Monday, March 14, 2011

On photographic clutter & art

[E-1 & 14-42mm]

The other day Mike Geary commented that some of my photos looked better smaller because when he expanded them he could see clutter in the foreground.  I answered him at the time saying the clutter was really there, both natural in the form of leaves and branches and junk that people have dumped down there.  But yesterday at the river it occurred to me that I probably misunderstood him.  He wasn’t concerned about Image Quality.  He was furthering the discussion about whether a photograph might have artistic merit.  We don’t want to see the pores in the faces of Swift’s Brobdingnagians.  The clutter in the foreground of some of my photos may be like those defects.

On the other hand, “Clutter” is a subjective matter.  Consider the following photo.  The foreground includes the boundary where river sand meets a grassy area.  Should the “clutter” of the sandy area be in this photo?  It is there in actuality and doesn’t offend me.  I like the contrast and shadows.


The next one has a sandy stretch that was probably made by off-road vehicles.  A log which isn’t clearly a log is below Duffy who looks as though he is about to initiate a game of chase with Ginger.  The upper left portion of the photo is more interesting than the lower right.  I think photo number 2 less successful than photo number 1


This next one is better.  There is plenty of clutter in the form of fallen branches and other debris that Sage is gingerly making her way through, but she and what she is doing draws my attention and I don’t worry about the sandy area – although that orphaned wild flower is a bit distracting.


In this next one there is clutter in the lower left and also along the top, but my attention is drawn to Ginger who is looking good and while I can’t tell whether Duffy is looking good his tongue tells me he is feeling good.  Their proximity is interesting – looking in different directions, but clearly enjoying each other’s company.  This photo works for me.


I like certain aspects of this next photo.  The still damp sand swirls down before us in the foreground.  But there is clutter to the left that is very distracting.  Can we forgive that clutter for the sake of the rest of the photo?  I don’t know. 


The next photo is from a perspective that eliminates the clutter – a much better photo.  Were this a normal blog-posting I would post this one and not the one preceding it.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Your work reminds me of one of my favorite painters, Corot, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, in his later years. Though your works are more colorful! He was considered a visual poet.