Stark visions

It struck me recently that I’ve been a member of Flickr, the image-hosting web site, for 10 years this year. At this point I’ve a cache of over 3,000 images online. I’ve taken at least ten times that many, but I don’t just dump everything I take online. I like to be selective. In some ways it’s an extension of writing: I’m crafting a narrative, and to achieve an interesting result it requires editing.

I’ve been looking at this selection of photographs again and pondering the variety, so for the month of April I’m going to dip in and out of these images and talk about them a little on my blog.

The above is a recent photo I took of a sheep, which rendered rather nicely in black and white, and I cropped it to a square. I often do a number of adjustments to images, and I enjoy that part. For instance this photo was off-kilter, and I was able to straighten it correctly.

To my tastes this image works because of the textures of wool and wood, and the lines. Plus, the sheep is looking right at you. It’s not as sharp as I would normally like, but many animals aren’t natural posers and don’t hang about for the perfect shot.

Of course, there is no perfect shot. There is just training one’s eye, practice, and a certain amount of happenstance. Plus, figuring out inventive ways a slightly duff shot can be made better through judicious changes.

Most of my photos are taken via my phone now, plus I use it to do the editing. I love that I can take a photo, adjust it, and post it online within minutes. This is a marvellous magic that technology has bestowed upon us, which is already considered commonplace.

I do use Instagram also. Its preference for square images means that I don’t replicate every image on Flickr and Instagram. Almost every image I like goes up on Flickr, while there are some images that are not helped by the instance on a square view.

Yet, Instagram has made me think more on focusing tighter. The wide perspective is always useful, yet there is merit to removing surplus. Instagram is the Twitter for images. You learn how to be concise and pithy, often with eccentric filters. Yet there are times when you need to breathe, and show more space.

These are merely ways of expressing your perspective. Working visually is terrific training for a writer. What are you trying to express? What is the best way to convey that?

Often, the audience will have a different reaction to the work than you intended, which is why it is best if you crop, edit, and tune your images to your own tastes.

The attitude of abstract outsiders is the great unknowable in the mind of the creator.

The best you can do is snap the image, and decide whether to show it.

Then you take up the camera again, and hope that you can better convey your viewpoint the next time.