Reflections on the Medium of Photography

    

This morning as I sat on our front deck I could feel a warm summer like breeze. I drank my coffee, I was reading, and I mused on how much fun spring photography is.  I like to take scenic pictures anytime, whether winter, spring, summer or fall and I feel that with each season’s change comes excitement.

The night before I had been moving some books around in my overflowing photographic library, and I came across an older stack of little booklets distributed by the Hasselblad camera company, and thought I’d review one in particular entitled “Black and White Photography” by Ansel Adams.  I enjoy looking at his photography and especially reading his essays and thoughts on photography.

So as I sat enjoying my coffee it was from that booklet that I chose to read about what Ansel Adams had to say about photography, and I began to reflect on the exciting medium of photography so many of us are passionately involved in.

I don’t know about my regular readers, but I am continually composing pictures of everything, whether I have my camera or not. I see light and shadow and put subjects together mentally in a photograph thinking about what would work in my composition and what wouldn’t.  I also enjoy looking at other photographers’ work, and I thumb through books and choose websites that have photographers’ galleries. Of course that is a great way to learn, but I like looking at photographs and reading what other photographers have to say about photography.

Here is a quote I borrowed from Hasselblad’s “ Black and White Photography” booklet printed in 1980.  While discussing the Art of Photography, Adams explains, “Photography is an analytic medium. Painting is a synthetic medium (in the best sense of the term). Photography is primarily an act of discovery and recognition (based on intention, experience, function, and ego). The photographer cannot escape the world around him. The image of the lens is a dominant factor. His viewpoint, his visualization of the final image and the particular technical procedures necessary to make this visualization valid and effective – these are the essential elements of photography.”

Currently, it is an exciting time period with continual leaps being made in camera technology and both Nikon and Canon have just released spectacular new models. However, I have concern that so many photographers spend so much time talking about equipment and the acquisition of it and that they often forget to think about the photograph.  A friend that I hadn’t seen in months stopped by the other day and all he could talk about was the latest cameras and hoped he had the money to get the newest Nikon.  When I asked him if he had been out doing any interesting photography all he said was “I haven’t really had the time,” and turned the discussion back to camera equipment. I was disappointed that he was more interested in the equipment than about photography.

The latest cameras and lenses are really fun to talk about, but one needs to leave some time to talk about personal photographs made with their cameras and also find more time to actually make those photographs.

In the Hasselblad booklet Adams also discussed black and white photography, but the information on black and white printmaking isn’t applicable to current digital technology. Personally, I really enjoy converting images to black and white, and so for those that are also interested in converting their images to black and white I recommend readers try the computer program Silver EFX pro by http://www.niksoftware.com.

For those who don’t know who Ansel Adams was they should go to http://www.anseladams.com and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansel_Adams. Those readers curious about Hasselblad cameras should go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasselblad.

I enjoy almost anything about photography. Talking about it, reading about it, looking at other photographer’s work, and of course, pointing my own camera and releasing the shutter to make my own pictures. In closing here are the words of one of Adam’s contemporaries, Edward Weston. “Photography suits the temper of this age – of active bodies and minds. It is a perfect medium for one whose mind is teeming with ideas, imagery, for a prolific worker who would be slowed down by painting or sculpting, for one who sees quickly and acts decisively, accurately.”

www.enmanscamera.com

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4 responses to “Reflections on the Medium of Photography

  1. Well said John….so many do tend to get tied up on the technical side of photography when it’s just fun to take photos

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  2. Great post John! I am a huge Fan of both Adams and Weston and would drool over their books as a youth. You hit the nail on the head with the technical and equipment topic. Someone once told me a long time ago, “just go out there and shoot, shoot lots and you will get good.” I hope I’m half way there 🙂

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