Saturday, November 30, 2013

ICM and Other Stuff

Can you tell that I am reading an article on ICM, Intentional Camera Movement? If not; I am. The article is one of Craft and Vision's eBook publications, Slow, the Magic of Long-Exposure Photography by Andrew Gibson.

But what I would like to quote from that article has nothing to do with ICM. I often tell people that they will never see a straight out of camera shot on my blog; you wont. The author of one of the included articles, Joel Tjintjelaar, includes a quote from himself with which I am very much in agreement.

“I don’t believe in straight out of the camera shots. I believe in the artistic result and in the visualization of the artist of how he/she sees the world. A camera is just a piece of hardware with no mind, no soul, no artistry, just an object that records a situation, unbiased and emotionless. I’m not interested in the vision of a piece of hardware, I’m only interested in the vision of the artist with a mind and soul, who will alter the image to his reality. It’s the difference between photography and art.”

I am not saying that all photographs must be so far removed from what is captured in the camera, after all every photograph is already a manipulation of the reality of the subject matter, an intellectual or emotional decision made by the photographer based on his choice of camera setting, point of view and framing. I am saying that to rely strictly on the camera to tell your story is shortsighted in my opinion.

The colors of this photograph have little to do with the reality of the scene. I was having a pleasurable experience with a good book, a tasty breakfast, a fairly good cup of coffee. This pleasurable experience is enhanced in the photograph by enhancing the brightness and cheerfulness of the capture. I included elements that related to the pleasure of reading and having coffee--by this time the 'breakfast' was long gone and greatly enjoyed. That feeling of pleasure was not as well expressed in the original neutral tans of the table, the grayed blues and browns of paper cup or in the black and white images in the book I was reading. I could have photographed it that way--actually I did or to put it better, the camera did. But that photograph was the reality of the moment. The enhanced colors are about the sense or feeling of the moment.

I am aware that I take a lot of photographs of the items on the table when I eat out. Generally these photographs have to do with one of two situations. One being the eating alone, aloneness; the other to being out of the house and enjoying the day. This was an enjoyable day. This is another image that concentrates only on the elements on the table. The solarization divorces the elements from the reality captured by the camera in a way that says the reality was not the important experience. I read a book, my thoughts go to another place. I think about photography, both how others approach it and how I approach it. There is a good deal of unreality in what I want from photography. I really do not care if it is art or not but I do want it to be my vision and not the camera's. Sometime I want the difference to be subtle, sometimes maybe a little more drastic. I have no single reason for taking photographs. It depends upon the moment, the subject matter. I would not wish to be limited to one single reason. Then, on the other hand maybe I am simply making the best of a sad dreary life--fooling myself or creating what is into what should be. As I say, photographers are like little gods running around snapping into creation their own private little worlds. Maybe that is it.
And a combination of ICM and color. Maybe this makes the morning, the breakfast, the book and the coffee more festive than it really was. It also makes the image much closer to abstract expressionism than reality. I greatly enjoy color. I greatly enjoy how photography abstracts reality. And sometimes I just enjoy the movement, the moment or the lines and shapes in a photograph independent of the reality of the objects depicted. ICM has a way of changing dull reality into exciting abstraction. Some years ago I spent a couple of weeks photographing the objects on my very cluttered computer disk using ICM. Over the next year or so I spent time manipulating those photographs far beyond the abstraction of this image. Had a ball.

Equally as shortsighted is post processing your images to meet some 'conventional impediment.' Yesterday I was reading an article on using Lightroom 5. In the article I found something that I thought was refreshing because it made post processing recommendations based on the photographers emotional reactions to the scene rather on the arbitrary conventional impediments we are so familiar with. It stepped down through 1. correcting the images obvious shortcomings, 2. enhancing the photographers sense or feeling at the scene, evaluation of the elements within the image. Each of the above categories was then broken down into finer divisions and then the author made post processing suggestions for each of those divisions with suggested specific LR5 tools to use. The first two columns could easily be applied to the thinking in any imaging software and in my opinion was valuable information on how to approach post processing. Unfortunately right now I cannot find the article but when I am able to locate it I will post a link.

I really wish that I was smart enough to know how to get other photographers to intuitively see photographs rather than the subject matter of photographs. If you can only see these images as photographs of a napkin, cream containers, paper coffee cup, part of a book, the top of a table then you have greatly missed seeing the photograph. There is no coffee cup, no book or any of the other objects in these images, only lines, shapes, forms, color, tone or as Minor White called it 'smudges.' What is important is what the lines, shapes, forms, color and tone convey emotionally or intellectually and the relationships created within the frame created by inclusion or exclusion. There is so much more to a photograph than the subject matter. Minor has a quote that I use frequently but I will share it again. "The documentary photographer says to the viewer, if you had stood where I stood you would have seen what is in this photograph. The poetic photographer says, If you had stood where I stood neither of us would have seen what is in this photograph."

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