Saturday, November 2, 2013

Filtered light and adjusting the final image.

The dualism of reality and appearance – “Your knowledge of things is the way of your direct experience of appearance”. Correspondingly, the experience of reality and the medium are a 'dual experience': feeling into nature and feeling into the nature of the medium. - a work should be a world in itself.
Hans Hofmann*

*Color creates Light – studied with Hans Hofmann. By Tina Dickey
(In our Saltspring Island library)

The other day I walked along the shoreline at Indian Point at Fulford Harbour. A foggy day, these were perfect conditions for photographing in the filtered light that laid an even, if grey, cast on everything. On a sunny day, the direct sunlight would have created strong contrasts, bright highlights and dark shadows that the camera, unlike the human eye, would have had difficulty coping with: burnt out highlights and impenetrable shadows. Now though, the highlights were dulled and shadows lightened. Even in the deep shadow areas the light seeped in. I took some super images ( no false modesty please) and later loaded them onto my 'Lightroom' program. It was here that I was able to analyze them more objectively. To move from capture, to final image. These are not at all the same thing and it is here on the screen that I made some important changes that took my photographs from 'as recorded' to finished image.
Yes, it was a foggy day, and that gave the basic theme to my images, but a flat, grey, dulled final image was not what I wanted either, so I set to work to make the minimal adjustments possible and yet still be true to my subject. Now, it would have been possible to go wild, to move the control sliders far to the left or right but I worked carefully, making changes only where I felt it necessary. Necessary? Somewhere I had an ideal conception of the day and the place and was taking the image to meet that. The final image was my creation, my communication of 'foggy day', not an exact replica.

Garry oaks.
It took some trouble to find a point of view that created the repeating rhythm of the trunks, showed the beach and point and the receding of the shoreline into the fog. “Think, line everything up just right, click.” In the computer though, as I thought it would, the camera 'saw' this much more flatly than my eyes had. I must compensate to bring it back to my original view. I sharpened, brightened slightly and increased the contrast of the closest trunk, and a bit of the second but left the rest to fade into the fog. A minimal change, but such a difference to how the image presented itself. 

The snag.
Shooting from under the alders, towards the fallen maple trunk at the edge of the water, was a lighting challenge, ( from dark to light) but the repetition of forms between the sticks in the foreground and the snag was too good to miss. Only in this filtered light would this have worked, would the detail in the shadow area have been visible. Later though, I could see that the water detail had been lost, thereby loosing some important visual information, so I 'brushed' in just enough detail to show ripples in the water. On impulse I brightened the fringe of alder leaves at the top of the picture and decided to leave it that way, at least for now.


The cobweb.
On a day like this, cobwebs were picked out from their surroundings by water droplets. Almost too easy and too commonplace unless I could find something reasonably original to 'say', and when I saw the curled tree root among the driftwood there was a 'resonance' between the forms; - like some restatement of a musical theme in another key. Later I had to work on the web to bring it up so it would be more visible and work with the wood in some kind of balance.

Besides showing myself photographing with filtered light and making adjustments for the final image I hope you can see that I do not work with 'rules' when making pictures. Rather it is a familiarity with my subjects and with the medium, and participating by, as Hofmann writes in the above quote, “feeling into nature and into the nature of the medium”.

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