Jul 19 2012

Playing with pictorialism

Pictorial photo of dancers

There is nothing quite like actually seeing an original platinum or gum print but I wanted to try to evoke the aesthetic of pictorialism with this digital image.

In this detail you can see some of the processing that has been done. There were a lot of steps to arrive at this but the primary ones are that the image was toned and reduced in contrast followed by the addition of grain and scratches from a scanned negative. I then applied some surface texture as if it had been printed on a rough paper. There were more adjustments and a few dead ends in the process.

Pictorialism was a photographic approach that created atmospheric images that were more about tones and creating a painterly look than capturing detail and reality. It developed during the late 1800’s in somewhat of a response to the growing proliferation of amerture photography and in an effort to raise photography above this. For more information see Pictorialism on Wikipedia or for a longer look the book Truth Beauty: Pictorialism and the Photograph as Art, 1845-1945

My favorite from this book though is a quote from Edward Steichen in 1903

“Some day there may be invented a machine that needs but to be wound up and sent roaming o’er hill and dale, through fields and meadows, by babbling brooks and shady woods – in short, a machine that will discriminatingly select its subject and by means of a skilful arrangement of springs and screws, compose its motif, expose the plate, develop, print and even mount and frame the result of its excursion, so that there will remain nothing for us to do but to send it to the Royal Photographic Society’s exhibition and gratefully receive the Royal Medal.”

I believe I downloaded that app.

Jul 26 2011

De-focused again

Here are some more intentional out of focus paintings, oops I mean photographs.

Jul 1 2011

De-focusing to make it clear.

Well simplify, more than clarity.  Photography can be so descriptive and we expect a to see a certain level of detail that we consider real.  To paintings we apply a different standard of what is real, but what if we made photographs using the rules of painted reality?  I would love to claim the idea as my own but I’m about 125 years too late.  Pictorialism was a photographic movement that attempted to create images that were considered more artistic than the cold rendering photography provided.  A lot has occurred in photography since this time but it can be a fun diversion to create images along these lines.  All of these images where created by simply manipulating focus.  I’ve taken things further as far as blur and of course these images are in colour.  If you don’t have a camera that you can manually focus you may be able to fool the auto focus system by focusing on a close object and then re-framing to include distant objects that will now be blurred.

So there you have it, my photographic paintings.

Nov 6 2010


I really liked the background colours in this image from today and the contrasting droplet.  It’s difficult to take macro shots like this by hand as even the slight swaying back and forth that happens as you stand effects what is in focus.  By persisting though you can eventually get one that works.

Mar 27 2010

May I have your attention please?

Mar2010_X700_024In this image I have used several visual tools to draw the viewers attention to one specific area of the frame.  To begin with the manner that the lines of the wire converge at the point of interest leads the eye inward.  This is reinforced by the contrast of focus at the center verses at the edges.  This differential in sharpness was achieved by selecting a large aperture which provides a shallow depth of field.  This visual cue mimics one way in which we perceive depth in the real world.  The last thing I have done was during processing I increased the brightness contrast between the center of the image and the area surrounding it.  Whether this is a good image or not isn’t crucial, but it does achieve the intended outcome.