1139 – Live High

Oh dear, even when the sun is out (as you see it was yesterday morning), its light comes in so flat an angle that you better live high above to see it at all.

Remember yesterday’s question about image composites? Well, obviously the real question is, what is photography – if photography is what I make at all. But it is not a game of names, in the end we will probably care more about the thing itself than its name. Help me please to understand the nature of what we are talking about here:

What exactly is it that could make a composite an objectionable photograph or could take away its photographic nature at all? This is obviously directed more at Paul Maxim, but the notion, that there is a credibility problem with composite photographs, is quite common. Is it credibility?

Or is it something about an image that does not look like it has looked “in nature”? Remember my usage of fill flash some days ago? How does this all relate to flash? An image with flash certainly looks very different from what it “looked in nature”. Is flash OK? But if so, why? Because it is “photographic”? Because flash has been used in all of photography’s history? Because it is a non-manipulated capture of a moment when the world was lit with flash? So many questions 🙂

The Song of the Day is “Live High” from Jason Mraz’s extraordinary 2008 album “We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things”. Hear it on YouTube.

5 thoughts on “1139 – Live High”

  1. i like the building up of the color gradation
    living high is more colorful?

    well, i think that *sure* is true
    i like the way you take us with you to a higher place
    the lines are like a kind of staircase
    only the last thing you has to do,
    is jumb to the wire
    to reach the top 😉

    have a nice and sunny day, andreas
    on a colorful, high level

  2. God, I hope we don’t get too tangled up in this discussion – as you know, it’s a debate that’s been going on nearly since the beginning of photographic time! And once more, these happen to be my opinions. I’m not trying to convert anyone.

    The issue for me is “content”. Manipulating light with flash or changing certain colors or tones or inherent contrast in PS or Lightroom or even the darkroom is very much not the issue. The issue (for me, at least) is the addition or subtraction of elements within the frame. Let’s say I’m on a one day visit to the Grand Canyon and would very much like to capture a spectacular sunset at Mather Point. As sunset approaches, so do the clouds. It’s just yucky, flat gray light. Not a problem! I have a great sunset image back home in my computer. I’ll just swap out the sky from that image and put it into the Grand Canyon image. Or maybe I do get the sunset image right there but I don’t like all those people standing along the canyon edge. One or two would create some nice visual balance, but 15 is too many. Well, I’ll just remove 13 or 14. Who’s going to know?

    That’s my “problem”. I don’t give a damn if a photograph looks like it did “in nature”. That’s the photographer’s business. But if you’re going to add things that weren’t there or subtract things that were, then I think you have an obligation to let me know.

    As to whether or not that will diminish my estimate of the image’s value, all I can say is that “it depends”. I’m a very big fan of Jerry Uelsmann’s work. Have been for a long time. I can sit and look at his stuff for hours. I love the recurring theme of the cupped hands, for example. I love that he describes his work as “reality that transcends surface reality”. His images are, in my opinion, the best examples of compositing that you’ll find anywhere. So there is no hierarchy in my mind, as has been suggested.

    But Jerry Uelsmann never says, nor does he imply, that what you see is what he captured in a single frame. It’s understood by all – photographer and viewer(s) alike – that what you see is the result of combining elements from multiple sources.

    To me, that’s very different from the person who proudly shows me a Grand Canyon sunset that never occurred. And I disagree with those who say “no harm, no foul”. Call it artistic license if you want, but it’s deceit. So just own up to it. You’ll feel much better for “coming clean”…………

  3. Photography is a creative medium but because of its technical possibilities it can also be a vehicle for some version of the truth. It is and has always been the responsibility of the photographer to tread that line between creativity and what passes for truth.

  4. I have to agree with Paul. With Jerry Uelsmann’s work it is clear that your are looking at a manipulated image – that’s the whole point of his work. But if you show me a photograph which purports to be an image captured in a fraction of a second then I expect to see only what was captured – nothing more or less. Anything else is a con – I am being cheated. Paul’s caveats about contrast are acceptable but there is a line here and it is easy to cross it.

  5. Paul & Frank agree: ” The issue (for me, at least) is the addition or subtraction of elements within the frame.” (quoting Paul)

    So how would you feel when looking at an exhibition of Ansel Adams’ great landscapes to find out after all these years that – horrors – he actually removed a car from a scene – don’t remember now which one it was!!! For a while I actually felt cheated!

    But I got over it! 🙂

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