Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fashion in photography

Most days, after I have posted a picture to Flickr. I have a look at the section on the website entitled Explore – Recent photos. On that page are photos that Flickr has found to showcase for the day. The ones at the start of the page gain the highest acclaim and are visited hundreds if not thousands of times. They also are selected by viewers as “favourites”. 

I have never, to my knowledge, had a picture chosen for this honour (sigh!) even though I am close on three quarter of a million visitors to my photos.

What I find interesting on the Explore page are the fashions that photography goes through. Amongst all the highly competent pictures of birds and pets(there are many) are a smattering of HDR (high dynamic range) landscapes with impossibly overblown skies and over rich colours. It is a sad fact that the technique is overused by some to create unreal photos.

Untitled-2 An example of a picture where water has been rendered smooth by the use of a slow shutter speed.
Untitled-1 An example of the exaggerated colours that you can produce using HDR techniques and tone mapping.
Untitled-3 The obligatory lone tree in a landscape.

Another fashion that seems to prevail on Explore is making long exposures of scenes with water. By placing your camera on a tripod and setting an exposure of seconds or even minutes, it is possible to produce a dreamy effect where moving water is smoothed out to look like mist. With such long exposures, photographers often employ neutral density filters to stay within the aperture range of their lenses.  Waterfalls and jetties reaching out to the sea seem to be the favourite subject for this style of photography.

There are also lots of pictures of lone trees silhouetted against moody skies in black and white and rusting wrecks or dilapidated buildings entangled by weeds.

With millions of pictures being taken every day, it is almost impossible to be original these days and very easy to fall into the trap of employing manipulation techniques to try and produce something stunning out of nothing. The sad fact is that digital photography has almost made it too easy to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

This may sound like sour grapes on my part but it isn’t. I admire those who achieve acclaim when they have been truly creative, I just don’t care for jumping on a bandwagon simply to gain recognition. 

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