Making vs taking / by Mario Mirabile

Many people think of the process which results in a photographic image as "taking a photo". I don't know exactly what this means, but to me it implies that a photograph is simply something recorded by a machine, rather than an artistic creation. There is a sense in some quarters that a photograph must contain only "truth", that it should be nothing more than a mechanical recording of an event. However, even the most casual snapshot requires creative thought on the part or the photographer. Deciding what to include and what to leave out through framing and when to trip the shutter are all creative decisions which affect the final image.

Ansel Adams titled his 1935 book "Making a Photograph", and believed that a photograph is crafted rather than simply recorded by a machine. A word like "making" has much more of a sense of input from the photographer about it. I certainly like to think of myself as a maker rather than a taker. Even for the simplest shots I like to fiddle and tweak, either before or after (and usually both) pressing the shutter release, and for some shots the process can be protracted.

I started making this image months ago. I posted a picture taken from the same spot back in June and have had thoughts of trying to improve on it. It was an opportunistic shot, with not much in the way of making up front, but with a moderate amount afterwards. It got me thinking about the same shot with two walkers, but no amount of patience was going to deliver what I wanted. I finally got round to setting it up this week with assistance from a couple of colleagues. A bit more making in Photoshop, and I was reasonably happy with it. Not completely happy though, so the process of making continues.

Tech Talk
Looks like a simple enough shot, but like comedy, timing is everything. I tried getting it in one exposure, but eventually resorted to multi-shot burst mode. Even then I had to end up blending two images (thanks for the suggestion Mr Domingo) to get the walkers in the best position. I think I like the colour version with a touch of motion blur best (no 3 in the series), but there's not much in it.  Not too bad overall, but does it improve on the original with one man crossing? I'm not so sure.