Sunday, October 11, 2015

Picture Process Before and After: When is it Art?

About twice a year we travel to Eastern Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains. My wife and I just love this part of the country. We do this to enjoy the vast beauty of nature and to get pictures I turn into art for my web site

I wanted to discuss art as it applies to myself and my interpretation of the work presented on my web sites and blog. First the definition of "Art"; (as defined by Oxford Dictionaries)

  1. the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power:
  2. the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance: 
  3. subjects of study primarily concerned with the processes and products of human creativity and social life, such as languages, literature, and history (as contrasted with scientific or technical subjects): 
A very liberal definition of a noun indeed. So "Art" can be defined in any way either by the originator (artist) or by the viewer. So is photography an art form? Yes. Is every photography an art piece? No. So what defines a photograph as art? Intent and vision of the photographer. Is my answer.

So lets use a wedding photographer as an example. During a very busy wedding day hundreds of images will be captured. Of those images there are two categories, for arguments sake, those that you want to define the day,it's that "money shot". And the others. Lets start with the others. These are pictures that need to be taken. There is intent, but maybe not vision. They would be the group of cousins with the bride and groom, friends from school, etc. They are pictures taken to record the day. Probably very little post processing. Check exposure. Crop. And that may be all. History markers, I was here and so were they. A very good picture and very important to the newly married couple. But not art.

Now lets get into the art. At some point in the day the photographer becomes an artist. When it is time to take those images that define the wedding couple and define the photographers style. That style is created through intent and vision. This is the reason this couple was attracted to this particular photographer, for his/her artistic qualities. 

The art begins with the vision that photographer has for a particular look. This will encompass the couple, location, equipment and experience of the photographer. Every art piece begins as a captured image and ends as completed art using pre and post processing of that picture into something greater. Because intent and vision.

Every photographic art piece begins as a picture. It's what you do with it that tuns it into art. Looking at definition #1 above. It is every photographers personal expression that defines their art.  So therefore, I am an artist. Are you? 

On to the images of my art from the Smokys this past summer. Off the beaten tourist path there is an area in the park that has some old homes/cabins. Exploring this area I came upon this scene and loved the quality of the wood patterns and grain versus the stone of the fireplace. I took a number of pictures in this cabin room, always coming back to the fireplace.

Equipment used in this instance was my OMD EM-1 on a tripod and the 14-40mm/2.8 lens. A very good lens by Olympus. The first image up is straight out of camera. I liked the relationship of the window to the fireplace, and wanted to try creating a darker mood.

The initial capture using OMD EM-1 on tripod. Smoky Mountains

Below is the intermediate image. Processed in Capture One. I use my technique of bringing down the overall exposure. Then brushing in the the light using the detail layer brushes in Capture One. The light rays were also brushed in. The mood is there. This is what I had envisioned in my mind when capturing the image.

Intermediate Image almost done. Processed in Capture One.

Now for the final image. Coming across on the blog the image may look the same as the intermediate image. The final image has a very subtle layer of glow added with onOne software suite 9.5. When printed I can see the difference. The glow adds to the ambiance as a mood enhancer. Glow is good when added at a very low level. 

Final Image. A very slight bit of Glow added.
So there you have it. A discussion of how I define art and another example of my art in process. The reason for this blog is this very discussion. I want to discuss the art of photography. Not just the hardware but what we do with the image after capture.

So what do you think? Do you agree with me on the photographer as artist? Are you one?

In a future blog I will talk about creating art straight out of the camera.

Take care and safe travels.