Wednesday, December 11, 2013


It is fascinating to me how frequently people confuse the subject with the picture. Even a pretty competent amateur photographer will look at two completely different pictures of similar objects, and will declare them to be much the same. The lighting, the point of view, the rendering might be totally different, but the inexperienced eye will see the pictures as "pretty much the same".

This isn't that harmful, I suppose, except when the idea is totally different as well which it often is when the renderings are different. If you are declaring two pictures with quite different ideas to be the same, then you are manifestly missing the ideas entirely. And that's a shame.

Should you find yourself in this boat, or rather should you suspect yourself of perhaps being in this boat, make a list of the differences between two pictures. Focus not on what is the same, but what is different. Light, point of view, framing, depth of field, contrast, blacks, highlights, midtones. How are all these things, and anything else you can see, treated differently?

What sorts of emotions, feelings, ideas, are invoked by the differences, especially in contrast to one another?

How might this affect how you feel about the total picture, in each case?

Here's a sample to start with. I've made some.. modifications to Weston's Pepper #30. See if you can see what they are, and how they change the way you feel about the picture. Some are obvious and ham fisted, and at least one is moderately subtle but, I think, important.

Much better examples exist.

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