Musings on Photography


Posted in process by Paul Butzi on May 30, 2007


Some time back, Rory commented:

The old pictures have a brooding, mysterious atmosphere that are magical. I don’t know whether you have consciously changed your way of viewing the landscape, or that the conversion to digital capture resulted in an unconscious alteration in the way you record a scene; there is something different, other than the obvious use of colour in preference to black and white. Not better, nor worse, just different. I apologise for blurting it out so, but it’s been bugging me.

by ‘old pictures’, I’m guessing Rory is talking about work like the stuff I did on the Pacific Coast.  I’d note that some of my earlier stuff doesn’t have that brooding quality.  It’s there in abundance in the coast photographs mostly because the coast is actually a place that’s filled to overflowing with that brooding, mysterious quality.

The newer work (like this) does have a different feel.  Part of that is doubtless due to the effect of working digitally, but I don’t think that’s the big change.  The big change is that, when I started tackling the Snoqualmie Valley with the digital camera, I made a conscious decision to change working methods and to exploit the working advantages of the digital camera (an EOS-5d) instead of just try to work the way I would with a 4×5.  Since I was already making a big change in working method and subject, I figured it was also a good time to take a crack at working in color.

The net result is that I switched from visiting a small set locations over and over with a 4×5 using B&W and taking a fair bit of gear, to a new working method that involved throwing the digital 5d and the tripod into the car, and then following my nose in a relatively confined geographic area, and working in color.  The specific intent here was to shake things up a bit and see what happened.

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  1. Rory said, on May 30, 2007 at 9:30 pm

    Well, I have recovered enough from the horror that my big mouth has gotten me into trouble again by saying that you’re psychic. Your ‘shift’ has had me thinking for a while now, and just 5 minutes before I saw this post I purchased a Canon DSLR to attempt a ‘shift’ of my own.

    I’ve been giving the digital camera short shrift ever since my run-in with a Digital Rebel in 2004. But I think now the time has come to adopt your approach as you described when you first acquired the 5D. That is, try and take the damned thing (the puny plastic camera) seriously, and see what happens. So, thank you for making life interesting! I have to go and cover up the 8×10 now as I feel it is watching me in an accusatorial manner.

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