The freedom of artistic photographery

Blue Skies.

I feel sorry for professional photographers. Back when we had an accounting business we had several photographers as clients, and even in those days of still mostly film media their ability to eke out a living by catering to the tastes of others was continually tried. Today it could only be worse, as not only is there a dwindling market due to the proliferation of amateur shooting to fulfil the needs of people who still can’t tell the difference between a low-quality snapshot and a top-notch professional image but also because techno-snobbery saturates the minds of client and competitor alike.

Whale Out Of Water.

So on the one hand they make a major investment in equipment and learning only to have their work deemed comparable to shots taken with a smart phone, and on the other they get looked down upon if they don’t have the latest cameras and lenses because everyone knows you can only get the best results with the newest equipment release. Quite the perplexing paradox, no? Even your fellow professionals will deride you if you don’t keep your kit up to date. That over and above the usual ‘brand snobbery’.

Christmas Cracker.

The artistic photographer does not have to fall victim to this charade (which doesn’t mean that they don’t). For them all that matters is the end result which, since it is a work of art and not a visual documentation, is subject only to evaluation on its own merits. Or at least that’s how it should be, and admittedly this does not mean a great work will automatically be seen as such by all (more often quite the opposite). But the artist can take some solace in knowing the art only has to please its creator. Whether or not it has commercial value is a different issue (and to be honest it often doesn’t; no matter how many people praise it they still won’t pay for it). If they leave off the camera description they will not be subjected to ‘brand snobbery’ either. In fact only in the field of artistic photography can one use low-quality equipment to positive results: a Holga lens is acceptable as a tool for artistry, but no one wants their wedding photographed through one.

Some Sunny Day.

Given my deteriorating eyesight I have found extra solace in artistic photography. Since I can’t really see what I’m doing until the finished image is on my computer (if even then), there inevitably is a random component to the outcome. Perhaps a magical one as well. I certainly can no longer claim the ability to make professional-grade images, but I can still create acceptable-level artistic ones (I think so anyway). It certainly is easier not having to remember and make use of all the technical aspects, instead relying on a ‘feel’ for what is being done. It is also cheaper not having to buy ‘bargain’ new lenses, any one of which may cost more on its own than my entire arsenal of “out-of-date” equipment is worth.

Smoke Rising.

For those who are professional photographers I suggest they take the occasional moment to experiment with artistic photography. Not because they should switch, as that inevitably would result in their becoming very poor very rapidly, but because it can provide a respite from the stress of always having to ‘measure up’ to other people’s standards. Which is particularly frustrating when those other people aren’t really qualified to judge your efforts anyway.

Ice and Light.

The Whipsaw Wonderment of Diffuse Abrogation

I have no idea.

The back gate to Hell.

When the moon is full and snow’s on the ground,

I don’t need a torch to walk the dogs around.

Can you see him?

Apparently I’ve done over 500 posts now, so maybe I’d better shut up eh?

Somewhere in space.
Scales of the ice dragon.
Somethings out in space.

Done with a variety of cameras and a variety of tricks.



3 from camera ‘A’, 3 from camera ‘B’

Raven in flight

I like the way the feather motion is a blur at the edges.

I’m on fire

This is about the light, not the composition. I couldn’t due much with the composition.

Spring robin

The light is finally getting to where I can get colour on these birds and I’m not always shooting silhouettes.


The melt water makes for some temporary opportunities.

Metal bird

Amazing how many jets pass over here given the extreme drop in air traffic.

Marley the dog

For once not being a goofball. Usually if the camera is out she is hamming it up.

Cameras used: Nikon P610 and Lumix ZS60.

Hoorray for the Red, Green, and Blue

While sifting through the seemingly endlessly nested menus on my Nikon, I came across a setting that allows the camera to take multiple exposures (combining two or three shots into one composite image). We used to do this in the old days of film, often by accident (not all cameras integrated film wind and shutter lock, you know). There really isn’t much point to doing it on purpose, except for certain artistic expression or trying to fool people with “ghost” images. Nevertheless, once found the setting must be tried.

In my usual semi-instructive manner I decided to try it out by assembling the red, green, and blue aspects of a picture – much as our display screens do. So with the camera on tripod on a day that was still a bit too windy (causing some blur in the composite image) I took the same scene through the red, green, and blue filters:

And then the camera puts them together, and we can compare this to a straightforward “single shot”:

Note the composite picture has a somewhat magenta cast to it, owing to the filters not being “ideal” shades for RGB separation. But you get the idea of how it works. The camera even assembled a picture from the first two filters used, red and green:


You can see the lack of “blueness” in it, which is a strong indicator that the blue filter is the one which isn’t quite on spec because the RGB composite shows a similar lack, just not as severe.

In art class we learn that the primary colours are red, yellow, and blue. The secondary (or complimentary or ‘opposite’) colours are orange (made of red and yellow, opposite of blue), green (made of yellow and blue, opposite of red), and purple (made of blue and red, opposite of yellow). Then in photography they throw cyan (pale blue heading towards green) and magenta (pale red heading towards purple) at us, and explain it’s because light is yellow to begin with so everything has to shift a few degrees on the colour circle. Different shades of yellow too, depending on the light (the all-important white balance). Gee, did someone mention ROYGBIV – the seven visible colours of white light? Yeah we get in trouble picking which shade of Indigo or Violet we want to call purple. Oh and along comes the age of colour TV & digital imaging and suddenly we’re supposed to understand that because light is yellow (especially artificial light) we have to make colours from red, green, and blue instead. And this doesn’t touch on infrared, near infrared, and ultraviolet – which aren’t visible to us but are to our cameras.

Confused yet? If you are, you’re learning.