The art of photography?
As long term readers of this blog will know, I have an interest in photography. I don’t pretend to be a great photographer, but I have some fairly good equipment, using both film and digital SLR cameras, and indeed lenses which often cost more than the cameras. Some of my output can be seen here.
Like many people, I suspect, I started off taking photographs in a ‘point-and-shoot’ way: I would see something I wanted to remember, I would point the camera (without adjusting anything), and press the button. But over time I started looking at books of photographs, and began to see other things, such as perspective, light, selective focus, contrast, depth of field. So I started experimenting, and as I got more ambitious, I also spent time looking at paintings to see what techniques had been used, with the intention of trying some of them with the help of a camera.
And as I became more interested in artistic effects, I also became more aware of the opportunities afforded by software. The standard digital photographer’s toolbox comes in Adobe’s Photoshop – though there are also other programs such as Apple’s Aperture. But in addition there are specialist applications that allow you to conjure up certain effects, such as high dynamic range imaging; this allows the photographer to bring out details in the image, which can be taken to the point of distortion. As these digital effects are applied, the image in effect ceases to be a photograph as traditionally understood, and becomes a representation that goes beyond the literal reproduction of the scene.
There is some debate amongst photographers as to whether this is still photography, or something quite different, and indeed whether such elaboration of the original image is either artistic or desirable. It is a hard question to answer, because as in much else the aesthetics of such images are in the eye of the beholder.
As for me, I continue to take some photos on traditional film (all black and white, now), which I then do not edit in digital format, except perhaps that I might crop the image a little. I also take digital photos that I don’t edit, and others that I edit significantly. I cannot make up my mind which of these resulting images are particularly artistic. Perhaps none of them, of course.