Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Price of Perfection

What does it mean?
To the average person it's the clearest, sharpest noise/grain free image they can produce. Internet forums are filled with people all trying for that 'ultimate quality' image.
Last Christmas I was given a copy of Henri Cartier-Bressons' 'Scrapbook'. I have been a admirer of his work (along with Brandt, Brassaï and Kertesz) for many years, but what struck me about the facsimiles of the photos in this book is how many slightly soft, grainy or less than technically perfect images (although great compositionally) it contained.
Almost the exact opposite of the images, we see bombarded at us every day on advertising hoardings, magazines and web-sites across the globe.
There seems (to me at least) to be an intolerance of anything that isn't technically perfect, a need to produce smooth toned, sharp, noise free and ultimately sterile images, where the image quality is valued over the image content.
Just look at the internet if you need proof, plenty of images of dogs, cats, ducks, cityscapes etc. all to show the 'blistering sharpness' of the latest multi-megapixel wonder that 'blows away' all previous incarnations of the digital camera.
The pictures in this post were taken on out of date fast film, on an old camera/lens combination that most would think of as being obsolete.
Yet somehow for me they embody why I continue to take images, and why in the world of perfect images, I search for imperfect images like the ones in this post.

All images and text © Mark Antony Smith 2007


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Gelios said...

Unfortunately, you are right, maybe slightly under reality. Tons of uninspired pictures, meaningless comments about the sharpest lens ever, the Internet and its so-called photo forums are full of this crap. And it is worse since the digital era. Very very sad...

Photo–Smith said...

Yes it is sad, though not surprising considering the explosion of images available since the introduction of digital.
What to me this means is that people come to photography, hating grain/noise perspective distortion or images that aren't perfect.
I actually saw a post where a guy was complaining that the 16mm lens he'd bought distorted the subject and his telephotos had limited depth of field so all the parts of the picture weren't sharp...