Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2002/05/14

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Re: Photoshop dilemma
From: Mike Cahill <>
Date: Tue, 14 May 2002 11:36:07 -0400

on 5/14/02 10:58 AM, Darrell Jennings at wrote:

> No I haven't been on the list very long.  About six
> weeks so far. 
> B.D.  I do "grasp" what you are trying to say. The
> fact that I don't agree with your point of view
> doesn't mean I don't understand it. I just draw the
> line between photography and a peice of graphic art at
> a different spont than you and some others.
> The reason I have continued the dialog is that I think
> it is a difficult subject to get consensus on, and you
> and I taking opposing roles in the discussion may get
> us and others to think about where the line between a
> photo and a piece of graphic art is.  I suspect that
> the line is hard to define, and a bit different for
> everyone.  We can probably all agree on the extremes,
> but the shades of grey in between that are hard to
> agree on. 
> Examples: 
> 1.If you merge two photos of the same group of people
> and same pose to get the best expression on each
> persons face, is it now not a photograph?
> 2.If you delete a person from a photograph is it now
> not a photograph?  Does your answer change depending
> on how prominent the person is in the original photo?
> What about if the "person" was a tiny spec in the
> background? 
> 3.If a photo journalist alters a photo, but not the
> truth it portrays is it not a photograph? If a
> advertisment has an altered photograph to try to more
> effectively get us to buy something is it not a
> photograph? Why are the standards different for many
> of us on these two examples?
> 4.How would your critique of Sonny's photo with the
> wagon change by knowing he had put two photos
> together?  
> These may seem like picking nits, but are probably
> important if we are trying to interact with each other
> on some common basis.
> BTW: What I objected to in your response was you
> appeared to dismiss my view because of my limited
> experience with Photoshop...which I see as irrelevant
> to this discussion. We aren't discussing Photoshop, we
> are discussing photography, an area where I have
> pretty deep experience having been a photographer for
> almost 30 years. 
> As far as Uelsmann, there are enough gallery owners
> and museum curators that think he is a photogapher
> (plus I believe he is a professor of photography at a
> university in Florida) that you should at least agree
> that there are a range of differing opinions on the
> subject. 
> I have no problem with differing oppinions.  I do have
> a problem with lack of respect. If we can't show
> respect in dealing with each other then we have
> greatly diminished the value of the interaction. And I
> don't believe you lessen the impact of a barb by
> putting a wink on the end of it...
> I hear and respect your opinion.  I don't agree with
> it, but I don't have to. I think it is interesting
> enough that there are extreme points of view to merit
> discussion and thought by the group. DJ
> --- "B. D. Colen" <> wrote:
>> First, try reading what I have written, and you will
>> see that I have never,
>> in any post on this subject, suggested that
>> photographers can't be artists.
>> Second, if you think that my comments have
>> constituted "personal attacks" on
>> you you haven't been on this list very long. ;-)
>> Next, as to the subject at hand =
>> I agree with you completely that there are
>> photographers who are artists,
>> and photographers who are craftsmen.  Where we
>> disagree, Darrell, and what
>> you seem unable to grasp, is that in the view of
>> many photographers, someone
>> who builds artistic pieces out of photographic
>> images is not producing
>> photographs, but rather is producing works of art
>> built from photographic
>> images. That artist may well be a photographer, who
>> in addition to producing
>> photographs, also uses his or her own photographs as
>> materials with which to
>> do other kinds of art: but the fact that the person
>> is a photographer does
>> not mean that the images they produce through
>> construction/alteration
>> methods are what we speak of when we call something
>> a photograph.
>> And, similarly, a photographer who produces what are
>> called photographs may
>> be an artist, or may be a craftsman - but that
>> judgment would probably be
>> made on the quality/originality/artistic merit of
>> their work, not on whether
>> it is or is not manipulated beyond the ways in which
>> one normally
>> manipulates photographic images in the printing
>> process.
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From:
>> []On
>> Behalf Of Darrell
>> Jennings
>> Sent: Monday, May 13, 2002 10:21 PM
>> To:
>> Subject: RE: [Leica] Re: Photoshop dilemma
>> There are photographers that are artists, and
>> photographers that are craftsmen.  I think there is
>> room for both.  You obviously don't and can only
>> respond by a personal attack on me...pretty
>> unprofessional in my view.
>> --- "B. D. Colen" <> wrote:
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From:
>>> []On
>>> Behalf Of Darrell
>>> Jennings
>>> Sent: Monday, May 13, 2002 1:16 PM
>>> To:
>>> Subject: RE: [Leica] Re: Photoshop dilemma
>>> And I completely disagree....  I am NOT a
>> Photoshop
>>> expert.  In fact I had never scanned a photo
>> before
>>> two weeks ago, and only have Photoshop Elements
>>> which
>>> I have very limited expertise with.
>>> That said, I don't limit my view of photography by
>>> expecting that what I see in a photo is exactly
>> what
>>> was there. There are many great photographs that
>>> were
>>> enhanced by use of filters and traditional
>> darkroom
>>> techniques. I don't see Photoshop or it's
>>> competitors
>>> as different than that, they've just gone another
>>> step. In fact photographers like Jerry Uelsmann
>> have
>>> done very altered realities for many years without
>>> using a computer to do so (check out
>>> for examples).  I still see this kind of work as
>>> photography.
>>> ------------------
>>> Well then, given that you have been scanning and
>>> using Photoshop elements
>>> for two full weeks, and given the fact that you
>>> consider a cut and paste
>>> image of lips emerging from a dirt road a
>>> "photographs," I guess there's
>>> really nothing I can add to the discussion.;-)
>>> B. D.
>>> --
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My 2 worth,

I own a graphic design firm.  I'm also a photographer.  A photograph is what
you take with a camera.  Short of adjusting contrast, color and cropping or
cleaning up dirt and scratches, altering the content of the image would seem
to change it from a photo to a piece of digital art, no less a piece of art
in the purest sense, but a piece of digital art.

I have artists working for me than can take an image and create something
completely different than the image's original content. They're not photos,
never will be photos, they're digital art.


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