Taking Photographs To Use To Create Specific Types Of Images

MonkeyLek · April 15, 2003 2:04 pm

Graphic742.jpgHaving been a professional photographer and always concerned with shooting full frame or with a minimal amount of cropping, I found many years ago that I did not use the same techniques for taking photographs to use in my digital art work as I had when I took photographs for strictly photographic processing. I use multiple photographs to create my artwork. I have a movie on my website that demonstrates the process. I basically paint with tiny parts of an image. I call my method "Multi Image Synthesis." Thus, I compose my images, when taking photographs, for this purpose. And I compose them very differently than I did when I had a black and white darkroom, before I started working on the computer. Graphic743.jpgAs I stated, I compose my photos very differently. When I take them I usually have a purpose in mind. I have three major categories: Photos to use as backgrounds, photos to use as individual elements, and photos of skies. I work with a film scanner, the Nikon Super CoolScan 4000ED, and I have my film developed as I shoot to insure that my cameras are working correctly, the exposures are satisfactory, etc. I like a film scanner for many reasons. Primarily, the color is truer because one is working directly from a negative. Secondly, the default output size for each 35 mm negative is about 60 MB so if there is a small element in a negative I need, I can capture it without losing quality. When one is on a vacation or trip, one cannot control the weather. Fortunately, that is not usually a problem when taking these types of photographs because all types of lighting are useable. Since skies can make or break a picture, I take a lot of photographs of different types of skies so I can use them in a particular image that I am creating. Of course, I will also address, in Photoshop, the lighting of the image as I create it. My favorite light is soft non-directional lighting. With this type of lighting, I can just about create anything. I use a manual camera for all my work. I had an automatic expensive Nikon at one point, but I prefer the manual Nikons. For me they are easier to use. I use fast film, ASA 400, and I like Fuji film. I use Fujicolor Press, or if I am in a bind, I will use Superia X-tra because I can purchase it at all Wal-Mart stores. I use a small f-stop whenever I can of f11 if possible because I want as much of the photograph as possible to be in focus. I can pull portions out of focus in Photoshop. If I am working with a close foreground and a distant background, I often do not put my focus at infinity but somewhere in between so both extremes will be in focus. That is why I like a manual camera. To me being able to control depth of field is very important and much easier on a manual camera. If I were taking a lot of action shots, then, my requirements would be different. I take a number of similar shots with different exposures. Even though the latitude of film is great, often I combine two negatives and thus stretch my exposure curves having more shadow details and highlight details than I would had I just used one negative. I, also, will take different views and perspectives of the same shot if the background looks particularly useful. On my recent trip to Louisiana, I took a number of photographs of alligators to use as I developed swamp scenes. Often I took a background shot that included the alligator and then a close-up of the alligator from the same and different perspectives. Graphic744.jpgOne type of photograph that blurs the line between a background shot and an element shot, in my way of thinking, is one of an object or scene whose exposure runs the gamut from very dark to blinding white. I mentioned this in a previous paragraph, but in this instance I am using it differently. Often I take pictures of waterfalls. The top of the falls will be very light while the bottom is quite dark. I have found it useful to break the falls up into "zones" and deal with each of them separately. Then, I have the option of putting them together without the extreme tonal gamut. Composing in this manner, I have found allows me to keep more detail in the various "Light Zones" of the image. The image on the right is an approximation of a image I created a while ago with an added sky and house (not shown). Photographing elements is easy and can be done at any time. Sometimes I have a list with me of objects I want to photograph for future works. Often, I just will see something I believe is useful. The only time I use a digital camera is when I need an object at home and want to download it directly into the computer. My next article will describe how to easily utilize Ansel Adams' Zone System.
Paula can be reached by e-mail if you have any questions. More reviews can be found on her two web sites: Ephemeral Visions and Perpetual Visions. Check out Paula's past Columns.

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