Temporary art

2009, Flickr, Photography

Considering all the technical improvements in photography, of course purely gear related, I would almost presume that the photographic art is getting lost. My dear reader Chris commented in my previous post about a fictional scene where a camera would talk against the camera operator (used to be photographer) to frame slightly different to get a better/more perfect composition. You might laugh now, but it could well happen. Remember the great Henri Cartier-Bresson? In his book ‘The Decisive Moment’ he wrote that he hoped that no compositional grid would ever be supplied to attach to the viewfinder, because you had to feel the moment and not think about it. There was time enough to study the photograph after it was taken. Unfortunately for him though, almost every digital camera now comes with these compositional grids.
Amsterdam by Wouter Brandsma
He continues to write in his essay about the essence of composition, but mostly in relation to be able to feel it. There is this split second where you make the decision to press the shutter. A moment when everything comes together as a unity of form and action, the moment that feels right, which he magically described as ‘the decisive moment’. I really do agree with him that he suggests not to think when you frame your final composition. There is enough time to understand what you are doing when you are reviewing your photographs at home.

I guess it is easier to change gear in a hope to improve your photography, because it makes you less vulnerable for critics. We often do not see the things. Don’t we all have that situation where you see someone elses photograph and you think: “I should have seen that one too” or “When you look at it, it is actually quite simple”. Is it true that your photography will improve when you buy a new camera? Of course not. It is absolutely not the camera. It might affect the image quality, but I am not talking about that. I am talking about better compositions, the bare and simple essence of photography in my opinion. I believe the only reason why people think a new camera improves their photography is because they photograph more often with a new camera.
Amsterdam by Wouter Brandsma
And there I said it: “photograph more often”. These three words are probably the most important thing related to getting better. When you replace photograph for practising, than you realize that it works for just about everything. Whether it is photography, soccer, playing guitar or your job. Not everyone is gifted with a lot of talent. Remember athletes preparing for the Olympic Games? They train as much as possible to become really good.

And to become better you do not need more in my opinion. Less is often better. A basic camera without bells and whizzles is easier to learn. All the options don’t become an obstruction for your photography. You don’t learn photography from a technical point of view when you select a scene mode. Learn exposing appropriately, how to achieve shallow or huge depth of field, and learn how you can use these skills to improve your intended compositions.
Amsterdam by Wouter Brandsma
There is no decisive moment digicam or ‘DMD’ on the market as some ask for, there will never be one. I believe the decisive moment is in your head, it really is. In my opinion a camera with many features is a camera with too many features. I personally disagree that every technical ongoing development is there to improve the photographic experience. Using a simple and small camera can be very liberating. Daido Moriyama for instance started using compact cameras more then 10 years ago, because it made him less obtrusive. HCB didn’t start using a Leica, because it was a …. Leica. No, he started using it, because it was one of the smallest cameras around at that time. It helped him realize the photographs he envisioned, because he didn’t become noticed.

More than 10 years ago when Nikon introduced the F5, it was a camera, I believed, that consisted of a small database of some 50,000 photographic light situations to help meter the framed scene as good and accurate as possible. Maybe within 10 years they will introduce a camera with a large database of trully well composed photographs to assist you. But by than all the produced work will be all the same. No new insights, no new visions. Photographic art will than be killed. Than photography will absolutely be temporary and won’t last for ever.

Maybe I am old-fashioned. Yes, I often use the LCD for framing, but I still prefer optical viewfinders. I use the camera in manual mode and don’t need a P, A, or S mode. I like to keep it simple, because I want to concentrate on my photography. I want to come home with pleasing photographs, I want to feel the joy and excitement of capturing light. I see the camera as just a part of my photography that consists of a larger process.
Amsterdam by Wouter Brandsma
Instead of learning how to handle your camera, spent more time learning about art. I think it helps to study paintings or drawings. See how they used light to emphasize subjects or pencil strikes to show only the necessary objects freed of unimportant details. You don’t need to be arty to see that. You don’t have to speek art intellectually to prove your importance and knowledge (I personally almost never understand what they say anyway), unless of course when you want to cover your own mediocre photography. It doesn’t matter what craftsmen used to produce their art, it matters how they used it.
Rui Fernandes in Amsterdam
Today’s photographs were made in Amsterdam while having a trully wonderful day with Rui and Dora from Portugal. Thank you both for this glorious day and opportunity to meet each other.
Rui and Dora

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

Freedom

Freedom 2008

2008, Flickr, Photography

During Photomonth 2008, London’s largest photography festival, the Flickr community have been given the opportunity to display photos in the Photomonth Photo-Open exhibition at the Dray Walk Gallery, Old Truman Brewery during 29th October – 9th November 2008 (location here).

Flickr is very excited to be supporting this year’s Photomonth Photo-Open, particularly as the aim of the exhibition is to be as open as possible to all kinds of photographers, subjects and approaches.

The theme of ‘Freedom’ has been chosen for this group, as it’s the first year that global submissions are invited to be displayed at Photomonth. The photos that the Flickr community could upload to the Freedom 2008 Group until October 10th had the chance to be shown at this year’s Photomonth Photo-Open exhibition.

I am thrilled today that my submission has been selected to be shown on the slideshow of photos at the exhibition. The selected photograph will be attributed via my Flickr name ‘Wouter Brandsma’.

Freedom

f you’re around London and would like to see the display yourself, head over to the Flickr Blog to find out details about the exhibition.

Photograph by Wouter Brandsma

Ricoh GX200

From the Left

2008, Flickr, Photography

I start liking the jpegs of the GX200. They look better and have more bite than the RAW files. Processing the jpegs is easier too. In Lightroom I increase the blacks for darker shadows, drag the exposure slider to the left, lighten the midtones with the brightness slider, and add a bit of clarity. But the best thing is, that it doesn’t increase the noise either. You could also do the same thing in Apple Aperture, quick and easy.

Just some rumbling about gear, but why the hell does a camera manufacturer with the intention to create cameras for a niche market (with photographers in mind) add options like multi AF, leveler, matrix metering, and image stabilization? If a camera was made with usability and photography in mind, it could still be a basic camera. Do you seriously need all those bells and whistles? I think it is not only about the handling of a camera, but also about the photographs. I don’t think image quality is the best name for that, but I would love to have a larger sensor in a simple camera with a good lens.

Ricoh GX200

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma