Thursday, 9 December 2010

When mediocre is better than good

We were having a chat at the University of Beddington the other day when the subject of bird photography came up. Now, the quality of the images that we see today are, on the whole, nothing short of incredible. Frame fillers, perfect feather detail and dots that can blow up to become perfectly identifiable species are now accepted as the norm. It's not like it used to be.

However, we all agreed that these 'perfect' pictures can be a little too perfect. They somehow introduce us to the avian subject in such a way that we feel we are feasting our eyes on the bird with such familiarity that, even if we haven't actually seen it ourselves, we have! It's all too real.

If you don't know what the hell I'm on about, think back to those old grainy black-and-white pictures that used to grace the annual rarities committee report in British Birds during the 1970s and early 1980s. They were generally of distant birds, not quite in perfect focus, a bit grainy, but maintained an air of mystery. Because of this they gave the subject an air of being unobtainable ("like a picture of a claimed yeti or bigfoot" as one of the Beddington students put it).

There is something spectral about the photos of the Suffolk Houbara Bustard, the Bardsey Yellow Warbler and , indeed, the Beddington Killdeer. None of them frame fillers, with no fine feather detail on offer, just bags of character, making you yearn to see them.

1 comment:

Graham James said...

I thoroughly agree Steve. That is the very reason that I always ensure my photos are out of focus and grainy.