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The Evolution of Photography

One of the assignments for The Art of Seeing course this week is to incorporate a pattern into an image. Before I watched this week's lecture, I had a narrow vision of pattern. Strictly defined, it is "a repeated decorative design," such as a plaid or herringbone pattern.

One of the example images that my instructor showed was a wall of magazine covers in front of which sat the magazine seller reading something on his phone. The arrangement of rectangular periodicals was a pattern, but each rectangle represented a different magazine. It still came across as a pattern, though. What made the image something special was the juxtaposition of someone whose livelihood is selling magazines, but who is choosing not to read them. I enjoyed the sense of pattern versus foreground that complemented the story of the image, so I created this image, which I call The Evolution of Photography.

Here you see an old film camera in front of a wall of images. That wall is actually a photograph of my Lightroom catalog screen. Note the light gray numbers above each flower image. That indicates their position in the catalog—photo number 19,178 and so on. I have more than 29,000 images in the catalog. That's a number that in the film realm would represent a very wealthy photographer. Film costs a lot, so one had to think and prepare prior to taking an image. Photographers used contact sheets in those days so that a they could decide which photos to enlarge. My Lightroom catalog provides that same experience with the added benefit of allowing me to reject or rate each image. Then I can focus on the most highly rated images.

That film camera would have taken black and white photos. BW film development is far easier and less costly than color. Today, it is tempting to think a maker does not have to "develop" photos, but that's not true. There are typically some adjustments that need to be made, if only the dodging, burning, and cropping that were common in the film days.

Today all those operations are quite easy to perform in the digital world. My photo is actually a composite of three images—the image wall, the camera, and the tripod. At first, I had only the camera in front of the wall, but it disturbed me to see it floating. So I photographed a tripod and added to the picture. This tripod is not the type that could be connect to this camera. I don't know what such a tripod would look like, but then again, you probably don't either. This one seems convincing enough.

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