.Poetry Written In Light.
In 2013, I deleted the photo galleries on this site after opening a shop on Etsy, Mark Holder Photo. It was difficult, as I'd built and maintained the galleries for a number of years. The photos on the shop are among the best I've taken, and I hope you like them. As before, commentary is below.
What makes a good photograph? Ask any number of people this question and you'll get a similar number of answers. My answer is simple: a good photo is simply one that I like, a photo that pleases my eye. For me, a good photo strikes a fine balance between subject, composition, shade, texture, and most importantly, emotional impact. A fine example of this would be Ed Weston's Shell, 1927. Intriguing in its simplicity, with delicate lighting and an almost 3-dimensional quality, this photo provokes the viewer to look deeply, to study the texture revealed in the shells. A simple but powerful photo.
Another element in the "photos I like" game is panoramic format, best exemplified by the work of Macduff Everton. In my opinion, Everton is a master of the format. He first worked with a panoramic camera whilst photographing the pyramids of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula in 1967. The decades since have served to hone his skill to produce powerful, evocative landscapes.
I suppose the thing I most like about photography is it allows an immediate, democratic form of expression. Immediate in its ability to capture an image in a fraction of a second, democratic in the sense that most anyone can pick up a camera and produce a decent photo, and one can print the work of another. In my experience, I was first amazed at how easy it was to take a good photo. It seemed all one had to do was to point and click, and then marvel at the finished product. Then I began to learn photography; suddenly it wasn't so easy. As with all learned disciplines, the first experience seemed easy because I had little knowledge of and low expectations for taking photos. After reading a photography book and deciding to try for greater results I began to doubt my abilities. With practice, and lots of wasted film, the skills I had hoped to develop became apparent: I was making photos that I liked. I remember well the feeling of accomplishment in producing a well-made photo that was not only pleasing to my eye but to others as well. A fleeting feeling, but one well worth the effort.
Digital photography is a field of the art I began to explore in 2003. I'd long found the idea of a home studio that fits on a desktop (and now my laptop), requires no chemicals or light-proofing materials and the price of which is dropping steadily most appealing. On the other hand, immediate obselescence and picture resolution that is still less than that of a film camera but is improving with each new generation of camera. Digital cameras are renowned for their ability to produce immediately viewable results via the LCD screen on the rear of the camera. I recently experienced that ability and have to say it is nothing less than astounding. After so many years of shoot, develop, view the negative, then decide whether to print or not - all after having used the film's one short life - I'm quite relieved to be able to view and decide immediately after shooting, often with time to re-shoot something that didn't turn out quite as I'd expected. I have to admit to some skepticism upon reading camera reviews, ie "Why get so excited about such a simple thing?" but am now a fan.
In addition to cameras, the level of improvement in image editing software in recent years is nothing less than mind boggling. Funnily enough, as these things reach higher levels of refinement, the cost contiues to drop. Adobe Photoshop is the top photo editing suite and one assumes this will continue for the foreseeable future. I use the Gimp, a photo editing program for GNU/Linux. The Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is powerful and free - two qualities that are hard to resist. The user interface can be hard to come to grips with but once learned is quite logical. The GIMP is also available for Windows and the Mac.
As much as I enjoy working with new technology, my heart belongs to old cameras. My Nikon was the venerable FM2(N), an all-manual camera with the technical sophistication of a brick - and the strength as well. It required a battery only for the light meter and would accept any Nikon F-series made since 1959. Much to my surprise, I recently discovered a co-worker and friend has a Nikon rangefinder camera her father has owned for many years. This friend was quite pleasantly surprised to learn "Dad's old camera" may in fact be a highly sought-after collector's item.
From its beginnings as a chemical curiousity in France in 1850 to the high-tech methods of image capture available in the new century, photography is renowned for it's ability to freeze a moment in time, to allow the viewer to inspect a fraction of a second of eternity. Doubtless it will long continue.