Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Acme Vehicle Eraser

click photo to enlarge
If you're a photographer you're always finding stuff getting in your way. If it's not pesky pedestrians sauntering across your scene it's repulsive refuse bins violating your view. Photographing in town or country you frequently find wires, antennae, aerials and poles wending their way through the vista. My particular aversion is vapour trails (contrails to some). Their white scribble, scrawled across the sky scar many of my landscapes and only rarely do I find that they contribute to the composition. Anyway, enough of this alliterative abuse of people and inanimate objects, because there is, apparently, a more convenient answer to the removal of at least one of these intrusions than the painstaking processes currently available: a piece of software promises the painless removal of wires.

The other day I came across an advert for a program called Wire Pilot, a Photoshop plugin that makes the digital removal of telephone and electrical wires - in fact any thin object - an easier task. You might think, given the diatribe above, that I immediately went online and ordered my copy. But no. Wires are relatively easy to remove should you wish to do so. In fact, what I did do was look at the Wire Pilot website to see if they sold a software removal solution for the object that is a bigger pain than pedestrians, bins, wires and vapour trails combined. I mean of course, the car (that's "auto" if you say "contrail"!) and its associated wheeled accomplices, the van, the lorry, etc. Alas, I was disappointed. The "Acme Vehicle Eraser" is yet to be developed. But, when it is, my money will be joyfully despatched with great haste.

I have been known to say that I don't mind vehicles in a shot; that they give an image a sense of the period in which it was taken, and that today's photographic intrusions are tomorrow's historic vehicles over which future viewers will pore with interest. I do believe that. But not all the time! On other occasions, as when I was photographing this view of Barn Hill at Stamford, Lincolnshire, with its houses of every century from the sixteenth to the nineteenth, I want to sweep away the vehicles and reveal the history that they obscure. In the absence of any power to physically do that, the ability to remove them using software would be handy. Now I appreciate that there are certain minor technical difficulties in what I am proposing, but they're surely not insurmountable at the start of the 21st century, a time of Large Hadron Colliders, space missions to distant planets, and mp3 players the size of your fingernail. However, on deeper reflection, perhaps I'm searching for a solution to a problem that will soon disappear anyway. The current economic problems and the dwindling oil supplies may well be the magic wands that make those cars disappear without the need for expensive software!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 18mm (36mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/400
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -1.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On