A place for me to share my recent work, random musings on photography and reflect on my thoughts, experiences, ideas and revelations.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

November Wallpaper Calendar

I'm sure it's just me (it usually is) but there is something weird about kids going around and trick-or-treating while they text on their cell phones.  Seems like if you are old enough to have a cell phone you shouldn't be out begging for candy.  Like I said, probably just me....

Let's kick November off with another waterfall image.  On our recent club outing to Brevard someone mentioned that they thought it was interesting that there could be 20 photographers standing in front of a waterfall and I would be the only one with my lens pointing away from the waterfall. Well, not always.  In this case I was pointed at the waterfall, but at a really small part of it.

This is a detail from Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC.  Not too many people get this shot, most of them don't even see it.  But sometimes I do actually shoot waterfalls!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fancy Colours

(Reference to an old Chicago tune)

I spent last week in the NC mountains photographing in fall color.  On several occasions people mentioned that they thought that "the colors are lousy this year" or "this fall is one of the worst I've seen."  I even heard someone say something like "this fall sucks."  While I admit that there were places where you might have to isolate the colors a bit, I didn't think it was all that bad.  As I review my images on the computer this week I'm not all that disappointed with the color.  Could it be that we have gotten so used to looking at our images through Viveza-colored glasses that we can't appreciate reality when we see it?  Just a thought.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Drum Machines Have No Soul

Creativity comes from many places and takes many forms.  There is no formula for creativity and there is no single definition or example.  Photography is no exception, but where my opinion differs from that of many photographers I know is I feel that 95% (or more) of creativity takes place at the instant a photograph is taken, using the camera and related tools to express the vision in our hearts.  Whether we use an expensive high-res camera or our phone, the expression of our creativity comes not from the equipment but from how we use our equipment to communicate our thoughts, ideas and emotions through our photographs.  We use more tools to realize our creativity after the photograph is taken, and those tools range from the type of equipment used, to the software used to process the photograph to the method for displaying the finished result.

Recently someone suggested that I needed to use a certain piece of software because (a whole list of people) were using it and because it did a great job of making their images look really good.  I have seen the results of this software in the work of these referenced photographers and agree that the software does have some interesting characteristics.  But it’s not the software that makes good images good.  Good images look good no matter what software is used, because a good image reflects good vision, and all the software in the world won’t make a lousy image great (I’ve tried it!).  My personal preference is to use software as a tool and learn how to achieve my vision regardless of the name of the software.  I work really hard to learn how to use my software to make my images look like I want them to, based on my creativity and vision.  The danger comes in relying on software or presets or plug-ins as a “recipe” that doesn’t make images good, it just makes them look like the images of everyone else using that software.  To quote art expert Barney Davey, “The talent to emulate and replicate is not the same as to create.”

A car in my neighborhood has a bumper sticker on the back that says “Drum Machines Have No Soul.”  When I first read that message I knew exactly what it meant.  Drum machines are great for laying down a rhythm track.  They sound pretty good and are used a lot in certain types of music.  While you can be somewhat creative in programming them, they do some interesting things and can reflect some variety based on the programmer’s input, they have little ability to reflect artistry, and can’t adapt to changes in mood or energy.  Once upon a time I was a musician and was very fortunate to have played in a band with an individual who is now one of the top drummers in the world.  There’s a big difference between a rhythm track and a virtuoso drum solo.

When I heard the comment about using a certain piece of software to process all my images, I couldn’t help but think of the bumper sticker warning me about drum machines.  The computer has no soul either, and while using software can be creative in terms of deciding which button to push, I would much rather achieve my vision by working with software I control, rather than using some faceless software developer’s recipe to give my images some soulless look with a canned effect.  Learning how to use the software I use to achieve the end result I want, rather than pushing buttons until I find something that looks “cool,” puts my heart and my soul into my photographs.