THE ADVANTAGE (AND DISADVANTAGE) OF IN-CAMERA EFFECTS; SEPT. 26, 2017
When discussing photography, a common question of manipulation is often brought up: when does a photograph stop being a photograph? Throughout the history of the process, artists have used post-production manipulation techniques to recolor images, provide a unique perspective, or alter history. But once the photo has been altered, is the art still considered photography or has it transcended into more of a broad visual art (or with today’s technology, a digital art)? With the wide varieties of alterations current programs allow, I enjoy finding ways to completely change an image after it has been taken, whether it be to remove slight mistakes or to create surreal distortions. However, this is not a good practice to follow as it removes the precision necessary to take a picture and leaves the final image in the hands of an editor who can turn a poor image into a pleasing one. After taking a 35mm photography class, I learned the importance of capturing the desired image within the frame and having precision that will ensure an unaltered output’s readability. With the idea of moving away from an image not altered in post while still maintaining the personal desire of surreal distortion, I sought to experiment in techniques of in-camera effects. These effects are risky because they alter the photo so much but the alterations cannot be removed afterwards (unlike an adjustment layer in Photoshop that can be toggled on and off at will). The artist needs to be strong is his convictions to use such techniques that are beyond lighting rigs or lens selection. I hope to eventually have the confidence needed to implement such techniques in my films and used this opportunity of testing cameras to explore how shooting through plastic wrap, magnifying glass, and water can warp the image. Plastic wrap proved to be the most versatile as it could be used in conjunction with Chapstick to create a soft haze or with markers to draw a colored filter in front of the lens. Magnifying glass altered the image by expanding it and changing the focus so the subject is blurred in a radial pattern as if it is coming out of the screen. Shooting through a glass of water is more difficult to work with as the movement of the water creates randomized shapes of the subject while bending the focus to see the edges of the scenery (a disadvantage when in a tight studio setup), but the results when captured properly allow for the audience to both see and not see the subject. The images through the water proved to be the most beneficial for me as it could be very abstract by completely stretching the image or slightly altered with less movement. Although I attempted other techniques, these seemed to work the best and gave a quality of post-processing without even using the computer. While altering photos in programs can allow for more adjustments and easier use, to me, in-camera techniques are true photography art.