climb

dreaming of the imaginary sieve

not infrequently, i have received queries these last few months about why i have been niggardly uploading pictures of events where i was conspicuously present, obviously carrying a camera, and shooting with wild abandon. my response has been a trite lament at the way the digital era has altered our lives and affected our sense of nostalgia, and a veiled insult at other people's lack of consideration. for me, it makes little sense to contribute to the visual pollution that dominates social networking sites like facebook because it diminishes the quality of a beautiful scene, erodes the value of visual memory. but just as important, i think it is an affront to everyone else to overload their eyes with a series of pictures that are normally not worth viewing.


market forces have driven down the cost of gadgets that capture light and shadows. as a result, in any given activity, more than one person is likely to bring a device that records images. and in all likelihood, these persons are linked to each other through some online community which allows the creation of virtual albums locked away in a remote server, accessible to a limited number of individuals, if not the public, so that others may leech off an experience, transport themselves vicariously to another place, or sulk over the fact that they were unable to go.


having neither restraint nor self-censorship, gigabytes of images are poured in buckets, drowning those who are curious to travel back in time with a flood of useless pegs and visual cues. who wants to be reminded of the time when the focus was off, the horizon was askew, the lighting was poor, and the persons posing in the photo were not ready? there is a reason why the delete button exists: some pictures are not worth the space they occupy. without taking the time to preview a set of photos, all data stored in a memory card is uploaded with impunity. i know of very few friends who are not guilty of this lack of sound judgment.


the resulting visual clutter is often unbearable, even to people who are present (tagged) in the photos, or were intimately involved in the experience. i think everyone will agree with me that looking at 10 pictures of the same scene is just about as exciting as watching a plate turn inside the microwave. even a minute can be excruciatingly long. the problem is that few people are familiar with the concept of showcasing: that is, displaying your best work. certainly, not everyone who takes pictures hopes to achieve any semblance of art. most consumer photographers are really just interested in recording a scene, to aid the failure of human memory. but then again, the deluge is at best irritating, and diminishes the individual value of a photo. we spend less time admiring any given image, and are more interested in getting to the next one. it's like browsing through an album without as much as spending a moment to recall the circumstances surrounding the shot. these days, we normally do not even remember that a shot was taken.


i must confess that my habits at taking pictures and selecting which ones should be showcased are still influenced by the austere time when i still shot using film: each press of the shutter is precious, there being only 36 frames to a roll. tactile images are carefully selected after a review of the contact prints. the process is tedious, but the result is far more rewarding. like i have said before, i feel that i have produced more memorable photographs after about a hundred rolls of film, than with the billions of bytes that have been recorded with my digital camera. the option that digital allows us -- to take more pictures at a fraction of the cost -- merely gives us the luxury of selection. it does not afford us the choice to assault the visual world with useless images.


so this is an appeal to friends and the rest of the sane world: let us return the value of remembrance and be kind to those we hope would view our pictures. filter your photos by asking yourself whether a photograph is worth looking at again and again. not just by you, but also by others. learn the art of showcasing. when you decide to share albums online, take out those that repeat, or those that do not do any service to man and womankind. you will be doing yourself a favor.
(Anonymous)
or relatedly, be wary that we become obsessed with capturing shots that we lose sight of enjoying the moment? xD

vince =P
well said vince. i had written about something similar in the past. and that was a swipe on professional photographers. :D
filtering picture posts will save server space, time and electricity. also if pictures are not meant to be viewed in hi-reso, i think it would be economical to resize. what's the use of uploading a 2mb photo when viewers can only enjoy the 600x400 size of the pic as the server is resizing the originals you uploaded for hours?

my 2 cents. :)
correct. some photos are not meant to be viewed in their original resolution. the loss of data and information are normally inconsequential. if you're uploading images that are breathtakingly beautiful, you'd probably be better off with flickr than with facebook.

thanks for dropping by. :D