Pondering Distortion . . .

“All people know the same truth; our lives consist of how we choose to distort them” ~ Woody Allen

Distortion is the weekly photo challenge here at wordpress.  When it comes to distortions of the photographic kind I think that they are wonderful, creative, artsy, and can really make you think. I invite you to visit the official challenge page to see all of the wonderful photographers interpretation of the word distort.

Here is a sneak peek at my second “distorted” photo that can be found on myPhoto Challenge Page.

This week’s challenge has had me thinking about the word distort beyond its formal definition (Twisted, warped, contorted, disfigured). It seems to me that in life “distortion” has become a norm.  Distortions are colorful and blurry. They are not black and white, they are not clear, and they are not fully truthful.  Are they a lie?

We have created numerous “niceties” in the English language to make distortions (lies) appear to be okay … We stretch the truth, take words out of context, exaggerate the facts, and of course “distort” the truth. They are also known as omissions, a half-truths, little fibs, and imaginative stories. They misinform, mislead, and blur the lines. The acts can be considered “slight of hand”, accidents, mistakes, and unfortunate consequences.

Have our language niceties made untruths/distortions acceptable?

On a related visual distortion note … I would like to start a Photography discussion:

A few days ago, I started a techie post on a new digital camera that I found to be very interesting.  The camera is called The Lytro and is different than any other camera out there.  Taking pictures is simple and you never have to think about focus again. After you have taken your pictures, you just click where you would like the picture to be in focus and where you would like it blurred a bit.  If you would like to experience how you can edit the focus of Lytor photographs, there are several example photos at the Lytro site that allow you to play with it.

The techie part of me was thinking … “How cool is that?  Wow, that is amazing!”  The teacher in me was thinking “There goes my challenging foreground/background focus assignment”. The photographer in me was thinking … “No thought or adjustments before a shot?… that is cheating!”,  “It is unfair, I have had to work hard for my great shots.” and on the flip-side to be totally honest, I was also thinking … “finally, an easy way so there are no more messed up shots” 😉

This is not the first time in history that I am sure photographers thought the newest cameras were “cheating”. Photographers who used film their entire life probably had twinges of “cheating” thoughts when digital cameras came along (giving untrained people the ability to take a hundred pictures with different settings and seeing them right away). This just happens to be the photographic invention that is taking place in my time and is making me think about it. What do you think?  Is a camera that requires no focusing, cheating?  

Photoshopped pictures have become a norm in our world and it takes a very talented close eye to even detect it most of the time. The use of Photoshop is considered an art form in my opinion – plain pictures can turn into creative works of art with a talented artist/editor. However, if I get back to my topic of distortion … when people use photoshop to fix pictures (ie: remove wrinkles) or to deceive in another way, is that cheating or art?

Has the art of photography become less about the actual shots and more about how they are edited (distorted)?

Here is another link at wordpress about the History of Photo Manipulation Through the Years

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~ by bearyweather on March 4, 2012.

14 Responses to “Pondering Distortion . . .”

  1. Very interesting. I never knew about the Lytro digicam. Indeed interesting features it has. Thanks for the information. 🙂

  2. The niceties in the English language have taken such an extent that laying has become second nature to many.
    I wouldn’t call a camera that does that to be cheating…I call it amazing!
    Photoshop itself is amazing…I only wish I could figure out how to use it. I love what my hubby does with it.
    Now when airbrushing etc… is used to deceive such as making people think products do things they don’t; that is just plain wrong!

    • I think the camera is amazing, too. As I learn how to work my camera I have missed or messed up so many shots … this would eliminate that problem. However, part of me is feeling … I can’t really think of a word for it. I have worked so hard to learn my camera and how to take great pictures and now something has come along that makes all that work seem wasted …. but, I still think it is very cool.

      I agree … I hate all the editing that is used to deceive and how easy it is to do it …
      When I saw this site: http://www.fourandsix.com/photo-tampering-history/
      I was amazed at the long history of photographic editing used to deceive.
      (Abraham Lincoln? Hitler? … wow)

  3. First off; I totally love the distorted view through the glass.
    I don’t know about the English language and distortion [it isn’t even my own language], but spontaneously, I’d say YES.
    Found out about the Lytro as late as yesterday, in two different blogs. It sure is a different concept and technique!
    Photoshop/editing won’t go away any time soon … not in any foreseeable future. Photography is no longer only about taking good shots — it’s also about how good you are with Photoshop [any editor]. Everything is evolving, I guess *shrug*, there’s no way to stop it so we better *grin ‘n bear* 🙂

    • Thanks … I have always wanted to try the glass shot … I think I am going to do more with that idea and see what kind of “art” I can make.

      Don’t get me wrong …. I love PhotoShop and I don’t want it to go away. But, like my last question asked … I do think that photography is going to be more about editing then it is shooting the pictures in the near future. And, I am concerned about the ethics of using it and the trickery that comes with it … I hate feeling like I have been deceived.

      This bear is grinning about the possibilities this new camera will unleash … I find new technology exciting.

  4. Hi Bearyweather, Unless being artistic, be as life-like in showing the subject as possible. Editing is necessary unless one is a master photographer or just is unconcerned about the appearance of the photo. Great post today! Have an excellent day and a very nice coming week!

    • Up until now, I have been very strict with myself and my photography. Even though I am pretty good at PhotoShop, I never use it on my own photos (once in a great while, I play with filters and colors to make art, but I never alter/change my photos to be better then they originally were).

      I have worked hard to learn how to take pictures and I put limits on myself … all natural, no editing. It has been a self-imposed challenge I have thoroughly enjoyed. I think it has made me a better photographer over time, it has made me really learn about my camera and how it works … but, I still have a lot to learn.
      Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  5. The Lytro camera is a great advance in photography- I think of all of the out-of-focus shots I’ve taken over the years that could be brought back into focus, and I think they’re on to something!

  6. Very fascinating discussion. I have often wondered about the ethics of using Photoshop to enhance photos beyond what they actually are. Have never figured it out, mostly because am still such a beginner. It’s interesting thinking about the differences between distortion and creativity. Creativity seems often to be about taking two separate ideas and joining them in new ways. Distorted? Sometimes. True? Not always. Yet, if creativity serves a purpose, it moves us beyond our everyday perception and opens new doors into different ways of thinking. If we’ve moved from our original perception, perhaps creative distortion serves a very valuable purpose. Just random thoughts popping up… Thank you so much for this.

  7. […] Pondering Distortion . . . « Bear in Mind […]

  8. I’ve been reading about the new Lytro camera and would love to give it a try. I’m all for new and improved (when it truly is new and improved).

    As for photo editing, that seems to be a loaded subject for some. I know there are purists, and for the purpose of photojournalism, it makes sense. But for those who define photography as an art, photo editing opens up whole new worlds. I started using Photoshop and Picnik to make my photos closer to what I perceived. Sometimes the photo that comes out of the camera isn’t what I saw when I took it because I see with more than my eyes (with my heart/soul).

    Love your distorted photos. 🙂

  9. The Lytro camera is very cool. I’ve seen articles on it here and there since it came out. I have yet to see one in person, but would love to be able to test it. Regarding the use of Photoshop in editing images, I consider my post processing of images my darkroom. Just as Ansel Adams used dark room techniques to bring his images to life, I use my computer. However, having said that, I also strive to continually learn to use my camera to have the image I open in Photoshop to be as close as the vision of the image I have in my mind.

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