Second Look creative photography

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Stephen Mason

I have been taking photographs for over 30 years but it is only in the last few years that I have come to see myself as "a photographer". In 2010, with the encouragement of friends, I joined Second Look and started to exhibit my photographs in public.

Many of my photographs explore visual enigmas in our everyday environment. They are intentionally ambiguous. In photography, what you see is not always what you get. The eye and the camera see differently. My photography is a collaboration between a photographer and an "unchained camera" - one that has a mind of its own.

I look for a subject that interests me. I then compose the photo according to how I see it but, when I press the shutter, I know that the camera will see it differently. There is an excitement that arises from the uncertainty about what will result.

When watching a moving subject, the eyes and the brain combine, through time, to make sense of the movement. They "see through" the motion to perceive what is actually there. The camera is much more literal. It 'sees" only what the film or digital sensor is exposed to in a certain; very short, period of time.

In a longer exposure, it blurs the image but this is not what the eye sees. It is learned convention that leads us to see a blurred object in a photograph as one in motion. In a shorter exposure, it records a single moment in time that the eye has missed. The result can be quite surprising, even startling.

Two eyes see depth of field in a way that a camera, with its single lens, cannot. How to "see" 3D reality in a 2D image is also a learned skill. It involves the interpretation of perspective techniques developed by artists - techniques that vary from culture to culture.

I'm interested in the reverse process - how to overcome this (by now instinctive) learned skill. By making use of the camera's limitations I try depict 3D reality as an abstract 2D pattern or at least to leave the image open to either a 3D or a 2D interpretation.

I do not digitally alter the forms in my photos using distorting filters, layering or image combination. Apart from some enhancement of contrast and, occasionally, a little of colour the images are what the camera saw.

However, many of them have been cropped from the original image. By removing context I hope to leave the interpretation open to your imagination. For the same reason, I leave most of them untitled.

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