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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2005 1:11 am 
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For that reason I think it is incumbent on the poster to only offer reasonable renditions that are likely achievable.

I am afraid most of the cyber stylists don't have an inkling of what is achievable. They don't show enough of their real live trees for me to be able to draw conclusions as to their grasp on achievability.
Also, they are not basing their suggestions on a real live three-dimensional tree, but on a two-dimensional photograph.
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Perhaps even a couple of versions of intermediate steps, and caveats that 'this will take a while'...

If it was only a matter of time, I would have nothing to object to. What needs to be explained in greater detail, though, is what on the original tree should to be pruned and wired - and how and maybe when - to achieve the projected result. That kind of advice is possible to give in some cases, but most often it is not.
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I don't see the harm if they are offered and taken for what they are.

The harm I see is in beginners being made to believe that this is what they should be able to achieve, a few years though it may take. When I know that even with minutely detailed instructions they would not be very likely to achieve it. They will end up being frustrated.
Virtual styling, in most cases, is putting the styling wagon before the horticultural horse.
And who can remember ever seeing a recent picture of a tree styled according to 'virtual' recommendations three or four years ago?


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2005 3:09 am 
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Reiner,
I agree wholeheartedly about these problems associated with polished virtuals on internet forums ( or in Bonsai Today, recently!!! ). I do find them very useful as visualization tools for short-term work. Perhaps as I gain experience, I will grow out of the need for this sort of thing. In the meantime, I make rough, "subtractive" virtuals for myself frequently in the process of styling trees.

One example comes from a tree that I entered in a recent on-line "first-styling" contest. The tree is not without serious flaws - but for me, the virtuals were very useful. I've described the process here: http://forum.bonsaitalk.com/showthread.php?t=9011

I think that using virtuals worked pretty well in this case for a few reasons:
1. I knew the tree first-hand in three dimensions, so while fashioning the virtuals I had a sense of what was feasible and what was not.
2. I was making these virtuals to guide myself, not to impress others, so there was no temptation to trade flare for feasibility.
3. I used the virtuals to project the consequences of short-term work only..

When we see virtuals posted to forums or printed in magazines, few if any of the above criteria are met.
WIth my best regards,
Carl


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2005 8:12 pm 
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"The harm I see is in beginners being made to believe that this is what they should be able to achieve, a few years though it may take. When I know that even with minutely detailed instructions they would not be very likely to achieve it. They will end up being frustrated."

Perhaps so. But at least this relative beginner recognizes that virtuals reflect (hopefully, especially when the virtual is offered by someone whom I respect) what someone who knows what they are doing may be able to achieve. ;-) Rather than frustration, inspiration often results. In the long run, inspiration of this kind may first manifest itself in the styling of other materials down the line...not even the tree in consideration.
"Virtual styling, in most cases, is putting the styling wagon before the horticultural horse. "
Good analogy! ;-)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2005 12:46 am 
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Carl:
As I pointed out in my first reply to this thread, I think virtuals _can_ be helpful in making up one's mind about which line of styling to follow. No doubt. Photoshop being used instead of a paper towel. Works like a charm.

But when a tree growing horizontally is virtually pressed into an upright position without so much of a mention as to what effect that procedure has on the root system, we have bonsai flim-flammery.

John:
I totally agree that many of the virtuals are inspirational. They are that because they are 'good' bonsai. My difficulty is not with the end product, but with the _lack of instruction_ of how to arrive at Z from A.

There is nothing better to hone one's eye than to study (images of) successfully styled trees. For years, I have used the pictures published in the Kokufu-ten albums for that purpose.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2005 7:15 am 
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When someone on a forum asks for help with a problem tree, too often the virtual is created on the basis of the only photo provided, namely that of the front, or what the owner judges to be the front. Proper photos of the back and both sides should always be supplied, and when they are not, anyone qualified to help should ask for them. As often as not, written inidcations would in that case suffice.
--------------------------------------
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On one hand, I really want my bonsai photographs to serve an archival purpose, as a record of my trees, and in this sense I could "overshoot" by cranking up the color saturation on a fall maple, for example. On the other, I do want the photographs to be beautiful artistic creations in their own right.

I cannot see two hands, here. Like any form of art, photography is unavoidably interpretative (repeating more or less what has been said earlier). It can only make a subject come to life by challenging the viewer's imagination, and the more successfully this is done, the more 'real' the subject will appear. The play of light and colour in a fall maple cannot be reproduced to perfection by photography, but to suggest theit richness, a slight, well-judged compensation by either the camera or a graphics program on the computer will approximate the beauty of the tree as well as it can technically be done. If/when successful, then the resulting image has to be a "beautiful artistic creation in (its) own right", while keeping the tree 'alive' for archival purposes.
Lisa


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2005 1:30 pm 
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Lisa,
Then where would you draw the line? At adding a deeper shade of red to the maple foliage? At adding some texture to the bark? Maybe at airbrushing in a well needed branch or adding a jin?

Granted, photography is a necessary technique for archiving bonsai and also for reaching a wider audience, this is not being debated here. What is being discussed is adding qualities to a bonsai with the use of modern technology and photography. When does a bonsai treated in such a way stop being a picture of a artistic bonsai and start being simply computer art?
Will Heath


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2005 7:38 pm 
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Will,
Quote:
Then where would you draw the line?

Where would I, personally, draw the line? For my part, the line overlaps reality.
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At adding a deeper shade of red to the maple foliage? At adding some texture to the bark? Maybe at airbrushing in a well needed branch or adding a jin?

Those are your definitions, not mine. The subtle compensation I suggested would not alter the tree.
Quote:
What is being discussed is adding qualities to a bonsai with the use of modern technology and photography.

Pardon me, but I did not write about adding qualities to a bonsai, only about enhancing photos in such a way that the image of a tree comes closer to the reality. (I get the impression that perhaps you have no extensive experience of graphics work, or you would know what I mean.) Whatever one does, though, however honest an image one endeavors to create, it should not be forgotten that all photographic work has an element of interpretation, however slight, either by the photographer or the tools that are used.
Quote:
When does a bonsai treated in such a way stop being a picture of a artistic bonsai and start being simply computer art?

Simple. When you put the photo next to the bonsai to compare the two, and say "Hey, these are not the same trees!".
And please don't tell me what is being discussed or not. (As someone else also did, under a different heading.) What I read, how I interpret it, and what I think is worth adding to the debate, are my business.
Lisa


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2005 10:20 pm 
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Honestly, I have not read end to end every post in this subject but I have read enough to understand the direction it is going. Some of you know me and some also know I am a musician of sorts that plays the Lute.

There have been times where I have played my instrument at art exhibits to furnish atmosphere and back ground. There have been times I have played the Lute as a featured performer. There have been times I have played the Lute at events where the parameters were difficult explain.

The point as this relates to bonsai is one of importance within a display. Is the bonsai just there to add some atmosphere as it might be used in the back ground of some B movie, or is it the focus of a display set up to show off bonsai as an art? Then of course the old American or Western display arouses discussions where the parameters are not clearly established.

Getting into this territory one must bring mine detectors, watch out for quick sand and be mindful of the occasional ambush. So many things that are passed off as American this and American that have one thing in common: Tacky. Mind you I said many not all. Personally I am not a big advocate of bonsai displays with miniature cars crashed into the trunks of bonsai trees, or tiny rope swings hanging from the branches.

In my opinion bonsai is the epitomy of subtle messages that stimulate the mind and imagination, to fathom a tree's history. One should not need props to relay a message. The traditional display evolved over several generations of bonsai lovers has given us the concept of understatement where less is more. In Western culture and our often shout it from the roof tops mentality, we tend to attempt to re-invent the wheel when we don't really understand why the thing is round.

In hopes of establishing a real "American" style in display as well as bonsai itself, I think it is important to understand why the traditional methods work and work so well. It is not enough to do something the way the Japanes would never do it, but to do something new that has the same feel to it that the Japanese efforts bring forth. This is not re-inventing the wheel it is putting a new tire on it.

Vance Wood.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2005 10:41 pm 
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Lisa Kanis wrote:
And please don't tell me what is being discussed or not. (As someone else also did, under a different heading.) What I read, how I interpret it, and what I think is worth adding to the debate, are my business.
Lisa

You're absolutely correct Lisa, my apologies. What I had meant to say was that when I wrote this article, I had put forth a completely different direction of thought then what you interrupted.
Vance,
Good to see you here!

Will


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 3:49 am 
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Location: New England, USA
If, as Reiner suggests, the poster is usually not the owner, then the image is pure bonsai fantasy and bears little or no relevance to the real design problem at hand. Nice kite, but it'll never fly.
If the poster is the owner, then wouldn't he or she be better occupied actually doing the work and photographing the stages, thus proving the theory, rather than wasting time making photo-montages of what he or she would do if he or she had the time (which he or she would have if he or she wasn't wasting time with the visuals)?
Colin


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 Post subject: Bonsai photographs
PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 7:42 am 
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I agree that bonsais shown in photographs have to show the real thing. No artistic corrections should be done to the tree by the use of Photoshop or other programs, which with the speed of a mouse click can enhance the tree to a higher level than it really is.

In the circles of press photographers in Denmark, there has been a discussion the last years, about rights and wrongs, when pictures are being cleaned and manipulated. Is it ok to remove disturbing objects in the picture after it has been taken, or not? The first and foremost answer is a clear no. But if you look at the case from another point, the disturbing object might have been cleaned away from the picture anyway, if the photographer had just chosen another point and angle from which to take the picture. Which method is different from the other? What is more right or more wrong if to choose between methods? The result is the same. The object that disturbs is removed from the framing.

My point is to tell, that I don?t at all find it alright to manipulate with the tree. That would be a lie. But I do find it totally all right to set up proper flash lights, and a good background i.e., in order to make the best possible result of a photograph taken. In this case a photograph of a bonsai.

In the case of virtuals, it has to be clearly underlined, that the picture is a virtual. No lies. But as we want to present our bonsais at their best at an exhibition, we also want to present our bonsais at their best on photos. And this can be done by proper light, the right exposure, a good background i.e. By enhancing background, dark areas, and so on by post adjustments, it is possible to make a good quality picture, that gives a good impression.

As long as we show the bonsais as they really are, this is absolutely no problem for me.

A final point is, that a photograph newer will be the same as to watch a bonsai on the spot. It is two different ways of observing the same thing. Observing a bonsai close up in ?the real world? will always give the biggest impression and best experience. A photograph will stay two-dimensional, and without the possibility of viewing the tree from different angles to see the details.

Photographs of bonsais are very inspiring though, and I believe our common interest develops, and is spreading widely, exactly because it is possible to share photographs of beautiful bonsais at the Internet for example.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 7:06 pm 
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Oh, I can see this web forum is going to be fun.

As an avid and unabashed virtual bonsaist I think most of the arguments offered here against the use of virtual bonsai images have totally missed the boat. The point is a virtual rendition of a tree is just that, a picture of tree. It is not the tree!

When I offer a virtual of a tree the intent is no more than if I would offer a paper and pencil sketch of a tree. I recently did a bonsai teaching tour of India and at the end of each session working on a tree, I made a pen and paper sketch of possible future of the tree. The eagerness with which these sketches were received pointed out their value. Who knows if the tree will ever look like the sketch. Who cares! The sketch was made to execute a design point. I seem to recall that many of the trees John Naka sketched after he worked on them never reached the graphic image. They either evolved differently or perhaps they died. The sketch made a design point. And John's sketches are now collectors' items.

The virtual tool (I use Photoshop) offers the chance to add color and to create rather quickly a design concept for a tree (maybe for the tree in the original photograph and maybe not). Who cares if it is possible, desirable or even relevant? It is a design excursion. It is up to the actual tree's designer to look at the concept, to possibly consider it and to perhaps factor it in their thought process. Whether it is possible or not isn't relevant, (actually with time, anything is possible.) Providing a road map of how to get from point A to point B along with a virtual design is also pointless. Creating a bonsai design depends on the skills of the artist, tools and techniques available and the cooperation of the real tree. For instance, a skilled grafter can add a branch to a tree where none presently exists the virtual may show what that would look like. The real tree will reveal what the outcome will be and what will be necessary to achieve it. In many ways creating a virtual concept is no different than looking at a Kokufuten album for design inspiration. So why would one discount such a powerful tool to think and ponder bonsai? Any serious bonsai artist that does not learn how to do a virtual design is limiting their arsenal of tools.

A competition of bonsai art that is based solely on a photograph is not a bonsai tree competition. It is a photography competition - and photography today entails much more than the camera - post processing is just as important. I look forward to the day when a virtual tree does win one of these photography-based bonsai competitions.

Photographs can never replace the actual tree. Photography can show a two dimensional rendering of an instant in time. Yet there is something unsatisfying about a photograph. It neither captures what occurred immediately before and after the image nor does it reveal the depth and solidity of an object through a finite field of view and one perspective. Give me the real tree any day.


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 Post subject: Sketch
PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 4:26 am 
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Again, I totally agree with your well defined arguments Rob. A virtual sketch of a bonsai made in Photoshop, or a sketch with the same aim, is just two different ways of setting up a possible future design of a bonsai.
The sketch may have more artistic value, because it is purely handmade, but this makes no difference to the use of the sketch or a virtual made with the help of a computer.

I believe that the concerns about using virtuals, are heading to the possible situation, when someone fake their images in order to improve their bonsais on photos with a bad attitude. The photo needs to be honest and show the real tree, without adding extra foliage or changing branch positions to show a better tree than there is in reality.

But for at sketch situation showing design possibilities, it is just another tool in the toolbox.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 4:55 pm 
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' Any serious bonsai artist that does not learn how to do a virtual design is limiting their arsenal of tools'
I second that

Rob,
I was about writing a long pamphlet for virtuals in the art of bonsai. And then I read yours. This is exactly how I feel.

I think every self respecting bonsai serious bonsai person should learn how to do virtuals.

One way to use them that I find extremely valuable: choosing the right pot. It is most incredible how easily one can play around with hundreds of pots in all shapes, sizes and colors and find the right one if one know how to do it on a coputer.

I can see that day when I will be holding workshops with a computer and camera, take pictures of the trees in various stages and show the students what it cold look like. In the end I would make one or several virtuals from whatever the students have finished and this woould be part of the education. Much as John Naka has done his drawings, only with a much more powerful tool but for the same purpose.

Is it not that often enough the result of first styling looks pathetic. Often only in the eyes of an unexperienced person. Would it not be helpful to show the person what could develop from this? Of course in a responsible manner! No nonsense and impossible future!

So are we in total disagreement? I think not really. If a virtual is done by a person who knows enough about bonsai, the art and the horticulture and the practical considerations in developing a tree it could be a powerful tool. Now tell me what's wrong with that statement.

If you now tell me that this is wishful thinking because we see all sorts of irresponsable virtuals, then I tell you that the internet is full of crap anyway and one has learn to find a way through that jungle with or without virtuals.
Walter


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 6:20 pm 
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I look forward to the day when a virtual tree does win one of these photography-based bonsai competitions.

Rob,
Could you expand on that statement a little? It seems not to coincide with your argument that virtuals are a design tool only.
Colin


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