Kategorie-Archive: » Photography | General

A new kind of photographic aesthetic?

The world has changed.

Ten years ago the thought that we could take quality images on a mobile phone was laughable.

Since then we’ve had a revolution, and images – and video – taken on mobile devices are everywhere.

Apple has long had a knack of capturing the digital ‚Zeitgeist‘ and to peek into the future.

But has Apple got it right when recently stating that the new generation of iPhones offer „…the only camera you’ll ever need.“

I suspect that Apple has a point (but only to a point).

It could well be that in 5 -10 years no one will raise an eyebrow when seeing professional photographers shooting some of their images on a mobile phone.

And let’s not forget the ability to instantly sell images through the ‚cloud‘.

I think that photographers who ignore this will be wondering what happened.

It’s not unlike the shift we’ve experienced when moving from darkroom based processes to the digital darkroom.

This shift is still quite new in the context of photographic history. And there are many photographers who until today prefer film and never fully embraced the digital environment.

The quality issues with shooting images on a mobile phone are not overly problematic.

Most photographers would agree that it’s not the camera but the photographer who makes the difference, and that a technically deficient photograph can nevertheless be a great photograph if the viewer connects with it.

So there are limitations in what mobile phone cameras can currently achieve technically.

There is the limitation of the available dynamic range. There is also the problem of capturing 8 bit jpeg files that leave limited scope for post-production. These issues may of course be solved in the future. No one knows if Apple, or Samsung, or whoever, will offer RAW capture. I can’t see any reason why not.

Megapixels certainly aren’t an issue anymore for screen based publishing and small print reproduction.

But do technical limitations always matter in a world where the publishing of images is moving away from print based media to the screen?

I think not, as it’s often hard to tell on screen if an image was taken with a current iPhone, Nikon or Canon.

In the meantime I think we will experience a change in photographic aesthetics.

The clean, technical qualities offered by, for example, DSLRs will take a backseat and the more impressionistic/grungy/organic feel of mobile device images will become more ‚household‘. Just look at the popularity of the ‚Instagram‘ style images created using the freely available iOS and Android apps.

This change is not necessarily a bad thing as it shifts the photographic focus from technique towards image content, story telling and emotional impact.

My view is that the sooner professional photographers accept the change in technology and aesthetics the better off they will be in the future.

And it’ll still be the photographers with the best trained eye, sense of light, people skills and conceptual ability who’ll create the images that are sellable.

All images taken with my Samsung i5503t mobile phone using a 2 megapixel camera:

Hagley Park, Christchurch, New Zealand

Hagley Park, Christchurch, New Zealand
Hagley Park, Christchurch, New Zealand

A new vision for my sis

It’s been a while since I updated my blog and much has happened during the summer. While I fully intend to upload some of my own new images over the next few weeks, I first like to start with a tribute to my sister.

Norma has been a painter ever since I remember. Over the years her style and subjects have changed but she has had an artistic streak ever since she was very young.

In recent times she  started dabbling in photography. It hasn’t taken long for her to apply the painterly eye to create beautifully composed and lit photographs.

The below shot is one of those images, taken while walking her dog through the forest near her home in Germany.

I haven’t spent a lot of time in Germany over the last 25 years but this image strongly resonates with me.

Looking at the image I can smell the forest and feel part of it.

©Norma Wirtz/2012
©Norma Wirtz/2012



Light matters

As a photographer one of my daily pleasures is working with light. In many years of taking images professionally I never lost my sense of amazement at this beautiful medium we work with. It makes me happy.

So light really does matter, and often is the difference between a good image and one that wouldn’t work. At times it’s in the polish provided by subtleties, at others it lies in a radical manipulation of and change to what nature is providing.

Below is an example of how I work with light to achieve a pre-visualised and pre-designed image. The first example shows the result of using only sunlight. The second is the final image after some considered change to the lighting, mixing the available sunlight with electronic flash light.

Where I come from photographers are often referred to as photographic designers. I am very fond of this term as I think that it conveys the skill, thought and creativity that gets applied in photography.

Photographers design, mould and form with light, be it natural or electronic.  We make – instead of take – images using light. Yes we use cameras, it’s our tool, but the real enjoyment, the one that never ceases to fascinate, is making light work  aesthetically and exploring the never ending possibilities it provides.

The puzzling thing about expressions

I am the curious type.

One of the things that often arouse my interest when photographing portraits is people’s ability to use facial expressions for communication.

How do we do it? The range of expressions we have at a very early age is amazing. Yes, I know, I’m easily amused. But are we hard-wired or do we learn to communicate like this before our language develops? Nature vs nurture? I think it’s fascinating how we manage to convey thoughts and feelings prior to learning words. Anyway, if there’s a behavioural scientist or developmental psychologist reading this maybe you can comment.

Now look at her please. She’ll be a philosopher when she grows up, a think tank strategist, the leader of the skeptics society or Wonder Woman getting ready to straighten out some unsuspecting guys head.

And all that hard thinking and gesticulating is quite hard work. So let’s have a nap and call this photo shoot a wrap.

But what is she really thinking?

„Go the All Blacks!“

„Same lunch?…again?!“

„Not to put a finer point on it mister but you had your chance and time’s up.“

Emily, Christchurch, New Zealand

Thank you Ma & Pa for allowing images that are a bit on the outer edge of the norm.

And thank you wee girl for making my day.