is photography supposed to be reality ?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by jnanian, Sep 30, 2018.

is a photograph supposed to be reality ?

This poll will close on Feb 15, 2046 at 7:14 PM.
  1. yes

    11 vote(s)
    17.2%
  2. no

    53 vote(s)
    82.8%
  1. OP
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    jnanian

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    sorry for the side line
    but what does that mean ?
    are you suggesting that students who
    go to a university don't question anything or have the ability to reason ?

    i hope this thread doesn't become a university and art school " anti-elitism " thread ...
    because if it does i will ask the moderators to lock it down. and bury it. its an interesting
    thread so far and hasn't gone off the rails in 9 pages ... which is kind of a feat in itself ...
     
  2. TheFlyingCamera

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    I think what he means is that universities today don't teach the same degree of intellectual curiosity that they used to, but rather cater to the sensitivities of students. Which is an altogether different but equally contentious can of worms.
     
  3. OP
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    jnanian

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    yes, i totally understood .. and every thread that has something to do with that ends up being a beat down thread
    with a lot of venum and anger and nasty contentious stuff. at any university people get out what they put in .. and
    usually with photography it is the same WYSWYG
    but unfortunately with some cameras and some emulsions, some lighting and some subjects it is not as cut and dry
    chunks of things that weigh several thousand pounds don't exist.
    not like a wallflower at a school or party but things that weigh metric tons that are hard to miss in what some may call real life.
    not to be confused with the original american "reality show" "MTV's Real Life" which was anything but real but a scripted reality
    like every reality show .. again shown / presented to the viewer as "reality" but it doesn't exist..
     
  4. Alan Edward Klein

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    Once when I was involved in a trial in federal court in NY, I had a meeting with the judge in his chambers. I was arguing a point with him when he stopped and admonished me, "Mr. Klein, words have meaning." And we moved on. In his world, language is precise and accurate. And so are photos.
     
  5. Alan Edward Klein

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    Reality is very important to newspapers and other journals that purport to be providing truthful news. If they present an article or a photo as truth and reality, and it isn't, their credibility suffers. "Fake news" will be ascribed to them. News become political, not honest. Why bother reading it, purchasing it?
     
  6. faberryman

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    Who's honesty? People select the news they want to read or watch. It's called confirmation bias. Think of the distinct viewership of Fox News and CNN, the Washington Post and the Washington Examiner.
     
  7. Alan Edward Klein

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    Of course, the public recognizes that fake news is the reality. That's why trust and respect for the news has diminished to 10%-20%. I prefer real news and news that's more balanced providing both sides. Don't you?

    Just because others throw honesty out doesn't mean we have to do the same with our photos. If someone asks you about one of your photos, "OK, tell me the truth. Is it real or photoshopped?" , how do you feel? Do you give an honest answer? Do you feel queasy in your stomach? These are hard and revealing questions today especially with the advent of cloning, replacement, etc. It's relatively easy to do. It asks basic questions about what is photography today. Photography in the past was like shooting a slide and having it framed by a lab, untouched and unedited. Even negatives were printed by the lab. Of course there were the few who did this at home and could play with the process. But even then, it was basically about changing exposure. But most people didn't or couldn't do that. Everyone understood the photo depicted reality and truth. Not so today. Much of it today is a combination of photography and computer art techniques. Photos aren't automatically considered truthful or real.
     
  8. faberryman

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    I change developers (including lith), exposure, contrast, split-grade, dodge, burn, flash and mask, and sometimes do composites with my black and white film prints. In digital, I use all the tools available to me to achieve my vision. And I don't feel in the slightest queasy. That being said, I generally don't add or delete things, just manipulate them. I am not the least bit concerned about whether something is "real" according to someone else's understanding of the concept. The thought never crossed my mind until John raised the issue, and then only in the philosophical sense. When you say real, my immediate response is: "In whose mind?"
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2018
  9. OP
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    jnanian

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    i saw the dog-boy on the cover of a newspaper, it looked real to me ...
    and from what some folks tell me if it exists on paper or as a negative it
    is most likely real/reality ...

    what would be more interesting is if it was taken with my empire state camera
    and the head was there but the body missing ... i haven't photographed many people with this camera
    but im eager to.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2018
  10. Vaughn

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    I do not think reporters care much about reality -- but truth, yes.
     
  11. TheFlyingCamera

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    First of all, photographs have never had a time period when they were not manipulated.

    Second, you're insisting on defining photography as exclusively having evidentiary value. Not all, or even most, photographs are made for the purpose of providing evidence in a court of law.

    Yes, we have culturally decided to accept photographs as evidence in a court of law, and we have decided to interpret that evidence in specific ways, and we have set up certain rules for how they are to be created, processed and presented IN THAT CONTEXT.

    In this discussion, we are not talking about exclusively evidentiary photographs. We are talking about photographs as a concept - the whole class of photographs.
     
  12. TheFlyingCamera

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    If you recall Bill Clinton's defense of his "I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinski" comment had something to do with the meaning of the words "have sex" - "It depends on what the meaning of the word is is". Lawyers are infamous for parsing ambiguous meaning to their own purposes.

    Let me give you a rather crude example of the imprecision of language - if I say the word "rock", there is a certain assumed common idea of what it means that you and I both share. Yet when I say "rock", the image of a rock that you and I conjure in our heads is almost guaranteed to be completely different. The more words I apply to that rock - "large rock", "large brown rock", "large brown granite rock", "large rough brown granite rock", "large brown granite rock in the shape of Abraham Lincoln's head", the more likely we are to picture the same rock, but until we are both face to face with the actual rock we are talking about, we will never see the exact same rock in our mind's eye. It is because language is an approximation of what it purports to represent.

    Well, so is a photograph. A photograph is a multi-dimensional reduction of its subject - it is a compression from four dimensions to two (height, length, depth, time, compressed to height and length), constrained by composition as an act of exclusion to fit within the confines of a piece of paper or a computer monitor. Its ability to accurately record color is at best conditionally precise. Through the course of experience, we know the hows and the whys of color imprecision, so it is predictable and manageable, But it is still only conditionally precise.

    Remember the gold and white vs black-and-blue dress? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_dress same photo, two radically different interpretations. If that were introduced in court, the jury could see it as being gold and white, yet an eyewitness could have testified it was black and blue, and as a result, the jury would acquit someone on the basis that it wasn't the same dress, therefore the witness identification was wrong. But the photo is unmanipulated.
     
  13. moose10101

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    There's news, and there's the interpretation of news. Hopefully, real news focuses on accuracy, not balance.
     
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  15. Vaughn

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    Perhaps that is the difference between news and a news story (reportage and documentary). Hard for an uninformed viewer to know the difference.
     
  16. faberryman

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    Same for photographs. How is the viewer to know those pesky telephone lines were cloned out of the landscape?
     
  17. Alan Edward Klein

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    Last April, my wife and I did a road trip through the American Southwest. After seeing Monument Valley, Arches, Canyonlands and a couple of others, we finally drove into Bryce. Standing before the amazing hoodoo formations, I asked my wife what she thought. She responded, half heartedly, "What, more rocks?"
     
  18. MattKing

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    While this is true, the "own purposes" part isn't always the case.
    I once represented a client who was charged with breaching a part of a statute where he was in the wrong if you read the title to a section of the act, but in the right if you read the actual section of the act.
    Speaking more generally, the car accident wasn't his fault at all, it was the fault of the lady driving the other car - he wasn't required to stop, she was!
    Many of the rules we live be are designed to be read and followed carefully. If you don't, you might expect a consequence. On the other hand, we generally don't punish people for breaching that which is unclear or imprecise.
    I'd suggest though that the concept of "reality" is unclear and imprecise, at least in terms of how one might define it.
    When we argue about whether things like photographs or news reports are "reality" I would suggest that we are approaching the problem backwards.
    Reality is merely what is there. Photographs can both record and reveal some of that and hide some of that. They can report it falsely too - either through intention or accident.
    The photographs themselves are their own reality, but there is only an overlap between what they are, and what they may record and reveal. In some cases that overlap is strong, and the nature of the reality they reveal is powerful.
    The same goes for news reports.
     
  19. markjwyatt

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    I should apologize for the sideline. I could not resist to interject a bit of politics into the discussion. I see a lot of nonsense portrayed on college campuses today (safe spaces, whining, etc.), but that discussion does not belong here. I know there is still a lot of learning going on in colleges and universities.
     
  20. Vaughn

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    Interesting opinion about college campuses...don't agree, but that's my opinion. Your reality is not that that of colleges and their students...to keep it on topic.
     
  21. OP
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    jnanian

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    no worries ..
    yeah college is college and its been like that for DECADES ..
    i loved the story of the yale school of architecture students ( i think it was yale )
    attempting to light their concrete building on fire in protest
    LOL! cracks me up every time i think about it
    just remember rose colored glasses are sometimes hard to find off-campus. :smile:

    now back on topic LOL!

    a friend used to have 3 bumper stickers on his car
    question authority
    visualize whirled peas
    and reality is for people who lack imagination
    i think my 120 year old camera is filling in for my lack of imagination
     
  22. Vaughn

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    Acid consumes 47 times its weight in excess reality.

    What fascinates me is that people say how crazy college kids are.

    1) It is only a very small percentage who actually do anything crazy.
    2) Non-college kids that age, in probably a greater percentage, are doing crazy things -- just not in concentrated areas like a college campus.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2018
  23. OP
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    jnanian

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    its the bad apples that spoil the bunch !

    and their dilution give the impression that they are all just hanging out at the malt shop having a black cow :smile:
    and i thought ivory soap was "99 and 44/100ths percent pure" .. thankfully, i watched scanner darkly last night..
     
  24. TheFlyingCamera

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    There was no moral judgement implied in the phrase "for their own purposes". Their purposes, in the case of a defense lawyer, is to exonerate/get the best possible deal for their client. If the law is unclear, then it is their responsibility to seek clarity, ideally with the outcome of that clarity yielding a positive result for their client.

    I'm not arguing against the evidentiary value of some photographs. I'm discussing the notion of a photograph as an ontological, philosophical construct. Photographs are themselves, of course, real. And they require a series of physical reactions (light striking an object, recording the effect of that light on a physical or virtual medium via electronic or chemical means) that are dependent upon the real world. When utilized in specific ways, they serve as evidentiary objects- proof that certain objects were in the same place at the same time. In that sense, photographs are dependent upon reality. But they are not reality in that they are reductions and abstractions from reality to the point of a statistical null value. They are two-dimensional, they are are extremely narrowly focused, they represent a single point in time, and a single point of view of that moment in time. In that sense, even though video is really just a very large series of photographs strung together, video is more "real" than photography because although it is hamstrung by a need for linearity of narrative, it is capable of portraying multiple viewpoints at the same time, over an extended period of time.
     
  25. MattKing

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    Then you may wish to rephrase your original observation - instead of "Lawyers are infamous" you might substitute "Lawyers are famous".
    Pardon the parsing :D:whistling:.
     
  26. Vaughn

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    If ones wishes to configure one's reality in a more positive way -- they add spice to life!

    I consider such negative talk, especially since it is exaggerated, to be attempts to discredit learning and intelligence.
     
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