Friday, June 13, 2014

Using photographic effects sparingly

click photo to enlarge
There's a place in photography for effects, that is to say, the post-exposure (or in-exposure) manipulation of an image away from what the camera ordinarily offers. Photography has never been about recording "reality" but rather a form of a reality as mediated by the photographic process. Consequently, any further manipulation should properly be seen as an addition to already existing manipulation rather than the adulteration of some kind of pure vision.

But, and its a big but, though effects have their place, they are much more effective (pun intended) if they are used sparingly, and we are very familiar with straightforward photographs. There's an analogy here with swearing: if it happens every other sentence the effect of the forbidden word is much less effective. If it's reserved for just the right occasion then it can have a very big impact. At least that's my view - on photographic effects and swearing. By extension, my view of Instagram and similar services is that eventually they dull the vision of its users and create a desire for ever wilder photographic effects.

My way of using effects is to wait until I have a photograph that looks like it could wear one well. Today's shot of an antique shop in Great Malvern, Worcestershire, had that appearance so it had a vignette, tonal contrast, a brown "grunge" cast and a few other things thrown at it. To my eye it pushes a photograph that advertises only through the phone number and the burglar alarm box that it resides in the twentieth or twenty-first century, back to somewhere in the grubby nineteenth century.

© Tony Boughen

Camera: Nikon D5300
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 27mm (40mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/80 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On