Epiphany in a small contact print.

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This is nothing more than excitement I guess and many will probably say something like , -"oh yeah, I know that"

Once you get far enough away from a print to not be able to discern the subject of the print you begin to see the patterns and shapes. My prints are 5x7 contacts so I do not need to be very far away, but the prints, of mine, I find to be the most pleasing to me are the ones that have very strong classic shapes: Arches, triangles, lines, etc... I also notice that these are becoming more and more prevelent in my photos. Almost to the point of being blatant. I then took some of my favorite BW photos that I have in books and put them up so I could back away from them. The same is true for those images. I always wondered what drew me to those photographs.

You can even do this with the photos in the gallery. Just roll your chair back until you cannot discern the subject of the photo. The shapes will really jump out at you.

Now I just need a dark cloth big enough and a ground glass bright enough for me to view it from like 10 feet away stopped down to my usual f/32. I wonder if rendering the subject just out of focus would give the same results as moving really far away.

I noticed that I do not actually see color photos this way but it is close; the I seem to use the color to augment and accentuate the shape. I did the digital conversion on a couple of my favorite color shots and they have the strong shapes but they lack a lot. They need color in the photograph.
 

donna-marie

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'tis called composition . . .

I print nothing unless the contact (35mm 0r 120) looks good while squinting . . .
 

carsonius

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colour versus b&w

B&W images and colour images work in very different ways: the human eye is naturally drawn to high-contrast edges in a monochrome image, and to the centre of bright coloured areas in coloured images. This is why strong geometric shapes (and textures) work better in B&W...
 

jovo

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carsonius said:
This is why strong geometric shapes (and textures) work better in B&W...

It's more and more evident to me that that is very, very true. The more graphic an image....the better it scans from a distance....the more successful it's likely to be. I seem to be learning that by experience with every image I make that doesn't work very well.

Robert Glenn Ketchum made a series of color photographs in the early 80's that had his lens plunged into thickets and woodsy copses filled with glowing autumn and winter light. They are a revelation. I've often tried do find a way to do something similar in black and white, but always without success unless there's a really strong graphic element or two to hold it together.
 

FrankB

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Never tried that...

Must. Thank you.
 

matt miller

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mark,

It's interesting that you bring this up. I've recently begun to defocus my view camera while under the dark cloth to get a better look at the tonal balance in my composition. I've found it a useful step. I've never consciously noticed the geometry of the image, but will look for it now. Thanks for the tip.
Matt
 

roteague

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matt miller said:
I've recently begun to defocus my view camera while under the dark cloth to get a better look at the tonal balance in my composition.

I find that I can accomplish the same thing by just taking a step back from the camera and looking at the groundglass without the darkcloth. I do primarly color.
 

Jan Pietrzak

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Mark,

The wowondroushing is when you see viewers of small prints get sucked across a room to see what all that gegeometrys really doing to them. It is so much fun to watch. They know that they like some thing but don't no why. Then they discover all the neat little things in the print.

Jan Pietrzak
 

Jan Pietrzak

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Mark,

The wondrous thing is when you see viewers of small prints get sucked across a room to see what all that gegeometrys really doing to them. It is so much fun to watch. They know that they like some thing but don't no why. Then they discover all the neat little things in the print.

Jan Pietrzak
 

TPPhotog

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I find that as I wear glasses if I take them off for a shoot I can just about make out the settings on the camera, but I seem to spot compositions much easier than with the aided eyes.

Through the viewfinder things do become clear again but I'm already pointing the camera for the composition before I see it tack sharp. Just remember to put the glasses back on before driving home, not that I have ever forgotten of course ooops.
 

SuzanneR

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After the shoot, when you have your negatives, sometimes it's also quite useful to look at them on the lightbox upside down. It'll reduce the images to shapes and tones, and can really help with decision making on what to print. I often do this when I can't quite make up my mind. This can be particularly helpful with 35mm and medium format negs. The beauty of LF, of course, is composing everything upside down in the camera!
 

MSchuler

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Right-brain viewing

I've been re-reading "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" and this thread has been very interesting, as it corresponds very strongly to the author's opinion that focusing on content that can be intellectually analyzed ("oh, that's a face") interferes with a focus on the overall composition. Everyone here has presented very interesting techniques for shifting to right-brain thinking... please keep it up!
 

Donald Miller

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MSchuler said:
I've been re-reading "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" and this thread has been very interesting, as it corresponds very strongly to the author's opinion that focusing on content that can be intellectually analyzed ("oh, that's a face") interferes with a focus on the overall composition. Everyone here has presented very interesting techniques for shifting to right-brain thinking... please keep it up!

In my opinion that is one of the benefits of a view camera or even a camera with a waist level finder. It does get the analytical brain out of the way long enough to percieve shapes, forms, and lines at the expense of seeing indentifiable and named objects.

My good friend Blansky got me involved with this particular photographic practice when he became my spiritual mentor...As I recall he said something like "It's about composition dumb a**" . I will go to my grave remembering the moment that my life pivoted on the head of that pin...
 

ooze

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I have this book called "Atget", with a text by John Szarkowski next to each photo. It's a fantastic book and I've been trough it countless times. However, there are some photos I "understand" less than the others and one day while I was looking at one of those odd ones my eyes drifted towards infinity while still looking at the picture, and suddenly it struck me that now I perceived the image as impeccably balanced and beautiful. That was a fantastic experience, which I suppose is similar to yours, and a good lesson for me.
 

David

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I find a similiar fsacination with shapes as the underlying structure of a photograph. I wear glasses and can't see much beyond gross shapes without them which suits me just fine. Often when looking at a possible image I takes off the specs and enjoy the shapes and see if they 'work' photographically.
 
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