one day at a time

day 8: where is mr fox?

where is mr fox?

where is mr fox? © Verena Fischer 2011

Yesterday for the first time since I started this blog I was too tired to write a meaningful post to go with the picture. I shot during the day. Maybe that was due to the fact that I walked more than 6 km while taking pictures! I walked all the way to the Plötzensee, a lake where you can also go swimming in summer. It even has a little sandy beach. I then went back on the other side and discovered a very nice bike path that almost avoids Seestraße altogether. I was walking around almost 2 hours and filled up my 1GB SD card too which hopefully taught me a lesson so that I will take my second 1GB card with me the next time. I made sure that I took pictures at the S-Bahn stations Beusselstraße and Westhafen too since I wanted to try to make a Tilt/Shift picture in Photoshop. With this effect you can make a real picture look like a picture of a model. I will put a link to some first attempts at it at the end of this post.

On the way back from the Plötzensee I was incredibly lucky. A fox just appeared in front of me! I took many pictures of it, but I think it was already getting a bit too dark and the spot where we crossed paths was surrounded by trees, so there was not a lot of light.  I managed to take the shot above when a jogger passed the fox slowly because he was afraid that it might have rabies. I managed to take the picture just before the guy startled the animal and it ran off into the little patch of forest on the side of the path.

I also tried out a new gadget I got yesterday: A GPS logger. With this I can import the geo-location of where the pictures were taken into my photos and I also set up flickr to show the information. Ezequiel said that it takes away the exceptional meaning a picture has when it is the only link to a certain moment in time. I partly agree with him, but when I look at my iPhoto library I would love to go to certain places again and I can’t since I don’t remember where I took the pictures! What’s your opinion on this?

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3 responses

  1. Hans

    Ezequiel is wrong, I’m afraid. You take the picture, and the camera automatically stores the moment in time in the picture, if you have set the time of your camera correctly, of course. But that’s a technical thing. It will naturally store the exact position in space, too, as soon as that’s technically possible, and it is, now. A picture is linked to a certain position in space-time, why not fix the link in the picture as well? The link exists in your memory, anyway (as long as your memory is reliable, that is ;)).

    August 20, 2011 at 7:48 pm

  2. Just some thoughts. Of course, I’m not against using accurate date stamping and location services in general. They’re useful in many cases and can reveal interesting things. Also, the question of using these data changes significantly with the purpose of your photo, whether you’re doing photojournalism, art, or keeping a holiday record. Now, one may question why is there a tendency for making accurate meta-data more of a norm (e.g., place tagging on sites like flckr). One reason could be because it is now very easy to record these data (we don’t need to keep a log book or write on the back of paper prints). And there is always the excuse of wanting to reconstruct the event (coming back to the same place, taking the same picture with the same aperture, focus, angle and exposure, or some better version of it). In some cases we may want to do this. But I think that the main reason we keep this information is different. The technical possibilities for keeping accurate data go hand in hand with how easy it is today to alter the picture itself, changing almost its every aspect so that what the picture means to us can be radically different from one version to the next. You can change a boring picture into a dramatic scene in just a few simple steps. I think that the tendency to “hang on” to the picture as a genuine actuality in the face of how easy it is for anyone to select among its virtual possibilities is what drives the increasing use of meta-data. The meaning of a picture can be changed radically (and by anyone, not just by the author) and so we want to keep some kind of firm ground in the shape of accurate time stamps, gps coordinates, etc. At the same time, this “firm” ground works as a validation of the radical distortions we can make on the picture. After all we can always name the exact second and coordinates of where it was taken, so what we see in it must be “real”, no matter how crazy the changes in meaning.

    Now the question is: Is this always a good thing? The assumption seems to be that having more accurate information about the picture is intrinsically good. And, conversely, that the unreliability of human memory is intrinsically a bad thing. But this is not at all clear to me. Again there is a difference whether we’re trying to determine a sequence of events in a crime investigation or whether we’re looking a pictures of an anonymous street scene or a landscape for their aesthetic value. Looking at the latter kind of photos triggers memories, emotions and thoughts in the present and, in many cases, their value relates more to what we are living through now and where the experience is taking us than to the actuality of the scene portrayed in it. It may trigger a process of recollection, of re-evaluation of the past, or simply an emotion. In such cases, it seems to me, knowing too much about the picture can be detrimental, because inevitably, the recollection is going to differ from the actual events in the past. But who cares? What’s important is how that recollection is integrated into a narrative of who we are today. In fact, such a narrative is going to be a constant reconstruction of events which are distorted by the very act of reconstructing. No need to cling to objective data for this process to work. On the contrary, recollections cannot work effectively without the gaps, obscure zones and irreversibly “lost data”. This doesn’t mean we might as well imagine the past altogether, but that too perfect a record works against the effectiveness of meaningful memory. It can be too distracting from what’s important. There’s a nice story by Borges on precisely this topic, Funes, el memorioso, about a man with perfect and perfectly accurate memory: his life is un-livable.

    So I would say, keep detailed information about space, time and conditions if you feel like it, but maybe ask yourself every now and then: do I really need it?

    August 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm

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