les, I always like your threads.... Im glad you dont post them all the time because it makes them that much better.
alright heres my attempt:
Mayfield Park: lilly pads
This is an ongoing project for me. I have been visiting this small park for almost the entire time Ive lived in Austin. A friend of mine who also does photography used to tell me about the wonderful flowers and gardens that he would go photograph at during his lunch break. I was new to photography and shooting alot of slide film with both my 35mm and my 120 camera. I started venturing there and took slide upon slide of the gorgeous foliage.
maybe 4 or 5 months ago when I went back there and started to see alot of images I wanted to capture in black and white. I started working with my 8x10 and going up there almost religiously at around 5-6pm everyday. I was getting some images I really was pleased with. after spending a while I started working with my 7x17 camera there and really felt comfortable with the format and the location. I started really seeing alot of images that fit it so well.
as an aside, this garden is rarely visited by people on occasion there is a wedding photographer doing engagement photos or the occasional family will wander through with their children. but all in all, alot of the numerous hours Ive spent there have been in solitude, aside from the noises of the peacocks. Its a wonderful place to sit and write in my journal and contemplate dillemas, rough patches in life, etc.
This particular image is one I saw almost instantly and wanted to capture. it was around 4pm when I saw it and I knew from the get go I would be making a Van Dyke print of it (what Im concentrating on with this series). I have become familiar with the process and its range of values etc. I knew from the get go I wanted the water to appear the darkest possible tone. Zone I and II. so I had to wait and hope that the dropping sun would allow this and also to still allow the lillys to register as pure white.
I chose to frame the image in the way it is because I was moved by the bottom lilly that hadnt blossomed the two groups that seemed to balance each other in the left 1/3 and right 1/3 of the frame and really like the sunlit grasses peaking through the top. with their reflection showing the parts that have been cropped out of the top. almost felt like a sense of symetry in what normally feels like 'natural' chaos.
Honestly this image is one of the few that was a true success from the standpoint of seeing with "van dyke" eyes and creating a result that adequately expressed what I initially hoped for.
image 1: test strip
image 2: Working print - showed I would need to burn a little because I didnt want the grass to take up too much attention.
image 3: the final print with 5mins of UV exposure and 1min of burning the bit of grass. (yes I actually do on rare occasion dodge/burn my contact prints - *ducks*)
I think a lot of the vision thing has a lot to do with being able to control our materials and know their limits. In this image I "saw" how I wanted the print to look and I metered accordingly. The trick was in the metering more than in working the print post exposure. The difference in contrast between the near wall and the far objects was only a few stops, so I metered for the near wall to be darker than what it appeared to be, since I use an integrated system the corresponding developing time was automagically given to my by the palm pilot. All I had to do was develop and print the negative.
Of course it helps that pt/pd has a much more linear response so what would need a lot of dodging or burning with a silver paper is very straight forward with this process.
I do almost the exact opposite: I wander "aimlessly", seeing what I see. When I see something is when I start thinking "picture" and how to capture what I see on film. The drawback of this is that I tend to carry all my lenses with me on every trip, which gets heavy and limits my action radius a bit.
Originally Posted by Joe Lipka
My latest successful trip was a wander about the village I live in with a single small camera (Bessa-L) and one lens. That image ended up in the print exchange. I wich I could show the exact steps I used to print it, but I have to confess I didn't... It was a straight print, no burning or dodging, on VC paper without filtering...
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
I generally have a pretty good idea of what type of image I want before I go out, but I am always flexible enough to change based upon circumstances - over here you always have an issue of tourists as well as the weather. Since I shoot primarily color, my image is pretty well complete in the camera.
I am drawn to a scene, but know well enough that what I see before me is just a starting point. Film when developed surprises me. I then take my work print and play with it. That is when the visualization starts. U will work with the matting L's to see if cropping helps. The following is the picture that Ailsa so kindly put in her magazine. I already had the two versions. With moving I would have to dig through a box to find the orginal work print and scan it.
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the Vision thing
When I first saw this post I wanted to respond, but I went for a walk and got something to eat and came back. It is funny to see how fast the thread has grown in the meantime. You have struck a chord here, Les, and I feel that it is a really worthwhile thing to contemplate. Please bear with me through some seemingly off-topic stuff which I will show the relevance of.
The great Alto Sax player Charlie Parker is often quoted as having said " If you can't hear it, it won't come out of your horn! "
Ansel Adams' well known series of books on all things photographic begins with a discusion about "pre-visualization" and a specific emphasis on this step being required to achieve success. You will note that this is exactly the same thing that Parker was saying only applied in a different medium. (Not that it is particularly relevent, but AA probably first came up with this about 20 to 30 years before Parker came up with his version.)
Many people have quoted both of these sources, and others, so many times, that the concepts and words have become ubiquitous. Does anyone ever wonder W H Y either one of them said these things in the first place ??? .......
I am speculating (and I emphasize speculate - I have no source for authority except my own insight) that both of them had encountered people with the " Lost Watch Problem" so many times that they were trying to show how to avoid it in the first place. That is: the problem of losing one's watch in the bedroom, and then going to look for it in the living room because the light is better in there.
Transcriptions of Charlie Parker's tunes are available from numerous sources. And music students every day, somewhere, learn to play them and then wonder why they do not sound like Parker. "Point & Shoot" cameras, or their equivalent, are purchased every day and taken to the exact spots that AA stood in to make his iconic images - and the results are anaemic at best.
These people might try learning what made Parker feel what he was feeling and what made him tick in every way and what technique he used and how he got to it etc... but that would be hard work.... the light is better in the living room ... it is easier to just buy the transcription. The most relevent point - the one that I believe Parker would have emphasized - is that, even if a truly dedicated desciple took the "hard route" all he could hope to achieve, is to wind up sounding like Parker, when the real objective should be to sound like himself.
I use non photographic analogies for a good reason here. I think it is useful to spend a moment thinking about how many times in your everyday life you have encountered a situation where something - ANYTHING - is not working the way it is desired to, and someone wants to adjust the software, or change a procedure without changing the training. All the while, if you think about it, the real problem is that the real flesh and blood people who are involved just don't get it in some important way. But getting other people to understand is difficult ... the light is better in the living room ...
So, if you want to understand something about your own vision and how to apply it in any creative medium, you have to realize that it is a constant part of you. You have to practise using your vision to understand and perceive every part of your life. It is not something you can turn on and off.
But what Jorge said above, about knowing the material involved, is key also.
Another music analogy: If you are not a musician, I am sure that you will relate to this story just the same. You have a dream about some favorite place in your life, and there is music playing. The most beautiful music you have ever heard. It seems to go on for ever and fills you with so much joy and wonder that you might explode. Then you wake up and realize that it was a dream. But you are so moved by that music that you rush to the piano to try to repeat it. Only you can not remember a single note. Dreams work that way. Forget about the notes - they are meaningless anyway. Just close your eyes and play ..."the feeling".
That would never happen, of course, unless you were so proficient on the piano that you were capable of playing your feelings. "If you can't hear it, it won't come out of your horn !"
If you strike all the "right" keys in the "right" order, you will organize noise, very efficiently. If you listen to your own voice and use all of the craft that you can muster, you will make music. Les began all this with an image of a place that he had strong feelings about, and enough craft to communicate that feeling. Likewise if someone else were to borrow Jorge's camera (if he would let them) and use the software that he mentioned for his Palm pilot, we all know that they would never come up with the same image that Jorge did.
Personaly, I do not believe that it is ever neccessary to have an idea about what a print will look like before hand. It is only neccessary to understand what you are feeling and have the craft skills to communicate it.
Hope this thread will continue with the thoughts of others. This type of thread is what some of us 'need', while we all love the nuts and bolts threads - let's face it many on this site seem to come from technical backgrounds, so it is by our own nature to want to put things in tidy little boxes with a checklist, that says if I do this, then I can expect X result. While not a bad thing, Vision or how we see photographs really does not fit into a nice tidy box. We have trouble sometimes, discussing this...Les and I have had more than one discussion about it, and I have to admit to only understanding part of what he is trying to help me understand.
We'll get there Les, and who knows the road there might be quite interesting. Spent some time last evening reading Bruce Barnbaum's 'The Art of Photography' (2nd edition). Chapter 4 is about Visualization and while I have read the through the book several times, more often the more technical sections, found that this time some of the words/concepts leapt off the pages and meant much more.....Thanks Les, don't think that would have happened without your prodding. Now, will have to take time to read and re-read these pages.
Because I have not contacted Mr. Barnbaum asking for permission to quote him here, I will simply say that if you have the book take some time to read his thought. If you don't have it, I do recommend it. One point that is made is that we have a lot of input coming at us (not only visual, but smell, touch, etc) and by taking time to see the details, we train ourself to see more often. We are more aware of light, shadows, shapes. Then by looking through a GG or viewfinder we futher distill the information and try to put it on a flat piece of paper. Today, my personal vision allows me to 'see' much more than I used to 'see', and as I learn the skills needed and understand the tools better can slowly begin to put that vision onto paper.
May never get there, part of the enjoyment is the journey after all.
The journey is everything for me. If people like the images that's great, if they don't it won't stop me.
my wife took a picture of me sun-dodging a cyanotype, hands about 3ft above the 'print', looking like some kind of butterfly impersonation. It's hard work standing and concentrating for a couple of minutes! Since it was a digi-snap, I can't show you
Originally Posted by scootermm
As a portrait photographer of kids, I always have a preconceived plan of what I will do with the client, if you can call a 3 year old a client.
Almost never, does that preconceived idea work out. Usually what I like the best is the idea of not pre thought and just winging it.
As in my tired metaphor of hockey, just react, because you have been practicing for this for years. Somehow though I always like to have a fallback position.
In photographing adults I like to have a concept that I'm going for because I've almost always met the client and have and idea of what I will do. BUT still the best stuff seems to be spontaneous.
So my old hockey adage still works, just react and let my instincts/brain/muse take over.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.