Expert advice, help and tips from Chris Gatcum

Oilseed rape – Mark Hopkin

Nikon D2X, 85mm, 1/160sec at f/1.8, ISO 640

I believe that not every photograph needs to adhere strictly to the conventional notions of ‘correctness’. It’s easy to become trapped by the idea that all images must be sharp, well exposed, free from distortion, flare and other optical aberrations, to the point that we risk ending up with a list of technicalities that need to be addressed before we can even think about what we want to include in the frame. I’m not saying it’s wrong to seek such ‘perfection’, just that it’s easy to get over-zealous about it.

All of which is a round-about way of saying that Mark Hopkin’s photograph of an oilseed rape field is this week’s picture of the week because of its lo-fi loveliness, and not in spite of it. The subject could easily have become a ‘so what’ shot if he had opted for a noise-free, vignette-free, maximum-depth-of-field approach.

Instead, by celebrating what some would describe as ‘defects’, Mark has created an image that is far more interesting. The sea of yellow screams for attention, the heavy vignette focuses our gaze to the centre of the frame and there’s enough sharpness to give us something to latch onto. This is all contained by the use of black ‘widescreen’ bars top and bottom that partially frame the image, intensifying its colour and giving it a cinematic quality. It’s a great treatment of a subject that would be easy to reduce to the mundane.
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