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Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks is a well known photographic writer, author of The Rangefinder Book, over three dozen other photographic books, and a frequent contributor to Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer. Unusually in today's photographic world, most of his camera reviews are film cameras, especially rangefinders. See www.rogerandfrances.com for further background (Frances is his wife Frances Schultz, acknowledged darkroom addict and fellow Shutterbug contributor) .


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Flipper
Old 12-18-2016   #1
Roger Hicks
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Flipper

Today I did something I very rarely do: "flipped" or "flopped" an image left for right. As I explain in the text, I just thought it looked better that way. It's not a great picture, but I like it better flopped. How often (if ever) do you flop pictures? What do you think of the ethics and emotional effect?

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R.
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Old 12-18-2016   #2
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Yes, I think it is better flipped, and I think it is because, in the West, we read left to right, and we want to go up not down.

Ethical? Opinion: Very little photography is important enough to have ethical considerations on its own, it is the word describing the photo that is ethical or not.
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Old 12-18-2016   #3
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Never tried it. I guess I might feel like I was cheating. But as I think about it....no big deal.
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Old 12-18-2016   #4
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The only time this ever happens is if I accidentally scan the negative wrong way down, resulting in a flipped or flopped image. If there's letters in the picture, I'll notice and flop it, but more often than not I either don't notice, or don't care enough to flip it. In HCB's vein, it shouldn't necessarily matter from which angle you view a photograph, right?
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Old 12-18-2016   #5
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Once or twice. I just as often end up flopping (flipping) scans of slides as I send them through upside down.
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Old 12-18-2016   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidnewtonguitars View Post
Yes, I think it is better flipped, and I think it is because, in the West, we read left to right, and we want to go up not down.

Ethical? Opinion: Very little photography is important enough to have ethical considerations on its own, it is the word describing the photo that is ethical or not.
Interesting. My first thought was, I think you are very right. Reflecting a bit, I think it depends on the ethics of the presenter to deviate from the truth as depicted, and the impact that has on the viewer.

I do agree the flipped version pleases me more. Not entirely sure of the exact reason, but probably as others have stated..
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Old 12-18-2016   #7
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That is what I meant, the presenter puts words to the image. Ethics reside in the person, not the thing (photo).

Quote:
Originally Posted by oftheherd View Post
Interesting. My first thought was, I think you are very right. Reflecting a bit, I think it depends on the ethics of the presenter to deviate from the truth as depicted, and the impact that has on the viewer.
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Old 12-18-2016   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidnewtonguitars View Post
That is what I meant, the presenter puts words to the image. Ethics reside in the person, not the thing (photo).
That is true. Maybe I am not understanding your meaning. To me words implies captions. There can be ethics problems without that. But seeing how you mean it, that is, that ethics reside in the photographer, I do agree.
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Old 12-18-2016   #9
Bob Ross
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The last time I flipped one was a selfie in a mirror when the M8 came out. Back over time I did the flip a few times when printing from slides, sometimes even accidentally....
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Old 12-18-2016   #10
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Left to right, rising to the right, conveys optimism. Whether it's OK depends on the rules of our trade: OK in art, not OK in photo journalism.

Related, and somewhat confusing: I find the a diagonal leading line works better coming in from the lower right, better than the lower left. Hmm...
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Old 12-19-2016   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidnewtonguitars View Post
. . . Very little photography is important enough to have ethical considerations on its own, it is the word describing the photo that is ethical or not.
Dear David,

I agree completely. But there is still an odd, niggling feeling that somehow it's not quite honest; a feeling, it seems, that I share with some others.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-19-2016   #12
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Shooting a 6x6 with WLF, and hence composing using the left-right reversed finder image, I find myself sometimes unpleasantly surprised by the resulting image in print. Some of it will have to do with the direction we're accustomed to read in (left to right), and lead-in lines that looked natural on the matte screen become inconvenient distractors when mirrored. Flipping the image is possible of course, unless there's a known landmark in there..

But it's not just for landscapes, it also holds for portraits shot from the side; it's easier on the eye if the subject looks to the right, and that's how I'm inclined to compose. Surely, flipping a portrait is a definite no-no, so I need to make a conscious effort to go against my intuition here..
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Old 12-19-2016   #13
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Sometime flipping reveals some very appealing images

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Old 12-19-2016   #14
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Thanks everyone for some very thoughtful (and to me sometimes unexpected) reactions. I love the idea that the internet can help us to think: it's not just an echo chamber for those who want to hear only what they want to hear.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-19-2016   #15
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I quite agree that the flipped image is more dynamic, to our eyes at least.
Japanese movies (among other things) have an 'inverted' aesthetic, going from left to right represents hardship, difficulty, retreat; and right to left is supposed to be happy, forward looking, successful.
Apparently, the emotional charge carried by direction depends on how people learn to read. I wonder wether people trained in arabic scripts have the same inversion. Does the ubiquitous spread of 'European' styled imagery - graphs, hollywood movies - muddle the sense of which direction is 'good' or 'bad'? Does Japanese imagery have a distorting effect on our 'preference'? At least some manga are mirrored for publication in the west.
If the positive or negative charge of a direction depends upon the script we learn, does that mean that script less people experience no such emotional overtones?

Archaic greeks wrote in both directions indiscriminately, and longer texts were to be read going back and forth, in a zig-zag. But both Romans and Greeks were rather pernickety about the good, clean right hand and the bad, unclean left hand. Sinister is the word for left hand. And a good worker is dexterous. It would seem, that for a right-handed person, writing from the left to the right comes naturally : the hand precedes the trace of the pen, so the writing is not obscured nor smudged. But too many cultures have developed right to left scripts for that to be the case. And the Chines go up to down before right to left...

Not sure in which direction this is going.

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Old 12-19-2016   #16
Roger Hicks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lukitas View Post
. . . Not sure in which direction this is going. . .
Well, yes. Which is precisely why I sought opinions on a picture that is so mediocre, the only thing that really matters is the slope of the curve.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-19-2016   #17
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newspapers sometimes flip head shots so its a mirror image of the person, the theory being the person will kind of be more familiar with themself/the picture.
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Old 12-19-2016   #18
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I prefer the version with the descending branch. It's just more aesthetically pleasing to me.

The ascending version shows too much negative space in the upper left quadrant; more so than the lower right. OTOH, the descending version looks almost symmetrical, where the branch equally bisects the image.
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Old 12-19-2016   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lukitas View Post
Japanese movies (among other things) have an 'inverted' aesthetic, going from left to right represents hardship, difficulty, retreat; and right to left is supposed to be happy, forward looking, successful.
Very interesting.

Temples/Shrines in Japan typical have guardians on the left and right of the entrance. Am told the expressions are the shape of the mouth for the first (right) and last (left) letters of the alphabet. Can anyone confirm this?

Here are the guardians, left and right, at Horyuji, one of my favorite spots:



My interpretation: The stance of the two figures is very different. The right, arguably the first, is challenging, aggressive, firm. The left, arguably the second, is engaging and curious.
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