50p camera, flickr, Rants and discussions

Work of Art

Giants. Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. 50p camera project, Olympus XA, Kodak Tmax 400 film, Developed in LC29, scanned on Epson V500.

This post was inspired by Les.  He said that a lot of Flickr photographers don’t post a photo of a dog, unless it’s a work of art, but dogs are very much a part of many of our life’s (not a quote).

I’ve noticed on a few photography forums, that the majority of film photographers, just like digital photographers, do concentrate on quality.  Quality in terms of sharpness, exposure, depth, colour, focus, grain/noise, as well as composition.  Except for composition, most of these attributes are of technical origin.  That is good.  However, this can develop into the obsession held in modern digital photography, for technical perfection.  More megapixels, more sharpness, etc.

As photography enthusiasts, should we always obey the rules of technical perfection?  I’d argue, no.  As Les suggested, it could be more fundamental to photography, that we photograph life and our environment as we see it.  A record rather than a work of art.  That does not always mean a sharp perfect image – we don’t really see the world like that.  Our brains use our biological eyes like third rate scanners.  Much of what we think we see, has been filled in by the brain.  But we see signs, smiles, danger, sex, and … dogs (edit.  I nearly said and rock n’ roll).

In film, we are the alternative.  We have the opportunity to capture what is important, rather than to burst mode thousands of bytes of robot controlled perfection.

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2 thoughts on “Work of Art

  1. Les Murdoch says:

    Hi Paul. Thanks for the mention. I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts. Forty odd years ago my brother and I were both keen photographers. I joined a camera club and spent my time trying to produce images to win competitions, which I did quite regularly. My brother on the other hand had no interest in producing works of art. He just fired away and took pictures of what he was doing, his hobbies, his travels and his friends.

    We met up recently and he was showing me some of his old stuff which had just got round to scanning and uploading to his computer. It was fascinating looking through all his pictures. The passage of time meant that they were historical documents in their own right – how places had changed, the cars, the fashions, friends no longer with us etc. He also did hot air ballooning at this time and some of his pictures were exceptional. The point is, they were all interesting. I don’t even have any of my supposed works of art because I didn’t have any emotional attachment to them and heaved them out years ago. I suspect they would just look dated and a bit naff nowadays anyway.

    I still try to produce the odd stunning photograph but I’m just as happy shooting any old stuff to try out my old film cameras. All the best. Les

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