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First up – a video from Ted Forbes about W Eugene Smith . If you’ve ever wondered about photo essays, Smith was probably the ultimate essayist with an enormous body of work that defined both photojournalism and the photoessay. This is well worth 18 minutes of your time to give you just a glimpse of his work.
The next article – Digital Images can’t be trusted – is a discussion about the ideas of British photographer Don McCullin who has photographed many of the worlds trouble spots and still shoots film. He argues that digital photography is too easy to manipulate both the image and the colour. That is an odd remark, given how the darkroom has often been the home of image manipulation well before PhotoShop. He also feels that photography is losing it’s focus as a means of communication in the pursuit of art.
In my opinion, he may be correct about losing the communicative aspect (we must also consider where the world is today with the ubiquitous smart phone camera and instant communication) but many photographers have through history have pursued photography as art – and many have succeeded. I still think we need to consider photography as more than just a set of rules to make pleasing images – hence my focus on the art in recent weeks.
This view is contrasted by an examination of the work of Bill Henson brought to my attention by Jen Williams (on the clubs Facebook page). Again, film is used – but with some digital manipulation of scanned negatives prior to print. The imagery generates emotion and look more like a paintings than a photograph. Could you do the same with digital alone? Probably. But more importantly, does it tell a story and make you think? On that level I believe it does and explores a vulnerability in his subjects that generates emotion in the viewer.
You be the judge – it’s all food for thought and our development as photographers.
And finally, to round off the digital photo world, here is a little video on how light field photography works – pure maths – and a longer video from the founder of Lytro to really blow your mind on it’s potential!
I’ll sign off (for now – these missives will be a little less frequent) and see you all in the New Year (if not sooner). Don’t forget to check out the 31 Day Challenge and our exhibition at the Coventry Library.