John Sexton creates exquisite black and white photographs. He worked with Ansel Adams for a number of years through 1984 at the time of Adams passing. Today’s quote invites us to think about the creation of an image after the capture. Unless you have complete control over the lighting there is no way a camera can replicate what the eye can see and work after teh fact can help express what was seen by the photographer.

john sexton quote

“For me the printing process is part of the magic of photography. It’s that magic that can be exciting, disappointing, rewarding and frustrating all in the same few moments in the darkroom.” John Sexton

I understand this well. I remember trying to pull a good print after hours of trying differing amounts of dodging and burning in the darkroom. And as they said on the ABC sports commercial feeling, “…the thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat…”

We now have the ability to be able to process the images in a repeatable fashion using the computer and software programs. The possibilities of creating the image in our ‘minds eye’ is better than ever. I often hear newer photographers say I want to have the image ‘natural’ as it comes out of the camera. Using artificial lighting or Photoshop techniques is ‘cheating’. I suggest that these photographers have yet to understand that the camera does not record as the eye sees and that there is a need to make allowances for that in order to get the 3 dimensions in front of our eyes represented in two dimensions on the print.

There is also the point that many decisions have already been made that distort reality by the photographer choosing what lens to use. How the view is cropped in camera. What aperture and shutter speed were chosen. The time of day the image was made. All of these choices are already ‘cheating’ what another person would see if they were on the scene. Also remember the eye has the magnificent ability to open and close its aperture (pupil) depending upon where it is looking in the scene. If it looks to the sky it instantaneously closes down to see detail in the bright white but will immediately open up to allow shadow detail to come forward. The camera only has one aperture to look through.

So I ask this question. Are you a natural light photographer who doesn’t want to cheat as I was when I first started? Or, are you a professional photographer willing and able to learn and use all the tools available?

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob