Saturday, 6 December 2008

On Reading Photographs

When, some weeks ago, I came across (on photographs of Kashmir by Daichi Koda, whose aesthetics I've found impressive, I let others know about my discovery. And I got responses. One pointed out that her impression was that quite some work on the light seemed to have been done by using "some virtual laboratory technique". Reading that (thank you, Elsa) made me have another look at the images. And I felt the same: that this light was somehow too good to be true, that it must have been tampered with. Elsa had made me see that. How come I hadn't realised it myself?

Yet a few days later, doubts started creeping in. And I wondered: Why would a young Japanese photographer embark on a journey to far away Kashmir and upon returning to Japan make quite substantial alterations to the photos he had taken there? Now I wanted to know how it had really been. And so I emailed Daichi who let me know that although these were digital pics, and although he did use photoshop, he didn't "change the light drastically."

I now look at these photos ( with different eyes and do wonder at times whether by using only natural light the effect could have been the same. Yet most of the time I do not ask myself this question for I've decided to trust the photographer to convey to me what he had found in the places he visited. What he had done afterwards was, in the words of Elsa, to add a bit of salt to the food but not to turn it into processed junk food. That sums it up very nicely, I find.

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