Thursday, January 31, 2013

Photographs - "Taken" versus "Made"

JPEG From Camera

Same, With Kodak Port 160 Simulation

I went ahead with the purchase of DxO Lab's FilmPack 3 Essential. There was a $30 saving which expired today, so I got it for $49. Not overly costly, but I don't think I would've done it for the regular price of $79. Also, I opted for the "Essential", not the costlier "Expert" version. The latter has some added features which I already have available to me in other software. It provides yet another tool in the kit for the "making" of photographs. 

That raises an interesting point, doesn't it? The common term has always been  that we "take pictures", but now it is easier than ever for us to "make pictures" instead. Years ago, the famous Canadian painter Alex Colville made a comment regarding how some people refer to his paintings as being "just like a photograph", even though this is far from true - his paintings really don't look like photographs at all, in spite of the crispness of line and perhaps a certain "photo-realistic" tonal range. Anyway, Colville's response was along the lines of "photographs are 'taken', but paintings are made". Such a statement does take a little bit away from considering photography as an art form, but I don't think Colville intended that kind of ill-will; rather, he was simply speaking to a common misconception about his work.

The potential for photographs to be "made objects", as opposed to simply "taken pictures" has always been there. Prior to digital workflow, there was (is) a chemical workflow by which a photographic artist would make deliberate choices about every pictoral aspect along the way, from the initial composition seen in the viewfinder, through the entire darkroom processing chain - an artistic photograph is indeed "made", not "taken". Now in the digital age, there is an increase in possibilities due to the great proliferation of tools at our disposal. Even if the photo originates on film, it is becoming more and more common for a digital workflow, as opposed to chemical, due to the possibilities made available to us with computer applications. DxO FilmPack is one such tool through which a photo originated with a digital camera can be "made" to look more like it was created via a film camera using a specific film type. I am very interested in this, because, in the same way Alex Colville doesn't wish for his paintings to look like photographs, neither do I want my photographs to look like paintings. 

In the above example, the FilmPack touch is subtle, yet helpful, as it raised some shadow detail, and generally gave it more of a film-like appearance.

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