Ansel Adams: Photography With Intention

Discussion in 'Coffee Bar' started by WestOkid, Mar 18, 2016.

  1. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA

    The thing that is always interesting when I read something Ansel Adams is that he wasn't focused on documenting an image. In fact, he was pretty much the master of processing images the way his minds eye saw it. Yet so many people nowadays act like any image that isn't a straight out of camera representation of reality is sacrilegious. I just look at an image and if it looks cool to me, I don't care how you got there.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2016
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  2. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    I think the tendancy of bad post processing (that's me also) or over the top processing, is just another factor that leads some people saying that whatever is not sooc represantation of reality is sacrilegious.
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  3. Jefenator

    Jefenator TalkEmount Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Nov 23, 2012
    Oregon, USA
    I've been on both sides. I read all of Ansel's books, back in the day (The Camera, The Negative, The Print + autobiography). But then I took a very minimal with my own B&W film printing (basically proofs w/ no dodging or burning). Then I shot slide film. First 10 years of digital were P&S with no processing whatsoever.
    Then Lightroom happened. Then I finally got a full version of Photoshop. Now I usually don't share anything without a quick PS session (exposure curve, color balance, dodge & burn).
    I definitely "get" the "no post" ethos - the right film emulsion or JPEG engine can certainly help with that.
    That said, it does pain me when someone submits something that's absolutely begging for a quick 30 second PP session. And there's a huge dust spot in the middle of the blue sky. (That'll get someone un-followed on Flickr real quick unless the rest of his/her photo-stream is exceptionally interesting...)
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  4. izTheViz

    izTheViz TalkEmount Top Veteran

    May 10, 2013
    Yannis Marigo
    There is no one photography there are many photographies. There is no one reality, there are realities. There is something for every taste. This nostalgic retro and right-thinking mindset of those ayatollahs just bores me. Depth of field is not reflecting reality, playing with exposure time neither. Enough said. For me it is just about conveying a message or an emotion, by any means, should it be a creative process. Photographers always used to develop their photos. They used to spend time in dark rooms until being pleased with the result. Even people like Henri Cartier-Bresson or Robert Doisneau were meticulous and demanding when it came to development.
    Photography simply means creating images with the action of light. Light, indeed. Playing with light. I think Ansel Adams was right.
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  5. Kendall

    Kendall TalkEmount Regular

    Feb 29, 2016
    I started in the darkroom and I have a deep appreciation for the artists before me that spent countless hours tweaking their images until they were perfect. I now have a deep appreciation for Photoshop and Light room for how quickly they allow me to make some of the same adjustments that would take an hour in the darkroom in under 30 seconds on my computer. I think most people getting started in Photoshop today would do everyone a favor if they would get the image where they are happy with it and then adjust the opacity slider down somewhere under 50%. It's heavy handed processing that ruins an image.

    I was able to view an Adams exhibit a few years ago entirely of 8x10 silver gelatin prints. What struck me when viewing his actual prints was how much we've compromised on the quality of black and white prints. When I went to that exhibit I was personally using a $3000 large format epson printer with multiple black inks. I thought my black and white prints looked great until I viewed Adams. There is something special about how silver reflects light and how it represents tonal gradations. Hopefully some day our black and white printing with catch up to the past. On the flip side, good modern color prints are very good.
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  6. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Legend

    Oct 8, 2013
    Agree with the mindset that there are various individual viewpoints on the matter and I find myself kind of in the middle of the extremes.

    On the one hand my goal is to constantly work at getting better at the actual shot execution on the scene itself with adapted manual Canon lenses on the NEX-7...have learned more than I ever knew about the technical aspects of shot execution, exposure, etc, in the past couple years with manual lenses on a digital body.

    On the other hand, I often look at my JPEGs SOOC and experimentation has shown me that a couple quick basic tweaks of something like contrast or sharpness sliders in Aviary or FastStone editors will help.

    Bottom line, I'm thoroughly enjoying this hobby with my approach that works for I assume everyone does in their own track as well.
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  7. chalkdust

    chalkdust TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Sep 25, 2015
    Bert Cheney
    I lean toward less post processing. But I am not sure I like the way I lean. Introspection has lead me to conclude that my childhood of viewing my father's 35mm slides projected on a screen has dramatically influenced me. Dad was restricted to "straight out of camera." However, to be honest, it was Kodachrome by his choice, so effectively he chose a particular post process.

    I prefer a degree of post processing that supports the image but does not call attention to itself.

    However, some regulars here have a wonderful and very recognizable style that, I believe, involves careful post processing which gently calls attention to itself (by being recognizable). I enjoy viewing these SO much!

    I think I need to encourage myself to make more use of the many options I have in today's digital photography, and discourage myself from minimalism. So I am working on learning (a slow process for me).
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  8. fractal

    fractal TalkEmount Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 17, 2014
    Southeastern PA
    The question I ask myself when I have the camera and/or the mouse in my hand; Am I just documenting an event/object with my photo or am I trying to create a visually appealing image(art)? There is a lot of room between those two. Some say you have to capture the scene as it appears, but in the interview AA twice said he's trying to capture it how it appears in his "Mind's eye". I think those are very different objectives.
  9. bdbits

    bdbits TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 10, 2015
    I think much of the endless photography debate comes down to what you are trying to achieve with your photographs, consciously or otherwise. If you are a documentarian photographer, e.g. a news photographer, then sure the manipulation ought to be minimal. Others just want to create family memories. Or maybe you want to share what you see around you, like an Ansel Adams. Still others use a photograph as a starting point for what really ends up as a graphic arts piece. These are not all mutually exclusive - there is no One True Way that you have to use or present the photons you capture. And as a viewer, you don't have to like them all either. In truth, there is always some processing or manipulation, whether that be choice of lens and format, or an in-camera jpeg engine tweaked with various in-camera options, or choice of RAW editor which applies some interpretation of the data in the file.
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  10. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Legend

    Oct 8, 2013
    As sort of a related FYI...while 'TalkEmount' seems heavily oriented to sony and equipment, many nature & wildlife photography groups that I belong to...(for the sake of photography)...have some guidelines such as:
    < snip >
    -No heavily photoshopped images or creations are permitted.
    This group is about nature and photography, not digital art.
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