Sunday, April 18, 2010

Daily Practice 108/365

Title: "Birth/Rebirth"
(click to view larger)
I was invited out to Rochelle and Alex's for dinner last night with their friend Dave, who is an amazing photographer. Dave teaches a photography course at a local institution, and we were talking about the heavy reliance some of his students have on Photoshop, in that the students tend to be cavalier about composition and exposure while taking the image, because they rely on fixing everything in post-processing. The problem with this approach is they aren't developing a good working routine with the camera, and they are not improving their eye for composition. Someone who has worked hard at learning the craft of photography can take stunning images with any camera. Apropos of our discussion, Dave had brought some prints he'd made of images taken with the hipstamatic app on the iPhone. The camera on the iPhone is definitely low-res, yet Dave's images were notable for their extremely strong compositions, each an absolutely stunning jewel. It was a wonderful illustration of what we'd been talking about earlier, and a great inspiration for me - this is why I'm doing the daily practice. I want to improve my ability to make strong compositions and produce expressive images.

Ironically, today as yesterday, I was working "blind" in terms of making compositions. Yesterday I used a pinhole camera, and today I used a Fuji instax camera, but with a cheap 99 cent magnifying glass as a pseudo-closeup lens, making the viewfinder redundant. I was finding moments during the afternoon to photograph while doing other chores around the house, which put a useful limit on subject matter. I don't often photograph flowers, because it's such an overused subject which makes it difficult to bring something new. So I make no claims about this image. I was attracted to this magnolia blossom because the outer petals were starting to turn brown, but new fresh petals were still unfolding in the centre. Because I was shooting blind, it was a bit of trial and error to get a composition and I wouldn't say this worked all that well. Except that by not including all of the blossom and leaves in the frame, this composition ties into the training I received in painting to consider that the image extends beyond the canvas, not to always constrain the subject within the confines of the canvas. And so it is with this image - the viewer must consider that the subject extends beyond what is visible.

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