Thursday, 24 May 2018

Walkabout (a.k.a. How to apply The Art of War to Photography)

Cheng/Chì (Ortodox/Unortodox) is an idea from Sun Tzu's book The Art of War, that says that to win a battle, you need two things: Ordinary military forces, doing the tried and true things, and unorthodox forces, creating an element of surprise. The principle can be applied to any other art, as well as the art of war.
I used to do a lot of street photography. It is an easy way to get started in photography, but it is also one of the most difficult photographic genres for the simple reason that most of the time, there is nothing noteworthy to shoot.

I followed the rules when shooting street photos, but I also started doing other kinds of photos. Still with a city environment as background, but with a dinosaur, or a spaceship, slipped in to make the picture more interesting.

I haven't done that in awhile, so maybe I should start doing it again.
Technically, this picture is mostly an exercise in tone mapping and saturation mapping. I started using the techniques recently, and I am not entirely happy with them yet. Next time, I intend to work in 32 bit mode all the way through the process, to see if that makes a difference.

Practice

Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.
Anton Chekhov
You may wonder, "why so many nudes lately?" Good question. I wish I had a really good answer, but I don't. Here is the closest I can come at the moment:

When I started with photography, I shot a lot of flowers to learn the basics of composition, and how to handle my camera in various lighting situations. I mean a lot of flowers! I shot more than 8,000 the first year, and more than 13,000 the second year. I was out shooting three times a day, every day.

After that, I was kind of done with flowers, but I had learned a bit about photography. After that, I did street photography, model photography, macro photography, levitation photography, flesh manipulation photography, portrait photography, some art photography, even tried my hand at pin-up photography.

Now, with nudes, I have found something as interesting to me as horror, Science-Fiction, and Fantasy photography. I want to learn more, and I want to integrate the nudes with the kinds of photography I've done earlier.

I have always been that way. I used to be a programmer, so I learned programming languages, then techniques of Object-Oriented programming, then design patterns, then project methodology, then systems thinking, queueing theory, Theory Of Constraints, statistics, military strategy, Chinese and Japanese military strategy...

And, I integrate it. I synthesize.

While I do not intend to do 21,000 nude pictures, there will probably be quite a few more, before I have integrated them fully in my repertoire.

Cheng/Chì

“Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
If you read the picture caption, you already know that Cheng/Chì (Ortodox/Unortodox) is an idea from Sun Tzu's book The Art of War, that says that to win a battle, you need two things: Ordinary military forces, doing the tried and true things, and unorthodox forces, creating an element of surprise.

The principle can be applied to any other art, as well as the art of war. So, in the picture above, the street with all the ordinary people is the cheng, and the nude woman is the element of chì.

So, now you know how to apply the Cheng/Chí principle from Sun Tzu'z The Art of War.

Get out there and practice!

PS. The GDPR Thing!

You might wonder whether a picture like the one in this article breaks the new General Data Protection (GDPR) law. It does not. Journalistic images and art are exempt from the rules. That means it is okay to do street photography, it is okay to create digital paintings from street photographs, and it is okay to manipulate a photo taken in a street, if the purpose is to create a piece of art. You can read up on GDPR here.