Is it Art or Photography?

Zachary B., Photography

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Photogrammetry: Forest of Endor Star Wars Battlefront 3


How We Used Photogrammetry to Capture Every Last Detail for Star Wars™ Battlefront™. Web. <>.

          Star WarsThe Force Awakens arrived in theaters everywhere.  Did the cinematic film keep you engrossed and on the edge of your seat? Did it make you feel as though you could just reach out and touch the Galactic Empire?  Have you tried the new video game as pictured above?  If so, you may have an appreciation for the realistic visuals that took your experience to the next level, all of which have their roots in aspects of photography and art.

Flash back to the 1960s, a new concept, known as photorealism, began to take art to a new level using photography.  An artist would take a photograph and create a piece of art that reflected similar lighting and surface textures to those found in the photo.  Just take a look at the attached photo of the perceived gumball machine and you can see how this art form became in vogue.


Photorealism:  Perceived Gumball Machine


Bell, Charles. Gum Ball No. 10: “Sugar Daddy” 1975. Web.

      Even today the art movement, photorealism, is still very much alive, and the Guggenheim has a great online exhibit that displays more of the uniqueness of this trend.  Still, artworks for museums have not been the only ones with a goal of using photography to create realistic images.  This same idea of photorealism is a strived for goal in many movies and video games as well.  In fact, to enhance the concept of using real photographic images to create fictional objects, some software developers are now turning to another new technique known as photogrammetry.

          Photogrammetry is a science that takes an image and creates fictional 3D models or drawings, as per  It can be used for anything from maps to re-creating realistic scenes and it accomplishes this in two basic ways:  aerial photography or photography up close.  While you may be familiar with close range photography, where subjects or objects are within a nearby range, aerial photogrammetry has the additional benefit of allowing cameras to be attached to airplanes for shooting multiple photos from overhead.  These techniques are helping to recreate more true to life scenes for film, video games, archeological maps, and even accident scenes putting photogrammetry on the map as a top technique in the changing world of photography.

Likewise, as time progresses and advances in digital photography create even greater sophisticated uses for the photo, we are likely to see more of an even newer movement known as hyperrealism.  Hyperrealism is, “Artworks that appear extremely realistic to the extent that they trick the eye,” according to the online art gallery, Artsy.  Thanks to high resolution images taken with digital cameras and displayed on computers, this artistic movement, which is a growing branch of photorealism, is even better at telling a story or evoking emotions, observes a “hyperrealism” article at Wikipedia.  Improvements in the digital camera are allowing more photos to be taken, they are sharpening the depth of field and viewing ranges of a photo, they are giving objects more clarity, and they are giving people more pronounced emotions whether up close-up or far away.  All of these photographic improvements translate into more lifelike artistic movements.

In coming to a close, without a doubt, modern movies like Jurassic Park or video games like Star Wars Battlefront 3, are getting their realistic touch thanks to advances that have their roots in photography.  When the digital camera and the computer team-up art can advance and sceneries for movies and video games can become more graphic.  Perhaps an amalgamation of photorealism, photogrammetry, and hyperrealism would produce the ideal tool kit for creating the best realistic bona-fide art, or should we say a Boba-Fett?   Just some food for thought as you head to the movies, pick up a new video game, or visit the trendy museums!

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