Dreaming! As a photographer, albeit an amateur one, I always dream of getting the perfect photo. The one where the lighting is exactly right, everything that I want to be in focus, is in focus, from front to back of the photograph….and the subject is exactly where I want it. Ansel Adams once said;
You don’t take a photograph, you make it.
With today’s modern cameras and software it is so much easier to correct many of the mistakes we make before we press that shutter. We can correct the exposure, adjust the sharpness, increase or decrease the saturation, in effect, making an image that we like. However, I’m not so sure that’s what Ansel Adams really meant?
With Fred Archer, Adams developed the “Zone System“as a way to determine proper exposure and adjust the contrast of the final print. The resulting clarity and depth characterized his photographs and the work of those to whom he taught the system. Adams primarily used large-format cameras despite their size, weight, setup time, and film cost, because their high-resolution helped ensure sharpness in his images.
Adams preferred to work in Black and White because he felt color could be distracting, and might therefore divert an artist’s attention away from achieving his full potential when taking a photograph. Adams actually claimed that he could get “a far greater sense of ‘color’ through a well-planned and executed black-and-white image than he had ever achieved with color photography”.
However, unknown to many, Adams did not work exclusively in black and white—he experimented with color, as well. A few examples of his color work are available in the online archive of the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona. His subjects that he shot in color ranged from portraits to landscape to architecture, a similar scope to that of his black and white work.
Another reason why Adams preferred Black and White was, he was a “master of control”. He wrote books about technique, developed the “Zone System”—something which helped determine the optimal exposure and development time for a given photograph—and introduced the idea of “previsualization”, which involved the photographer imagining what he wanted his final print to look like before he even took the shot. These concepts and methods allowed for nearly total control of all the potential variables that factor into a final print. Because of his love for control, Adams disliked color since it lacked this element that he had mastered with black and white.
….and this is what I think Adams meant when he said “You don’t take a photograph, you make it”.
We can’t all be like Ansel Adams or any of the great photographers but we can certainly strive to get the best photograph we can. How we achieve that is up to us but I know it doesn’t need a big expensive camera to do so.
Buying a Nikon or Canon doesn’t make you a photographer. It makes you a Nikon or Canon owner.
Don’t get me wrong. I have a DSLR, most of my photographs are taken with it. I’ve had the camera for about five years now and I know it inside out. I know it’s capabilities and I know it’s failings. I’m going to be upgrading it this year to one with newer technology which will iron out most of the failings of my current camera. But some of the best photographs I have taken have come from a simple Point and Shoot that my wife bought me for my birthday last year. Yet, despite this, I’m still dreaming about that new camera which is going to be released in exactly six days time. I won’t have it for the next Weekly Photo Challenge, but maybe the next.
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreaming (mikehardisty.wordpress.com)