Visual Textuality: Nick Russell's weblog

Hypothesis

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Shortly after beginning my transition from film to digital (insofar as I have made one), I realized that on-site and in-camera editing often destroyed the best images from my shoots. There are exceptions – if I know exactly the shot I need and don’t yet have it; if I’m on so tight a deadline that speed is more important than the best possible quality; if my subject blinks or decides to contort themselves in the last 60th of a second – but I still forbid myself to delete photos from my camera. It is very difficult to correctly make final editing decision on the fly.

I’m sure much of the difficulty stems from the general psychological need for distance in making good judgments, but it occurs to me that there may be a physical/physiological component as well. It takes a long time for our eyes to adjust between one light condition and another, and if we are so immersed in a condition as to be capable of taking good pictures then we are probably not able to correctly judge how the colors and contrasts will look when an image is displayed in totally different conditions. No doubt most of this gap is made up by the visual/mental gymnastics required to take non-automatic photos at all – but so much of what makes a good photo is precisely that subtle, striking color/light contrast that it shouldn’t surprise us to see how digital, despite its promise, has failed to eliminate the traditional divide between shooting and editing.

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Written by Nick

July 23, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Posted in Photography, Writing

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