Thursday, December 30, 2010

Getting Involved

Ansel Adams once said...."Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.

Creativity, by definition, would imply that SOMEONE is involved in the was not an act of chance or fate.  I have championed for some time now my belief that "true" photography is not limited to the image that comes out of the camera.   Rather, it begins there.....and the image that has been captured can then be translated into any number of expressions that express a mood or emotion or focus of the artists choosing.

This image, taken about 3 weeks ago, is one example of what I'm referring to.  While sitting having a coffee, I noticed this particular clock that stands in an area of town that is gone to great lengths to preserve the beauty and character of the surrounding buildings.  Both the clock and the structures reflect an era of craftsmanship that is now being recognized and appreciated.  I knew when I took the shot I wanted to express a "vintage" feel to the finale image.  And without becoming too metaphoric, I wanted the finale image to have a timeless quality to it.   An understanding of appreciation there is a place in the present for what is now past.

There were some artistic issues I thought needed to be addressed to create the final image as well.  There were few vantage points for me to capture both the clock and the buildings in such a way as to not include taller more contemporary structures in the background or the clock being obscured by numerous tree branches.  This ended up with an alignment issue between the clock the the background building being more centered than I would have liked.  So, by adding more "grunge" and shadowing across the bottom and left side of the image, it helped the overall image to feel more asymmetrical.

Here is another shot from the same day and almost the exact same spot, but looking up the street.  The thing that was capturing my attention at the time  was not so much the details of the scene ( where there were many) but rather the shapes of the scene.  The long angle of shadows and how they seemed to match the angles of the railings and the awnings.  I loved the repeating curves from the rows of draped lights and the balancing softness they brought to all of the hard lines and angles.  Clearly, in my mind, the most interesting parts of the image were up by the father and daughter and the details of the lights over head. 

By adding a graduated blur across the bottom half of the image before texturing, I retained the more important pieces of information.....the railing draped in garland and long angled shadows....and obscured the less desirable bits like all the sidewalk cracks and the label covered trash bin on the left.  The softness helps to draw the eye up toward the parts that are more interesting while giving context to the scene as a whole.

I started out by quoting Ansel Adams and I finish doing the same...."Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution."  I couldn't agree more.  But it rarely happens by chance or straight out of the camera.  You certainly do not have to employ the methods I do to create artistic images.  Whatever your preferred end "look" might be, it takes your involvement.  We learn to train our eye for what to look for when taking an image and then train our ability on how to enhance what we have captured.  Sure, it takes some time, but with each step it becomes a little easier.

Here's wishing a wonderful and creative experience for you in this coming New Year.  May you learn, discover, and grow more in the months ahead than you have ever experienced so far.  Thanks for joining me as I continue to do the same.


  1. Thank you for this post, John. I find your thought process/work flow fascinating and educational. I hope to get to the point where my eye is trained as you describe and I have the technical skill to bring to fruition concepts that currently work more by accident than intent.

    I look forward to more of your inspiring work and words in the new year. All the best,


  2. i so appreciate hearing your thought process as you create an image. wonderful and inspirational.

    hope the coming year brings wonderful things.


  3. Fascinating read, as always, John.

    Could you explain, or point to a tutorial, how you do the graduated blur in photoshop?



  4. I agree wholeheartedly and so would Ansel. How fascinating it would be if Ansel had grown up in the digital age.