Have you ever stopped to ponder on just what a photo is - or better, just what it represents. In actual fact, a standard photograph is merely one moment in time, 1/60th second frozen for eternity. The famous French photographer Lartigue (1894 - 1986), was particularly good at this. So was Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 - 2004), who coined the phrase “the decisive moment,” showing photography can give an air of longevity perhaps?
We have been discussing modern cameras recently, all bristling with settings, modes, applications and operating systems. However, despite all the electronic trickery, there are some basic (non-electronic) items needed to make a good photograph. Let me assure you that “apps” do not have the photographer’s eye. You do!
In recent columns I have been comparing smartphone cameras between themselves, and also against point and shooter compacts. This week I thought I should go back to basics and show why smartphones can only take ‘record’ shots, but DSLR’s can take works of art! Take my word for it, DSLR’s are better!
A few years ago, I never thought I would be writing about the various merits (or otherwise) of the images produced by mobile phones. I am old enough to remember the first mobile phones, which came in a medium-sized suitcase and one had to be a body builder to be strong enough to carry it! And it certainly did not take photos.
Everyone who embarks on the study of photography meets a definition of photography as “painting with light”. Whilst you certainly need light to be able to record an image, lighting is not the be all and end all of photography. In fact, too much lighting is detrimental for any outstanding image.
A friend of mine is doing a photography course by correspondence, and the latest test is portraits. A very important subject, since portraits of people represent around 90 percent of all photographs. With portraits, names like Irving Penn and Richard Avedon come immediately to mind. Many portraitists, especially as photo technology improved, have produced spectacular portraits with dramatic flash strobe lighting, or have used amazing props to give the photo just that little something extra, but was that really needed? I would suggest No!
Photographers develop their skills. The photographic eye is not something you are born with. However, that skill can be learned, and there is no age limit either. In fact, it is probably easier to acquire the photographic eye as you get older, as you will generally have more time to devote to learning.
If you want to put some interest in your photos, you have a few items to consider. As well as complying with all the ‘rules’ of photography, your photograph should identify a “hero”. Record shots of grandma outside Lotus will never make hero status for anybody!
There is more to photography than just ‘record’ shots. These shots are those you take of your wife at the beach with her sister and your brother-in-law. You know what I mean, and you have taken lots of them in your lifetime. Photographically, we call these ‘record’ shots as all they are doing is recording an event. No ‘art’ or even artistic input by the photographer.
I received a communication from a newbie photographic friend the other day. It went, “Have you used a Tamron lens? I’m thinking of investing in the 18-270 pzd. I’ve recently read some mixed reviews. I’m shooting the rugby at the weekend and want a lens that covers wide angle team shots and the action without having to keep changing lenses. I thought it would also make a good traveling lens.”