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Dr Alistair Brown | Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more


Happy Snappers

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A recent post on Ephotozine complained that "I recently bought a Canon S70, and enthused about it. I started snapping away with great joy. Then somebody commented that it was just a snappers camera.... and that took the wind out of my sails. I began to think that there was no art in the pictures I was taking."

Since I sometimes feel the same way about my Photos, I gave a slightly-ranting reply:

I sometimes have the same crisis of confidence as you. I am not able to afford an SLR, and just have a Nikon 35mm compact and a Nikon coolpix: surely 'snappers' cameras if anything is. Am I, then, a 'photographer'?

The way I look at it is this. Suppose it takes 5 minutes to take a serious photo. Of that five minutes, four minutes fifty-nine seconds of the work is done by your observations, setting up the camera, framing. Another fraction is the moment when you press the shutter (and again here, the skill of the photographer avoiding camra shake is what counts, rather than the design of the button). Only the final, say, quarter of a second of that great photograph is down to what goes on in the optics of the camera itself. Of the great image, the camera has a vital, but physically minute, part to play. (And even here, small modern cameras are still so good optically that the difference between a cheap and an expensive camera may not be noticed by the non-specialist viewer.)

A good photographer will always be able to take good pictures; he or she may be limited by the range of possible images that can be captured (maybe no macro or night shots), but that often forces one to look harder to find the less obvious images that *are* within the scene and within the range of the camera; taking that image can be all the more satisfying when you know others with more capable cameras may have missed it.

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Posted by Alistair at 4:24 pm

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