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Finding Artistic Development
Back in the days of negative film and transparencies (slides to some of you), actually shooting the image was just a part of the photographic equation, and typically the quickest part of the equation. I remember how excited we all got when the 35mm cameras started coming out with built-in motorized film advance. Shortly thereafter we could even buy a motorized film drive attachment for our medium format cameras. That would surely save our thumbs from future arthritis (or so we thought).
Aside from commercial work where setting-up was probably the longest part of the process, walking around taking scenic photos, or family photos, or even shooting a wedding, was primarily an exercise in clicking the shutter button, and then doing it again, and again, and again. Most likely in rapid succession.
Next we moved to the development process of the film, which most of you probably never did unless it was for a photography class and you were developing black and white negative film in your windowless basement bathroom, as so many of us had to do. Then again most of you just dropped your exposed canister of film at the drug store or the shopping club or that weird looking yellow and orange hut in the middle of the grocery store parking lot, or, you mailed it away and prayed like hell.
For those of you that did work in a darkroom, and did your own printing of enlargements, you know how much time and effort (and trial and error) went into developing those prints. It was no less than a very time-consuming process, dodging the shadows and burning the highlights and masking this area and exposing more for that area.
Without the development of the prints, there was just the negative, and it’s not like you could walk around bragging to your friends and family about your awesome photography skills by just showing them the negatives.
Fast forward to today; the digital age.
Now, if we so choose, we can just pretty much concentrate on shooting JPG format images and let the camera’s built-in software do the processing of those captures. We can go into our camera’s menu and even select a “shooting style” or “picture style” and have the camera process those JPG images in any number of flavors that suit our needs. Most people don’t even realize that they can do this, so their camera’s shooting style is just firmly planted on “standard” which is typically the camera’s default. What they shoot is what they get and they’re happy campers (how many campers do you know that are actually happy after a cold rainy weekend?) Of course, a JPG file can still be opened and altered in a photo editing software program, but with limitations.
Now for the photographer that wants more, or even full control over their captures, be it a novice, advanced, semi-professional, professional, or “I know it all” photographer, there is the RAW file format, which essentially is a file containing all of the information recorded by your camera’s sensor during exposure, as opposed to that JPEG file that has been compressed and altered by your camera, and does not contain all of the information recorded by your camera’s sensor during exposure because it has been conveniently discarded by your camera.
A RAW file format is a better way to go, but you need to use the right software programs to be able to open, convert, and edit RAW files, otherwise, that RAW data is worthless. Which bring us to why mastering post-processing in the digital age of photography is so important.
That uncompressed RAW information that your camera has captured contains minimally processed image data with lossless quality. It contains the direct image data from the camera sensors with no alterations or loss of quality. This RAW file format is used to store all of the details of the recorded image so that they can be edited with the photographer’s own spin and artistic vision.
In order to be able to correctly and accurately process, edit, and alter the RAW image, and with your vision in mind, you need to master at least some of the image post-processing software available to you as an artist. RAW images files are there waiting for you to, depending on your tastes and vision, add saturation, contrast, texture, clarity, leveling, denoise, sharpening, vibrance, color correction, lens correction, and a host of other image enhancements that help bring your vision into focus (oh what a great pun!).
Mastering post-processing is definitely a progression, and in the end, in my opinion, more important than composing and clicking that shutter button to make that capture.
The weather is gradually cooling down this time of year, and depending on where you are located, the summer foliage is starting to transform into the beautiful palette of colors of autumn. Fall foliage is one of my favorite subjects to photograph. Around every turn are exciting colors and patterns. There are colors to the left, colors to the right, beautiful colorful leaves below your feet, and of course, above you.
Fall foliage photography can be extremely rewarding in almost any weather. On a beautifully sun-splashed day the colors are vibrant and electric. On a rainy day the colors are wet and saturated. Each droplet of rain on a leaf acts like a mini magnifying glass, magnifying the color and texture. A dusting of snow helps to highlight the fall colors against the whiteness of the snow. There is rarely a bad time to photography fall foliage.
There are no hard and fast rules as to which cameras and lenses are better than others. Just the mere fact that you are outside with any camera is a great start. Here are some tips that may help you accomplish more pleasing images:
I love to travel, be it domestically or internationally. These days, and you can well imagine, most of my traveling is local and within the borders of the United States. Regardless of where I go, I love to travel off of the beaten path so to speak. Day trips, weekend trips, and longer trips affords me the opportunity to explore and to create some great landscapes.
On a recent week-long trip to the Bar Harbor, Maine region, I had several opportunities to travel unfamiliar territory (all of it was unfamiliar to me) and do some exploring. The weather was in the 70’s and the humidity was low as well. Quite a difference from the mid 90’s we have been experiencing in Maryland at the time.
What I will typically do is look at an online map of an area and then I look for water. Where there is water are usually bridges to shoot from or just great reflections of the surroundings.
If there are some great skies during the day, even better. A great sky to a photographer is one with stunning clouds against a great blue backdrop.
When I compose a landscape, I look for layers. Maybe there are some foreground grasses or a nearby tree, and then possibly a stream or lake or a meadow. Then another layer may be mountains or another line of trees, and then lastly a layer of the sky.
If you have not yet joined my free photography educational group, The Annapolis Photography Workshop Group, you may want to consider it. We do a lot of online training so your location will be irrelevant for the most part, but we also do in-person domestic and international workshops. Also don’t forget to visit my main website Positive Negatives , and be sure to check out all of the training videos I have produced and made available, typically for just $8