thinking with pictures

Quest for light

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Browsing hundreds of pictures on there seems to be a clear response to pictures that have certain characteristics: I seek interesting light that speaks to me somehow, and I exclude or discount the scenes that isolate a subject from its context (strong telephoto) or distort the relationship of foreground and background (35mm equivalent lens wider than 28mm). Likewise the images heavily showing post-processing distract me from my quest to simulate the visual experience of human eyes.

What remains of the truly appealing captures, free of distractions and false attention-getters, is a set of favorites that display wide dynamic range (though low dynamic range light values can also appeal), and angle of view of 90-170 degrees from side to side (also 90-100 degree from ground to sky). Subjects that express this vivid, human-like visual engagement often trigger feelings of majesty or sweeping scale (sweeping time can be invoked by slight blur, too), often giving the widest depth of field. Very often it is stitched panoramas rather than single captures that fit these particular photographic conditions.

After assembling a few dozen pictures like the ones that I’ve singled out, what sort of message do these all speak to me? Leaving aside the value of photos that record an historic event or sociological insight, and thinking just of the pure compositional expression forms, the message that seems to answer the quest has to do with wide, deep, abiding luminous presence (or its conspicuous absence, in the case of night and low-light scenes at the blue hour or beyond it at twilight and mixed-light scenes). When my eyes “hear” that voice speaking then I turn and admire. If a camera is at hand, I may take a photo or two, as well, to share with others.


Author: gpwitteveen

Better Outreach is my aim. See to know more.

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