I am going to talk about fine art photography and black and white as my preferred way. I do not shoot exclusively black and white but prefer it for my art nude work. I also like to differentiate something that is created in the mind rather than just recording of an image. At the end I will briefly talk about how I do my conversion from RAW to black and white.
My interpretation of art is that it is something that is created in the mind of the artist. The artist can then interpret that creation in whatever manner that they wish to, painting, sculpture, photography etc. Whatever form the creation takes it should create some emotional reaction from a viewer.
When it comes to fine art photography I do prefer the use of black and white over color. I prefer this for one main reason. Black and white allows you to use your imagination in a way that color cannot. Let me explain. If you read a book the watch a movie of that book, the movie will never live up to reading the book. The reason for this is that the book allows you to use your imagination to create the way a person or place looks. The movie will do all this for you, essentially preventing you using your imagination.
In fine art photography I believe that black and white gives you that use of your imagination.
I always shoot in RAW mode, I then do my conversion to black and white using NIK silver effects in Lightroom. I do different versions of images but my preferred method is to pick a low key preset of an image. I then add in detail to the image and adjust the exposure to how I want the image to look. I do prefer the model to pop out from a dark background. You do need to play with the sliders to get the effect that you like. Do not be afraid to experiment, as long as you keep the original RAW file you cannot spoil anything.
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Blue is the color that I want to talk about in this post. Your images should create an emotional feeling to yourself and the viewer. Different colors have different emotional effects on us. Blue does have some negative emotions, cold, distant, sadness. It also gives some positive emotions, harmony, faithfulness, confidence. By many people blue is regarded as their favorite color which says so much about it as a color.
I am a big believer in having a feel for an image before raising the camera to the eye. See the image and reflect how it feels in your final image. My photoshop skills are basic but I will happily play with the sliders in Lightroom until I get the image to look and feel how I want. Whatever my end image, it must project my feelings of when I took the picture. However your image finishes do not be frightened to be different. No type of art will be universally liked and it should push peoples emotions.
I was walking round the marina at Riva del Gardo whilst on holiday at Lake Garda in Italy when I spotted this shot. It was a calm peaceful scene, which is how I felt at the time. The haze gave the light an overall blue tone and the scene just had that feeling of harmony. I have increased the blue in Lightroom but hopefully kept the original feeling of the image. The jetty and the island give a sense of scale. The angles of the mountains create harmony.
My new post which is sunrise over Lake Garda in the Italian lakes is really aimed at insomniacs everywhere. I have to admit that I tend to take more sunrise shots than sunsets. The reason for this is I like to be in bed early but up and about early so I have lots of sunrise shots and only take sunsets in autumn and winter when the it gets dark early. There are probably many out there who work the other way round but the advice is the same. With this shot I was waiting for the sun to appear over the mountains and I knew it would glisten on the water.
As with most landscape shots I used f22 for the depth of field. Really what my advice in shots like this is to take notice of the light which you should always do as a photographer. Take notice of what is reflected on the water, there will be more than your eyes can take in, you can pick this up later in post production. Experiment and see how you like the image. Remember that you should be creating an image rather than just recording so make the image something that you like. Just be wary that the sun isn’t too bright and you damage your eyes looking through the viewfinder. Use your live view facility on your camera the sun is too bright. As a photographer or artist then train your eyes to see the light.
If you would like a trip to Lake Garda then I can highly recommend it. Not only are there some beautiful places on the lake but the Dolomites, Venice and Verona are only a day trip away.
As a change from my usual posts I am adding people into this post and talking about outdoor portraiture. I have great love of capturing people naturally. I like to fit people into landscapes and scenes. As with all portraiture the aim is capture something about a person. A feeling or a look that says to someone this is me. The great thing about working outdoors is that people tend to be more relaxed, the images should be more informal.
You will need to find your own way to work but the way that I work is to put people into a position I want to photograph them in then get them to move slowly and change position and give me different looks. Talk to people and continue to shoot all the time. You will get a few mistakes shooting like this but you will get many great shots.
Use a longer lens for this type of work and a big aperture, f4 or f2.8 should work for you. However you shoot the most important thing is the person or people that you are photographing.
I just want to tell you what I thought was a slightly ridiculous conversation that I had about this image with dappled sunlight. It was a beautiful day and I was out walking in the hills and stopped by a waterfall. There was a couple in their mid 70’s sat by the waterfall, there was also a class of school children doing geological studies there. The kids were having fun as they do when near water. I fell into conversation with the couple, the conversation got onto how these kids probably only get out into the countryside when on school trips. They probably spend most of their time sat on their PlayStation’s at home.
The couple both had good cameras and liked to photograph when out walking. I mentioned to the couple about a day that I had in the Derbyshire Peak District recently, the light was beautiful and had come across some strange trees, the dappled sunlight was coming through the trees. The light was amazing and the scene just stunning. The gentleman the said to me that he would create that effect in photoshop. I was little taken aback, surely all you are doing is the same as the kids on their PlayStation’s. Part of what we do as artists or photographers is getting out there and seeing and feeling passionate about the images that we produce. Always remember that photoshop is not a substitute for feeling passionate about our wonderful world.
I woke very early on a lovely morning with the sun rising. I set off along a local for a quiet walk. The path meandered alongside a golf course. The light was beautiful casting long soft shadows. As I walked past a small lake, there was dead rotting tree that had fallen into the lake. The shape of the tree intrigued me, I do find the shapes that trees create quite fascinating. The reflections of the tree in the water made the shape even more fascinating to me. I photographed the scene but knew that with some extra processing in lightroom I would be able to make the scene even more interesting.
In lightroom adjustments were made to add contrast and take some of the detail out of the image. The focus of the image had to on the tree and reflection. The image appeals to me very much and fits in with my view of what art should be. You are inspired by something and interpret in your own way. The great ability for anyone involved in visual art is to be able to see the way light works and what you can do with it. Understanding light is far more important to you than what camera make you use.
Giving your image a sense of scale is very important. One of the best ways to do this is to add people into the image. We all know roughly the size of a person so it gives you an idea of the vastness of the overall scene. The image that I have on here is to show the landscape but including the rock and photographer in the foreground gives a sense of depth and scale to the image.
I had gone out to do some landscape photography with Monika in the Peak district in Derbyshire, it was one of those days where the light was beautiful and clear. We walked down a gorge which has many trees and the dappled sunlight was perfect. We walked out onto the open moorland where we came across these rocks used by climbers. Slightly more daring than me she went and sat on the outcrop to take some photographs. I took a few shots of her on the rock, I love this image as the clouds are wonderful and the detail in the rock and scene are immense. The conversion to black and white was done in lightroom.
Contre-jour lighting essentially means shooting into the light. This can vary from extremes of very bright light with silhouettes to more control of the light from the sun whilst keeping some detail in the shadow areas.
Shooting into the light is a favourite form of lighting for me. I love it when there are shadows created as they give so much feeling of depth to an image. To me there should some detail in the shadow areas but it is all down to personal choice. When shooting with the sun in the image I would advise the use of the live view on your camera, never look directly into the sun. You can damage your eyes.
When shooting into the sun my personal preference is to use a very small aperture, it tends to give a better starburst effect rather than an overall blast of light. With the image that I have put up here, you can see the low sun bursting through the leaves but all the deatil is there in the shadow areas. The shadows of the trees in the foreground give depth to the image.
Sometime when you go out for a stroll with the camera you come across a shot that is set up for you. The whole thing is about a feeling, a passion for your art. The window with the wooden shutter is framed by the beautiful ivy. It gives a great contrast between the two but works perfectly together. This shot I spotted at Nostell Priory in West Yorkshire. I have put it into black and white because I felt color detracted from the image.
Two shots in this post, when you see beautiful wild flowers which are intended to entice wildlife you have to take a few views. They do create a beautiful splash of colour which brings a smile to your face. On a lovely sunny autumn day they brighten up the day.
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