Saturday, March 14, 2009

Another perspective


In my experience I have found that most folk tend to have a certain view or perspective on life with which they are happy. Oft times nothing will budge them from their own cherished viewpoint.

(that laughter you hear is some of my acquaintances making thinly veiled references to pots and kettles being black)

No probs. Like everyone else I tend to make decisions, hold viewpoints and stick to them (at least until evidence appears which requires me to make an alteration to my perspective).

Photographers also tend to have a certain perspective on things. They may have a certain way of working that they are comfortable with and which results in images with a particular style. They may hold certain ideals to be true or may have been influenced by other photographers, artists, politicians, religious beliefs or political views. These can all bring a different view or perspective to the final image.

Then of course there is visual perspective in the image itself. This is achieved by a number of means. The most important is of course the camera to subject distance; not as commonly and erroneously held, the focal length of the lens being used.

One major constraint that is very common is the format of the camera. Over the years there have been a number of formats on the market. These include square formats, 'panoramic' formats and the most common which is a 3:2 rectangular ratio format.

It seems fairly common that a lot of photographers shoot with the 3:2 ratio in mind. Some have even stated that they would never crop an image; that it is somehow more truthful to have the entire image as captured by the camera displayed or printed. So the question is - does it have to be that way? If so - why? The image is captured in a format that was designed early last century. Who says it still has to be that way?

Modern digital SLR cameras have such a high quality of resolution that decent crops can be made while still maintaining enough detail to render a high quality image. Sure one can use a purpose built different ratio camera. The option to crop is there however and in the current equipment the quality of results has never been higher.

A couple of times lately this has been in my mind as I have been out and about with a camera. I find that thinking this way actually permits a bit more freedom in shooting. One can view a scene and not be forced to try to capture it in the constraints of the format dictated by the manufacturer of the tool being used.

The images on today's post were all cropped after capture. They were, however, made with the crop in mind. That is slightly different than making an image and deciding later that it would look better cropped.

The black and white image was also made with the camera set to monochrome. This forced me to look at the tones more so than the colours. True, some say always shoot in colour and convert later, thus having both options available. That is a pretty good philosophy. This time though, I decided to try to see the final image as a black and white one in a particular format.

Again it is all about thinking a little differently to one's normal pattern and seeing what results.

So try a little different perspective in your shooting. Look at the scene, not in the ratio of the tool you are using, but in a different mental ratio. I would be interested to hear what results are obtained by thinking just a little differently on this matter.

The final image, below, was not cropped. In a way it is still a different perspective on the scene.
The altered perspective in this instance can only be noticed by me and one other. It will not be readily apparent to the casual viewer. You see, as mentioned at the start of this post, we all have personal perspectives on things. Let me try to explain.

The first time I shot this wall several years ago, there was a friend standing beneath the sign. We had been having a meal one night at a nearby Chinese Restaurant and saw the sign up a laneway as we were walking back to the car. I was carrying a small compact digital and made an image of her standing and laughing because we both thought the words were somewhat appropriate.

I came across this laneway by accident again last week. I looked at the sign, smiled at the memory and made the image. Simple image, complex thoughts. Thoughts such as wondering what the heck happened.

The perspective is different not merely because one image is of a wall and a sign while the original, which I will not post, also had a beautiful woman in it. Rather, this is a different perspective in a symbolic, personal sense because she is in several ways no longer there.

I wish she was.

Stay safe.

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