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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

it is an art, not a science . . .

a quote I would beg to differ with.
Any more pictures are largely edited to achieve a certain outcome, a standard look, a photographer's signature style.  In that process there is some level of scientific combination of light, clarity/blur, degree of composition, and finally a dash of this and a touch of that overlay.

I often meander through my pictures, randomly pulling one to edit.
Generally this starts out with "hummm, I wonder ..." 
and ends with either  "ta da"
or "that'll do pig, that'll do" 

It almost always includes a specific formula to finalize for publishing.


This one was a bit of an over edit in the name of art.


This one, a little bit of edit that went a long way - standard photoshop edit options. 


added texture, 
but after sampling several from different providers and once again failing to write down the formula,  it falls in the category of 'science experiment' also known as "I dun't know!"

We all tend to play a little Frankenstein when fiddling with pictures.
And with that I would argue that the space between Art and Science is closing.


  1. Thought provoking post - and great photos - I tend to agree, we use a lot more science in our art these days.

  2. I'm not all that sure that we do...use more science, that is.

    In days of yore when people like daVince and Michaelangelo were painting, from what I've read about it, artists spent a lot of time grinding and blending their own pigments and paints ( or instructing their students how to do it for them) and often had special formulas to make a certain colour that other painters couldn't duplicate. I think that falls into the category of science as much as some of the computer tricks people tend to use nowadays to edit pictures. Certainly the first artists who learned how to understand and use perspective in their paintings, were making use of science, to help them achieve the look they wanted. But I don't think it invalidates their work as art.

    I agree, if we have a standard set of actions that we just slap all our pictures through, then the art is largely lost. It might have involved art the first time we came up with that series of steps, but once we start to use it by rote, then it is just a formula.

    But when one of us sits down with a photo, and an idea of what we are hoping to achieve, and uses the tools that the modern computer puts into our hands to create something individual then, for me, that is still art, no matter how much computer programming (or pigment grinding) is involved in reaching that result.

    I guess, for me, the art is in the decisions we make along the way to the finished product.

    Slapping a photo through a predetermined series of adjustments, is just applying a recipe or formula and not art. But taking a photo through several steps, choosing to use some adjustments, or actions, or textures, and rejecting others, on the way to a particular finished image that reflects your vision, is still art in my book.

    Being familiar with different actions and adjustments, available out there, and understanding what you might hope to achieve by using them, is just knowing the tools of your trade just as understanding perspective is part of a painter knowing the tools of his trade.

    1. I was merely rambling on a thought - a thought that came about because of the different edits I have found myself doing on pictures lately. A thought that one is not necessarily exclusive of the other - art and science. I was merely acknowledging that many of us have a set formula of sharpening, sizing, curve adjustment to post on the web. It is also artistic expression. No insult, nothing demeaning, no accusations. Sorry this seemed to strike a nerve with you.

    2. And I'm sorry if you thought from my comment that I was upset . I just responded to the comment that we use a lot more science in our art these days. I think artists have always tended to use whatever science they had access to, to help them achieve their vision and I don't think that using that knowledge, or science, or tools, invalidates the process or makes the result any less valuable. Actually I found your post gave rise to an interesting chain of thought and helped me clarify what I think constitutes 'art'.

  3. What a great post Nicki. I've been struggling with this very issue lately and have backed off of doing alot of editing recently. I tend to go through stages, so I'm sure I'll be back to more editing in the future.

  4. I'm gonna call it art and simply enjoy it! Love that first still life!

  5. I think it is art when well done. I do minimal editing, mostly from choice, but also from not having the smarts to do layers and masking and all that... I am of the "That'll do, pig" school, I guess.

  6. Yes, sometimes I go too far in my editing and then I just dump the whole thing...I do like yours, all three!!

  7. Love editing - doesn't work all the time as I want it to work - but it's fun to try!

  8. Just doing one more thing - maybe another layer will change it to the better ... I've been there, and I cannot either remember how the result came about?! Your edits here are lovely - the yellow Tulip is my favourite - the glow around it somehow brings a feeling of depth in it!

  9. Well your art or science experiments turned out beautiful. I can spend a bit of time on a photo editing it then not liking to away it goes. I do try and keep editing to a minimum it just depends on what I see the shot "could be" with a little editing.

  10. What works for me is less is best. It took a bit of a journey to find out but it works. Lovely post and made me really think.