My code of photographic ethics is adapted to the types of photography I enjoy:
I do not trespass on private property, restricting access to public rights of way, permissive paths, access land, other areas where the public is permitted (including by payment) and the foreshore.
I aim for authenticity by photographing the world as it appears before me. In creating a composition I permit myself to:
- remove litter or other unnatural material,
- a limited amount of “gardening” by removing dead material and/or bending living natural material;
but do not permit myself to:
- add material, or relocate it within the composition,
- break or tear sensitive living material.
For example I will remove a sweetie paper or other rubbish from the composition, remove distracting dead branches, or bend aside distracting live branches. However I will not introduce or relocate a branch or leaf to assist the composition.
I will avoid trampling on flowers etc. - so I am happy to walk on e.g a heather moor (on the basis that the heather is not sensitive to one person walking over it), but will not trample over e.g. snowdrops or bluebells.
(I do not currently participate in wildlife photography, other then when wildlife is naturally within the landscape, so this statement does not need to deal with the ethics surrounding wildlife photography).
I am aware of my age and physical limitations and avoid situations where I put myself at risk or at the risk of requiring rescue.
I treat all people with respect, for me this involves:
Not making portraits of identifiable people, restricting the case where identifiable people appear in my images to where they appear in the background. Where a person is the object of the photograph I will not include head and shoulders in the composition.
- Not making a person the object of my photograph where that would be disrespectful.
- Not including children (except family) as the object of any photograph.
- Deleting any photograph on request.
There are very few undiscovered locations for landscape photography and countless examples of images made at well known locations. I try to avoid parodying images made by others.
3. Post Processing
a. Representational Photography
The aim of post processing is to represent the composition as I saw it - but importantly this includes the emotional content - the reason for making the image in the first place.
However the brain is able to see many things at the same time that the camera cannot record - it has almost infinite focus and huge dynamic range. Moreover it will gloss over unwanted elements in the scene.
Post processing thus includes cropping and normal global and local adjustments of exposure, contrast, brightness, tone, saturation, sharpening and digital noise. Cloning out of distracting elements is permitted.
Other ordinary photographic techniques, exposure bracketing, panoramic stitching and focus stitching are permitted. Some of these mitigate the limitations of the camera. Conversion to black and white and other techniques such as long exposures or very short exposures go beyond what the brain can see but are culturally mainstream.
I do permit the cloning out of distracting material (see above - it is often a nice case as to whether it is better to bend aside a distracting branch or remove it later in post processing). However I do not permit myself to (nor do I want to learn how to) relocate elements within the composition, or introduce new elements - e.g swapping skies.
In my urban photography I will often clone out people (see above under “social”) or other distracting elements.
b. Impressionist (non-representational) photography
I have recently enjoyed experimenting with in-camera multiple exposures. Currently I restrict this technique to making multiple exposures from the same spot to emphasis colour and texture.
The range of post processing techniques is wider and includes blending and similar techniques.
Taking up contemplative photography on retirement in 2009 I have enjoyed a steep learning curve covering three separate ares:
- Camera skills,
- Digital post processing, something I have found far from intuitive having very little background around computers and software,
- Understanding what motivates the desire to make fine art images, how I see the world around me and what I am trying to communicate.
I initially ventured into photography from a desire to record hill walking memories. I soon found that one interferes with the other but this lead to an interest in landscape photography - still a major interest for me. Like many other photographers I started by looking for the large vistas. More recently I am much more interested in more intimate images, and tend towards black and white for the larger image. I am developing an interest in Intentional Camera Movement as a way of communicating the intricacies of more complex situations.
My interest in Urban photography and other things that catch my eye are described further in notes accompanying the relevant portfolios.
I am firmly an amateur so am entirely self driven in terms of moving my photography forward. I find that I have a demanding taskmaster.
My home is in East Anglia, England, but I am drawn to the more remote areas of the UK for contemplation and landscape photography - but to London for the buzz of urban photography.