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About Blue Filter

Blue Filter is Michael Cockerham’s weblog principally on matters pertaining to photography, but given my well known capacity to ruminate on almost anything, don’t be surprised if I go off on a tangent occasionally.

Does the world need another blog, especially on photography? Probably not, but I have come to realise over the last few years that while there are many good photo-blogs, there did appear to be a gap for one that was as broad as I intend this one to be.

For instance, in the last couple of days I needed to invest in a new piece of equipment for my office. In this internet age the first thing you do in such a situation is turn to the web for reviews. What I wanted was to find out people’s experiences of the item. Instead I found countless “reviews” that merely regurgitated the manufacturer’s blurb; not very helpful. The more erudite commentators on photography are unlikely to concern themselves with equipment, which is fair enough. Don’t get me wrong, I am not “into” equipment, in fact it really turns me off, but as a working photographer I am obliged to buy things from time to time, and proper experience based reviews would be useful.

Similarly, their are many blogs that concern themselves with gear, but then restrict themselves to cameras. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to know that there is an awful lot more to taking pictures than cameras. What about studio flash, computers, hard drives, scanners, printers, software, bags, tripods, albums, colour management, insurance, chemistry, paper, websites… ? The list is enormous, and there are many photographers – professional and amateur – looking to benefit from other people’s experience.

Ultimately, though, what motivates me is photographs. According to US Department of Commerce estimates there were 80 billion photos taken in the year 2000 (that’s before the digital revolution hit, before camera phones); I have no idea of the figures for 2008, but I bet it has grown exponentially in the intervening years. Most of those images are without merit. A small fraction are of importance to the people that took them, but only in sentimental terms – they are the needle in the haystack. What I am interested in amounts to just the tip of the needle: those photographs that have a resonance beyond the the lives of the people that took them or appear in them. It need not be professional in origin, but the chances are that it will be.

A word of caution. “Professional” does not necessarily equate to good. In fact I suspect I am not wide of the mark to speculate that “professional does not usually equate to good. One of the negative side effects of the digital revolution (yes, there is more than one) is that huge numbers of people who would never have considered a career in photography when it was analogue, seem to think they have what it takes just because they can see the result of their efforts instantly on a 2″ screen. What I hope to do with this blog is cast a critical eye over published work whether in books, magazines, exhibitions or online, wherever it might be in the world.

I also intend to comment on the ethics, aesthetics, practice, and technique of photography.

I know this is a very wide brief, but there is time; i have the rest of my life in front of me. If only a handful of you get something from this it will have been worthwhile.