Shooting for Flickr or Instagram vs reality

Summertime

With the advent of extremely high-resolution screens (4K for now, but just down the road 8K as well) not so far away, many people will have a really bad surprise.

DISCLAIMER: Please do not take this post too literally: it is meant to provoke. Obviously there are out there on the various platforms many many really great artists; I just think their number is vastly overestimated, and that today we tend to use the word “artist” too lightheartedly.

 
I’ve heard repeatedly and from many sources in the last years that photography skills have improved big time, that there are many more exceptional photographers now than in the last 50 years and many a Flickr / Instagram / whatever star has been ascended to the same status of a Cartier-Bresson or an Ansel Adams, at least in the words and minds of their followers.

Now my question is: have you tried looking at those images, when available, in full resolution? And no, I don’t necessary mean at 100%, just at something a bit bigger than the postcard sized images we are accustomed to in these days.

My unscientific conclusion is that, at least for landscape photography, 99.99%* of the times they suck. Hard. Sorry. They don’t suck. They SUCK (yes, all capital letters).

In no particular order:

  • no one seems to know that the aperture controls not just the exposure, but the depth of field as well. There is a gigantic amount of landscapes shot at f/1.8 for no particular reason, with just a couple of millimeters in focus in a scene 1 kilometer deep
  • no one seems to care for a tripod, part 1, judging by the number of images shot at 8.000 or more Iso that look like impressionistic paintings (in a bad way)
  • no one seems to care for a tripod, part 2, judging by how many people are convinced that they can shoot at a 2 seconds shutter speed handheld and have sharp images (hint: they cannot, not even with IBIS)
  • ok, you want to shoot handheld at f/1.8 400Iso and 1/4000s, but please at least have the decency of using both hands to keep the camera steady. The number of images with tons, not just a hint, of unintentional camera shake is staggering

All these supposedly new exceptional artists will discover that they are basically wasting hard-disk space as soon as they will try printing any of their work on something more than a 10 x 15cm / 4 x 6″ sheet or, like I said, as soon as the new high-resolution displays will become mainstream. An 8K display, to give you a sense of scale, requires a 36Mp images to fill it up.

It’s extremely ironic that now we have cameras capable of poster-sized prints, but all the majority does is looking at tiny stamps on a low-res screen or shooting something that will be enlarged no more than the pictures we were used to take back home from a lab in the ’70s.

 

*Ok, I might have exaggerated the amount a bit 😉