Seeing is important
A recent webinar by a photography artist was all about telling a story through an image. Not all photos are used this way but those that grab attention and encourage a lingering look definitely have this capability. The artist discussed how they look carefully when they are out (they specialize in landscape art images) and how visualization of the final product is important even before the camera comes out. Ansel Adams talked about this in his writings on photography. His process was to envision what a composition would look like in the final print form, meaning he had to not only consider what exposure settings to use but also how he would process both the negative as well as the print. While I'm rarely making film negatives this approach is still important because of the post-processing I do to digital images.
Looking through my landscape images over the years I do see a trend toward darker, slightly more moody photos. I used to underexpose slide film to improve the saturation and I think that tendency has followed me into digital. It's either that or a fear of blowing out the details in the highlights, even when there aren't any highlights! I've come to accept this nature for my images and usually work on using it to the best effect for the "story" I'm telling with the image. Here's an example:
This is just a scene in a local park. The light is from a slightly overcast sky with the sun behind the subjects in the image. When I looked at the scene I felt there was a story there - empty picnic table waiting for the season to progress and people to sit down and enjoy the outdoors. For that the color actually gets in the way because it takes away from the mood i was "seeing" in the setting. I liked the forms of the trees and table, as well as the texture of the grass and the blurred out background so the composition was what I wanted. However, to get the feeling I wanted to convey would need post-processing. Here's what I came up with:
Not so benign a view as the color image, but not so ominous as to turn the viewer away. The promise of the approaching season is still there but with a tinge of sadness that it isn't coming along fast enough.
It's not landscape art but it has given me an opportunity to practice the visualization process in a minor way.
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