Tag : photography
This weeks image is a cool and interesting one. Its In this case there were two challenges. First, making a photograph look like what I actually saw with my eyes. And second, convincing people that this is actually what the sky looked like when this picture was taken . Seriously, it looked like that! I have made several digital adjustments but in this particular situation they were only made to make it look like what I saw. The only real artistic license I took was that everything on the ground that is not man made is in gray-scale and everything on the ground has a charcoal shading texture. Even this was somewhat in the service of replicating reality. There was this bizarre colorless effect going on. I think that it may have been because it was one of the most brilliant rainbows I have ever see and that in comparison perhaps the ground seemed pale and lifeless.
There are many, many small details that you will not be able to see on this small version. Like so many of my pieces this one was very specifically created for large format viewing. However, I think you can get the gist of it from this small version. One little detail that is easily noticeable in this version is the little black triangle in the top left corner of the frame. This photo was taken from the balcony of my apartment and that little black shape is the underside of the balcony above me. I was going to take it out, but I decided that to me it added a grounding point. So many photographs seem to be take from some magical vantage point that does not exist in reality. This is due obviously to the skill and vision of the photographer. In this photograph I thought it might be fun to subvert that tradition if only in the smallest way.
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. First, because I think it captures a form of meditation that is often mislabeled and overlooked. Second because this image is the perfect example of why I love RAW image files. RAW, for those that don’t know is an uncompressed and unaltered map of the sensor of your camera. When you don’t shoot in RAW your camera or you make decisions about how the image should look and all the data that is not needed after you choice is deleted. Obviously this process is much more complicated, but this is not the place for an in depth explanation. The benefits of shooting in a RAW format are myriad, but the main thrust is that it allows the shooter to use all the information captured by the cameras sensor, thus giving more options later.
Now, after that distillation here is why RAW can be so awesome. This photo was taken at my parents’ house. This portrait is of my father reading in his preferred chair. He reads in this chair often and as such I am aware of this habit and have often thought it would make a good photo. However, it seemed to me that the most important part of making this work was having it be as natural as possible. Especially if I wanted to edit towards a more surrealistic style, but still have the photo seem relatable. So for the most part, staging this photo was not going to work. This mean that I had to capture under the natural light of the room when my dad was already reading.
I had my camera sitting on the kitchen table, as I often do when visiting my parents. My dad was sitting in his chair several rooms away from the kitchen. There is however, if the proper doors are open a direct line of sight from the kitchen to the living room and the chair. The only light on in the living room was the one in the picture and indeed most of the lights in the house were off as well. I put a telephoto lens on my camera and sat on the kitchen floor, leaning on a cabinet for stabilization. Even with the lamp right next to his head, my lens wide open and my ISO cranked I was still having trouble getting enough light. My lens had a stabilizer, but even with that I was having trouble getting a sharp image. I was under a time crunch and so didn’t worry about anything but getting a sharp and bright enough exposure. I ignored the white balance and any other in camera settings. Indeed, the cameras white balance was still set for golder hour, making all of the images on my LCD almost entirely red. Yes, I could have taken a second to properly set up the camera, but I knew that it did not matter and all these things could be adjusted later.
In general the phrase “fix it in post” should be used as little as possible, but in the case of RAW images it is often quite true. The key is knowing the difference between what you can fix later and what needs to be done right the first time.
Like i said above, this image captures what i would describe as a form of meditation. Not a traditional form, but i believe it serves the same purpose. After so many years of reading the actual act is more or less effortless. This leaves the mind free to visualize the story and the meaning of the words on the page. There is an psychological term called Flow, mostly used to refer to mental state of exceptional ”tunnel vision” experienced by artists at the peak of creation and creativity. I don’t believe this concept is reserved to “creative” or “artistic” people. Every person willing to open their mind enough to truly be enveloped by an experiences, whether is is art making, reading, playing or listening to music, doing someones taxes, or just sitting exploring your own mind, is experiencing Flow. To me this is the concept of meditation, a term that is often used in the context of a very narrow and exclusionary definition.
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Maybe by the end of this blog something will come to me.
The first thing I want you to do when you read this is look at this image for a while and try and decide what makes this image cool right off the bat. I have shown this around and without fail it take a couple beats for people to recognize the fact that the right side of the image is black and white, while the left side is in color. Cool right?
I had been wanting to try this idea out for a while, but I until this image I hadn’t found one that would work well without looking contrived and altered. Now, obviously when you notice the effect you realize that it has been altered on a computer. However, what I try to do is to not have that be first, second, or hopefully even third thing that you think. My goal, almost all the time, is to make the enhancements fit the piece well enough that in the context of the piece itself they are not distracting. I usually have little interest in replicating reality, but I also don’t want you to be distracted by the surreal additions.
This particular image is very good for this subtle BW/Color effect. First off, large sections are already somewhat monochromatic. In fact the sky is really the only section that really shows off any color at all. The second reason is the silhouettes. They are by nature black and so I didn’t have to worry about the contrast of skin tones and I also had an area I could use as a natural dividing line. The third thing is the nature of the clouds. The clouds themselves, even on the color side, are relatively grey-scale. Because of this the clouds are reasonably similar across the image and this makes the changing bluse sky less distracting. Because of these factors the blue sky is really the only major transition from left to right. Yes, the water is different on either side, but your mind wants to see the symmetry, so it does. The transition of the sky is also adjusted to follow both the cloud edges and the diagonal lines of the arm and leg as they extend towards the top right corner. All these subtle effects are enough to confuse a mind looking for symmetry and patterns, at least for a couple seconds.
On a completely different note, my favorite thing about this image is the droplet of water coming off the foot on the right side of the image. It implies motion of the leg rising out of the water and as such breathes that all important “life” into the photograph. My other favorite thing about the drip is that I never saw it during the shoot.
I think I will call this image “A Drop of Motion”
Anyway, please make any comments you would like and thanks for reading.