JOE CORNISH – AND MY PHOTOGRAPHIC “RULES”

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A little while back I posted a piece about My Photographic “Rules” , of which there are three.  Roughly translated, they are:

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# Keeping in mind the usefulness – from time to time – of the Rule Of Thirds, but NEVER, EVER using any “rule” slavishly.

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# Thinking about the ways that western eyes scan images.

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# Adhering to the belief that the end always justifies the means – i.e. that if an image is “good”, its good, irrespective of the amounts of digital or darkroom manipulation that have gone into its production.

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Still thinking about these “rules”, I’ve seen a couple of things in magazines that I’d like to share.

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WESTERN EYES LIKE LEFT TO RIGHT

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First – a piece about readers’ pictures in Amateur Photographer. 

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In my “rules”  I described how Western eyes (at least) scan images from left to right and top to bottom – and here is an AP editor (3 Sept 2011) saying just that.  He’s looking at an attractive picture of a pier jutting out into the sea.  The pier enters the frame a little below half way up the image’s right margin, and then extends up and left, just about through the photo’s center.

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In his comments, the editor says >>> “I might have tried flipping the image, however, so the pier comes in from the left, as this often pleases western eyes more.”.

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Two things to say.  First, I find that reading AP (published weekly) is a good way of learning about photography in general, and keeping up with new things.  Second, I wonder if that editor read that first on my blog …???

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JOE CORNISH INTERVIEWED

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Despite getting rather frustrated with trends in modern landscape photography ( Alternative Landscape, St Ives ) I’m a big fan of Joe Cornish, who is right at the top of the genre in the UK. 

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Digital Camera magazine (issue 120, January 2012) interviewed Joe, who made some interesting and fundamental points.

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SCIENCE AND ART

Joe talks about the balance in photography between science and art, i.e the balance between capturing a technically good photo and producing one that is compositionally and artistically good.  And he makes the point that no amount of technical prowess can make up for a lack of emotional connection to the photograph’s subject, or the lack of some “instinct-based, aesthetic response” to the subject – i.e. a gut response.  Absolutely!

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EASTERN PHILOSOPHIES

He alludes to eastern philosophies that favour living in the present moment.  I’ve read about this somewhere else recently, and the simple point is that if I want to make good photographs, there is no point in walking around with my mind absorbed with the past or the future >>> I must very much keep my mind absorbed with the NOW, that I must be constantly aware of my surroundings, because it is from those surroundings – whether I’m taking a landscape, a portrait, sport, whatever – that my pictures are going to come.

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NOTORIETY!

I fear that I’m notorious for urging cropping, sometimes severe cropping, of compositions.  While Joe doesn’t mention cropping as such, he does emphasise exclusion from the picture’s frame of everything unconnected with the composition – as that highly imaginative photographer Steve Gosling puts it >>> use the frame, and zoom lenses too,  as “optical machetes” to exclude all extraneous items from the composition.

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A TECHNIQUE IN SEARCH OF AN IDEA

Finally, Joe bemoans the sameness of many modern landscape shots, giving as an example those where long exposure times serve to turn the sea into something milky – and then positioning a big rock at the front of the picture to provide “foreground interest”.  He has a wonderful phrase here, calling such compositional preconceptions “a technique in search of an idea” – excellently put!

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Adrian

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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

5 Responses to JOE CORNISH – AND MY PHOTOGRAPHIC “RULES”

  1. Adrian Lewis says:

    Strangely vivid, isn’t it, but it really gets the idea across – everything extraneous to the image goes, both pre- and post-capture. Thanks for your kind words, Mike. Adrian

    Like

  2. Very interesting stuff, and yes, I completely agree with your “rules”, that’s pretty much what I believe as well. The ‘western eye’ bit is very intriguing, and I can’t say that it’s something that I’ve heard before, so yeah, thanks for that, very informative indeed.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Glad its useful,JP – I’ve read some interviews with Joe Cornish before and he came over then as a really interesting chap, with very interesting views. Take care, man! Adrian

      Like

  3. Mike Moruzi says:

    “optical machetes” – I really like that!

    Like

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