- Image Evaluation
The Structure of Photographs
• One of the ways we instinctively organize the complexity of the visual world is to group similar looking things together.
• The obviousness of the group members in their context is important – if the members are not easily seen, the grouping is easily broken.
• Not only are similar looking things grouped by our minds, but often, a relationship between the things is implied, and the group itself is seen as a single entity.
• This is an opportunity to show not only relationships, but the individuality of the group members.
• Our idea of the actual shape of 3D objects is an abstraction, built up in our minds through visual perception.
• The mental model of the actual shape of an object in our visual field is built up of a series of observations as we apprehend the object from many angles. This takes some time to happen, especially for unfamiliar objects.
• Photography, in its single 2D view does not allow this process to happen at all. This creates special problems for both the photographer and the viewer: the photographer has to somehow insinuate the true shape of objects solely with viewpoint, and the viewer must somehow interpret that view.
• The photographer can choose to show objects in a way that allows viewers immediate identification (and gratification) or not. This is an opportunity:
Sharpening and Leveling
• No, this has nothing to do with Photoshop.
• Sharpening: accentuating or exaggerating salient features to distinguish a particular object from its prototypes (its normal or general form).
• Leveling: diminishing or eliminating distinguishing characteristics to make a particular object universal (abstracting it to its normal or general form).
• Our minds use sharpening and leveling to help remember the visual features of individuals and classes – this is how caricatures work.
• Our minds automatically do this – but cameras don’t.
• This is a major reason that pictures often don’t turn out like you thought you saw them.
Buzzword Questions for Photographers
• Grouping: Do your pictures deliberately suggest relationships by showing obviously similar objects in the same frame?
• Continuation: Do your pictures deliberately suggest (or not suggest) the complete 3D form of the objects in the frame?
• Leveling and Sharpening: Do your pictures deliberately seek to make objects look more “general” (leveling) or more “distinct or individual” (sharpening)?
• Choose a favourite subject. Just one subject, please.
• Explore that subject along the axes of the ideas we have presented today:
– Continuation: Show your subject in ways that make it very easy to identify, and then show it in ways making it very hard to identify. Do this exclusively with viewpoint. Example: Make a duck look exactly, unmistakably like a duck. Then, make a duck look like anything but a duck – using no tricks, just viewpoint.
– Grouping: Show your subject as a member of a group. Make sure your viewers can easily identify the group members. See if you can find ways to show the group as a separate entity. See if you can show more than one group in a single picture. See if you can show some aspect of group behaviour. Example: Show ducks as a flock. Make sure the boundaries of the flock are clear. Make sure we can tell who’s in the flock, and who isn’t. Show some aspect of flocking behaviour.
– Leveling and Sharpening: Show your subject in as simple, universal a way possible (leveling). Show your subject as a special, unique example of its class (sharpening). Example: Show a duck as a supreme, perfect, idyllic example of its species (leveling). Show a duck as an individual, completely identifiable and separate from all the ducks around it (sharpening).
• Don’t choose “ducks” as your subject, just because we used them as examples. Choose something that has personal meaning for you. (yes, it might turn out to be “ducks”)
• Choose 3 pictures to show the group on review night. Be prepared to talk a little about what you discovered.