More Truthful Lies

In the final quarter of the 19th Century, photography entered its adolescence as impressionism flourished in the world of painting. Painters in general, and impressionists in particular, took a dim view of photography. As Eadweard Muybridge deployed multiple cameras and high-speed shutters to capture ever briefer fractions of time on film, painters argued that by stopping time, photography told lies. Time does not stop, and therefore an impressionistic painting produces a more truthful representation of nature than does a photograph.

For the last few weeks, I’ve had no luck convincing myself to photograph birds in the backyard – previously one of my favorite activities. I watch the hummingbirds flitting about, taunting me, and think, “The world does not need yet another photograph of a hummingbird at a flower.”

But what do I need? I dragged my camera into the backyard this afternoon and fired off some pictures of a hummingbird. For some reason, this one is the only image that resonated with me. It defies almost everything I’ve learned about photography. I cannot explain it. I just like it. Somehow, more than any of the hundreds of frozen-in-time hummingbird images I’ve captured, this one feels more true.

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Filed under Motivation, Nature Photography

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