I enjoy photography, and lately I've been checking out the 'Kodiak Camera Club' Facebook page for ideas. I highly recommend that you visit the website (click here). There are some beautiful photographs on there. But looking at all the photos I am also disturbed by a few trends that I see in current photography.
First of all, where are all the people? Practically all the photographs are landscapes or animal pictures. Perhaps this is because the website is oriented towards Kodiak photography, and the best thing about Kodiak is our landscapes and animals. Maybe if the newspaper or wedding/party photographers put more photos on the page this would change.
Still when I took photography classes in college it was all about people photography on the streets and 'catching the decisive moment' a la Cartier Bresson. I like the photo I took above backstage at the Nutcracker because the graininess, contrast and mood remind me of a black and white Robert Frank photograph. Not that I'll ever come close to the real deal. Ever see the one he took of the bored girl operating the elevator? That is my favorite Robert Frank photograph. (click here for an awesome story about the photograph).
The other current photography trend that I find disturbing is the garish use of saturation and color shifts. Basically people are doing too much 'photoshopping'. I do touch up my pictures in both photoshop and iphoto but I try to return a photo to what it really looked like. I try not to overdo it. The photo below of an archaeologically excavated housepit with mountains and reflections behind it is an example of mine where I overdid it a bit with the photoshopping - note that the color saturation is a little over the top. I stand by all the others - within the frame that is what it looked like.
Generally, I try to the let the composition and natural shadows, colors, reflections etc make the picture. I think landscape photography is actually pretty easy. Afterall, nothing is moving! Basically, it is just up to the photographer to get the exposure and composition right. The hardest part is getting it right before the light changes. And light changes far more slowly than people move.
My final pet peeve is that it seems current photographers tend to emphasize technique rather than composition to get a good photo. On the Kodiak Camera Club webpage there are numerous tripod supported night shots. Everybody seems to be using slow shutter speeds to get cool effects. And they certainly do achieve some spectacular images. But my favorite images are still the ones with inherent good composition.
I still remember my photography teacher, way back in the 1980s, who emphasized composition over everything. He always said that while sepia or selenium toning (the 'photoshop' of 1980s black and white photography) might make a photo look interesting. A well-toned badly composed photograph is still a bad photograph. I really don't think anything has changed all that much.
So check out what I consider my best photographic images from the past year, and let me know what you think. Patrick
|Chirikof lupin and archaeological field camp|
|Kodiak's windturbines at sunrise|
|I took this one of surfers out at Narrow Cape from a long way away and then cropped it to create a pleasing composition|
|My favorite animal photo - a Chirikof Ground Squirrel|
|A 400 year-old Alutiiq house after archaeological excavation|
|View at dawn from our archaeological field camp last summer at Old harbor|
|Another view from the Old Harbor field camp at dawn|
|A blown out dandelion blossom up close|
|Stuey showing off no hands on an Afognak zipline|
|Pauls Lake sunrise and moonset|