As can be seen from the first screen grab (I did 3) I decided on “apple” (I’ve been very fruity with the last couple of exercises):
Well, first thing I noticed is that there seems to be a lot of white light both with the background and with the light reflecting on the apples’ surfaces; shiny seems to be popular too – as does a green leaf sticking out the top of the apple; I would say that slice/cut and wet are also present although clearly not dominant at least for the first 100 odd images; obviously a singular image of an apple is prevalent with only one bunch of apples.
Scrolling further down (just for curiosity) we see some variety at last: collections (bunches) of apples are now present as opposed to the singular shots which were more common towards the beginning of the images that Google (other search engines are available) brought up; green apples start to appear too as do green backgrounds but white are still dominant; quite a few clip art and emojis (or whatever they are called) can be seen too.
By just writing “apple” we obtain similar results but a lot more green is present here although red still wins; more bites/trees included but we still see the white background totally dominating the images; shiny, green leaves sticking out, slices/cuts, bunches are all popular too as is wet apple skin.
My sequence of preparatory images (being apples)
I asked the local grocer is I could take a few shots and he was very nice about it and gave me free rein to take what I wanted from his street stand. I opted for the 50mm prime as I was looking to get quite close to the subject removing surrounding details – mirroring the results that the search engine had produced. Surely not the greatest creative or innovative idea there, but a bit different all the same.
My selected image
I chose this image after cropping and rotating it in post production. When taking the shot I was looking to include the oranges within the frame but using the quite shallow DoF obtainable with the 50mm although I prefer shot 3 (with its shallower DoF and warmer colours) this shot seemed different in some way. I selected a F/2.8 guarenteeing some detail on the red apple and allowing the oranges to be included and yet subdued by the blur of the shallow depth of field. I also think in retrospect, that the slightly ‘dull’ or rather: subdued saturation of the image works well – quite the opposite of most of the first hundred or so images generated by the web search; there are a few low-key images but most of them, as can be seen with the three screen grabs above, are high contrast and overly saturated (in my opinion).
Adding to the lower-key quality of my select, I also like the ‘wrong position’ of the apples caused by my flipping the image 90° to the right: the apples appear to be part of some sort of ‘apple sculpture’ (which I think gets slightly more interesting results when typed into a search engine!); the green apples almost ready to tip over to the right – a nice welcome tension.
So here’s a summary of differences between my image and the screen grab(s):
- shallow depth of field
- not just one type of apple
- subdued, low-key (not shiny or wet)
- slightly underexposed
- more than one “perfect” apple
- unorthodox “wrong” framing
- inclusion of other (secondary) types of details (oranges)
- no white background
- ambiguity (art sculpture or imminent accident?)
This tipping, or seemingly imminent accident, might enter into the pervasive decisive moment idea (although I’m not getting into all that again), and clearly veers away from the standard images popping up in any online search.
I would just like to add that I think this is a very long way away from “wrong”; it challenges the conventionally beautiful and what we are culturally used to, and as Sontag mentions our “…notion of what is aesthetically pleasing” (Sontag, 1977, p81) and I’m certain John Baldessari would also agree and have plenty to say (as if he hadn’t already spoken about the beauty of how wrong can be right).
Although, this isn’t so much a pop at cultural conventions more like an outrageous challenge to the basics of gravity and our logical expectations of that given.
I have no idea what I am talking about.
Sontag, S. (1977). On photography. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Google.com. (2016). Google. [online] Available at: https://www.google.com/webhp?hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj_tMquy8DPAhVMPhQKHVJOA-8QPAgD [Accessed 4 Oct. 2016].
Notes from the notebook and contact sheets
Here’s a shot I remember from an old book I have by Elliott Erwitt (Collezione Privata, 1997, Contrasto, p171) taken in 1977 – pretty creative take I’d say, full of his usual wit!