Sunday, September 18, 2011

Giving the wrong impression

click photo to enlarge
I've said elswhere in this blog that I think "the camera ALWAYS lies" is a truer statement than "the camera NEVER lies." I've also come to realise, over the years, that photographs often deceive unwittingly. In fact, "lies" is frequently too strong a word: "give a false impression" sums it up rather better.

This misleading comes about through the way that we compose images. Photographers are usually selective of the view before them, deciding what will be included in the shot and what will be left out. Sometimes they are less careful than that and are so fixed on what they want in the photograph they simply don't care or notice what is omitted. And, when this happens, the image can give a viewer who doesn't know the subject that we are presenting, a false impression.

Today's image is an example of this. It shows a tractor hauling a couple of disc harrows, one with tines, over a field that has been cleared of wheat. The scene is in Lincolnshire, a county that is considered by many English people to be sparsely populated, flat (or flattish), treeless, with few hedges, and devoted exclusively to arable agriculture. This photograph reinforces every one of those ideas which are, in fact, misconceptions. It was taken in a part of Lincolnshire where the Fens give way to low rolling hills (there are also higher rolling hills - the Lincolnshire Wolds). If I had not wanted the sparse composition that I did and had shown a wider view it would have included more of these hills and trees and hedges (just out of shot). Had I panned left I'd have photographed an old manor house surrounded by trees with adjacent pasture, paddocks for horses and small copses, with further away, some cattle. The stereotypical image that I have produced gives a false impression of the area in which it was taken.

For another (compositionally similar) example of this, and similar comments (in the last paragraph), see here.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 104mm
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/800
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On