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It's not too often that we come across photos that look like paintings.
September 16, 2013 9:36 AM   Subscribe

10 Fascinating Photos That Look Unbelievably Like Paintings.
posted by The Girl Who Ate Boston (40 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around that last one.
posted by ghharr at 9:41 AM on September 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


"Painted Ladies" is unbelievable.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:42 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Having lived on the Palouse, I can tell you that that shot of the landscape has its saturation boosted enough to call its status as a photo rather than a painting into question.

It's a gloriously beautiful place. No need to photoshop it up so.
posted by Phatty Lumpkin at 9:43 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


this is great.
posted by likeatoaster at 9:43 AM on September 16, 2013


If you photograph a painting, does not that resemble a painting?
posted by Renoroc at 9:44 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Namibia photo is amazing. I had seen it before. This article (and the other photos within it) makes it easier to wrap your head around it.

Someone will have to explain the wave photo. What does it mean to take a long exposure of a wave?
posted by vacapinta at 9:46 AM on September 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


What does it mean to take a long exposure of a wave?

A photograph is taken over a period of time, the shutter literally opens, stays open T seconds and then closes. T is usually small, a fraction of a second. The shorter T is, the more any movement is "frozen". The longer T is, the more it is sort of blurred. A long exposure produces an image that is much different than what the eye seems and often has sort of a painterly effect. Think of it like... "averaging" many short time frames together into one picture.

This photo doesn't look like a REALLY long exposure though, probably just a bit longer than usual, maybe 1/10 s or so instead of 1/100
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:50 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was prepared to be vaguely annoyed at yet another list of arbitrary numerical length, and then WOW.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:56 AM on September 16, 2013


That first one is horrific.
posted by gurple at 10:12 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought of a graveyard, gurple.
posted by surplus at 10:14 AM on September 16, 2013


I am in love with the one with the ladies.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:18 AM on September 16, 2013


And previously: Rothko Everywhere
posted by Umami Dearest at 10:18 AM on September 16, 2013


I'm curious how the dancing ladies was composed. The description talks about studio lighting, techniques and something expressed as "I carefully manipulated the surface image [to do what I wanted]", which I don't understand.

Was it pushing the film and post-processing (ie how the negative or print was developed) that gave this effect ? (if so, I kinda call foul.. )
posted by k5.user at 10:38 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm curious how the dancing ladies was composed. The description talks about studio lighting, techniques and something expressed as "I carefully manipulated the surface image [to do what I wanted]", which I don't understand.

It's Polaroid SX-70. In that film, the image takes forever to set up (in the sense of Jell-o; the film actually has gelatin in it), so you can literally manipulate the image, that is, smush it around with your finger. Example.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:44 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm curious how the dancing ladies was composed

It says she uses a Polaroid. I'm digging deep in the memory banks here, but I remember a magazine feature as a kid (I think it was in Sports Illustrated) where a photographer used an instant camera like that and then pulled apart the layers of the film while it was still developing to get an Impressionist effect like that.
posted by yerfatma at 10:44 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


*sigh* of course I prefer the analog photo. (nurses inner hipster shame)
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:46 AM on September 16, 2013


the last three would've fooled me, but the rest -- let's just say I can see the photograph in them.

Beautiful stuff regardless which is ultimately the point, I think.
posted by philip-random at 10:52 AM on September 16, 2013


I'm curious how the dancing ladies was composed

It says she uses a Polaroid.


That was my immediate guess as it reminds me of my friend Bob's stuff ...
posted by philip-random at 10:58 AM on September 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


The first picture is quite old, and if you look at the town in street-view, it's really run down with lots of graffiti, and all the streets are gated.
posted by empath at 10:59 AM on September 16, 2013


I'm most struck by Andre Ermolaev's aerial shot in Iceland. It looks like the usual river long exposure trick, where a 3s exposure smooths the rivers out. But it's an aerial shot, so how is it not blurred from vibration? Maybe a stabilized mount in a helicopter?
posted by Nelson at 11:05 AM on September 16, 2013


As far as photos that look like paintings go, I've been recently impressed by Alexa Meade and Sheila Vand's milk bath compositions.
posted by redsparkler at 11:07 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The first picture is quite old, and if you look at the town in street-view, it's really run down with lots of graffiti, and all the streets are gated.

I just tried to find the neighborhood in the Google Maps and did not have any luck.
posted by slogger at 11:09 AM on September 16, 2013


I'm most struck by Andre Ermolaev's aerial shot in Iceland. It looks like the usual river long exposure trick, where a 3s exposure smooths the rivers out. But it's an aerial shot, so how is it not blurred from vibration? Maybe a stabilized mount in a helicopter?

It doesn't look like a long exposure to me at all. It looks smooth at first glance because it's at such great distance that individual eddies and splashes and bubbles seem to blend together. But if you look closely there is detail in the rapids in the river, and the waves and ripples in the ocean are quite well defined.
posted by aubilenon at 11:20 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Those last two take the cake, easy.
posted by Chutzler at 11:20 AM on September 16, 2013


Lovely. I remember seeing that last one right after the photographer released it, and I just stared at it for ages trying to imagine how his mind worked in that he could "see" that shot, and get it all set up and ready for the exact fleeting moment when everything aligned and he got that picture.

I like photography, I'm not terrible with a camera, but things like this will always remind me that I'm a kid playing with toys compared to some of these masters.
posted by quin at 11:54 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The last picture was shot in Deadvlei, Namibia (Google suitable-for-wallpaper image search results here) and it seems the director Tarsem Singh likes the area as well as he's shot scenes from both "The Cell" and "The Fall" there.
posted by Zack_Replica at 12:29 PM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I carefully manipulated the surface image" - I'm gonna have to go with the thought then that all of these have been manipulated to some degree unless someone can find something in the text that says different.
posted by Ardiril at 12:31 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where is the line for digital photographs that are changed/manipulated?

I'd say most of these photographs are significantly manipulated at some point--in the camera or (in most cases) with Photoshop or other post-production programs.

Photoshop has a plethora of filters that include many painting-like effects.

So of course, many of these look like paintings....

But the question is, where do we draw the line between photograph and Art? What if I adjust the focus? Increase the saturation? Change the tint? Make a color capture black and white? And what about combining 3 or more images in HDR?

Where is the line? Which of these are photographs and which are art?
posted by CrowGoat at 12:40 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just saw this photo at a 2013 World Press Photo winner exhibit, and thought it looked just like a painting.
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 12:44 PM on September 16, 2013


As I remain a sucker for impressionism, I am in love with the My Waterbox shot. The others in this series, at the artist's Flickr page, are also mostly dazzling, as are the ones at his web page. (I found it because of this post.)
posted by bearwife at 1:13 PM on September 16, 2013


Just google San Buenaventura Ixtapaluca and you'll find it.
posted by Chuckles at 1:23 PM on September 16, 2013


But the question is, where do we draw the line between photograph and Art?

We don't?
posted by Wolfdog at 2:06 PM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Huangshan mountains (with their oh-so-distinctive Huangshan pines) look like Chinese art because of the zillions of times they have appeared in Chinese art. Props to the art (and this lovely photo) but also props to the subject.

Also. For the native digital ones, show them to me in the native pixel size, not shrunk down for the web. Then I'll tell you if they look like paintings.
posted by jfuller at 2:21 PM on September 16, 2013


show them to me in the native pixel size so I can combine them with a groupon for a photo-to-canvas print.
posted by achrise at 2:30 PM on September 16, 2013


When I first saw this photo of the Milky Way over the Himalayas it didn't seem quite "real" to me. Since then I've noticed that about a fair number of night-sky photographs.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/2011/entries/72318/view/
posted by NorthernLite at 2:59 PM on September 16, 2013


Really great, fantastic stuff...I'm a fan of photo-realist painting, so spent a bit of time getting my head wrapped around this.

Also brought to mind a site called, as I remember, You Suck at Photoshop, which as I recall combined instruction with a very unfortunate situation. Too lazy today to post the exact link, but I'm sure it's out there. Funny and informative.
posted by Duke Marz at 3:04 PM on September 16, 2013


> show them to me in the native pixel size so I can combine them with a groupon for a photo-to-canvas print.

You can trust me on this one. Printing on "canvas" is, like, ew.
posted by jfuller at 3:58 PM on September 16, 2013


I think it's rather insulting to say they look like paintings. To me they look like pretty darn interesting photographs.

As for "Where is the line? Which of these are photographs and which are art?" I think that was settled many years ago.
posted by cccorlew at 5:16 PM on September 16, 2013


You can trust me on this one. Printing on "canvas" is, like, ew.

I dunno. I know of more than one working artist who sells cheaper printed-canvas versions of his/her originals, made on a pretty-nice-but-not-commercial-grade scanner and printer. Seriously, it's hard to tell the difference with a lot of them.
posted by Rykey at 7:33 AM on September 17, 2013


10 More Fascinating Photos That Look Like Paintings.
posted by The Girl Who Ate Boston at 11:53 AM on September 22, 2013


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