Everything to do with the way you see.
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” Elliot Erwitt
I have had numerous conversations about whether a photograph should show a scene exactly as your eye sees it or whether you can change it in some way to create a picture as your mind’s eye sees it. The interpretation of a scene, the input of emotion, the burst of creativity that sparks you to create an image rather than merely borrow a scene is the difference that changes a photograph into a work of art rather than merely being a record of what was in front of the camera.
Whilst I don’t go as far as constructing a completely artificial image, I do think that adapting exposure, contrast and colour to bring out the image that I had envisioned or pre-visualised (to borrow an expression from Ansel Adams), is no worse than using a graduated ND filter or a polarising filter.
Changing a scene to include elements that were never there is one that is uncomfortable for me. Sure, remove that irritating man with a red coat on who carelessly walked into your image, digitally tidy up some litter that spoils your picture, but putting something into the photograph that was never there seems wrong to me. I have replaced a moon that was over-exposed with one taken next at the correct exposure to compensate for the difficulties with the dynamic range of my camera and also in a different picture moved the moon to a slightly better position to add a bit of impact but you’ll never see any flying saucers or Cottingley fairies in my work.
The image above is pretty much as it was or at least how I saw it. I added contrast, lightening the whites and darkening the shadow tones to bring out the shapes in the water, the clouds had been darkened in camera with a 0.9 graduated ND filter, the colour saturation was generally boosted and the yellow and magenta colours were increased to emphasise the afterglow. None of these adjustments are particularly unusual but I wonder if a different photographer would have come away with the same image?
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Photographing the landscape around me is a very important part of my life. I frequently feel compelled to spend some time out there enjoying the beauty of nature and trying where possible to make an image that reflects that majesty of my surroundings here in the Lake District.
My aim with this blog is to share some of my thoughts and pictures in the hope that they encourage you.