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Reality Minus

Reality Minus

As a child my fascination with photography began because the camera could only capture what was in front of it. I knew I was looking at a depiction of what really existed at the moment the shutter clicked. It was a window to places where I had not been. It was my time machine revealing the past. I knew that I was really seeing what San Francisco looked like in 1900 for instance. It was very powerful fodder for the imagination. And, as I learned to use cameras I learned a very documentary philosophy of the photographic art form. Less reliant on filters and darkroom techniques than the luck of the eye and control of the camera to capture a real moment. So I have squirmed a bit mentally dealing with my use of digital photography and the after-camera softwares that make altering photos much too easy.

“Pictures don’t lie”.  Or, do they? They can and they do. Above is a photo of a sculpture at a small airport in Northern California. I wasn’t there at the best time of day to catch it and I may lighten the shadows later and cropping will take place. However, the point of this post is to point out the depth of my corruption by the tools that are available to me. That light pole really bothered me and so I made it disappear.  It took some time and effort with my clunky old school software; but, I did it without compunction. And, I’ll undoubtably take similar actions in the future. Over time the rules about where I draw the line between truth and fiction have become soft and fuzzy. When I look at the pictures above I am reminded of the following quote. Perhaps this is now part of my rule set for photography as well as for human nature. “The difference between truth and fiction is that fiction has to make sense”.

What do you think?

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    • Thank you so much. ——-
      One of my friends responded to this idea saying, “I think truth makes a lot of sense!”
      I said, “But it doesn’t have to and sometimes it just doesn’t really ….”
      Then I was dismissed with, “Yeah, whatever”.
      I still laugh when I remember this.

  1. Well, that’s how we set our feet above the times, Howard. What once was so difficult for us to fought to have it before, for now, is useless, be so trivial. If in ancient times the sword was a way of survival, now the computer replaced it. Of all that, generally something unchanged is our way of perceiving to see the real reality. But your ability to adapt is amazing, Howard. The photo above proves it.

    • Resilience and adaptation are indeed useful these days. Change should be welcomed when possible somehow I guess. It is the way of things in a universe ruled by entropy. It is funny though that the older I get the more I take comfort in things that have changed very little. Something unusually familiar. Maybe it’s rather good to last so long without amendment …. perhaps.

      • Well, Howard, as we get older, our “pace” slows down, while out there things move faster dan faster, maybe there’s something we can balance it and adjust but there still many that don’t, so there must be something more comfortable for something but not yet comfortable for else. That’s how I am. Hahaha…

    • The two flaws of human perception as an old friend of mine used to say are: 1) Everyone thinks that what they perceive is “bang on” correct; and, 2) they believe everyone perceives what they do.
      Some people are still using Polaroids to document as digital pictures are not reliable evidence. I am at peace with digital photography though. In fact I love it. And I am a frequent offender of the depiction of the real.

  2. On seeing a picture I think many of us want to know more about its setting. Without the context our imagination tells us that anything is possible. A thought provoking post here, including insight into the truth that pictures can lie. One of my ideas along this line is: though a picture may say a thousand words it’s important to ask whether are those words are true.

    • The sculpture is at the Sonoma County Airport. I got off a plane and snapped it as I was deplaning which is done here by walking out of the plane onto the ground and trekking to the airport. It is called the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport. (the Peanuts guy)
      The sculpture is a 12-foot high bronze sculpture titled “Syncronetic #4”, by sculptor Riis Burwell. The picture doesn’t do it real justice.
      It’s a hobby of mine documenting public art … and that’s another story. The picture isn’t really a big lie by omitting the extraneous light pole but it just got me thinking.

  3. Great to see you here, Howard. It’s been a while! You are spot on when you call it corruption. We really have given the lie to ‘Cameras never lie’ 🙂 However, from a purely artistic point of view I very much enjoy the tools at my fingertips. Although I have a recent version of Photoshop, my go-to program is, and probably always will be, a 1995(!) version of Paint Shop Pro.

    • My one and only software is the $29.99 Pixelmator. The last Photoshop I had was the 3.2.1version. I needed to turn some pictures to a publishable form for a little newspaper once, started playing around, and … (Oh, I have things I don’t use that came with a camera and bundled with my computer.) I don’t mind doing things old school. There was a huge gap in my computer involvement of over a decade and I think like a printmaker because I am that I guess. I have been absent —> I am in the middle of a long distance move. (packing up a house and driving stuff to a new place) There are also some connectivity issues on one end. I will try to be more in touch. Absent, but not by choice really. Cheers!

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