One trick pony

Photography is prone to a number of common obsessions. GAS, the Gear Acquisition Syndrome, is one of those and I am personally acquainted to at least one of the sufferers. Style is another common target. There was a time when I struggled to find a photograph of a water feature (be it a waterfall, a river, a sea shore, or anything at all that displays moving water) where the exposure was not artificially lengthened to blur it all to hell. Photogaphers would carry ND filters and a sturdy tripod only to perform this standard trick. Cotton wool in place of a smooth or rugged aquatic surface is supposed to be aesthetically pleasing and emotionally expressive, but when it becomes de rigueur , all it brings to me is mild vexation. It is nothing but a cliché under most circumstances, and unless there is a very good justification for it, one ought to desist.

That was a rather long prelude to the thought this post is supposed to express: avoid clichés unless what you are trying to do is challenge them. The image above is a classical subject: a droplet of dew on a green leaf against a fuzzy background. The texture is amplified by the use of a vintage lens (Canon rangefinder, 50/1.4). The exposure and contrast are tuned up to darken the backdrop, giving a sense of near nocturnal tranquility.

It would not be permissible to display such an image if it weren’t for the quality of the light. The horizontally arranged bokeh contrasts with the soft V-shape of the branch to result in a twirl of light. The sharp droplet (the closer one to the camera) is placed exactly on the golden ratio point both vertically and horizontally (a post hoc observation, not intentional — honest). The composition, and only the composition, helps this hackneyed trick hold its own.

Or not, the judgement is with the viewer.

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