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painting and photography

Painting and photography are hard to mix. I generally do not like the effects of ‘pointillist-filters’, or brush stroke effects out of the software box. What is more interesting is changing colors — a painterly effect that can enhance the expression. This picture was done with manipulating the curves, hue and other settings in the raw converter I use.

Most introductions of photography as a form of art start with the competition between painting and photography. The idea runs roughly as folows. Painting had developed into trying to represent reality as well as possible. With the discovery and invention of photographic techniques (Daguerro-type etc.), this goal had to be left to photographics. Thus, painting went on in more subjective roads, from impressionism to modern abstract art. Photographics only gradually developed into art when photographers used the photographic techniques to produce images that were not a representation of reality. Not just the portrait or the landscape are the subject, also e.g. strictly arranged still-life, or directly using light and objects to produce an image on the paper.
The point is that there is no strict ‘representation of reality’. Every picture, be it painted or a photograph, tells a story. The image is arranged by the artist; the quality of rendering, say, a house with all the details in the masonry, is secundary to the complete image. Just taking a picture with a camera will not render anything interesting or satisfying. This becomes more clear when we look into the three stages of taking a picture.
Painting and photography are two ways of looking at reality, representing reality, and telling a story about reality. The conflict between painting and photography is thus coincidence. Magic realism shows that picturing reality ‘photographically’ in painting is possible. The ‘Verfremdung’ in magic realism is at the same time something which should be realized in photography: Taking subjects out of their immediate context and prolonging their existence as a story which speaks for itself.
Iconography is an important drive for photography, as it is, or at least used to be in painting. Like in the past painters had to prove their skill and artistic reason by painting a Madonna with child, etc., photography invites people to show their photographic abilities by taking their own pictures of the same environment — everyone should take a picture of Dam square in Amsterdam, Times square in New York, etc.