Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tweeking the photo so it will be closer to the truth - as you saw it, or how you feel about it.

The most 'real', and yet highly selected in angle and subject matter

Andre Gide once said that in writing one must go beyond the simple event and emphasis and underline what it is you want the reader to take from your story  - " go further". Now, if we think about that a little it makes sense, a story is highly selective and emphasizes certain aspects and ignores others. A play or film is a highly artificial product (even a documentary) even though it may seem to be about realistic events. And so it goes in poetry, and, perhaps not so surprisingly, also in news reportage.

The original image as captured. I have chosen to peer through the maple branches
and place them out of focus.

The same image but cropped and adjusted to emphasis the yellow light of dawn. To my mind I have corrected the camera capture to convey a 'truer' feeling of the dawn moment.

Selected from a million possibilities
Black and white leads us to see and understand
 from the same colour image.
Obviously music is highly artificial and when the composer includes thunder and donkey brays we get a little nervous. Painting cannot help being tied to the two dimensional surface, and various technical aids have to be used to represent a three dimensional world. Many painters emphasis the surface qualities only and abandon any pretense of three dimensions. For them the surface is reality.

A tree in the forest, but photographed more abstractly. 
Photography has a difficult relationship with 'truth'. 'Seeing is believing', we say, and the photograph is seductive in its mechanical ( 'the camera cannot lie') recording of what is before it. And yet a good photograph is also highly selective, just like a news report. We see what the photographer wishes us to see. We are guided. Angle of view, type of lens, selection of subject matter, and so on pervert any chance of having a 'true view' in the conventional sense. Even if we were there ourselves we would have a selected view guided by our own conventions.

Nearly all black lines and forms,
and yet we see what it is.We feel the tangle,
 the confinement
The other morning while taking photographs down at the shore I took a series of images that involved peering through foliage and tree trunks. My viewers cannot choose to select some other view. They must look where I have pointed. And then I process the images to emphasis certain qualities. A dawn photo takes on a yellow cast that is stronger than reality. Like Gide, I am making something artificial to give a heightened feeling of the place and time. To my eyes this is more 'true' than the 'reality', just as a story can be.

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