The last two day I talked about looking at art and how I think we “decide” what we like. I also make some sort of art, I like to take pictures and you see them here everyday. Like with all types of art with photography you can go from a snapshot on your phone just to document a moment to elaborate productions to make the ultimate art picture. But a snapshot on a phone combined with a story or a massage can easily become art and elaborate photoshoot are most of the time only used for commercial use and that is not really art. What art is or not that is another discussion but if you make something like a photo, sculpture or painting with the intend for it to be pleasing to the senses you have to make certain discissions, the colours you use, the framing or size. It doesn’t matter if you do this professionally or as a hobby or with the intent to make art, you want a result that pleases you or maybe better said: it comes close to what feels good with you.
The picture above I took from the garden where I live. It was nice weather and this is always a good time of the year to go out and take picture of all the changing colours. Fall is also nice because it is so symbolic with the shedding of and changes going on that making a poem is not that hard. But this picture is not special, I wouldn’t call it art but it is also not a snapshot or taken because I want to remember this moment, I’ve seen enough falls in my life so I don’t need a picture to remember this particular one.
But when I went out today, I had the intent to make a nice picture, maybe I wouldn’t make one that I will remember forever, but that is ok, I didn’t feel like walking and changing lenses to see if I could find an angel that would make it all special, effort is often a big part of inspiration. On the other hand, luck is also important, I have had so many times that I go out, see something nice just outside the door, take one picture, then spend an hour crawling around in the dirt for a nice picture of a flower to find out later, when I uploaded all the pictures, that that first picture of that lonely flower on my doorstep was the best one of the days.
But today’s picture is fine, it shows you clearly the transitions between all the colours and that was my intent. The part where my astatic discission making comes in is when I have the photo on my computer and start to manipulate it. The reason why I have to manipulate the picture is because I shoot in the raw format. The raw format consists of the digital information straight from the sensor from your camera. If you take pictures with your phone or you have set your dslr to jpeg, the information from the sensor will be adjusted and manipulated by the computer on your phone or in your camera. One thing the computer on your camera or phone does is to throw away a lot of information that you don’t see or is otherwise unnecessary, the advantage is a smaller file size the disadvantage is that you lose a lot of information. In a jpeg file a dark corner has only black pixels but in a raw file the dark corner might still look dark but if you lighten the picture all the details in the dark corner will appear. It is not really necessary to shoot in raw but part of the fun for me is to change the picture to what my sensor seas to what I want to see and in RAW you have more room to play.
This is the picture straight from the sensor, the program I use to manipulate is Lightroom and it might have adjusted it slightly by itself when it imports the picture but it is clear to see that it is a bland picture. There are situations that a picture can look nice straight from the sensor but these landscape pictures with a lot of light often look washed out and dull.
Each camera is also different, I Bought a Nikon D700 last year, it is a 12-year-old camera, I wanted a full frame camera, this means that the sensor has the same size as the olden days analog film, a lot of dslr have a sensor roughly half that size and your phone’s sensor is much smaller, in this case bigger is better.
When it comes to buying equipment, I am pragmatic, I buy what I can effort, in 2009 this camera was the best of the best and the top photographers showed the most beautiful pictures, modern cameras have a lot of advantages but I have not reach the limit of this old camera let alone that I will reach the limits of the more modern cameras. If there are any readers that are thinking of buying a dslr (digital single lens reflect) camera I recommend buying a camera from a few years ago, you save a lot of money, money you can spend on used lenses. I bought the D700 for roughly 300 Dollar and bought two professional lenses from the nineties, a 35-70 2.8 and an 80-200 2.8 for also 300 Dollar. Modern lenses are a little bit better optically but they focus faster and have image stabilization but new they will cost you around 4000 Dollar for both of them. A modern semi-professional Nikon camera like the D700 will also cost you a lot of money, around 2500 Dollar, I think. Equipment is important but an inexperienced photographer will not make better pictures with the newest top of the line equipment then I do with 10, 20, and 30 year old cameras and lenses. Look at my photoblog if you are interested in more camera talk, there I talk manly about my Fuji camera and the sometimes 70-year-old lenses I use on that camera: https://christiaanvangaal.com/
For me the fun is not only going outside, hunting for a nice picture, I also like manipulating pictures on the computer. I use Adobe programs for that, Lightroom and Photoshop. There are enough other programs that also work fine but I am so used to these two that it is hard to switch. If you like to work with digital photo’s to and you are new to it, I recommend trying a bunch of different once and see what you like. As I said, a am so used to these programs, I have all these keyboard shortcuts in my head that makes life so easy with these two programs but a hell with others.