How much of an image is created by the photographer?

by Osjua Newton May 18, 2011

Hello folks,

I know that it has been awhile since I last posted. For the past few months I was volunteering as a reporter for the Bronx Free Press and doing so had prevented me from concentrating on the usual blog schedule, But since that brief yet enjoyable time is now over, I intend to resume posting as close to the regular schedule.

First off, I got a new camera: the Olympus E-PL2. After using my E-520 for three years, I decided that I wanted something more compact while still retaining dslr functionality. Since I’m already familiar with the Olympus’ interface and the camera received good marks by several reviewers, it seemed like an easy choice. However, what really won me over was access to Olympus’ art filters, in particular, the Dramatic Tone Art Filter.

From the first time I saw pictures of this effect when they previewed the E-5, I knew I was going to be hooked and I am. The strong simulated HDR black tones that the filter makes in-camera are simply addictive. It’s not effective all the time, but the 80% it is, it provides a new perspective to images while going out to shoot.

However, after nearly one week of using this camera and the dramatic tone art filter, a question came to mind: How much of an image is created by the photographer if all the processing is done inside the camera?

In a way, this question could be applied to shooting in programmed mode (I usually shoot either in manual or aperture priority by the way) in which how much control is the photographer taking over the creation of an image is asked. He or she still has composition, subject matter, and lighting; but shutter, aperture, color production is usually left to Photoshop post-processing. In this case however, although the technical components such as shutter speed and aperture do affect the image, the amount of dramatic tone saturation and the positioning of the ink like blotches seem a bit random. Perhaps there is a way to change the level of effect as I learn and use the camera more, but at the moment that choice seems reserved to the camera’s computer.

A positive side, however, the effect is simulated in real time, giving the photographer control of the composition and knowledge as to where the effect will be more pronounced in the image. This alone leads me to feel that the photographer is still the designer of the image even if the image is overly processed. Moreover, as built-in-camera art filters become more mainstream and can and will be abused to make less interesting photos more interesting, photographs will still be left up to the editorial minds of both the photographer and their audience to determine its artistic value. That is where art lies. Adding an art filter before uploading it to a computer is just adding a creative third party process to what the photographer hopes to create as the finish product.

In any case, I hope this makes sense because this is definitely something to think about as computers become more apart of the art process. As for me, I will continue using the dramatic tone art filter and perhaps create an entire project using it solely at some point.

If you have any questions or a response to this topic, please comment below. And if you like my work, please hit the like button on my Facebook page. Take care.

A taste of none dramatic tone grayscale.
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