Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Art Show Mode

(Click on the thumbnail for the bigger, better version)

I am still in Art Show mode and, because of the images I am working on, I can only see horses, as you can tell by the picture above. Because the equine part of the show in May got the most attention, I have added only new work that capitalizes on that interest. The new work for the June 5th show consists mostly of stylized pieces such as the one here, and most of them involved considerable Photoshop work. Once again, I enjoy that part of the job, so it hasn’t been drudgery. Still, I have my days when I think that I am tired of the monitor screen, don’t want to touch the mouse, and just want to take new photographs. As you might guess, the start of my SoFoBoMo project is still at least a week away and I am getting a little antsy about that. Finally, I am in the midst of framing for the show with ninety percent of the printing done, but I won’t wrap this up for a few more days.

When I am doing this much processing, it seems I slip almost completely into a non-verbal mode. Anyone who visits this blog frequently knows that most of the time I can happily chatter on almost endlessly about almost nothing. But, when I am working on certain types of pictures, I tend to sink down into another kind of being and there aren’t many words there. That’s where I have spent most of the last week.

Not surprisingly, preparation for this show has been a learning experience. The learning is in the form of a reminder. Some of the new pieces were worked on months ago (years in some cases), but were never printed; and, while the files looked fine to me on the screen, test prints proved that they were not quite ready for prime time, after all. It is amazing, isn’t it, how great the distance between “almost good enough” to “yes, that’s what I was looking for”? Those last few tweaks go slowly for me, partly because I often need to walk away from an image for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes.

And that’s not the half of it. When I am working on a new piece, I usually have no clue where I am headed. I just know that there is the shadow of something in the photograph and I won’t be content until I have coaxed that out. And, wouldn’t it be fun if it were as simple as sprinkling some Photoshop fairy dust on the image and waiting for the new image to magically emerge? Still, the ability to transform a photograph so profoundly (even with hours of patient starting, backing up, and starting again) to ultimately produce something that touches people is almost magical to me.

I am quite aware that this talk about so much work in the digital darkroom brings up a sensitive topic for many photographers. If you are purist and don’t think photographs should be tampered with, you would run—not walk away from much of what I produce. I happen to swing back and forth between the two schools of thought. I have periods where I am only interested in photographs that required minimum processing. On the other hand, I go through phases of taking photographs to the point that many viewers aren’t certain what the origins of the image might be. Never having functioned as a photographer prior to digital, I have no allegiance to the purist school. I live there when it pleases me; when I get hungry for something else, I switch back to the fairy dust.


  1. For me the proof is in the results and judging from the image above you've done no wrong--hauntingly beautiful!

    So, if the process makes you something "less then a purist," so be it. Artist have always been rebels to large degree.

  2. Earl - Thanks for your comment and I am delighted that this one affects you. I am okay with that "rebel" tag.

  3. I think it's better to be a fine artist than a "pure" photographer. Art is a higher calling.

    This image is simply stunning, my dear! You are truly called and gifted!

  4. Amy - You are so kind. What a lovely comment and quite assuring. I appreciate your stopping by.

  5. Almost as enticing as a beautifull woman.

  6. Bob - Wow! That's a fascinating observation. I like it!

  7. Anita, what an incredible portrait. I think that this one will sell as soon as, if not sooner than, you can get it on the wall! Wow!

    Regarding that pursists nonsense, not even purists were purist back in the days of film. There were many an hour spent dodging and burning to get the print just right. There were changes of paper, developer, etc, all to get the print just right. There is no such thing as an objective reality. We view it all through our filters, so let your filters be free, my friend!

    As for wanting the magic fairy dust? No thanks! Let me do it the hard way. Let me coax out that image, which interestingly, may be a completely different image given a different day. That's the fun of it. Admit it! ;-)

    By all means, stay in your quiet place for as long as you need. I, and I'm sure others, will still be here when you emerge! You're really hitting your stride. It's a joy to see. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Paul - I certainly hope you are right about this one selling. That bill for all these new frames needs to be paid.

    I know that manipulation of negatives goes way back, so I don't fret a lot about what I am doing. And, you are so right about enjoying it more simply because you can't just sprinkle fairy dust. I can't get interested in the canned ready-made filters in Photoshop because they never seem quite right. Besides, as you observe, the fun part is the nudging, coaxing, and listening part that makes the final product satsifying. I enjoy watching the image gradually emerge.

    Thanks for all the encouraging words. I appreciate the support. You know me—I'll be back soon, chattering away.


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