VERY grainy photograph

September 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

If you read camera reviews on the Web, you will almost always see that the reviewers are very critical of something called “grain,” the splotchy accumulation of dots and spots that happens when the camera is adjusted to record images at lower light levels. The larger, more expensive cameras have less trouble with this. The smaller point-and-shoot variety always have trouble. But there are a number of strands of photographic history in which grain is, in fact, a welcome component of the image. The earliest color photographs–called autochromes–were extremely grainy and they are now considered great treasures. And there are several fashion photographers–Deborah Turbeville and Sarah Moon–who made their careers by emphasizing the grain in their images. The grain tends to give pictures a more dream-like, atmospheric look, and is useful for depicting a mood or feeling, rather than representing every factual detail of the scene. I don’t think that grain is necessarily such a bad thing. In fact, digital photography is waiting for some rowdy, independent, observant workers to come along and remind us once again that this is as legitimate a part of the photographic repertoire as are the smooth, grain-free images so prized these days by the reviewers.

These pictures were taken in almost total darkness. In fact, when I opened them in Elements, the rectangle was completely black. Some adjustments revealed these images.

Panazonic ZS3

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