Does your photographic vision match with reality?
How much can we trust pictures for being real? And does it matter? With our equipment, different point of views, depth of field and shutter speeds we can give our own twist on reality. We frame exactly what we like to see and disturbing things will be left outside. Sometimes people ask me a picture that I made are realistic. I say yes: “my own reality”.
Pictures are not real
What is reality
My pictures are definitely not a 1 to 1 comparison with reality. The images that I make are a mix between a personal feeling, atmosphere and a subject. Besides, what is reality? A very abstract concept. Something that we see, through our eyes? Wikipedia explains it as “reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible”.
Frame your interpretations
I think the power of photography is that you can show your own interpretation of reality with pictures. If you are photographing in a forest and you interpret the atmosphere as spooky then that is the reality of the photographer. Probably the picture you make will match the spooky display of your feeling. People might get the same feeling while they are looking at your photo but would have a totally different feeling while they would be in the same forest on the same moment. Everyone will interpret things differently based on all their experiences they had and have. How cool is it, that you can show your interpretation via pictures.
Besides other ones interpretations there are also other things that are not or bad visible for us with the naked eye, but not for the camera. Think of something really small as tiny insects or the milky way for example. Sometimes poorly visible with the naked eye, but with a high ISO you can see it properly with the camera.
This is also the case with the Northern Lights. Often on pictures the colour intensity is much higher on the camera than it’s visible for us. On the 17th of March this year the aurora was visible in the northern parts of the Netherlands. I can imagine that lots of people were standing outside after seeing some pictures on the internet and were disappointed about it. On the camera, because of long shutter speeds, you saw a bright purple haze in the night sky but for the naked eye there was almost nothing to see.
Fool around with photography
In some ways you can also conscious fool people about reality. A lot of people expect that the pictures you see for example in the newspaper are realistic. But in those situations often the reality is held under a magnifier. The most extreme, the better picture. Even worse in gossip magazines. A lot of pictures of celebrities that are just wrong interpreted are big news.
To fool with naturephotography
But this is also possible in nature photography. Pictures of frogs (probably dead) that are hold in unusual positions with fishing lines to pretend that they are dancing or other unnatural things (yes this really happens). That got obvious nothing to do with reality and is absolutely unethical in my opinion. Unfortunately those pictures are still being exposed in newspapers and gift cards. But we are also capable to make everything look prettier. This picture of the geothermal blue pool is exactly framed so you won’t see the poles of the walking trail. People who have never been there will have a totally other imagination of the landscape out there.
How we look at pictures
But the most important part is how we look at pictures. It depends on the situation. Pictures in the National Geographic will be observed differently than pictures in an art gallery. It’s good that pictures can be seen in different ways. But actually it’s all the same. It’s a vision of a photographer and what he wanted to capture. From the photographer of the local newspaper to the most arty farty photographer, everyone got a vision based on their experiences.
It can be very instructive to find out the vision of the photographer in a photo. It can help you to understand and appreciate images. For me it’s not important if a photographer is very creative or just registrates animals for stock. In both ways they can capture something that they like to share. For me it’s important to show your vision in your photography but most of all be honest about reality and feel responsible for the power of your photography.
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