Friday, October 21, 2011

Where do photographs come from?

click photo to enlarge
The answer to today's title question seems fairly obvious - from a camera, or perhaps a printer. And so they do, but the genesis of every photographic image is in someone's mind. Before it is captured by the camera or printed on paper it is conceived by someone looking and thinking.

I do quite a bit of DIY. I find it interesting, often quite relaxing, sometimes fulfilling, and invariably a money saver. When it comes to embarking on a project I know that the most crucial part of the process is the "thinking time" before I buy the materials and pick up the tools. So too with photography: most of my images are preceded by a period of thought and in that thinking time I'm pondering what I see before me, what I will include in the frame, what I'll leave out, what kind of composition I want, what the subject might look like from a different angle, whether there are any dissonant objects or conjunctions that will interfere with the image, etc. But there are occasions too when I take a shot instinctively; when the elements of an image present themselves, seemingly register on my subconscious and I raise the camera and press the shutter in one quick movement without much conscious thought.

Today's image is one of those shots. I was leaving a service building (a dairy I think) at Audley End House in Essex when I noticed the raking light emphasising the raised pattern on the door. I must have subconsciously taken in the bright areas of the sunlit door, ground and sky, the contrasting shadows and the two people passing in front of the dark yew hedge. Moreover, I must have registered the importance of the figures in the whole composition because I quickly grabbed my shot before they walked out of view. It's not my usual way of working but sometimes I find myself doing it and often liking the result. I wish I could do it more often!

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 21mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.67 EV
Image Stabilisation: On