Geograph Blog ::

Borderline cases 2

By David Howard

If the weather's bad I won't take photos unless I happen to be somewhere already and have the camera with me, but of course the weather changes, so as soon as I'd been out a short time yesterday it started drizzling, and continued to the rest of the day. I wasn't turning back as I was out and it wasn't too bad but knew the photos were going to suffer if it carried on, as it did. I carried on regardless and you can't see the damage till you get home and look at them all on the computer, and did wonder when I saw them whether Geograph would prefer I waited till the weather was better (something you can't rely on anyway if you're out for even an hour) or would rather have reasonable pictures with some raindrops on them. I wouldn't have used any with more than a small scattering at worst, but really don't like doing it at all on a library site. I personally don't mind all sorts of typical obstructions- rain, car interiors showing on the edges etc, especially as since childhood I've had the camera with me on holiday and had no choice but point and shoot out of the car window when I saw something interesting, as any record of it was better than nothing and I may never be there again. So my personal preference, especially as a Geograph viewer some time before adding my first photos, is more is better than less, but as a photographer who had never thought of taking one random roundabout, let alone every single one I pass, did try and catch something artistic, nostalgic or unusual if possible. Having not had a digital camera until I was 45, it also meant my film rationing had been well ingrained, and as a result didn't realise how few photos I took outdoors full stop, as I basically waited for something special before bothering, mainly nice houses, American type scenes (these have been frequently commented on they look like America so I wasn't imagining it) and railways. I expect most people have themes besides the usual friends, family and holidays, but when I think I didn't take a Routemaster bus till 2001 when I knew they were being withdrawn, despite seeing them every day I was in London since birth, I realised taking even what seems dull at the time does not look at all dull 20-30 years later. Even the cars, which now get in the way of so many shots, present a picture of history, long gone names like Morris and Sunbeam were normal features at the time and so pleased now when I look at the handful of photos I took with 1300s and Anglias, and a nice Bedford post office telephones (who remembers them?) van.

So back to my dilemma, how should I feel when a quarter of my photos are sprayed with water, like the sports cameras watching F1 or football, as rain is as much as part of real life as snow and everyone and their cat comes out to take photos when it snows. With digital I am now able to remove horizontal and vertical incursions like windscreen wipers and mirrors, but not the long bonnet of a car. But raindrops are randomly splashed on the picture and like the photos taken from the back of my parent's car in the middle of nowhere are the only time I may get them. And looking back I treasure every single one I did, however rough some of them came out- a lovely shot of Hounslow High Street before it was pedestrianised, the A38 in Plympton, a chip shop in Folkestone etc. I hope most members and viewers in general agree with me, as I prefer just to look at places and know we're all human and however hard you try, if you're taking lots of photos around and about you can either filter all the ones which either aren't perfect or a bit dodgy or draw a line at 10% out of focus or 10% obscured by something which isn't meant to be there like I do, as I look at what I can see and accept it's impossible to avoid the rain or not take a good view from the car and get some sort of penalty for doing so. Thank goodness I've just discovered digital cameras can happily take a photo at 70mph (I saw them here on a motorway and tried it myself) and as a result now get a red line to some places rather than a big gap as I wind down the window and keep snapping and then bung away the blurred ones when I'm getting a lift somewhere. I imagine so many members (well I don't really need to as I can see it) in the same position as me, addicted to collecting (as I always have been), hastily poking the camera out of the window at every jam and traffic lights as it's another red square. Until I did trips for Geograph specially I didn't usually do that as there was no map to complete, but with new criteria you need new methods. And the random element that brings in adds the chance of what happens to be there when you do stop, from a sea of traffic next to you, an absolutely featureless road junction with no buildings or views, to interesting houses and shops, amazing views across towns and village greens. One person I know on another site seems to specialise in shots from his car which seem to prefer as much of the interior (he is a car fanatic and expert) of his expensive car as possible, with the view almost secondary. I've got used to them now, even though I know you can avoid most of it if you want to, and just interested in the overall scene regardless, with the context just part of the photo. Not that I'd dream of doing it myself on purpose, but each to their own- he hasn't actually tried to post one here and sure he wouldn't think of it!

So I made the case and my decision as a result, a photo is nostalgia in the making and as so many have a flaw or two prefer the flaws than missing what may be unique for me or someone else. To start picking holes in other people's work yet again (not here of course!) occasionally it can be counterproductive to make basic errors- one theme I take I expect some will be familiar with is pre-Worboys road signs, and one of the group seems unable to take a legible sign photo although the darn things are static and next to the road so can easily walk up and take the picture. Instead nearly all are taken as if they crept in by accident, often with poor exposure to add to the problem, and as a result partially illegible. I managed to catch a couple like that without even seeing them and were better than nothing as a result, but he actually takes them specially but most look like accidents. Yes, it takes all sorts.

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Fri, 19 Aug 2011 at 02:20
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