thinking with pictures

Irked by certain photos – why so?

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types of picture that I dislike in my search for gems

types of picture that I dislike in my search for gems

  1. Most days I browse the 100 images picked by editors on as well as the group “landcape” (sic; landscape). Frequently there are certain photo characteristics that distract and detract from the beauty, and the engagement that I look for and mark “favorite” sometimes. After listing the complaints, I will reflect on the reasons that seem to underlie my annoyance.

1. Gimmick: figurines in tableau (cute; little else to engage in)

2. Magnified colors: eye candy (post-processing steroids)

3. Technical distortion (compared to normal eyesight)

4. Constrained crop (isolating the visual subject from context)

5. Wide noise (lens imposes “motion” from corner to center)

6. Context lost (panorama stitch would be truer view)

7. Letterbox aspect ratio (better to stitch vertical frames)

8. Abstracted subject (visual delight, surfaces only desired)

Are these just the crankiness of middle-age or does something deeper underlie these irriations that intersperse my daily search for magical light or engaging places portrayed? Looking back at the list of annoyances it seems that all of these take the viewing experience away from the goals of immersive visual experience of a scene that simulates human binocular sight.* To the extent that lens or post-processing or artistic license (focus blur, depth-of-field mush, or shutter blur of water, for example) distort the communication between the photographer and the person viewing the work, then such treatment takes away from the subject being captured. The same measuring rod can be applied to images that frame, crop or otherwise isolate the scene so that the viewer is blindered from seeing the full experience of a place if they were seeing it live, on location at the moment of capture. And so, my quest for delightful pictures goes on day by day. Now knowing some of the reason that I dislike certain distracting images makes the process quicker and easier to understand.

*see also the set of slides to illustrate the reasoning behind emulating a human field of view at


Author: gpwitteveen

Better Outreach is my aim. See to know more.

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