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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 01 Apr 2013 (Monday) 03:01
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What is this thing called 'quality'?

 
MikeFairbanks
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Apr 01, 2013 10:09 |  #16

Phrasikleia wrote in post #15777991 (external link)
Oh, and to address your point about people accepting "horrible quality"... As an April Fool's joke on another photography forum, I decided that I would post a truly horrible photo and announce that it's my new style. It seemed simple enough as an idea until I went about trying to create an image that I thought most people would think is truly horrible. If I couldn't come up with something wretched enough, nobody would get the joke. It turned out to be a lot harder than I expected it to be because I know how easily pleased most people are. No matter what I did and how horrible I thought it was, my experiments resulted in photos that resembled ones I've seen praised. I kept going back to the drawing board, thinking, "No, someone might actually like that." I finally came up with this masterpiece:

QUOTED IMAGE

I'm happy to say that they got the joke! :cool: :D

This is one of the greatest artistic pieces I've ever seen, and the numerous metaphors are perfect.

We fence ourselves off from the beauty of nature, out of guilt for what we have done to it (refineries, sewage, strip mining, etc.), and at the same time our busy world (as noted by the blur) prevents us from being able to stop and enjoy it. The finger is from the hand of a desperate soul who has the epiphany that says, "Look at what we've done."

The above-ground wiring is also the perfect frame for the photo, which emphasizes our need for nature, but how we only seem to interact with nature online through digital photography instead of actually getting out in nature.

the dramatic colors, seemingly distorted or over-cooked, are actually there to remind us that we cannot ever reproduce the reality of a landscape with a camera/computer combination, no matter how hard we try. Only by walking among the plants and mountains can we truly experience them. No amount of added color can replace the true God-given hue of the great outdoors.

The added dust-specks might make most people think you need to clean your sensor, but I'm wise enough to see that it's yet another well-placed metaphor that says, "Yes, the sky is beautiful, but it's flawed as a result of our careless consumption of fossil fuels." Genius, I tell you.

Overall, the picture's theme is, "The beauty of this world is passing us right by, and we better stop and pay attention before it all vanishes."


I sense Pulitzer. Heck, that piece should get a Nobel Peace Prize. If enough people view that photograph and understand its deeper meaning, they might change the way they interact with their fragile world. Once the number of people reaches the tipping point, we'll truly have a new awakening of environmentalism and real action to save this planet.

Finally, the small water tank and walled-in patch of grass speaks volumes of the irony we humans create when we make ourselves a small slice of nature, watered artificially, so we can savor what God made, when right behind us (if we'd just point and look) is the real nature. It's right there.

Sadly, only one person can see it (whoever owns that finger), and the fact that all we see is a finger means it could be anyone and everyone.

I'd call it a masterpiece for sure.


Thank you. bw!

  
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splathecat
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Apr 01, 2013 10:18 |  #17

Phrasikleia wrote in post #15777991 (external link)
QUOTED IMAGE

I'm happy to say that they got the joke! :cool: :D

Wow nice capture F+F ! Please look at my photos now please.




  
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Tom ­ Reichner
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Apr 01, 2013 10:55 |  #18

ChrisSearle wrote in post #15777774 (external link)
Example 1) A friend who is a 'wildlife photographer' uses a small video camera with huge zoom range and the ability to capture 2mp stills . . .

I look at the blurred smeary mess of a picture and reply 'Amazing'. Not only does he ( and his wife) genuinely think these pictures are fantastic but both of them seem to see no difference between this type of shot and something done well with a 500/f4 EOS 1D mk 4 etc.

Example 2) My girlfriend uses an ipad for a camera, she prefers it to her 10mp Sony 'because you can see the pictures straight away and anyway they are just as good' ( they aren't, they are nowhere near as good.

Chris,
I think that if either the wildlife couple or your girlfriend spend hours every day viewing images that are truly "high quality", on a large monitor, that they would then immediately be able to recognize excellence, and learn to appreciate it . . . even eventually demand it of their own images.

ChrisSearle wrote in post #15777774 (external link)
I'm beginning to think that the vast majority of people are perfectly content with grainy over saturated, smeary photos and it's only the sort of fanatic that visits gear forums ( OK and maybe photography professionals) that care about quality.

I think the "majority" of people are very easily satisfied. Fortunately, I/we are not creating images for the majority.

I create images for myself, and for those who are as obsessed with quality imaging as I am. I couldn't care less what my brother-in-law, my next door neighbor, or some guy at work thinks about my photos. I care greatly what I think of my images. And I care quite a bit what Art Directors, publishers, and editors think about my photos.

ChrisSearle wrote in post #15777774 (external link)
So, back to my original question: What is this thing called 'quality'? Is there ever an ultimate 100% quality or is it like beauty, forever in the eye of the beholder?

"Image Quality" exists both terms of "absolutes" (in that many technical aspects of an image can be quantified), and in the eye of the beholder. Some beholders are very educated and discriminating, some are not. Many are somewhere in-between.

By the way, Chris, you're the guy that started the thread "Why Photograph Wildlife". There have been a lot of great responses to that thread, and I am sure that some of those who have enjoyed reading thru all of the responses would like for you to "come back" to the thread and respond to some of the replies. It's always nice when the OP keeps up with the replies to the thread he/she created, and responds to those who have contributed to it.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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sjones
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Apr 01, 2013 11:51 as a reply to  @ Tom Reichner's post |  #19

Quality is subjectively received, even when it can be measured quantitatively. Technically perfect image quality is seldom imperative on any objective level, whereby the value of image quality is not simply a matter of how "easily satisfied" one might be with it but where it applicably fits into the overall impact of the photograph. Determination of this is subjective. There are numerous excellent photographs in this world that are not technically perfect, and many of these would not benefit one bit if they were (some might actually suffer).

Keep in mind that most modern cameras can produce very clear and accurate images, so when it gets to the level of this expensive L lens versus that expensive L lens, then it's more of a case of visually retentive demand than quality, per se, since overall quality in photography entails so much more than subtle, possibly microscopic, technical elements.

Thus, caring greatly about the "quality" of one's photographs, irrespective of what anyone else in the world thinks, does not automatically imply caring about technical perfection, not even remotely.

And by the way, if I wanted to truly enjoy the visual merits of technical perfection, screw looking at it on a monitor; I want to see a print of it.

In any event, if a photo is boring, no amount of technical perfection will save it.


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krb
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Apr 01, 2013 12:09 |  #20

The truth is that the average viewer is simply not seeing the photograph. I don't mean this in an artistic visual language literacy context, I mean that they are NOT seeing the photograph.

What they are seeing is a mental image of something that the photograph reminds them of. It doesn't matter how blurry or grainy the photo is so long as the image/memory in the viewers mind is sharp and clear.


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ChrisSearle
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Apr 01, 2013 12:15 as a reply to  @ Tom Reichner's post |  #21

Done! Thanks for reminding me Tom....


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FlyingPhotog
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Apr 01, 2013 12:16 |  #22

Welcome to the world of instant gratification...

Work For Something? Even a little bit? Fuggedaboudit...


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ChrisSearle
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Apr 01, 2013 12:19 as a reply to  @ splathecat's post |  #23

Hmm, a new thread or competition perhaps: Who can create the worst/most awful/horrible/worthle​ss photo?


Chris:http://www.flickr.com/​photos/jeaunse23/ (external link)
5D Mk iii, 1D MkiiN, 1Ds Mkii. Zeiss 21 mm Distagon, Canon 24-105 L. Sigma 150 Macro. Canon 400 L. Sigma 50 Nikkor 24 mm 1.4 Ricoh GRD3 Canon G1X Fuji X100,Sigma DP2M and a bunch of other stuff.

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Black ­ Mesa ­ Images
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Apr 01, 2013 12:34 as a reply to  @ ChrisSearle's post |  #24

Like has been stated and cannot be overstated enough, quality is subjective. There are those that look at images with a "photographer's" mindset and then there are those that look at them with the "everyday person's" mindset.


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Luckless
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Apr 01, 2013 12:45 |  #25

Phrasikleia wrote in post #15777991 (external link)
QUOTED IMAGE

I'm happy to say that they got the joke! :cool: :D

Get rid of the finger, change your position and angle such that the wires go above the mountains in the distance, keep the motion blur in the foreground and interesting colours, and maybe shift things so the left side of the background is a little to the right... and you could actually have something different, interesting, and mildly cool.

:P

A big part of quality boils down to an attention to small details I think.


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FlyingPhotog
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Apr 01, 2013 12:51 |  #26

Black Mesa Images wrote in post #15778983 (external link)
Like has been stated and cannot be overstated enough, quality is subjective. There are those that look at images with a "photographer's" mindset and then there are those that look at them with the "everyday person's" mindset.

Would you not agree however, that bridging that gap is the "object of the game" for a photographer?

And, in addition, that gap can not be bridged in reverse?


Jay
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sjones
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Apr 01, 2013 13:01 as a reply to  @ Luckless's post |  #27

This isn't just a photographer versus casual viewer issue. Not all photographers are fixated on achieving maximum technical perfection, and this is a remarkably good thing, since otherwise, everyone's output would largely be stylistically similar.

There are other visual components of photography that can be far more compelling depending, of course, on one's style and personal preference.

And when speaking of alternatives to perfect image quality, I'm not just referring to artistically rendered blurry or soft images, but instead to sufficient clarity, which is very subjective, even among dedicated photographers.


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Fernando
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Apr 01, 2013 13:13 |  #28

tzalman wrote in post #15778191 (external link)
The trouble is that we are ruined. Many years ago, when I was in college, I operated the lighting console for an amateur dramatic group under the guidance of a very gifted director. Ever since then, whenever I go to a play I find myself thinking way too much about the lighting, which should contribute without calling attention to itself. The same way with photographs; I find it very hard to separate the aesthetic experience from the technical analysis.

Definitely happens. My background, at one point, was in literature and linguistics. I spent so much time breaking down and analyzing that I am now incapable of picking up a text and reading it for is pure aesthetic value. I immediately start breaking it down, analyzing the story line, characters, and author's intent.

I end up ruining what could otherwise have been a good book. To that end I basically no longer read anything other than short articles and web forums. Sad really.


Fuji convert - Ping me if you have any Fuji gear or legacy glass you're moving.

  
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FlyingPhotog
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Apr 01, 2013 13:18 |  #29

tzalman wrote in post #15778191 (external link)
The trouble is that we are ruined. Many years ago, when I was in college, I operated the lighting console for an amateur dramatic group under the guidance of a very gifted director. Ever since then, whenever I go to a play I find myself thinking way too much about the lighting, which should contribute without calling attention to itself. The same way with photographs; I find it very hard to separate the aesthetic experience from the technical analysis.

And I worked in the broadcast industry for nearly 25 years...

You don't EVER want to watch TV with me (especially sports!) ;)


Jay
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tonylong
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Apr 01, 2013 13:23 |  #30

Hey, let's face it, people like to take "snapshots", and they like to "share" them! So, "social media" like Facebook gets "swamped" with all kinds of stuff, no matter the image quality. If a snapshot manages to "capture a moment" or a nice scene, plenty of folks will "Like" it...no big deal, it's been happening for, well, many years -- not Facebook, of course, but did you ever find yourself compelled to sit in someone's living room and watch a slideshow of their family vacation?:)

And then, there are all of us who are "works in progress", seeking to take good photos of maybe the beauty of nature, or of, well, something, and we share...

I remember back in the '90s, I bought a film "Point and Shoot" camera because I was becoming interested in taking some interesting photos. At one point I put some B&W film in for some shots. One day my young grandson was having some fun outside and I grabbed some shots, here's one:

IMAGE: http://www.pbase.com/tonylong/image/135231071/original.jpg

The exposure is bad and the overall image quality is bad, and the print I scanned was dirty, but still, I love the shot, Oh Well!

A good question about all this:

Talking about "quality", ask whether an image would come across well as a nice large print shared in a gallery? Not just would it look "nice", but would people be compelled to shell out $$ for it??? That to me could be considered an "acid test" of photo quality!

Tony
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What is this thing called 'quality'?
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