Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Using Metadata To Become An Accomplished Photographer

I was taken to task today by a photographer who viewed my work on a photo sharing website that I post to regularly. He asked me what camera and lens was used for a shot, and suggested that I be more diligent about posting metadata information along with the photographs. As a rule I don't post that information with images that I place anywhere. I may use the information to evaluate the effect the settings had on the final image, but I don't believe that information is of any use to anyone else. 

However I set my camera is dependent upon the situation as it unfolds before me. Unless someone were to be in that exact same situation, with the same subject matter, in the same setting, with the same light and shadows, at the same time of day, in the same position as I was, what possible use could that information have for anyone? I think none. Photographers become obsessive about numbers. Will it really help someone looking at my work to become a better photographer by knowing all that data, without an intimate knowledge of all the other parameters that went into making the image? No!

It would be much more meaningful for a budding shooter to ask me how I get so close to my subjects, or how I deal with the sometimes acerbic reactions from them. How to get candid shots and remain inconspicuous, or how I get such low angle perspectives. I relish the opportunity to share that information with others. But what aperture and shutter speed? What ISO? I can't see that it would help anyone to know that.

Here's two images that bear this out. In both images stating giving the focal length would be meaningless because I cropped both images. The proportions are 3:2, same as a 35mm negative. I could have been in close, shot very wide, and just trimmed the edges, or been far away, shot at 70mm and cropped to a small center. You can't tell which, even if you speculate because of the apparent depth of field. I sometimes use OnOne Softweare's Focal Point 2 plugin to blur backgrounds. The point is that the image works, it fulfills my vision and my story. As for the exposure (shutter speed and aperture) again meaningless info, given the state of modern photoshop/lightroom plugins, if I'm relatively close to a good exposure I can make the image work. What's the point of giving numbers that can't possibly enhance the viewer's appreciation of the image?