Back in New York, my memories of sabbatical in California have already taken on the golden nostalgia hues of the past. If not for the photographic evidence to the contrary, I might wonder if I’d dreamed the whole thing.
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:
- Trust: You have to trust me, as the photographer, to portray the experience I was having when I captured the image.
- 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?”
Another shot from my recent trip to the UC Botanical Garden in Berkeley, thought this time from the new world desert area of the garden. This cactus featuring lots of brightly colored flowers really caught my eye among the rest of the cactuses.