Ruined image or Artistic expression   10 comments

In the previous post I described some technical challenges for candid photography in Morocco.
I had my own share of missed opportunities due to technical misjudgment or just sloppiness.
Sometimes, I found interesting artistic expression in obviously ruined shots.

When I was taking pictures of doors I used low shutter speed.  I forgot my camera was still on this setting.

Overexposed, blown-out highlights occurred from not adjusting exposure after walking in a deeply shaded narrow street.

I failed to change focus when this man moved towards me.

Related topics

Why is the candid photography unique?

Candid street photography in Morocco with Pentax K-5 and 21mm f/3.2

10 responses to “Ruined image or Artistic expression

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  1. The donkey shot is reallt good, Greg. It kind of looks like a panoramic effekt combined with some motion blur. Like it!

  2. To me 1 and 3 look like obvious mistakes. Slow shutter speeds can work but I believe that the picture needs an anchor and that is lacking for me here. The out of focus one just looks; out of focus.

    The middle one works for me though, he is looking into the light . It has a mystic quality to it, almost religous in its symbolism.

  3. the DELETE control on a digital is as important as any other control and when compared to film its the 2nd most important advance given us by digital (the 1st being iso control per exposure not roll). Processed differently the 2nd pic might have some latitude for describing the experience of walking from the protection of the cooler lane to the heat of the open sky but the man’s body language does not fit the theme.

    That Jimmy thinks the donkey pic is panoramic and that Dakin is having some kind of religious experience should give you some clue that clues are important but that some lack any.

    • Camera’s DELETE control is one of the biggest distractions. I am guilty for not resisting using it. I feel stupid spending time browsing in camera and deleting images but it is hard to eliminate habits. On the street we should always look for another opportunity to shoot. At home using monitor and your software it is easy to delete whatever you want.
      Virtually unlimited space and no cost for making shot IS the most important ADVANCE of digital compared to film.

  4. I neither chimp or delete in camera while I´m out in the streets. It takes focus from the shooting experience, imo.

  5. its a good quiet moment too…You need breaks sometime to refresh your mind or shift from what you were doing to consider something in your pictures that you might not have otherwise considered. I wouldn’t recommend this to someone just starting. You don’t know the camera monitor that well and I’m guessing all have experienced pictures that look better on the camera’s screen but worse on the home PC. The reverse can also be true so delete the obvious like a tree sticking out of a head, but examine the pics and remain cautious. The Delete has further benefits, its like a scolding of sorts. Why did I do that? That was a waste of effort …things like that. Its good to sit, review what you have done and all while watching a scene in front of you just in case.

    My deleting process is about 4-stages. Obvious deletes on the scene, deletes that were not obvious when on the PC, Deletes after an attempt to make a purse from a pig’s ear in the post processing and the last which is for me the most important …a final delete but it will be days or weeks later and often the time away from the pictures yields a surprise. Each delete as you can see was very different, the last has nothing to do with the picture and is more concerned with storage space. Its a control and an important part of workflow.

    On matters of artistic merit. You used the phrase “artistic expression”. This is where art and accident part company. It is possible in art to have a happy accident but it still needs the expression of intent. That intent could relate to meaning, or to colour or movement. I saw an artist draw half circles on a page over and over until something emerged and then the artist put their attention to that. A happy accident. A bit trickier to claim the same on a camera after the event but it can happen and I suppose the qualification is that you saw the merit in the picture in the first place.

    There are no rules but the final test would be if you’d pay to have it printed, framed and hung on a wall (grin)


    • You used the phrase “artistic expression”. This is where art and accident part company. It is possible in art to have a happy accident but it still needs the expression of intent.

      It is easy to agree with you but I have reservations. In activities where luck and accident have big portion in the mix with our skills or intent we tend to overestimate our skills and abilities. We fool ourselves and others. It is true in street photography, poker or financial trading. For result it does not matter. You don’t care whether photo is candid or not. Why do you care whether image done by pure accident or photographer intention? The only time it is important is for our own education in order to repeat our successes. But it rarely happens.
      In some way it leads to my next planned post. I hope you will comment on it.

  6. Interesting, Ant. With the exception of not deleting on scene, I have the same process as you. And I do check out the images on camera every now and then to se if I got the scene. There´s nothing worse than walking around with a feeling all you shoot is crap. But one good shot on the camera monitor is all I need to get a mental boost to go on until I run out of gas.

  7. You sound just like me Jimmy …the frustration is sheer-awful. The right place, the right time, the right lens and the right exposure … something just so wrong that anyone could think this a nice way to relax and chill.

  8. Greg you give some things too little a value …you can manufacture luck and its no accident that you are there.
    Some simple examples …..
    I sat with another photog at the end of a lane and every time someone emerged with a hat or a beard I noticed he took their pic. Was a funny experience as I was watching through my vf as he shot and I was shoulder to shoulder with him. Same scene but his interpretation of it was so different. We both saw something different and only if a lion rushed out with a monkey on its back would we have gotten the same pic but then it would have been documentary and not street (grin)

    I love a giggle and in the scenes I find them at a proportionally high level. Enough that I have a gallery just for these moments and even of the photographer that I mention above ….funnier was that he didn’t understand why I though it funny.

    Just because you are taking photos with the simple exercise of applying minute pressure to a single finger for the sake of pressing a little button …it has a lot more behind it than just that.

    I think you might be confusing your experiences of looking at art with the skills required to create art. The technical skill of drawing or painting are not so different. There was an age where drawing and painting were leisurely pursuits in place of the internet and ipods and the necessary technical qualities were known to all just as DOF is known to us now.. I agree that creating a scene is different from observing one but you can then consider that the technical skill remains the same regardless if a scene is already there or one that is manufactured (like a portrait) and sometimes in street you even have opportunities where you can make something of something that was already there …

    and sometimes you can use the technical component as the art. ….just as a painter uses the stroke.

    Other simple qualities include, composition, symmetry, colour and even style but all the art is still from behind the lens and from behind the paintbrush.

    Accidents …well they exist in all art. A painting you might admire might have another painting underneath, it could have been that an artist painted a pasture scene but that a tree was so awful it was replaced with a rock …and the reverse a rock that by accident became a beautiful cow.

    Some more years and you will see that all you need for the right answer is time (and a lot of photos).

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