Just Another Hand Of God

copyright bannercsnafu shambhala photo header


This was a pretty remarkable day for cloudscapes… weird, I had no idea cloudscapes was an actual word. Cloudscapes are occasionally cool, and really easy to shoot but… there’s something weird about getting a feeling where it’s absolutely necessary to take my camera out, point and click and capture a cloudscape. Cloudscapes. How messed up is that?

Technical Stuff: The only modification I made to this photo was smudging the name of my village from the sign so I don’t have more people showing up on my doorstep asking for help moving their fridge. Actually… just to be clear, I don’t modify my photos. I might crop the occasional one, but I never change the colours, add to the photo or take elements out. It’s hard enough using a digital camera and telling people I’m a “photographer”, if I were also using software to modify the image I’d have to call myself a “photo technician”, and nobody ever left a bar with a “photo technician” to have a weekend of sex and coke.

Seriously, photography is meant to be the most basic and honest art form… I’m not suggesting photos deliver a Truth, just that when photos are at their least modified they’re at their most honest and if someone uses software to modify a photo the image is no longer a photograph. It’s something else entirely.


About Gabriel

I’ve lived in more than fifty places. I've been paid to pick stones out of fields, take backstage photos of Britney Spears, and report on Internet privacy issues. My photos have been published in several newspapers, and a couple of magazines.
This entry was posted in Entertainment, Everyday Stuff, Photography, Vankleek Hill Photos. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Just Another Hand Of God

  1. robin says:

    Hi Gabriel,

    Nice cloud pic.

    Of course, I don’t agree with your manifesto. I think if you just want to see reality as it exactly is, you can go outside and look at it anytime. I want photographers to turn mundane visual reality into art. That’s what I try to do in my pictures.

    Christ, the least you can do is amp the colours! (But you can do it in an honest way.)

    So then if they aren’t photographs, what are they?


  2. Gabriel says:

    Thanks for coming over Robin, it’s great to see you here.

    “I think if you just want to see reality as it exactly is, you can go outside and look at it anytime.”

    Only if you’re satisfied with the cone of reality that immediately surrounds you and your home.

    I think some (some) of what you do is art involving a photograph in the same way I have a few friends who use photos as a base for their painting, but the finished product isn’t a photograph. But what you’re doing, in my opinion, is right on the edge of what I’d consider photo manipulation.

    I also think most of your work is fantastic and you’ve got a great eye, but once you get into photo manipulation I think it stops being one thing and becomes another… I think there should be a new word for a newish art form, something like “PhotoCooking”, which would make you a “PhotoCooker”, which sounds so cool I might want to join you.

    The greatest artists in my opinion are news photographers… like the Dust Bowl photos, or the photos from the American Civil War, or the portraiture in National Geographic. James Nachtwey is, without a doubt, one of the greatest artists of the past century.

    Some pure photo manipulation: Tony Galindo and here.

  3. parttwo says:

    The other day we learned how to adjust shadows and highlights in photoshop. My instructor brought in a photo he took of a barn. He purposefully took the photo at the wrong settings so the barn was darker in the photo than it was in reality. I think he said it was the exposure setting. He took it this way so that the sky wouldn’t blow out and he would be able to keep the detail in the clouds. We used the photo as an exercise to learn how to lighten the shadows on the barn without losing detail in the sky.

    What do you think about making adjustments to make the image more closely resemble the actual scene? Are these kinds of adjustments (as opposed to colour enhancing or special effects) not similar to the corrections you would make to a film camera before taking the photo? (Keep in mind I am not a photographer and only have a vague idea about what terms like aperture and exposure mean.) I’ve also often wondered how different an image would appear if the same scene were captured on a digital camera and on film. Can pixels capture light as effectively as film does?

  4. parttwo says:

    oh. also, my monitor cuts off the right hand side of the photos on your blog so i am terribly curious what ‘it’s gettin…’


  5. Gabriel says:

    “…it’s getting a little creepy.”

    I like your avatar. If you want to see the whole blog you need to adjust your monitor to 1152 x 864 pixels… if you don’t know how send me an email and I’ll walk you through it.

    Aperture and exposure settings are the basic tools for photography. The aperture works like the pupil in your eye and is set by turning the f-stop ring on the lens. So f-2.8 lets in lots of light by making the aperture big, whereas f-22 lets in much less light. When things are dark, you want your lens open. When things are bright you want to close it so the film isn’t overexposed.

    Exposure settings on a real camera involve setting the aperture and the shutter-speed. The shutter-speed is the knob or the LCD screen on the right-hand side of a real camera. It’s in the menu options in a digital camera. They usually run from 1/1000 of a second to a full 4 or 10 seconds. Again, really bright you want the shutter to move fast, and dark you want it open longer to let in more light.

    With my little pocket digital I can change the exposure settings three stops up and three stops down. But, really, that’s just the little computer adjusting itself.

    Pixels are stupid. Much like digital photography. There is no digital capture or storage device remotely equal to the quality of film.

    And while I’m going on like this was a real blog, the whole “megapixel” thing means nothing. It’s a marketing gimmick. This is what the Feb. 8, 2007 edition of the New York Times said about megapixels: “It’s a big fat lie.” A 4 or 6 megapixel camera will give you an image just as nice as something in the 10-16 megapixel range.

    What your professor did is basically a digital version of dodging and burning. While you’re developing a b/w photo you can hold something over the image as it’s exposed to light, so less light gets to that area and lightens the image. That’s dodging. Burning is exposing only a part of the photo to light, which darkens that area.

    Burning and dodging I mostly have no problem with.

    The most important thing about photography is making sure the image is crisp and clear — unless it’s the opposite effect you’re looking for. A crisp image on digital or real film is going to look great. But there are differences.

  6. thordora says:

    I like your pictures because you haven’t processed it up the ass like so many people do, and have always felt that photography was the capture of the moment, not what I did in my computer 2 weeks after I took the picture. There’s skill in getting that perfect shot, a skill that I respect a lot more than applying masks digitally.

    The hand of God is chasing you for the wasp picture.

  7. Hella Stella says:

    Hey! I know that corner! Cool!

  8. Gabriel says:

    Is it just me or did this suddenly turn into a blog?

    Thanks Thor… I was out last night and found a whole pile of spiders building webs around a bunch of lights outside a furniture store… I still haven’t figured out how to make them look cool. I think I have to start walking around with my mini-tripod more often so I can get some extra reach…

    Hi Hella Stella… that right there is actually the intersection at the crossroads of the universe. Every once in a while Robert Johnson comes back down to play a little guitar and drink some beer.

  9. ames. says:

    Thanks for the tip Gabe. I like your photo even more now that I can actually see the whole thing.

  10. Pingback: Self Portraits I Can Barely Tolerate 002 | cultural sn:afu

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