To those of you who know Ansel Adams, you may know these words belong to him : while driving to Sante Fe, he glanced to his left and saw a scenery he described as « An Inevitable Photograph… » but, while it seemed inevitable to him, how many photographers would have realized the potential of the scene ?
Our challenge, as Photographers, is to be able to « disconnect » our functional view : the way we perceive our environment related to our everyday use of what surrounds us : a Road : a flat strip of tar, Sky : What is over our head, Colza : what farmers grow in their fields and re-decipher these elements as visual components. Evaluate them in volumes, textures, colors and shapes. Mix them to built an appealing design. I’d like to mention a crucial ability we should have, all of us : THis is what Admas, Weston and Portern called Visualization : The ability to imagine the final print and use all the tools at our disposal to achieve that result. Visualization might seem less important in an age when Photographs can viewed an instant after pressing the shutter, but the tremendous control available to digital Photographers means that it is more important than ever, because the possibilities are so vast !
Do you visualize having highlight and shadow detail in a high-contrast scene ? No matter how much contrast you’re facing, it’s now possible to show detail throughout the image by merging several images together with HDR.. BUT, you have to visualize this in advance in order to make several different exposures that will be aligned and exposed correctly. Do you want great Depth of Field, beyond what your lens is capable of ? Again, you must foresee this and take several frames focused at varying distances.
Unless you have a clear idea in your mind of what you want to achieve, you might forget a vital step in making your image. Once you’ve visualized the desired result, you have to be able to execute the necessary steps. Technique is of paramount importance. Masterize it is not an option : You do have to work a lot. Weston said : » For no matter how fine the innate sensitiveness, without technique, that means to an end ! «
One could think technique is no more an issue nowadays because of amazing features we have in our DSLRs. Forget it ! Cameras are built to make good standard documentary pictures. They are not built to scrutinize the depth of your soul and, as a result, reinterpret the scenery accordingly ! Making a Photograph is a personal violation not an algorithm application…