Why so gloomy?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by fractal, Jan 14, 2016.

  1. fractal

    fractal TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jun 17, 2014
    Southeastern PA
    Chris
    I've recently made a few observation based on viewing the most "popular" or "liked" photos on different photo boards, Flickr, and 500px. First, these photos are amazing and inspiring as a photographer. The artistic and technical skills displayed are impressive. Secondly however, it seems the majority are shot or processed in a dark, gloomy, gritty manner with colors muted and flat. Subject matter also doesn't seem to matter. Landscapes, portraits, macro, nature display this "dark" influence.

    Has anybody else noticed this? If this is indeed true, has that always been the case with photography? I remember when I was getting back into photography 7,8 years ago, color and dynamic range seemed "the thing" with radioactive HDR images representing the extreme. Perhaps these things go in phases or perhaps it's a reflection of our overall mood, or perhaps it's my imagination.
     
  2. soeren

    soeren TalkEmount Top Veteran

    656
    Dec 12, 2014
    N├Žstved, Denmark
    Soeren
    Fashion?
     
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  3. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    I can't say that I've noticed a trend toward gloominess in recent photography. But then I live in Oregon, so in comparison to the perpetual gloom outside my window these days, most of the photographs I see online are positively cheery.

    Here's a thought, Chris: When was the last time you calibrated your monitor? :D
     
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  4. WNG

    WNG TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2014
    Arrid Zone-A, USA
    Will
    I think it's a pendulum swing. I for one, am glad fewer HDRs are flooding the 'net. It had gotten to extreme levels, and personally, lost its appeal.
    Could be a seasonal thing too. And lastly, geo-politically...lot's of doom and gloom lately.

    I noticed some of this in the entries for best landscape photo of the year on some site. A lot of bleak imagery entered.
     
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  5. fractal

    fractal TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jun 17, 2014
    Southeastern PA
    Chris
    Thanks for the response Will. I'm with you on HDR, I still use it on occasion but started to despise the "cartoon" and the "radioactive" look.

    I feel it may be overall social mood has gotten "darker" and it's being reflected in images photographers take and images that are liked.

    Here's a link to 500px most popular photos - note that this changes constantly but it's almost always dominated by dark,gritty,muted shots.

    Most Popular Photos on 500px Right Now
     
  6. chalkdust

    chalkdust TalkEmount Veteran

    284
    Sep 25, 2015
    Bert Cheney
    There is a tendency, I suppose, for photographic artists to try to be different or unique, to not merely repeat the work of past artists. Since they all work from the same past this can cause artists to be very similar to their contemporaries. Thank you for the link. I looked there today and agree with your observation. There is a lot of gloom there at the moment.

    Advances in sensor sensitivity allow us now to photograph in less light than in the past enabling us to capture images in darker settings with darker backgrounds (under exposure is not a new ability.) Does this play a part in the current styles?

    Many of the images I saw at 500px seemed similar to computer generated video game images. Perhaps that genre is inspiring current photographic artists.

    Whatever the cause, it appears that you are motivated to reject the gloomy trend (or maybe not - perhaps you are intrigued by it). Your response to gloomy trend will appear in your own photos which I enjoy and look forward to seeing in the future.
     
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  7. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    Just seeing this...I went to that link and scrolled down through a few dozen shots moments ago and to my eyes thought there was a pretty good mix of scenes / subjects / moods there...at least in the few dozen that I scrolled through.
    Subject matter like weather scenes, B&W scenes, night time scenes have always usually looked a little flat (gloomy?) to me, whereas family oriented / color daylight / sports activities are usually in brighter settings, seem more upbeat, etc.
    Just my 2 cents
     
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  8. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    I got your gloom right here.

    Gloom.
    A7II & Contax G 90 f/2.8
     
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  9. SpaceManSpiff

    SpaceManSpiff TalkEmount Top Veteran

    547
    Dec 13, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    Eric
    ^^^ Are you going to join 500px now? Could be an instant most popular....:cool:

    of course, that is quite gloomy. Brrr!
     
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  10. fractal

    fractal TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jun 17, 2014
    Southeastern PA
    Chris
    DSC06220-X3.
     
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  11. Joseph Thekale

    Joseph Thekale TalkEmount Regular

    75
    Aug 24, 2015
    Michigan, USA
    Det -1.
    So I totally feel you on that one. Since I started photography, I noticed a trend on Instagram. A lot of the popular pics and accounts these days are the one posting Cityscape/Landscape or an object with a lot of bookeh edited in a similar manner...blown out highlights, dark shadows and a lot of blacks. Usually desaturated with 1 or 2 colors in high saturation. I personally think the gritty look and feel brings a very raw feel to these images. It's a contrast to the highly saturated, colorful pictures of sunflower fields that were popular for so long. So I think it's one of those, this is cool because its different. That's my take on it.

    I am myself guilty of being influenced by this :blush:
     
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  12. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    That's a great shot, and the processing only adds to it, IMO. Yeah, it's gloomy. But it works with the subject. So far from making me gloomy, I'm delighted to look at it. :biggrin:
     
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  13. fractal

    fractal TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jun 17, 2014
    Southeastern PA
    Chris
    500px latest trend update.

    For some reason I find this subject fascinating. The "gloomy" looks on 500px seems to have wilted away to be replaced with beautiful female model portraits, many of them bordering on soft-porn, which dominate the "Popluar" section. In the "Editor's" choice section, almost every photo has the "crushed black" filmy/cinematic look going.
     
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