Saturday, 22 October 2011

Where are we going

The other week I was chatting to a good friend of mine and he started ranting about the photography he sees on many of the photography websites. How many of the popular shots seem to owe little relationship to the real world and seem to suffer from cartonification.

I suggested he put his thoughts down and make a blog out of his thoughts. Below is what my friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, came up with.  I hope you enjoy reading his thoughts on the state of popular photography today.



The Basics of Photography


A few years ago I enrolled on a one year course to study photography. One of the first lessons I learnt was that 'photography' meant writing or painting with light, the ability to capture a moment in time with the prevailing light was the essence of photography. Little did I realise then what could be achieved without such illumination.

I feel a photograph should represent what the photographer saw at the time of capture, using the skills he has learnt and fashioned to manipulate the camera by adjusting exposure or shutter speed and balancing light by using filters. Gaining a fundamental knowledge of these tools of the trade, with equal importance to how light interacts with the equipment, will lead to better and more honest results. In a recent internet forum thread, about this very same subject, one photographer alluded to better photography results would be achieved with "patience, planning and understanding in the field in the right conditions" I fully endorse these comments.

I had been trawling my way through various popular photography sites recently with a fairly glum outlook to the future of my beloved hobby. It seems an image has to go through a Photoshop metamorphous before it is appreciated and applauded. One such image so infuriated me it prompted this blog.

The image in question is from a popular photographers spot, shot many times, in fact I had been there recently, what grated me was not so much the photoshop manipulation, (well actually it did) but more the comments and accolades it received.
  • "Lovely colours"
  • "wonderful colours captured"
  • " love the winter colours"
couldn't anyone see what I was seeing? The shot was straight out of a Pixar movie and nothing to do with real colours. It was a cartoon still, a make-believe impression from the time it was taken. No one mentioned manipulation, not one mention of
  • "nice Photoshop work"
  • "good use of the saturation sliders"
  • "love the cartoon effect"

It certainly wasn’t in the photographers' description. It was as if the image had the emperor’s new clothes on and what pains me is this seems to be becoming the norm. With more and more images sent through the Photoshop grinder coming out appearing total unreal from the original "painting with light" concept than ever before.


A photographer I have huge admiration for wrote

I want to recreate the scene that you would have witnessed with your own eyes had you been standing next to me at the moment I fired the camera's shutter.

This is a poignant statement to those in the modern era of photography that the basic concepts of photography should be learnt and not everything should be resolved after the occasion via the PC.


So, what do you think? Have we forgotten the essentials of taking pictures? Has manipulation taken over from craftsmanship or is it all part of a broad church called photography and everything is valid?

1 comment:

David said...

I love this post, it sums up so many photography shots I see lately. It's like a giant jerk circle.

I hate seeing those HDR images that people do "too" much work on. You see it with estate agents a lot when they send a photographer out to get images of a house and it comes back looking like a 3D render with no shadows.