What’s in the Frame?

A photograph never shows reality. It is a 2-dimensional artificial reality, created without sensory additions of smell, sound and the feeling of being there...

It is interesting isn’t it? When you take a photography you are (normally) in a wonderful location with a great view. You look around the scene, smell the smells and hear the sounds. Beautiful. You compose your shot, press the trigger and snap; that wonderful scene is captured and you pack up and go home.

But when you get home and look at that shot, it is missing something. It isn’t the shot you took; it is, well, different.

As discussed in a previous rambling, this is a common problem people starting out in photography have (and some people who are not starting out). Building on that previous essay, let’s explore one of the possible reasons for this problem…

When you take that picture, you are freezing a moment; you are capturing the vision you saw, but without the extra sensory additions of smell, sound and the feeling of being there.

Also when you capture that vision, you are simply capturing the visual experience evenly across the shot. The camera doesn’t know what you were seeing, it just grabs all the points of light it was shown and records them all the same. You see a tree bending over a stream; the camera also sees the empty crisp packet, the telegraph pole disappearing out of the top of the image and the leg of that walker strolling by just off camera. The camera doesn’t discriminate; it treats every point of light equally and fairly. Which brings in another limitation. As soon as you capture that shot, you are placing a frame around the scene and discarding everything else; anything outside that frame ceases to exist for the future viewer; it is vaporised like in an old science-fiction film. Gone!

This is photography; it is imprecise, the picture is fluid depending on who is looking at the image and how they perceive the view from the window you have placed onto your image; a window to a scene you perceived with all that extra sensory information you were provided with.

The picture will always be a version of reality; it will never be the same as you saw and experienced. Learning all the technicalities of photography; having the best cameras and lenses and being in the right location at the right time, doesn’t help. When you develop the skill, through practice and experience, to be able to create your own version of the reality that delivers the message you want to deliver and that can be perceived by the viewer, you will then have made a great leap in your skill as a photographer.

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