Grado de dificultad: 3 (Por el idioma, of course)

Columnista: Roberto

A weird and however “enlightening” post

A technical article (or so is it identified) caught my attention this morning. It was published in the Washington Post, about a new feature that allows the camera of a smartphone to “take photos in very dark situations”. Here is the article:

It contains the following video:

If you like photography, the reading of that post will be disturbing. Actually, I couldn’t figure out if the columnist was genuinely thrilled or just very sarcastic.

Some terms really bothered me, however:

  • Like when he says “purist” talking of photographers. Really? How does a “not purist” photographer looks like?
  • He also talks about “democratizing creating beauty”. What an awful statement, as if someone owned that notion, and NO, beauty is not about “photoshop-ing”.
  • He further says “what humans like to see” and, to confirm it, he also says “Think of your camera less as a reflection of reality and more an AI trying to make you happy”. Does he (or “do they”) really pretend to know what I want to see, and that what I see must me feel happy, like some sort of junkie?

Ultimately, maybe this is the universe in which he lives. Then does he really believe he can reduce humanity to such a narrow standard?

Fake is about lie

What taking a photo initially is about

The article already started badly, with this title: “Your smartphone photos are totally fake – and you love it”. Maybe it’s explains more than it was intended to: I actually never liked taking photos with a smartphone.

What I expect from a camera is to capture an image as neutral as possible. It will further be up to me to check the shots that I think reflect or contain what I want to show and express.

I could then decide if I need to correct something (maybe the balance of colors, saturation, sometimes crop a part of the image, change the definition of the image).

Now, about actually “taking the photos”, you get use to your camera

What the WP article really means

That was a bit harsh! In fact, I understand what the columnist meant. He is not speaking to the people that use photos as a medium of communication, a language.

He is talking of this huge majority that use they smartphone to fulfill a basic and rather narcissistic need to say “Killroy was here”.

There is no offense intended. We all understand that photography is a learning (a nice one! Even more, now that digital camera allows to shoot almost as many times you need to select “the one”).

Of course, this is not an aristocracy. You have all the right and all the time you want to learn.

And to learn, you need to start somewhere. A smartphone at least allows everyone to feel like being able to get a result from scratch. Until this point, that’s OK.

That is where the lie begins

But the photos he shows in his article are not like this. They are clearly a professional work, and that is where it becomes wrong:

  • a portrait in pitch black night?
  • An old building that seems spotlighted. Was it?
  • Does he pretend that he only took these photos, or did he shoot several times to show the better result?

The fake, he is speaking of, he is the one that is committing it. If you don´t know anything of photography, you won´t succeed what he shows.

On the opposite, if you are already able to do such photos, it´s time for you to take the next step and buy a real camera. You will instantly feel the difference in ergonomics, no need for electronic stabilization, and a result that doesn´t need any correction.

For the records, this is how a true photographic camera looks like.

There is one thing, however: forget the silly idea of shooting in the dark… In that particular case, yes, a smartphone shall be enough (and not reliable if you get forensic). No light, no photography!

This is not the worse…

The standard of XXIst  century seems to be the satisfaction of our ego, an instant and short term satisfaction

In the article, a Google expert says that they “democratize creating beauty”, that they “make our photos better”. Of course, he dismisses the “purists” (AKA the photographers), saying “This is always what happens with disruptive technology”.

If you consider that lying is disruptive, you will definitively be right. Because photography is an art, maybe the only one that is within the reach of everyone.

Art is about giving a personal vision, not adding a senseless blur or a color change “because it looks nice”.

What ultimately is unsettling is to discover that some people really ignore what art is.

Ultimately, this gives a chilling insight on what is in the mind of some “experts”: to discover that a precious part is empty. We already commented it in a previous post (in Spanish): “Del sexismo en Google y otros lugares”, it’s the same kind of emptiness, exactly.