Friday, October 21, 2011

Getting Moody

Hi everyone.  Over the past week or so I have received several comments regarding the mood I create in my images.    I have begun posting my original shots along side the finished shots on my Flickr site.  A friend of mine had been doing it and I really like the message I felt it sent.  Not so much of a "hey, look at me and how wonderful a job I think I can do".....but rather...."if you are willing to look a little deeper, look at what YOU can do."

The primary reason for writing this blog is to inspire.  For those that need fan that spark of imagination and creativity that is already there and help it blaze into something more than you might think it can become right now.  For others, I share bits of my particular processing style and thought in gratitude for the many who have freely invested themselves into me.  So, let's get to it shall we?

I went out this past weekend to get some images of a local pumpkin patch and some fall colors.   I had a few ideas of shots of pumpkins in the fields I wanted to try and capture.  But, I'm always on the lookout for an interesting scene. 

The Denver Botanic Gardens has a farm they operate throughout the year.  They have a corn maze and pumpkin patch (shown here) that is well attended and surrounded with a lot of fan fare.  So, it was easy to get caught up in the mood on such a beautiful afternoon as families wandered about the fields with their young children looking for just the right pumpkin.  The air was field with the smells of funnel cakes, kettle corn and other goodies and music played in the background as flocks of red winged black birds moved like a small cloud from one area to the other searching for seeds and bugs.

I had to capture at least one shot of the scene as a whole if for no one else but myself.  I really didn't know if I would do anything with it or not.  But as I looked at the image back at home, I thought about the sounds, the smells, the feelings of family and thoughts of childhood and autumns long ago.  I'm always trying to create a feeling of history....a story along with the image of a journey that has been taking place for some unknown span of years.  I love that feeling from actual older images.   Amidst the wrinkles, splotches, creases and faded color comes a feeling of nostalgia.  This image meant something special.....means something special....needs to be past along.

One of the primary rules of thumb I'm always working from is....IS IT NATURAL?  Meaning....would this coloring, crease or scratch happen naturally over time and if so....where would it most "naturally" happen or how?  The second rule of thumb is how to use those unnatural "natural" elements to your give interest to an uninteresting area of the image.  To give focus to a idea where none really exists.

In the above image.....crop, coloring, and contrasts set up the frame work for these two rules of thumb.  The crop still communicates the vastness of the scene.....the expanse of the field and the grandness of the sky....while eliminating the peripheral information.  The foreground pumpkins now help to lead you into the people in the field.  The color and contrast are now more akin to an image taken on film whose color is now degrading with time. 

But, there are some problems.  It is too pristine for one.  There is little chance that a snap shot taken of an afternoon family outing would remain so clean.  Typically it has moved from lying on the kitchen table, to being used as a bookmark, to lying in a cigar box and eventually ending up in a scape book or album.  All of that handling, sharing and abuse takes its toll.

Secondly, after cropping....the foreground is helped but the sky is not.  I'm now left with this big gaping whole of  nothing on the left and some clouds that are really not that interesting.

Now with the texturing applied, that idea of years of handling comes alive.  Notice also the addition of splotches and darkening in the blue sky above the people help to give both interest to the open sky and greater focus to the fact there are people in the field.

With a bit more tweeking to the contrast  and coloring.....and bump in the sharpening, I ended up with this....

Darkened, dirty, and creased from years of being least that is the idea.  A heightened feeling of nostalgia and slightly romanticized ideal of family, home and togetherness.  I'm not trying to create fakes....but rather...create memories we can all relate to in one way or another.  The scene might not be familiar, but the mood will be.  Am I getting moody?  You bet.....and I love it!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Stay true....

Over and over I have felt compelled to relate to the artist in others....that spark in fellow photographers to refuse settling for the "norm"...That idea that "straight out of the camera" is the only true ideal for a "real" photographer.  Don't get me wrong....I love photography in all of it's expressions.  I just happen to have settled in on a combination of expressions of HDR and Textures.  There are so many variations of this medium, each carrying a voice of expression that is unique, dramatic, informative, and inspirational.

But for me, the combination of these techniques has given me an expression that I feel, for now, expresses what I FEEL for what I see....and not just a "true" expression of what I see.  I'm not interested in showing exactly where I've been.  I want others to gain a taste of how where I've been moves me....capture my attention....affect my emotions.  Each image evolves. 

Please!!!!....understand, if "out of the camera" works for you....expresses what you meant to say....the reason for why you felt to capture the image in the first place.....fantastic!  Keep it up, and learn all you can to perfect that voice of expression possible.

But, if you are anything like me, and the image the camera collected just isn't enough....than explore.  Search out images....ones that move you...make you linger....make you think.  Don't allow yourself to just pause for a moment while thinking in the back of your mind...."I wish I could do something like that".  Ask questions.  Look for answers.  Be willing to learn.

I was sure in the beginning I was stuck with what I was able to do.  I hid the reality of being self taught as some kind of shameful past.  I was embarrassed to ask questions of other photographers because I didn't want to appear stupid.  I was certain that everyone else had years of experience behind them.

What I found however was quite different.  People are willing to answer questions....they are willing to share their secrets....the things they have learned.   I haven't always been the least experienced one in the crowd.  When I was, it really didn't matter, because they all knew what that felt like.  The other photographers I've shot with have been more interested in sharing what they've come to understand than hide it away.  Oh sure, people are people, and there is always going to be one along the way that you can't wait to get away from.  But from my experience, the vast majority, even if they are locked into this idea that there is only one way to express photography....have been an interesting and generous lot.

Don't allow what you don't know to hold you back.  If your images are not expressing what you think they should, put yourself out there.   Ask questions.  Experiment.  Learn.  If you have discovered and grown to love this world of photography, the greatest thing I can offer is to learn your voice of expression in this art form and then......stay true to that voice.  Leave that legacy of expression others would otherwise miss.