Pink Sky at Night…

What is “honesty” in photography? My goal as a photographer is to capture what I saw—the subjective experience of being in a single moment. I want to capture a “truth.” The process of taking a picture is projecting the reality around us onto a sensor and through myriad digital processes to create the photograph you see in front of you now. Every photographer has, in their pursuit of truth in imaging, some lines in terms of image manipulation that they will and won’t cross. HDR, for instance, is viewed as a “cheat” by some, and as a better approach to getting the true dynamic range of the human eye by others.

A less dramatic case, however, is the use of color in an image. Last night, the sky over Canton was this incredible, surreal, and otherworldly pink-orange color that was completely overwhelming and astonishing. When I noticed it out the window, I sprinted outside with my camera and captured the final, fleeting moments. I was in that moment. Nearly the same effect, however, could have been achieved with a simply pink photo filter. To me, this raises two issues:

  1. Trust: You have to trust me, as the photographer, to portray the experience I was having when I captured the image.
  2. Subjective reality: When I process a photo, what techniques are enhancing my ability to convey my subjective experience to you? Which techniques are just “cheating?”

Pink Sky at Night...

1 thought on “Pink Sky at Night…”

  1. This is a subject which hits close to home. My co-blogger and I have debated this many times. Personally, I believe there is no objective truth in photography, and we merely try to approximate our subjective experience. Thus, HDR (which we use frequently, shooting as we do in low-light or high-contrast areas) is fair game, as it does present in picture form a closer approximation of what is seen in the field. To put it snother way: “truth” can be just as much emotional as physical. If a picture gets edited away from the “real” image, but captures emotional resonance better, I think that is still truthful and valid.

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