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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Define Technical Excellence
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06/25/2003 02:31:12 PM · #1
One of the things I have found very helpful to me when viewing photos is to assume that what I see is intentional. I don't automatically assume anything is a mistake. This process allows me to attempt to evaluate any message the photographer may be trying to send.
06/25/2003 02:27:56 PM · #2
A year and a half ago I had the privilege of standing in front of Michaelangelo's "David", in a museum in Florence, Italy. While not an art connoiseur, I experienced the "wow" syndrome. In this case, it was strictly due to technique. To see the care and expertise exhibited in the way every detail was revealed, such as the lines of muscle and tendons, I was amazed at how so very realistic this chunk of marble was. In the same museum were works that Michealangelo had begun, but never finished. Crude and incomplete, but still reflecting what was obviously in the mind of the artist, but still just a figure rising out of a block of marble.

How does this relate to the subject at hand? I am just a beginning photographer, with miles to go before I can even call myself an amateur. But what attracts me to specific photographs is elusive. At times it must be technique, as I recognize the photographer's expertise at capturing a scene in a technically superior way. In other photos, the photographer's intent is made obvious in such a way that, even though the technical aspect is not perfect, the result still gives me the "wow". Bottom line is, I guess subjectivity wins out in voting for the right photo, and I am still inspired to learn how to put all the technical aspects of photography together for my own photos.
06/25/2003 02:26:24 PM · #3
Does art have traditional senses? :) or does art evolve?

Originally posted by magnetic9999:

of course. but then it's not 'technically good' in a "traditional" sense, even if it's 'good' in some other senses.

06/25/2003 02:22:48 PM · #4
of course. but then it's not 'technically good' in a "traditional" sense, even if it's 'good' in some other senses.
06/25/2003 02:21:47 PM · #5
Good exposure is a double-edged word. Just because a photograph with no blown highlights or overly blocked up shadowns doesn't mean it's properly exposed. I have seen a lot of famous photographs with blown highlights and shadows, it depends on what photographer is showing the viewer.



Originally posted by magnetic9999:

the traditional definition of a technically good photograph is a good exposure (no blown highlights or overly blocked up shadows), and proper focus (i.e. what should be in focus is, and what shouldn't isnt).

06/25/2003 02:19:13 PM · #6
Originally posted by magnetic9999:

an image doesnt have to be about anything at all. it can be decorative for example.

or it can be about itself. self-referential:


I don't really consider my photos to be about anything. I usually have 2 reasons why I take photos the way I do.

1 - To show people things that I'm lucky enough to see, and hopefully how I see them. Instead of telling them, I can show them. This building is local. People have driven by it every day for years and years. But I photographed it like this and they can't even guess what or where it is. I never paid attention to it either admittedly until I was somewhere taking some photos and I turned around to see the "castle" .

2 - As demonstration - "Check out what I did!" I'm quite proud of these kinds of pictures. This is the more artistic side. I really like it when people are interested enough to ask how I thought of that, and how it was done. Rollin' Away , The Paperclip Picture

I'm sure everyone has their reasons for shooting what they shoot. These are my 2 reasons why I've shot most of my serious pictures.

To Bobster-Lobster: Thanks for noticing my work. It is very appreciated.
06/25/2003 01:40:20 PM · #7
an image doesnt have to be about anything at all. it can be decorative for example.

or it can be about itself. self-referential:

sometimes excellent technique is performed as an exercise in and of itself, in situations where it is known that it would be very difficult to achieve this result. in such a case, it is 'art for other artists'.

alternately, a poor technique can be purposely invoked, again to make a statement about technique.
06/25/2003 01:38:50 PM · #8
Originally posted by JasonPR:

Sadly, I think equipment quality has a large roll in what I, and other voters, deem technically excellent. It has a lot to do with the clarity of the image and whether or not it looks "clean."


I don't believe this.

A better camera may "help" you take a cleaner, more technically excellent photo, but it's not automatic. You still have to learn to use what you have and work within your equipments limitations.

I think the most important part of any camera is the person standing behind it. And this, more than any other factor, will determine the quality of the work produced... technical or otherwise. Especially when we are reduced to a maximum of 640x640 pixels at 72dpi for viewing!

Call me crazy, but I feel anyone with at least a 2 megapixel camera can compete here on a more or less equal footing equipment wise. Even against the DSLRs.
06/25/2003 01:36:30 PM · #9
the traditional definition of a technically good photograph is a good exposure (no blown highlights or overly blocked up shadows), and proper focus (i.e. what should be in focus is, and what shouldn't isnt).
06/25/2003 01:20:19 PM · #10
Zeuszen, once in a while you make a very 'deep' post for which you have earned my respect. Yes, vG really was 'bent' by the necessities of a perceived, sheer truth. That translates to enormous courage.

The Truth, perhaps never all of it, is out there for everyone. It's that most of us do not have the guts to meet that rendez-vous. Perhaps we would be more daring if there was a guarantee of getting some sort of a 'degree' out of it, preferably during life-time not when we are dead. We stay put where we are with our jobs and paychecks and the 2.3 kids life formula. Then, later, we might have that uncomfortable feeling that somehow, somewhere we missed the boat. That we missed the boat about the essential things.

Perhaps 'Paradise' is accessible to all of us but we cannot accept that we will have to bleed along the way getting there. In my opinion, Beauty is NOT so rare a thing. Beauty is all over. Beauty is everywhere. The sad thing is that we occupy our beings so much with ugliness and inconsequential things that we lose the ability, with which a wondrous child is born, to really see Beauty. Then we have to work on it to see it. If Beauty is so rare a thing it's because we have made it so.

A good day to you, Mr Zeuszen.

Message edited by author 2003-06-25 13:31:23.
06/25/2003 01:12:56 PM · #11
technical skill and ability following a vision... yep, I'll go with that!
06/25/2003 12:43:50 PM · #12
Journey: '...opted to explore Paradise and starve the crap out of himself'

I wonder how much of an 'option' it is for one bent by the necessities of a perceived but, nevertheless, sheer truth. The notion of 'paradise', especially, is an interesting one. Since access alone appears to restricted to the few, the abilities and skills involved in 'rendering' it must be elective indeed.

When I compare my personal notion of paradise with what I see and am confronted with on a daily basis, I find that in paradise technical skill and ability seem to follow the vision, whereas, in (my perceived) reality, vision seems to follow the expertise...

Message edited by author 2003-06-25 13:18:53.
06/25/2003 11:27:03 AM · #13
Originally posted by paganini:

There is a flipside to this too -- if the artist shows something that the viewer doesn't understand, is it the viewers fault or the artist fault?


It isn't anyone's fault. The artist isn't really out to communicate to Joe Nerd. Joe Nerd in turn can't help it he is a nerd and will probably stay that way the rest of his life. Art is not for nerds :)

Do you know Van Gogh had a cousin in The Hague who was a reasonably popular commissioned artist in his day and made a decent living, i.e. doing art mainly as a paycheck. In the Van Gogh museum in Holland i saw a painting by Van Gogh that he did after his Potatoes period and before going to Paris. It was in the vein of acceptably commissioned work at the time (an endearing home scene) and the style would have been acceptable by future clients. So, if he had WANTED to, he could have gone the paycheck route and be financially comfy. Van Gogh instead opted to explore Paradise and starve the crap out of himself.

Message edited by author 2003-06-25 11:36:50.
06/25/2003 11:25:56 AM · #14
Wow, these things are so hard to talk about, it's all in the semantics...
Can I interpret what you've said (inspzil) as meaning that technique and artistry are inseperable, in which case I agree? When I talk about art, I draw on years of being a classical (and rock and jazz) musician. However, from looking at your pictures, I'm willing to accept whatever beliefs you have about photography, because it obviously works for you!

Message edited by author 2003-06-25 11:26:20.
06/25/2003 11:20:04 AM · #15
For me, there isn't really a lot of technical stuff I pay close attention to, unless of course something is done poorly. Then you can't help but notice it.

Personally I don't consider composition, angle, framing and/or perspective as technical issues. These things I think are extensions of the photographers eye as to what makes a good picture, which is more of an artistic thing. The technical side is the part that is trying to make the viewers see what the photographer is seeing effectively.

That's my take on the situation - Bob

But what do I know?
06/25/2003 11:16:31 AM · #16
There is a flipside to this too -- if the artist shows something that the viewer doesn't understand, is it the viewers fault or the artist fault?

(I am pretty sure there are still people out there who thinks Picasso' art is crap, and 100 years ago people thought Van Gogh was crap but today most people would agree his art is good (probably because people understood what he was doing).
And there are people today who think Dali is a saddistic moron as well... i.e. it's all subjective)

So partly, the score reflects how viewers sees THEMSELVES :) and frankly, if Van Gogh would've though about popular art of his time and create them that way instead of his vision, well, we wouldn't have Van Gogh, the artist.


Originally posted by Journey:

Paganini, i'm with you on that one. To me, an image must hit me in the gut or in my heart or make me laugh. Don't care one iota for images that are technically perfect but that leave me cold.

Ratings of pictures ARE subjective. You canNOT look at art, or attempts thereof, OBJECTIVELY. If you do that, you are not communicating with the artist, not with the message she/he is trying to put in his art. Forget about the subject matter of the pic, it's the soul of one human being trying to seek the one of another and ask 'Do you feel this too'?

Pictures are NOT about flowers or mountains or animals or things. Unfortunately, most people at dpc think that's what it is about. Really, pictures are about the photographER.

Remember Rockwell, you cannot QUANTIFY art.

06/25/2003 11:14:10 AM · #17
The post made here this past week that i liked the most and have thought about a lot was by Gordon when he mentioned that professional photographers take up to 36,000 pictures on an assignment. What all that film is about is like 'sketching' in order to come to the ESSENCE of things.

06/25/2003 11:09:49 AM · #18
The two must go together... for the casual observer of art, it is understandable that art should be a visceral, soul-transcending experience... for the creator, he/she should analytically understand what they are doing as well as have a feel for the deeper emotions that are being channelled. Otherwise they are only half an artist.
06/25/2003 11:05:55 AM · #19
Paganini, i'm with you on that one. To me, an image must hit me in the gut or in my heart or make me laugh. Don't care one iota for images that are technically perfect but that leave me cold.

Ratings of pictures ARE subjective. You canNOT look at art, or attempts thereof, OBJECTIVELY. If you do that, you are not communicating with the artist, not with the message she/he is trying to put in his art. Forget about the subject matter of the pic, it's the soul of one human being trying to seek the one of another and ask 'Do you feel this too'?

Pictures are NOT about flowers or mountains or animals or things. Unfortunately, most people at dpc think that's what it is about. Really, pictures are about the photographER.

Remember Rockwell, you cannot QUANTIFY art.

06/25/2003 11:04:59 AM · #20
Surely trying to give an objective response is the best way to develop your own skills as a photographer? How many people here can really take an honest subjective look at their own photos? That's why it's so important to be objective. I believe it's possible to be objective about qualities such as creativity, originality, humour, inspiration, etc.
Surely every artist needs an analytical eye (or ear!) as well as an intuitive one?!
06/25/2003 10:59:50 AM · #21
Originally posted by paganini:

I think most people do that. It's really really hard to be objective.

Originally posted by jmsetzler:

I think that subjective critique should outweigh everything else quite honestly. I certainly score based on subjetivity moreso than anything else. I used to try to be objective only and i found myself scoring all the well done shots of boring subject material too high.


I don't really see a need to even try to be objective in most cases. After all, photography, or any other 'art' should create emotion moreso than technical inspiration.
06/25/2003 10:55:55 AM · #22
I think most people do that. It's really really hard to be objective.

Originally posted by jmsetzler:

I think that subjective critique should outweigh everything else quite honestly. I certainly score based on subjetivity moreso than anything else. I used to try to be objective only and i found myself scoring all the well done shots of boring subject material too high.

06/25/2003 10:53:13 AM · #23
I think that subjective critique should outweigh everything else quite honestly. I certainly score based on subjetivity moreso than anything else. I used to try to be objective only and i found myself scoring all the well done shots of boring subject material too high.
06/25/2003 10:51:07 AM · #24
You have just quoted it: "The masses". In other words, it's not so much about technical excellence as it is about the "wow" factor, which is SUBJECTIVE. Thus, DPC rating is really about subjective critiques, not objective critiques.



Originally posted by KarenB:

Originally posted by paganini:



Everyone has biases one way or the other, or his/her own preferences. That will be reflected in voting. What one considers as technically poor might not be to another person.

How many times have we see the comment: "This doesn't do anything for me?" That, in itself, might be technically based, might not be, but it's certainly SUBJECTIVELY based. The same goes for "WOW" or emotionally impacted photos, they're all subjective.

Thus, a subjective rating system is what we have @ DPC, despite the fact it has a number from 1 to 10, it is still subjectively based.



I hear what you are saying, however, there are photos that the "masses" appreciate as having an emotional impact, and this is what makes it great. At work, I do portraits - mostly of children. If I can get that personality to come out, that moment with the wicked glint of the eye, or the soft tilt of the head, then I have created "wow" for the family. This kind of emotional impact is useful to the family.
In other photography, there is emotion that can be felt by or that many viewers can relate to.

Originally posted by jmsetzler:

How do technical issues play a role in emotionally charged photos?


Technical issues used as a tool to emphasise the emotion .. I think.. Is what works. Maybe the perfect DOF to bring attention to eyes, the center of a flower, etc. Maybe grain to bring that old world feeling into play. Of course, the use of light - is it arbitrary, or is it directed at the subject in the best way not just to illuminate, but to accent, create mood or drama, or bring attention? These are some examples.

06/24/2003 09:14:15 PM · #25
I gave the "Glass" example a 10 during the voting. Hey, lets be honest here, people vote the way they see fit and I believed the portrait "Young Girl" deserved a 10. It was definately more appealing to me than many of the images of broken and mangled glass I looked at that week.

Bob

Message edited by author 2003-06-24 21:16:32.
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