Group 83 Bulletin Board


22 threads - 136 total comments

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



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
visualizingart.com   Posted: 03/14/2022 10:51:01
Mike Fernandez   Mike Fernandez
Bravo!!!!!!!!
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 narrative....as 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
visualizingart.com
lance.visualizingart@gmail.com

  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. https://www.toptal.com/designers/ui/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: Lewin.author@gmail.com   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,
Lance
  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: lance.visualizingart@gmail.com

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
visualizingart.com
  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

Thread Title: BW PROCESSING TECHNIQUES By Lewin

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
https://youtu.be/aSS1LU3yTDY   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 http://zenne-inc.com/en.html 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
Summary:

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
Lance
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
Lance

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
Lance

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
Lance

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
Lance

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
Lance

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

Visualizingart.com
  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
Lance

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
Lance


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
Lance

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
Lance

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
Lance

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
7-9-2020 NEW TOPIC: THE PHILOSOPHY OF Wabi Sabi

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
Lance

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
Lance

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
Georgianne

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 PHOTOPXL.com 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
Lance

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
Peter

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
Georgianne

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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Thread Title: CALL FOR ARTIST

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!

http://visualizingart.com/events   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.

https://theartguide.com/artalk   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
Lance

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
Judy.
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: <https://www.photoshopessentials.com/photo-effects/starry-sky/>
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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