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Fantasy Photography


Well-Known Member
Yesterday, I picked up the November 2008 Digital Photo magazine, issue 109, which included a CD with an assortment of additional features. I just viewed the two videos from the CD on the subject of creating a panorama in Photoshop. Kingsley Singleton did well introducing Photoshop's auto stitching functions, but what bothered me was his exposure alterations done to darken the sky. Kingsley wanted to bring out greater detail of the clouds, but his method left the sky bright near the horizon and the character of the sky was not carried through to the light reflected from the water in the scene. His resulting image looked pretty, but lacked components characteristic to the physical interaction of light and matter.

A few weeks ago I saw a book on digital photography and Photoshop in particular, I forget the author and title, and every chapter covered techniques to "synthesize" an image, something that I find in just about every book I've picked found on digital photography. One example was a photo of a women descending stairs combined with a photo of the front of a building to create the look of a photo of the women infront of the building. This theme seems very common, potentially too common, with the contemporary books and magazines on photography.

Can anyone please explain why digital photography has evolved so heavily in this direction ?

I know photo mosaics and composites are not new. I also know that both are essential tools of the trade for advertising photography and come into play often in cinematography. I have also played with photo composites years ago as a child when I was doing analog photography. With the multitude of software tools available, nearly anyone can create what ever they want in a photograph.

In contrast, I tend to lean towards a bit more technical side of photography, as a means to record what I see. In infrared or ultraviolet photography, to record what can't be seen. Likewise, to bring into view the unsean with a telescope used for terrestrial or astronomical photography. Timed or time lapse photography to compress or dilate the passage of time, and panorama photography to permit a view of what was behind the camera. I have never taken any classes in photography and I'm self taught, mostly from a U.S. Naval Photography Training Manual given to me by my father. I also have a life long interest in physics and the study of quantum electrodynamics provides a great insight on the interaction of light and matter. Whether purely technical or for asthetic appreciation, I do have an artistic sence in regard to subject matter and composition. So, I consider my efforts along the lines of illustrative or documentative photography.

I just find it so increadably common for digital photographers to create fantasy photographic images instead of simply documenting the beauty so prevalent in nature.

The views of others will be welcomed.


Well-Known Member
Like views...


I have noticed this trend too....I do admire the work and lengths it takes to produce such images....I also think it is in its own right an art form....

I think people are trying to find their own nitch...where I do a little of each..however I do not manipulate the photos to a point that it is imaginary. I try to keep what I produce close to what comes out of the camera...I am guilty of touching up and changing here and their and I have dabbled in over doing my shots...however when it is all said and done....I like the photos close to the original capture the best...

I think their is room for everyone...and in each their own art form...

Just my two cents..

Tony C.


Well-Known Member
Well, Steaphany, sounds like you and I have a great deal in common. I strive to capture the moment, exactly as I saw it (not how I would like to see or imagine it after PP in PS) at time of shutter release. A slice of time in my life if you wish, something I want to convey to the viewer.

Be it the majesty of nature, a destructive manmade attack on the natural realm, a harmonious architectual creation, whatever. In other words, truth. That's not to say, as Tony mentions, that every other iteration of photography is "out the window" and unacceptable. He's right too, there's plenty of room for all.

However, if I want an image to say something other than reality, I draw and paint it, using software like PS and Painter, from scratch. This is the artist in me, the skills I have developed (also like you, self taught) whilst using a Wacom stylus and digital pad.

Here's an example.

It is one thing to manipulate a picture of a similar car to make it look like this (could you imagine all the touch ups you would need to do to remove unwanted reflections and replace them with highlights to suit?).

So, yeah, just my contribution to this post.


  • Sortsman.jpg
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Well-Known Member
I agree, we do have a lot in common, though I have no talent in the area of hand, or computer aided, drawn or painted artistic expression. Even when using CAD tools to do my engineering work, I prefer to calculate and type in coordinates instead of clicking somewhere on the screen.

Please note that my observations and comments are not a judgment of these techniques. Ever since Voigtländer designed and produced the first photographic lens in 1840, photographers have developed a huge range of techniques all based on the idea of recording what is in front of the lens. By contrast, digital photography's short existence, from some time in the 1980's, has made great technological advances, yet the preponderance of written material on the subject all seems to focus on creating a fantasy photograph from a few bits and pieces, only some of which may have been in front of the lens.

A while back, I stumbled across a book from an UK author on low light and night photography. The book was written in 2000 and he only mentioned that digital cameras were available and improving, but the remainder of the book addressed film photographic techniques. For one image in the book, he described how he photographed a car over the span of about 4 minutes during which he traced out the lines and shape of the car with burning sparkers. The resulting image had no sign of him moving about the car except for the car and the draw out light produced by the sparklers. I did not get this book but it was interesting to see what creative ideas the author had for producing varuious effects in front of the lens.

At the emotional level, what bothers me about this trend is the loss of information. I feel that knowledge and information must be preserved and valued, even as technology advances. Unless someone is willing to search out books from an antique book dealer, the many of the techniques common to film photography are nearly lost.


Well-Known Member
Thanks, Steaphany, for sharing your thoughts and ideas. You raise a couple of points that interest me directly.

As far as talent is concerned, an old past mentor taught me many years ago that it's best described as 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration. That opinion has retained traction in my creative journeying.

And here I must add the proviso that THIS is only my opinion. It works for me. Your mileage may differ, as the saying goes. Emotion is where it's really at. If the art, in whatever form, does not address me at an emotional level, my brain is already asking me "next please". Art for me is an inner release. My Wallace Hut project (see "My little bit of paradise" in Landscapes} for instance, is my personal self speaking, wanting to tell the world about how I feel re this location. Self expression is another description I like to attach.

But, and here comes my firm belief, art without emotion only results in a "trophy" and the photographer who does not bring his or her emotion into play is only a trophy hunter. I respect people's right to create emotionless art, but it deals me out, leaves me cold, unaffected. It does not ask me to "think", just look and move on.

And that leads me to many people today with cameras, who look (through the viewfinder) but don't see. This is primarily the crux of art, to see. The art of observation, and then using the knowledge gleaned from that observation to make a statement to share with others.

Hope that makes sense.

Sincere regards, Jim R

May you discover the light on your journey.

Guest .

There is one thing that photographers, painters and graphic designers have in common ... they simply see more than others.

Well, a picture is not necessarily a photo ... but some photos are expressive pictures.:)

See you with nice pictures


P.S. Photo + Photo = Fantasy Photo ..... ;)

sample 3.jpg sample 1.jpg sample 2.JPG

It's all SIGMA FANTASY of course ....... :D


Well-Known Member
Correct, Klaus! They have perfected the art of observation and use it to express themselves.

Sincere regards, Jim R

May you discover the light on your photographic journey.