Back to Real Life…

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Hello Friends,

I have been away for several weeks.  I’m back and very happy to share this new year with you… I’ll try to share my feelings, my insights and my thoughts on Photography with you all, my Friends. Feel free to react, to post your comments. Thank You for your continuous support and enjoy…

Philippe

Tools and Techniques….

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We have to recognize that, in any given situation, there can be many ways to see the Landscape, and while sifting this information through our minds, we must decide on a plan of action to best portray our impression, its effect on us, the prevalent mood we are experiencing. A single word can sometimes describe what we are seeing, though we may neglect to identify it. Soft, tenacious, isolated, nostalgic, expansive, peaceful, rhythmic, pristine, powerful, diminutive, minimalist, triumphant, joyous, delicate, oneiric and challenged are just a few. Our inner conversation ensues : I recognize these visual qualities, and sensing this theme, mood or impression, will select and emphasize it with my photographic choices in terms of technical process  Shutterspeed, Aperture, Deth of Field , ISO choice etc..

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Beauty comes from Simplicity…

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We, Photographers are striving for Simplification. We always need to further simplify what is in front of the camera in order to achieve clarity. There are, three main aspects of simplification :

1 – Remove unwanted clutter from the frame : This is a fairly straightforward process : running your eye around the edge of the frame, for instance, to make sure that nothing unwanted breaks the frame and leads the viewer’s eye away from the subject. Do not draw a road for the viewer to escape your message.  Contrariwise, design your image to convey viewer’s eye as in a funnel.

2 – Simplify to make the space more clearly understood, simply to avoid the situation of not being able to see the wood for the trees. Never try to capture two messages in one frame. Select the one you want to express and eliminate all the elements that do not participate in this expression.

3 – Simplify to help concentrate the viewer’s attention on the subject. Hans Hofmann, the painter wrote : » The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak ». Frequently, I see  the potential strength of an image diluted because the photographer lacked the courage to get in closer to his or her subject. Do not hesitate to what seems to impoverish your subject matter. This will result in a stronger image . Strip away all extraneous detail, remove any unnecessary embellishments or adornments. Go to the core subject and erase everything else.

Eliminating unwanted elements can be done by moving the camera from its initial position, framing the subject differently, zooming in, and acting on depth of Field or a mix of all of these. After making your image, always consider another point of view. Never think you have the ultimate capture. Reconsidering the way you’ve composed your image is an excellent exercise and a powerful mean to improve one’s Creativity.

« Confidence like Art, never comes from having all the answers, it comes from being open to all the questions« 

Diogenes Laertius.

Lighting and Landscapes…

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In most landscapes, it is the lighting that draws your attention to the subject matter. You will ignore a scene one day, but be arrested by it the next – because of the lighting ! It’s a good exercice to analyze why the lighting affects you so strongly. On a sunny day, pay special attention to the play of light and shadow, especially to parts highlighted by the sun. As far as I’m concerned, I do not really like these very sunny days. Lights too often squashes textures, because shadows are cast vertically and with intensity. On an overcast day, observe carefully the gradual transitions from one area of brightness to another. Feel the textures, touch the stuff with your eyes and select carefully your focus point. Tonal contrasts are always significant, both in landscapes and in photographs of them. They enhance or diminish the natural design  of the landscape, depending on their placement and intensity.

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Shell the Creative Process…

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While my workshops attendees are making their photographs, very often, I come to them and interrupt them asking this question :  » What do you consider to be the three essential ingredients on your Photography ? ».  For those who are beginners, sure, there no precise answer, for the others, most of the time,  it’s about a subject matter, a good lighting and for the most advanced : a good composition. I admit the question is not an easy one. As far as I’m concerned, my answer is « Simplicity, Emotion and Beauty » because I think a good lighting is a method more than an ending in itself, the same for a « good composition ». balancing an image will maybe result in a simple message but what’s the goal ? Create an Emotion !  There is this quotation from David Ward  I really like :  » It should be stressed that when I make an image, I don’t consult a mental list : have I included ambiguity ? Is this beautiful, is it simple enough ? Passion and instinct take over and it is only afterwards that I ask why an image worked…« 

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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.