Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pictorialism 2

I mentioned two things yesterday that affects photographs in what most photographers would consider a negative way: atmosphere and pixels (or a lack thereof) that can lower resolution. This image is an example of a third: high ISO. ISO is basically the sensitivity of the image sensor to light. Digital cameras allow you to amplify the amount of light a sensor can record, but it is at the expense of detail. The higher the ISO, the less detail a photograph will contain. That is what is going on in this low light image taken a little before sunrise. Notice how the lack of detail causes it to look almost painted - especially the white branches on the trees for some reason.

Shifting the colors of an image is another means of creating a less photographic/more painterly image. Increasing the contrast can also infuse the image with a chiaroscuro-type look.

If I have the choice between passing on a photograph because the quality is not going to be very good, or taking a photograph because it shows interesting behavior, I'll go with taking a bad photograph. This young eagle was in the far distance trying to catch a fish, but it was far enough away that the photo contained the atmospheric problem I mentioned yesterday. Interestingly, the eagle made two passes and flipped the fish out of the water like this both times. I don't remember if it made a third pass.

It is possible in post production to impart a glow to a photograph which can have the effect of smoothing out detail. This can also work as a technique in the pictorialist style of photography.

Here, again, the action was so far away, the only available choice is to treat it in the pictorialist style because of the lack of detail. Most nature photographers go for images where they get as close as possible. I am guilty of the same thinking. But, what do you do when you can't get close? Quit taking pictures? It seems to me there is a lot of value to seeing something like these two osprey interacting within the environment they call home.

This image was taken at a shorter distance and, so, has more detail than the previous image. Personally, I enjoy the look of all these photos despite the lack of detail.

Photograph or painting? You make the call.

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