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How far can content and story carry a technically flawed photograph?
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Aug 24, 2019 10:47:33   #
srt101fan (a regular here)
 
Somewhere I saw photographic “content” defined as the “subject, topic or information captured in a photograph”, the “subject” being “the main object or person(s)” in the image.

We see a lot of discussion of the importance of sharpness, exposure and composition of an image but I’ve seen relatively little talk of content. How important is content relative to the technical merit of a photograph? What does it take for the content of a photograph to cause viewers to overlook technical deficiencies?

I believe content is the most important attribute of a photograph. In my view, sharpness, perfect exposure, composition, etc, as important as they are, are of no value if a photograph doesn’t have a content that grabs the viewer. On the other hand, there is a limit to how many technical flaws a viewer can tolerate before even great content becomes irrelevant. I’m interested in your views on this. Feel free to post any images you think might help illustrate this topic. I will do so in my next post.

I appreciate any constructive comments you might have.

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Aug 24, 2019 10:57:44   #
CHG_CANON (a regular here)
 
How far can a flawed image go? Not very far, usually no further than the recycle bin ... We're not shooting film. Take as many versions as needed to assure you have both the content and the technical aspects. Of course, there do exist 'only once' situations, but really, now often is it really only just once? When you miss those, don't try to make the silk purse. Delete it and channel that frustration into your self-development so that you are prepared and will successfully get it right the next time that a truly 'once' situation occurs again. Meanwhile, work on your craft and ability to capture both the content and the technical aspects in fewer and fewer tries, still while not imposing false limitations of just one try in digital.

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Aug 24, 2019 11:02:08   #
Ysarex
 
You only have to browse through this collection for an answer: http://100photos.time.com

Joe

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Aug 24, 2019 11:06:32   #
Saxman47
 
To me, the subject ("content") of a photograph is all-important. Something compelled the photographer to stop and share what he/she saw. At least that is true of most of my photographs. I'm not talking about obligatory "family" snapshots that we all shoot.
I can overlook quite a bit of technical deficiencies if the content "grabs" me, makes me wish that I had been there to press the shutter. I know I have seen a lot of photos who had all of the preferred technical aspects of proper exposure, composition, sharpness, etc. that just left me cold, because the subject just had no "soul" (for lack of a better word). But, that's just my humble opinion; others might disagree.

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Aug 24, 2019 11:07:04   #
dennis2146 (a regular here)
 
I wish you had been more specific as to what type of flaws and how the photo is to be used. If we are talking a news photo of some politician being assassinated then just about any good photo is great provided it shows the act. If we are talking of macro photographs of a stamp or the eye of a fly then we expect that photograph to be sharp. Perhaps the composition isn't that great but sharpness is important. If we are talking about photos of grandchildren then to many grandparents none of the things you mentioned make much difference. Each of us looks at photos differently depending on what we are expecting to see.

Many times I see photographs of models here on UHH and think they are perfect and exquisite photos. I love them and think the photographer did a wonderful job taking them. But when another professional photographer or model photographer evaluates the photo and points out the bad things I feel differently. Those people are critiquing the photo from a different perspective than I am. I look for the beauty of the model brought out in the photograph. People who do model photography look at the mechanics first and then the beauty of the photo. I hope that makes sense.

I love your question but would have to ask if the viewpoint of the viewer doesn't play a large part in what is good or bad?

Dennis

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Aug 24, 2019 11:07:52   #
rehess
 
CHG_CANON wrote:
How far can a flawed image go? Not very far, usually no further than the recycle bin ... We're not shooting film. Take as many versions as needed to assure you have both the content and the technical aspects. Of course, there do exist 'only once' situations, but really, now often is it really only just once? When you miss those, don't try to make the silk purse. Delete it and channel that frustration into your self-development so that you are prepared and will successfully get it right the next time that a truly 'once' situation occurs again. Meanwhile, work on your craft and ability to capture both the content and the technical aspects in fewer and fewer tries, still while not imposing false limitations of just one try.
How far can a flawed image go? Not very far, usual... (show quote)

Never assume that you can always go back and take another photo. Sometimes it truly is only one shot.
https://www.uglyhedgehog.com/t-607113-1.html

For example, a photographer took a portrait of Abraham Lincoln at the end of the Civil War - then accidentally broke the glass negative; he didn't worry ..... he'd just go back - but Lincoln was killed before he had the chance,

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Aug 24, 2019 11:09:25   #
srt101fan (a regular here)
 
OP again:
Attached is an image that might help with the discussion of this topic. Curious to see how you all react to this photo. Despite its obvious technical flaws that cannot be corrected, I believe the image is worth a look because of its content and story. Agree? Disagree?

This photo is not a finished product for me (the image I see in Affinity looks much better than my post-preview image - gotta figure out why!). I have been using it and continue to use it to learn editing with Affinity Photo. To get some help, I am also posting it in the Post-Processing Digital Images section, along with the unedited, uncropped original, to get help and suggestions for editing options. If anyone is interested and wants to help me get the most out of this image please visit:

https://www.uglyhedgehog.com/t-607418-1.html



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Aug 24, 2019 11:12:21   #
CHG_CANON (a regular here)
 
rehess wrote:
Never assume that you can always go back and take another photo. Sometimes it truly is only one shot.
https://www.uglyhedgehog.com/t-607113-1.html

For example, a photographer took a portrait of Abraham Lincoln at the end of the Civil War - then accidentally broke the glass negative; he didn't worry ..... he'd just go back - but Lincoln was killed before he had the chance,


Both your examples show you didn't read nor understand anything I said ...

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Aug 24, 2019 11:20:22   #
CHG_CANON (a regular here)
 
srt101fan wrote:
OP again:
Attached is an image that might help with the discussion of this topic. Curious to see how you all react to this photo. Despite its obvious technical flaws that cannot be corrected, I believe the image is worth a look because of its content and story. Agree? Disagree?

This photo is not a finished product for me (the image I see in Affinity looks much better than my post-preview image - gotta figure out why!). I have been using it and continue to use it to learn editing with Affinity Photo. To get some help, I am also posting it in the Post-Processing Digital Images section, along with the unedited, uncropped original, to get help and suggestions for editing options. If anyone is interested and wants to help me get the most out of this image please visit:

https://www.uglyhedgehog.com/t-607418-1.html
OP again: br Attached is an image that might help ... (show quote)


This is interesting enough and can be helped by more processing, including cropping above the window at the top and the left and right sides. But, it's just an old photo and not the Beatles crossing Abby Road. It's also probably better than the technically weak images we could all conjure in our minds from just the text of your post.

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Aug 24, 2019 11:27:46   #
AndyH
 
I think that there are examples of great art where poor exposure, haphazard composition, and careless cropping do not destroy the value of an image. Poor focus, however is always a killer in my opinion.

Look at the works of the most famous street photographers for examples of the former. There are cut off limbs, badly exposed backgrounds, etc. in the portfolios of most.

Garry Winogrand might be the best example of all. I think that in his later years, he just got to the point of not caring about many elements, and it detracted from many of his later images.

But that’s just one person’s opinion.

Andy

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Aug 24, 2019 11:54:35   #
bleirer (a regular here)
 
I think just as there are different kinds of intelligence, there are different photography 'Q's Certainly image quality, IQ, but also EQ, emotional quality, Content is everything if it is singular, unique, and important. Just thinking of some indelible shots, Oswald being killed, Robert Kennedy being cradled, that Lange dust bowl picture of the migrant woman, the "napalm girl", earth from space, the list goes on and on, some have poor IQ but enough EQ to make up for it.

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Aug 24, 2019 11:59:45   #
Linda From Maine (a regular here)
 
I ventured (momentarily) out of retirement to post to this thread

I was particularly delighted to see Saxman47's use of the term "soul." Check out the title of my topic from more than six years ago: https://www.uglyhedgehog.com/t-89310-1.html

Also note on page 2 what our pro Photographer Jim said about the subject.

In this current thread by srt101fan, I agree with dennis2146's suggestion that the viewer's pov is key. Many (most?) non-photographers will not notice technical flaws in the way that photographers do. And with the "photographer" group, there will be those of us who place more value on one element over another. I greatly appreciate unique perspectives of iconic (much photographed) scenes (similar to what Photographer Jim said) and I greatly appreciate dramatic light or weather. I hate sloping horizons

I would like also to point out that there are topics and discussions about composition, subject and impact in other sections of UHH. Most often you'll find those in Landscape, For Your Consideration, Photo Critique, Street - but there are many other individual topics in the 30 sections of UHH that offer opportunities for conversation and learning.

One last note: if you glanced at my 2013 topic, you'll see that my second subject was about the rudeness found on UHH even back then. Only about 10 percent of the people who commented in that topic are still active on UHH; they have been replaced by some who are equally thoughtful and some who are equally rude.

Follow your bliss!

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Aug 24, 2019 12:03:47   #
CHG_CANON (a regular here)
 
bleirer wrote:
I think just as there are different kinds of intelligence, there are different photography 'Q's Certainly image quality, IQ, but also EQ, emotional quality, Content is everything if it is singular, unique, and important. Just thinking of some indelible shots, Oswald being killed, Robert Kennedy being cradled, that Lange dust bowl picture of the migrant woman, the "napalm girl", earth from space, the list goes on and on, some have poor IQ but enough EQ to make up for it.


But, most of these examples are, in fact, technically good to great, rather than blurry images of Sasquatch. They are also all historically significant, something quite relevant to the significance of the content. Remove the historical significance and the limitations of historical equipment and / or film, and we're back to evaluating the technical aspects.

Just like life being too long to not eat great food, modern cameras are too good to choose to share inferior images ... When was the last time you saw a blurry image from the red carpet or the Super Bowl?

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Aug 24, 2019 12:04:58   #
srt101fan (a regular here)
 
Linda From Maine wrote:
I ventured (momentarily) out of retirement to post to this thread

I was particularly delighted to see Saxman47's use of the term "soul." Check out the title of my topic from more than six years ago: https://www.uglyhedgehog.com/t-89310-1.html

Also note on page 2 what our pro Photographer Jim said about the subject.

In this current thread by srt101fan, I agree with dennis2146's suggestion that the viewer's pov is key. Many (most?) non-photographers will not notice technical flaws in the way that photographers do. And with the "photographer" group, there will be those of us who place more value on one element over another. I greatly appreciate unique perspectives of iconic (much photographed) scenes (similar to what Photographer Jim said) and I greatly appreciate dramatic light or weather. I hate sloping horizons

I would like also to point out that there are topics and discussions about composition, subject and impact in other sections of UHH. Most often you'll find those in Landscape, For Your Consideration, Photo Critique, Street - but there are many other individual topics in the 30 sections of UHH that offer opportunities for conversation and learning.

One last note: if you glanced at my 2013 topic, you'll see that my second subject was about the rudeness found on UHH even back then. Only about 10 percent of the people who commented in that topic are still active on UHH; they have been replaced by some who are equally thoughtful and some who are equally rude.

Follow your bliss!
I ventured (momentarily) out of retirement to post... (show quote)


Glad you chimed in Linda (I kinda hoped you would!)

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Aug 24, 2019 12:08:59   #
Bill_de (a regular here)
 
All depends on the intent and end use. The last picture of Grandma ever taken can stand a lot of technical defects. A picture to hang on the wall for its beauty should be near perfect. Everything in between is a matter of taste.

---

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