It’s Your Picture

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It’s Your Picture – Show What You Want Them to See

I recently came across a YouTube video of a CBS Sunday Morning segment which aired on July 2, 2023 about a gallery showing photographs by Ansel Adams and by some contemporary photographers he influenced.  The video focused on his life and legacy and I found two points worth remembering.  First, Ansel Adams worked hard during the latter half of the 20th century to get people to accept photographs as a serious art form; back then photographers were not considered artists.  I believe this was because others didn’t understand the medium photographers work in.  A painter has a canvas with a variety of paints, brushes, trowels and other tools to create a picture – they manipulate physical objects to create a final product.  On the other had a photographer uses light, shadows, shutter speed, depth of field, sharpness, focus, and frame size (to name a few) to create a picture.  Those are not physical items (like a brush) so people had less understanding of how they were used to create “art”.

The second point in the segment that I focused on was Ansel Adam’s use of darkroom techniques to create different versions from the same negative, depending on what “he wanted you to see…” (quote from clip).  His negatives were a starting point, not an endpoint.  Nowadays we use digital programs as our darkroom.  We have the ability to manipulate our negative (RAW file) to show what we want others to see.  Take the picture of the Broad-billed Hummingbird I took in Arizona a few years ago, which is what the RAW file looked like with no post-processing applied.


It’s not very interesting but the dark region behind the feeder drew my attention and I thought it might be an interesting contrast to the bird.  Using Lightroom to heavily crop the image and then manipulate the exposure, contrast, sharpness, and other features I created what I wanted you to see – a colorful yet highly-contrasting bird with a black background.


In conclusion, don’t be afraid to use your digital darkroom to show people what you want them to see – it’s your picture!  If you would like to see the Ansel Adams video click here:


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