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about unfairness, imho, in the rules

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  • #1365
    DeaconBlues
    Participant

    As someone who used to participate in farktography, and would enjoy participating again, i feel like i need to make a couple of points about the unfair bias in the rules towards people who shoot color via digital slrs.

    I understand that farktography “doesn’t want to be another photoshop contest,” and that the goal is to “see what you can do with your camera and not your computer,” and that is completely understandable. The problem is twofold:

    No one has ever won a photoshop contest simply by making the original image a better photograph. No one ever won by deciding that the mustard on the floor beside the mustard guy was a hair too dark, and decided to fix it. The no multiple images rule takes care of 99 percent of the “dont want to be a photoshop contest” issues alone, as well as taking care of people using HDR.

    It is to this end that i think the spot editing of photos rule needs to be lifted or amended. It is also the first place where the rules show bias, this time towards color over black and white. Color can often hide problems with value, especially when the value problems are small. Black and white, however, is all about value, so the meaningless value problem in the color photo can often become a shot ruiner in black and white. Look carefully over tonight’s contest. Re-examine a number of the color shots you voted for. look carefully at the values. Then picture the same image in black and white, or even desaturate them if you are feeling saucy. The problems will become immediately more obvious. Black and white, ESPECIALLY black and white film, practically requires some dodging and burning in.
    Even if spot color correction remains taboo, it is only fair to everyone to allow spot value correction, and would make everyone’s photos better, regardless of the type of photo.

    This leads to the second rules bias, this time between digital and film. The goal is apparently “to see what you can do with your camera.” With film, you cannot use your camera to see your shot five seconds after you took it. You do not have the luxury of endless reshoots on the spot. Therefore, you rely on post (either in a darkroom or on the computer if you scan your negs) to fix any potential problems. If the goal was REALLY to see what you can do with your camera, any camera with a lcd screen on the back would be disallowed, because the last time i checked, a small monitor had absolutely nothing to do with knowing composition and exposure. Digital cameras effectively have post processing on their backs to varying degrees(especially notable here is the canon powershot series), including the ultimate in post processing, the ability to decide if the picture is good and reasonably correct. Therefore, to eliminate so much in the way of post processing is to unfairly favor those who are able to do so much post processing on the spot.

    Another bias lies with scanning prints. Most prints made in a darkroom by hand are dodged and burned, and if someone knows what they are doing, there is no way to tell, especially when you scan in a print that you made several years ago. Heck, the person scanning probably doesn’t know if any sort of spot corrections were made, if the print was sufficiently old.

    Basically, all I am saying is that the rules on post processing are too strict on everyone, and written to favor certain photographers above others. It is completely understandable to not want to have people whose skin has been turned plaid, but people are generally capable of restraint, and if they aren’t, that is why we have moderators who have been chosen to make judgement calls.

    ETA: Another prime example of the rules being so strict that they exclude people appeared a few weeks ago, with the mmm bokeh theme. Many handheld digital cameras are incapable of shallow depth of field due to their construction. f2.8 is often nearly as sharp as f16. Selective use of gaussian blur would have allowed people who don’t shoot or cannot afford slrs (film or digital, doesnt matter in this case) to participate. In large part, “wanting to see what your camera can do” comes down to equal parts skill and size of wallet. Someone with a point and shoot can do more with a camera than someone with a disposable. Someone with a low end slr can do more than someone with a point and shoot. Someone with a high end slr with high end lenses can do more than someone with a low end slr. Someone with ridiculous gear like a digital hassie or a 8×10 view camera can do more than someone with a high end slr. Is it fair for someone with a 30 thousand dollar camera to have such a huge advantage over someone with a 100 dollar camera? If we are talking high end, high paid fashion work, perhaps. In a friendly competition on the internet, not as much.

    #17930
    Elsinore
    Keymaster

    For those of us who don’t do much with b/w and/or don’t shoot or process our own film, can you tell us a little more about value correction vs color correction? Maybe show some examples?

    FWIW, the stuff that’s disallowed for after-the-fact post-processing is also disallowed in-camera (e.g. color swapping or color popping).

    #17931
    DeaconBlues
    Participant

    correcting value refers to correcting how light or dark it is in the image. This would be common in bringing down blown out highlights, which I am sure everyone who shoots digital is familiar with. It is also involved in lightening shadows. When you drag a contrast or brightness bar back and forth over an entire image, you are watching the values change.

    color correction, to me at least, more have to do with changes in hue (turning someone’s skin green would be an extreme example).

    Adjusting saturation falls between the two to me.

    You can think about it in terms of painting: adding black or white to blue gives you lighter blue or darker blue, but adding yellow gives you green.

    As to your second point, the issue i was trying to point out when referring to the post processing on the back of a camera was mainly meant to point out the fundamental difference between beginning your post processing seconds after you snap the shutter and hours or days after snapping the shutter. With a viewscreen on the back, you know if everything but the left side of timmy’s face is overexposed immediately, and you snap another shot of timmy. Without, you have to work with what you have. Either one is a perfectly valid photograph, regardless of whether it takes you two minutes in photoshop or ten. If i machine gunned 10 rolls through my seagull at the exact same subject, i would have a much greater chance of getting that elusive straight black and white print that requires no dodging and burning, but that would cost forty bucks. If anyone rolls their eyes at this, i challenge them to go out in to the field with their lcd screens taped off and a 16 meg card in their camera and see how they do.

    I do not mean this as an insult toward people who use dslrs, in fact many of my best friends do. I have a digital camera myself, although i only use it for editorial shots. I simply prefer using film, and I prefer printing in a darkroom. None of the changes I suggest would make anyone’s dslr images worse, it would, in fact make them better. It would also level the playing field for people who prefer to do something a little different, or don’t have the money for a 40d and loads of L glass.

    #17932
    Elsinore
    Keymaster

    One thing that does strike me is that I can adjust my black and white points on my digital images using curves, which is an allowed modification. I can boost various points along the curve, or bring them down as needed. This is a pretty powerful tool, all things considered. But you film folks definitely are at a disadvantage there, because the adjustments you can physically do “evenly across the image” are limited. What (if any) adjustments can you do “evenly across the image” to your negatives? Or your prints?

    We definitely want to be fair to both film and digital shooters, but finding the balance can be a challenge. What do other folks think?

    #17933
    staplermofo
    Participant

    OPINION OPINION OPINION OPINION

    I think anything you can physically do to a negative should be fair game. So few people use film that I don’t think abuse will be a problem.
    Other than that I think the rules are great.

    I don’t think people with crappy cameras are at too serious a disadvantage. I mean, you can’t make everything 100% fair. I live in the middle of a major city, I’ve got totally different advantages and disadvantages than, say soosh, who has easy access to awesome, crack-head-free ruins. Some (most) themes favor my location, some favor his. Some people have fancy lighting, some people don’t. There are any number of things that will continue to make it wildly unfair week to week. With Farkers as an audience, I don’t think a crappy camera vs a super nice Mamiya matter that much. A 320×240 cell phone shot of boobies will win every time.

    OPINION OPINION OPINION OPINION

    #17934
    Elsinore
    Keymaster

    I think anything you can physically do to a negative should be fair game. So few people use film that I don’t think abuse will be a problem.

    I could be down with that. Those are good points all around, ‘mofo. I hope more people will weigh in.

    #17935
    schnee
    Participant

    I moved from film (color transparencies, mostly) to all-digital during my involvement with Farktography (I went digital less than a year ago).

      Yes, Farktography favors all-digital. Back in my film days, I used to make it a personal challenge to dust all those bit-heads (and even started collecting stats on contests to help me…). This digital favoritism pretty much reflects the state of photography in general, but sometimes one can do stuff within The Rules with film that would be cost-prohibitive with a digital SLR (reference the Self Portrait theme).

      IIRC, The Rules pretty much started out to not give digital workflows an advantage over film. Photoshop is an amazing thing and some really impressive stuff can be done with it (not by me, by others). The Rules were meant to make Farktography about photography, not about image editing.

      (opinion) If someone wants to dodge-and-burn in a darkroom (or really, anything else), I’d be fine with that. It would give Farktography an interesting spin, and we’d see some nifty stuff. After scanning in the developed product, however, The Rules (as stated) would apply. Adopting this may help even out the digital advantage (I’m not really sure it would have a huge affect on the Farktography Program, but it would change voting for some individual themes).

      We could pilot a change. DeaconBlues, could you write up a change to The Rules to allow for the things you’d like to do? We could then discuss the specific changes and roll them out
    #17936
    jpatten
    Participant

    Hmm I could see this working. I think the main thrust of the rules is to prevent … for lack of a better word compositional changes to the pictures. Editing out or adding elements that are not desired, or alternatively Not present. At least that was my feeling

    #17937
    sleeping
    Participant

    I shoot film quite a bit, and never felt it was a particular disadvantage, but I’ve generally been posting scanned negatives/transparencies, not scanned prints. There’s not much you can do with a digital camera file that you can’t also do as part of the scanning/processing with a film scan. I can see where the rules would be a significant hinderance for someone doing proper darkroom printing, though.

    #17938
    DeaconBlues
    Participant

    I’ll take these excellent points one at a time, if possible:

    Elsinore- The only adjustments you can really do in a darkroom evenly across the image are to increase or decrease the amount of light hitting your paper and to change your contrast filter (or paper grade if you don’t use variable contrast paper). While these things are extremely important, 99 percent of the time these only serve to get the images ‘close’ to a semblance of correctness. You cannot make adjustments like you would with a curves tool across an entire image, mainly because the contrast filters are not that fine. I could not, for instance, make everything on the print in zone III a half stop lighter without changing everything else as well. That is what dodging and burning are used for in the darkroom. You get the image as a whole as close as possible, and then you decide where you need more or less light to yield a finished print.

    staplermofo- i assume by ‘anything you could physically do to a negative’ you mean ‘anything you could do in a darkroom?’ If so, there are a couple of things to watch out for, such as stacking images in the darkroom, solarizatioins, and a couple of other obscure tricks. Take Jerry N. Uelsmann, for instance. His prints are done entirely in the darkroom, using multiple negatives and multiple enlargers, and was doing “photoshoppy” tricks in the late seventies/early eighties. (His work is absolutely amazing, and if you aren’t familiar with it, you should check it out.) That sort of thing would obviously not be desireable.

    schnee- i’ll save the best for last 🙂

    jpatten- I agree wholeheartedly. Fixing a blown out highlight does not significantly alter any major compositional element in a shot, it just makes sure that your viewers arent blinded.

    sleeping- The big area where film scans suffer over digital camera files is in that lack of on the spot review i mentioned in the first post. As i am sure you know, sometimes, even with meticulous metering, an element of a shot can be a bit off, and with film, you have to work with it. With digital, you just adjust and reshoot on the spot. Negatives, especially black and white negatives, also have different properties than digital shots, and generally (in my experience) require a bit more attention to detail than is allowed within the scope of the rules.

    schnee-

    1. What in the self portraiture theme would be cost prohibitive with a dslr?

    2. I completely understand and agree that farktography should be about photography and not image editing, but some image editing is always necessary. The question is the line between photographic practices and graphic design/printmaking practices. For instance, I don’t think anyone would consider Ansel Adams’s “Moonrise, Hernandez New Mexico” anything other than one of the world’s greatest photographs, but it would be highly illegal under the current farktography rules. Hell, almost everything Adams ever did would be. The same could be said for the works of Weston, Capa, and Cartier-Bresson (who almost never printed his own work, he left it up to assistants), as well as pretty much any other photographer you can think of. I just feel that there is a difference between image correction and image editing. I am certainly not advocating letting people edit elements in and out of their photos, but I have no problem with people being able to, for instance, save a print where one compositional element in the shot appears to be a couple stops off.

    3. Dodging and burning in have been crucial elements of all photography since it’s inception, and i agree that we would indeed see some very nifty stuff. Another pleasant side effect is that allowing people a little more freedom in their post processing would probably make it easier to determine where people are violating the letter and spirit of the rules. It would be less “i can tell by the pixels and because i have seen a number of shops in my time” and more “dude. your pomeranian does not have tusks.”

    3. As far as changes to the rules go, I wouldn’t be the best one to attept to codify that on the photoshop/gimp side, as I very rarely use either program, and I dont necessarily know all of the correct terminology. I could certainly work up a list of darkroom dos and dont’s though.

    By the way, thanks to everyone for their responses. I didnt know that a group of farkers could be so reasonable. Not one person has told me to eat a bag of dicks. 🙂

    #17939
    DeaconBlues
    Participant

    sorry, double post due to lousy rural internettery.

    #17940
    jpatten
    Participant

    What? you expected a rant on an attempt to sneak a back door guaranteed win for your pictures on every contest? *grin*

    Hey I’m just glad to make into the top 20 or so right now.

    #17941
    Elsinore
    Keymaster

    Hey Deac? Eat a bag of dicks 😉

    But yeah, this is good discussion. If I’m reading correctly, there’s difference between dodging/burning the negative and dodging/burning the print. Is that accurate? What are the implications of allowing one over the other (e.g. dodging/burning the negative but not the print)? Are you talking primarily of scanning in your finished prints and not so much your negatives? The Darkroom Do’s and Don’ts would be a good start for us to work out how to modify things.

    #17942
    schnee
    Participant

    schnee-

    1. What in the self portraiture theme would be cost prohibitive with a dslr?

    Just that the winning image was made all on one piece of film. Multiple exposure techniques are difficult / expensive with current DLSRs (strobed long-exposures not withstanding)

    2. I completely understand and agree that farktography should be about photography and not image editing, but some image editing is always necessary. The question is the line between photographic practices and graphic design/printmaking practices. For instance, I don’t think anyone would consider Ansel Adams’s “Moonrise, Hernandez New Mexico” anything other than one of the world’s greatest photographs, but it would be highly illegal under the current farktography rules. Hell, almost everything Adams ever did would be. The same could be said for the works of Weston, Capa, and Cartier-Bresson (who almost never printed his own work, he left it up to assistants), as well as pretty much any other photographer you can think of. I just feel that there is a difference between image correction and image editing. I am certainly not advocating letting people edit elements in and out of their photos, but I have no problem with people being able to, for instance, save a print where one compositional element in the shot appears to be a couple stops off.

    I totally agree with the image editing v image correcting sentiment. When I am making a print, out come the image correction tools. With Farktography in mind, IIRC, we also wanted to keep it simple and allow for people who don’t have the digital skills to correct an under-exposed compositional element. This is, after all, Fark, not a prestigious, judged Photographic site.

    That said, composition / humor will probably always beat every other image. So allowing for what you are suggesting may not be all that beneficial for an individual, but it would raise the level of what Farktography presents, and I support that.

    3. Dodging and burning in have been crucial elements of all photography since it’s inception, and i agree that we would indeed see some very nifty stuff. Another pleasant side effect is that allowing people a little more freedom in their post processing would probably make it easier to determine where people are violating the letter and spirit of the rules. It would be less “i can tell by the pixels and because i have seen a number of shops in my time” and more “dude. your pomeranian does not have tusks.”

    3. As far as changes to the rules go, I wouldn’t be the best one to attept to codify that on the photoshop/gimp side, as I very rarely use either program, and I dont necessarily know all of the correct terminology. I could certainly work up a list of darkroom dos and dont’s though.

    Please do work up a list of darkroom do’s and don’t’s. Farktography may need to adapt them to digital workflows as well, just to be consistent. I don’t know my way around a darkroom – why should chemical-types get an advantage? (Rhetoric question in this instance, but likely to be non-rhetoric in the near future).

    Oh, and, go eat a bag of dicks. 😛

    #17943
    soosh
    Participant

    I totally agree with the image editing v image correcting sentiment. When I am making a print, out come the image correction tools. With Farktography in mind, IIRC, we also wanted to keep it simple and allow for people who don’t have the digital skills to correct an under-exposed compositional element. This is, after all, Fark, not a prestigious, judged Photographic site.

    That said, composition / humor will probably always beat every other image. So allowing for what you are suggesting may not be all that beneficial for an individual, but it would raise the level of what Farktography presents, and I support that.

    I agree with this. No clone stamp tools or healing tools to remove power lines, distracting elements, etc, but as far as exposure, I don’t see a problem with how it’s adjusted. Where it gets trickier, I think, is what if something like Diffuse Glow is only used on a part of an image? Where’s the limit with masking and overlay and whatnot?

    I don’t personally use dodge and burning in photoshop because I’ve never been able to make them look convincing, but I’m not opposed to their use.

    Looking through my entries, I’ve had just as many film entries do well as digital, so I’m utterly unconvinced that either has an advantage that needs to be worried about.

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