The Burtynsky effect: Aesthetic reactions to landscape photographs that vary in natural features

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Educational Publishing Foundation
Previous research has explored how the content of landscape photography (i.e., natural vs. human-made) and postmanipulation of photographs (e.g., clarity and color) can influence aesthetic judgments. Although natural landscapes are reliably rated as more likable compared with human-made landscapes, very little is known about combined natural and human-made landscapes that depict alterations of the natural world by human interventions. After categorizing the works of Edward Burtynsky as 'combined' landscapes along a continuum between natural and human-made landscape photographs, participants rated the likability and familiarity (i.e., whether landscapes were previously viewed or not) of all three types of images in a series of three experiments that measured likability and familiarity differences as a function of landscape type (Experiment 1), postmanipulation of color (Experiment 2), and postmanipulation of image clarity (Experiment 3). Natural photographs were rated significantly higher than all other photograph types (regardless of color or clarity manipulation), and combined photographs were significantly rated the lowest in all experimental conditions, especially those that were previously viewed. Across all conditions, previously viewed photographs were reliably discriminated from those that were not. The results suggest that the combined Burtynsky photographs fall outside a continuum of likability between natural and human-made extremes, and such a low aesthetic rating of previously viewed combined photographs may be because of negative social priming, an altered fluency processing, or both. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
Aesthetics, Photography, Image processing, Landscape photography
Smith, P. L., Goodmon, L. B., & Hester, S. (2018). The Burtynsky effect: Aesthetic reactions to landscape photographs that vary in natural features. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 12(1), 34–49.