The rejection of perfection

I’m sure I read once that Persian weavers place within their carpets imperfections because only Allah can create something flawless. Maybe I’ve got some Persian in me because right now I seem to be moving further and further away from wanting my photographs – and indeed other people’s (of which more later) – to be sharp, clear, bright and obvious.

For myself I’m leaving the DSLR at home as I stride around my assorted locales. The results are in this set here. The shutter is being pressed less but there’s an increase in the number of shots I’m keeping. Perhaps my standards are slipping but I’m getting to love the grain of ISO400 black and white film, the occasional scratch on the negative and the lack of digital sharpness.

This represents a complete turnaround for me. Take a look here – this is an example of one my first shots with the D40X. Look at the saturation and sharpening. Isn’t it just terrible?

But anyway the world marches remorselessly on. The Landscape Photographer of the Year awards have been announced prior to an exhibition at the National Theatre. The BBC has a slideshow which reveals that subtle HDR, or indeed soft tones, are simply not on the menu. Here are almost-psychadelic levels of colour and sharpness to cut yourself on. Nothing natural looks like this – they might as well photoshop in a dragon or two. Digital landscape photography has entered its cliche phase.

Still, there’s a moment of hope and it’s – and regular readers might have seen this coming – in the form of the fantastic black and white Thames view taken on a camera phone. No need for over-the-top processing, just an excellent shot delivered almost casually. It’s lovely. And, thankfully, not perfect. You want to look at it again, to investigate it thoroughly.

If my backwards trajectory continues I’ll soon be entering landscape competitions having stood under a cloth behind a large wooden box with a tiny lens on the front – anyone not standing still for thirty minutes won’t be featured as my glass plates won’t record them.

Which is another connection with modern landscape photography – where have all the people gone?

See the above shot large and grainy here.


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