The word I hate most: pixelpeeping!

February 14, 2016  •  2 Comments

Pixelpeeping.  To me it's an illness that came with the digital era. Wherever you look, people with nifty cameras and even niftier lenses are glued to their supersized screens, blowing up pictures for full-size viewing, examining the pixels.  It drove me nuts in the past, and it drives me nuts today. I have rarely had any valuable feedback to my work when I asked for feedback. "Not in focus", "noisy", "I see a little motion blur", "there's a spot of blown-out white there".  Well thanks, but who cares? I want to know what you think about the artistic quality. Uhm... the WHAT? Yeah, never mind.

Pixelpeeping drives me nutsPixelpeeping drives me nuts!

The pixels, that's what is examined, not the big picture, and I mean that in the literal sense of the word. Why am I saying that? Well, because photography is not about analyzing pixels.  It's about looking at the photograph as something that has meaning, not as something that has twenty million pixels.

Where are the days when photographers debated long hours about the artistic value of a photograph, more often than not over a pint of beer or a glass of brandy? If there was little light, you used a high sensitivity film, and you had grain. There was no way around it. And sometimes also motion blur, and there was no way around that either.  But all that did not matter, because what ultimately counted, was the meaning your would attribute to the photograph.

Today however, I distinguish two types of people, who both have a camera: the photographer, and the camera owner.

The photographer sees his or her camera as a means to an end. If it breaks down, then a compact camera will also do the job if needed in certain scenarios. The photographer will try to provide the best possible image quality, but there are limits, and so be it. If the message is conveyed, the photographer is a happy camper.

The camera owner mostly cares about the technical quality of the image. Noise is not good, motion blur is not good, overexposure is a no-no, because you can avoid it with the red blinking areas in Adobe Lightroom, and the blue blinkers allow you to eliminate those two pixels of pure black. True, all that. But don't ask them to provide an insight in what the photograph means to them. It often doesn't have a meaning, as they don't have the first clue of how to make expressive photographs. 

I know I'm being black-and-white here. There's a grey zone, where you're not expected to give meaning to pictures, and where pixel perfect quality is required. The fashion industry is testimony to it. Colors have to be spot on, no blown-out white allowed, and it's only logical. Most commercial photography is like that.

But when we enter the world of photographic art, like street photography or conceptual photography, seldomly commercial, then I find my opinions to be valid.

I have yet to find the first photography club where photographs are actually debated over for their artistic quality, rather than pixel quality.

What do YOU think about it?


Comments

Jeroen(non-registered)
Mostly I am a photographer, But to a little extend also a camera owner.

The raw image is for me far more important then any techniques used to create the image. Although i am certainly capable to do so, I prefer not use programs - like LightRoom, Photoshop, The Gimp, Photofiltre, ect... - That said, I do an occasional histogram or Curves Correction, But for me, even the most beautiful photo model will have dimples, wrinkles, and spots.
Stefan(non-registered)
I have a "limited" camera ... a Canon 1000D, entry level from 2008, 10 megapixel, above ISO 400 is noisy as hell.

I still like it, it takes pictures the way it's supposed to ... I haven't got the biggest of resolution but an A3 print is still possible.

Too much noise? Turn it black and white ... To much dynamic range? Bracket your shots ...There's always a way round the limitations you are faced with. Or you accept them for what they are
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