Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Explaining photographs

click photo to enlarge
Sometimes the hardest thing about photography is explaining why you take a particular image. With snaps of family and friends no explanation is needed. Images taken on holiday are self-evidently a record of an experience. My shots of churches and church architecture are made in connection with my hobby, and some of these I post because they have a wider application as a picture with interesting content and (I hope) good composition, lighting, etc.

I do quite a few landscapes, a genre that many will readily accept as a legitimate for photography. So too with images of plants, flowers, still lifes, etc. The semi-abstract shots I take sometimes require explanation, but most people are sufficiently visually literate to recognise the tradition that such images come from. The photographs I have most trouble with are images like the one above. I was walking over the rolling Lincolnshire hills when I spotted this forestry planatation of regularly spaced trees. As I approached it I kept taking shots of the trees: some with sky, some with just the repeated verticals. At one point a straggly old oak in the hedge that is in front of the plantation caught my eye, and I included this with the verticals of the young trees by way of contrast, a free spirit against the background conformity! However, when I noticed the high flying airliner coming into the equation I made this image. It's the shot I like best out of the eight or so that I took trying to get a decent composition out of this subject.

Why did I take it, and why do I like it? I appreciated the contrast between the verticality of the trees and the horizontal passage of the plane. I also liked the significant detail that it brought to the expanse of blue. The fact that the airliner isn't something that is noticed on first viewing pleased me too, as well as the fact that once you have seen it then it becomes an essential part of the composition. So I took the shot and like it for that group of reasons, for its quirky simplicity. Of course, there's no requirement on anyone to explain their photographs: they can stand (or fall) on their own merits. But, as far as the image above goes that's my view, but yours may well differ!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 40mm (80mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/640
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On