, cold, ethereal, or mystic narrative. Adding a Gold Tone to bring attention to both warmth, and / or nostalgic narratives, for another example. In both these examples, we usually see a very pronounced Tone: that is, very dark and dramatic. The author is trying to really make her visual narrative “stand out” helping direct spectators’ interpretations.

B. Another aspect of using a Tone is not necessary to help direct a viewer to a specific narrative, but instead, used only as a “differentiating” tool, as it were. In this sphere, the author uses very subtle Tones to, hopefully, separate her work from other, like-works, (e.g., Street, Landscape or Portrait photography, for a few examples). Here, the application of a color tone is very minimal and is designed to attract little attention, or better stated, offer little or no persuasive power towards defining narratives. It is most about making one’s work stand out (even if only a little) to separate it from the mass of other artist photographers, and of course, more effective when showing work with others in the same sub-genre, like landscape or portrait photography for only two examples.

Lastly, years ago I designed my own Custom Tone within NIK Silver Efex-Pro software as a way to keep my work, well, personal and though subtle, next to other like images, is easily seen as different. Simply, after choosing one of the 24 or more main Color Tones, I use the array of adjustments to fine tune a custom tone, one I feel will not necessarily add or subtract from the subject/narrative, but only as a differentiator. Thank you.

Lance A. Lewin
PSA Global B&W Photography Mentor
PSA South Atlantic Area Membership Director
  Posted: 02/07/2024 15:02:24
Mark Holbrook   Mark Holbrook

Trying to visualize what you are describing, but failing. Do you have visual example to help?   Posted: 02/07/2024 17:03:30
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Mark, see Chan's featured image in this months DD-18 for a prime example described in section A.   Posted: 02/07/2024 18:17:04

Thread Title: Localized, Targeted Adjustments in Post-processing

Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Lance indicated he was perplexed as to why I used so many masks (localized edits) to create my image, Blue Mouse Ears, as presented for October 2023. He asked me to elaborate on those edits.
While I strive to get everything right in-camera, I'm not always able to attain that goal. And, for me anyway, I will often have an end result in my mind where the image as-captured is only the starting point. This is one of those images.
As I mentioned in my description of my October post, I happened upon the scene just as the morning sun had illuminated the plant. The light lasted for less than 30 seconds, so I had to take what I could get.
The accompanying three images show the progression of my edits (Note the targeting points from Lightroom). First image is the unedited RAW file. Second image is the first round of edits of that RAW file. Last image shows where the final edits of the mono conversion were done. My apologies for the quality of two of the images - they were iPhone pictures of my editing screen. But I hope you get the point.
What is not shown is the additional small edits I did in Photoshop. Those edits included some cloning to cover up some of the "hot" spots as well as eliminating some of the overly bright leaf borders.
Clearly my image does NOT fall into the documentary category, nor could it ever be entered into PSA international competition, as a Nature photograph as the type and extent of the edits are not allowed (nor should they be!). But rather, I presented the image as a piece of photographic art and I do not have any qualms about extensive editing to fulfill an artistic vision.
Although Lance may take issue with what I'm about to say, I don't think it is all that different from the "edits" that Ansel Adams routinely did in his darkroom as he worked out where to dodge and burn to get the look he was after.   Posted: 10/26/2023 14:13:49
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Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Global and targeted adjustments made in the color file   Posted: 10/26/2023 14:15:04
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Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Final targeted adjustments on the converted mono image   Posted: 10/26/2023 14:16:10
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Michael, I really appreciate you posting this work-flow outline for your featured October image: no, I do not take issue in the comparison of Adam’s wet darkroom creativity and your work-flow articulation.

As such, a more accurate question that focuses on your method (as described in the DD-83 October image description) should have been made; instead, asking ... why so many individual (work-flow) actions are needed? In this sense, I am leading towards a conversation that (may) illustrate a more conservative approach that pays attention to basic (and extended) digital Dodge and Burn (DB), and DB-like digital tools. Upon their request, it is something I have been illustrating for a few of the participants that come into the PSA B&W Mentorship program.

But for now, relevant, and important information, is the one we can digest from your comments above: indeed, it is all about Art-photography and less about a (pure) documentary. (We should also realize some images can be categorized as ... Fine Art Documentary, but this is outside the scope of most pure documentary (and visual sociological use) photographic images).

In the end, your talk is well received and appreciated for its detail and transparency ... something that is often missing in many conversations about one’s photographic work.

“Points to Ponder” ... as it relates to aesthetics, once again, I love the (quietness) in the original image in virtue of the very (delicate) play between light and shadow ... and think an alternative version could imbue a different emotion through, what can be learned from the Japanese aesthetic of “Yugen” (Elegant Beauty juxtaposed to Mysterious truth or the Dark and mysterious). Elegant beauty, indeed. Beautiful work, Michael!
  Posted: 10/31/2023 13:33:44

Thread Title: Black & White Photography: “Is my picture better in color, or black and white”?

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Committing to the Black & White Photograph: “Is my picture better in color, or black and white”?

“I especially urge students of photography to disengage from serious contemplation on how the color original connects to them as a prerequisite for critical analysis of the Black and White converted one”. L. A. Lewin

Nowadays, and for all practical purposes, every digital image is first rendered as a color image ... I suggest this forced, initial color rendering, is unique in its influential status: we are dictated to interpret the color image first ... even edit the color image in post-production before converting it to a black and white (BW) alternative. This process is much different from shooting a roll of BW film where the photographer is never introduced to color. In this scenario the photographer’s interpretation is (unbiased) or not heavily influenced by viewing a color version first; that is, choosing and studying a color image before converting to BW is not part of the equation when shooting BW film. So, the question ... “Is my picture better in color, or black and white”? ... is not part of the normal workflow when shooting, developing, and eventually presenting a BW tangible photograph.

Nonetheless, here we are, examining the color (original) first and then making a decision if the image is worthy for rendering in black and white. I argue, this (digital) workflow is interfering with how we learn to appreciate BW compositions for what they reveal on their own merits. It is for this reason I especially urge students of photography to disengage from serious contemplation on how the color original connects to them as a prerequisite for critical analysis of the black and white converted one. Instead, the initial evaluation of your work should be centered only on your BW rendering: this will lessen the tendency to judge our Black & White photography based on preconceptions learned from studying color images. Much like the artist painter who chooses to use only one or two colors in all their work, they never make and present a full-colored version for comparison, similarly, the serious photographer that practices composing work in black & white is fully committed to his or her ideals, visions and philosophy that ultimately directed them to create in this manner ... and comparisons to natural color alternatives have no place in the conversation.

The serious or advanced artist-photographer who centers her art in Black and White imagery does so, not by choosing from an assortment of color originals, but instead, the artist is impervious to the color version: her thoughts are not...’will this look better...’ but instead moves forward and (digitally converts) the color original to BW. It is not uncommon, too, to convert the color original to B&W and not like it at all. This is no different from the reaction the artist-photographer exhibits viewing his latest roll of B&W film and decides a particular subject is not as engaging as she would have hoped.

In the future, do not ask... “Is my picture better in color, or black and white” ... if you are an artist-photographer who strives to showcase your creativity through a mostly White to Black tonal gamut, then instead, direct the spectator to your B&W fine art photography for what (it) is. In this sense, we are presenting the work “as is”.

I look forward to hearing like experiences and comments regardless if in support or ones that challenge the proposed work process. In the end, it is all about sharing ideas in though-provoking discourse. Thank you.

Lance A. Lewin Fine Art Photographer/Lecturer
PSA Global Black & White Photography Mentor
PSA South Atlantic Area Membership Director   Posted: 09/01/2023 06:13:51
Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Excellent advice, Lance. You reference how some photographers will edit their color RAW file prior to conversion and suggested that some go straight to the conversion before any post production. A further discussion on this would be most enlightening.

On a separate note related to my post about Michael Kenna…. I found out he had a retrospective gallery show in Seattle and yesterday I went to see it. Stunningly beautiful silver gelatin prints, mostly in ~6x6 format and mounted in a way I had never seen before (He shoots with a Hasselblad). All I knew about him previously was that he is “a well-respected, award-winning British photographer”. But yesterday I found out he lives right here in Seattle and has for many years!   Posted: 09/01/2023 10:48:51
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Indeed, he is well respected, and I received a news feed from some magazine (I think) speaking about a new show highlighting his (new) work. At his website I was delighted with his new work - or work I may have not seen before: his work in China and Japan caught my attention. This work has more depth, more ways to form a narrative. Lovely work!

  Posted: 09/01/2023 15:19:05
Margaret Duncan   Margaret Duncan
I agree Lance, and I think it's a useful exercise to get out and take photos using the mono and RAW settings on the camera. Shooting in mono forces you to see in black and white. It eliminates the distraction of colour so you can really think about your composition,light and shades to produce a good, black and white image. Having the RAW image gives you extra room to convert and edit but there is nothing wrong with a well executed B&W Jpeg. I've done this a couple of times and found it most enjoyable but I've lacked the commitment to make it a priority. Now that I am thinking about this, I might resolve to focus on shooting in black and white, as described, for all monthly club competitions in 2024 where possible.   Posted: 09/02/2023 00:50:07
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Good day, Margaret!

First, you should always set the camera to RAW, but converting to a .tiff file for processing is recommended and also recommended when printing. However, using a large .jpeg should still prove worthy for post-production editing ... and give satisfying results.

Yes, registering in (digital) B&W is an option for many who want to learn about black & white photography and do not want to engage the riggers of dong so with B&W film. But I argue, you do not have to "learn to see in black and white", instead, and to reiterate from the article, almost "all" subjects are worthy of being rendered in B&W. Instead, (outside of film photography) compose and then decide what range within the tonal gamut you feel best illustrates your creative vision in post-production.

(Alternatively, when using film, we choose different types of film that offer specific aesthetic advantages of the other ... a lot of the differences are within the ISO character of the film .... so, in many instances, post-production is then limited to Dodge & Burning specific areas to achieve desired effects).   Posted: 09/02/2023 05:21:55
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Update: so I am very clear .... I do mean I suggest we "disconnect emotionally" from the color version, but editing the color version is persuaded! Thank you.   Posted: 09/12/2023 11:34:49
Margaret Duncan   Margaret Duncan
Yes, understand   Posted: 09/12/2023 16:26:36
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Excellent!   Posted: 09/26/2023 09:02:50

Thread Title: Michael Kenna

Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Hi All. Saw this pop up on my Apple News feed and thought I’d share it. Lovely images.   Posted: 07/07/2023 09:03:23
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Appreciate the post and Link, Michael ... yes, I know this artists work very well. He especially likes the aesthetics produced through Long Exposures ... this is his Trade Mark ... one that is shared with many others, however his compositional structure are often very engaging compared to many like-minded artist photographers.   Posted: 07/27/2023 13:11:52

Thread Title: Summer Monochrome Lecture Series

Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Hello everyone. A fellow camera club member forwarded this info to me. I have signed up for the series and thought it might be of interest:   Posted: 06/04/2023 14:25:15
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Thank you, Michael!   Posted: 06/22/2023 12:18:07

Thread Title: Fine Art Photography Article: Compositional Structure

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
PSA Fine Art Photography Article: Compositional Structure

Hello, everyone! Hope you take the time to read my article in
The March issue of the PSA Journal, which can be found on the
PSA website if you do not currently receive the hard-copy of the
Journal. I very much look forward to your comments.

You can also Follow the Link below. Thank you.

Lance A. Lewin
PSA B&W Photography Mentor
PSA South Atlantic Area Membership Director

  Posted: 03/19/2023 16:35:45

Thread Title: Amish Lad: 1982 Slide Film Study

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Amish Lad: Photo by Lance A. Lewin 1982

I stare at this image often, the 16x24 print sits propped up against a wall left to my desk, the rosy cheek lad forever looking back. He speaks to me, his eyes so riveting as to seemingly pierce me; deliberately painful as punishment for infiltrating his space and snapping this image.

You see the young boy is fishing with his brother’s are in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania: Amish country.

For the most part the countryside is flat and dotted with farms with old-order Amish men plowing fields, standing or sitting behind horse-drawn blows turning up the earth in preparation for spring seeding. If I remember correctly, we turn right onto a smaller, narrower, paved road when we see six young boys dressed in traditional old-order long black coats and yellow straw hats scamper across the road in front of us. We drive slowly towards the spot they disappeared. The young boys (though we never confirmed they were blood brothers) were “brothers”, as part of old-order Amish family heritage, indeed. They headed off the road down towards a creek.

Now, I was well aware the Amish populations, especially the old-order Amish families, do not respond well to outsiders photographing them. However, while Anne waited behind the drivers seat I followed three boys down a slight embankment leading to a shallow creek. The image was so inviting: three yellow straw hats atop of identical long black broadcloth coats, each boy carrying a simple fishing pole. I snapped off three or four shots (Minolta XD-11 affixed with 100mm lens and loaded with K64 Slide film.). They kept moving about, but I was confident it was not from being pursued, but rather finding the right spot to settle down and cast their lines. It was a strange encounter as the boys continued to ignore me and keep from looking directly at me - feeling their uneasiness I kept my distance. The 100mm lens was perfect in this situation.

I was as close as I was going to get, I paused and arranged a composition through the viewfinder, when one lad turned and looked through my lens; it was the shot I was hoping for. I pressed the shutter release button and captured the moment. In an instant I pulled my eye from the viewfinder and gave the young boy a nervous smile. I hear yelling behind me, father was calling the boys, I quickly pulled myself up the embankment; the father was toting a rifle and yelling at me to leave. Sliding into the passenger side of our car Anne made a quick U-turn and we were gone.

The endless one-way exchange between the Amish boy and myself, at times, is overwhelming. Does the Amish lad, now a grown man, likely in his 40’s, remember me? If we met, would he nod and approve the photograph, or again, would I be admonished through his stare.

Captured in the Amish landscape of south-central Pennsylvania “ L. Lewin 1982

  Posted: 02/20/2023 13:01:47
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Margaret Duncan   Margaret Duncan
Wow, Lance, thanks for sharing this story. It's even more moving than I imagined from the image you posted. So I can understand why the stare of the young boy affects you so much. There is so much you can read in those eyes! From what you describe it certainly does seem to be mostly accusing and maybe a bit fearful because he would know the consequences. And it seems you did too, so in a sense your story reads almost as an apology/confession.
It just goes to show that there can be so much more to an image capture than meets the eye and and different people will have different interpretations.
It also illustrates the value of patience when you know you have a good image but you the moment is not quite right until it happens.
And then it begs the question about risks photographers are prepared to take in getting that one great shot. I will finish off here and see how the discussion develops - you've given us lots to think about.
  Posted: 02/20/2023 15:55:24
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
(First, I just edited the piece for more fluidity and proper structure, since the draft was written some time ago; so I hope you read it again).

It is interesting in the way spectators see and digest an image, like you suggested, there could be as many interpretations as people studying the work. As such, I see no issues (and even argue) it is necessary the artist help direct viewers towards an narrative, especially when a definite story is attached to an image.

This of course, is in sharp contrast to images the artist intended as abstract, or at least an image left open for a variety of interpretations: through the complexities realized in photo-journalism, interpreting lines, shapes and textures in the abstract, or how we interpret the beauty captured in nature images.
Indeed, patience is a virtue for more successful photography.

Thank you for your kind and thought provoking comments, Margaret.   Posted: 02/21/2023 05:50:57

Thread Title: The Observation and Interpretation of Reality

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
The Observation and Interpretation of Reality
(This is an excerpt from am in-process (longer) Draft essay)

We start this examination by identifying the natural occurring dynamics found in nature and their true effect on the way we observe and interpret the world around us. As we go about our daily activities at work and at play, we "see" the world, not through the often referred to, "seeing through rose-colored-glasses" or perhaps seeing with 20/20 vision, but instead, we more often than not observe our lives through a less than perfect focus. We squint our eyes as we try to peer through the glare of the sun, fog, smoke, rain and snow, and in addition, sometimes strain through distractions presented to us in the form of light and shadow: the hard lines of deep shadows contrasted by the glaring light of the Sun make a powerful and dramatic visualization. Alternatively, as the sun slowly dips below the horizon, the task of identifying shapes, lines and colors becomes harder; darkness, the most formidable obstacle to our sight, often presents us with a skewed reality. Indeed, we do not see as clearly, precisely, or even in focus, as much as we are made to believe. We see more of a distorted reality (or truth) than the pristine 4K pictures and videos inundating the populous through television, and the ever-increasing array of social media platforms, like YouTube and Face Book, for two examples.

Instead, Mother Nature's wide scope of environmental conditions are some of the dynamics that shape our perceptions of how we see and experience reality. As such, surely, we can also affirm these visual nuances influence artistic visions in creating a reality onto blank canvases or peering through a camera's viewfinder composing already, seemingly, painted ones. Of the many styles of painting, personally, I appreciate the Impressionistic aesthetic the most. Born initially through paintings by painter Claude Monet (1840 - 1926), Monet's style of painting was directly associated to the way he felt we all see reality on a daily basis. Monet's aim in his painting was to capture reality and analyze the ever-changing nature of light and color: Monet became increasingly interested in how our eyes truly perceive the natural world. The fact that the natural world is constantly changing makes depicting it a challenge when it comes to oil paintings.

Impressionism broke from convention and showed artists a new way to develop techniques to get to the heart of the reality in front of them. Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) was a luminary of the post-Impressionism movement in France. He came to see color, forms and lines as one and the same in terms of how people perceive nature with their eyes. For an alternative example of post-Impressionism, we turn to the symbolism via the psychological state of Van Gogh (1853-1890). Using unusual color design and brush strokes 'viewers get much more of an impression of the scene than how it technically appears'. But for the most part, Impressionism was born out of the need of Monet and the other artists within the circle of the Impressionistic movement to paint their canvases in a style that revealed the authenticity of reality: regardless if we are peering through rain, sleet, snow, or the fog and coal dust depicted in Monet's Waterloo Bridge 1903, Impressionism was an attempt to render what we visually experience in our daily lives.

In this abbreviated essay, let me conclude with thoughts on how users' "see", and how most cameras calculate and interpret the same field of view. The onboard exposure system of most SLR, DSLR and mirror-less photographic apparatus focus attention to bright areas, but unlike the collaboration between the human eye and brain, these onboard computers fail in collaborating in a similar way: onboard exposure corrections to scenes that (especially) have both bright and dark areas are most often biased to the overexposed areas, consequently underexposure in the shadows is common. Simply, from an aesthetic (and contemplative) sense, human interaction with nature, for example, is more dynamic and involving then most photographic equipment presently possess. Of course, a lot of these otherwise, poor exposure renderings, can often be offset by choosing several different, what I refer to as, "camera dynamics" (e.g., exposure compensation, aperture and shutter speed, for just three examples), to help the apparatus find its way (relatively) speaking, in making a more balanced and appreciated exposure of the scene that was in front of the lens. Lastly, most artist photographers finished their work in post-production to present an image that best represents their emotional connection to the scene or subject at the time of its visualization: this final visualization can be one that exhibits a sense of authenticity or alternatively, aesthetics more directed towards graphic arts and / or hyper reality, or many that can be categorized, what I term, "photographic mixed medium".

In this sense, we often walk away from a subject or scene with a certain interpretation: one that not necessarily represents the "exact" (or mirror-like) aesthetics experienced in real-time, instead, an interpretation that best fits the emotional connection between the artist photographer and what lay in front of her at the time of the encounter (or visualization). Regardless if the final print exhibits one of authenticity, or one crafted to augment an images core components creating alternative realities, the art of photography offers a wide breadth of photographic interpretations many of which deserve (and should be) placed on their own pedestal.

Let me stop here.

This is a very powerful and deep discourse, indeed ... and why I look forward to hearing comments and like-experiences from other artists. Thank you.

Lance A. Lewin
PSA B&W Photography Mentor
PSA South Atlantic Area Membership Director

(You can email me for a Reference list)

  Posted: 11/17/2022 09:13:37
Adi Ben-Senior   Adi Ben-Senior
Good Stuff !
while Impressionism had great effect on structuring the way we perceive art and becoming a milestone in understanding art it is underutilized and rather hard to implement in our photographic world as we find the world through the viewfinder completed and finished, after fact, very un impressionistic for lack of better term. Limiting the ability to obscure shapes. There are some opportunities for expression fairly limited comparing to painting. However, for me, a Photographer is one who spends more time on the camera an editor spends more time on the screen. For me, Adding / chaining drastic elements from the raw form the recorded data, transforms photography to digital artistry.
thanks for sharing Lance   Posted: 11/20/2022 20:16:07
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Adi, thank you for your comments ....

Yes, the access to digital tools/techniques in transforming photographic images is amazing, and leads us in a slightly different direction in this discussion.

But I am trying to interject the idea how, artist photographers, too, can visualize like the impressionist-painter, though our methods are far different and, frankly, harder to implement: the aforementioned effects induced through the both man made and Mother Nature are amazing attributes for creative photography without the ever popular digital manipulations you speak of. The type of pictorialism I speak of here was championed by Alfred Stieglitz ... after many years of heavily manipulating his negatives and prints ... but later found the source of creativity in what I describe above.   Posted: 11/20/2022 21:16:34
Margaret Duncan   Margaret Duncan
You have obviously have a broad knowledge of art and photography Lance and I have read your essay with a lot of interest. And may I say with a lot of difficulty! It's quite academic and I've had to read and re-read but I think I get it. As luck would have it, a friend gave me a book recently which is called "Look at This if you like Great Photography". It's a critical curation of 100 essential photos by Gemma Padley, first published in the UK 2021. I love this book and some of the photographers and their photos are relevant to this discussion. She refers to Monet and his journey in Impressionism and this leads her to Edward Steichen and his "pictorial masterpiece" "The Pond - Moonrise". The painting is dated 1904 and he achieved the "painterly" look by applying multiple emulsions. According to this book, Steichen was an advocate of the Pictorialism movement led by Alfred Stieglitz which was about "manipulating photos to make them look more akin to paintings and less rigidly true to life". "The Pond-Moonrise" attracts my attention because it's in mono (in keeping with our folio) and dependent on tones and shades and and to my mind it demonstrates what I think you are saying. I'll leave this here because I need to go back to your Shenandoah Valley image and my comments that brought on this discussion. My head hurts with all this thinking!   Posted: 11/22/2022 05:50:54
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Margaret, thank you for these added thoughts and positive comments ...

You state … “So, what we do in making adjustments in post processing is adjusting our image to match what we think we saw? That's if I understand you correctly”?

Well, yes … in some cases. Two ways to visualize a scene or subject: instances where the final print or projected image is one that imbues a sense of reality and authenticity, even though the final product does not “mirror” the aesthetics recorded during the photographic event: a prime example is Ansel Adams “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico” c. 1941, where the initial late afternoon photographic event recorded on film was much less dramatic than Adams celebrated print. Alternatively, my featured work for this month was captured and presented as close as possible to the reality I experienced at the time of record. In this case, my final projected image is about sharing my actual real-time experience with spectators.

In summary, the former example by Adams is a “visualization” that is (more) than a record of the real-time event, instead, my featured image presents a visualization that was secured with less work in post-production … and I am not including the decision to convert to B&W … but indeed, the B&W rendering is to increase viewer appreciation in virtue of exploring the works gestalt, which is often more readily enjoyed (or perceived) in monochrome images.

My motivation to present this article, aside from your question, is to inspire ways in which to visualize, compose and ultimately create engaging photography, and mostly from behind the camera using tools and techniques that were founded in the classic era of photography ... mostly 20th century photography.

We are moving along the digital photography highway at great speed and suggest a lot of the techniques/concepts in creating engaging images from behind the viewfinder is being overshadowed along the way. My attempt is to pause, and stop at the next rest area, as it were, along this highway, to step back, ponder and re-learn the many (proprietary aspects) and techniques, tools and concepts our mode of artistic expression was built on.

A lot more space is needed than this page to fully entertain the ideas I speak of here but look forward to continuing this conversation here, or reach out to me at:

Margaret, another book that will inspire how artist photographers visualize and compose different types of work can be enjoyed in a landmark piece by John Szarkowski, one of the most celebrated curators of the 20th century. "Looking at Photographs" 1973. (Before reading, research Szarkowski to expand your appreciation of his book). See other books I recommend on my website. Enjoy!
  Posted: 11/22/2022 11:05:16

Thread Title: Long lenses. Is this out of the scope of taking BnW?

Mike Fernandez   Mike Fernandez
In lieu of an image submitted this month with a long lens, I wonder what is the opinion of others when it comes to take pictures of far away and the effect in converting them to BnW.
The first question is how far is far? 30FT, 50FT 100FT.
Second how good can it be hand held?
What lenses other have?   Posted: 09/07/2022 11:40:18
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
My view (no pun intended) on long lens (e.g., 150mm and longer) is, use what best fits the subject and the what the artist-photographer is trying to state, regardless if abstract or one with a more intense narrative.

However, the important thing to note is there may be various visual anomalies or maybe better said, dynamics, associated with long lenses. Of course, almost any lens contributes some type of visual quirk, if I may, so, the user needs to learn what can be expected using different lenses, and for this discussion, long Lenses.

The internet has a lot of tutorials and of course the best way to learn is to experiment with the lens: Renting Options go a long way in helping one choose what is right for them. I often use this option: I rented a 5D Mark III body once, and 16-35mm lens before eventually purchasing them a few years back.

As it relates to converting pictures captured with a long lens to B&W: I do not see the significance of how this (conversion) process will be affected by virtue the photographer used a long lens .. as such, I am puzzled with this part of your question.

Thank you, Mike!   Posted: 09/07/2022 11:54:34
Jon Porthouse   Jon Porthouse
Hi, Mike. I love my long lens, but the creative aspects of its use are really about how big do I want the subject in the finished frame and how do I want the subject to appear relative to the background- all constrained by how much room I have to move away from or toward the subject. If you have the room to move, you have a ton of creative options. When I first started out, I mainly used the longer lens if I couldn't get close enough to the subject (still use it for that reason), but I now I realize how many more uses there are if you make the creative choice to step back and use a longer lens.

I find the image stabilization function to be absolutely key as I frequently shoot hand-held. Good technique is helpful as well, but camera shake and subject movement are all tougher to manage with longer focal lengths. But it is very possible to get sharp images hand held at longer focal lengths.

For me, the monochrome conversion is more about the tonality of the image than the focal length. If there is a full range of blacks and whites, and if the color isn't critical to the story-telling, then the monochrome conversion should be successful regardless of gear or camera settings. I try to make the color vs. monochrome decision at the time of capture.

Likewise, the distance question (how far is far) is relative. In my image this month, I was 30 feet away and filled the frame with just the animal's head at 300 mm. I recently took an image of a fiddler crab from 6 feet away and the same focal length and the 2 inch critter only filled about 25% of the frame.

I hope some of that was helpful to you.   Posted: 09/09/2022 16:40:31

Thread Title: Precious Memories: October 2022 Group Project

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Precious Memories

"The thrill found in a photograph comes from the onrush of memory" (1)

The old photograph. You know, the ones slipped between old books (hopefully not!) while the majority are found piled in an old shoe box (a much better resting place, but surely not ideal) here we find collections of archival photographs handed down from our parents, and perhaps if you are old enough, pictures you captured yourself of the kids growing up, perhaps the planting of flowers at your new home, or the new puppy, so long ago.

The collection will likely include a lot of 4x6 prints, maybe even a few 8x10's, and some still framed that sit proudly on the living room mantle or bedroom night stand, for all to see, or only you to wink at before bed, and cherish upon waking in the morning, respectively.

For October 2022 I am asking Digital Dialogue Group-83 Mono to present some type of archival picture for study: whether an original photograph taken by them or someone else, or even a photograph of a favorite painting of anyone or anything that is special. Part of this exercise is to carefully restore the old picture (if necessary) by using post-production software to remove dust and other blemishes spoiling an old print. Lastly, convert color images to Black and White renderings.

The second part of this exercise is to share with other group participants the story behind the photograph or the photograph of a favorite painting: here the artist-photographer is providing certain information that supports the appreciation of the work.

Photographs share a fundamental sociological dynamic: the catalytic effect of photographs elicit (2) and then collate stowed parcels of time exposing our past to rekindle memories from an enormous catalogue of life events. As time recedes, sometimes so do our memories. As a result, we lose the ability to reminisce about experiences we once held dear. Photographs provide a point of reference to assist in recall to provoke the subconscious collection of emotional diversities of our past into conscious heart felt experiences. (3)

It has always been my standpoint that one of the most effective means of enjoying the prolong sense of time is to capture and then regularly view photos with family and friends, together stimulating memories and experiencing the emotional journeys that result.

Lance A. Lewin Photographer/Mentor/Lecturer
PSA B&W Photography Mentor
PSA South Atlantic Area Membership Director

1. Essay: "Keeping a Rendezvous" John Berger (Vintage 1992) (Berger 1927 2017)
2. The term Elicitation: The difference between conventional interviews and photo elicitation lies in the way participants respond to the symbolic representations in the photographs. (Douglas Harper, 2002).
3. Excessive-Compulsive Shutterbugs: is photography replacing reality? By Lance A. Lewin
  Posted: 08/21/2022 05:13:25

Thread Title: Photograph Interpretations: should we enhance reality?

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
A lot of us have already experienced the inconsistencies of onboard camera exposure metering and how they capture and present reality. Over bright. Too dark. Frequently, much different from how our eyes and mind calculated and presented the scene when it was experienced in real-time at the time of capture. Most of us will agree on this point. As such, we “should” spend as much time on how to best capture the subject or event from behind the viewfinder that will reveal a more authentic interpretation than most cameras are able to achieve by themselves, well at least some of the time. (Some onboard adjustments can be achieved with “exposure compensation” controls, the use of different ISO settings and of course, choices with both aperture and shutter release values, all which I call, “camera dynamics”).

However, for most photographers, additional post-production “adjustments” to exposure and chromatic values will be necessary (or desired) to create a more authentic result. With film-based systems post-production will be achieved through darkroom techniques. Within the realm of digital based photography, I suggest we also take the most important wet darkroom techniques as foundations for successful Digital Darkroom post-production: in this case, we would focus our attention to Dodge & Burn techniques to “enhance” parts (or sections) of the digital image file.

Though I agree that sometimes reality does not offer the best "engagement" or "appreciation" for spectators, as photography-artist, I hope we try not to go too far beyond those virtues that traditionally anchored photography as a “proprietary” genre of art, unless we decide to move beyond these values, thus enter the realm of hybrid-art and / or what I call (or categorize) as "photographic mixed media". Here, work can seem contrived or viewed as hyper-reality, others can be constructs of composite-techniques. But today, I want to focus on just "enhancing" the image, which would include most work by Ansel Adams, for one example.

Similar thoughts are stated by 20th century art critic (and close friend to Alfred Stieglitz) Sadakichi Hartmann (1867-1944). "I do not object to retouching, dodging or accentuation as long as they do not interfere with the natural qualities of photographic technique". Hartmann was ever so pained by what he saw as over-reach in the way some photography-artists “embellished” their work with extreme means for “pictorial” approval: here, the photography-artist went to great lengths to become painters without the brush, to become sculptors without chisels, hammers and mallets. Instead, a lot of photography was firmly anchored within the so-called Pictorial Movement which lasted about till the end of the second decade of the 20th century. A lot of the work seen at exhibitions across the USA (and abroad) seem too contrived. Hartmann spoke often on this type of artistic interpretation within photography and highlighted in his 1904 article, “A Plea for Straight Photography”. (An interesting read I urge you to seek out. It is both provocative while educational).

However, we are not painters, (a completely different genre of art), and even more different from artists who carves and cuts into stone, instead, our canvas is seemingly already painted, shaped, and modeled, as such, it is our responsibility, as photography-artists, to search, compose and expose the Art other do not see in their hurried pace. As such, our art can even be seen as most difficult to obtain. Arguably, this may be best presented by 16th century Artist Albrecht Duer (1471-1528)… "Art is hidden in nature, and that he, who can tear her out of it, owns her".

My work can often be seen as “light”, “soft”, but still imbue detail, much different from the heavier contrast (and especially within Black & White Photography) we see more often these past few years in local clubs and online photography institutions, like the PSA for one example. 20th century Landscape photographer Bob Kolbrener (b. 1942) has a vast library of large format work, for the most part, un-manipulated after exposure was made in the field. I urge you to find his work online and view his lighter, softer interpretations. (No, his work did not influence my visual aesthetics, but after discovering him, (around 2014) I am very much inspired by his artistic interpretations).

In summary, I believe it is most important enhancing our photography after capture serves to “reveal” the best visual aesthetics, and therefore allow spectators (viewers) form narratives. At the same time, I also feel too much of one type of visual aesthetic can often train us to see with narrow vision. As such, open all your senses and see and enjoy many different interpretations. I often see within the PSA environment, for one example, the need to present “strong contrast” between light and dark on every landscape, portrait and even, still life. Instead, I offer we also engage and maintain a recipe that is not too spicy, whiling cooking in the digital darkroom.

I look forward to continuing this important conversation. I have highlighted several talking points, and hope each will provide additional thinking and interpretations on the subject. Thank you, everyone!

(This article was inspired by a conversation with PSA member Gerard Blair)

Lance A. Lewin Photographer/Instructor/Lecturer
PSA B&W Photography Mentor
PSA South Atlantic Area Membership Director
PSA DD-83 and DD87 Administrator   Posted: 03/14/2022 10:51:01
Mike Fernandez   Mike Fernandez
I use manipulations quite bit.
Today most of my photography is done, not only for my satisfaction but to compete in our clubs.
Most of all makers manipulate their images in their clubs.
So in order to compete and get awards, you have to be better.
It means "manipulation'.
Back in 2007 when I joined for the first time a club, I saw this issue. So not by choice but by need to excel, I learned to do a better job post processing.
Two things to defend todays behavior:
1 In the old days of film, I had a darkroom. I did a lot of manipulation. Never questioned. So why not digital darkroom?
Ansel Adams did manipulate.
2 Convenience is another factor; In the old days when you did travel, you spend time waiting for the sunset, or getting early for the sunrise or waiting for people going away. Not today.
Yes I would love to see photography as natural as possible.
Perhaps the fault is not the photographer, but where we exhibit the images.
In competitions the 'competition type' is not totally spelled in most clubs.
That issue was raised by me when images were submitted for 'Creative' or 'Open Color Digital'
At first creative were like picture of a gorilla with bird head, ha, funny.
Then creative became more elevated and so the 'open color'
So where we go from here?

  Posted: 03/15/2022 10:34:36
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Hi Mike and thank you for your engaging insights. In question 1. you are not alone in asking this question, as I hear this a lot when lecturing: the answer is simple; the mid-20th century wet darkroom, “manipulation” involved utilizing “photographic techniques” or in other words, traditional darkroom workflows incorporated mostly hands-on applications (“mind-dependent” functions), thus non-interference from todays “Photoshopped” technologies. Alternatively, Digital Manipulation attributes its focus on “mind-independent” structure, and a lesser amount on hands-on attributes. So, we can’t just say, …’hey, Ansel Adams manipulated…’ it is not comparing Apples to Apples. In fact, in the world within the philosophy of photography, it is a very intense and ongoing discourse.

In statement 2. you hit on the very changes that have infiltrated “photography for the masses” in the 21st century: here we again have become accustomed to AI to fix or replace a lot of the work that once made photography so special, and a genuine proprietary genre of art.

Is this an evolution of photography, or are we seeing a new sub-genre?

This said, the advancements in digital technology have allowed all types of photographers to pursue their creative visions, but I also feel, a boundary has been crossed that clearly identifies traditional photography and hybrid-photography. This is OK, and I encourage its future development, but caution more precise categorization needs to be evaluated, which I suggest would lessen or eliminate the “Club Competition” issues you describe above by providing more clarity between sub-genres of photography.

This is a deep and engaging subject we have only touched on.
  Posted: 03/15/2022 15:07:07
Gerard Blair   Gerard Blair
In my view, neither photography nor painting is a "genre". For instance, 19th Century painters belonged to many different genre: neoclassicism, romanticism, pre-raphaelite, realism, impressionism, ... you get the picture. Artists made choices about how the image would look. I think that if Monet were given a camera and photoshop, he would produce images of great beauty but with little fidelity. He and Renoir used to paint the same scene together and their pictures would be so different in color palate and texture and finish - both lovely, both distinct. The "nature" from which Durer tore (say) the Adoration of the Trinity was not an encounter with a specific sight but rather his insight informed by his belief and his assimilation of nature as he had observed it in his life.
I see the camera as an artistic medium. A photographer may choose a personal style such as the one you describe, but I do not think there is a requirement or a responsibility for all photographers to adhere to a direct representation of reality no matter how well it could be observed. We have a potential, in both image capture and in post-processing, to create art; and this is limited not by reality but rather by our skill and our imagination. I think that is both daunting and exciting, and a large part of the joy I find in this study.   Posted: 03/15/2022 22:31:25
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
The words of 16th century painter, Duer are the essence of how we come to understand, and what I teach all my students of photography, the process of "visualization". Not pre-visualization, the more common reference for a "design process", but instead, where the artist becomes one with his immediate environment, before even lifting the camera. How the artist connects to Earth and in doing so, hopefully, initiates creativity.

As it relates to "creativity", we must be careful not to melt/combine two different aspects or ideas within photography-art: 1. the desire to create art through photography and / or the use of photography as just one tool in the entire process, and 2. presenting ones work as just a "photograph" of a landscape, portrait or event, when in fact tools and techniques beyond pure photographic technique have been used to create the final piece. How can a (AI) assisted or composite work be hung next to, for example, Bob Kolbrener's best large format landscapes in exhibition without proper identification on processes: viewers need to know as much about different paintings (e.g., mixed media, or oil on canvas) as differences in photographs that are created with replacement sky's or those constructs of composites.

During a recent visit to a gallery in New Orleans, a most magnificent painting glowed red under a bright spot light and presented a strong a whole the work seemed to imbue deeper beauty than the other work and wondered why, next to another piece, it glowed and revealed itself so prominent...when asked, the gallery director corrected me....'its not oil on canvas or wood, its oil on silk cloth'.

Though the New Orleans painting was not a separate genre of painting (or sub-genre) it helped viewers like me "appreciate" and give "credit" or "value" compared to other work. Though not a strong example of comparison between, for example, an Ansel Adams landscape next to a competitors Composite or (AI) assisted landscape, the experience in New Orleans does highlight the importance of full disclosure.

In a 2018 photography exhibition at the Booth Western Museum in Cartersville, Ga (near my home) a fascinating, most engaging photography exhibition that adorned the walls of their gallery: at the opening, the curator stated... 'it may be more appropriate to consider the work as Digital Art, then merely just an photography exhibition...', as every piece was heavily influenced by digital techniques all of which I mentioned above. The show was a great success and I praised the curator for addressing the work in a more focused light; indeed squelching most of the usual, what I like to refer to as, "viewer-apprehension" when viewing photography in galleries, museums and online. Instead, a deeper more satisfying appreciation for the display of work ensued; no question whether work on display was "manipulated" or "Photoshopped", but instead everyone understood the type of photographic art they were viewing was different and special. Each piece was tagged to support the techniques salient in its production, something I see less often, unfortunately.

  Posted: 03/16/2022 09:16:13
Mike Fernandez   Mike Fernandez
Great to have such information!!!!!!
I do appreciate it very much.
We are living a world where reality is unreal.
(I use this in my correspondence/email)
So I repeat: So where we go from here?   Posted: 03/16/2022 09:55:04
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Mike, we embrace and enjoy the fruits of digital technology, and their contribution to the genre of art-photography: here, we can indulge our most vivid imaginations and also extreme enhancements of what lies in front of our lenses, while others pursue the virtues held in more traditional techniques and practices of photography.

But, we must also promote and secure a great sense of integrity within this new space: here, we will need to identify and categorize the vast array of photography-art, that are well beyond the manifests seen in the late 19th century and early 20th century. 21st century Pictorialism produces amazing, tantalizing and contemplative visual pieces that all belong on exhibition walls, but I stress the need to place them on their categorial pedestals. In this way, we increase viewer appreciation, and the value of all the varieties of photographic art.   Posted: 03/16/2022 10:31:55
Mike Fernandez   Mike Fernandez
As I interpret this conversation, it comes down to individual interest, abilities and needs plus todays social world influence and technology.
In other words, as in the past those who did define art and expressions did it in the same basis as mentioned in above lines.
Philosophy at it best?
  Posted: 03/16/2022 10:41:34
Gerard Blair   Gerard Blair
Let me provide a longer quote from Durer: “The more precisely the forms in your work are compatible with life, the better it will appear. That is the truth. So never imagine that you can or should attempt to make something better than God has allowed his created nature to be. For your ability is impotent compared to God’s creativity“
I quote this because I think it really can be taken as advocating, in the context of photography, for a direct fidelity between the image and what is seen. Durer’s own images of plants and animals (e.g. the hare) would support this interpretation.
However I would suggest that this is too literal. Put simply, Durer created the image of a rhinocervs unlike any seen in nature, and he places a sleeping lion in a study room with St Jerome. So no, I do not think his images were limited by, but rather inspired by, what he actually saw in nature. And I do not think a display of his images need be accompanied by labels that distinguish between a simple, naturalist copy and those which spring from the artist’s imagination.   Posted: 03/16/2022 21:08:53
Mike Fernandez   Mike Fernandez
Perhaps we can notice a bit of difference.
A painter is able to create right from start, what he see.
Us with a camera can only copy what technology gives us.
Our eyes and the camera fairly often disagree.
So if we are going to show like a painter an expression, we are going to try our best, just like the painter with his brushes and oils.
All points in this thread, are very valid.
I think trying to retain most of the original view, is the most artistic. But on the other hand, photographers like painters do "create"
  Posted: 03/16/2022 21:19:47
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Mike, this is an interesting take on Photography: or more precisely, as you state...'retaining the original view is most artistic'... so that would support or advocate why it is said the Art Genre of Photography is proprietary from other art genres: your words reflect the high value in both maintaining a sense of reality, while presenting the work as Art.

Irina Khrabroff states in her 1927 essay "The Art of Photography"...where Khrabroff reflects the photographers inability to "rearrange" and "move" artifacts within a frame is a lost privilege other artists enjoy....allow me to interject a crucial part of her essay: As Khrabroff continued, I suggest she is emphasizing that the loss of this privileged function of art, inadvertently becomes the impetus that perpetuates photography as a special and proprietary art genre… ”Because all he can do is to select, his ability to select must be brought to a higher pitch than in any other form of art. His eye must be keener and quicker than eyes of the other artists’”. Irina Khrabroff.

Mike, this very much supports your previous statement. 21st century photography has indeed spawned a new era in art making via photography. The question is robust: how do we identify and categorize these differences in how art is achieved through photography? Is this question even a valid one?

Again, appreciate everyones insights into this most provocative discourse.   Posted: 03/17/2022 06:12:51
Mike Fernandez   Mike Fernandez
Photography, Art, Creativity. For sure has been shown in this thread.
So "Should we enhance reality?"
Ultimately the end result, will fall in the objective of the maker.
If the creation of the image is to hang the image in his living room? Then let it be, what ever he creates.
His ideas or taste will be the determining factor.
Yet, as many of us, are taking pictures to compete in our clubs, The factor is primarily to create a winning image.
(I would not go as far to sacrifice our artistic desires).
Lets face it, why to submit an image that does not have a chance of wining and award. The others do!
So when we take an image and is a travel photograph, we may not have the best weather or circumstantial situation.
What to do? Enhance!.
So we have an idea of something around the house; we take the picture, yet it may not be good enough to compete.
What to do? Enhance!.
Technology is here today, why not expand our artistic desires.
If we take pictures, must likely we want to be an "Ansel", or even better than him, in obtaining recognition.
Today we try to express or own feelings digitally or in prints.   Posted: 03/26/2022 10:32:02
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Well, you have certainly exploited two views: first you express..."I think trying to retain most of the original view, is the most artistic...on the other hand, photographers like painters do "create".

Indeed we can "create" by using a host of in-camera, natural and man-made atmospheric conditions, special lighting and primary post-production workflows allow for a host of Pictorial avenues.

Your last comments reflect one that inhibits far reaching post-production techniques born from 21st century photography, also providing a host of "creative" choices, but mostly after the photographic event has been registered. Thus, mostly all the creativity are formed in post-production.

This is valid and has opened a new dimension within photography: it is however not an evolution of photography, but rather a new sub-genre, and one that needs to clearly identify the methods used to distinguish between work that uses AI based software and work that does not: this includes a clear definition between "composites" and, for one example, "classic" period landscapes.

As it relates to Competitions: most photography-artist that I share time with outside the PSA have not goals in this spectrum: instead, we create Art for the sake of art. This position is well documented in another Bulletin Board discussion with associated comments posted on 8/22/2021 I urge you to enjoy.   Posted: 03/27/2022 10:31:52
Mike Fernandez   Mike Fernandez
"We create Art for the sake of art". Excellent line.
I guess, I agree. But I take photography not for profit, as I do not sell my pictures; I take them to "create" and be as good or better than others photographers in competitions.
I want to be an artist, Ha, painting? singing? Not a chance. Ah!!! Photography, I may have a chance....
Photography other than journalistic/historic and family albums, it is artistic.
Photography as art (A camera, chemicals and paper, and now computers and software), it is a medium like stone & chisel, canvas, brushes & oils. First it is tried to imitate reality, then it is tried to be enhanced.
Back to: "Should we enhance reality?" Just like the rules in photography: YES and NO.
So politically on this, I think I am correct.
See the bulletin board of group 21 with a similar subject. (What is considered "creative" in the Creative Groups)   Posted: 03/27/2022 12:36:45
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Really enjoying this constructive discourse: I did read and comment on DD-21. Thank you, Mike.   Posted: 03/27/2022 14:31:45
Mike Fernandez   Mike Fernandez
Should we enhance reality? In my prior statement I said "Yes and NO".
After thinking about it, the answer is already decided. Altering images have been done just after the first few images were ever created. At first just getting something in a plate or in paper, it must have been a hell of a felling, exuberant and accomplishment.
Then from the very earlier times, we have been altering the image, they starting to choose different papers and different chemicals to archive better and more exciting results.
In the film time, we had daytime and tungsten film with different choices of ASA; not counting darkroom, paper and chemicals.
Today even before we press the shutter, we are already altering the image.
Recall that cameras today have settings like sharpness, ISO, and in the Cannon cameras they have settings for Styles like contrast plus settings to take pictures in Sun, shade and different lights; which in turn will produce different images tonality.
So Should we enhance reality? "We are doing it".   Posted: 03/29/2022 11:35:11

Thread Title: Decisions, Decisions: the DSLR vs Cellphone Dilemma

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Decisions, Decisions: the DSLR vs Cellphone Dilemma “ by Lance A. Lewin

Two related questions were brought up by participants in the Digital Dialogue 87 General group, 1. carrying a cellphone for hikes, as apposed to larger (and heavier) DSLR or other full-size camera bodies and lenses, and 2. if in fact, current iPhone technology is making DSLR less prominent (or we can say, not the only pony trick in town) for capturing quality photographs. A surely unique question within 21st century practitioners of photography.

I can almost end this conversation before it actually gets started: most cellphones do not enjoy the benefits attributed to DSLR’s (and film based SLR’s) for being able to change out different lenses for capturing and creating artistic compositions. But we need to discuss all the other variables between the two photographic technologies: is cellphone photography results on par with the seemingly more complete and powerful, creative, dare I suggest, “serious” cameras?

Resolution: the latest/greatest cellphone resolution, for many, not most image captures, are well suited for beautiful online illuminated presentations, and from these examples, smaller prints seem to deny the fact they are products from a “photographic event” originally registered through cellphone technology. (footnote 1)

Presenting work online is one thing, deciding to print an 8x12 or maybe a 16x20 of the same image, is another matter. It all comes down to the quality (and size) of the sensor and size of the individual pixels: The larger the pixel, will allow more photons of light that can be placed into it; more photons of light, equals, for all practical purposes, better resolution. The newest and best cellphone (or Smartphone) camera sensors are achieving pixel size at around 2.4 microns (e.g. Panasonic Lumix CM1). While the vast majority of cell phones average around 1.5 microns.

Compare this to the average DSLR camera where pixel size are 4.0 to 5.6 microns (the size varies greatly, but these values come close to an average) and it is easy to see these larger pixels (or buckets) hold more photons of light, thus, all things being equal, will produce a higher resolution image file that can be successfully printed to very large dimensions.

(At the time of this writing new cell phone technology is coming that allows extremely high-resolution images, but we will have to find reviews on how these images stack up to actual printing, when compared to their DSLR cousins). In the meantime, let’s move onto software that can “Up-sample” small image files to larger ones, much larger ones!

So we do not make this discussion very long, I will make this section brief. Photoshop has the latest/greatest technology they call Super Resolution. Simply, it takes a smaller image file and using Artificial Intelligence (AI), can make larger (or up-sample) to a larger file. Some examples show 24mb image file being up-sampled to 50mb or 100mb!! However, the technique is still questionable as to how well it will up-sample an image file from a cell phone. In any case, my research indicated that moving from these small files (produced from small pixels of 1.0 to 2.0 on average) will be OK, but do not expect the same photograph (or print) be anything like using a better DSLR camera.

Interchangeable Lenses: we are back to discussing this most important factor between most cell phone, DSLR’s (and film based SLR’s) cameras. Simply, the user does not have this single and very powerful function with cell phones: the ability to change perspectives from behind the camera, outside of changing one’s position, which can become limited in a variety of situations and locations, indeed. It is loss of the majority of the user’s creativity, in my opinion.

As such, I strongly urge practitioners of photography, that plan on capturing engaging, even, thought-provoking compositions, to leave the cell phone in the back pocket, and instead carry (or lug) your DSLR, SLR or one of the newer mirrorless camera designs to ensure you do not miss out on capturing “The Shot!” during your casual hikes, and bring along the tripod on those other, more serious photography outings.

Let me stop here. I have left a lot open for further investigation and comments, suggestions and alternative views: add comments and questions so we can continue this conversation.

I look forward to hearing from everyone! Thank you.
(Footnote 1: The phrases “photographic event” which creates a “register” of photons onto a sensor or film negative, was from an essay by philosopher Dawn M. Phillip: Invisible Images and Indeterminacy: Why We Need a Multi-stage Account of Photography “ 2021)

Lance A. Lewin
PSA Black & White Photography Mentor
PSA South Atlantic Area Membership Director

  Posted: 11/08/2021 19:21:08
Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
Hello Lance,
I would like to suggest a middle ground between big cameras and cell phone cameras. I shoot with a Canon G10 (models run up to G16). I chose it because the lens retracts flat into the camera and the resulting slim profile fits into my jacket or even pants pocket. But it has a 5x zoom and four f-stops, and fully manual controls if desired. It is the size and weight of a two cell phone sandwich.   Posted: 01/26/2022 23:18:10
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Hi Stephen...yes, must agree, a lot of DSLR users also enjoy the small, light cameras like the G10 and similar models. In fact, your model has a fine writeup for landscape and / or nature studies, and in this capacity, sounds like a winner!   Posted: 01/27/2022 14:29:39

Thread Title: Points to Ponder: Who is commenting on our work?

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
(Inspired by a question by Witta from DD-77)

What I am about to discuss, I also shared with the VP of PSA membership, Lewis Choi, on our Zoom meeting late last week. One of the consequences of the digital photography revolution is a lot more people can access photography: I mean, without worrying about buying and developing film, the entire process is quite effective…and less expensive, well, at least after investing in a decent camera system. With the masses once again presented with a photographic process that enables more people to engage in capturing photos more readily and less expensive (the first revolution came in the late 19th Century when taking pictures became more affordable and easier with the advent of smaller and quicker films…etc.… we can delve into this conversation at another time).

Out of this climate grew photography clubs, guilds and online institutions (like the PSA, for example, though the PSA was also dominant in the film era), as well as online galleries. One of the consequences of group meetings and/or critique groups, is a need/desire to "compete in online and local competitions".

Here we see a paradigm shift in how students of photography (and I am mostly speaking to club and online generation of photographers) initially approach and contemplate the artistic values/merits of their work: it has become all about how a particular work will be accepted in competitions rather than studying photographic work for the sake of its "artistic" nature or appeal: in other words, narrative and aesthetics has taken a back seat to "compositional values" as it relates to Club-competitions. We also ask questions that begin with…'so, is my work OK to enter a competition?' or …'is it contest worthy?' We talk about the "rule-of-thirds", for example, sometimes in a tone or manner that seem absolute, where in my workshops I do not discuss the rule-of-thirds but for a brief moment, and instead discuss in great detail the process of "visualization" as a means of inspiring creativity and compositional structure that is engaging, provocative and may well be viewed as "non-competitive" to local club pictorial agendas.

Indeed, a lot of work designed (approached) this way is not incentivized towards contests, but instead are works trying to project the values held within the "Art of Photography" from a traditional posture. Fine Art Photography is commonly shared next to digitally designed/created photographs (e.g., composites for one example), but should also be shared next to examples of Ansel Adams pictorial Landscapes or any creative piece, regardless of genre (e.g., landscape, portrait, architectural, abstract, or pieces processed through exacting digital means, for examples).

Today's audience are born from the pre-digital era, as well as a large contingency of viewers and photographers influenced by 21st century photography, much of what is written in the piece, as such, viewer reaction/interpretations is wide and diverse, indeed. This conversation has not ended, we have just begun.

I look forward to comments both the left and right of this deep and concerning discourse.

Thank you.

Best regards,
Lance A. Lewin
PSA Black & White Photography Mentor
PSA Admin DD-83 Mono & DD-87
PSA South Atlantic Membership Director

  Posted: 08/22/2021 15:53:25
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
Well said, Lance.

I gave up on competitions back in 2017. As you indicate, it became all about processing images for the judges, not for the images themselves. I'm so glad to have moved beyond that and gradually working towards the art.   Posted: 08/22/2021 23:40:24
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Hi Tom, and happy you stopped by to comment. Glad to hear you are engaging art for arts sake, as it were. In a lot of my discussion (critiquing) in DD-83 and DD87 I often comment on the artistic merit of the piece: here I emphasize lines, shapes and shadows, for example, and the photographs gestalt.   Posted: 08/23/2021 05:45:26
Bob Wills   Bob Wills
Hi Lance,
I had to look up (Google) the meaning of Gestalt, and then as a follow up, gestalt principles of design.
is the article I am going to look at, but I wonder if there is something you would recommend. Like Tom, I no longer even participate in my club, as they are mostly stuck in the competition idea.
I am a member of DDG 23(after 98 was disbanded.) and DDG 96, and much prefer dialogue to critiques. I was led to this BB from your comment on Marilyn Ross' image this month. Thank you for doing your BB entries.   Posted: 01/19/2022 10:51:26
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Good to hear from you, Bob! So very glad you connect to these types of discussions, I feel go a long way to presenting a wider perspective on subjects. I will be sure to stop by again at DD-23 and also DD96 in the future.

Also, you may be interested in a lecture I am giving for the Contra Costa Camera Club on Jan 27th at 7pm PST (or 9pm EST). Reach out to me for a link if you are available on that date. My email:   Posted: 01/22/2022 13:03:21
John Roach   John Roach
I have a similar point of view. I prefer learning about art and options other take even when it doesn't work for me, because I learn so much from both what I see work and what doesn't work. Most contest, are just pretty images and all too often lack the story and strength of possible art.   Posted: 10/17/2021 16:44:13
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Hi John! Thanks for stopping by...yes, your approach is sound and likely offers a great deal in studying various techniques, this is where the PSA, and especially DD groups bring benefit; it is very easy to come across so many different ideas.

Well, there is both the "perfect postcard" shots all around us, and agreed, plenty to be offered through local clubs, but it is nice when we see more structured work (compositions) that "prick" the viewer, (as coined by Roland Barthes in the early 1980's). Here the viewer looks, leaves, then returns to contemplate in great depth, a work of Art. Appreciate your comments, John.   Posted: 10/17/2021 21:08:23
Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Lance, I happened upon your article from reading your interaction with Barbara in group 99. Very timely, as I just had gotten a luke-warm evaluation of an image I thought might be competition worthy. I’m appreciative of your perspective on the matter and also of your thoughtful commentary on other people’s images.   Posted: 01/24/2022 10:13:18
Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
Lance, your point affects me. Like Tom Pickering, I gave up competing a few years ago, after trying it for a while. When I got a few wins in my local club, it did nothing for me. I much preferred the dialogues here in the PSA groups, and to study great photographers' works.   Posted: 01/27/2022 10:00:49
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Thank you for sharing your thinking on this, Stephen.   Posted: 01/27/2022 14:32:39

Thread Title: "Points to Ponder" Lens Distortion: is this a good thing?

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Hope you all scroll up to DD87 to read and comment on my latest "Bulletin Board" Post I feel is also relevant to members in DD83 Mono. Hope you stop by to read and leave a comment. Thank you.

Best regards,
  Posted: 06/10/2021 15:54:52

Thread Title: Illuminating Shadows for Creative Photography

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Illuminating Shadows for Creative Photography
"were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty". (Tanizaki's Essay "In Praise of Shadows")

In my recent interview with Swiss Philosopher, Tea Lobo, we talked a lot about photographing urban landscapes and she asked me this question: "Photography literally means "light writing or drawing" (grafein can mean both in Greek). But for you I think it also means drawing with shadows, right"?

Drawing with Shadows:
Until Tea Lobo spoke of shadows in this way, I had only looked at shadows as just a component, but here, I am visualizing with the emphasis on shadows, rather than what we usually (and more comfortably) visualize with the prominence of light. The prominence of shadows is what we speak of today.

And allow me to paraphrase from the podcast….'I see as much (and perhaps even more) in the shadows as I do in the areas filled with light'. Shadows are, for the visual artist, a creative resource. Looking and finding shadows is something that is obviously not common or natural in our everyday lives, as artists, however, I suggest occasionally refocusing our gaze away from the light, as the focal point, and instead illuminate the shadows for photographic interest. In this way, indeed, the photographer-artist paints with shadows.

And when I say, illuminate the shadows, of course I am signifying my desire to make shadows the prominent (or anchor) component in the visualizing process.
Through my interest in the Japanese aesthetic, Wabi-Sabi, I see shadows more as a persuasive element or catalyst offering (more often than not) softer tones, I especially like in my own nature photography. And this leads into a few final words on the different levels (or degree) of contrast and toning in Black & White compositions.

So often we make comments in critique groups that embrace high contrast levels (e.g. many of the well-viewed landscape photographs by Ansel Adams, for example). More than once I heard PSA participant's state...'dark contrast is the only way'…but I remind you, softer levels or relaxed grey-scales offer a softer, more intimate aesthetic: often the viewer elicits a more calming or relaxed narrative, especially in landscapes, but also within the scope of urban landscapes, too. This is compared to the very dramatic aesthetic created mostly by deep rich blacks and brightest of whites, offering powerful, robust and maybe even, intimidating narratives. Practicing these two BW photography looks (or finishes) gives artists' a rich palette of aesthetics and narratives to work with.

Another area we sometimes see a heavy hand, Toning. Here, I suggest sometimes a very light touch, as it were, in the use of different color tones (e.g. sepia, copper, blue) are often added to the finished work without overpowering it. This said, the use of powerful prominent toning can often make an otherwise OK composition into something that "pricks" the viewer.

In summary, this short talk was designed to stimulate ideas and further conversations, together we can delve deeper into these special and important and powerful dynamics that help to achieve creative photography.

The sample photographs were captured via cell phone and then lightly processed including cropping as tests for a new architectural short series of work.

As always, your feedback and like experiences are welcomed here or email me at:

Best regards,
Lance A. Lewin
PSA Black and White Photography Mentor & Georgia Director of Membership
  Posted: 04/27/2021 17:34:50
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Thread Title: Open All Your Senses for the Process of Visualization

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
As a child between the ages of 10 through 13, I moved from Brooklyn NY to the forest covered landscape of Springfield, PA, where I immediately found hiking to be an experience that opened all his senses: the aroma’s from a variety of plants, flowers and especially the strong Earthy scents from fallen and dried leaves of fall, opened my eyes - I learned to become one with my immediate environment. I still fall into this trance each time I hikes or rides my mountain bike, regardless if I am local or enjoying a sojourn to landscapes far away.

Through the process of “Visualization”, we learn to see what others often miss in their hurried pace: creeping along the forest floor or climbing tree limbs to explore often hidden spaces. Peering through bushes, thick grass and exploring behind rocks, or the crevasse of tree-bark and moss to examine the intricacies and interactions between light, shadow and texture. Alternatively, take a step back to encompass a wider view to capture a grand-scape perspective: together these different views bring to print, a swatch of the normally hidden beauty, mystery and foremost, reality, that surround our space. I look forward to your feedback and common experiences.

Lance A. Lewin
PSA BW Photography Mentor
  Posted: 04/03/2021 13:58:27
Dianne Arrigoni   Dianne Arrigoni
Photography for me is one of the few mediums that reminds me over and over how important it is to be in the moment. When it can be difficult to focus and my mind is committed to other thought streams, I simply cannot produce anything of interest to me. The combination of nature and holding a camera almost always gets me out of my mental jail. It can be the best therapy at times.   Posted: 04/03/2021 23:18:38
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
And these are good points, Dianne: as a Meditative State, indeed, the very act of going out to photograph the world can be an exercise in self awareness, (calming, relaxing and also thought-piercing), as such, unless the photographer is truly ready to commit to the process involved with "visualization", their focus will be compromised and the creative process thwarted.   Posted: 04/05/2021 13:39:07


Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Regarding Digital Color Conversion: My method has always been based on Making the Color Image the best I can, as I remember, and including the emotional factor experienced at the time of capture.

After Deleting Dust I open (PSCC-Camera-Raw) and overall Exposure Adjustments are made first. Then I approach each color separately: this includes correction to color-cast (if applicable) and also adjusting chromatic-luminance so colors fit/mate well with each other. (Note I rarely over saturate colors). Next, if applicable, in Color Efex Pro-4 I apply "gentle" polarizing filter. (Note, I will begin using more often these types of glass filter in the field to obtain far more better results). Then I move to Silver Efex Pro-2 for all my BW conversion work.

Briefly, I love the Isolated Adjustment Tool for more and precise exposure correction. I actually never touch the "Structure" slider and if I do its to DECREASE, not add "structure". This is prevent the hyper-reality aesthetic I am so opposed to.

Most important to create and illuminate the entire composition into a specific visual aesthetic, I look at the frame through all the Color Filters. (In many cases, each one shows a terrible result, as such No Color Filter is used in those circumstances).

Custom Toning: a signature to 98 percent of my BW work is through (one) custom tone. Actually, soon as the piece Opens in SEFP-2, I change to this Custom Tone before any work is performed.

(After A 5-10 Minute Break)*, back in PSCC I look over very carefully Exposure Details, dust and other digital artifacts (like a fried pixel, (red or yellow spot) for example) are deleted.

Lastly, I go back into Camera Raw and add Sharpening Adjustment, if necessary. I use these features very lightly, carefully, if at all. Remember, do your Sharpening only after all other adjustments are made, as most algorithms in this feature are based on individual pixels: so I make sure all my adjustments are complete before subjecting pixels to this process.

*It is so important to step back from the monitor (I use a 36" diagonal screen) to rest the eyes and re-set our vision as it were. Another practice is to stand and walk back a few inches (or feet) from the monitor to get a better sense of it projection of details or the lack there of. This is even more important to consider when shooting and editing film compositions. (50 percent of my work is now film based).

Once you get use to any process, the process is rather completed in a very timely manner.

Lance A. Lewin   Posted: 01/12/2021 07:31:53
Dianne Arrigoni   Dianne Arrigoni
Thank you Lance, this is very helpful.
  Posted: 01/12/2021 12:30:41
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Excellent!   Posted: 01/18/2021 07:36:32
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Dianne, I hope you focus on my method - it allows Full Control over every aspect of the image file from adjusting the color original to the final BW conversion. Again, very small adjustments are made in each process along the work-flow described above.

Most important, my method places the photographer closer to authentic photographic technique (or as much as we can expect within a digital framework or architecture), as such, the photographer is presenting work more in line with traditional photographic virtues, those virtues that ultimately define The Art Photography from a traditional posture. Thank you, Dianne.   Posted: 02/02/2021 05:16:42

Thread Title: Blake Rudis on B&W Processing

Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering   Posted: 01/09/2021 16:38:53
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Awesome! Thank you, Tom. We just starting talking more about BW conversion with the project we are doing.   Posted: 01/12/2021 07:33:11
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
This video reveals a very good approach to BW conversion and one that emphasis's my approach: that is, the BW conversion is the last process and only after you have adjusted your color image file to your liking. However, the video demonstration is a bit involved compared to the process I use: a lot of my BW fine tuning is completed within the the very best software (in my opinion and many others in professional photography) Silver Efex Pro-2. However, both these illustrations are a great start for you to begin creating better Digital BW Photographs! Enjoy!

NIK software groups are now free, and have been for some time. It is worth your time review what they offer.   Posted: 01/12/2021 07:47:50
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
Early on, I used Silver Efex quite a bit. While I don't go to the extent Blake does, I do manipulate colors to tune my monochrome images at the end. What I got from the video is how many ways he demonstrated to subtly massage the colors. Like you, my approach is much simpler.   Posted: 01/12/2021 23:35:01
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Indeed, the video reveals the power these types of software bring to the table, but for the most part, a more simple work-flow can also produce magnificent results. Again, great video and thanks for sharing!   Posted: 01/18/2021 07:42:06

Thread Title: Why No Vignetting? - Why Limit Any Type of Post-production Application?

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Why No Vignetting? Why Limit any type of Post-Production Application?

(Please slowly scroll to view this lengthy discussion. Thank you).

Good morning, Dianne, everyone. Dianne ask why I recently became less a fan of "adding" post-production Vignetting.

First, I agree, Vignetting is a fine "layer", as it were, to create or enhance (or hopefully increase an already apparent narrative). And is why I used it until recently. Please see these two (with and without Vignetting) examples of mine where I used it to "enhance" an already obvious ethereal narrative: I now use the one without, and will soon make a 16x24 matte & framed print.

  Posted: 11/23/2020 10:41:37
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
  Posted: 11/23/2020 10:42:00
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
As it relates to the PSA, the newest competition rules forbid these post-production modifications: (look at number 5). As a State Membership Director for the PSA, me and others across the country get important Board updates monthly. (See number 5)

The following image editing techniques are NOT allowed in Nature Photographs:

1. Any form of manipulation that alters the truth of the photographic statement.
2. Cloning.
3. Blurring the background to obscure elements in the original scene.
4. Darkening the background to remove elements in the original scene.
5. Adding a vignette not originally produced by the camera.
6. Adding textures or artistic filters.
7. Replacing image elements (such as the sky).
8. Combining images by stitching.
9. Textures applied in processing are not allowed.

Club Oriented Photography:
Outside of the PSA and other "Club" oriented gatherings, (for the most part) these types of post-Production features are not used. (i.e. Professional Photographers that focus on Visualization, Camera Dynamics and Traditional post-production technique to create their art, regardless of the photography genre). Please visit works developed by Bob Kolbrener, Wynn Bullock, and Japanese photographer Nobuyuki Kobayashi for just three examples of artist that inspire a lot of my work. Kobayashi was introduced to me while I was researching my recent interest in the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi Sabi (the subject covered in our groups Bulletin Board a couple of months ago). Please, scroll down to read it.

But back to our question, why no Vignetting and other popular post-production applications?

In the Digital Photography Revolution, we have become accustomed to “easily” applying a variety of “Layers” or otherwise man-made/designed “effects” to “add” to a photograph; in itself this is OK and part of the Creative Process, indeed, but in many circumstances they “inflict” an unnatural (and alternative) reality to the composition as compared to what was scene in real-time at the time of capture. Both number 5 and 9 (above) will ruffle a few feathers, as these are extremely popular with many PSA and other local and national club photography enthusiasts. Simply, PSA is trying to buckle-down or limit adding a lot of the above post-production methods from work being judged in PSA competitions, as a lot more online and local organizations are also beginning to limit non-traditional photographic techniques.

Explanation-1 Nature Photography

For “Digital Art” inspired photography these added layers are key to a successful final piece, but must be banned from some competition (and documentary work) thus dictating the photographic capture of all types of animals in Nature Photography, well, are natural.

  Posted: 11/23/2020 10:44:59
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Explanation-2 Pictorialism:

This type of “adding” effects is Not the same as the methods used in the 19th Century Pictorialist movement: a rebuttal used by many when this subject is discussed. Though indeed 19th Century pictorial photographic work was an attempt to “physically create” (like painters’ with their brush and paints) these processors were done by hand in the darkroom or manipulations to the finished print like the photograph titled “Struggle” (1904) by Pictorialist photographer Robert Demachys (1839-1956) heavily scared Gum Bichromate print shows evidence of brush marks across most of the composition that effectively allows the nude to float among the seemingly chaotic space. In other words, the photographer was still “physically manipulating” the negative or print as opposed to having some type of hands-free method (or automatic present day “preset”) applied to negatives and prints.
  Posted: 11/23/2020 10:47:07
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin

This discussion (and my specific remarks to Dianne’s fantastic November composition) is an attempt to bring to light more traditional (or less digital) methods of creativity: instead, I am trying to inspire even more work (and dedication) be applied to Visualizing, (and creating a narrative) Capturing and of course, limiting the degree or amount of digital post-production used to create a final piece, unless the work is clearly one that is categorized as digital art i.e. conceptual and/or composites for popular examples. It is not easy and in fact makes photography one of the hardest art genres to master: From The Art of Photography by Irina Khrabroff 1927: As Khrabroff, lectures…” In other words, the purely creative function of art is denied to him. He (the photographer) cannot improve on reality; he has to accept it as it is. This is the great limitation of his medium”. Khrabroff continues…’in other forms of art the artist is free to do as he pleases in regard to the exercise of his creative function (rearrangement). It is not a necessary attribute of his work, but although not necessary, it is always potentially present. The fact that it is entirely absent from the field of photography is a difficult limitation, but at the same time it is also the chief characteristic which makes pictorial photography a worthwhile, new and independent art’.
  Posted: 11/23/2020 10:48:12
Jose Luis Rodriguez   Jose Luis Rodriguez
Personally, I think times have changed, on the one hand for the better, on the other for the worse. I bought my first camera when I was 15 years old, at 16 I developed and enlarged my copies and at 17 I was already manipulating my enlargements with masks and scratching the occasional negative. (that's the current Camera raw). But when I pressed the trigger, I already knew what was going to come out and what I wanted to obtain, because I studied and practiced for a long time to get there. Today in the digital age most people do not even bother to learn. They shoot and shoot and think that even if the photo is not right, then they fix it in photoshop. But it is evolution, if you look we are already in another step within the digital world, the neural motors, and a simple click changes a sky and no one will notice.
I think that we must accept these new technologies and duplicate the categories in competitions, on the one hand nature without edition and on the other nature with edition, somehow the PSA and Fiap should try to learn photography as before not to be lost   Posted: 11/25/2020 09:34:30
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Good morning, Jose! per your Quote...."Today in the digital age most people do not even bother to learn. They shoot and shoot and think that even if the photo is not right, then they fix it in Photoshop"...

...and is what most people say when the topic is brought up for discussion. Jose, it is clearly an Evolution brought about by the ease of obtaining Instant Gratification one feels upon using post-production software (i.e. pre-sets, for one powerful example you pointed out) that instantly modifies a scene (or subject).

Emphasizing on your comments:

By all means, an Evolutionary progression born from 21st Century digital software that has directly morphed the virtues that has traditionally defined the "Art of Photography", thus interfering with Photography's special and "proprietary skill-sets" that culminate into its unique photographic aesthetics: we have reinforced the blending of the Graphic Arts with genuine Photographic practices (note a similar declaration was made at the turn of the 20th Century by some critics of extreme Pictorialism).

In itself these changes have spawned new types of artistic expression (i.e. Digital Art) that by all means deserve a place within Art, but must be categorized separately next to to work created through more traditional photographic means.

We are beginning to see more and more online and local photography groups moving to do just this: a more detailed approach in categorizing photographic standards for competition.   Posted: 11/29/2020 06:09:28
Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi
Jose and Lance
<br />
<br />I am neither as eloquent and experienced as both of you. Your post was timely. I have spent a frustruating morning reviewing images I took while accompanying a professional photographer on a photo shoot of a young musician. Blindly, I took images after the photographer stepped aside letting him do the previsualization for me. Never again. There were so many problems with the images. Therefore, I concur, it is important to previsualize and know what you want to get out of the camera before pushing the shutter.
<br />
<br />I have done several sky replacements. PS has made sky replacements easyto do. However, one still has to understand light and color and how it falls on the land to make a good sky replacement. I found myself studying how light reflects in the sky and then on the land at different times of the day and with different weather conditions. I became like a child again, asking why is the sky blue, and why is the sky light blue on camera left but dark on camera left. Then what is off about the tones in the sky vs the land.

The neural filters for skin softening speed up work flow so much. However, they just deal with the face, not the neck and arm areas. I still had to think about how should light and shadow fall on the face to create dimension? How should the filter be applied to a man's face compared to a woman's. Does one crank up the crevices and age a man? etc. etc. So these filters and digital editing, to be used properly, bring on new questions.

<br /> Judge for yourself my self portrait applying one of the new filters. Suddenly, I am an artist......   Posted: 11/29/2020 09:17:47
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Very Glad we are enjoying a very constructive discourse:

I will just touch on applying "Wedding" skin softener digital software in post-production: it is a very vital tool in helping photographers (and especially Professional Wedding Photographers) edit digital files before presenting a final product is presented to clients. On the other hand, and similarly, it is often used for family portraits as well, (everyone needs to look "Great" in every picture!). :)

For these types of work I see no reason to shy away, but for all other non-family work I rarely use this tool. All other landscape (with human presence) and Documentary work, No Edit to people is done. This is my workflow, my opinion. I hope others see the merits in this practice. Hope this helps you, Judy.   Posted: 11/29/2020 14:13:13
Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi

I am finding this quite interesting. I went onto the PSA website a month ago, and cut and pasted rules for the various categories including the nature division. I reviewed the criteria under the nature division and the item on vignette was not mentioned.

When I commented on my DSG 52 Competitive Images, I suggested using inverse vignettes to highlight items. Given that these may be fall in the nature category, I have to revisit my suggestions.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention.
JPS   Posted: 11/23/2020 12:04:27
Dianne Arrigoni   Dianne Arrigoni
Thanks for this Lance. I have skimmed over this as it is late but will come back to it tomorrow. You make points I have pondered in the past about too much post processing, though I love doing it. It shall make me look at my photos differently and definitely would force more care with the actual camera work.   Posted: 11/24/2020 01:29:52
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
....well, I post these types of Discussions as a means to contemplate alternative ideas/concepts/practices from popular habit: in this case, the ease to fix, alter, or create a visual narrative (or aesthetic) via digital post-production software, as opposed to predominately doing a majority of the creativity in the field, and then of course by all means, enter post-production to modify or otherwise manipulate our image files in fine tune our goals.

I hope you do read-over the post and also scroll down and read the post about Light & Shadow, and Wabi Sabi, I feel both have relevance to (this) discussion. Thank you. :)   Posted: 11/25/2020 08:29:19

Thread Title: Setting White & Black Points

Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi

This month I am concentrating on learning how to set the white and black points using a curve and threshold layer and how to color correct and then use the curve to determine contrast. What struck me in my image, was that my eye did not see the blue color cast that the color image revealed until I applied a pro contrast CEP filter.

Similarly when I looked at an image of eggs in a dish that I light painted, my eyes did not see the blue color cast because of the color temperature of my flashlight. It only saw the shapes, texture, and how light and shadow created dimension, and composition.

Thus I am asking myself, do I correct for color casts on a color digital file, to create a full range of tonal values? This question can be answered on the image I submitted this month. The basic question is what is it we are doing, when we take color values and render them into tonal values. What are we really doing when we select one color filter over another. How do we move beyond experimentation, to really understand the outcome.   Posted: 11/05/2020 10:20:02
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
First, thank you for starting this conversation as it does bring up a lot of questions about 21st Century photography dynamics.

To basically summarize my view (my opinion) on the matter I feel we have become more and more reliant on digital software mechanics: we seem to be enticed with "digital tools" and the seemingly endless experimenting on new ways to make the wheel. In other words, in my opinion we are working too hard to get results which was previously achieved with less technology.

I suggest these heavily post-processed compositions will not reveal a (proportional response) to those who did not learn and then use these advanced tools.

As the new Black & White Photography Mentor for the PSA I will be teaching a far less complicated path to achieving a final piece of fine art photography: a piece that will look as good on computer monitors as it does as physical print.

In conclusion, I feel it is still beneficial to learn some of these digital tools as I see no downside to this in itself. However, I do warn the artist not to over-think a composition during post-production review and thus become heavily reliant on post-production alterations to fix every tiny area within a frame that may have been addressed (and fixed) at time of capture and/or will have little consequence to a printed version.   Posted: 11/06/2020 07:53:48
Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi

For me the question is, does one need to color correct an image, for a monochrome image?

With my light painting, I have been using a LED flashlight with a blue color cast. The problem is that it has toned the image with a blue color. By color correcting using a curve, I can remove this color cast and the image immediately brightens.

I suspect that when I convert light painted images into monochrome, without color correcting, the color cast does not matter.   Posted: 11/06/2020 10:39:04
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
All good speaking points, Judy. Personally, I fix any color cast observed when reviewing my Digital color image before converting to BW. I do not work any other way. In other words, I try to create a very successful color version (as seen through the viewfinder) and/or how I feel like it should be interpreted, before any attempt to converting the work to BW.   Posted: 11/07/2020 10:19:24
Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi

Thanks for answering this question. Greg Benz had told me he liked to work use the PS monochrome adjustment layer because he had access to the color corrected information. I did not understand the importance of this concept or what you meant when you said you color corrected your image first. I hope others will read this thread.

JPS   Posted: 11/07/2020 12:49:51
Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi

The importance of getting a correct exposure in camera and looking at the histogram, did not really sink in, until I went through this excercise of looking at the white and black point. I understand that the histogram takes on many shapes, depending on the subject matter photographed. I also did not fully appreciate the power of using the curve to control contrast on a flat digital file.

Manipulating the curve, I became aware that I really need to focus how light and shadow fall, and how light rakes on a scene in image capature. P

lease look at how I adjusted the curve on your image this month to create a slightly different mood. My adjustment was neither better nor worse. I did not see the original scene; therefore, I was not constrained by how I thought it should look. That in itself was another lesson in understanding the monochrome aesthetic. Without color, we can better see nuances of light and shadow.   Posted: 11/06/2020 15:27:06
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
As it relates to Exposure I spend time "bracketing" and rarely look at my Review Screen. In this way I am very focused on the act of capture and all that need to be done to capture the subject in its best light. This workflow usually rewards me with proper to near proper exposed images.

With film, I am even more alert to my immediate environment and camera settings, as there is no review screen to check every once in a while.

Sometimes a favorable exposure is hard or impossible to do, so post-production is handy to correct issues for low exposure (and even harder to fix) over exposure.

In summary, complete understanding and use of the camera, your subject and ones ability to visualize, design (or compose) before pulling the trigger is key to capturing more "keepers" (with less post-production revision) to the occasional Exhibition print.   Posted: 11/07/2020 10:31:43

Thread Title: Black and White Photography: Interpretation of the Whole

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
A few words beyond the popular definitions of Monochrome and Black and White Photography (BW): here I speak a few words on the philosophy of BW photography and its place within the Fine Arts. (This piece is also posted in Group 64-Mono).

When we view the world around us our eyes and mind work together in a process that is quick and efficient at first, we spend little time discerning between individual objects (including both light and shadow, color and texture) when deciding…" oh, what a beautiful scene or view or architectural skyline" …we simply 'take in the whole'…and immediately interpret what we are viewing is something of immense interest. The BW photograph, and as important or relevant in this discussion, black and white Cinema, allow our senses to work in a similar fashion: upon viewing these BW images (or videos) we very quickly digest the content and form an interpretation. We are not transfixed on color objects and/or artifacts that can interfere with the normal eye and mind collaboration we rely on in everyday life.

Successful photographs are ones that can reveal its Gestalt; where interpretation of the whole is more expressive (interesting or seems to "prick" the viewer, as Roland Barthes so eloquently coined in 1980) than the artworks individual details. Many BW interpretations help reveal a subject more completely, maybe even more emotionally then its multi-color alternatives.

Nowadays, (as a consequence of the Digital Photography revolution) everything captured is rendered first as a color image - this initial color rendering is unique in its influential slant: we are dictated to interpret the color image first - even edit the color image in post-production before converting it to a black and white photograph. This process is much different from shooting a roll of BW film where the photographer is never introduced to color, as such, their interpretation is purer, (or unbiased) towards the BW print upon development. (We see this conflict in every PSA Mono critique group: …" does everyone like the color or my BW version better?").

Alternatively, the (Film) photographer who chooses and wants to capture subjects as a black and white rendering does so without questioning or engaging the scene in color: their choosing a color version over capturing a BW one is not part of the equation or conversation. In my opinion, today's digital photographer needs to disconnect from the color original as soon as the BW version has been created, in an attempt to practice a purer engagement with the BW rendering. Thank you, everyone!

Photographer Lance A. Lewin
  Posted: 10/24/2020 16:22:26
Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi
After reading this, I purposely photographed colorful fall images of gourds set against brilliant leaves trying both ight painting, and also outdoors once using a continuous light and flashlight another just natural light. The colors were so brilliant. What struck me on editing to color correct, was that I could not see the image through the confusion of color. My attempts at compostion were entirely lost amidst the confusion.   Posted: 10/27/2020 15:58:57
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Judy - this is a very intriguing discourse - where color (or too much color) has thwarted the ability to properly see the "whole" image (or composition).

  Posted: 11/05/2020 09:47:35

Thread Title: Continuing the Discussion on Light and Shadow

Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi
Continuing the Discussion on Light and Shadow

For this month, I wanted to understand how light and shadow as well as approaches to toning can enhance an image. The corn was bought freshly picked from a farm. Two days later, the leaves had wilted and become more translucent. Peeling back the leaves just slightly, looking at what is hiddent underneath, creates a more dramatic image than completely husking the corn.

I light painted the corn, ISO 100, f6, 8 sec., 62 mm, tripod. To increase the translucent feeling, I backlit the leaves. Rotate this image and you have a flying corn.

One version was created in PS using a red filter and BW adjustment layer. Th other version was done in Silver Effex Pro, with a copper tone 16, a red filter, and border 10.   Posted: 09/10/2020 07:52:55
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Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi
  Posted: 09/10/2020 07:53:49
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Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi
  Posted: 09/10/2020 07:54:49
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Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi
Rotating the image, the corn looks as if it were flying.   Posted: 09/10/2020 07:59:20
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Hi Judy! Yes, this example is a great exercise in learning how to use/understand Light & Shadow, but as important in developing ones sense of creativity. You have done a marvelous job showing us this.

One question: you said you used Back-lighting, but I do not see evidence of this: usually it provides a translucent-like appearance - but I do not see this. Can you explain exactly how the Back-lighting was applied in this shot?

Thank you Judy, and thank you for this presentation!   Posted: 09/13/2020 04:54:20
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Back-Lighting for Effect:
In my Trumpet Flower composition seen here...most of the illumination is Back-lit by the sun: consequently, the signature Translucent glow overwhelmingly anchors the soft aesthetic on the flower and surrounding leaves.   Posted: 09/13/2020 05:03:16
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Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi

I backlit the corn leaves to create a translucent feeling. Then I lit the remainder of the corn from a 45 degree angle and tried to maintain this direction of light. What you see is this main direction and would not realize I backlit unless I specifically mentioned it. The flashlight gives me freedom to change my direction as I paint. Thus the image has a combination of light directions.

Here is an example where the image is entirely back lit. For this, I made sure that the subject was perpendicular and only lit the back side of the flower.   Posted: 09/13/2020 07:25:41
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Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi
Another example of backlit. See how the leaves are so translucent.   Posted: 09/13/2020 07:37:12
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
....yes, here is what I look for in Back-lit subjects (mainly flora). Thank you.   Posted: 09/13/2020 20:06:00
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
These are nice. Well illuminated. Nice Aesthetic.   Posted: 09/13/2020 20:07:27
Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi
The baseball image below shows how white against black immediately draws and holds attention. With a black subject on a black background, it is challenging to achieve separation. Therefore, the glove is placed so the leather trim on the glove helps create visual separation.

The area around the ball was carefully light painted to avoid blowing out detail on the ball but still provide the right balance of shadow under the glove. Thought was given on how much of the ball to reveal. Too much showing, the ball would dominate. One must look for the ball in the shadows.   Posted: 09/20/2020 19:23:33
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
A very well prepared and executed example of creating engaging photographic work from a common placed object - or otherwise seen as understated. The light & shadow work extremely well resulting in a pleasing composition. The particular aesthetic used likely in a commercial setting or in your case Judy, a piece of fine art in your home - as the piece is very special to you.

There is nothing I can add to this shot other then..well done!

Again, I really appreciate your detailed analysis of your work - it goes a long way in teaching others how your thought-process and work-flow is organized.   Posted: 09/28/2020 05:09:50

Thread Title: Light & Shadow

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Happy September! I hope you contribute your thoughts (and photographs) on the discussion of Light & Shadow throughout the month.

As Photographic Artists we should be looking for the best "Light" to define a dynamic composition. This will usually also reveal interesting Shadows...but not all the time. Sometimes the Light (i.e. how it paints the subject or alternatively, how it defines the white or dead space in a composition) is the main attraction at first look...but shadows, sometimes very subtle within the frame, also add to a good recipe. In other words, we head into our photo-shoot envisioning one Aesthetic, and ultimately we are gifted with seeing even more than what first meets our eyes.   Posted: 09/02/2020 06:34:52
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
  Posted: 09/02/2020 06:36:33
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Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi
With light painting still life, I found that it is important to understand the play of light and shadow and how to use it to create mood, dimension, tension and focal points. For example, the shadow under the large yoga tune up ball draws attention to the large ball while the bright white net around a small yoga ball creates another focal point. Thus the eye moves in a circle around the compositon.   Posted: 09/02/2020 17:33:06
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Thread Title: Wabi Sabi Continued

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Continuing the Discussion on Wabi Sabi:

Long before my recent introduction to Wabi Sabi most of you have heard me speak and promote the "Visualization" process: here we seek to become one with our immediate environment in hope of initiating creativity. In my opinion (and a thought I also shared with two of the Japanese photographers I listed previously) the Wabi Sabi philosophy works well (and seems interconnected) with the process of visualization. Here are some of my thoughts from my Intimate with Nature Series I began about three years ago:

'creep along the forest floor or climb tree limbs and seek the often hidden spaces in bushes, thick grass and behind rocks, or explore the crevasse of tree-bark and moss examining the intricacies and interaction between light, shadow and texture. Take a full breath and smell the varied Earthy scents from the fallen and dried leaves of fall or the sweet smell of roses and wildflowers in spring. Thus, I invite you to look closely and seek more than what initially meets the eye and is perceived as austere, or common place in nature, and instead, explore and find deeper meaning within your immediate environment. In this instant, the camera is a tool to capture artistic perspectives that bring to print a swatch of the normally hidden beauty, mystery and foremost, reality that surrounds our space'. LAL   Posted: 07/12/2020 06:42:55
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Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi

Your image this month and the concept of wabi sabi and discussion of film has so intrigued me and opened me up to a new path. I photographed images of an antique carpentry tool and using Silver Effex and applying a film type, toning, and borders, along with moving the other sliders found myself creating much stronger images. Indeed, I started exploring the tool from different directions all in the same setting, the wooden rail of my deck, and in different light conditions. It is amazing how one object, in different light conditions (even light painted in the evening) could reveal such different secrets.

This exploration led me to look at my pond in a new way. I found myself meditating on a dying leaf from a water hyacinth floating pushed by the moving water with small bubbles forming around it. Before, I would have ignored the dying leaf because it was not perfect. Now I looked at it, wanting to capture it in its last day(s).

The concept of wabi sabi has led me to explore the hidden treasures of the pond under different light, time of day, and weather conditions and watch nature unfold. To capture the beauty, I have learned to use a polarizing filter. It so enhances water images.
  Posted: 07/21/2020 15:55:47
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Judy, I am very happy to hear your enthusiasm about this latest topic - The BW floating leaf is a prime example of finding beauty in the austere - or common place. Similarly, the antique tool is a portrait exposing that can reveal many different details, emotion, and surely, mystery.

Please, continue to share your photographic compositions and details on how you created the final piece - these are wonderful lessons in the Art of Photography. Thank you, Judy!

  Posted: 07/22/2020 09:40:45
Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi

Given your comment of creeping along the forest floor, I looked along and under the lily leaves in my pond and saw these three newborn frogs. I used a circular PL filter to darken the water and reduce the glare on frogs, leaves and water. In LR, I did not open the shadows in order to retain the dark water. When editing in PS, I applied a levels adjustment and moved the black point minimally to increase the black in the water but allow some of the leaf stems to show through the water.
On each frog, I did a curves vignette to draw attention to them. Also, I applied a Nik Color Effex light centre on the frog in the lower left corner, and the CE detail extract and color contrast filters to the entire image.

I did compare using minimal flash from my pop up on camera but found that it flattened the texture on the frog, revealed the debris in the water, and left some tiny pin prick highlights on the frog texture. Therefore I concluded it is better to use the polarizing filter to obtain the dark water effect.

Using the PL filter, this same technique,and a levels adjustment I was able to achieve the black in the lily image above. The black background simplifies the image, and helps the lily stand out.

  Posted: 07/22/2020 16:02:29
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Judy, this is an excellent review of your procedures and findings - as it is with a lot of the techniques used within the photography genre, nothing is set in stone - and variations are key to creativity - and even more important, individuality. Well done, Judy. Thank you.   Posted: 07/26/2020 13:50:03
Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi

You encouraged us to seek along the forest floor, not to stop, but to find the hidden beauty that lies there. It would have been too easy to just photograph this beautiful day lily. Taking that extra moment to look what lay under the lily, I discovered the natural harmony of nature - bright light vs shadow, smooth petals vs reptilian skin, both were in harmony sharing the same space. Thirty minutes later, when I went back to my pond to photograph the scene, the lily had closed her petals for the day and the frog was gone.   Posted: 09/02/2020 17:45:03
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Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi

You encouraged us to seek along the forest floor, not to stop, but to find the hidden beauty that lies there. It would have been too easy to just photograph this beautiful day lily. Taking that extra moment to look what lay under the lily, I discovered the natural harmony of nature - bright light vs shadow, smooth petals vs reptilian skin, both were in harmony sharing the same space. Thirty minutes later, when I went back to my pond to photograph the scene, the lily had closed her petals for the day and the frog was gone.   Posted: 09/02/2020 17:45:05
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Thread Title: THE PHILOSOPHY OF Wabi Sabi

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin

The Japanese Wabi Sabi philosophy includes several aesthetic principles:
1. simplicity
2. asymmetry or irregularity
3. beauty in the understated
4. naturalness without pretense
5. subtle grace
6. freeness
7. tranquility

Within these ideas beauty is found in the simplest of forms and perhaps, inspires tranquility: for example, a single rock or the draped dried flora that seemingly cascade like fireworks from an old Bald Cypress Tree - (see attached example). Or the eeriness of the swamps located in the deep south - but to some a nostalgic feeling, as it did with me. (See my July post).

Alternatively, a photographic composition of old tools, a torn or used leotard next to a similarly used pair of ballet shoes will evoke many different emotions - including those that describe the beautiful.

Shooting in film helps to capture the many aesthetics outlined in this Japanese philosophy - but careful planning and proper used of any both digital and film photography techniques can also capture and produce engaging compositions. Landscape and natural photographers like Bob Kolbrener, Nobuyuki Kobayoshi, Naohiro Ninomiya shoot film exclusively: that film captures and amplifies the aesthetics outlined above. (I too, have now dedicated myself shooting up to 35% BW film using my 1970's camera and lenses). Another photographic technique that helps build an aesthetic is the paper you use to print on: this is also an important process regardless if you capture using film or digital means.

The topic is grand - and needs serious research, practice, and also examination into ones own means of inspiration to fully appreciate. However, this initial introduction can help us all "look" and "see" photographs with a new perspective and surely, appreciation for the individuality in work that follow and help sustain the traditional values of photographic fine art - and the work most collectors are hunting for.

Thank you.   Posted: 07/09/2020 14:34:19
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
The Wabi Sabi philosophy is also very connected and in many ways, compliments the "Visualization" process. I speak about this concept regularity in all my photographic clubs and PSA groups, as it is central in becoming one with your environment as a means to initiate creativity from behind the lens. A subject talked about with passion and conviction by Ansel Adams in the 20th Century.

Image: "Destiny" digitally captured from my series Intimate with Nature.   Posted: 07/09/2020 14:54:34
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Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi

I attach a dying leaf image that I discussed below.   Posted: 07/21/2020 16:00:20
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Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi

I attach an image of the antique tool with the background described in another comment.

It was difficult for me to decide which image to choose. I had angled the tool in different ways, photographed in under different light conditions, experimented with flash in broad daylight to create black backgrounds, and light painted it both inside and outside. I used it to explore depth of field because of its unique shape.

I researched but do not understand how to use it. However, it has taught me so much about photography and editing wanting to explore its beauty.   Posted: 07/21/2020 16:12:10
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Thread Title: Making Your Own Textures

Georgianne Giese   Georgianne Giese
Recently, Judith asked about textures. It is so easy to make your own. Of course, you can photograph textures all around you. But you can also make textures out of an image that has the color pallet that you wish to capture in a texture. I searched for classic images on the Internet, because I love the colors in most of those old images. I also used some of my own flower images.

1. Select your image and open it in PS CC.
2. Copy the first layer (Ctrl J).
3. Make any color adjustments you wish with Adjustment layers.
4. Play with your image. Here are a few tricks I used.
a. Copy the image to a new layer and invert that layer (Edit > Transpose > Invert (horizontal and/or verticle)
b. Change the blending mode on the inverted layer. Just page through the blending mode with the down arrow key on your keyboard.
c. Merge up to include a merged layer on top of your underlying layer, without loosing the underlying layers (Cntl Alt Shift E)
d. Take a merged layer into Topaz Studio Impressions and find an effect that you like and save it. You can also play with the properties of any effect, e.g., change the brush, change each color, smudge it, etc.

Here is a flower I put on a texture background that I created from a classic angel picture I found on the web.   Posted: 06/12/2020 14:28:20
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
This is incredibly gorgeous, Georgianne! I hope you plan to print this!   Posted: 07/09/2020 13:56:04
Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi

Thanks for describing the process. I made a screen print of it.   Posted: 07/21/2020 15:19:32

Thread Title: Is Black & White Photography Manipulative?

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Secondly, asking if Black and White photography is a manipulative process is a bit strange and in my opinion pointless - and my feelings well described in the document.

However, when we talk about "manipulation" as a whole (color or BW, still or cinema) this is a logical and legitimate discourse: as many feel the very Preservation of the Art of Photography is in question.

But this is entire different debate. Thank you.   Posted: 06/10/2020 16:29:29
Peter Newman   Peter Newman

Hi Lance,

How many time have any of us heard the claim in essence, that a particular image is not photography, because it does not accurately represent what the camera saw.
I think that a statement by a photographer claiming that they are from the f64 school, just like AA, is either hypercritical, or made without knowledge of the facts. One of my former clients was one of his lab technicians. According to him, just about all the original negatives were flat. Each one had extensive notes concerning the amount of manipulation should be done during the printing process. Each plate had detailed instructions on how it should be developed. i.e. How much time in each type of developer, and the temperature foe each stage.

As a veteran of a wet darkroom, who made some of his own developing chemicals from scratch, I understand his reasoning. No, I don't remember my formulas, but many were based of information contained in the CRC handbook.

  Posted: 06/10/2020 18:47:10
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Peter, your comments (and those of your friends) are correct and have merit, but the differences between 19th and 20th Century manipulation and 21st Century digital alternatives are not even remotely close: we have pushed photographic manipulation way past the boundaries of traditional photographic technique and have entered a new realm of art: Digital Art with a photographic base. Your comments fall outside the topic posted initially, so I will not comment further until we all decide to close this chapter and move forward with another. :)

Sadakichi Hartmann reflected on a similar point: “I do not object to retouching, dodging or accentuation as long as they do not interfere with the natural qualities of photographic technique”.

This is a very involved and deep discourse needing its own space to breath. Thank you.   Posted: 06/11/2020 05:57:54
Georgianne Giese   Georgianne Giese
I'm not sure that I follow the "arguments" here. Perhaps that is because I tend to agree more with Jose. To me, some images look better in monochrome, others in color, as inferred by Lance.
I think it is important to remember that, before the advent of digital art/photography, the only way to share an image was in print (or TV/Movies). Initially, that meant monochrome. I recall that the only reason that Ansel Adams printed in monochrome was because he could not find a printer who did justice to his color negatives. As humans, we do have a tendency to hang on to that to which we have become accustomed and there is still a tendency to prefer monochrome because that is the "way it used to be".

Color has a very emotional impact upon people, so it is, indeed, part of the authenticity of a scene. The emotions evoked vary by time and local, so an image in color more authentically represents "reality" if the colors in it are synchronous with both the local and the intent of the photographer. There is nothing in our world to which we react without some kind of emotion, unless we are a psychopath. So a captured image is INTENDED to convey some kind of emotion as translated through a photographer to an audience. The audience had better have the same emotional reactions to the colors in a scene as does the photographer, or else the image is wasted as a document that records "reality" of the scene. of course, if emotional color reactions are not synchronous between the photographer and the audience, then the image must have enough meat in it to stand by itself in monochrome!   Posted: 06/10/2020 19:29:01
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
These are good and valid points, Georgianne.

Indeed, there are many color renderings that can be strong and dramatic. But as you point out, the photographer needs to have a skill set that will allow a scene to reveal itself. However, the viewer may not necessarily engage the piece with the same interpretation as the photographers: There will always be room for interpretation - the mere fact that the composition "moves" you or "Pricks" you (effects the viewer emotionally or as you already stated, it needs the "meat" to be a powerful image)is all that is important,

The degree of this difference in interpretation between the photographer and viewer can also change significantly depending upon the type of work being viewed: i.e. traditional abstract and landscape for two examples.   Posted: 06/11/2020 06:15:16
Peter Newman   Peter Newman
Lance, This may be OT, but I congratulate you, and thank you for sharing your well written article.

I I read it correctly, I totally agree with your point on the importance of visualization, and by implication, its effect on the emotional impact of the image.

  Posted: 06/11/2020 12:34:20
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Peter, at this point...we have been north, south east and west of the original topic!! LOL!!

Really appreciate you liking the piece - and yes, I am very passionate about preserving this (the Visualization process) as a vital component within The Art of Photography:

The art of "seeing" lies in our ability to slow down, step back and retrace our steps: elaborating on the old trope, "Stop and smell the roses", be cognizant of your surroundings by slowing down to experience the sensations that infiltrate our space we do not notice in our hurried pace. Experiencing more from our environment by opening all our senses to see, hear, smell and taste a wider sampling, stoop low and see what the insects see, or pull back and glee at the grandeur of a majestic landscape. With a stronger awareness of the world around us, helps expose hidden nuances in helping to initiate creativity in the pursuit of achieving dynamic compositions.
  Posted: 06/11/2020 18:35:55
Debasish Raha   Debasish Raha
We the photographers have the gift to find beauty and interest in things most of the people usually overlook. In addition we have the interest to capture the beauty through photographs. How we present what we captured is up to us, the photographers. That is her/his interpretation, reflecting a way to tell the story. The final photograph might reflect a photographer's interpretation of what he/she actually saw, or a variation that reflects the mood and sometimes a dramatization, all reflecting photographer's interpretation. So it is pointless to argue about authentication irrespective of color or monochrome because photography is about an artistic interpretation, as always has been, of individual photographers. That is why every photography show is a unique experience.   Posted: 06/13/2020 22:41:34
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Debasish, indeed, we are all individual artist - and our interpretation of a landscape, event or portraiture is all within our artistic means: as far as BW not being authentic, the idea is baseless and why I presented it here to see everyone's reaction.

Thank you for commenting!   Posted: 06/18/2020 14:39:58

Thread Title: A Very Engaging Conversation

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
From a very engaging conversation with participants and fellow photographers on some months ago. I am confident you will all enjoy reading (part) of my tran. I look forward to your comments regardless if they are for or against my comments. Enjoy!

As it relates to BW photography, as many questions about the authenticity of color photographs now has equal competition from its BW alternatives, including film based versions. I see every day in both online posts, and speaking with people at gallery exhibitions, including my own solo exhibition in 2017. However, (the participant) brings up an entirely different topic that questions the 'authenticity of a Black and White photograph' (regardless if it was digitally converted or a result of developing BW film negatives).

Rendering a subject in grey scale (again, regardless if converting a digital file or developing a BW negatives) is all about “seeing” and ingesting the “whole” frame. Successful photographs are ones that can reveal its Gestalt; where interpretation of the whole is more expressive (interesting or seems to “prick” the viewer, as Roland Barthes so eloquently coined in 1980) than the artworks individual details. Then we can also suggest a BW rendering, perhaps, even more than color, reveals how we “see” in real-time and thus BW photography presents a truer sense of reality. A “Point to Ponder”, indeed.

“Why BW?” Even after color film was introduced, (especially in the early years) BW photography was still the hallmark of what represented Photographic Art - and like then, even now, viewers of Black and White photography are dictated to interpret the “whole” as opposed to the individual sensations of color - as a consequence, BW renderings still stand as the forefront of what defines Fine Art Photography to many photographers and especially to patrons of photographic art.

No. Black and White photography is not manipulating or otherwise represents a skewed reality, instead, may actually support more closely how our eyes and brain work in union to reveal our World in all its beauty and intricate detail, and thus, how we conceive reality; an ideal pursued through Impressionism in painting (color) and Pictorialism in (black and white) photography. Thank you.

Lance A. Lewin
  Posted: 06/10/2020 14:54:55
Jose Luis Rodriguez   Jose Luis Rodriguez
My humble opinion
Talking about the authenticity of color photography or manipulation of the BW is a bit pointless and absurd
Is it like saying Canon or Nikon?
is that Canon colors are more real or I like them more
or before when we were working with a movie, the question was Kodak or Fuji?
To argue for the authenticity of color photography is absurd. Digital cameras do not see in color, (they interpret colors with formulas that someone has created because they only "see" light and shadows.
I don't even know how my daughter sees the colors nor does she know how I see them, the color has so much of a subjectivity that you can't speak of authenticity.
Photography is an art and as art everything is valid within it and no part is more authentic or real than the other.   Posted: 06/10/2020 15:14:43
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
...and to be clear...the question that was proposed by the participant was if Black and White was authentic, and not a manipulated genre of photography!   Posted: 06/10/2020 16:24:16

Thread Title: Reasons for Using Monochrome

Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi
Reasons for using monochrome is that reduces the distraction of color and can assist in making a story stronger. Also, it can produce a more timeless image.

For me, another benefit is allowing us to more easily read across multiple images at one glance and simplify a message.

Using focal length, I compressed an image, and challenged the question of social distancing. One image, may seem aberrant. However, compiling three images taken within 10 minutes apart, eliminating the distraction of color, the message is stronger.

  Posted: 06/10/2020 13:38:08
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Great topic Judy:

Street Photography takes on more than one type of narrative: for example, the implied "instantaneous" capture as we see in Georgios example is one narrative (and in itself, has two possible methods of capture; we will expand on this shortly)in creating a narrative, and the second is more like Judy's, that of which resides within a documentary narrative.

The two methods of Instantaneous or Spontaneous or Reactive technique in capturing a subject - in creating a narrative - can 1. after studying a particular location or space (i.e. a particular street corner or the entrance to a movie house) the photographer begins to become one with his immediate environment and the things and people that reside within its boundaries: from this point forward the photographer can gauge and interpret his subjects before finally pulling the trigger at the optimum moment, or Cartier's "the decisive moment". 2. the shot is truly instant or likely "Reactive" to fast thinking (and experience) as Jose pointed out earlier on review of Georgios photograph.

Lastly, we have results that are a manifest of Luck, Intuition/experience, Visualization, or a combination of all these important and varied variables.

On Documentary Street Photography - lets here from everyone. :)   Posted: 06/10/2020 15:13:19
Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi

I am very familiar with this area. However, when I took these images, I was not waiting for something to happen. I was intrigued by the man in an orange jacket on the scooter behind my husband with a blue jacket and thought orange and blue were a nice color contrast. Then I had to run to catch up to my husband and saw another image and without thought took it. Ditto for the third image. When I saw the images, the theme of Social Distancing came to mind. These images were spontaneous.

That same morning, I took other images of landmarks along the Thames River. Some were horrible with ugly colors but I converted them to monochrome and created a triptych with them called Along the Thames. This to me is straight documentary.   Posted: 06/10/2020 17:17:44
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Peter Newman   Peter Newman
I think it depends on the image and its purpose. A few days ago I would have agreed that, especially with street, That color often only interferes with a good monochrome. I am showing both a color and a mono version of one of my old images. Yes, I could have played around with the luminescence until I got a much better conversion. However after the properly converted version was complete, I am not sure that it would tell a significantly different story than the color version.

I think that this comparison does illustrate that: it is far more difficult to get a good monochrome image, than one in color; that there times when color can aid in telling a story; color is not always a distraction.
  Posted: 06/10/2020 17:43:51
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Hello Peter, and thanks for stopping by....but no, this is not a good example to show the differences between color and BW photography and how it is viewed and interpreted: a more complex example needs to be used...the conversation between the importance of (or significance) between color and BW photographs, well, is not as simple as black and white. :)

All kidding aside, I think most artist will agree we are discussing more complex pieces that reveal themselves differently through BW and color renderings.   Posted: 06/11/2020 05:43:44
Peter Newman   Peter Newman
Lance, I probably did not make my paragraph clear. I posted that image for the very narrow purpose of not agreeing with Judy's statement that: "Reasons for using monochrome is that reduces the distraction of color..." more specifically I was trying to illustrate that color is not always a distraction.

I apologize if my above statement moved the thread. That was not my intention.   Posted: 06/11/2020 11:49:33
Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi

This conversation about monochrome vs color has really made me think about how, when, and where to use monochrome vs color.

I am so new to photography (3 years vs the vast experience of those commenting) and have simply concentrated on learning techniques. My desire to learn monochrome was simply because webinars would state learn monochrome because your photography will improve. Thus I joined the DDG 83 group Dec. 2018. I would research to find simple answers to what makes a good monochrome image. Nowhere, did I find the type of conversation in this thread.

Last November I started on a journey to learn still life, how to create themes, and then light paint,. My images changed from monochrome to color because I was challenged to use color to create mood and story. How can one appreciate the artistry of Italian Faenze hand painted ceramic without seeing the rich tones and gradations of color or the oozing of the yellow egg yolk that tells the story. When I converted this image to monochrome, it lost impact and story.

I use images as a way to remember and have never considered them as art. This thread is challenging me to think deeper - documentary? art? choice?. Therefore, I appreciate the different points of view.

  Posted: 06/11/2020 13:23:46
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Georgianne Giese   Georgianne Giese
Judith, it surprises me that you are someone who is new to photography. your work is amazing! You are obviously someone who really approaches learning in a strongly focused and dedicated manner! I do love your egg image. Last week, I was day dreaming about how to photograph just such an egg, in an old fashioned holder such as the one you used. however, I didn't have one or know where I could find one. I can't go shopping, due to susceptibilities and COVID. Do people even use those wonderful egg holders anymore? They used to be common (am I dating myself?)   Posted: 06/11/2020 17:07:59
Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi

I just saw your comment. For some reason, I am not getting messages delivered from the server.

This egg cup holder is from Faenze, Italy famous for its ceramic. My husband grew up there.

I have attached another idea for an egg. This image is light painted on white card stock and the color temperature adjusted to blue. I also tried this setup on my black granite kitchen counter to purposely catch reflections.   Posted: 07/21/2020 15:14:17
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
CALL FOR ARTIST Gilmer Arts National Photography Exhibition 2020

Please, follow link to the Prospectus. Reach out to me with questions. Thank you, everyone!   Posted: 06/05/2020 12:02:18

Thread Title: ArtTalk

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Good day, everyone! Hope you take time to copy and paste this link to a 3min read on my work and the other artist on the site, too. They recently highlighted my work. I also use this site to promote photography exhibitions scheduled at Gilmer Arts in Ellijay, Georgia. And please, leave a Comment after the article regardless if Pro or Con on what you read. Thank you.   Posted: 05/22/2020 09:02:34
Georgios Kazazis   Georgios Kazazis
Have a good day everyone!
Great idea indeed!
For me is Pro definitely!
Well done dear Lance!!   Posted: 05/22/2020 10:33:44
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Good day, Georgios. I am glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you.   Posted: 05/24/2020 06:02:58
Georgianne Giese   Georgianne Giese
This is a comment on your article, Lance.

What you say, about slowing down and really visualizing the beauty around us, is right on. I do think that gift of 'seeing' comes mostly from a lot of practice. After awhile (perhaps years), a dedicated photographer begins to really see the components of a scene that would make a good photograph.

One comment on your article involved the wish for a resurgence of "documentary" photography. Indeed there is a place for good images that purport to "document" something. However, it is important to note that ever since photography began, photos have been altered in development, to the point that it is unwise to trust that any photo is really a straight photo. Indeed, there is always a difference between what is "actually" there, and what the photographer perceives. The camera records straight pixels, and in development, the photographer attempts to tweak them to look like what they perceived.   Posted: 05/22/2020 11:13:59
Georgianne Giese   Georgianne Giese
Perhaps part of the reason why there is often a difference between what the photographer remembers and the actual scene as captured in raw by the camera, is because of the lack of context in the image, verses what surrounds the scene in the photographer's memory. The photographer has a multi-sensory experience, including their own perceptual historical memories. The camera has only one of the senses, in that it sees, but does not perceive (perception is a brain function which incorporates memory).   Posted: 05/22/2020 11:30:11
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Hello, Georgianne. I really like your comments and insights...thank you for this wonderful detailed response.“To those who believe that beauty and meaning exist only in people's imaginations, photography would seem to be too closely bound to reality; to be too wingless an art to be interesting. But to those who love life, photography will appeal because of its very closeness to reality.” Irina Khrabroff

However, we are all aware in recall, our joy of an event, place or thing is not as clear as the experience in real-time, as such we tend to modify details which may be a bit left or right of what was experienced. Traditionally, and for the most part, in both words and pictures, we do our best to convey the deep emotional real-time experience in a clear and authentic manner.

A great example are the landscape photographs of Ansel Adams - Adams openly admitted his long time in the dark room ended in final prints revealing more drama than experienced in real-time. His heavy hand in Dodge and Burn techniques have produced many extreme variations of light and shadow helping him bring his deep emotional experience to the viewer. However, never is the work questioned of its authenticity: his darkroom techniques are pure as most (but not all) 19th Century and early 20th Century photographers during the Pictorialism movement, and the final print reveals an authentic visual experience - one that any viewer could have experienced and appreciated.

Another example can be seen in my many pictorial sea-scapes - as I tend to sometimes use a slow shutter speed to reveal motion of waves and clouds in attempt to bring the enormous emotion felt during the real-time experience.

And this is because, as you shared in your comment - environmental nuances that surround our space often reveal themselves only after time has passed or alternatively, as you also stated, through years of capturing photographs and learning to “see”: as experienced photographers’ have learned to visualize and capture all that lay before them.

“Art is hidden in nature…and that he who can tear her out of it, owns her”. Painter Albrecht DŸrer (1471-1528)

  Posted: 05/24/2020 07:22:16
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
  Posted: 05/24/2020 07:41:09
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Georgianne Giese   Georgianne Giese
Lance, thank you for your excellent reply. I do love the quotes! But most of all, I LOVE your beautiful boneyard image! Wow! I do love to photograph boneyards. There was an excellent one a Hunting Beach, SC, but last year they cleared all the dead trees from it, and totally ruined it for photographers! We also found a good one on Jekyll Island, GA. Is that where you took this one? The moodiness of your image really communicates. Thanks for posting it!   Posted: 05/24/2020 12:17:30
Georgianne Giese   Georgianne Giese
Here is one that I took at Hunting Island, when the trees were still there! I just love working with these images of trees. I called this "Cold Storm Coming", and used the blue cast with white vignette to induce the feeling of coldness.   Posted: 05/24/2020 16:13:31
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Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
....appreciate this meaningful dialogue, I feel it is good to discuss the many facets of our art genre.

Yes, I love visiting these places as well, Georgianne. Captured on Long Boat Key, Florida a couple years back during a very strange optical event: the late afternoon-evening sun was just cutting through very thick fog which had descended upon the beach - in post-production I decided to convert to BW and use similar Toning to mimic the experience: though the color version is outstanding - the BW w/toning made the scene more stark.

Oh, gee...I really like your shot...the cool tone fits it well! I need to visit your neck of the woods (or coast) Georgianne - where do you suggest I visit and at time of year? Thank you for sharing...very cool!   Posted: 05/24/2020 17:11:38
Georgianne Giese   Georgianne Giese
This shot was taken at Hunting Beach, and the trees there have been removed. The beach is baren. Perhaps the Jekyll boneyard is still there. If you visit Jekyll island, also take a full day to visit nearby Cumberland island. Actually, Cumberland is best explored in two days, as it is huge. We loved it, with its ruins and amazing vegetation and wild horses. We ran out of time to visit the 14 mile long beach, as we took the amazing tour of the north end and walked the south end. Access to the island is by ferry only, and aside from the tour, you have to walk or rent a bike. As we didn't visit the beach, I don't know if there is a boneyard there. We'd planned on exploring it this year, but got sidelined by COVID-19.   Posted: 05/25/2020 08:00:09

Thread Title: Welcome to the Bulletin Board

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Hi everyone! Hope you like this added feature to our group. Again, this Space will be available regardless of the month we are reviewing: however, feel free to post specific questions on any photograph, from any month.

Thank you.   Posted: 05/19/2020 12:12:23
Judith Ponti-Sgargi   Judith Ponti-Sgargi

This is a wonderful idea.

My questions is: from what sites, can I download free textures to experiment with?   Posted: 05/19/2020 12:51:21
Tom Pickering   Tom Pickering
The best thing I can recommend is to do a search for "free textures". This is how I started collecting them. Eventually, you can bite the bullet and start capturing your own - take shots of walls, flooring, asphalt, concrete, etc.   Posted: 05/19/2020 17:05:25
Peter Newman   Peter Newman
I do not intend to sound snarky, but why purchase textures.

I prefer to make my own, for essentially the same reason I don't buy picture postcards. Then there is the practical purpose: I have to search through my collection to find an almost fit, and then modify it. Creating my own background sometimes can be a real PITA. See my image posted this month in Group65, which has a fairly detailed description of how I turned a garden into a putting green.

To get you started see the video at: <>
Once I started getting into it, on some mages I sent more time on the background than the image itself. I also learned that PS will do some strange things, which I might want to use later. e.g. If I change a red to a green, using the color replacement tool, or curves in LAB mode, (probably the fastest way to change a color,) HSL may not recognize the change as either red or green. etc.
  Posted: 06/10/2020 19:30:13
Georgianne Giese   Georgianne Giese
thanks for the kick in the behind, Peter. I have a collection of my own textures, made from photographing cement, walls, peeling paint, clouds, etc. However, your suggestion made me think. I don't like nor use most of my textures, so I am going to embark upon a project to actually paint my own textures. it will give me something to do while being so home bound.   Posted: 06/11/2020 17:12:10

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