Sunday, 16 September 2007

The Great Photography Con

Hartshead Pike is a bit of a monument set on a bit of a hill pretty much on the boundary between Oldham and Ashton Under Lyne; it is a memorial to some or other royal wedding a long time ago. When we were kids it was that place that was just to far to be allowed to cycle alone - but not so far to be too scared to go or the place for your first hike with cub scouts - only 3 miles from home; but it felt like the countryside.The reality though, was that despite the fabulous view out over the City of Manchester and the Cheshire plain to the distant Welsh mountains in one direction, in the other
it was backed by Mullaney's Scrap metal yard; a land fill and surrounded by scrappy farmland with scruffy sheep. Now Hartshead Pike is simply a shortcut to avoid traffic for those who know it.

Last week Lisa posted this photograph on Flickr and set me thinking. Had the picture appeared in a glossy holiday brochure you could be forgiven for wanting to actually take a trip to Hartshead Pike. So has it always looked like that and I haven't noticed, or is photography - the art whose device never lies, we used to be told - a con, there to fool us in to believing what we might not otherwise believe. I mean to say look at the sky: it never looks like that over Manchester... does it?


Lisa said...

Well, I can definitely say that sky was like that!

There was no camera trickery involved in the making of that shot, although I'm not above using photoshop on my pics. I'm not one of these NO PHOTOSHOP purists, which I think, only say that because they don't understand how to use it. ;D

Retouching is nothing new. The highest paid people in a pro lab were the retouchers, it was a very highly skilled job.
It still is a very skilled job to be able to do it well and, most of all, convincingly. It's just that now almost everyone has access to some sort of image manipulation program and a digital camera.

Professional photography has changed beyond all recognition, one of the last pro labs in Manchester has recently gone into liquidation and a photographer friend of mine is looking at other business ventures because people are not willing to pay for photographs any more. They think "well I can do that on my camera", what they don't get of course is the quality. Not only the actual file quality, but the quality of lighting and composition.

Some people, as we know, ahem, have no visual sense whatsoever ( not pointing the finger at anyone I know,Crofty ) And it's unfortunate that it seems to be these people who take it on themselves to provide a photographic service.

Crofty said...

Hartshead Pike is still a pokey relic next to a dump though! Nice rant by the way... and as you know, we appreciate your work.

Lisa said...

It's not a rant......much.

Bill Blunt said...

Ah yes, you've brought back less than fond memories of a hairy ride as a pillion passenger on a dark winter's afternoon, when a friend of mine convinced me it would be a good idea to go and visit Hartshead Pike...

Our arrival at the scrapyard, frozen stiff and bracing ourselves against the chill wind, was the cue to us to jump straight back on the bike and find the nearest hostelry.

Now, if they'd been serving Hartshead Pie, I might have been a happier man!

Mystic Veg said...

Is there still a pub up there that gets hardly any customers? I swear I once went in a pub up there and chickens kept walking in and out of the front door.

Crofty said...

You've not dreamed the pub MV; it was the Collier's Arms, owned,like much of the Pike by one of the Mullaney family. We too used to go up there when the two downstairs rooms were one as the lounge of the house and the other as the lounge of the pub. If you went at the wrong time of evening you couldn't get served if it clashed with the landlady's favourite telly programmes.