New Windsor, NY. Waving flags and dressed in furs women await the return of Fifty-two American diplomats and citizens held hostage for 444 days in Iran
Salisbury Mills, New York (1978), Easter Sunday
Photo Dennis Dunleavy
Acknowledging the disembodied nature of past acquaintances,
all those missed opportunities blown. The camera as mistress revealing secrets of my ambitions. I have always struggled when someone asks me
to explain the meaning of a photograph. How do you describe a dream?
There are the things we recognize and are familiar with, but the missing dimension is the immutable truth of what enters the lens and is fixed in space.
12 October 2014, Florence, Italy
There’s a gaggle of Japanese tourists marching in unison out in front of the Duomo today as a guide waves a plastic flower wand about like a baton so that the group doesn’t get lost in a pothole. A tourist’s neck bends like a swan before breaking to gaze at the more than 4 million bricks holding together Brunelleschi’s teapot. There are no Italians here really; a couple of police officers and some mad cyclists dodging tourists at break-neck speed.
Like the lens of a camera, singular and bionic, we are obsessed with acquiring memories we will only faintly recall even with the thousands of images we make.
Pictures are like maps: we look at them when we need to remember where we are.
In “The Power of Maps”, Denis Wood believes that “maps give us reality, a reality that exceeds our vision, our reach, the span of our days, a reality we achieve no other way.” Picture have the same effect only in many ways more so.
They take out our garbage
Sweep our floors
Fix our food
Make our beds
Pour us drinks
Play music we don’t listen to.
They are beggars
selling stuff we don’t need
They get in our way
We pass them by
who they are
why they are there
Ultimately, a camera, if pointed in the right direction, in the right light, and focused just so, can capture the very nature of what it means to be human – the doorway to the afterworld – the élan vital – the human soul. In this spirit, what is even more remarkable, is that this box of metal and glass, when given instructions can make the invisible, visible. Yet, we remain visually ambivalent to anything other than the objects of desire or the presence of danger.
Frederick Franck observes, “The glaring contrast between seeing and looking-at the world around us is immense; it is fateful. Everything in our society seems to conspire against our inborn human gift of seeing.” Memory is stitched together by a millions of moments. Discrimination is an act of memory and past experience combined. Pictures, our surrogate memory, reveal relationships – subject and photographer, light and camera, what is seen and what we fix in time. Thomas Merton said, “In modern life our senses are so constantly bombarded with stimulation from every side that unless we developed a hind of protective insensibility we would go crazy….”
Invisible people, made visible through the exchange of light and life conceal secrets. What could she be saying? One dog knows, the other does not seem to care.
The world’s fastest camera can take 36.7 million frames per second, 350 million new photos are posted on Facebook each day, and the average number of shots in a movie is 1,045. Everyday we are bombarded with more than 34 gigbytes of information, enough data that would burn out the average computer within a week.
A great deal of attention is paid to the technical and artistic production of images in photography and film, while the importance of editing seems to be noticed when it is poorly done. The truth is, that is the way it should be since an editor’s job is to take inconceivable amounts of information and turn it into a coherent whole.
Editing is a process of arranging, revising, and preparing images for the screen or print. In this instance, editing still and moving images means to turn our attention on the individual elements, which create an larger impression of a whole scene. As in Gestalt psychology, the whole is always greater than the individual elements that are contained within the frame.
For example, although antiquated, the practice of making contact sheets, small thumbnail images of a shoot, is still quite relevant in learning how to edit images – frame by frame. Not so long ago, film was inspected with a lupe, a small magnifying glass used to examine the qualities of an image or frame.
The greatest benefit of the lupe, however, is not just close inspection – frame by frame- but how the tool forces the photographer or cinematographer to slow down. Digital technologies provide many advantages over analog/linear processes
, but they also make us misread image by settling on the first thing we think is good. The prudent selection of an image is determined by the ability to recognize subtle nuisances – light, lines, textures, tones – that
reveal something about who we are, what we believe or value. Editing is a refinement of reconstiting a vision of the world that conforms to time, memory and the subjective experience we encounter every waking moment of the day.
Alhough we love watching movies, shows on TV, or thumbing through National Geographic, but unfortunately we mostly just look or watch a incessant stream of representations without realizing how the visual experience influences the complex conditions of knowing the world.
If we were to explore a common thread between editing different types of images, it would have to be the emotional impact pictures, still or in movies, have on the viewer or audience. Research reveals how emotional responses to what we see not only captures our attention but also draws us toward simliar objects. Emotions have both physical and behavioral components that can either be negative visual experiences or positive ones. In order words emotions affect how people perceive the world around them (Ling & Carrasco, 2006). When we speak of editing we are really referring to the editor’s intent to motivate others through representing the world according to aesthetic conventions, cultural tastes, or personal values.
Human beings respond to visual stimuli instinctually. Ravé Metha (2013), author of a series of graphic novels on Nicola Tesla, believes that we are living in a hyper-visual culture — a time in which a tsunami of more than 500 million images are produced and shared across social media and the Internet daily.
For Metha, “Kids today are growing up with apps like Snapchat and Instagram where all they see are pictures wih few little words beneath them. But these pictures tell a thousand words to these kids, it tells them a story. Then they will scroll tens of these pictures in less than a minute and essentially have just digested 10,000 words of information in a short amount of time.”