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by Andy McInroy
Print Of The Month - April 2007

Landscape Photograph

Portstewart, County Derry

Technical Details
Date/Time: 5.42pm 10th March 2007
Exposure time: 1 second
Aperture: F22
Focal Length: 14mm (APS Sensor)
Lens: Pentax 14mm DA
Camera: Pentax K10D
Filtration: Lee Neutral Graduate (2 stops, to balance exposure)

Did You Filter That?
and other difficult questions

A question I often get asked is, "Did you filter that? The honest answer is yes, but a quick look at my filters might surprise you. All are neutral grey.

So the purpose of the filter is not to colour, but to control the overall brightness of the scene and the brightness across different parts of it. My photo of the dune grasses of Portstewart Strand demonstrates how the neutral filter works. By placing a darker section over the sky and leaving the ground unfiltered I can balance the brightness across the photograph. My sky isn't too bright and the dune grass isn't too dark.

The next difficult question I often get asked is "Did it really look that way?" This is a little more difficult to answer due to the differences in the way the camera captures an image compared to how the human eye sees it. The photo of the dunes demonstrates how a 1 second exposure records motion blur in the grasses. What we are seeing in the photograph is the "volume" of space occupied by the grass as it is blown by the wind. Photography is as much about time as it is about space and the long exposure records the history of movement whereas the eye sees this movement in real time. A similar motion effect can be seen in many of my long exposures of moving water. So the concise answer is, no, it didn't "look" that way, it actually "was" that way. During that 1 second in time, which will never again be repeated, that is the way the grass "was".

And so on to the final difficult question. "Do you manipulate your images?". To me, post-processing is about creating a photograph that reflects my memory of the scene. I say "memory" because this opens up the possibility of artistic expression and of the final image being a combination of both what I saw and what I felt. I hope to communicate a sense of place through any manipulation so that I feel that I have honestly represented what is around me. On this particular dune, I felt cold and windswept but I also felt a sense of quietness and peace. If my photograph communicates this to you, then it has succeeded. The scene may have been marginally brighter than this at the time but I honestly can't remember and it really doesn't matter now. To me, it reflects how I felt.

And so, with all the difficult questions answered, all that remains is to stand back and enjoy the view. Enjoyment of seeing and enjoyment of feeling.

Text and photos © Andy McInroy