1. sk66

    sk66

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    Do the technical aspects of a photograph automatically detract from the artistic/aesthetic aspects?

    I almost think they do. I've always said that photography is both an art and a skill. And I'm more of a "technician".... there's not much I can't do to a high level technically, advanced lighting/studio/product/macro/action/etc/etc. But IMHO, it often/usually lacks in artistry/vision, at least to some extent. It's kind of like how I can also build a guitar from scratch and play all of the chords/notes, but I have no musical "talent."

    I do think that images always have some degree of both aspects. But when viewing/creating an artistic/aesthetic image the technical aspects have to be judged w/in that context. I.e. it's not a question of "is it sharp?" It's a question of "is it sharp enough?" The question "is it properly exposed?" becomes the question "does the exposure suit the mood/message?" The question "is there noise?" becomes "does the noise hurt, or even help the image?" And so-on...

    One thing I can say with near certainty: If you focus only on the technical it WILL inhibit/detract from the artistic. It's kind of like trying to bring out the details in a foggy scene... as the details/sharpness increase, the mood/feeling is destroyed.
    I guess it kind of correlates with the photographer's learning curve.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. PaulButler

    PaulButler

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    Maybe I have misunderstood your musings but I don't believe so, at least not automatically. Some people obsess about the technical, I know I certainly have and in some cases still do. However once the technical is a given (at least in as far as executing the photo) then it won't necessarily detract and could enhance.

    Using the guitar analogy I have listened to many utterly superb guitar players some who cause me to admire them for their technical skills, some for how the get so much feeling into their music and some who manage to do both.
     
  3. Faldrax

    Faldrax

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    I think it more likely that time spent worrying about the technical aspects will detract from the artistic.

    So initially, you have no idea of the technical side of things, and just point and click on auto - zero technical, 100% artistic.
    Then you start to learn the technical side, and instead of taking the shot, you mess about figuring what aperture you need, would it be better with a longer lens from further away, etc.
    With practice, these things become more 'instinctive', you visualise the image and set the aperture accordingly - the technical aspect is still there, and needed to ensure you get the image you want, but your concious thought is once more on an artistic level.

    You need to 'master' the technical side, not because the technical aspect is the key to the image, but because having mastered the technical side it no longer distracts from the artistic.
     
  4. Mr Badger

    Mr Badger

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    … and then there's Jeff Beck! :notworthy:
    :D
     
  5. sk66

    sk66

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    The technical skill to achieve the artistry is a given... that's the "exposure" part of the curve.

    And I do have to say that "technical" can be enough... sharing a scene/animal that someone has never seen before, or a moment in time that may be hard/impossible to perceive in real time, that does have value/meaning. That's probably why I tend towards those types of genres, and because I enjoy technical challenges. There are even some genres where the technical aspects are about the only thing that does matter... high level product photography for example. But it's hard for me to consider them as "art."

    Edit: there are guitarist who impress me simply for their technical skill, but it's not something I want to listen to on a frequent basis.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
  6. AndrewFlannigan

    AndrewFlannigan

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    Art is what you think it is and never forget that other peoples' perceptions are always different from your own.
     
  7. PaulButler

    PaulButler

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    Agreed on both counts.

    I have for quite some time tried to understand what or how art would or should be defined, be that in photography or other disciplines. I suspect my education in that area is deficient. Most (all perhaps) of what I produce is not I suspect defined as art. s long as it says something (to me in the main) it will do for me, at least for now :)
     
  8. sk66

    sk66

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    This is not a question of "what is art?" IMO, that is unanswerable.

    This is more about whether striving for technically perfect images; low noise, pixel level sharpness, perfect exposure, etc... the things "photographers" obsess about and which cause us to get stuck on gear... whether those characteristics automatically detract from the artistry of an image. I kind of think they do. Not that they necessarily have to, but they have to be put in context of the intent/mood/message (art) and they are always "secondary."
     
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  9. DB72

    DB72

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    I think this quote is spot on. I have been contemplating this recently with my own photos and considering upgrading from my current 5D to a 6D mainly for the improved low light performance and increased resolution. But I keep hesitating because I know it will only benefit a small proportion of my photos whereas my "artistic vision" is probably what's lacking in more of them than the technology.
     
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  10. Harlequin565

    Harlequin565

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    I don't think it's a yes/no answer. To use the music analogy...

    I love Hendrix. I love it because it invokes feelings within me when I listen to certain tracks. Always felt like this since I first heard him quite a few years ago now.
    I really don't like Clapton or Knopfler. Technically, they are amazing, but the sound "feels" wooden, contrived and "perfect".

    There are loads of photos around that are technically perfect. Sharp as a pin, lovely colour, nice contrast, good composition. But they are bland, boring and in many cases un-original. To Me.

    Yes. Some people strive so much for perfection they seem to be forgetting what they are taking a picture of. It all falls away while they umm and ahh over "rules" of thirds, focus points, whether to multiple expose & blend, etc etc. The result is perfect. How many photos here on TP are slapped up - just like they might be on Instagram, with no words. They get a few likes and that's it. On to the next one.

    Vision isn't some weird "arty" thing. It's just simply "seeing the picture". All you then need is the technical ability (and equipment) to take that picture. I watched a Thomas Heaton video (early days one, not the recent stuff) where he stated he wanted a 4 second exposure on some swirling water. That's vision. He then set his camera up to do that (technical know how). Most photographers I know (including myself here!) would slap a big stopper on their lens and wait for it to expose. All the gear - no idea - in a different context.

    Take a landscape shot. Wide angle. You've got some rocks with really amazing texture that you want to highlight in your image 3 feet in front of you and lovely trees and mountains in the background. Having a large sensor camera, and a good lens that is sharp front to back, that's well calibrated, will all deliver this for you. You also need the technical knowledge to be confident that focussing on the rocks will still give you the large depth of field. You might need a tripod. But above all, you need to be seeing the picture. One person with their phone and some vision is still (for me) going to take the better picture than the guy with all the gear and knowhow but "no idea" in terms of what they want to achieve from the image. I have lost count of the amount of people I've asked "what are you trying to achieve" with their photos, and they answer that they "don't know".

    I teach adult beginners at our local college, and their photography improves by miles *not* because they know about focal length, focus points, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO (although I do teach that) but because they start to think about why they are taking the picture. Work That Matters isn't just a Ted Forbes mantra. It's important.

    So, In My Opinion...
    Yes - when the technical aspects get in the way of the photographers vision, distracting, preventing or dumbing down their ability.
    No - when they are used or needed in order for the photographer to fulfil their vision.

    Be a Hendrix not a Clapton :)
     
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  11. Brazo

    Brazo

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    I would prefer to see original artistic photos that aren’t technically perfect than yet another pin sharp copy cat/derivative image.

    Sadly it seems across the net that simply rocking up to the same lake/London Bridge as thousands before you have to capture an identikit image is of merit.
     
  12. woof woof

    woof woof

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    There's a thread about favourite cameras and it stuck me that I couldn't remember the model number of the Nikon SLR I had, and I had it for a looooong time. I suppose I couldn't remember because it didn't matter to me as it was just the camera I used to take photos but that was with film and these days with digital I do look at the gear and the settings and the technical side more and I do enjoy that but it's just a part of it. So I'm another who thinks that the technical aspects of a photograph don't automatically detract from the artistic/aesthetic aspects. In fact I think that the purely technical can be art.

    I've always thought of myself as an artist first and foremost but one who spent decades working in technology related areas and I can see art in a well designed and made circuit board, they can be pleasing to behold even to the non technical as can a well made mechanical lens :D

    I think that the fact that a thing is well executed can be enough in itself to make it worth looking at and appreciating. That may be different to conventional art but it's maybe as much if not more art than an unmade bed or a canvas covered with paint which could have been spat on or painted by and elephant for all I know.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
  13. Brazo

    Brazo

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    I keep a daily eye on petapixel and the most shared items often running into thousands of shares are about the latest canikon lens, the ones often with no shares or quite literally a handful are about improving your photography or artistic vision or self improvement.

    Says it all.
     
  14. sk66

    sk66

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    I think seeing the picture you want to create, rather than documenting what is presented, IS the art...

    It's one of the things I'm not very good at... seeing the possibilities that are right in front of me. What if I exposed this as high key/low key/chiaroscuro? What about selective focus, soft focus, intentional blur?
    Sometimes I see a great image and think "I wouldn't have even bothered taking that shot; because the light was wrong," or something similar. Generally, the only way I see/create those types of images is if I had some concept of/for them before I started.

    But one thing I do know, the more you attempt/execute those types of shots, the more likely you are to "see" them when the opportunity presents itself.
    I guess, to a certain extent "artistry" can be learned... it's just a lot harder than learning the technical skills (at least for me).
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
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  15. sk66

    sk66

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    I agree... it can be. But it's probably not going to be something someone wants to hang on their wall.
     
  16. AndrewFlannigan

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    I agree with you there.

    My answer to that is "maybe". I've known people whose whole art has been about technical perfection and I've known others who didn't care about technique so long as the picture had the effect they wanted. Terry Pratchet summed it all up for me in "Thief of Time" when he described a bunch of characters called the Auditors taking a painting apart at the molecular level to find out what made it "Great Art".
     
  17. Brazo

    Brazo

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    I don’t believe one has to consider a plethora of artistic possibilities. After all if the image you ‘see’ is s*** then you’ll end up with a s*** high key/low key/selective blur image.

    ‘Seeing images that others don’t is the art imo’

    When you do see that great image and the light is ‘wrong’ take it anyway as it will serve as a great visual reminder to get back out there under better conditions. Plus you can critique your image, call it a first draft. I’ve lots of ‘first drafts’ ;)
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
  18. Harlequin565

    Harlequin565

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    Absolutely believe that 100%.
     
  19. Mr Badger

    Mr Badger

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    Snip:
    Here's what I think is an example of that sort of thing; an unconventional version of an old 60s hit (art), with technical, but raw and edgy playing at times (technique), played on a tailor-made Fender Stratocaster (quality kit) with bucketfulls of feel (emotion) from both guitarist and singer.


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FF5mtyPo-Wk


    It may not be to everyone's taste, as art (including music) is a personal thing. Some people who don't 'get it' might quip that it sounds like the poor woman is in pain. My reply to that would be; listen to the lyrics and you'll realise the song is about feeling pain, so she's conveying that feeling rather well. If the listener (or viewer) misses the point then it's their loss, it doesn't make either of us right, or wrong.

    Same with photography, it's a broad church, not all great photos will appeal to all tastes. However, as I've said before, many of the world's most powerful and captivating photographs aren't pin sharp and technically brilliant, it's the subject matter that's brilliant, captivating, etc.; and that's usually down to the vision of the photographer who captured the photograph.

    So what makes a great photograph? You will usually know when you see one; but I think that observing the makings of one and then capturing it with a camera is the true art, and perhaps the photograph is just the method of delivery?
     
  20. BADGER.BRAD

    BADGER.BRAD

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    I guess this is what Lomography is all about ie: not worrying about whether the camera is the latest 10 billion mega pixel model but just getting on with it, a technically excellent image of a boring subject is still boring. A work colleague today was asking me why I would wish to use a a Russian 1960's camera (I've just brought one !) rather than digital and my response was that a lot of the digital images while being technically better appear to me to be too clinical and look more real than reality does. My comments of course only focus on the technical aspects of a camera rather than the technical ability of the photographer.
     
  21. sk66

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    I think we are saying the same thing... no you don't need to consider a plethora of options, most probably wouldn't work in that particular situation anyway.
     
  22. Withers

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    Isn't it the case though, that, when you become totally familiar and comfortable with the technical aspects of whatever kit you're using and with any post processing you may want to use, then the technical stuff becomes second nature and allows the artistic aspects to come more to the fore of the "picture producing" process? Like a good musician knows how to play his instrument or an artist uses paint or other media instinctively, then they can almost forget about how to paint/play a guitar and just get on with doing it well and taking beautiful art/music. It's the same with cameras. Whichever one you're using, if you're fully familiar with it, what it can and can't do, the type of results it can render and its limitations, then you can just get on with using it to best advantage. From there, it's all about the picture and not the picture producing process as such.

    I also believe that, whilst artistry can be learned to some extent, there are clearly many people, in any and every artistic pursuit, who are good at what they do - good singers, good artists, good photographers. But then there are people who are better than good, so however much technical knowledge one accumulates through practice, reading and learning, a goodly proportion of being "good" (however that is defined) is down to some innate talent which you've either got or you haven't.
     
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  23. Harlequin565

    Harlequin565

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    And don't forget that there are at least twice as many that go unsung. The (IMO fabulous) work of Vivian Maier was mostly recognised posthumously. After a certain point it becomes more about the marketing and less about the actual work. Telling people that your work is good... Sadly, this diatribe against modern music could easily be applied to some of the photographic Instagram sh*te we see.
    Again - just my opinion and sorry Steven for drifting off topic.
     
  24. LeeRatters

    LeeRatters

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    I think it's a balance. And my preference does sit somewhere in the middle of it all :) For myself & images of others that I like the look of.

    Yes, I do like a technically good, super sharp image. But I can equally like a misty/moody scene with no pin sharp focal point......

    With the Sony cameras, I have heard of people setting exposure by using 'zebras' then going up I think by two stops & it allows you to still recover highlights but you have a ETTR file etc etc That's fine - I just take an exposure using the LCD & histogram, flick the Exp Comp wheel if I need to & CLICK....... It's always close enough & sometimes just needs a slight tweak in LR. A 5 year old A7, cheap 'landscape' kit lens & a nice pairing of 35mm & 85mm primes suits me just fine :) I'm not scared of anything technical, I just like to keep things simple :)

    Also, as has been mentioned, I do use my old manual lenses on occasion for that loss of sharpness & bit of character :)
     
  25. ancient_mariner

    ancient_mariner

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    It's an interesting thread to read through. I rather think there's a disconnect between the 'art' of photography (largely a marketing exercise, possibly starting with the photographer) and the creation of great images.

    Continuing with the guitarist analogy, Yngwe Malmsteen (probably the greatest guitarist you never heard of) reckoned you needed to know all the technical stuff in order to then be able to improvise without technique getting in the way. He's an amazing player, but unfortunately not very interesting. ;) However he's at least partly correct, in that you need a certain amount of technical ability with photography in order to be able to create the image you want from what the scene you see in front of you is making available to you, even if you can only create what you want from those elements in the 'darkroom'. And while not every image actually requires pixel-level sharpness, there's no excuse for producing shoddy, wobbly images because you're "making art and technique doesn't matter".

    But Clapton, Hendrix, Blackmore etc, all creative, all musical, all interesting - the idea that Clapton is all technique and essentially a boring, mechanical guitarist just goes to show that we like and appreciate different things.
     
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  26. Brazo

    Brazo

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    I agree a good working knowledge of your tool be it camera, guitar or whatever is essential. Once you have that though there really is no need to go about reproducing scenes that have already been done to death.

    I often see images on here and elsewhere and wonder why the people bothered to actually go out and snap the scene when they could have just hit alt and c on their pc screens.

    I’m talking of course as someone who on occasion was previously guilty of said misdemeanours but my photography improved tenfold when I stopped searching for tripod holes in the ground and starting to open my eyes.
     
  27. Withers

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    Yes, true. But, again using the music analogy, there are many recordings of the same piece of music out there, whether it’s a Beethoven symphony or a cover version of “I did it my way” and each has to be judged on its merits as being a different interpretation of essentially the same thing. The same is true of photography surely? On a recent trip to London I took a picture of the London Eye, for example. It’s been done many times by others, but my picture is my interpretation of the subject - good or bad.

    My pal has a t shirt which sums it up I think. It has a picture of a photographer on the front with the words “It’s not what you look at, it’s what you see” .... so true. I have one on order.
     
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  28. Brazo

    Brazo

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    If I’m being honest I think the ‘my interpretation’ argument is an excuse for a lack or originality in most (not all cases). Most covers are simply just that a copy. Some like Amy Winehouses cover of Valerie or even Vanilla fudge version of you Keep me hanging on do offer (I concede) something very different. Usually said artists however have original work of their own.

    I don’t think that translates as well to photography though. I’ve seen so many individual interpretations of the Kelpies (those horse structures) for example and they are are all so similar. The irony of course being is people are photographing a piece of existing artwork.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
  29. juggler

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    I think the technical stuff can be a major distraction. I think I've only recently started to get to the point where it isn't and I can concentrate on what I'm making, but I'm probably wrong.

    I've been gently teaching my 10 year old son the rudiments of photography. I've been trying really hard not to spend too long on the technical stuff - he has a really good eye and an interesting way of approaching composition which I'd hate to see him lose.
     
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  30. juggler

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    And another thing..
    I'm reminded of some of the art school lessons a friend told me about - they spent quite a lot of time drawing figures very quickly, sometimes with their eyes closed, or with the wrong hand.

    In an attempt to capture some of that I've been deliberately taking blurry, oddly composed and 'badly' exposed pictures lately in an attempt to leave the geeky stuff behind for a bit. It's not really me but it's all good education :)
     
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  31. Nostromo

    Nostromo

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    For me a basic understanding of the technicalities of how a camera works, how different settings effect how a photo looks and a bit about the processing side, is all I need (obviously it's not just about how the camera works, but also different lenses). But then there's light and how that has an inpact, this is the bit I struggle with (especially artificial light). Maybe that's because I don't use it enough, but maybe I don't use it enough because I don't really get good results with it. In my mind it should be quite simple.
     
  32. Kell

    Kell

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    I think there's a difference between understanding the technical aspects and obsessing about them.

    I think it depends on your audience (or your client).

    I think it depends on whether worrying about the technical side will mean you miss the opportunity.

    Consider the iconic 'Napalm Girl' shot. It's not really that well focussed, it's VERY grainy, it's a little grey in terms of contrast. But it was a moment in time that will never be repeated and the end result is that all of those things don't matter - they may even add to chaotic nature that you feel as a viewer.

    Picasso once famously said "If I don't have red, I use blue" - sometimes it's just about capturing an image with whatever you have to hand.

    PS - please note, I still obsess about pin sharp focus, and noise, and unintentional motion blur etc
     
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  33. Raymond Lin

    Raymond Lin

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    Pretty much. When I flick through instagram, photos that make me stop and press that Like button isn't one i find sharpest, but ones that I am impressed by the artistic execution and idea.
     
  34. Bollygum

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    I think you can easily be both technician and artist. Leonardo da Vinci is probably the best example of that. Then there is Van Gogh, but I suspect he was a good technician too.
    I don't think being a good technician impairs you art in any way at all, in fact it makes it easier because you can realise your visions more easily.
     
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  35. captures.in.time

    captures.in.time

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    For me photography is the skill of using your knowledge to the best of your abilities to capture the moment in time! ... Hence my username.

    It doesn't mater if the photo is technically perfect however in my book... if whatever technical issue does not detract from the end message the photograph gives to the user.

    The real art is seeing images that wont just please you... but will conect with others and make them feel something. Some of the best most iconic photographs are not technically perfect but they convey a message or a moment that for humanity should be recorded as a record. Many of the m ost iconic photos are nothing more than a simple snap! Im thinking especially of the soldier kissing the girl at the end of the war... or was it before he left. It doesnt mater it produces an image which sticks in peoples head... moves people and tells a storry. Good photographers in my mind are naturally tallented... you either have an eye and a passion for it or you dont. A photographer who just churns out studio portraits and wedding pictures... must surely do other stuff to enthuse their interest in the medium... if not they really are just a process... not an artform!

    That's my thoughts... whether you agree or not doesn't really matter... we will all have our thoughts and no one is wrong!
     
  36. juggler

    juggler

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    I think you misunderstand how studio portraiture works. It's all about creating an environment which generates those moments in time worth recording. Capturing them is a detail.

    It could be argued* that makes it more of an artform, not less - you're creating the moment as well as recording it, not just going looking for it.

    *not by me
     
  37. GTG

    GTG Suspended / Banned

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    Photography is very subjective.

    Joel Meyerowitz can have large chucks of underexposre in photos and the sun shines out of his backside.

    If us mortals do that then we are clumsy amateurs who cant get basic exposure right.
     
  38. sk66

    sk66

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    I want one!
     
  39. Bythesea

    Bythesea

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    I must admit I thought the same so looked them up - quite a few variations around, here is one. The original quote is very slightly different and is from Henry David Thoreau.
     
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  40. sk66

    sk66

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    I think almost any genre can be approached either artistically or technically... but either approach necessitates a give/take with the other.

    I think "artistry" is more akin to skill/craftsmanship and kind of confuses the topic/idea... I.e. saying a craftsman is "a true artist" due to the technical quality/skill of their work. Does that really make the product "art?" Probably not...

    I think "art" means you create something meant to convey a mood/idea/feeling/etc that comes from within you and which is not necessarily existing or wouldn't readily convey in a conventional/standard 2D view. It's the difference between taking a snapshot and creating an image. It's taking the time to identify why/what you want to convey and doing everything you can to accomplish that.
     
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