One of the great photographic myths, especially among those obsessed with megapixels and test chart results, is that good photographs need to be tack sharp and technically perfect. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact the quest for such perfection is a good way to produce a perfectly boring photo. Perfect, yet boring. Much of the power in photography, as in painting, is the ability to create an impression and thus evoke an emotional response. This is often the result of the subject matter, colours, patterns, shapes, light and shadow. The human brain is wired to try to make sense of things in the environment, especially visual things. Thus, when encountering a visually ambiguous scene the brain fills in the gaps and looks for meaning. This in turn triggers all sorts of responses. These include seeing things that aren’t there, or triggering memories and making new insights and connections. Thus sparking creativity and new ideas.
The photo above was taken with absolute intention. Driving up the winding, narrow road out the valley in King’s Canyon National Park in California, the car swerving from side to side on the switch back road, darting around rocks fallen on the road, the scene outside the car went by in a blur. Light and shadow shifted across the mountainsides in the distance as clouds cycled between blackness and blinding white. Then I noticed myself in the cars side mirror and waited for the right minute. I knew that the constant motion of the car would make getting a ‘perfect’ shot difficult but what I was really after was the sense of movement and change as the mountains, clouds and light seemed to shift all around us.
Every time I see that photo I vividly remember that experience.