September 05, 2013  •  1 Comment

My father was a Baptist minister while I was growing up.  Despite his own rainbow reality, he demanded a black and white regimen for the rest of the family.  He was incredibly creative, writing music and poetry, painting with oils, and herding his flock - my sister, four brothers, and I around with his 8mm movie camera.  My mother sat quietly in the shadows with her Brownie, snapping birthdays.

On winter weekend nights, we would sit with popcorn or hot chocolate and re-play these home movies.  I can still recall the whir and whine of the projector springs turning the reels and the flip, flip, flip of the film's end.  To this day, my siblings and I argue about the circumstance and sentiment surrounding certain scenes apart from my father's final say, though he's no longer alive to quash our bickering.

This was, of course, before Photoshop and other photographic manipulation means were widely available to the general public.  Back then, a photo or film portrayed the reality of the moment the camera captured and everyone accepted a photo as fact.  Photography as an art form was practiced by the few who could afford copious canisters of film and dark rooms.

Based on recent readings related to the history of photography, consideration of photography as art has been an uphill battle primarily due to it's original presentment as real.  Think the flash of crime photos, think the family album.

The digital age of photography has opened up a multitude of possibilities for the creative spark in us all, giving license to new ways of seeing and capturing photos that question preconceived and dogmatic notions of reality.  The ability to ply realism with camera settings and post-processing still grates on some, particularly when the manipulation is overdone.

In today's world, describing an image as "Photoshopped" has a negative connotation for those of us striving to offer our photography as fine art beyond purely representational or documentary.  Adobe deems the term incorrect in its trademark guidelines, preferring the phrase, "the photo was enhanced by Adobe© Photoshop© software".  Enhancement is in the eye and the slider of the beholder.

The more I engage with photographers online from all over the world, the more it seems that certain stylistic looks and post-processing methods come into vogue then dim in an over-saturated market or a new, sexy technology walks down the runway.  It is tempting for neophytes sitting at the feet of fine art photography masters to become enamored by the tricks and techniques photo processing software offers.  Been there, done that.

HDR (High Dynamic Range) is one example.  As a general rule, I'm not fond of the overly-processed look this technique often produces.  If done with a light touch, I'm more apt to take a second look, but the photo must catch my eye otherwise.  There are large communities and groups on most online photography sites where HDR is the primary focus so a number of my brother and sister photogs like their view of the world through that lens.   Who am I to say whether it's here to stay or will fade with the family album.

I often butted heads with my father over whose reality would prevail - I left home at 16 - and can still go the rounds with family members where each side demands clone stamp concessions when a soft-edged healing brush may be more appropriate.

The root meaning of the word "art", is" becoming", a verb, not a noun one hangs on the living room wall.  So whatever reality you construct or deconstruct, whatever lens you look through, whatever adjustments you fine-tune in Adobe© Photoshop©,






Art as a verb, ah yes. Reminds me of a favorite quote from Delacroix: "Art is not a thing, it's a way."
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