Monday, January 25, 2010

Picture of Innocence

I have no photography skills. I have a simple point and shoot that has some 5 auto modes, and 75% of pictures feature me and my friends making asinine faces. What's the point in smiling for a still photo I always say. I usually avoid landscape pictures and most definitely random/stranger shots. I'd like to take it all in, I tell myself.

A lot of my friends are avid shutterbugs. I find their talent amazing and their pictures striking, but it doesn't hold my interest for too long. It seems that photoshop turns everyone's flickr stream into an issue of National Geography. What's the point of a picture? Is it to capture a passing moment, a brief coalescence of people and events that must survive, or as a homage to unchanging magnificence of nature? Or is it to spend 4 hours on a flatscreen applying layers, filters and changing contrast?

Is an over-saturated, multiple exposure shot of the skyline worth fanfare? It is art, I get that. Ever plunging prices of frighteningly complicated DSLRs give weekend warriors a canvas that oil paints can't stand up against. I'm no connoisseur of arts, and I'm the man corporate America strives to squeeze every penny out of - but I can't be that clueless can I?

Every evening, hundreds gather in front of that crumbling dust arch in Utah. Of what good is a sight through a tiny viewfinder and a high res raw file when 20 mins of concentrated viewing can provide gigabytes of info (multiple angles, 3D, artistic or otherwise) that will always be stashed away in my brain? I don't need a 1024x720 picture to remind me of the 20 min hike, the 4 accents I made my friends laugh at, or that Indian dude (not me) everyone (including me) jeered at for trying to pose right before sunset.

It's an artistic medium alright, but one that's getting awfully saturated and predictable. Hummingbirds, flowers, owls, nightsky, domes, black and white stills of hobos, silhouettes, sunsets... I want to see art in what my eyes see and fill in the blanks in my head. Take my point and shoot, use it for a year. Give me 12 unaltered pictures that can blow my mind. Till then amateur photography is as much of an art as wearing a Guevara tee-shirt is anti-establishment.


Perakath said...

Two thumbs up! But maybe we feel this way because we're not good at taking such photos ourselves?

Purely Narcotic said...

Agree, Agree!

Sometimes the magic of the moment is lost when caught up in trying to get the bloody exposure and the aperture settings right.

Also memory is selective. It can change the shape of a room and the colour of a car, memories can be distorted just as much as photographs these days can be...but when there's nothing tangible to hold on to and memory fails, a photograph fills in the blanks.

Bird said...

I agree. The permanent images are the ones that stay with you. And I like the freedom of imagination.

Thanatos said...

@Pera - Like I said in the first line, I know I suck at photography. And it's not artsy pics I have a problem with, it's the photoshopped ones I hate.

@Narco - Isn't the fact that memory is inaccurate that the past gets better with passing time? I'd hate to be brought back to earth when I see me sporting a 36 size waistline in a picture from 3 years ago.

@Bird - Yep! Long time!

Cynic in Wonderland said...

Very true. I think in the quest to taking these pics, a lot of people actually forget to look at the damn place.

Thanatos said...

Totally! Thank god I can't afford a good camera :D

The Depressed Doormat said...

Digital SLRs are NOT complicated. I find it far simpler to use an SLR than using a Point and Shoot. I intuitively know where all the things I want to get to are placed at, even with differing brands.

A good photograph with a point and shoot is an accident. A good photograph with an SLR (when not used as a P&S, obviously) is much less so. I do agree about Photoshop though (in amateur photography).

Also, about "experiencing" our surroundings, who says a photographer doesn't get the chance to do so? We are talking about purely subjective experiences here and if a photographer can draw more enjoyment out of the tiny viewfinder, more power to him.

It's the same argument people make about critics, that they are so busy critiquing that they do not have room to enjoy what they are viewing. I know from personal experience that isn't true.

Thanatos said...

A good photograph with a point and shoot is an accident

Please. Look here. I have plenty more where they came from. DSLR users tire me.

If shooting experiences are subjective, then so are definitions of a "good" photograph. The assumption that DSLRs can consistently best P&S is silly.

The Depressed Doormat said...

Just because it is a good picture does not prove it isn't an accident. Assuming the same level of shooting expertise, one can consistently get better pictures with a DSLR than a P&S.

With the picture that you sent, if you were half an hour earlier, or later, or were standing half a meter to this side or the other, your composition would be drastically different. With a DSLR you could mute out some of those differences.

And DSLRs besting P&Ss is NOT an assumption.

Anyway, if you aren't looking at Photography as a hobby, you will likely never be able to see the difference between a P&S and a DSLR. Most people that want more from their photographs will want more than just a P&S.

P.S. There are a lot of people out there that own DSLRs that use them as P&Ss. It is very likely you know a lot of those people (just going by the probability of meeting someone like that) and that is NOT what a DSLR is made for.

The Depressed Doormat said...

P.P.S. A good photograph isn't subjective. Composition is. They are not interchangeable in my vocabulary.

Thanatos said...

Whatever you say, chief.