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Is This Too Perfect

Patricia Lake, Jasper, CanadaPhase One XF 100MP, 55mm Schneider lens,…

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Patricia Lake, Jasper, Canada
Phase One XF 100MP, 55mm Schneider lens, f11 @ 1/4 second, ISO 50

Is photography changing? I'm currently writing the next issue of Better Photography and I have interviewed New Zealand portrait photographer Tony Carter. Tony has won the New Zealand Professional Photographer of the Year award five or six times now. In the earlier years, he was a digital composite guru, producing the most amazing compositions with fearlessly flawless technique.

In more recent times, he has returned to straight photography. He indicated he even relishes the opportunity to leave a few rough edges in his photographs, rough edges which make the image 'real'. I think I understood him correctly.

The photograph above is of Patricia Lake near Jasper in Canada. It was shot on a PODAS workshop last year (Tony Hewitt and I are leading another tour there next year). When we all bundled out of the bus in the pre-dawn gloaming, we were a little concerned about the low cloud, thinking we might miss the sunrise. We needn't have worried.

As you can see, we got the light. It was picture-postcard perfect - but is it too perfect? Is this just a chocolate box shot? Environmentalists would probably disagree because the evergreen pine trees are being eaten alive by beetles and the 'colourful' reds are not the sign of a healthy forest, unfortunately. And there are rows of houses and hotels behind us, out of sight. So there are some 'untruths' in the beauty, but I'm thinking you at least stopped to have a look exactly because of that beauty.

But too beautiful? I'm not saying this is a perfect photograph, but it's certainly 'pretty'. The question is, where does it sit in modern day photography? Are we over the perfect landscape? Or is there still room?

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