Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Rocket Flower Photography - Impact of Exposure on Meaning

The vegetable patch recently experienced an explosive population boom of rocket flowers. Rocket, the weed-turned-middle class salad (citation needed), makes a pleasant peppery addition to any salad and whilst the flowers themselves are edible, they unfortunately stem the growth of the leaves.

Picked and sitting in a vase rapidly shedding petals, I thought they looked rather photogenic, too, so I set about photographing them. Shooting and editing the pictures got me thinking about exposure. Whilst we are very aware of the way factors such as composition, lighting, lenses, perspective, depth of field and subject matter all effect the way we read a photo, I hadn't paid much thought to exposure.

Two stops and a hint of post production work is all that separates these two photographs, yet look at the dramatic difference in the moods they evoke! The flowers on the right look modern and high-key, something that wouldn't seem too far out of place in Cereal magazine. Those on the left, however, look aged, sombre and moody, reminiscent of an old Dutch still life.

You could argue that they are both the same photograph, yet two stops of exposure, plus a little duo-tone, desaturation and vignetting, has put an end to that. You now have two completely different animals signifying an entirely different set of notions and meanings. So watch that histogram carefully, it could get you into a whole heap of trouble!

Which version do you prefer?

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