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Author Topic: About Photographic Shyness  (Read 1563 times)

Rob C

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About Photographic Shyness
« on: October 21, 2016, 03:20:05 pm »

Alain's article raises several questions to which the answers must vary with the individual photographer attempting to respond to them.

I come from film, starting out professionally in the photo unit of an engineering giant back in '60. Part of my work included making colour prints of jet engine flame tubes etc. where colour fidelity was vital, not to produce a pretty picture, but to provide information to engineers, who could interpret colour in terms of actual temperatures, as in heat.

One of my self-authorised perks was to make colour prints out of some of my b/white negatives of girls. In effect, the method was to expose different parts of the image through different CC filter gels, and thus produce a final, coloured image via multiple exposures on the single sheet of paper. I did that to see if I could make it work. To an extent, I got to where I expected to get, but it wasn't art. Frankly, it was neither one thing nor the other, and I soon abandoned that path.

So, in terms of mixing things up and creating a final result out of primitive 'layers' as just described, you could say that PS isn't that new to me as concept. Basic PS, that is!

Since getting involved in PS I have clearly been provided with tools to expand on that sort of early experimentation, but I really don't feel much desire so to do. In fact, my early resistance to PS was based on the monstrosities that stock libraries used to delight in hawking: canoes going over Niagara and so forth. I hated that kind of cheap trick and it kept me away from digital for a long time. Eventually, I was left with little choice but to stop using film (this was post-retirement) and either give photography up altogether, or climb aboard the Dark Side Express, close down my soul and hope I'd get away with the trespasses for which I would later seek forgiveness. In the first few weeks, I did mess about like that, giving a picture of myself more hair etc. etc. as, I suppose, an amused attempt to learn some techniques.

Now, I don't think I do the equivalent of anything like that; once in a blue moon I do leave a part of a picture in colour - again, just for the hell of it - but I find very few such blue Moons! In fact, I now think of digital photography in exactly the same way as I did film, observing the same general boundaries, but this time becauses of conviction of their rightness.

So, am I being shy? Am I afraid of expressing a personal photographic point of view? I don't think so; I think that I have just accepted that tradition isn't just there to be discarded, that it's there for a reason: it works.

In fact, more and more I'm drawn to neglecting colour and doing most of the processing in terms of black and white. Why? Maybe because most of the photographers - usually commercial people in one guise or another - for whom I have retained love over the years, work a lot in black/white. Or, it's that part of their work that grabs me. Of course, I also love people like Feurer who almost never does anything but colour these days. In such cases, the allure is all about style, genre and the infallible taste with which the stylists etc. cooperate to make a wonderful whole.

Those people are certainly never shy; they push outwards to the edge all the time, but somehow, that pushing is within a natural structure that stops them going too far and making a nonsense of everything.

Black/white is, as I say, my usual space; I think that's so because it is far more flexible a medium with which to play than colour can ever be: colour can easily shock when out of control, but black/white is more forgiving of excesses. I think, too, as people often point out, black/white already starts from a step beyond reality, and has historic acceptance of that. It's well-insulated from shock. But above and beyond, I just find black/white to be more interesting and offering far more scope for visual adventure and self-expression.

The elephant in this particular room, of course, is that as amateur, I need only please myself. I never give a thought to an audience; indeed, if I do after the event, it's to delight in going somewhere in the images that few want to follow. For an 'artist' whatever that is, I guess the challenge is always split between what he/she likes and what they can sell.

Shyness may affect the neophyte; I doubt people with more experience feel they don't want to shine. Will that keep them in the mainstream, or will they do their own thing? In the end, folks end up doing whatever they know how to do; habit kicks in...

Rob
« Last Edit: October 22, 2016, 03:53:56 am by Rob C »
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: About Photographic Shyness
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2016, 06:10:59 pm »

Very well said, Rob.

Much of what you say also fits my own attitude. Yes, I do a little fooling around with PS, but, except for deliberate humorous effect, I require a certain level of plausibility in my images.

One thing you said I would never have guessed at. I never would have thought of photographing jet engine flame tubes as a prerequisite for becoming a great photographer of women!

Cheers!
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Rob C

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Re: About Photographic Shyness
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2016, 04:00:55 am »

Very well said, Rob.

Much of what you say also fits my own attitude. Yes, I do a little fooling around with PS, but, except for deliberate humorous effect, I require a certain level of plausibility in my images.

One thing you said I would never have guessed at. I never would have thought of photographing jet engine flame tubes as a prerequisite for becoming a great photographer of women!

Cheers!



That's because you didn't live in Scotland during the 50s/60s! Weird and wonderfully circuitous routes to everywhere, and for many, that everywhere was spelt London.

Rob
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