My area of research is photography, specifically photo credibility. Key to my research is the important distinction between photographs (photos of real people, places and events) and photoART (images that were once photos but have now been changed by image manipulation software).
This site is a public forum to explore the art, technology and social implications of photographs, photoart, and everything in between.
Should you care?
So who cares about photo credibility? A lot of people don’t. But my research is suggesting that perhaps the main reason people don’t care is because they haven’t thought about it and what it means for them.
Once you understand the many insidious ways in which not valuing and safeguarding the truth in your images affects you, others and your posterity, you may find that you care also. I write about aspects and examples of these issues for you to consider.
This research as vital to all fields of endeavour, from the person taking photographs down a microscope or up a telescope, to professional photographers, to field researchers, to the family photographer whose casual pictures actually document whole genealogies of families.
Can we add value to each other’s lives?
I hope that I can connect with you as a photographer, and also as a member of the human family who wants our collective history and knowledge told in images in which we understand where the line between truth and fiction can be found. I hope we can help each other benefit from thinking more critically about the role our photographs play in the world and our individual lives.
I will be actively listening to your concerns and considering how they fit with my research and development. I normally post about once a month (subject to the volatile schedules of an academic), and I hope you will follow and share posts from my blog that resonate with you, and that you will respond and comment on this important topic.
Along the way, we can explore the beautiful, confronting, whimsical, illuminating, colourful, wonderful world of photography!
Dr Sabrina Caldwell
More about my research…
Since the introduction of the digital camera in the 1990’s, together with easy to use image manipulation software, people have been tinkering with photos, but there is no real mechanism by which tinkered and untinkered images can be delimited. I believe that as a result, the photograph has become a pseudo-endangered species. Endangered, because we no longer know whether the images we view are photographs or photoart. Pseudo, and thereby capable of remedy, because many of our images really are unmanipulated photographs, we just don’t know which ones to believe.
Unexpectedly, the plight of the pseudo-endangered photograph has become an important focus of my life’s work. I first realised that we were losing photograph credibility while undertaking my first PhD in the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences. The research I conducted in that PhD was on the impact of technology on authors and artists, with Australian poet-artist Richard Kelly Tipping, an early adopter of technology in art, as my exemplar.
The challenging but logical next step was to closely research the issue of image credibility in the digital age, and so I went back to the PhD drawing board a second time in 2011. I have now submitted my thesis for my second PhD, undertaken in the Research School of Computer Science, which used eye gaze tracking and neural net analysis to understand how we see and interpret photographs, and which sets the groundwork for constructing a modern framework for photograph credibility that can operate in the technologically enhanced world we now inhabit.