The Argument for Blur

I was asked by Mayo Photographic Club, of which I am a member, to give a presentation about my black and white photography. I gave a little thought to what I would talk about but not too much. So on Monday last, I stood up and gave my first ever talk about my own work. Overall it went pretty smoothly, for me at least. They’re a great bunch of people anyway and this made the experience easier.

I selected some images, categorized them, resized them and loaded them on to a USB stick. After a few initial nerves, I settled down and talked about my photography for about 90 minutes – yes, 90 minutes! 🙂

Some of you know that I like to get creative with my photos and the thought process behind them. I am very open to editing in Photoshop, removing or adding elements to produce a photo that I like. Sometimes, on location, I will sweep up the clutter and remove unnecessary items from a scene – the real world version of the Spot Healing Tool.

I explained a little about each photo, the details behind them, where they were taken and any post processing I had carried out. I also spoke about my general thoughts on photography. Ocean grass

I didn’t really go into the debate about whether photographers should Photoshop their images or not. I assumed that there were some in the audience that used Photoshop and some that didn’t. Each to their own.

After the presentation, I wondered to myself, if I needed to point this out. I have always treated my photography as a creative process and never felt the need to explain it to anyone. And it got me thinking about the whole “photoshopping” debate again.

When photographers talk about a photo being SOCC (straight out of the camera) what exactly does that mean? Has the scene in front of the photographer magically passed through the lens and onto the memory card without the very clever software inside the camera interfering with it? Does it mean that they have captured reality? I don’t think so.

You can photograph a person or a beautiful landscape but does the camera know what it is pointed at? Does the camera see the person? Does it see the mountains? Of course not. All the camera can do is measure the reflected light. And it is only guessing at how much light is hitting the subject your camera is pointed at.

Before a photographer squeezes the button, they will decide what shutter speed, what aperture and what ISO to use. They may also selectively focus on any subject within the scene.
With my camera I can zoom from 11mm to 200mm, depending on whatever lens I am using. In comparison, your eyes are fixed at a focal length of slightly less than 50mm. Our camera lenses allow us to manipulate the view in front of us.

So I believe that the minute we raise a camera to capture a scene, we are manipulating reality.
Whatever people think, I believe photography is a form of art, and sometimes I choose to manipulate images before I take my camera out, during the capture phase and after it. Sometimes I choose not to.

My concern is believability rather than reality

In my photography, my quest is never for technical perfection. I attempt to create a picture that I enjoy and my hope is that other people enjoy it too.

1 Comment
  1. Carol Ferson says

    Well said John, I missed your talk sadly, but I love your work, especially your black & white.

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