12.06.2009

The beauty of imperfection

Since becoming more seriously interested in photography, I've spent a lot of time reading books, looking at the work of other photographers, learning about the options post-processing offers, and considering how I want my photographs to look. Gone are the days when I point, snap, and get what I get. Now I evaluate the light, consider the aperture, compose carefully (hit and miss on that one!), and then sharpen, blur, filter, and do all sorts of other craziness in GIMP. Instead of simple snapshots, photos become created pieces where my imagination, the world, and the lens intersect. It's fun, challenging, and deeply satisfying when the image on the screen approaches the one in my mind's eye.

During this process, I've noticed that I consistently prefer "imperfect" photographs. By this I mean old photos that are grainy or have strange color casts, photos with lens flare or areas "blown out" from overexposure, and photos that are too vivid, too contrasty, too anything. The Japanese have a term, wabi-sabi, to describe the beauty of imperfection. The lomography movement embraces this aesthetic, taking advantage of the quirks and defects of low cost, plastic cameras. While I have a lomo (a Russian Smena generously donated by my friend John), I most often play around in GIMP to add in the imperfection that my high tech digital SLR lacks. Cheating? Probably, but I've been too spoiled by digital to fully return to film. Besides, the tenth rule of lomography is that "there are no rules", so who's to say?

Photo by Dr. K

9 comments:

Kurt said...

I think you are beautiful even though you are perfect. :-)

Rebecca said...

Ha! And I love you even though you are deluded. :)

mheidelberger said...

I'd say you've definitely been bit by the photography bug :) I myself like to use inordinate amounts of contrast in my shots. I know photographers that are quite the purist in nature and want nothing to do with digital post processing. I'd say they are just fighting the inevitable. I try to take the photo best as I can and do minor tweaks in Photoshop.

Rebecca said...

Matt ~ I'm pretty much obsessed! I'd never done any post-processing (beyond cropping or resizing) until last week, and it was a revelation. I understand the purist mindset, but with digital my camera is processing according to its presets (which I may or may not like), so I don't see much difference if I do some as well.

Strangely though, for all my love of impurity and weirdness, I gravitate to normal lenses. The 35mm f/2 (which is 56mm on my crop sensor) is my go-to lens at this point.

Craig Miyamoto said...

Ahhhh... you've moved on from "picture-taker" to "artist of the light."

casch said...

Way out of my league. I'm still in the point and click stage. Just bought hubby a fancy (to me) new camera for Christmas. I'll fill you in later.

Susan Lawson said...

My favorite photo was taken by a student in my high school yearbook class. Something went wrong in processing and the film emulsion reticulated?? Anyway, the resulting print was very grainy but in a very cool way. Everyone thought I was nuts, but I thought the imperfection was way cool.

Mikey Garcia said...
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Mikey Garcia said...

Lomo! i should give that a try one of these days...