Posted on

Is photography evolving?

Ian Watts Photography and Digital Art - Creativity

It wasn’t that long ago that there was a clear distinction between art and photography. A photographer captured an image of the real world, and an artist created an interpretation of the real world. Is photography evolving and is digital art is making itself known as an art form distinct from traditional art and photography.

Now, of course, this is an oversimplification. Photographers have always used different techniques in the Darkroom to add creative effects. Some artists can create very lifelike images. But by and large, the two have remained separate.

The digital world has slowly started changing that, and the massively explosive rise in the interest in photography over the past 10 years has seen a development.

Straight Out Of Camera

Most non-photographers believe that a photograph should be straight out of the camera. Take the photo, get it right in camera, and publish or print it. What they don’t realise is that many photographs that they see in magazines or in galleries will be edited to some point. Let me give an example.

The following photograph is straight out of camera:

Ian Watts Digital Art - Unprocessed Image
Unprocessed, straight out of camera

As you can see, the photograph is lacking detail and colour and is simply as the photograph came out of the camera. Now this is out of a mid-range camera that takes photographs in a format called RAW. You don’t necessarily need to know what that is but it is basically the unprocessed data captured by the cameras sensor. Most people who have a cheap point and shoot do not need to worry about this, as the camera processes that data for them. That’s right, it isn’t straight out of camera either with a point and shoot because the processing is  done for you. The same is true of your phone.

Processed – Realistic

Let’s look at the same photograph with some processing:

Ian Watts Digital Art - Processed Image
The same image, this time, with adjustments made in a professional editing package

So, this is the same photograph after editing. Nothing is added; no real manipulation has happened, but the photographer has edited the colours and tones. I have cropped the photograph, not the camera. That means I choose how much purple in the sky, rather than the engineer that designed the camera. I decide how sharp the tree is, or how obvious the clouds are.

This is obviously still photography, with minimal editing. However, photography is making a shift to digital art.Highly edited photographs with artistic creativity in mind, rather than reality.

Digital Art

If you take a look at work by people such as Eric Johansson or Dylan Cole, they are taking photography to a new level, and they aren’t the only ones. Some people are doing complex composites such as these, that may be made up of 20 or 30 components merged together, while others are manipulating images in other ways.

So, the third version of my photograph:

Ian Watts Digital Art - Creativity
An artistic rendition of the same image – creatively edited

You only have to look through my portfolio to see I love doing this sort of art. And while there will always be photographers that want to take as realistic an image as possible, there is a definite shift in the world of photography to merging the lines between photography and art. Evidence for photography evolving is all around us – let’s appreciate it in all it’s forms.

Leave a Reply