I've had this photograph of the sea by Cypremort State Park in Louisiana hanging as a print in our living room for about four months now. I sit on the sofa and gaze at it. There's just something about it that mesmerizes me.
It was just a single shot taken on a cloudy late afternoon without a great deal of forethought. I think perhaps the restricted color palette appeals to me; not monochrome but not far off. Maybe it's the posts with their enigmatic signs saying – 'keep away', 'low water' or whatever… I don't know. Perhaps it is the skyline, unbroken except for the faintest outline of an offshore drilling rig on the left side. Maybe it's the arrangement of the posts, geometrically marking out a triangle pointing to the right. Or the light on the water.
Whatever it is, this most minimalist of photographs is undoubtedly one my absolute favorites and comes closest to the actual experience of gazing at the sea.
Anyway, I was thinking of this photograph while I went through a very instructive exercise in photographic repair that can be found on the Canon website. It is one of the better introductions to the powerful abilities contained with Photoshop to alter digital images, in this case a scanned photograph showing evidence of age-related color imbalance as well as scratch and dust imperfections. I was somewhat familiar with all the techniques involved, but it was nice to put them together.
Nonetheless, when I finished, and had produced an image not quite as good as the finished product in the example (largely because I spent less time than I might on some of the finicky bits) but still 'improved' in terms of contrast, color balance, imperfections and sharpness, I did not feel that it was all that worthwhile. The unretouched photograph told more a story than the new version – a story not only of the image within, but of the fate of the photograph itself as an artifact. Having no investment in the original scene, all I could respond to was that image.
Ways of seeing. There are so many angles and viewpoints, all of them interesting in their own ways. Perhaps that is a clue as to why I like the photograph shown above – it's open and unresolved.