For a long time, my photography has been tending toward impressionism as I have tried to capture how I felt about my subject at the moment of exposure, and not just record its existence. There is a gap between making a photography that simply documents a moment or a specific thing at a particular moment, and making a photograph that captures and conveys the feeling of the moment. I hope I have accomplished the latter with the following photograph.
I captured this image last July in Charleston, SC, on my way home from my nephew’s wedding in Florida. I saw this building exterior, with a row of small, street-level windows, and the lush flowers and leaves overhead. I took several pictures, but when I got home and got this image into the digital darkroom, I was not able to bring out the essence of what I saw. So, I filed the image away for a later time … which turned out to be this past Christmas, when Barb gave me a book by Andre Gallant, titled Expressionism: Digital Dreamscapes and other Techniques.
I became aware of Andre’s work about a year ago through a book he co-authored with Freeman Patterson, a noted impressionistic and abstract photographer. Andre’s book is 160 pages of exquisite photographs, with about ten pages of really clear text interspersed between the photographs explaining the techniques he used. As I read Andre’s explanations and then slowly absorbed how he executed the techiques in his photographs, that photograph from Charleston came to mind. With Andre’s book next to my monitor, I executed my first image using his digital dreamscape technique – you see the results, above. I am really pleased with this first effort. Most exciting for me, though, is not the way this particular image came out, but the fact that now I that know how to make this style of image in the digital darkroom, I can now shoot with an outcome like this in mind and know I can carry it through.
I hope you like this image. I will go into the details of the techinque in a later post.
A couple of things occurred to me this past weekend as I was out walking our border collie, Molly. The first being that this has been an unusual spring in that, despite or because of the warm, dry winter, many of the flowering plants I was used to seeing did not seem to bloom as normal or hang around as long as they have in previous years. The second realization was that I had not taken a photograph in a week. So, Sunday morning, again while walking Molly, and despite the light mist, I decided to carry my camera with the 85mm f/3.5 attached along with me. My thought was to photograph some neighbor’s flowers that had caught my eye.The overcast sky and light mist made for very even lighting, saturated colors, and there was little to no wind – an almost ideal setup, but things never go as planned. As I have mentioned before, the things I have previously glimpsed, that moved me to pick up the camera in the first place, rarely turn out to be the things I photograph successfully. Having Molly with me meant that my tripod was at home and I would have to hand-hold all my shots. This turned out to be a problem in that my hands are not as steady as they used to be and, despite pushing my ISO to 500, I was still dealing with a shutter speed of 1/15 sec. at f/8, which is not conducive to sharply capturing small droplets on petals. In the end, I gave up on trying for a conventional shot and decided to go with what the scene and the weather were giving me. In this case, I found a small, purple, globular flower on a very straight stalk leaning against a yard light pole. I set the camera up to do a 5-shot multiple exposure sequence, and then moved it very slightly between exposures, hoping for some sort of off-register pattern that would mitigate my lack of absolute steadiness. I took two sequences like that, and this is the better of the two. I finshed the image by cropping it into an almost square shape to get rid of most of the focus fall-off at the left and right edges due to the shallow depth of field, and then added a little contrast and saturation, and a border to provide some structure. I hope you enjoy it.