Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More On Editing

When taking pictures it is important to think about where you are standing in relation to the subject, the quality of the light and perspective. Perspective is generally beyond the reach of people who are new to photography. Lenses that change perspective often cost more than camera bodies. This is further complicated by the fact that the lens cannot be changed on a point and shoot camera and the zoom lenses provided on these cameras do not really change perspective very much.

Photographers like Ansel Adams did all of the above, but in a way that is so subtle most viewers look at his photographs and have absolutely no idea how much went into each individual photograph. Very few viewers realize how extensively Adams modified each and every photograph in the darkroom.

This subtlety is also not apparent in the work of Henri Cartier Bresson. Cartier Bresson probably understood the importance of choosing a good place to stand better than any photographer who has ever lived. He could dramatically alter perspective by where he choose to stand.

With the photographs of Lee Friedlander it becomes quickly apparent how much of a difference a wide angle lens can make, although few photographers could probably get as much out of a wide angle lens as Friedlander does.

A photographer who has mastered Photoshop is Jeff Wall. The edits are extreme, but they are done so skillfully they are invisible to most viewers unless the edits are pointed out to them. His photography and especially the photographs where he has used Photoshop to make composite photographs has had a profound affect on the photographs of Andre Gursky where the use of Photoshop is more dramatic, but is generally impossible for the viewer to reconstruct.

Not editing work is a mistake. It is no more logical to not edit a photograph than to not edit written text, a film or music. Editing is what makes a work of art stand out from other work in the same medium.

© 2010 Paul Light all rights reserved


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