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Tony Grist

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The Limitations Of Photography [May. 14th, 2015|09:57 am]
Tony Grist
"The trouble with photography," says David Hockney. "Is it's so flat". I've been thinking that over for the past few days- and it really came home to me yesterday when we were at Hampton Court and I was taking pictures in the gardens. After a while I gave up. What I was trying to capture was the scale of the place- of the distance from A to B and the immense volume and depth of the empty air above and around- and it soon became clear that I was getting none of it. With photography you're arranging flat shapes on a flat surface. It's very like doing collage

I mean, look at this. Standing in that space was thrilling, but the picture is just dull, dull, dull...

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: puddleshark
2015-05-14 09:59 am (UTC)
I know it doesn't begin to capture the reality, but it still gives a hint of the scale and splendour of the place to those of us who have never been there...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-05-14 12:23 pm (UTC)
Oh yes. I'm passionate about photography- but there are some things it just can't do.
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From: cmcmck
2015-05-14 12:25 pm (UTC)
It's true- the way a camera sees is not the way we see.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-05-14 01:09 pm (UTC)
We see in fragments, from different angles and with an ever changing focus- and our brain somehow stitches all this disparate information together into an over-all picture. The first artists to "get" this were Picasso and Braque
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From: artkouros
2015-05-14 12:18 pm (UTC)
That's the beauty of photography - it's not nearly as nice as being there.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-05-14 12:24 pm (UTC)
True.
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[User Picture]From: splodgenoodles
2015-05-14 12:26 pm (UTC)
Actually I beg to differ - I like that photo, it makes that place look very enticing.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-05-14 01:11 pm (UTC)
But it only hints at the "reality".
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2015-05-14 01:15 pm (UTC)
At least if someone is enticed by your photo to visit Hampton Court, they will find the reality better than the picture and be delighted. Sometimes things look more impressive in photos than they do in real life and that just leads to disappointment.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-05-14 08:49 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, the camera lies. :)
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2015-05-14 02:25 pm (UTC)
And yet I have seen photographs that make a place look better/more interesting than it actually is. Perspective and depth are difficult to capture, that's true. But a good photo will at least hint at these things and your photo captures some of the depth.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-05-14 08:50 pm (UTC)
It's very easy to edit out things you don't want the viewer to see- and even easier now we've gone digital.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2015-05-14 06:36 pm (UTC)
Photography really is an art. One of my best friends graduated from a good photography school and worked at it professionally. His work after thirty years is simply stunning. You can capture such majestic spaces, but it can be devilishly hard even for professionals.

I still like this one. The horizon is good, giving us a nice sweep of the sky. Putting something human-sized in the foreground, while artfully letting the landscape just do its thing behind, can help express scale. John Ford's masterpiece is practically a study in the technique.

I think the most useful thing I learned from my friend was to ignore the subject. Instead, pay very close attention to what's happening around the edges of the frame. It improved my composition straight away, naturally, but also got me noticing how various lines and plains divided up my canvas. Those shapes can be more important than your subject, something I'd never really considered before.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-05-14 08:56 pm (UTC)
You're right, it's all about shapes. And framing those shapes so they make a pleasing or striking pattern.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2015-05-14 08:44 pm (UTC)
Dear God -- are those yews?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-05-14 08:58 pm (UTC)
They certainly are.

Some of them are quite old. I think this section of the garden was laid out in the late 17th century- for William and Mary.
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