Articles written by Mike Smith
The camera never lies — it doesn't, it can't, because it's an entirely quantitative device. It counts photons, collecting, recording the number that arrive at the sensor. And for the digital camera, this is an entirely electronic process that is digital end-to-end, producing a number as the final result. It's at that point that we convert it back to analogue (as brightness) for our eyes to interpret. The camera never lies.
I was cycling to catch my train a few weeks ago and after I had folded the bike and stowed it in the luggage area, was pondering the things in life I couldn't live without. It was much to my surprise that, considering this question, I actually decided it was my bike (Joey). I use it for commuting, for shopping, for leisure; it is with me most days of the week, and without it, the impact on my day-to-day life would be dramatic.
We had spent several hours hiking and arrived at the viewpoint. You know the score: unholster the camera and start shooting the bucket images. You've got to go through those inspiringly uninspiring captures to allow you to work the scene, gel with your mates, and see if some of the magic of the setting flows. I try to work towards something a little different; more dramatic, less dramatic, unveiling something new. We came back together as a group in order to compare how three very different photographers imagined the scene. Two of us were shooting Nikon, one Canon. And damn, those Canon images were just singing off the screen.
You've just arrived at a meeting with your prospective wedding clients. Examples of a canvas, acrylic, and aluminum are with you, but first up is a slideshow sequence you've authored as a video. You're there to impress and so whip out the pico projector and plug in the USB stick. This is going to be big — two meters big. You navigate to the video folder which has 30 or 40 files in it. And… they are only vaguely sorted by name. Where the heck is the file you are looking for?
Fstoppers reported on recently published research supposedly demonstrating the existence of selfitis or excessive selfie-taking. Researchers from Nottingham Trent University in the UK identified the symptoms of "selfitis" in over 600 university students in India. Given the catchy headline, does it all add up?
A tenth of a second is all it takes - yes, the blink is a marvel of human physiology that clears dust away from the eye and helps lubricate the eyeball. We have learned to cope with momentary blackout by suppressing those parts of the brain that monitor visual change, in a manner similar to the way we are able to ignore our blindspot caused by the optic nerve entering the eye. So why the hell do I often end up photographing people with their eyes closed?!
Interpreting a photo can be a difficult task. We capture a moment and those moments are not equifinal, that is they don't all lead to a known end. In fact, it's quite the opposite. The visual juxtaposition of people and objects have the potential to lead to multiple outcomes or multiverses. John Berger perceived this notion of equifinality as an inherent metric of photo quality in terms of how much of the moment a photo can inform us and what we can then say about its past and potential futures — its “quotation” as he called it.
The Victorians ushered in an era of dramatic change, principally in the application of science, but being able to do this (literally) on an industrial scale. The impact upon society was tumultuous - throw science, invention, industrial processes, and money into the mix and the way countries developed forever changed, forming the basis for the world we live in today.
I handed it over and Jennifer just looked at me stunned. Her lower lip trembled and then, overwhelmed with emotion, her eyes welled up before tears rolled down her cheeks and she began to cry. Smiling, she turned to Emma who was sat on her left. She grabbed her hand reassuringly and then also started crying before giving Jennifer a hug. Across the table, next to me, was sitting Lilly - with both Jennifer and Emma now in tears she also welled up and then began to cry too.
You're walking along the street minding your own business when bam, out of nowhere something hits you hard in the chest, winding you. You fall backward and lose your feet, landing on the sidewalk. You've been hit by something solid, then you feel wet and cold. Looking down you realize that you are saturated and there is ice on the floor, with what must have been a full one-liter take-out cup of coke. As you come back to your senses a truck drives past, with a couple of guys in the front howling with laughter, the remainder of their drive-through now covering you.
A chain is only as strong as the weakest link, so the proverb goes. We could modify that for photography and say that our processing is no faster than the slowest component. It's not necessarily about having the latest great-and-good, but rather about having matched components. And there's no better place to start than when offloading your photos from the camera.
It always surprises me in photography that the sector as a whole seems wedded to spending money. Not content with the affliction of GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) across amateurs and professionals, the sector likes nothing more than a few extra bags, filters, albums, prints, and yes, software.
Cameras have always been at the forefront of technology. They've always pushed the boundaries of what's possible. Perhaps then it is unusual to have such a high tech sector so closely wedded to art. That is what makes photography such a passion for me. And while there will always be those that push the creative elements, with the camera purely a utilitarian device for achieving that, others will take the bleeding edge, create new imaginings, add unusual twists and embellishments, and take that edge even further. Commercially then, it doesn't pay to be second. Be at the edge and take advantage of it.