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Friday, January 17, 2014

My Favorite Photos from 2013

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


Molly said...

I completely agree about the overly-photoshopped trend. Over saturated colors are my pet peeve. There is so much beauty in nature that I don't think it needs to be exaggerated or turned into displays of colors that would never occur in real life. That's actually why I stopped following the 'Kodiak' Facebook page - almost all the photos that were posted were very unrealistic. The same goes for portraits where the eyes are a supposed to unrealistically stand out, in my opinion.

I love landscape shots and especially like the two from old harbor with the fog and clouds. And the dandelion and the one if stuey on the zip line!

We are going on a trip to some parks in Utah in April and I am super excited for the photography opportunities there in all the sandstone formations.

Zoya, Patrick, Nora and Stuart said...

I actually like some of the well - composed but overly saturated pictures on the Kodiak facebook page. They become more like a painting, However, and less of a photograph. I also have learned some technique insights and can't wait to try some night shots myself. I don't want to sound down on the Kodiak facebook page.

What I'm down on is that all photographers seem to be relying more and more on photoshop and technique rather than content and composition.

Check out some of the old masters like Cartier Bresson or Robert Frank. Their photos are all grainy and often out of focus - the technique is often terrible. But man oh man did they have a knack for catching the moment.


Molly said...

I just checked out the Kodiak Camera Club FB page - I'd never seen it before. Looks like a nice way to share images and tips with other photo enthusiasts. The one was I was talking about is just the "Kodiak Island Alaska" FB page.

This makes me want to look back at my favorite photos from 2013. Expect a blog post soon!

My Little Family: said...

I believe they are all beautiful. Great job! Lupine is my fav though.