Thursday, February 6, 2014

37/365-2 Shadow

"Thoughts and Feelings"

We were surprised this morning by a light dusting of snow.  Though it was bitter cold, I ventured outside determined to get a good macro shot of snowflakes.  I spent about 15-20 minutes outside; that was all the 18 degree temperatures that my hands could take.  When I came inside, I immediately uploaded the pictures to the computer; dismal failure!  Though I had some OK shots of the snow in general, the snowflakes themselves eluded me.  Noticing a few shots that had some potential, I ventured outside again, confident that I could do it this time.  Again, no success.  Now having two strikes, I went to Google hoping I could find some technical advice.  And, I did.

I discovered that most of the snowflake shots that I have seen have had an incredible amount of post processing.  Many of them use "stacking", something I had not heard of until today.  One of the photographers said that his snowflake images were using a composite of 30-40 different shots.  No wonder I can't do it!

This got me thinking...

I'm not sure how I feel about that kind of post-processing.  The images are gorgeous and it gives us the opportunity to see a beautiful natural creation in amazing detail.  I'm OK with that.  What I have decided that I am not OK with is photos that are super processed and we are supposed to believe that they are exactly the image that was shot.  I had to come up with an analogy to figure this all out in my head.  

It is the difference between wearing a little bit of make-up to enhance your natural beauty and having plastic surgery to become something fake.  Photographically speaking, make-up, to me, is minor tweaks like contrast, saturation, sharpening, even a little exposure alteration .  Plastic surgery is what I read about today with stacking, cutting and pasting bits and pieces of various photos so that everyone looks perfect.  Life isn't perfect.  We don't all look perfect.  There is always going to be someone in a group shot that is looking the wrong direction.  That's the photo we remember.  We need to get away from the idea of having to "fix" everything.  When we create images that have all been "corrected" we are documenting the moments and the life that we wish we had, not the one that we are living.

The same is true for performing musicians.  When we hear a recording, we are hearing the best of multiple takes all spliced together.  We are not listening to a performance.  We are listening to a collage of the the best moments of many performances, a greatest moment, if you will.   I remember as a freshman in college hearing Jean Pierre Rampal in concert.  I was super excited to have such an opportunity.  The performance was excellent, but it was not perfect.  There were imperfections and there were outright mistakes.  I wasn't sure what to think.  As I reflected on that experience over time, I realized that Jean Pierre Rampal was a human being just like me.  We, human beings, aren't perfect creatures.  We aren't perfect musicians. And we aren't perfect photographers.  

All that said, I do like to play with the possibilities in post processing.  To me though, these extreme makeovers to a photo ought to be like dressing up for a masquerade party.  There is no question that you are dressing up as someone or something that you are not.  When it is made obvious that you are altering a photo in an over-the-top way, go for it.  Have fun!  Make it creative! make it artistic!  Make it your own!

I don't mean to be on a rant here, but so many people feel inadequate about so many different things in their lives because what they believe to be a real is actually fabricated.  This is the whole ethical dilemma surrounding the excessive amount of Photoshopping done on models.  Let's just get real, accept ourselves and each as we are.  I think we'd all be a whole lot happier.

Back to the day's photo...

We had snow, but no sun.  A lack of sun made photographing a shadow with natural light impossible. I used a flashlight as the light source in the above photo.  I'm not sure what I was hoping for with this image, but this is what I got.  Therefore, it is my photo of the day.

There you have my thoughts and feelings.