Friday, August 28, 2009

Paths, Roads, Roads, Paths - When Is One The Other?

Walking down a path in a park can often lead to an interesting photo opportunity. Walking down a road can also, but gives a different type of vibe. A path is friendly, a road is hard, A path is there for a slow meander, a road takes you somewhere. You might even pay to have the privilege of walking on a path (Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania comes to mind) where a road is utilitarian, it's there for purpose rather than pleasure. Years ago, at a company I was working at, we had a visitor from the west coast out to inspect a machine the company was building. Being the sales/quality control/field installation guy, it was my duty to babysit the fellow. The second day he was at the building I had to run out for an emergency service call on a piece of equipment at a hospital in northwestern Connecticut. I invited the visitor to accompany me. The company was in Woodbury, the hospital was in Sharon. You can use a mapping application to see what the most direct route would probably be. About half way along the route the visitor said "this is Connecticut?". I assured him it was and questioned why he had asked. His response was that west coasters always thought Connecticut looked sort of like an extension of Manhattan. Building after building and the only tress would be sequestered in pocket parks. As we drove along the Housatonic River has said the drive was more like going through one of the national parks rather than what he had imagined driving through Connecticut might be. Thinking about his comment later made me consider how fortunate the people of Connecticut, and the northeast in general, are to have such natural beauty all around us once someone takes the time to get off the highways. We are truly blessed. To check out where I'm going with this in relationship to today's image, hit the "read more" and I'll explain.

Today's image is a combination of a road and a path. The road is Rockwell Road in Bethel. There's a nice bend with a small barn/garage at the vanishing point of the bend. As a side note, just beyond the small building is a full sized barn. The "path" portion of today's image comes from Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. The paved road just wasn't working for me and I thought a dirt road or trail might look better in the shot. . The question I'll pose today is does the substitution of the dirt path change "the truth" of the image? The building, and the barn behind it, were there before the road was paved. So, did I alter the scene or did I create an image of what the area might have looked like 75 or 100 years ago? If the purpose was to document the road for an article in the newspaper of a magazine about the town today, yes, it would have altered the truth of the image. If a painted had his/her easel set at the same location as the camera and painted a dirt road rather than a paved road would anyone wag a finger at the artist? No! To many people get too hung up on things when the intent of the image is entertainment or visual interest. . Once I got into the image today I noticed a distraction along the bridge abutment. It was a tiny portion of the image, but it was white and red where white and red should not have been. Zooming in revealed a drink cup someone had tossed along the roadside. Had I noticed it, I could have moved it out of frame before taking the shot. I didn't, so I removed it with Photoshop. Again, it didn't alter the "truth" of the image, it just cleaned it up. In that case I would even have a problem it the intent of the image was photojournalism. Unless the article was about trash on the side of the road it was not a critical part of the story being told. The is a point that can't be crossed in photojournalism, but getting rid of the drink cup wouldn't be anywhere close to that line.