TALKING IMAGES 64 – THOUGHTS FOR THOSE NEW TO PHOTOGRAPHY 10: ICONOCLASM RAISES ITS HEAD – AND BE SURE TO READ THIS POST RIGHT TO ITS END!

 

 

(Click onto any of these images to open a larger version in a separate window)

Some years ago, I put out some posts specifically aimed at those just getting interested in photography, just starting out.  I tried to think of things that might be useful to them – and not just in terms of technique, but also in ways of thinking about photography, attitudes, questions that might arise, etc.  I most certainly do not know all there is to know about photography, but I’d like to try something similar again and – as always – I’m happy to take questions >>> with the caveat that, as already mentioned, my knowledge is not exhaustive.

But always remember, these are only my views and opinions: others may well think differently, and equally validly..

EARLIER POSTS IN THIS SERIES

POST 1: The Main Mantra: there are no rights or wrongs in photography, only individual photographers’ differing opinions.

POST 2: Raw capture versus jpeg capture – it depends upon what you have planned for the photos you are taking.

POST 3: Learning to explain why you like/dislike an image: putting your thoughts into words can help you to understand your own, personal, visual preferences >>> and so help you create images that you like.

POST 4: Don’t clutter up your pictures >>> use the camera’s viewfinder/screen (and cropping too) to remove unwanted/irrelevant material from images to make them simpler, more effective and more direct >>> less can be more, simple can be beautiful!

POST 5: All that really matters is the final photographic image that you produce: details of the equipment used, the types and amounts of cropping and post-capture processing are irrelevant – if your final image looks good, it is good!

POST 6: Most photographers copyright their images and jealously guard them but, for me, Life is simply too short for all of this bother; and it is rare for digital images to be irretrievably stolen, as for example a film negative might be.

POST 7: Which is best for you – film photography, digital photography, or both?  And why?

POST 8: How does the size of the digital sensor in your camera affect the kinds of pictures that you can take with your camera?  This post considers the size of the sensor, the size of the camera body needed to house it, and the profound effects that sensor size has on depths of field/focus.

POST 9: Five essentials to think about when taking any photograph.

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THE MAIN MANTRA, THE REALLY CRUCIAL POINT >>>>> ONCE AGAIN!

Back in POST 1 of this series, I took great pains to stress that we are all individuals, each with our own ideas.  I said this, which encompasses some of my core beliefs:

When thinking about photography, THE main (and very liberating) thing to keep in mind is that we are all different in our attitudes and opinions to it.  We are all individuals.  This does of course apply to probably anything that you like to mention – we all may have different opinions about cheese, the clothes we choose to wear, the houses we like to live in, the books we read, those we choose as partners, those we hate – you name it!

This being the case, there are never any rights or wrongs in photography, there are only differences of opinion.  I may think my photos are wonderful, and someone else may think them dreadful.  Photography is a very subjective activity, it depends upon our personal opinions – and that is something I’ll touch on more in later posts.

And its the second paragraph here that is really the cruncher, that really says it all >>> that photography (along with many other things) is highly subjective, that is, it depends on OUR OWN PERSONAL OPINIONS.  YOUR photographic vision is unique to YOU.

This being the case, the question must arise as to whether anyone else is qualified to pass a definitive opinion on your photographs, because that person might not understand your mindset or vision, what you’re photos are trying to say or convey, etc etc.  That person may only be able to see your photos from his or her mindset / vision which, since we’re all individuals, may be quite different from your’s.  Its hardly rocket science, is it?

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AND SO TO A SPOT OF ICONOCLASM – ALL MY OWN PERSONAL VIEWS, NATURALLY

PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITIONS

Since photography is so subjective, I cannot believe in the validity of competitions that seek to compare one photo with another, and to say that one photo is “better” or “worse” than another.

I read that entering photographic competitions can give one more confidence, and enable one’s pictures to be seen more widely and those points may be true for others, but they are certainly not true for me.  I have never felt the slightest urge to enter such a competition.  I’m very happy with the exposure to others that my blog gives my pictures –  and I have actually read that one way forward with photography is NOT to enter competitions, that is to keep right away from any hints of competitiveness.  Still, having said that, our species is a highly competitive animal … so you takes your choice!

CAMERA CLUBS

Well, I’m quite a loner really, and especially so when it comes to taking photographs, and I can only say that these clubs are not for me.  I do know someone with club experience that is really very negative; and I read clubs’ accounts of themselves each week in Amateur Photographer magazine, and simply see a different world, a different mindset, to my own.

There are clubs all over the UK, and various regional federations of clubs, and probably federations of federations too, and they have competitions where the members of one club try to outdo members of another, and there are trophies and prizes, and all I can say is that to me all of this seems a million miles away from simply going out with a camera and creating images.  And, once again, if photography really is as subjective as it appears to be, how can such competitions have any solid, objective basis?  But, once more, the human animal is competitive, and tribal too …

THE ROYAL PHOTOGRAPHIC SOCIETY (RPS)

Well now, I’m really not qualified to give an unbiased view here, I freely admit to that.  And, to be fair, let’s start with a link that tells you all about the RPS: that info is here .  I imagine that the RPS does some good, worthwhile things, and you can learn about them in the link.

I suppose that my negative feelings about the RPS originate from three things.  First, the UK is a country with many institutions that have originated in the past and which are simply carried mindlessly on in the 21st century.  Examples of such anachronisms are the royal family, parliament’s house of lords, and the continued use of titles like knight, duke, lord, dame and so on.  For me, royalty are the really outstanding anachronism here, so that anything with “royal” in its title is instantly suspect.

Then second, I have an interest in Modern Art, and I am inspired – indeed, often simply blown away – by many of the works of the Impressionists and others – the likes of Renoir, Degas, van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, Cezanne – and never, ever, forgetting Britain’s JMW Turner.  And the French Impressionists of course arose in a time when French art was totally dominated by the Academie des Beaux-Arts, which laid down the “rules” of art, and which only accepted pictures to its annual Salon de Paris if they obeyed those rules.  The Impressionists broke away from the Salon and staged their own exhibitions – and so to a vast breath of fresh and exciting air through French art.

And, in my mind, I confess to not being quite able to totally disassociate my feelings about the RPS from my feelings about the Academie des Beaux-Arts.  Of course, all things royal in the UK have nothing like the power or influence they once enjoyed – which can only be a profound blessing! – but I remain at best equivocal about the RPS notwithstanding.

And my third source of disquiet is that the RPS actually goes as far as issuing photographic “qualifications” (you can read about them on the link), so that you can become eg A N Other FRPS for example!  Once again – and for the final time, you’ll be glad to hear – if photography really is as subjective as I believe it to be, how can RPS judges, or any other judges, be objective, how can they hope to get deeply inside others’ minds?  To be fair to the RPS, I think that other UK photographic societies also bestow photographic “qualifications” now – but all of this is very, very far from my mindset …

One final point is that at least some RPS members do not consider a photograph to be a “true” photograph (whatever that is) unless its been printed, and you don’t need me to tell you what I think of that particular piece of dogma!  However, we do live in a digital age where vast numbers of images will remain forever on phones and hard drives, and I’ll talk in a later post about this – photobooks seem a good way forward.
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AND, FINALLY, TO OUR WORDPRESS BLOGS

Reading Amateur Photographer magazine as I do each week, mainstream photography in the UK seems to be a fairly stressful and pressured affair.  There seems to be the fixation that every photographer must strive to make his or her photographs stand out from those of “the crowd”, in order to get him or herself noticed.  Also, there are recognised photographic “honeypots” that are guaranteed to produce at least reasonable pictures: the great prehistoric circle at Stonehenge, which must have been photographed millions of times over the years, would be an example, I suppose.  And as I understand it, the perceived notion is that I should go to Stonehenge and strive to take photographs that are somehow different from all of the millions of photographs already taken there – that I should “see” Stonehenge is some different sort of way, and so end up with photos in some way different from all those taken before, to get my photography more widely  noticed.  And there also are jokes about having to put the legs of my tripod into the holes made by the tripods of other photographers who have toiled there before me …  (also, reading this and thinking about it, perhaps the current trend for each photographer making “his/her take” on a honeypot locality is akin to painters in medieval times, who each did their own take on The Crucifixion and other biblical/classical scenes).

Well, I read what I have just written in the preceding paragraph, and my single response to these points is “WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD I EVER WANT TO GET INTO THIS MINDSET?!“.

What I have outlined above is certainly not my idea of enjoyable, satisfying photography – and I have a feeling that many of you reading this will agree.  We post on WordPress, in a reasonably small, quiet, non-competitive and mutually supportive community, that suits our really quite simple needs very well.   I also value the opportunity to write at length on WP, should I want to (and as I have done here!), rather than being constrained by just a title and/or some brief text..

WORDPRESS: THE STING IN THE TAIL!!!

And now, having written so glowingly about WordPress, I recall reading recently that we are no longer going to be able to use the original, Classic post editor.  Instead, a version of the new Block Editor will mimic the Classic Editor’s functionality – see this link Well, as always, words are words and only time will really tell …  For the moment, read the Comments on this link.

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14 comments

  1. “Why would I ever want to get into that mindset?” – indeed, and the way you phrased it, instead of just saying why would I want to do that, is important. Photography clubs don’t work for me, either. I did try it once when I was new in town. Bad experience! I enjoyed your rant about the RPS. I enjoyed the images here too, Adrian – the crushed bottle wedged in the drain, the lovely foggy view, the blue light on the dark, wet street. I’m glad you do set down your thoughts here and glad this “venue” suits what you want to do so well. The WP editing format seems to be all over the map some days (I open it up the same way but get different versions) but I just persevere and get thought it somehow.

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    • My friend, thank you – we are fellow travelers, along the same road! To me, much of the “UK photography scene” is simply astonishing, I can’t believe people get tied up in such things. But then, as you know, I’m very much into imagined realities too – and, once again, I’m totally astonished at the stories which human societies have to tell themselves to get by / function.

      As to WP, none of these changes have got to me yet but I imagine they will. I also imagine that some/many of the things I can do eminently easily now will become more difficult / impossible. I have very little faith in WP.

      Finally, I have a very old friend, and his partner, in Santa Cruz, and I am anxious for their safety. He was one of two school friends who got me into birds in 1967. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      • Funny, I have a very old friend in Santa Cruz, too, someone I knew in the early 70s in New York.
        The fire came close to them but most of them did not have to evacuate. Today the dry winds are picking up again and the fire danger is returning. Some California fires are under control, some are still not well contained. The Santa Cruz fire is 100% contained. 🙂
        If you ever want a close-up look at any fire situation in CA go to CalFire and look at the incident report page.
        We also have a website called InciWeb out here on the west coast that tracks incidents. The amount of information there is amazing.
        I hope you’ve gotten in touch with your old buddy by now.
        https://www.fire.ca.gov/
        https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/
        Sobering stuff.

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        • Lynn, thank you very much for this, I’ve bookmarked the fire.ca link, very useful. My old friend is in Santa Cruz city and ok, but he knows people in the surrounding hills who have lost their homes. We are in email contact and he’s ok at the moment. Thank you.

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  2. Oh, no – not a change!!! Thanks for the heads up re the new ‘block’ editor. I can barely use my confounded smartphone let alone deal with changes on WP! Best to take a look, I guess.

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  3. You had me at “Iconoclasm”. I would just like to add exclamation points to everything you said.

    Competition is antithetical to art (of any kind, and yes, I think of photography as an art). It is of course about being “better” than others which kind of makes it inherently about tearing others down which kind of makes it about the opposite of creation in my book. I applaud your attitude and your spirit here.

    Initially I too was appalled that they were taking away my beloved Classic Editor (which I have been using since 2012) and I kind of still am. For what it’s worth, I have been messing around a bit with the new editor, and it appears that you should be able to use the “Classic” block mostly like the Classic Editor–i.e. you can still plug in your own HTML. Although I have to say I did my last post using the Image and Gallery blocks (with some text mixed in) and it wasn’t as entirely horrid of an experience as I was expecting. That being said, any time someone starts a conversation with, “You’re going to love the new thing that we’re replacing the thing you already love with….no, really…trust us. We’re thinking of Your experience!”, I get worried……

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    • Johnny, thank you so much for your supportive thoughts and info. Oh yes – and here’s yet another hot potato! – photography is most certainly an art in my view – but its simply not worth arguing with anyone who thinks otherwise as there can never be a definitive answer, its far better just to get on with photography!

      Well, let’s hope that WP have indeed replicated the Classic Editor – I am, for a start, enormously lifted by your saying that it will still be possible to insert my own HTML!

      And, yes, I agree with your final sentence ENTIRELY! We live in a world of bullshit and hype, the triumph of style over substance, but you and I are concerned with the substance. Well, we’ll see – and you are seeing already >>> and I’d be very grateful to hear of any problems you run into! Many thanks! Adrian 🙂

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  4. WordPress keeps telling me that the new editor is coming, in June. And then last week they said the Classic was no longer available, but the week’s worth of posts I did yesterday were done the same way I’ve been doing them for the past 8? years! In the meantime I’ve got more pictures to take, and photos to process. 😃

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    • David, thanks for this. I suppose I’m naturally cynical but, as much as I enjoy blogging on WordPress, I really don’t think that they are on the ball or together as an outfit, I’ve seen this time and again since I started 9 years ago. So, we have to wait and see.

      I’m like you, blogging for years, and the Classic editor does exactly what I want, and simply, including some workarounds. Whether these will all be possible with the Block Classic editor, I doubt. A depressing prospect! 🙂

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  5. Fine post! Alone = All one ; Which means that the only way for the human beings to get united is to admit that every single human is a unique individual and therefor as important as any other human on this planet and elsewhere.. Then there is no longer a reason for having to conquer other people… We can just meet and get to know each other and you can become friends with the ones you like…. A long way to go… But we do a pretty good job here in PhotoBlogLand.. 🙂 Cheers Amigo!

    Liked by 1 person

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