Fine Art Photography Techniques

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by Martin Liew, Aug 22, 2007.

  1. Martin Liew

    Martin Liew Member

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    I have came across this website on fine art photography by David Fokos. I was truly amazed and inspired by his work.

    I've also came across another photographer's website, who does the similar fine art style as David Fokos, especially their seascapes photographs.

    I'd like to ask/consult the experienced photographers here, if anyone knows how to make exposures like those of David Fokos' and Håkan Strand's seascape photographs. My choice of camera is a TLR and a 35mm SLR on B&W films. I'll be using filters like Cokin 'P' system ND-8 and a HOYA ND-400 filter lens. Are these equipments good enough to make those photographs?

    It's a great motivation to learn this photo-making technique. Please kindly advise. Thanks.
     
  2. climbabout

    climbabout Member

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    equipment for fine photographs

    One of my favorite saying is "it's not the hammer, but the person swinging it that counts". Any camera is capable of making a work of art if used properly. Your vision and technique will do more to determine the "look" of your photographs more than any piece of hardware. Looking at these 2 websites, I can make 2 immediate observations. 1 - the seascapes use a long exposure to blur the water to give it that silky look. 2- most of these photographs have only a few very graphical elements that give them a very stark simplicity, which in my opinion, enhances their beauty. Simple is almost always better than cluttered. I hope this helps.
    Tim
     
  3. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I have no detailed knowledge of Fokos' work but ...

    Your TLR (Mamiya? Rollei?) is without doubt good enough to use - most of Fokos' shots seem to be taken with a wide-ish standard lens. Fokos' technique seems to be to use short exposures sometimes to record detail in water, at other times to rely on a very solid tripod and use ND filters to allow longer than usual exposures to blur out water detail. If you have a 400x ND filter you will be able to use this technique even in bright light. Otherwise, Fokos seems to use a contrast filter (orange or red) and print his skies in quite strongly. A TLR is great to use with ND filters, as with an SLR you will find the viewfinder dim even with an 8x filter and totally useless with a 400x.

    Regards,

    David
     
  4. mikeg

    mikeg Member

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    Your camera will be fine as long as you have a B setting, cable release and a sturdy tripod.

    Thank you for bringing Strand to my attention, I haven't come across his work before. This style of photography is very popular at the moment and has been discussed several times here on apug. If you do a search for Michael Kenna, Bill Schwab as well as Fokos you'll find several threads along with references to other photographers who work in this way.

    Cheers

    Mike
     
  5. lee

    lee Member

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    I have some contact with David Fokos. David shoots an old Century camera with a 300mm lens last I heard. He uses lots of ND filters. The neg after development is scanned into a computer via a high end drum scanner and is worked over sometimes pixel by pixel. Sometimes images are removed and sometimes images are added but they likely are not the scene as photographed. Once the file meets David's ideas it is sent to a printer either an Epson or a Lightjet of some variety. His big image is 3 foot by 3 foot. He does make striking images.

    lee\c
     
  6. naeroscatu

    naeroscatu Subscriber

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    thanks for bringing up these links. this is very close to my idea of fine art photography and these artists are remarcable. Truly inspiring work.
    Definitely is the person behind the camera, the vision you have that leads to the result. Mechanics are important but not crucial in getting a good picture.
    Technique is important and can be learned, jut go out and shoot, over and over again; learn from your mistakes and shoot more. Damn, I wish one day I could make one picture like Fokos or Kenna. I still believe I will. Time kills me, when do I find the time since I don't shoot for a living.
     
  7. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Thanks for mentioning this work, Martin. Interesting.

    After a glance through Fokos work, I would guess that in addition to NDs you may wish to consider pulling low speed film. The long exposure images look very smooth to me, maybe try delta 100 or tmax pulled in xtol or something. Just a guess, not something I do.
     
  8. manalishi

    manalishi Member

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    I think he is shooting digital by now
     
  9. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Am I missing something? "400x ND" ?? How many 'stops" is that?
     
  10. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    A lot, although without taking my shoes and socks off, I can't work it out! (Actually it's 8 2/3 stops). Log equivalent is 2.6 apparently. I don't own one of these filters, but they do exist. The easiest way to apply the factor would be to use a lower EI (e.g. Tri-X at ISO 0.5 instead of 200) or multiply the exposure time (1 sec. instead of 1/400). Off the cuff, I could imagine the only use for these filters is in very bright light.

    Regards,

    David
     
  11. david b

    david b Member

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    Have a look at Michael Levin, Josef Hoflehner, Rolfe Horn, David Burdeny and Denis Olivier
     
  12. Videbaek

    Videbaek Member

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    This style of photography is very common, thematic content is restricted and common across many photographers and pictures are almost interchangeable. Content usually contains two elements -- a long tonal transition usually from top to bottom and an object anchor. Tonal transition is often sea at top half and land at bottom half, object anchor often a wharf, jetty, stone in low-water foreground, post or posts etc. Tonal transition is usually very smooth, glassy water through horizon line through sky. Tonal range is often compressed, emphasizing deep greys and blacks for dramatic effect. Very important is square frame, rule-of-thirds composition. Yes I dismiss these, they're just not interesting but can be aesthetically pleasant and when well-printed no doubt graphically good.
     
  13. patrickjames

    patrickjames Member

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    There is a big group of photographers that does these types of images now. It is becoming a cliché. Most of these photographers manipulate images in the computer and as a result they become sterile in my opinion. The only photographer that stands out to me that has a style similar to those mentioned above is Bill Schwab. His images have a strong soul and a depth that is lacking in many of the others. I have some strong opinions about many of the photographers mentioned above, but I will have to keep them to myself.

    Patrick
     
  14. WarEaglemtn

    WarEaglemtn Member

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    I have and use a 10 stop Neutral Density filter, at times in conjunction with a polarizing filter. This makes for long exposures during mid-day, at times on the order of 20-45 minutes when taking into account reciprocity characteristics of the film.

    It can be an interesting way of cleaning a scene of people, animals and other transitory objects. It can give a nice feeling to an image and need not be a 'formula' photo as described by one poster.

    In B&W it is nice and in color can give you a different world.

    Solid camera/tripod combination is nice to have but even if moving a touch in the breeze as long as it comes to rest in the same position movement isn't much to worry about on a 20 minute exposure. Not unless the camera rocks the whole time and then maybe the image would be interesting enough to warrant printing.