A friend of mine said a few days ago that he was just a snapper and liked taking snaps. This got me thinking about what photographic challenges I would like to set for 2014. Photography should be more than taking snaps because we want our images to say something meaningful, whether that be to express a feeling or to promote an issue we feel strongly about.
In this regard we don’t take photographs but rather we make images. My last blog contained twelve images, one taken in each month during 2013. I now question whether some of them were snaps or images which I made! From those twelve images I have selected just one which I want to talk through. By doing this we learn from our decisions. How did I make the image, what choices did I make and why? Lastly what was I wanting the image to portray? Here is the selected image:
The image was taken at a banner parade in Dundonald last August, I used a Fujifilm X Pro 1 camera fitted with a 35mm lens. To make the image I moved in quite close and my objective was to use a narrow depth of field, in this case f4. I wanted the background to be out of focus, yet to be sufficiently discernible to show the context of the image. The near rim of the drum is in focus, while the far rim is out of focus. I actually focused on the side of the man’s face. The light of the drum shell is reflecting light on the man’s face making the image stronger. These factors were all considered in just a few seconds before dialling in the camera settings and releasing the camera shutter.
Could I have taken it better? Probably, the second drummer is too much in focus relatively speaking. I don’t like the lamp post in the background and I could easily take it out in Lightroom or Photoshop, but I have left it in. The image is a documentary image and it is un-cropped, it is exactly how I framed it even to the point of chopping off the top of the man’s head. As a documentary image it works very well as a monochrome, better than in colour as colour can be distracting. For comparison a monochrome version is below. The composition is tight and stops the eye wandering out of the frame.
Lastly what was I trying to achieve? The lambeg drum is a potent symbol of Ulster unionist culture, the man’s stern expression complements the message portrayed by the image and for these reasons I think it works. I took many images of the banner parade that day and most of them did not work in the way this one does!
The challenge for 2014 is therefore to make more powerful images that convey something meaningful.
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