Saturday, 28 December 2013

On a Stick

As my hands get less steady than they once were, I've conceded the usefulness of a monopod for use with a long lens (I have the Panasonic 45-200 f/4-5.6 -- a very handy Micro Four Thirds lens).  So I asked for a stick for Christmas. In situations like this brief interval of sunshine on a walk yesterday afternoon, I'm sure it will prove invaluable. It doubles as an "Alpenstock", so may find other uses, too (looks just the job for dealing with aggressive farm dogs...)

I like that painterly "where the hell was he standing?" perspective you get from a position 100 yards or more distant from the subject.  A long lens also has an agreeable tendency to flatten the picture planes, something that I realise doesn't appeal to everybody.

I tend to think there are two, complementary philosophies of successful photography.  One regards a photograph as essentially tied to three-dimensional reality, and is concerned with exploring issues like illusions of depth, or composition in receding planes.  3-D people tend to see the image as a "window" onto the world. The other philosophy regards a photograph as an essentially two-dimensional composition, like a painting or a print, and favours similar strategies to those of painters and printmakers.  Issues of tone, colour, shape and balance take primacy over the accurate representation of reality.  For 2-D people, a photo is less a window, more an object of contemplation; to paraphrase Ariel's song, everything suffers a sea-change into something rich and flat.  I seem to find myself in both camps, using the means of one to explore the concerns of the other.  And, of course, the other way round.  Well, it works for me.

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