Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Automation of Creativity

My Uncle Clarence's tools, Three Hills, Alberta, September 2015, Image #414. 

If someone can build an app to automate creativity, I'm sure people will buy it and it will sell well. For myself real creativity is fun, it's thought provoking, it engages my mind, creativity should encourage people to think outside the box. Its easy to push buttons on something like smart phone or make a few clicks on the computer and think that's all there is to it, until that becomes the same old same old.

I have seen advertisements pitching the latest and greatest in terms of how to take better pictures, through the use of some kind of computer imaging software, and there are often dozens of comments and hundreds of likes from people who have bought the said products. This is what people want to hear, you can leap to the top of the photographic pyramid with a few clicks of the mouse on your computer. Bad lighting? no problem, just add some light, bad composition? delete this or add this to your photo. No need to learn how to see, just click on the latest 'filter' and post the final picture
 A photographer who's work that I admire, says it doesn't matter whether a photographer uses digital or traditional film methods that they are just tools, what really counts is a photographer's vision, rather than relying on Photoshop or other imaging software in place of poorly seem photographs.

 I was once giving a presentation of my work to a group of photography enthusiasts, I was showing my black and white landscape images, and one person asked how I came to create some of my photographs and what methods I used. I replied that I had learned to "see" in black and white in my mind's eye, I employ visual methods and tools to help me achieve that goal, I studied the zone system, including the 11 steps that go from total white to total black ( 0 - 10 ) I also mentioned I use a 1 degree spot meter to help me visualize how things in the natural colored world will look as a gray tones and those tones will relate to one another in a print. With practice one can get pretty good at spotting potential images that will make a good black and white photograph with one's eyes and mind alone.

After I gave my answer I was told by another audience member, that my method was irrelevant and that all one needs to do was set your digital camera to "black and white mode" and point it at something of interest, click the shutter then check the camera's rear viewing screen to see if the picture looks any good, if not delete and try again. I diplomatically pointed out that might work, but it may be difficult to judge the tonal scale of a potential black and white photograph on a 3 inch camera screen in bright light.

 Many photographers of course have different methods techniques for creating their work, some use nothing but digital cameras to produce their work, others will use a combination of traditional film and digital , others will use nothing but traditional film methods. I myself use a combination of shooting film and scanning my negatives. All are valid methods of seeing creating photographic work through thoughtful vision. Real creativity is a part of the human spirit and with out creativity we are nothing.

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