Knowing What To Do (with an Image)

Lots of articles are written about gear, editing software, and training for both.  Lots more are written about composition – rules and tips.  Lighting, time of day, angle, selecting the subject – all of these receive wide commentary from writers, vloggers and trainers alike.

PuzzlementI can shoot an image, I can even stage a scene.  But more often than I would like, I completely blank out when I bring the raw image onto the computer.  I ask myself – now what?  What’s the final look I want to achieve with this image?  How should I present it?

To those photographers who always know what the result will be, even before they shoot, I applaud you.  I’ve listened to photographers speak of their work in exquisite detail, outlining every capture and adjustment decision and why they made it.  I envy them.

I have friends who deliberately do minimal edits.  I have others who retouch to the point of the original piece serving only as a framework for a piece of art.  Frankly, I rarely like either extreme.  So I guess I’ve made my first decision – establishing a boundary around my edits.

Why is it so hard to know what to do next?  A few random thoughts come to mind. Continue reading “Knowing What To Do (with an Image)”

Photographers I Admire

To be a good photographer is to be a lifelong student of the craft.  There is no such thing as a photographer that knows it all.  Even if you are the most technically proficient expert around, the art of photography is something that needs attention for as long as you shoot.

I’ve noticed an evolution of my abilities and interests over the 4 years since I took to this seriously.  I’m not bragging.  Far from it.  Some things have become second nature while others send me down a rabbit hole of discovery, wrong turns and sometimes an “ah-ha” moment.  But the most mind-intensive introspection, for me, occurs when I’m examining the work of other photographers.  I’ve come to realize that this is a good thing, even if it leaves me with more questions than answers. Continue reading “Photographers I Admire”

Photographing the Work of Others

It seems there is a long-standing debate around photographing other people’s work.  It’s a simple debate:  what exactly is the photographer creating if the photograph includes an object or structure that has been created by someone else?

This debate arises mostly in relation to works that exist in public spaces.  The originating works may already be labelled “works of art” or may be labelled “architecture”, “edifice”, “structures”, “building”, “hardscape”, “figure”, “carving”, “casting” or any of many names that don’t necessarily assign an aesthetic value.

And yet all of it was imagined by someone, designed by someone, built by someone and placed on display.  Even if the work has another function, such as a building, there was a creative effort expended to provide that space.  If a photographer takes an image of it, presents it as their own creation and maybe makes a profit from it, is that right?  Disclaimer:  this is not a legal review. Continue reading “Photographing the Work of Others”

Black and White or Colour?

The options for manipulating an image after capture are endless today.  Creative edits can include composites, the addition of graphic elements, and the use of finishing treatments such as texture overlays, painterly conversions, grunge and high dynamic range (HDR) effects.  These are just a few possibilities.

AmericanElm_20170627_0007-Edit

But as recently as 1935, the only manipulation available to a photographer was around how much highlight and shadow to reveal in the print and where (a.k.a. dodging and burning).  All film was black and white.  The most creative photographers played with different development processes and printing surfaces, but these were all still monochrome results.  Others tried coloured filters at image capture, or layered emulsions that could produce different colours, but this made the capture and processing much more complex and the results were often poor.

KodachromeIn 1935, Eastman Kodak Company introduced Kodachrome and changed the world forever.  Despite this, colour photography did not become widespread, at least not in the consumer market, until the 1960’s.  So colour image capture has really been in broad use for just 50 years.

Today, all digital cameras capture colour data by default.  Black and white conversion is available both in-camera and through post-processing.  The irony is that the same debates about colour vs. black and white that drove the creation of Kodachrome still exist today.  Here’s my take on the creative debate. Continue reading “Black and White or Colour?”

Light Painting with Patrick Rochon

I had the pleasure yesterday of attending a presentation by Patrick Rochon, also known as Patrick the Light Painter.

patrick-the-light-painterThere are many ways to express one’s creativity in photography and Patrick has chosen light as the medium for his expression.  You might wonder what’s unique about that, since every photographer uses light.  It’s how he uses it that sets him apart. Continue reading “Light Painting with Patrick Rochon”