Monthly Archives: September 2012

Interesting Perspective On Left / Right Brain Stuff. ;^)


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Photography Without Authenticity / With Authenticity

Since the beginning, photography has provided us with a referential image to look at and interpret. We derive meaning from that interpretation. Never mind that the image doesn’t depict true reality – in other words, nobody is confused about whether they are looking at a photograph or through a window to reality. This fundamental difference, referential vs. reality, starts us down a path that continues to chip away at authenticity.  With the growing proliferation of photoshop filters and image editing tools, we are moving farther and farther away from authenticity. Given the success of software that filters and modifies images, there is a case to be made that most people prefer images without authenticity. Abstraction is defined in terms of opening up pathways for interpretation. As we alter imagery we are opening up interpretations for that imagery. Taken to the extreme, we end up with Picasso painting style photography and a complete separation from authentic imagery.

Referential imagery could also be labeled left brain imagery because it is generally where abstraction is processed in the brain (language, logic, analytics). With images on smart phones, the images seamlessly integrate with text. Never mind that they are tiny representations (small screen). We can easly interpret the small sized representation of someone’s face. That’s because we are interpreting the photograph from the beginning. We derive the meaning and emotion from it through that interpretation. However, just like with a good book, once you’ve seen it or read it you are ready to move on. There is a genuine feeling that given even a fleeting look that you have seen all there is to see in a photograph. Eye tracking studies point this out. The eyes focus on a few places within the photo and then the brain is satisfied.

So, does this mean that image authenticity isn’t important?

I think the opposite is true. Abstraction only makes sense when there is a deep appreciation and understanding of what is real. Realness is the frame of reference from which abstraction can be derived. As we are flooded with more and more referential imagery we have less and less experience of realness from which to even process an abstraction. This is a partial explanation for the growing lack of interest and lack of importance placed on any particular image.

Then the question becomes: What exactly is an authentic photograph?

My opinion is that it must be a photograph that has a comparability to realness. We have two eyes and we perceive the world with space and dimension. Our “seeing” is a real experience and reality imagery could be labeled right brain imagery because that is generally where emotion, creativity, color, and recognition are processed. When we are emotionally engaged looking at real things we create a frame of reference and support our fundamental perceptions about our existence and reality. This is a foundation for our being able to process referential imagery.  So, to engage our right brain an authentic photograph should mimic reality as much as possible. It needs to depict space and energy. It needs to mimic what we perceive in reality when we look around at the real world as much as possible. But equally important, it must engage because it is something worth looking at. Something that holds fascination and wonder. It should offer an experience and be emotionally engaging where the story of the photograph can be experienced in a right brain way. Then we can use that experience as a foundation for looking at referential imagery.

This has tremendous ramifications for education and simply expanding the horizon for our ability to referentially interpret information. In my own experience looking at AMPED 3D imagery of human skulls, a foundation steeped in experience was created. Now, as I look at regular pictures of skulls, I have a different and expanded appreciation for them because I can interpret the meaning in a broader sense. I acquired a frame of reference by experiencing an authentic photograph (AMPED 3D image).

This builds the case for creating AMPED 3D images of things that we don’t necessarily experience or see in our daily “real” lives. It also builds the case for capturing a moment in time that can be experienced in the future in a way that gives us a frame of reference to better understand our past.

Given the above, some might think that practically anything would be a good subject to photograph using AMPED 3D technology to create an authentic photograph. The problem is that the technology has its limitations. As with all art, it is difficult to achieve consistent results that deliver the promise of the medium. The image has to first engage because it is something inherently interesting. Only then, can the experience of looking and perceiving happen in a meaningful way. There is more to it than depicting space. It has to be accurate to a point where any inaccuracies are dismissed. It has to engage a feedback loop where the more you look, the more you see reinforcing a desire to look longer and see more. This doesn’t work for everything.

The process of thinking through subject matter for authentic photography isn’t trivial. It took me many months to understand the amazing potential of tattoos. I now see that for skulls (there is a very keen relationship to tattoos coincidentally). Other subjects are certainly possible, but I haven’t fully understood what they are… yet.

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Asiago Artisan Archival Printing… aka Rant.

The other day a photographer friend of mine, who I enjoy teasing on a regular basis, asked me if a “professional” print shop was blowing smoke up his skirt (we can talk about the skirt later) with regards to print “A” or print “C” being archival quality and such and such didn’t use “C” and therefore the prints would change color in a year or two.  He asked me what I thought about this. He was hearing about 110 years longevity and blah blah blah.  Well, he suggested I share the response I gave him here on the blog. WTF… here’s pretty much what I told him:

…Anybody that says 110 years is full of [expletive]. The longevity of a print is dependent upon exposure to UV, humidity, temperature and the frequency of sudden changes in the environment in which they are stored. It is really just a marketing pile of bull [expletive] if you ask me. “Archival inks” [typically] means the breakdown under UV light specification and that is only part of the story. The adhesion of the ink droplets to the substrate (paper) isn’t specified and that’s a factor as well regardless of the paper’s “archival” specification. You might as well talk about “artisan” ink or “artisean” ink or “asswipe” ink.  {asswipe being an anagram and not a reference to a towel used on a subgenus of Equus}

Now don’t get me wrong, getting the highest quality does make a difference as compared to [expletive] bum rip off inks.  [many, such as some of the pigment inks from Epson, are very good.]

As to artifacts, there are a zillion things that can cause those and I could probably give you a blow by blow if I looked at them under a loupe or microscope. The thing is, you changed the color profile, so in terms of color integrity – all bets are off and what you get is a crap shoot.  sRGB color profile 8 bit jpegs are junior league hobbyist specifications. [professionals use the camera profile with 16 bit RAW images]   Converting a jpeg to a tif (or anything else for that matter) is an aggressive exercise of your right arm [doing nothing – an inside joke].

Any time you have an RGB to CMYK+ conversion there will be issues which are compounded by different file types and color profiles. Heck, each paper has a different color profile and with an image such as yours, there is no frame of reference (I am assuming you didn’t provide a reference file – because that would only have meaning if you shot a reference card along with the original photograph under the same exact conditions and did no processing of the image afterwards (which is obvious that didn’t happen).

Bottom line?  I can make ANY print change color and get blotchy in about two weeks. All I have to do is get out a heat gun and black light and [screw around] with the humidity and temperature. I can turn any image to [expletive] ;^) I have very competitive pricing for that if you are interested.

What’s the solution?  Well, you can have very low standards and accept what you get. Or… you can do like me and spend your life savings on equipment to do it yourself learning all of the complicated as [heck] issues with regards to printing. Another option is getting a reasonably good printer, and learn what you get out of it and how to [adjust] your images to get what you can get out of the printer through trial and error (this is what most people do).

Want to blow your mind?

Take a photograph of an oil painting and then send that un-doctored file to a service bureau. Then look at what they give you as a print compared to the original oil painting. You will be shocked because there will be a huge difference. oops. Well guess what? That difference is always there, you just don’t know it because you don’t have a frame of reference to compare. I guess you can hold it up to your computer monitor… ha ha ha ha ha… that is really funny. Sorry.  Printing is not an exact science and the results aren’t necessarily consistent.

There, does that help? Probably not.
Hope somebody else got something out of this ty-raid ;^)



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The Story Of A Business That Almost Failed, But Turned The Corner Because…

Once upon a time, there was an artist/inventor who wondered about starting a new business. With that new business would come products and services that were familiar, but having higher quality, artistic integrity and be experienced in a way that was not only important but emotionally rewarding. This artist/inventor imagined a product that would solve problems and leave a sense of wonder and appreciation of the experience that people would have when they purchased it. It would be revolutionary!

The artist/inventor worked for years to perfect the product and get it to a level of quality, precision and artistry that would be unique and above everything else that came before. But what the artist/inventor didn’t fully appreciate was that if the price was too high, the customers for that product simply wouldn’t be able to purchase it. It didn’t matter that the product was amazing or solved problems or anything else. If it wasn’t affordable, people wouldn’t be able to buy it.

When the first indications came that the price was too high for the targeted customers, the artist/inventor sought out a new customer demographic. But the same thorough process of identifying the initial targeted customers wasn’t evident in the targeting of the second customer group. Time was wasted. Sales languished. Frustration ensued and things started to fall apart. The focus of trying to find a new customer base that could afford the product/service was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Things simply didn’t line up. The newly targeted customers had a different set of problems. Chasing those problems meant starting over and throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Luckily, the artist/inventor – that’s me by the way – realized that this approach was stupid. And admitting that is not something that comes easily to anyone. Indeed, it can be a source of why a company fails. Who wants to look in the mirror and say: “Hey knucklehead, you are really doing something stupid!”. It was painful at first, but then it was like suddenly finding the right path out of the dark and foreboding forest. The mission wasn’t finding a new customer base. The mission was coming up with a way to make the products and services affordable for the intended customer!

This seems such a simple and logical thing to realize. But in fact, this was extraordinarly difficult to appreciate and realize. It is easy to become distracted and go off course. It can end your dreams, as it nearly did mine! Admit your mistakes and get back on track!

So, how does this story end?

With the next blog post, I will have a MAJOR announcement!  Oh, and by the way… Check out the new website!


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