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Questionable practice


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Questionable practice

8 Apr 2020 6:54AM   Views : 301 Unique : 157


So much of life is about establishing and maintaining certainty. It often makes things boring, and almost all of us are happy to settle for that, because the opposite is hard to live with: we want to know that there will be food tomorrow, and a place to sleep. We currently live in interesting times, and that’s stressful.

But… If we want to learn and progress, particularly artistically, we need to take some risks. We need to experiment, try things that may – probably will – fail. We have to do things that many people will think are questionable.

During the storms a few months ago, there were spectacular pictures of waves breaking over harbour walls, often with people close to the water. A real physical risk for them, and often, I suspect, for the photographer – and not just of getting a camera drowned in seawater. Would I stand where I could be washed away just to get a shot? I think not.

But there are circumstances when the risk is worth it. Scientists shoot images from the rim of a volcano, expanding knowledge of how eruptions happen – and ultimately making it possible to predict future eruptions and protect life.

Don McCullin risked life and limb to record wars in the earlier part of his career, and increased our understanding of what happens in our name with pictures like THIS one. Does that matter? Has it stopped a single war? I’m not sure. But the world is, I think, a better place because of McCullin’s questionable risk management.

There are other risks: you may have the opportunity to shoot a rare animal in the wild, and decide to play it safe – high ISO, fast shutter speed and freeze the movement – or you may want to try panning with a slow shutter speed for an impressionistic view. Brilliant if it comes off, a waste of time and effort (arguably) if it doesn’t.

You may, then, consider entering the picture in a competition. Especially if it’s a club competition, you are taking a risk: what if the judge is one of those traditional ones who won’t consider anything that’s not pin-sharp, or the faintest hint of noise or grain? The wisdom of entering the shot is questionable!


Edgy (literally) or tasteless? Portrait with a cut-throat razor

A portrait with the subject taking up only a small part of the frame: an erotic image made almost modest only by the use of deep shadow rather than a concealing pose. A model who is obviously disabled in a glamour picture, or an outlandishly dressed older man or woman.

All of these are going to be questioned by someone: the question is, really, whether you are willing to take risks in the search for excellence? To quote one of my car rallying heroes from the Seventies, Jimmy McRae, ‘If you never have any moments, you’re not going fast enough.’

Personally, I'm not afraid of winding up the ISO - 12,800 here, for a grab shot of a birthday girl with her friends. The energy here justifies - for me - the technical risks:



dudler Plus
16 1.1k 1642 England
8 Apr 2020 8:18AM
And, having failed to put notes of models: Lottie21 and Elle J in the top image. Lottie's in focus.

Nee Naa with the razor. And the lady in the centre of the party picture, celebrating her 30th, is in my portfolio as Gizzy, mostly.

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mistere Plus
6 6 3 England
8 Apr 2020 6:17PM
“There is a curse.
They say: May you live in interesting times.” Terry Pratchett. Smile,There's also the often quoted, "nothing ventured nothing gained"
or "No pain no gain"( Reserved for physical fitness training I think...Smile) One thing's definitely true though, If you don't try it, you'll never know.
As you said, some will always disapprove others will applaud, everyone's a critic. People are strange creatures and most of them fear change.


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