Sunday, 5 December 2010

Frankly My Dear ...

... I'm sure you know the rest.

I was in a funny mood this morning. Well I wasn't to start, but soon ended up that way.

I woke up quite early, had a couple of cups of coffee, and then had a look at some forum topics about photography. One, in particular, caught my eye where a newcomer to photography had posted some images. Sure they lacked a little technically, but they were great compositions and excellent captures of the moment. This photographer really had an 'eye'.

I kept reading through the thread and the majority of people thought as I, and only posted praise for the compositions and encouragement to the photographer to keep on doing whatever it was he was doing.

Didn't take too long though to get to a poster who stated that the images were downright technical crap, and offered umpteen 'advices' about camera settings, photography rules, post processing 'must do's' and how to compose an image properly.

The sad thing was that the newcomer thanked the 'critic' profusely, reposted one of his images duly edited to instruction, and promised to properly conform next time. Pity. There was promise there, now it is gone.

Anyway, I had a look at this particular critics gallery. It was clearly apparent that his own work wouldn't be fit even for recycling use in the bathroom, and I am being polite.

I'm sure you know the type. Full of advice shouted through the cyber waves with abundant tones of authority.

Whenever challenged, they demand to know why the 'challenger' dare challenge the 'facts' and demand they discuss the matter.

Reality is that at that point any further response is pointless, as they will only respond with belittlement, which quickly turns into an ad hominem attack, etc. Which actually means they feel threatened.

Seriously, these people don't want to discuss, or converse, they simply want to stamp their authority on the moment and have the last word. Reality is they set the art of conversation back a thousand years.

I tend to look at it this way. There are movies I have absolutely loved, but were panned by the critics. There were others I thought were crud, but lauded by the critics. How many critics make movies though ?

It's easy to be a critic. Any fool (tool) can do it.

One of my favourite songs is by John Mellencamp - The Authority Song. Actually have it playing while I write this.

" ... I fight authority, and probably always will ... "

So what does this have to do with anything ? Well, like I said the self appointed/opinionated  'authority' was demanding conformity with their own set of rules. Their view was paramount. Their knowledge was above all. Reminds me of the Inquisitors. Their expertise was what all must aspire to. I'm sure you get the drift.

In photography, there are defined rules. Of course there are. Think about that though.

The first photographers were simply trying to capture a scene. Most were technicians, engineers, chemists, who had assembled a box, stuck a bit of glass at the front, and conjured up some medium to capture the image after putting it through a bath of chemicals. With all the process rigmarole, I doubt too many were getting too bogged down with the finer points of rules.

They weren't trying to conform to anyone else's standards, and certainly not to anyone else's vision. They were the pioneers. They endured and triumphed in small simple steps and, in the end, we owe them a huge debt of gratitude for their perseverance.

So when it comes to photography authority, what does that really mean ?

Sure, we know a lot more than the pioneers did about our pastime. We have an amazing array of photographic tools at our disposal, and with the internet age we can get advice at the click of a button. But who are we ? Are we artists, technicians, critics ?

Anyway, as I said, I was in a funny mood. I kicked the cat, grabbed my camera and headed off to the local market to buy some vegetables. Going to make my world famous spaghetti bolognese today - Bigfoot Bolognese

It was still dark when I got to the market and the days activity was just beginning. Knowing I had a while to wait before what I wanted would be on sale, I started playing with the camera.

Like I said, it was dark. I changed the settings on the camera to some I don't normally use and started shooting what I saw. I wasn't looking to create masterpieces, never do, just looking to capture the activity. That is my photographic passion in a nutshell.

The thing I love about Thai markets is they are raw. There is nothing pretentious here, no fancy shelves, fittings or uniformed staff. No PA systems, muzak, nor floor moppers. I hate supermarkets for those very reasons, and more.

Sometimes I wonder why they don't combine hospitals and supermarkets in the same space. They are both antiseptic sterile entities which no-one in their right mind wishes to go to.

In the markets though, the seller has a simple space to peddle their wares. It may be a stall, a table, or it may simply be on the ground. They are there to sell their goods, without pretense nor fanfare.

Questions of hygiene are rarely considered, nor are thoughts of glossy presentation. They are simple, they are down to earth, and yet they buzz with life.

Sellers and buyers are simply involved in the 'moment' of life. And really that is what I love about it. It's a celebration of the moment.

It's also what I love about taking photographs. Capturing that moment. Celebrating the event. Sure I know the technical, but I would rather capture the moment and break the technical rules than miss that special slice of time.

I know it's a bit of a long-winded ramble, but all of this set the scene for the images I took this morning.

There's more though.

When I came back, I duly loaded the images on the box. I started looking at them and musing about how to correct some which were less than technically correct.

Some were noisy, blurry, dark, had blocked shadows, blown highlights, keystoning, weren't straight, weren't centred, had poor skin tones, and the list goes on.

I thought of the armchair authorities who would criticise the images but stuck my finger up and persevered.

I thought - Stuff it, kicked the cat again and proceeded to process them in a non-conventional manner.

I didn't bother with correcting them technically, simply processing them to convey the mood, the moment, the clutter and the activity. It was the moment I was after, the sense of life underway. Screw the technical !!

So, enough ranting. No apologies though. Where's that bloomin' cat ?

If you wish to have a look at what I ended up with, they are in part two. If you like them, well and good. If not -

' ... I don't give a damn ... '

And, to all those obsessed with conformity, rules, technocorrectness, the critics and the armchair experts, I say the same. I'm being polite again.

Images in part two - Click here

PS - I don't have a cat.


PS - If you would like to join the EyeMindSoul Photography Forum, click for details here



  1. I like what you say and I love your pictures

  2. Thanks for your comment. Glad you like the pictures.


  3. Thoroughly enjoyed this, Dave, as well as the pictures. You're so spot-on - critics don't make the movies and indeed - set the art of conversation back a thousand years.

    I'm having one heck of a morning myself. Went to the woods day before yesterday with my husband and we cleared-out the vines & greenbriar. Felt ok yesterday. Today - my right arm above the elbow is blanketed with a thick rash and swollen - compliments of the briar where I got scratched. My back feels like someone stabbed me there.

    Your lovely photos and writings lifted my spirits. So thank you.


  4. Jada, Hi. Glad you enjoyed it. Hope your arm gets better soon.


  5. Pretty typical take on things ... arrogant "I don't give a damn chest thump thump thump" drivel ... the ravings of a self-anointed arteeeest ...

    Of course, this comment will be wiped out within hours because of your fear of criticism and passion for censorship :-)

  6. Actually, I'll leave this one as it is typical of the reason why I always delete your comments.

    It is a pity that you feel the need to cyber stalk what I do, no matter where that may be.

    Don't bother posting more though. As I have said, from the very outset of this blog, your involvement here is not welcome.