Thursday, November 1, 2007
Well, Lear's incestuous fogs left the fen and met me in the cemetery yesterday morning, and so halloween photography needs to go on a bit longer. This silent, old tree holds the very center of the burying ground, and it coaxed more than a few shots from my camera. Choosing has been, as always, difficult.
In this case, choosing provided a small photographic epiphany with regard to lenses and fog. This image was made with a lens zoomed out to 180mm. That's a pretty telescopic lens, so I was standing well back from the tree. I was surprised when in the shot immediately afterward the fog appeared to have lifted in the space between me and the tree. However the fog behind the tree was only slightly changed. I'm sure I would have noted so sudden a departure of the fog's sucking (the second image was taken just 1 min and 3 seconds after the first.). A check of the image data reveals the secret. Although I seem to be the same distance from the tree, the second image was taken with a 95mm lens. I had moved much closer and used a less powerful lens to keep the tree the same size; the fog was as thick, but there was less of it between me and the tree.
This relates to a discussion I was having with a friend and fellow-photographer yesterday on what some call, "photographic cheating," or less pejoratively as, "manipulating the image." In fact, I can go into photoshop and manipulate this image to minimize or maximize the fog as I wish. Actually, I can't even open a RAW image without making some kind of judgement about this. So, if this photo is to be judged by its faithfulness to some objective truth, which is the better truth, the one at 180mm with fog everywhere? Or the one at 95mm with only background fog? Both? None? (continued below)
Of course, if you've looked at both photos, you notice that while the tree stays almost the same size, something is very different in the placement of the headstones. I haven't moved around the tree, only closer. Perhaps the, "authentic" photo is one to be taken at about 35 or 45mm where the foreground tree and background headstones both seem as large in front of me as they are in the image? Then, true photography must be limited to such lenses for photographic manipulation is already seriously underway the minute we make our camera.
As it turns out, I had much difficulty choosing between the fog-swept eeriness of the first image and the jewel-like, leaf colors and intimacy of this where the fogs are moving on. I'd be curious to know what others think. In any case, understanding how it happened will effect how I choose lenses in future situations.