Saturday, January 5, 2013

On Equipment, Resolution, Detail, and Mood

I just took this picture with my iPad camera (which is so bad, I rarely use it).
Through A Low Resolution Blind, by Reed A. George
iPad Camera
I noticed yesterday, looking through this same blind, that the weave of plastic making up the blind results in a pixelated view of what's outside, sort of like a low resolution digital sensor.
To me, this is a picture of a crow. In fact, the crow in the picture is literally represented by just two completely black, square "pixels." Do you see it, on top of the closest streetlight? Two pixels out of about 12,000 by my quick estimation. Completely black - no color or even gray level information.
I know that the crow was there. To me, it's a picture of a crow. To anyone else, it is certainly not a picture of a crow.
I am using the left side, the descriptive side, of my brain when I say it's a crow in the picture. I label those two pixels "crow." But, the feeling I get when looking at the image (from the right side of my brain) is definitely affected by a crow being there. This feeling would not be transmitted to other viewers with this low resolution image.
Ospreys in Flight, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor P 500mm f4 Lens
On the other hand, if I am photographing birds in flight, the shape and orientation of each feather adds to the experience of seeing it first hand. If I can't capture that, I've lost something in the process.
Mystery in a Street Scene, by Reed A. George
Leica CL, M-Rokkor 40mm f2 Lens
But, then there's mystery. Sometimes I want to obfuscate some details, specifically to allow me to share the feeling of a scene, rather than all of the details. This image makes me think "Woah. What's going on there?" even though I took the picture.
To me, this is why all of the technical terms associated with equipment, and the techniques that we share with each other, matter at all. But, matter they do. I hope this helps to explain why I believe that equipment and technique are important, and illustrates a little of what I mean by "Exploring the Interface Between Equipment and Creativity in Photography."