The artifice in representing reality

Everyone knows the painter’s skill is capturing reality and the range of ways of doing this. Indeed recently the difference of approaches of Constable and Turner have been in the news – see here. Of course no painting is in index of reality in the way that a photo is, and it would be easy to think that the most authentic is one untouched by human imagination. But I contend that that is not the case and use today’s Photo of the Day to make my case.

The photo below left is the original image processed from within the camera and shown in Lightroom, untouched by me. The right hand image is the final posted image. Which best represents what I saw and what I wanted to represent and communicate?


Looking at the detail of both images below one can see how I have not only adjusted the images to remove some lens distortion but also change some colour and light values.



My point is that the approaches to creating images that present reality photographically are not that different from painterly traditions. One still has to have a vision of what one wants to represent and then use the chosen medium and technology to create a statement.

Indeed it is often those photographs where people cannot detect any manipulation and assume that image they are viewing is untouched by human hand that often take the most post processing to create.


About Pete

South Londoner struggling with life, art and photography.
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