With photography the creative process of discovery is what truly excites me. It starts first with the discovery of a hidden image and then being transformed by the rendition captured in the camera. Then creative process to bring to life the final print, either through the wet or the dry darkroom process is a wondrous journey.
This journey normally starts with a mix of inspiration and some vision and sometimes a bit of luck and good timing.
I believe it is important in our approach to taking photos that we have a vision, not necessarily grandiose or all encompassing one, but some basic concept or idea of the images that we are trying to achieve.
In the previous photo blogs I have written, there have always been a drive, a passion and a vision as to what I was trying to achieve. This vision and purpose is what gets me out to try new ways of seeing the world around me.
For the final version of B&W photo ‘Weed on the Rock Face’ above, I had a specific vision or a conceptual image that I wanted to capture. The inspiration was easy as it came from a B&W photo competition with the theme of ‘Rocky’ that I was entering. It did win an ‘Award of Excellence’ when printed and matted.
Not living in a mountainous area with grand vistas, I knew that I wanted rock formations to dominate most of the image but not to the point that the rocks would overpower the whole image. I also wanted some other parts of the image to provide the contextual background to help situate the viewer.
At my best friend’s house, who lives out in the countryside, I knew there was this large rock outcropping all covered in moss and lichen at the back of the house. Any image that was not cropped to just the full rock would also show part of the gravel laneway and the back of the house. Not normally stellar compositional elements but further down one of his fields there was a large pond with rocky shores, well lined with trees. I figured that if I could get a well-paced shot of the rock, I would then replace the background with the scene from the pond.
I decided to use my 10mm to 20mm lens as I could most likely find some interesting elements on the rock face that would be warped larger if I got in really close because of the effects of a wide angle lens.
The delicate leafed plant grasping for its foothold out seemed to convey a presence well. This can be seen in the photo below. Notice the angle I tilted the camera to get correct angle for final combined image.
I liked all the detail in the rock face but I found it was taking up too much scene real-estate area and since I did not want to crop any out I decided to compress horizontally as you can see in the lower image with background removed.
A few shots of other angles of the rock face
I then proceeded down to the pond and faced the same way in relation to the sun to ensure that the shadows in both images would be harmonious. I took several shots, as I was not quite sure which image would merge well and not require significant blending effort.
These are some shots of the pond.
With a wide angle lens and a large f-stop the background would still have too much detail visible and it therefore would clash with the rock for attention.
I used a 2-stage approach to blur the background. I first isolated the far shoreline and blurred this a little. I then selected the closer tree on right and once again the background and blurred again to give the impression camera DOF blur increasing with distance.
In the conversion to B&W, the central focus of the plant was not prominent enough. I then used the dodge tool to lighten the leaves and some of the lichen to provide contrast interest.
While traveling to my friends place as I crossed a bridge I just could not resist the image on a rock outcropping in the water and I knew I could achieve something with the reflection in the water. I converted this to B&W to only focus on the shapes and rotated to 90 degrees to give an impression of an abstract totem pole mask.
While I will be away a few days any questions about techniques or other comments will be answered when I return.
A photographer’s Adage
To convey in the print the feeling you experienced when you exposed your film - to walk out of the darkroom and say: "This is it, the equivalent of what I saw and felt!". That's what it's all about. -John Sexton