Monday, December 12, 2011

Photographing the commonplace

click photo to enlarge
One of the achievements of photography is to draw our attention to the commonplace - to the everyday, the banal, the humdrum, the mundane, call it what you will - that is part of everyone's experience. Some photographers devote their time to nothing else and produce work that the man in the street often characterises as dull, boring, prosaic, vapid - again, choose your own word. However, framing a selection of our everyday surroundings is a worthwhile undertaking because it allows us to see it afresh, "elevated" through the attention given to it by the act of photography. It's a process that helps us to better appreciate what we've previously taken for granted and can enlarge our understanding and appreciation of our surroundings. Of course one man's commonplace is another man's exotic: what an inhabitant of, say, the Gulf states sees as banal will be viewed as alien, almost otherworldly, by a North European, and vice versa.

I was reflecting on this as I took today's photograph. It shows a view of the edge of a smallholding seen from a narrow Fenland drove road. A couple of small oak trees, the last of their leaves still clinging on, frames part of the smallholder's plot that is ploughed and carries a small crop of brassicas. A couple of home-made bird scarers fashioned out of orange plastic sacks flutter over the vegetables. Beyond is a large field of brussel sprouts and on the horizon a village that is marked by a few houses, a low church tower and a cluster of trees. It's a scene of not a great deal enlivened by its contre jour character. But, I think it is as deserving of a photograph as anything else at which I point my camera.

Today's theme is one I've touched on before, as in the accompanying text to this photograph of a Lancashire seawall and this wet Fenland track.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 24mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/320
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.67 EV
Image Stabilisation: On