Most Year of Square images were last-minute, grudging snapshots, but I still tried to make the composition matter.
I have been told there are no right angles in nature, but I don’t believe it. Nature’s basic operating principle is infinite diversity. I’m sure there are right angles out there somewhere.
Still, you’d have to scan the countryside pretty intently to come up with a rectangle that wasn’t man-made. Good luck finding a perfect square in a field of flowers. This, I think, was the biggest lesson of my Year of Square photo-a-day project: a square is an unnatural shape that calls attention to itself.
Hasselblad shooters and others created iconic square images, but we are accustomed to seeing photographs presented as rectangles. I found the square format challenging. All the usual “rules” of composition apply, but under tighter constraints. Three-plus weeks into the project, I produced an image that interested me:
A very pedestrian bored-at-dinner shot turned into something a little more compelling by clicking a few buttons and moving some sliders. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, if you like the end result.
A friend in the Photo Club recently asked that we disqualify one of his images from our Annual Awards because he did a lot of post-processing and it is his personal belief that a photograph must come straight from the camera. That doesn’t explain why he submitted the image in the first place, but personally, I tend to tune out any discussion of “what photography is,” because I’m still trying to understand what photography is to me. And that changes sometimes.
Earlier this week, in a fit of insomnia, I opened a long-ago downloaded but never used iPhone app called Snapseed. I modified some old images from my phone’s library. I never thought I’d enjoy playing with all the heavy-handed photo filters I see on Instagram and Facebook, but I do. I like being able to turn weak or outright failed photos into something odd, and with more potential impact. And it lets me playfully experiment with composition and color and lighting even when I just have a few spare minutes to noodle on my phone. Here are some examples:
This tree clings to the edge of Bryce Canyon. The original photo was interesting, but his adds a nice surrealism.
This was a boring, pointless shot of tomatoes. I don’t even know why it was on my phone. Now I like the painterly feel of it.
This one also springs from an okay original, but in my opinion the effects here add all sorts of mystery to an otherwise very straightforward shadow.
Not my favorite model, but the most available. And I can get him to do almost anything.
This morning, I wandered outside with what I might consider the opposite of my phone: Nikon D7000, 70-200 f/2.8, TC17IIe teleconverter. I spent some time with my favorite subject: Backyard birds. I shoot in RAW, and the objective of my post-processing in Aperture is to recreate what I saw with my own eyes. It’s quite different from what I’ve been doing in Snapseed, and I cannot imagine myself layering a “grunge” filter onto one of my nature shots, although I might just to see what happens. It’s all photography to me. And a pure joy, too.
“This is a job for a company of Rangers…or it’s a job for one or two men…Right now we’re too many…an’ not enough…” – Reverend Clayton
That bit of dialogue from 1956’s The Searchers (filmed in Monument Valley) sums up how I feel about my camera choices for last week’s trip through Northern Arizona and Southern Utah: I brought too much and I didn’t bring enough. But I know what I will do next time. Continue reading
Claud Mann and I had been chatting at the picnic table behind the house that is home to the Orfalea Foundation, where we work on the School Food Initiative. Reentering the building, we saw the plate of lemon slices on the kitchen counter in the bright, mid-morning light.
“..And me without a camera,” I said. Then we both pulled out our iPhones.
Some people are just drawn to interesting light. But no two people see it the same way.
My version, processed using Photogene on my phone.
Claud’s image. I don’t know if he did any post-processing.
Somehow I find the differences in these photos very uplifting. The chef used the light to show the food; the photographer used the food to counterpoint the light. There we stood, seeing the same thing, from our own eyes. And we made what we chose to make of it.
If the title is not self-explanatory, then what’s a google for?
As I explained once before, the iPhone camera is a license to play. It’s also a fascinating way to quickly study direction and quality of light…