My photography at Deviant Art


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I love the selective focus. Ayn probably would have hated it, what with her half-baked rules about razor-sharp clarity in art equalling a razor-sharp intellect. Just one more reason that visual artists should ignore the aesthetic tastes and advice of novelists.

J

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Hahah that's awesome! Btw that is an extremely rare endangered species!

Not a high survival rate for a stupid parrot that has carnal knowledge of the back of a human's head...

At any rate, when my friend in Ohio sent it to me, she knew that I would put it to good use.

I thought you and Tony would get a kick out of it.

Waiting on Jonathan.

A...

The dude didn't even have a ducktail haircut!

J

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I love the selective focus. Ayn probably would have hated it, what with her half-baked rules about razor-sharp clarity in art equalling a razor-sharp intellect. Just one more reason that visual artists should ignore the aesthetic tastes and advice of novelists.

J

Well - considering she - quite reluctantly, I thought - didn't bring photography into the realm of art, she wouldn't judge it as an artwork, would she? (Possibly, for what it is, a very good photo, as an end in itself). Even so, this photograph does have sharp clarity - 'selective' focus is exactly that: sharpness where it's wanted by the photographer, throwing the subject into relief by limited d.o.f. bringing about background blur. And even so, as a painting, a soft background is very acceptable as technique to any artists. I doubt Rand would have insisted on clarity right across the frame of a painting.

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Yup not only that but if you use a small aperture in order to bring everything in focus the bird would no longer stand out. All you would have is a distracting noisy photograph with no separation of the subject. Edit to add, some people get confused by aperture that are new or casual to photography. A small f# like f2.8 means your Len's aperture is wide open. This gives a narrow depth of field and separates the subject as well as blurs the background. A large f# like f22 is a tiny hole. It does not allow much light in so usually one must use a tripod and have longer exposure. This gives you a large depth of field and brings much of your picture into focus. It is usually used by landscape photographers. This is just a very very basic explanation as there are a slew of other factors like what kind of camera and lens you are using, what the ideal hyperfocus distance for what lens you are using and how close your foreground, mid and background is.

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Well - considering she - quite reluctantly, I thought - didn't bring photography into the realm of art, she wouldn't judge it as an artwork, would she? (Possibly, for what it is, a very good photo, as an end in itself). Even so, this photograph does have sharp clarity - 'selective' focus is exactly that: sharpness where it's wanted by the photographer, throwing the subject into relief by limited d.o.f. bringing about background blur. And even so, as a painting, a soft background is very acceptable as technique to any artists.

Rand took her position on photography from a state of ignorance. Her having done so is one good example of where introspection alone on a subject isn't enough. One would actually have to have real knowledge of the medium and how much control and selectivity it offers before "objectively" opining on whether or not it can qualify as art.

But, anyway, Rand didn't like visual blurriness, and that would apply not only to paintings, but to photography, and to reality as well. She had a similar misinformed opinion of fog and of muted lighting. She apparently assumed that her personal visual/aesthetic limitations and shallow, literalistic interpretations of certain visual phenomena were the only possible correct interpretations. Such opinions reveal what an ingenue she was in the visual arts, for it doesn't take very much exposure to the issues of blur, fog and muted lighting to recognize that, contrary to Rand's statements, those phenomena don't necessarily blend everything together and make everything vague and murky, and people don't enjoy them because they hate thinking clearly and just want to exist in a blurry mental fog. That's loony talk. The opposite is true: blur and fog add clarity and a sense of depth. As you and Jules said, they allow objects to stand out from their backgrounds. Years ago Michael Newberry put together a nice unintentionally anti-Randian essay on the subject (which he unfortunately misidentified as being about "transparency" rather than atmospheric density/depth).

I doubt Rand would have insisted on clarity right across the frame of a painting.

With her comments on the subjects of blur, fog and lighting, as well as the examples that she gave of visual art that she liked, I think that she did demand focal sharpness, value density and illumination across an entire painting.

J

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Jonathan said "Rand took her position on photography from a state of ignorance. Her having done so is one good example of where introspection alone on a subject isn't enough. One would actually have to have real knowledge of the medium and how much control and selectivity it offers before "objectively" opining on whether or not it can qualify as art"

Absolutely. I've been active in photography most of my life and also take issue with Ayn's view of it.

The field is complex, creative & not static. Ayn never delved in to it. She couldn't have known much.

As I'm sure you know, the cameras, lighting, software, printers, paper-in addition to how one envisions (frames) the subject- can all affect the final image.

Now, Ayn's views on individual/ property rights and Capitalism....... those reside happily on my top-shelf. :)

-Joe

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Also a mistake to rush in the other direction, without examining Rand on photography a little further.

I wouldn't know if others here cater to Rand's explication/definition of art.

But,assuming you do - and assuming a photograph is:

"A selective re-creation of reality..."

--I would like to ask Jules if he considers his last (and very good) bird photo fits the second criterion:

"...according to the artist's [Jules'] metaphysical value-judgments."?

To be clear, philosophically I think it is far from essential to know intricately the logistics and techniques of any art form, in order to understand the creative process in the artist's mind - or its import on the viewer's mind. I.e. The whats, the hows, and the whys, of both 'processes'.

As I see it then, being knowledgable and skilled in the artform doesn't necessarily confer any advantages, philosophically.

Rand set the bar extremely high in her explication. Art, to be art (agree or not) had to meet certain standards to Rand, evidently. Does photography match them? Always? Sometimes? When x says so? If one feels it should be so?

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Jules: Seeing it again, it is very good. Apart from great bokeh, that it's taken in sunlight has another good aspect beyond emphasizing color and form: the tiny catchlight in your bird's eye. For some reason it imparts a greater sense of a living creature to viewers. (Block the catchlight with a felt-tip pen, to see what I mean).

No joke, in the old days of film, camera clubs would go to war over a photographer being accused of falsifying a catchlight - by pricking a needle through the transparency in the eye of a bird. It was a common trick, apparently. Then sometimes a photographer would be banned for shooting a stuffed bird. The deceit and pettiness was a reason I never joined a club or society.

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My take on photography is this. It very much follows reality. The better you understand the properties of light the more prepared you will be to capture a moment and objectively take measures to present that moment in the best possible way.

So many times I have seen a "nice landscape" that if the photographer had only had the patience to wait 2 hours for better light he would have had a fantasticccccc landscape. Sometimes you may have to return to that same spot in 4 months when the sun plays on the landscape in a much more dramatic way. Woops it's cloudy as hell, come back next year.

Angles play a big part especially when shooting birds. No one likes a bird shot where it is 15 feet up in the air. Why? Because everyone is USED to seeing birds from that pov every day. Now if you can get at eye level or even slightly above it that makes a better shot. Now your in the birds world and showing that shot to the world from the birds perspective. Ever notice that some of the best shore bird or wildfowl bird shots are taken with the camera lens only an inch or two above the water level? Compare those shots to where the photographer is standing up and pointing his lens down.

More and more I am looking for places where at sunset or sunrise the environment looks special and there also happens to be a good chance wild life will be there. If it is not at least I have a nice landscape or skyscape for my efforts.

It is said that when starting out your first 10000 captures will be your worse ones. I may have to modify that rule to 30000 lol I am at 18000 already since I started last year!

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Jules: yes, recognizing the critical moment of subject and lighting, in all their permutations - plus that extra magic one photographer uniquely brings to it, with camera angle, framing, timing etc etc.

A few millimetres here, or split second there - or intuitively deciding to break all the 'rules', and go for, say, deliberately blurred movement - make the really good photos.

I reckon roughly, there are three basic categories to photography, Instantaneous - Anticipated - Controlled. (i.e. grab shot; semi-planned picture; and fully premeditated, styled, posed and lit pic.)

So often, mixtures of all three categories come into play, and always, one has to be ready for the unexpected. The best picture might not be what you pre-visualized and set out to get.

I think over-control may kill a great picture as much as lack of patience and as much as slow reactions with equipment not practised enough with. (As you've found, the camera needs to be an extension of your hand and eye.)

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Yup! Practice practice! I have been practicing panning techniques on small very fast flying birds at close range justtttt for the practice of being able to get and hold them in the frame. This spring I plan in going to a spot on my days off where there are 15 mated pairs of ospreys. I practiced on something far more difficult so when the times comes to catch an osprey diving for a fish I will be able to capitalize on keeping him in frame the whole time. Nothing sucks more than a blown action shot due to lack of preparation and basic skill sets needed to get that "money" shot when the opportunity arrives.

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Rand set the bar extremely high in her explication. Art, to be art (agree or not) had to meet certain standards to Rand, evidently.

Right. Rand did set the bar extremely high -- so high that music, dance and architecture don't actually qualify as art forms according to her standards. When those art forms are tested in reality, consumers (including Objectivists) cannot objectively identify "artists' meanings" in them. Their success rate is lower than that of fans of abstract art identifying "artists' meanings" in the abstract art. Those art forms "cease to present intelligible subjects and meanings," and therefore do not qualify as art according to Objectivism.

(Romanticism in the visual arts also doesn't qualify if we go by the kids at OO and their inability to identify subjects and meanings).

Does photography match them? Always? Sometimes? When x says so? If one feels it should be so?

Does literature match Rand's standards for art? Always? Sometimes? When X says so? If one feels it should be so?

Obviously the answer is that not all photographs are art, just as not all works of literature are art (purely technical installation manuals, for example), and not all works of painting are art (my nephew's red wagon), etc.

No one has suggested that all photography is art, or that all photography must be art in order for the medium to qualify as a legitimate art form according to Objectivism. Literature qualifies as an art form according to Objectivism despite the fact that most forms of literature are not art. The same is true of photography.

So, when one is viewing a photograph or reading a piece of literature, how is one to determine if it is a mere journalistic recording of events in reality, or if it is a stylized and fictional and/or symbolic presentation? The answer, in both cases, is "when X says so." (X being the artist)

Examples:

Consumer: "Is that photograph a journalistic, documentary image, or has it been stylized/special-effected in a way which makes it something that did not exist in reality?"

X: "I am the artist who created it, and my answer is that it is a fictional image composed/composited of real and imaginary objects and effects for the purpose of expressing symbolic content, and therefore it is art."

Consumer: "Is that book a journalistic, documentary story, or has it been stylized/plotted in a way which makes it something that did not exist or happen in reality?"

X: "I am the author who wrote it, and I am declaring that the story is fictional despite its seeming to be possibly real, and therefore it is art."

There is no way to determine for certain if a work is art or not other than by its creator's statement of intentions. That's why Ayn Rand's works include "a novel" on the covers, and why they are sold in the fiction section -- the purpose of doing so is to identify for readers the fact that the works are intended by their creator to be art.

J

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Jules: Seeing it again, it is very good. Apart from great bokeh, that it's taken in sunlight has another good aspect beyond emphasizing color and form: the tiny catchlight in your bird's eye. For some reason it imparts a greater sense of a living creature to viewers. (Block the catchlight with a felt-tip pen, to see what I mean).

No joke, in the old days of film, camera clubs would go to war over a photographer being accused of falsifying a catchlight - by pricking a needle through the transparency in the eye of a bird. It was a common trick, apparently. Then sometimes a photographer would be banned for shooting a stuffed bird. The deceit and pettiness was a reason I never joined a club or society.

I've encountered photographers who had all sorts of purist rules that they followed. It was sometimes fun to pick apart their contradictions. For example, they'd be bitching about not being able to get enough natural light on a subject, I'd suggest putting a large reflector card next to the scene, and they'd be absolutely enraged at the idea of introducing such artificiality into the pure nature/reality of the scene. And then their solution would be to blast some fill light from a cheap flash on top of their camera. Yeah. Somehow the ugly-ass, harsh flash was okay to introduce into the scene, but a reflector card was an evil violation of journalistic ethics!

J

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So, when one is viewing a photograph or reading a piece of literature, how is one to determine if it is a mere journalistic recording of events in reality, or if it is a stylized and fictional and/or symbolic presentation? The answer, in both cases, is "when X says so." (X being the artist)

So if Carlos Castaneda said that the Don Juan tales are "a mere journalistic recording of events in reality," that's what they are. Likewise, the authors of the Bible regarding the tales therein recorded. Etc., etc., and so forth.

Methinks you need to think it through again. :smile:

Ellen

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So if Carlos Castaneda said that the Don Juan tales are "a mere journalistic recording of events in reality," that's what they are.

The issue is whether or not something is art, and that depends on the intentions of the something's creator. If Castaneda, or anyone like him, claimed to be recording events in reality, and not to be creating art, his work would not be art. The fact that he failed at recording events in reality, or was incapable of distinguishing between reality and fiction/fantasy/hallucination has no bearing on his work not qualifying as art. Journalism doesn't become art in the instances that it's untrue or because its creator is a froot loop. It just becomes bad journalism, or, at best, it becomes a nut job's accurately recording his inability to know what's real and what's not.

Likewise, the authors of the Bible regarding the tales therein recorded. Etc., etc., and so forth.

Yup. They weren't creating art, but were intending to record reality. So, again, their works don't become art just because they were primitive and superstitious and therefore failed attempts at recording reality.

J

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Journalism doesn't become art in the instances that it's untrue or because its creator is a froot loop. It just becomes bad journalism, or, at best, it becomes a nut job's accurately recording his inability to know what's real and what's not.

The only part of your post I agree with is the above sentence (but I don't think that the Don Juan tales specifically are journalism).

Edit: I also agree that the stories in the Bible "don't become art just because [their authors] were primitive and superstitious and therefore failed [in their] attempts at recording reality." I think the stories are partly art, but not for that reason.

Apparently you're claiming that anything its creator says is art is art, and vice versa. Is that actually your claim?

Ellen

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Journalism doesn't become art in the instances that it's untrue or because its creator is a froot loop. It just becomes bad journalism, or, at best, it becomes a nut job's accurately recording his inability to know what's real and what's not.

The only part of your post I agree with is the above sentence (but I don't think that the Don Juan tales specifically are journalism).

Edit: I also agree that the stories in the Bible "don't become art just because [their authors] were primitive and superstitious and therefore failed [in their] attempts at recording reality." I think the stories are partly art, but not for that reason.

Apparently you're claiming that anything its creator says is art is art, and vice versa. Is that actually your claim?

Ellen

No, my claim is that a creator's statement of intentions is necessary but not sufficient to determining what is art versus non-art.

Something could fail to be art or journalism/nonfiction despite its creator's intentions.

J

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http://www.viewbug.com/photo/18774821

With this particular shot I wanted to convey motion. The hawk is a majestic looking bird. Normally to completely freeze motion one would use 1/1600 exposure or faster. I used 1/400 and focused on his eye to keep the head/body sharp but also to blur the wingtips in order to add that sense of action. I also have a beautiful shot of him perched in the tree, catchlight in his eye and sun in his face, it was morning so had really nice side lighting. This one however is the shot I was after.

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Apparently you're claiming that anything its creator says is art is art, and vice versa. Is that actually your claim?

Ellen

No, my claim is that a creator's statement of intentions is necessary but not sufficient to determining what is art versus non-art.

Something could fail to be art or journalism/nonfiction despite its creator's intentions.

J

What of the cave paintings? Is it your view that we can't say if they're art or not, since we can't ask what were the intentions of the persons producing them, or even if those persons had such an idea as "art"?

More generally, is it your view that in cases of productions which we might think of as examples of art but in regard to which we lack a statement of intentions, we just have to say, Don't know?

Ellen

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I am still working on elevating my photography to the level of "art". At the very least I would like to capture moments where the viewer says "holy shit!" and other hobbyist/pro photographers are envious. I have a ways to go yet! On the bright side over at view bug I have placed in the top 10% in over 15 trifectas (contests) and have place in the top 30% in 5 others. One of my Arctic Fox pictures was also awarded a staff favourite in their store. (That one was approaching art from my point if view)

http://www.viewbug.com/photo/9642741

Yes I dropped the white balance from 5500 down to 4900 to give the over all picture a nice light blue cast to it. It is a popular image both at viewbug and deviantart. Is it art? Some would say yes. Others would say it is just a really nice photograph. I do know that I was elated it turned out the way it did!

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I am still working on elevating my photography to the level of "art".

[....] One of my Arctic Fox pictures was also awarded a staff favourite in their store. (That one was approaching art from my point if view)

http://www.viewbug.com/photo/9642741

[....]

A number of your photos reach the "art" level, in my opinion, including the Arctic Fox one, which looks to me, too, like a fantasy figure (see Deanna's comment).

My opinion as to the level, however, isn't dependent on your statement of intention, but instead on what I see looking at the work.

Ellen

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Broad brush strokes -

- it appears there's the school of art appreciation that maintains that if you want to know What Art Is:

Ask the artist. i.e. intentionality of the creator is all.

The other "school" objects - not so:

Ask the viewer. i.e. if it has impact on myself, 'artistically', it is art (whether or not the creator of it considered it so.)

Therefore, the concept "art" lies in the consciousness of one or the other.

To be very simplistic, I think Rand maintained that art is a 'collaboration' (if I can call it so) between the consciousness of artist and that of the viewer. In so doing - by her theory- the metaphysical value-judgments of the one are conveyed to and comprehended by the other. (Of course this is prior to making any Romanticist/Naturalist assessment; also, as for its quality, an artwork falling in either category may be brilliant art or bad art.)

(And an honest photographer essentially might say: Art-Shmart! Will you all leave me alone? I have my own purpose in capturing or depicting what I think are beautiful or significant 'slices of reality'- maybe sometimes my work can come close to "art" - but first and always, a photograph should be true to itself.)

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