Sunday, February 02, 2014

The camera and the eye

click photo to enlarge
Something that I like about photography is that the camera often sees what the eye doesn't, and sometimes it sees what the eye can't. Take this photograph. Had I been walking by the River Slea in Sleaford without my camera, and with my mind on anything but photography, I wouldn't have noticed this semi-abstract composition. I wouldn't have seen the line of three posts in the water supporting the boarding that stabilises the river bank. Nor would I have seen the way they make a lower left to upper right diagonal across which the branches of a nearby tree makes wavy diagonals at right angles to them. More than that, without a camera I wouldn't have seen the extent to which the shifting surface of the water was making a scribble of lines out of those branches. I know the latter to be the case because my eye noticed a lot less movement than was recorded by the camera, and before I pressed the shutter I wondered if the composition would have enough interest.

It is said that the camera never lies, but, as I've said elsewhere in this blog, it's truer to say that the camera always lies, in one way or another. Sometimes the lies matter little, as when the perspective is altered by the focal length or the dynamic range is less than our eye can see. At other times it matters more, for example when colours are noticeably shifted, or what appears sharp to the eye is blurred, or a scene that looks deserted is only empty of people because you waited for a rare moment when no one was in the field of view. In fact, the camera induced effects that impinge on some photographs can make a shot what it is and sometimes it's worth deliberately trying to generate them: or at least be welcoming of them when they unexpectedly appear. Here are a few examples -silhouettes of ducks under an overhanging tree, the sun deliberately included in the frame, a sepia effect resulting from contre jour lighting and laser pen light and distorted colour (that radiator is white!) from a long exposure.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 27.9mm (75mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f4
Shutter Speed: 1/80 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On