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.

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…

Objectivity and Creativity…

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In the making of any Photograph, the Photographer intervenes on numerous occasions to make subjective decisions. The camera is a conduit for the image, a connection between « External Reality » and the photosites, the sensor. In a process controlled by the Photographer’s mind and mediated by the technical limitations of the equipment at hand. A photograph is objective only as far as the light entering the lens has faithfully delineated a representation of the view in front of the camera.  In all other respects it is subjective; the choice of viewpoint, framing and composition, lens, filtration, ISO and moment are all essential subjective decisions which determine how the Photograph will look… The interpretation by the viewer is, by definition, subjective !

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Make Truth Your Own Truth…


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Let’s be cautious ! Whilst the Camera cannot lie, « Tt  cannot help being selective ! »  No matter how objective the image appears to be we are always as selective with our interpretations of photographs as we are with the choice of view. When I made this image, I had in mind to convey this dreamy mood as a stylistic conceit. A photograph is – in the sense that « we believe in it« , that we « have faith in it » – little different from direct perception of reality through our own eyes. « 

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Subject Matter… Make It Simple !

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Thinking about what the Subject Matter expresses, rather than thinking about what you can express, puts several things in perspective…

1/ It puts the emphasis on seeing things outside of yourself. It helps you to let go of self and be much more observant of what surrounds you. Careful reading of one’s viewfinder is a prerequisite of good Photography

2/ Paying attention to the details of your surroundings will enrich your sensory experience and stimulate your imagination. By enumerating the elements composing your images, you’ll be able to select or reject the ones that contribute or not to the Subject Matter. The less you keep, the more your message will be clear : Do it Simple to do it Strong !

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Tear the Labels off…

Seascape Workshop

You can learn the characteristics of good visual design by studying and photographing familiar objects around your home. The exercise may seem scholastic but indeed, it’s an excellent way to learn how to tear off the labels our mind associcates to the elements we are close to every single day ! Look at them with a new gaze, try to deconstruct their appearance and emphasize their main characteristics. This photograph illustrates at least three points :

1/ The value of simplicity in composition

2/ In monochromatic pictures, composition depends entirely on placement of tones

3/ The real subject matter of this photograph is not its label : The Sea Tide – but the mixed layered shapes formed by the sea and the sky, all in an harmony of blues…

Simplify The Message…

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A photographer works with tho kinds of materials : the design he observes in his subject matter and the design he creates in his photograph by the way he arranges the subject matter. Analyzing carefully subject matter will help a photographer not only in understanding what it expresses but also in recognizing how the design of the subject matter makes that expression possible. The composition will be the tool to support the natural or inherent design to, at the end, expresses clearly the theme. The rule is to simplify, throw away any kind of noise, distraction, superfluous elements. You have to get the feeling more readily, not to be diverted by unnecessary details or led to incorrect conclusions.

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Beyond the Labels of Things…

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Voir est probablement un de nos sens les plus précieux, le plus développé et celui dont nous avons le plus « conscience ». Il a ceci de remarquable qu’il sollicite, plus que n’importe lequel de nos autres sens, notre intellect,  notre subjectivité, nos émotions. Pour nous les Photographes, ce sens nous fait aller vers notre sujet avec tout ce qui fait notre personnalité, notre individualité. Il nous fait percevoir ce qui nous entoure au delà des étiquettes fonctionnelles attachées à chaque objet et ré-interpréter ces objets en termes de masses, de lignes, de couleur, de tonalités…

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Traveling In One’s Garden…

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This Workshop is about observing and photographing the world around you. I’ll explain why there are all kinds of barriers to seeing and ways to demolish them. I’ll try to remove  your every day glasses that give you a functional view of every object that surrounds you. Instead, we will try to have a naked view on elements, seen as building blocks of visual design.

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Workshop Special Landscape

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Developing your own Point Of View

Redefining what « Landscape Photography » stands for is a valuable exercice. Sometimes, it’s more than helpful, for photographers, to stop and think for two minutes what Photography is all about. It’s a good idea to rebuild what is supposed to be admit and shared by everybody as a definitive and immovable truth.

Pre-digested creative approaches are our worst ennemies. For sure, these preconceptions of the « Best Supposed Way to See This Type Of Landscape » are not there at random ! They certainly are the ones most appreciated by the vast majority of us… But does this means there is no other way to see what is in front of your lenses ? And… Are we supposed to serve this this « vast majority ? »…

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