The Camera Lies

Costa Rica, Caribbean Coast

What?  The camera lies!?    How can that be?   I mean we see  a beautiful subject to photograph.  We compose.  Shoot the frame and the camera records the image just as we witnessed the scene.   Right?   Ok, we all know that’s not entirely correct. We can play around with all sorts of settings be it shutter speed to portray motion or freeze action, aperture to accentuate shallow or infinite depth of field or white balance to warm or cool a scene etc…  and what we get in the frame is not exactly what we witnessed. Are we cheating the viewer?  If a person goes to the same location will the reaction be one of disappointment?

“This place looks nothing like that guys photograph”!

Let’s take this one step further.  You take an image,  load it into Photoshop and spend a thousand hours Photoshopping it to death.  By the time your done, your image looks like you used a brand new  plugin  by Adobe or Nik  named  “The Thomas Kincaid Effect”.   Ok, easy now…  the “Thomas Kinkaid” plugin does not exist and I am not criticizing or judging those that process their images heavily in post-production.  My point is whether we manipulate our frame in camera or in post-production are we cheating the viewer?

Caribbean coast, Costa Rica,

David Duchemin once described photography as an “act of expression”.  I whole-heartedly agree with this statement.  The image is simply an interpretation of what the artist sees and not necessarily  what the scene looks like.   This all begins with the creative process. From scouting to exploring to visualizing to playing with camera settings to clicking  the shutter button to post processing to hitting print/publish on your computer…these are all part of the creative process.

When I began this photographic journey my philosophy was to capture the best in-camera/RAW image such that post processing is limited to the basics in the digital darkroom and that philosophy still remains.  I am also a big proponent of the disclosure principle, which means that if an image is the creation of several images to make a single composite one, I will acknowledge that fact.  If I have spent a thousand hours in Photoshop… you darn right I will confess.  The camera lies enough.  We certainly don’t need photographers to lie and add to the deception.

Costa Rica, Caribbean coast

In the spirit of  the creative process and the disclosure principle, all images displayed in this post were made from single exposures using Singh Ray, Lee and Nikon filters. Lightroom, Photoshop and Nik plugins were used in post- production and approximately 5-10 minutes was spent in processing each image.  Other than dust spots and digital artifacts,  nothing has been added or removed.  On another note, do we really need to acknowledge all this information every time?  Well,  in my opinion, not really but we will leave it for discussion on another day.

Caribbean Coast, Costa rica

So… does our art cheat the viewer?   Let me sum it up with six words.

The truth will set you free.

I leave you with this final thought from the great Freeman Patterson:

“There’s only one rule in photography – never develop color film in chicken noodle soup.”

Until next time…

F   :cool:

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3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Cheating the viewer? I think not. If I could adjust my retinas to process light the way your lens does I would do it in a heartbeat. Therefore your pictures would be my reality. You’re simply giving us the gift that god didn’t. Nice work as always.

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