Asparagus 1684

Wednesday night I struggled with post-production for four hours before midnight. After all that the images I finished were so-so. After midnight, when I kept thinking I should be going to bed, suddenly I slipped into a creative mode.

Working on a photo closeup of flower buds on the parsley plant in my bedroom window, I altered the hue then added a photo filter and a solid color adjustment layer. I enlarged the canvas but now it took on the color of the color adjustment layer. I played with the opacity of the color adjustment layer and voila! There was the image I wanted! In quick succession, I took the original and once again, with a few deft strokes, I came up with the second image.

They’re not spectacular but working on those images suggested a direction for creating visual art. I want to create images that do not so much represent reality as tell of the inner promptings occasioned by the photographs. Instead of verisimilitude I want to build upon photographs to express my own aesthetic, even an artistic effect through the manipulation of colors, lines and shapes.

Today I only did this one image. Again nothing special but this image of asparagus hit the spot. In England they say, “Blue and green, only on the Queen!” Traditional artists don’t think blue and green should go together. But they do!

I could have done more today – the energy was high and bright – but my archival backup RAID drive suddenly went out on me last week. I could only read the files and couldn’t alter anything on the disk. On my old desktop computer, the RAID was connected via Apple’s Firewire 800 that my MacBook Pro does not support. Copying files from the corrupted drive was taking forever.

Finally this evening I went out and purchased a USB 3.0 external drive. Instead of hours copying took minutes. Shortly after midnight, I finished copying the files on the 3 TB mirroring RAID array. I couldn’t reformat it for RAID but was able to erase the drive and recover the 6 TB. It’s no longer RAID and it is USB 2.0. I’ll use it a third disk backup for my photo and video archive.

So, another day that could have been great for doing production work ended up as archival work. Such is the life of a photographer/artist. As much as I want to do fun, creative work, sometimes I have to use precious energy for grunt work!

A Photographer as a Visual Artist

Jerusalem Hands P1000829

What are the limits within which a bona fide photographer must work and how far can he move outside the box and still call himself a photographer?

I have combined images before but not much. It was laborious when using Selection Tools but now that I’ve learned to use masks, combining images is much easier. The image above is one I did today.

Part of me resists combining images. What I’ve done so far in post is alter exposure, contrast and hue. Combining images would be a huge step. It involves structural modification.

With layers and masks, I can use collage to paint not only with color but with images. I have an old Wacom tablet that I have never used continuously. The tablet would enable me to use a pressure-sensitive surface to vary the heaviness of my “paint” brush and thus achieve texture as well as different widths of strokes. Somehow though I am starting to like the difference between painting and photography. They are both visual media but each has its own traditions and history that I rather like to keep separate.

I would be more inclined to use masks to combine images if what I am combining are not recognizable images but patterns or color blends that add depth and complexity to my photographic composition. I still think that a photographer, even a digital photographer, should restrict himself to tools that relate to qualities of light i.e. saturation, hue, contrast as well as color, lines, and shapes. The structure of the image he has to capture from real life. That’s the main ingredient to which he adds emendations as a cook adds spices and herbs to a pot roast!

In this I may be in a diminishing fraction and I question my resistance. All things change and it’s those who can think outside the box who lead the way.

Are we bound to preserve the limitations imposed on film photography? A digital camera captures an image conveyed to its sensor via reflected light. That image is what a photographer works with. But then he uses another gadget to process that image, a computer program to manipulate the pixels comprising his “image.” These two, camera and computer, share equal billing for today’s photographic output.

A visual artist may use matériel like oil, pigments, fabric, found objects from the garbage dump, hair, rope, wire, titanium sheets, vegetable matter, and yes, photographic images. His mandate is not just too keep the brain from going senile early; his mandate is to create a diversion for the eyes, a challenge to the mind behind those eyes to imagine and dream, to think the impossible, to believe.

To remain relevant art has to change with a society’s conventions, with its emerging technology. Maybe to be able to call oneself a photographer is not the point. Maybe we should think of ourselves as visual artists first and only secondarily photographers. The goal is the same for all who use the eyes as windows into the Soul.

Exploring Black and White Conversions

Converting a color image to black and white offers many more possibilities than I thought possible. Shades and tints can vary and Photoshop offers several ways of achieving effects, including what commonly is called “high contrast” processing that is so popular nowadays  especially among young people conditioned by images in magazines for young fashionistas, both male and female. Here’s an example: