The role of chance – a real world example

© Dave Whenham
The ramp appears to have been added just for the exhibition

When I was studying I once sat and considered the role of chance in photography and concluded that chance plays a useful role in photography for all sorts of reasons. One thing I did not consider though was the chance of accidentally and unknowingly changing a camera setting and getting home to find all your lovingly crafted interiors have been shot at ISO 12,800. My initial reaction when this happened to me recently  was disappointment (emotion), my second reaction was to wonder how it could have happened and what I might need to do to prevent a recurrence (pragmatic and problem-solving) but my third was to wonder whether or not I could make something of the golf-ball sized digital noise or grain as I prefer to think of it (artistic opportunism).

The third response is perhaps a result of many different things, knowledge (I’m aware of the potential provided by film grain for example), experience (too many times in the past had I deleted my ‘mistakes’ without proper thought), artistic sensibilities (I recognised that the subject was still inherently interesting) and opportunism (here was a chance to use the ‘grain’ to enhance the atmosphere of the images).

© Dave Whenham
Textures and light

The camera in question was newly purchased, this was our first outing together,  and as I have never owned a camera with a touch-sensitive rear screen before I had not appreciated the potential for inadvertently changing settings.  It was also the first time I had purchased a camera with no viewfinder and I found it very disorientating framing and composing images. Probably very intuitive to the iPhone generation but not to me. It was also strange not  having all the shooting information in front of my eye.  It is second nature to keep an eye on shutter speeds when shooting in AV mode for example, and a shutter speed of 1/2500th second indoors would have alerted me to something amiss with the camera settings.  The new toy does not display this information when composing for example, it is available as a seperate display however so I will need to get into the habit of skipping to this screen regularly in future. Some serious learning took place on this first trip as can be imagined!

© Dave Whenham

I rarely bother sharing processing details in my blog but as the processing is an important part of the overall aesthetic of this set and therefore may be of interest to the photographers amongst you  here in note form is the workflow adopted.
RAW Conversion in ACR – increased Clarity by between 20 and 40 and added a Strong Contrast Curve, both of these emphasise the textures in the image file
Mono conversion in Silver Efex Pro – High Structure preset, tweaked brightness and mid-tone structure to taste and added a vignette. This combination helps produce the effect I wanted
Final touches in Photoshop – local dodging and burning as required before saving without sharpening

© Dave Whenham
Are we being watched?

© Dave Whenham

© Dave Whenham

© Dave Whenham

Full set on Flickr at

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