I see many sites which state that the photographer likes to capture 'truth' and then goes on to say that no manipulation was done to the image.... blah, blah, blah. It's all a bit misleading if you ask me. Nothing, absolutely nothing in photography is 'real' except how we feel about an image.
The simple translation of a 3-D scene into a 2-D image turns it from 'real' into something that isn't. Using a wide angle lens to change perspective turns it from 'real' into something that isn't. It's not possible to register the complete tonal range of a scene due to real world dynamic range being much bigger than what's capable of being recorded on a camera.
I remember reading a quote by Michael Kenna a few years ago, about his printing for Ruth Bernhard. He said Bernhard had said something like 'to stop at the negative, is to not realise the full potential of the image'.
Anyway, this evening I was on Wikipedia (ok, it's not really absolutely reliable), but I found these quotes. The first one is from Kenna himself about Bernhard:
"Her standard of printing was so much higher than anything I’d come across in England. She had complete technical skill, but it was her total disregard for accepted norms of printing that opened my eyes. She used the negative as absolute raw material and would do anything she wanted with it. She just refused to believe that because she had a particular negative, then this is what the print should look like. She’d print until it looked like what she wanted it to look like"
Which is very illuminating. I glean that Kenna himself was opened up to the art of printing by his working for Bernhard, and in particular, how it was possible to depart from the negative.
The one I like the best is :
"If you can't make the image bigger or more important than what you see, then don't push the button.”
I love that, because I do feel that when I press the shutter, it's because I feel something bigger than what I'm seeing. Perhaps I feel 'potential' for when I get back home to my digital dark room....
So, I hope this post has left you feeling you should push the boundaries of your photography.As Bernhard was apt to saying at the close of a conversation:
"Remember God likes us best when we are flying by the seats of our pants".
Push the boundaries. Don't just shoot what's there, shoot with the intention of bringing out aspects of the scene, work on your printing.