Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blurred pieces

Road, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Red barn, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Blur, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Firs, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Fir, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Red, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

First, some words about cameras, namely whether a better camera makes you a better photographer. The original posting was by a photographer who had just bought a Leica M9, and this quote is from a response to the claim: "This guy seems to think that the most common technical stumbling block for a photographer is blurry shots, which is ridiculous. Most people, even rank novices, understand that a camera has to be held still, and that less light means it has to be held even more still. That concept, combined with the amazing autofocus algorithms of modern cameras, means that most people can take sharp photos."

Well, my take on this topic is that sometimes you want the blur. See some of the above photographs for some examples, taken today when I was out skiing. And I have never needed (or aspired to) anything like a Leica or a high-end DSLR to satisfy my modest needs.

Another interesting topic is "slow photography", namely a more deliberate shooting style, as pondered in this quote: "Photography is so easy that the camera threatens to replace the eyeball. Our cameras are so advanced that looking at what you are photographing has become strictly optional. [...] What gets lost is the idea that photography might force you to spend time looking at what is in front of you, noticing what you might otherwise ignore. [...] The effort to record everything is vain and soon starts to feel empty."

Well, this rang a bell, namely the title of the my posting from yesterday, Take photographs of everything. I think slow photography does have something in it, something which I appreciate very much. On the other hand, I'm trying to develop a kind of intuitive approach which does not rely on deliberate thinking. There is too much of that kind of thinking needed at work, so to balance that I need to have something else.

So, I didn't really mean that you should take photographs of everything, only that everything can be a thing which looks interesting in a photograph.

Finally, I must note the review of the Olympus XZ-1 at Dpreview. There are some reservations about usability, which only hands-on experience can solve, but the XZ-1 is really something. I haven't yet studied the review in detail, though. And of course this camera won't make anyone a better photographer - but it can be used to learn about photography, of that I'm sure.

One further matter, a response to Sven W's comment about "surprise" in photographs, about which he wrote: "Perhaps because a lot of your images are taken in twilight with artificial light present (how it appears to my eyes) or you are using unpredictable techniques like motion blur, that the photo becomes a surprise?"

Indeed, artificial light or motion blur are sources of surprise, but this is not all. Often the little details matter, for example how a certain texture shows up in a photograph, how a thing is cut at the border of the photograph, and the overall relations of the elements in the final photograph. Often there was something of which I was not consciously aware when I took the photograph.

I tend to shoot intuitively, trying not to think too much, reacting before the brain has time to catch up, so there is often a revelation when looking at the photograph: is this the reason why I was moved to take a photograph?


Colin Griffiths said...

Something that we shouldn't forget, is that for most of us, using a camera is a pastime to be enjoyed and is a way of escaping from stress. I like taking time over some photographs, but I also find "intuitive" photography (to use your term) very enjoyable and SO absorbing that I can completely relax and loose myself. I think that you are probably the same. Sometimes you don't have to have a reason/purpose/result, just doing it is the end in itself. Sometimes it doesn't do to analyse everything and it's better just to follow your heart ~ it often produces more creative and less obviously laboured results.

Juha Haataja said...

@Colin: Indeed! I have been thinking about the rational vs. intuitive aspect, but haven't had the energy to put it into writing.

Sven W said...

I guess the blurred images reflect how a skier would see things...?

Juha Haataja said...

@Sven W: So I imagine. In fact, I have started to notice that eyes capture a lot of motion blur although we may not be aware it, focusing on the "sharp" information instead.