Saturday, 25 September 2010

Fancy Photography

Originally uploaded by reuvenim
A friend has recently accused me of being able to come up with fancier photos than ever on my Flickr page. Regardless of whether they were joking or not, it made me ponder the evolution of my photography. You see, I was actually under the opposite impression: I ak of the opinion my photos are becoming more and more benign, snapshots like as opposed to what I would call worthy photographs.
There are several reasons why I think my photography has deteriorated to the realm of the snapshot:
1.The way I am managing my photos on Flickr to create virtual photo albums has an effect on my photography. I now use the Flickr facilities to document memories rather than store photos. For example, I took the above photo showing the rather mundane nature of what takes place under the seemingly glorious Sydney Opera House even though, as photos go, it’s a pretty mundane photo.
2.The ease and the low cost of digital photography make me take more photos rather than carefully work on each frame. Back at my peak photography days, the days when the purpose of me going places was to take good photos, film was the only option available. Film photography is expensive, film photography does not provide instant results; thus every shot involved much effort to ensure it came out as good as it could get. Now? Now I just hold the shutter button and the camera takes five photos before I even start thinking; one of those should be decent enough, shouldn't it?
3.Today I am a parent, a duty that takes over everything else. Whereas in the past I was able to move around so I could position myself in the best place at the best time for the shot, now my photos are taken as quickly as possible from where I happen to be standing. And I have to be thankful for managing that in the first place, thankful to my wife for allowing me the freedom to pay attention to the camera rather than to our little attention seeking bundle.

On the other hand, there are good reasons for having better photos too. These are mostly technical: For a start, never did I have a camera as capable as the one I am using now (a Pentax K-7). It’s not simply because this camera takes good looking photos; it’s because this camera is so flexible, fast and easy to operate (in the sense that its features are very usable, rather than being locked through ten menu levels) that I am able to take the shot I want to take rather than the shot the camera’s auto mode wants to take for me. It is as if every shot I take is closer than ever to the vision I have in my head, to the Director's Cut.
Similarly, I never had under my disposal a lens as versatile as the one I am currently using. My Sigma 18-250 lens is not a particularly good lens, picture quality wise: its wide range means a ton of compromises. It does, however, mean that I hardly ever find myself without the lens I need to take the shot I want to take. That means a lot!
Then there are causes that both harm and improve the quality of my photos, such as the influence of the Internet. Photo pages such as Cory Doctorow’s (here) “inspire” me to take photos that bluntly show the way things are rather than try and generate that glamorous artistic shot. Further influence comes from there being tons of photoshopped stuff that just makes me think the whole pursuit of coming up with fancy photos is meaningless because those with the time to mess with Photoshop can always come up with brilliant looking stuff regardless of how good the original shot was. Still, when all is said and done, there is plenty of photographic inspiration on the web; as someone who is virtually never original in his photography, that inspiration counts.
Adding all of the above up I still think my photography has deteriorated with time. I still enjoy it, though, which is all that matters.

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