OPS Front Page 7
Blue Clipper Butterfly, Malaysia
Black Lemur, Nosey Be, Madagascar
Palm leaf, Seychelles
Cirque de Mafate, Reunion
Ship in the Desert, Suez Canal, Egypt
Fredensborg Palace, Zealand, Denmark
Al Salam Peace Bridge, Suez Canal, Egypt
Frankincense Tree, Oman
The Hermitage, St Petersburg, Russia
La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Sibelius Monument, Helsinki, Finland
Copacabana Beach from Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Masked Booby, Cape Horn
Nobel Prize Museum, Stockholm, Sweden
The Metropolital Cathedral, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
King Penguins, Bluff Cove, Falkland Islands
The presence or absence of truth in photography is, at very least, significant. At one level, the absence of truth does not matter in any way. We see what is printed on a piece of paper and have complete freedom to appreciate the aesthetic value of the image or dismiss it as unworthy. The subject matter may be completely irrelevant provided the viewer can take from the presence of the image some inspiration or pleasure. A particular print may prove calming or recall some past experience. In these circumstances is surely does not matter how the image was produced or whether it was assembled from a dozen other images. However, the situation may be quite the opposite when the use to which an image is put, or indeed the subject matter, is significantly different. If we see an image of a leopard with unusual spots, apparently taken in some remote African location, it may be vital to know whether it is an accurate representation of what the photographer encountered. Anyone with a copy of Photoshop can rearrange a leopard's spots, but the significance of the resulting image depends almost entirely upon whether the image is "genuine". Otherwise the viewer can never know whether the image represents entertainment or the discovery of a new species of leopard. The decision certainly matters - at least to some people.
Truth in photography, at least at a basic level, is about whether a viewer can believe that an image represents what a photographer saw and experienced. In the case of a leopard with unusual spots it is vital to know whether we are being deceived by clever manipulation, or whether this new animal is really out there somewhere. Why send an expedition to gather details of a newly-discovered species if the unusual spots were devised in Photoshop?
When we dig a little deeper, truth is not so easy to define. A close-up of the unusual leopard might exclude environmental information and make it almost impossible to assess the size of the animal. A wider shot that included recognizable environmental details might render an assessment of the animal's size quite accurate. The best photographic societies, such as the UK's Royal Photographic Society, are generally very good at distinguishing "genuine" shots from those, for instance, taken in a zoo. Their experts also have very sharp eyes for details which may betray any subterfuge on the part of a photographer.
Simple techniques for emphasizing particular aspects of a subject are of course used all the time by photographers. A wedding photographer may routinely photograph a larger person from an angle that makes them appear slimmer, and an older woman may be photographed in softer light with relatively little contrast to reduce the prominence of wrinkles. A landscape photographer photographing a building high up on a cliff may deliberately exclude the level ground at the bottom to leave the viewer with the impression that the precipice continued below the bottom of the image. Such techniques all represent a degree of deception and have been used for as long as photography has existed.
So what is truth in photography? Unfortunately it does not exist in the absolute sense but that does not mean that honest attempts to approach it have no purpose. It is probably true to say there is no 100% pure-white photographic truth, but there are countless very pale shades of grey on the scale between black and white. Photographers must ultimately decide for themselves whether their work is appropriate for its purpose, and whether it is also sufficiently genuine to justify openly any techniques or manipulation used in its creation.
The Society acknowledges photographic excellence with four awards - a Certificate of Merit and three formal distinctions. These are:
Detailed information relating to each award may be found by following the above links, visiting the FAQ section, and also by reading The OPS Distinctions Handbook. This handbook may be downloaded free of charge as a PDF file, or purchased as a printed booklet at a current price of £3.50 plus tax and delivery.
A photographer who is awarded one of the Society's distinctions may use the relevant letters (LOPS, AOPS or FOPS) after his or her name throughout life. No fees or subscriptions are payable. The award of a Certificate of Merit does not incorporate the right to use any letters after a successful candidate's name. Note that an applicant must be under the age of 18 on the relevant date of assessment to make an application for a Certificate of Merit, and must also provide evidence of consent via the Certificate of Merit Consent Form.
|Image Copyright Stephen Robinson|
Stephen Robinson, a photographer based in Zambia, has released an extraordinary on-line exhibition of documentary and photojournalism photography on the everyday lives of those living with albinism in Africa.
The modern-day social issue of living with albinism in Africa is, today, probably much as it has been for centuries - an issue steeped in deep-rooted superstition and mythology. Most media coverage of Africans with albinism is centred on the news-grabbing extremes of their physical abuse, mutilation and even murder. Such coverage makes little mention of the adversities they face every day - including stigma and extreme discrimination, isolation and exclusion, serious health and vision problems, and public ridicule. And all this every day, day-in, day-out.
So this story is about the ordinary: the ordinary daily story of African people with albinism, a story that few of us know about. Accompanying the photographs are the subjects’ own stories of their daily lives, in their own words - far more telling than anything the photographer could write.
Not sure if you understand the significance of the various colour spaces? Can you honestly say that you are clear about the differences between Adobe RGB (1998), sRGB, Apple RGB and Wide-gamut RGB? Well, colour is a complex matter and you could spend the rest of your life studying the science of the subject. In an effort to help, and with the assistance of Bruce Lindbloom, we have introduced a 3-D gamut viewer which displays a variety of commonly-used colour spaces. The viewer even allows you to compare two three-dimensional RGB working spaces by drawing one inside the other. The whole display can then be rotated in any direction, or zoomed in and out, to help you focus on those crucial areas of difference. At last it is possible to visualize clearly how switching, for example from Adobe RGB (1998) to sRGB, imposes significant changes upon your images.