Photography, Reality, Expression
6th May 2014
amended 31 August 2016
With the digital photography firmly established these days, questions about the manipulation, styles and creative use in relation to so called recorded reality are asked more than before. It perhaps is not just some adaptation process, the ever present new versus the old dialogue, but more a whole new level of possibilities the digital technologies bring to it. Though we certainly could manipulate the photo using the film, and did so by just buying a particular roll, the new digital method we use is based on an even less stable platform in this regard and so the usual perspective can shift more to how to not manipulate and how to standardise the process.
Whenever more flexibility is gained in any area of activity people have to work before benefiting from it and before they get the rewards out of it. When things are given and the choice limited there is no work but also no flexibility of choice. It’s similar with the digital photography. It gives us more but not for free.
The photograph is not, we create it
As we always have created it in the past. I think we agree there is no such a thing as a record of reality, and let’s be clear we mean the everyday, plain reality without attempting some mind-boggling definitions. The default in-camera processing sets an important standard that can be compared with other outputs whether within the platform or between them. Standards and defaults are today very useful for tuning our own base, as a crucial reference and a feedback. Their importance and the general confusion by the possibilities that have opened up led probably to the myth that there is some kind of a more realistic capture the camera has recorded and processed initially. Using the standards and in-camera processing settings for any stage of the workflow (like the final output) is obviously fine. There is nothing inferior (nor superior) about it. It’s a way you deal with the processing and working the captured data. You can create your standards, processes and specific workflow once you want to use the data in a more particular way. The photography is, was and will be a limited means of recording and also expressing and just as any other record (or expression) of anything it always is relative, an approximation and not absolute. Using more data can lead to a more realistic representation because this depends on the data that are available and of which we in principle are always short. But it’s the processing that determines the use for any desired result (‘realistic’ concerns included). That is the order of things here. The data can be very useful, the processing is vital for the desired output, and that is the direction you move with it onwards.
Next time we can talk about a personal signature, developing one's own unique film(s) in image processing and how it all is first in you while all the other things come second.