February week 4 – Snapshot and/or Fine Art, whose moment?

Feb 4 - Retro Hat WEBPink showed off her amazing vocal talents during her performance at the Academy Awards when she sang “Over the Rainbow.”  During the performance colorized clips of Dorothy from Kansas were artfully projected.  The 34-year-old singer paid tribute to Judy Garland and the 75th anniversary of her classic film, The Wizard of Oz.  Host Ellen DeGeneres later came out dressed as Glinda the Good Witch!

At another moment in the show, Ellen crashed twitter by posting on its site the “selfies” she took of herself surrounded by celebrities, all taken with her in-phone camera.  The irony is that these snapshots may have gotten as much attention as the Oscar’s wonderful cinematography and visually stunning sets.

Snapshots are being made by the billions every day.  They capture moments in people’s lives and, thanks to technology, can be spread all over the world in minutes.  Some of these captures can be very artistically presented, but the main purpose of the snapshot is to show you a moment – a baby’s first step, a well-worn pheasant-feathered hat, a birthday pony ride, sky diving, river rafting, cruising the inside passage, and a billion other daily happenings or friendly teasers.  Then it is time to move on.

Pretty in Pink - Magnolias take the stage in February

Pretty in Pink – Magnolias take the stage in February

On the other hand, fine art photography and other visual presentations insert aesthetic dimensions into the preserved moments to lift, move or challenge the viewer.  Creating such art is deliberately different from capturing a scene or a happening.  Snapshots have their brief time in the spotlight of Facebook dialogs and Instagram sharings, but fine art is meant to hang around (literally) for a long period of time.

A Northern Pintail winters in the Bay Area

A Northern Pintail winters in the Bay Area

Some snapshots are made with high-end camera equipment and some fine art images are generated from smart phones.  With the swimming Pintail I wanted to use my camera to move beyond a clean-cut identification image to something that conveyed movement without motion blur.  I waited for the sun to set in order to maximize the cool light that dusk provides.  This required me to set my camera with a wider aperture and higher ISO so that I would have enough light to make the capture.  I also knew that the narrow depth-of-field resulting from these settings would make the foreground and background water soft while holding the bubbles in the water immediately around the Pintail in focus.

I also chose to take the photograph from ground level allowing the viewer to be eye to eye with the Pintail, giving the viewer the impression that she or he is right there in the bubbly water.  This deliberately chosen angle also provides a hint of the tail which gives the duck its name.

Snapshot or fine art – perhaps it depends upon the viewer as much as the maker.

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