Tuesday, August 4, 2009
The Tourist Shot
Late last week, Larry Patrick posted a photo of a California landscape on his blog. It was a classic Pacific Ocean/cliffs/beach scene, taken from high above. He did a really fine job with a neutral density filter to bring out the great dynamic clouds in the image. But I don't think he was 100% happy with the shot, and there were lots of comments and suggestions on how to improve it. A few days later he posted a second version which was cropped more panoramic, darkened, and converted to black and white. Here are links to the original and the altered. I think Larry's feelings about that image happen to all of us who are traveling and come to a scene that is, as they say, "mature." Scenes like the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower -- scenes that are so often photographed that it's difficult to come up with something novel. But you're there, you have your camera, so you pretty much have to take the cliched shot. The same thing can be said of my photo above. This is the rotunda on the University of Virginia campus, and I took this 5-frame HDR as I was setting up for some dusk/night shots later that night in May. It's straight in, not dynamic and unimaginative. It's a shot every out of towner takes as he or she walks through the beautiful campus. I suppose if you lived there you'd go to this location when it was snowy or icy and shoot the statue of Jefferson with bare trees blurred in the background -- a much more creative approach than this straight-in shot. But as a tourist on a late spring evening, you drop your tripod and take this shot, not because it's art but because it's your postcard-like memory of May 9, 2009.