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Monday, February 21, 2005

Mostly slush and rain today. But the snow and rain-soaked trees were a good chance to play with digital exposure techniques. With all the snow, the 18% gray thought process of the camera wants, as they always do, to put the snow at middle gray. The argument to be careful not to blow the highlights with digital is true, but as has been written about in Photoshop RAW and other places, you also don't want to blow the amount of data in the shadow.

This was shot after a few test shots to push the histogram over to the right side, but without clipping the highlights. When I was looking at it in camera raw, there was texture in the snow, but I decided to push it off the cliff to the right for artistic purposes. Lots of texture in the shadows.

I've been thinking of writing a description of a print, from start to finish. What I was trying to capture. Camera settings. Various filters used. Sharpening. IMAGEPrint settings. Various level tweaking. The whole shabang. It seems daunting. How Ansel Adams managed to do this for 40 prints, I have no idea.

In the rain and snow. Schurz Park.

8:44:17 PM    

Gate Reflection

4:55:58 PM    

Pictorialist Redeux, Wheel

I used to feel guilty about the retouching (manipulation) I was doing on some of these digital photographs, but I see that a form of retouching goes back to the beginning of photography. I don't know where I read this, but there is a story about an ancient photographer who, rather than remove black dots in the sky by retouching them, would just stick two lines on them and make them birds.

And the use of cloud plates to fill in blank skies goes back forever. And I guess what clinched it for me was all these visits to the Met. Those damned painters, even the impressionists, felt free to put birds anywhere they'd help in the picture. This is just another form of the montages I was doing. If you feel the slush could use a couple of cigarette butts, go to the collection of cigarette butts and stick one in. Sky a bit boring, put a bird in it.

Photography began by emulating painters. They were called pictorialists. Then came groups like the group F64 (for deep focus) with Ansel Adams leading the charge, for a pure photography. They were the anti-pictorialists. But I thought the pictorialists made some damned good pictures. They'd put billowing scarves in front of the camera, use glass with various translucent stuff on it in front of the lens; double exposures to give a ghostly effect; and they were happy to scrub the actual print with various chemicals to achieve the look they wanted. They were just early Photoshop practioners.

Writing about the photographs in the blog, I'm torn now about saying how they were created. It may be interesting to photographers, but it also may ruin the viewing experience for others. You know, the magicians have a code about not revealing how tricks are done. And yet, every once in a while they do, and it is almost always a let-down. Oh - that's how it's done. Big deal.

Many of the "naturalistic" looking images have at the very least been subject to some masking techniques. This bike wheel had a bit of burning on the sludge on the wheel. And some of the most distorted images, may have had just some level adjustments made. So I'm trying to keep a balance between mystery and explanation.

11:52:22 AM    

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Last update: 3/7/2005; 11:45:07 AM. Click to see xml version of photo blog