Compass

Photo of the week: Dec. 28, 2012

Compass

This image of Swami Vivekananda Rock Memorial in India is our Photo of the Week.

Editor's note: Welcome to  Yahoo! Travel Photo of the Week, chosen from the Flickr group created by our readers — you! Each week a professional photographer will select a photo that stands out from the crowd, and explain why they chose it. To have your own photo considered, join our Flickr group and start submitting your own photos!

Lying just 200 yards from where the Indian sub-continent dips into the Lakshadweep Sea, Swami Vive-kananda Rock Memorial looks as though it has set forth on a magical journey. Visiting the memorial on Saturday, November 22, 2008,  photographer Veena-Nair snapped this Yahoo! Travel Photo of The Week as the captain of her tour boat slowed its engine, and prepared to dock.

At this point it should be said that this week’s winning photo quite possibly isn’t real, or at least not totally so. The course grain, desaturated colors and washed out sky are indicative of two possibilities: the image was made with an early phone camera, or by using a “filter” in a computer program. Digital photography was still in its infancy when the first filter (or app) appeared.  With the apps and filters photographers could alter reality; they could make their photo look and feel almost anyway they wished.  And so it was that a genie was freed from its bottle.

This raises a somewhat controversial issue. Is it real, or was it Photoshopped? For the “non-photojournalist” photographer, who employs photography as an art and a way to reveal his or her personality, it is the dawn of a new age.

As we go further into the future of digital photography, more and more images will be altered and the line between painting and photography will be further blurred. Distinction between altered and unaltered images will be required and yet, we must ask ourselves: which is the truer image of what Veena-Nair saw? The image above tells us something about her memory; about how the trip to the island affected her. We see the memorial soft focused, as though we are looking through a veil, lending a “spiritual” feeling to the image. It is an image of the memorial that stands apart from the crisp, clear images found on the internet. Veena-Nair “personalized” her photo.

Philosopher, Swami Vivekananda visited the rock on February 24, 1892.  There he sat, and meditated for two days.  Veena-Nair used her imagination to share the way she saw her subject. We can all do this, but we should tread softly and wisely.

Alabama-based Michael Clemmer has been a photojournalist/travel photographer, landscape and golf course photographer for over four decades. Once a Senior Travel Photographer for Southern Living Magazine, he has also worked as an assignment photographer for the National Geographic Society and his photographs have been used in fine publications around the world. He currently specializes in golf landscape photography — visit his web site at michaelclemmer.com

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