Thursday, October 31, 2013

Operator Error!

click photo to enlarge
Most people's photographs consist of shots of family, friends and holiday locations. And why not? Cameras are good for recording people, their activities and the places they go. Like most enthusiast photographers most of my photographs show a subject that I want to record or interpret. Consequently, only 5-10% of my photographs are family shots. I don't include in that figure those images where my wife - it's usually my long suffering wife - is included for scale or as a focal point.

The other day I broke off from a series of landscapes to take a family photograph of my wife in a small wood by a waterfall. Unfortunately I forgot that I'd got the two second self-timer on. When nothing happened in response to my press of the shutter button I moved the camera down to set it to single shot and, as I did so, the shutter fired. The image that was saved shows the arc of my hand through the air, and recorded for posterity as an impressionistic blur, my wife in her red cardigan among the fallen leaves. When I looked at the shot on the camera screen, thinking to erase it, I quite liked what I saw and decided instead to save it.

I once went to an exhibition where every photograph looked like it had been taken by the photographer as he walked along with the camera dangling from his hand, or he had thrown it casually into the grass and the shutter had tripped. There were no straight horizons, no attempt at composition, no sharp shots, no main subjects etc. I remember thinking at the time that this looked like deliberate operator error. It also occurred to me that photography, more than perhaps any other art (when the aim of the photography is art), can produce effective images by accident, or when the camera doesn't record what the photographer intended. That wasn't the case in the exhibition: all I saw was the work of a charlatan seeking to impress by his disregard for photographic conventions. Nor is it the case with my photograph, though it will be a fun shot in the family album. Moreover, I'm tempted to try and reproduce the motion blur in a more controlled way to see if I can produce something more worthwhile with the effect. Watch this space!

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 12mm (32mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.5
Shutter Speed: 1/40 sec
ISO: 160
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On