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)”

Most Bizzare Story Ever

It’s the stuff of mystery novels, with twists and turns and a very unexpected ending.  A sculptor in the US was recently awarded more than $3M in damages for copyright infringement over misuse of his work.

WAPO StoryThe work:  a replica of the Statue of Liberty, designed for a casino in Las Vegas.  The culprit:  the US Postal Service, who legitimately licensed a copy of an image taken of the replica by a photographer who offered it on Getty Images.

Say what? Continue reading “Most Bizzare Story Ever”

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?”

Photography as Art

ScotiabankApril and May are the traditional kickoff months for photography festivals in this area.  Many photographers, themes and collections are on display.  So many, in fact, that viewing all of their work is impossible, and isolating favourities can be challenging.

In a recent excursion, I participated in a discussion of photography as art.  The premise was that in order to be noticed, you can’t just be a photographer – you need to be an artist.  You need to give your photographs a distinctive look, a distinctive emotional connection to the viewer.  This means going beyond just documenting a subject – it means creating a work of art.  And this isn’t new – all successful photographers have realized and operated on this basis since the days of pinhole cameras.

Featured-ImageThis leaves me wondering.  If photography must be art to be successful, is there a point where a photograph is no longer a photograph?  And where is that line?  The answer isn’t obvious.  Here’s why…

Continue reading “Photography as Art”