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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Arche de la Défense

by Olaf Ulrich

The most stunning interpretation of a photograph I saw last year was on the German branch of Fotocommunity. There was a project a few months ago were the participants were supposed to choose one out of four raw files and process it. Any kind of image manipulation was allowed.

One of the four images provided as raw material was a wide-angle shot of the Arche de la Défense in Paris, France.

And here's what one of the participants came up with. I think the creativity, the effect, and the atmosphere of this (strongly processed) interpretation is mind-blowing. I stumbled across this image months ago, and it still keeps impressing me whenever I look at it. If you think it basically was only brightened up and simply has the converging lines straightened then just try to re-do this image from the original yourself! You'd be surprised how far from trivial it is!

Regarding Mike's photograph "Illinois #20"—I like Mike's version, I like Stephen's version, and I like advman's version, too. That exactly is my problem when trying interpreting my own images. I tend to like them all, I cannot decide which I like the best, and thus get lost in the overwhelming wealth of potentialities. So in the end I usually return to the first version (which usually was the least processed one)...which is what I'd do here, too. I like all versions of Illinois #20 but I think I like Mike's version most.

Posted by: OLAF ULRICH


Blogger Marc Rochkind said...

Which picture? There are several there... I'm not sure I'm looking at the right one.


4:30 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

So very true. Too many choices can strangle creativity just as much as lack of choices!

5:46 PM  
Blogger robert e said...

If I am looking at the correct images: a technical tour de force, perhaps, but where is the art? What is this image saying? With all due respect, I feel the original RAW has more emotional and intellectual impact.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Ted said...

Yeah, I know what you mean. Mike has actually been alluding to the same kind of idea recently. For example, in talking about his interpretation of Immigrant Mother he says his final print is "respectful" whereas other prints have different qualities.

Theoretically, I think this means the artist has to make a choice and follow through. Another day, of course, you can make a different choice and get a different photo. Not necessarily better or worse (though maybe).

Practically, I just end up getting myself confused.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

I have the same "wealth of possibilities" problem, but in a different direction - I don't know when to stop! Not everyone can afford the latest super-ultra-pigment wide-format photorealistic printer (plus supplies!), so my pictures generally stay on uncalibrated screens. It's hard to figure out when enough is enough when you're dealing with a either scaled-down representation of your photos or a 100% blown-up segment that shows an eyeball and that's about it.

8:03 AM  
Blogger XtoF said...

Hi !
A little mistake concerning the "Arc". The right name is "Arche de la Défense".

12:15 PM  
Blogger Ebbet said...

Nicely processed in many respects, but in fixing the keystoning, the processor also destroyed a key architectural detail of the Arche: the fact that it is twisted slightly off-axis

The Grande Arche lies on a line that runs from a small arch by the Louvre , up the Champs-Elyssees, and through the Arc de Triomphe. The photograph was taken from a spot directly on that axis. But the Grande Arche doesn't face straight down that axis: it faces slightly to the south. So the bottom of the Arche shouldn't be parallel to the bottom of the frame, as it is in the processed version.

I personally think that by squaring the bottom of the Arche with the bottom of the frame, the processor really took away one of the more whimsical and interesting details of the Arche, creating a picture that's more generic than it could have been. (And in fact, one that shows a bizarrely distorted view, in which it's not at all clear why more of the interior of the Arche is visible on the left than on the right.)

2:45 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

To my eye it just looks plain awful. It just doesn't look right at all. In fact, towards the left side it reminds me of some really bad lenses which distort a lot. I wont argue that there was a lot of work involved, perhaps even a fair amount of technical prowess, but so what. The end result in my opinion is boring at best and as I said, awful at worst.

It reminds me of a cellist I knew who kept playing out of tune. "You dont realize how difficult it is", he said. Well, yeah I know it's hard but that doesn't change the fact that it still sounds like crap.


3:39 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Actually there's a lot to be said for the original RAW file. Maybe just lighten it a bit, leave it mostly B&W but bring up colour in the sky a touch, what about bringing out the figure in the foreground, a little more contrast on the buildings on the left perhaps, then again... Oh, the hell with it.

5:49 PM  

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