A study by the UN recently found that in the past 10 years more crimes were committed against photography than in the entire history of the art form.
Remember when we all collectively discovered photography, Instagram, filters, Lightroom and Photoshop? Remember how we spent years posting over-saturated, vignetted sunsets with the clarity set to 11? Remember frames?!
Digital photography has a lot to answer for. From pixelated mid-2000s family photos to the rise of the selfie, it’s pretty safe to say that we’ve all shared a sketchy edit or posted an objectively terrible photo.
Now I’m no Chris Burkard, but I do look at heaps of adventure photography every day, and last week I had an idea. I’d offer the Explorer Project an amnesty; no judgement, just share some shit jpegs from your recent past. We were all beginners once right?
I immediately regretted the decision – these photos are BAD. Come take a walk with me, down this boulevard of broken dreams.
Behold, The Vignette
This one by Lisa Owen is a beauty to start off on. First up, how good are roads? Best way to get places I reckon. I’m loving the deep vignette going on here; you can barely see most of the photo but that’s ok, the salient point, that random ridgeline in the distance, is taking centre stage.
We’re gonna keep the vignette #vibes going! Ooft, is that Lo-Fi Leila? Lots of weird stuff going on in this photo. From the artist herself: ‘Genuinely thought I nailed this vignette ‘
Make That Colour POP
‘Way too warm, underexposed and very hard to look at now’ says Mark. Chucking the warmth up to 11 is a classic move. I also love how this photo is in landscape. In 2021 this shot would’ve defs been portrait because phones.
‘Clearly the focus was getting my skin tone to be mahogany,’ Natalie says candidly, ‘with zero fucks about what that did to the colours in the rest of the image,’ she adds. This photo is bizarre. I love it.
Scroll through photographer Kate Miles’ Instagram and you might openly weep. She’s damn good. So it’s heartening to know that five years ago she was posting purple night skies with wild abandon.
Sunrise, sunset, cats and the cradle and the silver spoon. Yes, we have no bananas
That’s right, I’m making obscure Simpsons references in the headings ’cause this is a fun article. Alllllmost as fun as this red AF burner my brother took:
Or this scorcher by News & Features Editor Amy Fairall.
This cyan daydream probably looked pretty good straight out of the camera, but let’s turn those levels up just to be sure. Maybe all our screens were struggling to show colours well?
Not sure, just sure that this looks unnatural as HECK.
Get your hanky ready, this one from Jake’s a real tear-jerker:
‘Probably still the best sunset I’ve ever seen and all I have of it. Lost the raws too – was really giving the filters a run.’
It’s ok Jake, the sun will still set tomorrow. Maybe not this well though lol.
If you think this article’s mean, TOO BAD.
Ok but actually, all of the photographers submitted willingly. There was an air of celebrating mistakes of old and, for some, how much they’ve improved.
That being said, what the heck were you thinking team?
Is that sunstar real? No. Is the mist real? Also no. What’s real? Kate’s honesty. She made this photo up.
Broooke! Nooooooo! Apparently this blurry vignette situation was a big deal in England in the mid-twenty-teens. It’s great for highlighting a certain special part of an image you really want to emphasise. Like that part of the valley in focus just above the girl on the swing. *chefs kiss*
Thanks for sharing Ruby. I particularly enjoy the wacky frame and the absolutely blown out waterfalls. I imagine that sitting under these falls feels like static sounds.
This one from Roz just kills me. Roz accidentally put her camera on some effect that did this to all her photos. Why does this feature exist? Did anyone ask for it? The answer, in both cases, is no.
What about me?
I first hashtagged #nofilter in 2013, alongside a caption talking about how we ‘didn’t need to use filters to make nature look more beautiful than it actually is’. Wow, cool dude. Tell us more.
Totally got away with the subtle tweaks I made to this one too.
Taking a photo’s easier than ever, but the competition’s pretty damn intimidating!
If there’s one thing to take away from this piece it’s that we were all beginners once. The best photographer you know probably took some daft shots or maxed out their filters. It’s how we learn. Or don’t. Do what you feel like!
Jono wrote some hot tips for editing photos in this article but, full disclosure, my article is way more fun.