Vision & Style…

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We all have a very personal way to perceive what surround us and, as Photographers, we all have a specific message to transmit using a very personal set of « words », a unique palette of terms that build our style. Photography is the way I have chosen to express my view. Amateur or professional, how do we « speak » in a way that is unique to us ? It’s a challenge to define what makes one Photographer’s work stand out from another’s. It’s quite difficult to describe what makes our images unique.. what it is that makes our photographs better than our earlier images keeping our values, our style, our unique DNA in our work ? As a Photographer, my goal is to continue to grow creatively and to express myself even better.

It’s the main issue : Does our Vision implies our Style, I mean, is our Style a simple expression of our Vision OR, does our Style, impact the way we perceive our surroundings : our Vision ? I think my Vision is what I show in my pictures. I admit I have to favor my perception via post-production but I always preview the image when releasing the shutter. I never work my images at random, the edit phase is always in conformity with a pre-thought design. I fight against these software packages for altering images through pre-defined recipes if they are used without a plan, without a Vision ! Creativity is not bundled in boxes you can buy in a store.

We have to be careful not to be prisoner of our own style. I think that striving for a particular style could limit creativity by inhibiting an open mind, by rejecting new approaches. Style is an outcome not a goal in itself.

Music as a Component…

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I would not like to pretend there is a fail-safe recipe to stimulate creativity. This would be pretentious and inexact. Nevertheless, I can assert Music can help. It helps to disconnect from day-to-day concerns and elevate your mind to abstract concepts. The goal is to undress elements from their rational and functional role to see them as design parts. By surrounding our senses with a compelling atmosphere, Music will exacerbate our vision by putting in phase subject matter and emotions. With the amazing qualities we have today in our headphones, it’s quite easy to escape from crude reality and be transported to some kind of unreal, immaterial realm where Creativity seems to grow naturally.

The challenge I ‘m confronted with is to retrieve this mood when derushing the RAW images.. All the difficulty is to find and raise up the seeds you have buried when pressing the shutter release. This is the wager of post-production…

The Photographer’s Voice

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Photographs are necessarily always of the world but if we want to move beyond illustration, they must evoke emotional responses that are not bound to a particular place. A famous place is weighed down with unavoidable and often unwanted connotations. In an anonymous place the photographer is more likely to be free of the unwanted connotations that arise from images of iconic locations. There is no wager, no competition to win except conveying a strong message. When we, Photographers , go to dreamed remote locations, we have in mind all that have been done before by famous Masters, we can never completely escape from their footprints. Then making images become a challenge… but the apparent immutability of these hotspots gives some photographers the false hope that they might repeat, or even better, a famous image made at a particular location. However, a landscape photograph draws its power in part from the unstable and dynamic relationship between the fall of light and the solid geography. This relationship makes it very difficult to create the same image on two separate occasions.

We should keep in mind a great photograph is an image who expounds an emotion which is, by definition, a personal mood : It is what we call the Photographer’s Voice.Photographers should strive for their own voice, strive to say something genuinely different and strictly intimate rather than repeating the composition of another, repeating, doing so, what has already been « said ».

Workshop : Learning To See…

Difficulty: Beginners – Intermediates – Advanced

Cost per Attendee : 400 €  ( Lodging and Catering included ).

Contact Me for more info using this form ( at the end of the page… )

Less is More…

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« Less is More… » this famous and pithy line by Robert Browning, seems to apply to so many aspects of Art. For me, it expresses how rich nuances of form can arise from a single  line across an extent of sand or how a simple melody can evoke deep emotions. It also conveys how the very best artists in any field can make complex things that they do appear incredibly simple. Simplicity, clarity and economy of line are things that I strive for in my own work. Experience has taught me that my most graphic images – those with the least in them – are often my most powerful – : They say the most !

We all are aware of how difficult it is to achieve simplicity  in a Photograph but it is obvious to me that there is much more to admire in simplicity than just how tricky it is to accomplish.

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Depth Of Field…

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Simply put, Depth-Of-Field is how much of a photograph is in sharp focus from front to back. Professional photographers understand and use Depth Of Field, while most amateurs don’t. professionals know that they can’t leave this critical element to chance, or to the programmed whims of an automatic camera !

Landscapes Masters, Porter, Weston and Adams always tried to get everything in focus throughout  their photographs, to the point of forming Group f/64 in 1932. Part of their original manifesto read : « The name of this Group is derived from a diaphragm number of the photographic lens. It signifies to a large extent the qualities of clearness and definition of the photographic image  which is an important element in the work of members  of this Group. »

Modern Photography aesthetics accept a wide range of styles, including more impressionistic looks. But in most landscapes images, everything should be in focus unless there’s a specific reason for not doing so – like creating a soft, impressionistic look, or focusing attention on one element.

Simplicity….

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For many photographers, no aspect of photography is more difficult than composition. Perhaps, for that reason,  people have tried to create rules for composing photographs. But the landscape Masters of the past were unanimous in their disdain for such formulas.

« To consult the rules of Composition before making a Photograph is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk » said Weston. While rules ( maybe guidelines would be a better word… ) can be helpful in some situations, design is too complex for any rule to apply in all situations. The only one I know that always apply is Simplicity.

An Inevitable Photograph…

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To those of you who know Ansel Adams, you may know these words belong to him : while driving to Sante Fe, he glanced to his left and saw a scenery he described as « An Inevitable Photograph… » but, while it seemed inevitable to him, how many photographers would have realized the potential of the scene ?

Our challenge, as Photographers, is to be able to « disconnect » our functional view : the way we perceive our environment related to our everyday use of what surrounds us : a Road : a flat strip of  tar, Sky : What is over our head, Colza : what farmers grow in their fields and re-decipher these elements as visual components. Evaluate them in volumes, textures, colors and shapes. Mix them to built an appealing design. I’d like to mention a crucial ability we should have, all of us  : THis is what Admas, Weston and Portern called Visualization : The ability to imagine the final print and use all the tools at our disposal to achieve that result. Visualization might seem less important in an age when Photographs can viewed an instant after pressing the shutter, but the tremendous control available to digital Photographers means that it is more important than ever, because the possibilities are so vast !

Do you visualize having highlight and shadow detail in a high-contrast scene ? No matter how much contrast you’re facing, it’s now possible to show detail throughout the image by merging several images together with HDR.. BUT, you have to visualize this in advance in order to make several different exposures that will be aligned and exposed correctly. Do you want great Depth of Field, beyond what your lens is capable of ? Again, you must foresee this and take several  frames focused at varying distances.

Unless you have a clear idea in your mind of what you want to achieve, you might forget a vital step  in making your image. Once you’ve visualized the desired result, you have to be able to execute the necessary steps. Technique is of paramount importance. Masterize it is not an option : You do have to work a lot. Weston said :  » For no matter how fine the innate sensitiveness, without technique, that means to an end ! « 

One could think technique is no more an issue nowadays because of amazing features we have in our DSLRs. Forget it ! Cameras are built to make good standard documentary pictures. They are not built to scrutinize the depth of your soul and, as a result, reinterpret the scenery accordingly ! Making a Photograph is a personal violation not an algorithm  application…

Dominance and Proportions…

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Dominance usually means that some aspect of composition influences the entire composition more strongly than all the other aspects. The dominant part of a photograph is often called the centre of interest or major motif. But, be careful, it’s not what I call the Subject Matter. Subject Matter comes from all the elements that build your image. It is, or should be, a resulting effect of combination of all the components in your image. But a component in the frame may be dominant because of its size, color, location, symbolic value, or any combination of these and other factors. For whatever reason, it acts as a point of visual emphasis or rest, giving a sense of order and stability to the composition.

Proportion has to do with the relative size of objects in the picture space. it is closely related to balance, as the amount of space allocated to a major object or area, in relation to that allocated to a minor one, can determine wether pictorial balance is satisfactory. Proportion has an enormous capacity to influence our understanding and to generate feelings about both an entire composition and its component parts.

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Bords de Loire…

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I keep on thinking Photographers have to be technically proficient even if editing softwares can help in some ways  ! Now that most Photographers shoot in digital, it’s much easier to fake the technical side. But you either have the ability to compose great images or you don’t ! Editing Softwares can enhance a good image but it won’t create one. Once more, what makes the difference is the « guts » you have input in your capture, the message you have infused by way of your composition and, for sure, your ability to master the basic parameters : Aperture / Shutter Speed / DOF & ISO !

I’m very keen on saying being a Photographer is not just about taking the image correctly, technically speaking : You have to possess a vision, a strong sensibility and a disruptive manner to express it !

Frisking the Viewfinder…

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As a Photographer, You must examine your image carefully through the viewfinder in order to preview what the camera will record. You must be sensitive to any elements that will not be recorded as the eye perceives them. Then you can consider wether or not they need to be corrected and, if they do, how to go about doing it !

It’s impossible to overemphasize the importance of careful previewing, even with digital cameras, if you are concerned about good design in your Photographs. Keep in mind you see subjectively but the lens is objective. it doesn’t  pick and choose what is important, but shows everything in its field of view. Getting things right before you press the shutter release usually makes far more sense than trying to correct them later. I really insist on the fact you should read your viewfinder as a page and evaluating, weighing each element in the frame.

Sometimes, by moving one or two steps aside, you’ll change the global balance of your image. This is what we call « Composition ». Identifying what to keep and what to reject, where to place the components. As I observed this butte far away,  I experienced a great surge of emotional response that stimulates me creatively.