Sep 052011

As you may know from my previous posts (for example this or this) I am exploring B&W (or monochromatic for that matter) tonality and so today I thought I will elaborate on this topic.

When it comes to light I recognize two types of photos: geometric/graphic ones and tonal ones (note: I may revise this in a while and add more types or change their names, as this is the field I am exploring). The former ones are more classic and are about basic shapes (lines, triangles, golden ratios, etc.) and composition. At this point I cannot appreciate them as much as I would like to – maybe it’s still too early for me. Those photos often have very sharp tonality as it is the best way to draw shapes (think of silhouette photos).

Tonal photos are different. They are also about shapes but those curvy ones. It is more about how light shapes those shapes, how gentle transitions in shadows paint this object for the viewer. This painting can be flat or reach and vivid.

Maybe my fascination with nature is the cause of this preference. I cannot easily think of good examples of natural things which would benefit more from the graphic approach rather than the tonal one. Maybe you can give me such an example?

Back to tonal photos. I saw very few of them which were actually beautiful for me. Those I saw I keep as a reference to practice my skills. One of the photographers who is able to create such reference points for me is Cy DeCosse. Maybe there are others (feel free to send me links/names) but I had an opportunity to meet Cy in person and actually see his work printed. Simply amazing. Please take a look at one of his galleries: The Beauty of Food. Printing such work is another nontrivial issue which I have a feeling I won’t be able to overcome in the nearest future (actually Cy has a master printer, Keith Taylor, who helps him do that).

By the way – this subject (tonality) applies of course to color photos as well but then it becomes in my opinion even more difficult, as you have to take care of composition of colors as well. The same artist has another gallery worth seeing: The Four Seasons.

Few days ago I thought I will give it a shot and try to create a still life photo which would be in the spirit of Cy’s work. Of course I didn’t think I will be even close to that but as for the first time I think it was a step in the right direction. This is also why I wrote study in the title of this post.

The original photo was taken with a black background (a cotton t-shirt, to be precise). Later on I thought it may benefit from a different background but since I didn’t have anything appropriate at home I just found a simple (and free) background somewhere on the web, made a few color adjustments and put the flower there. It is not perfect but this was not the goal in the first place.

The setting: 70mm, f/20, ISO 1600, 1/250 sec., flash (triggered via CLS) into a Flashpoint softbox on the left.

As I mentioned – I think this was a step in the right direction. I really enjoy gentle shadows on the leafs – they are so delicate that you can almost feel it. This is what I was aiming for. Also sepals look wonderful. And with those small pointy moss-like needles (forgive me for this poor description) on them – just like a touch of seasoning, which gives this wonderful flavor.

Any feedback greatly appreciated.

Sep 042011

It should have been earlier post as the following photos, I think, were one of the first ones of mine where I liked B&W tonality. But first things first…

Rebecca came to Minneapolis just for a few days and most of her time was already scheduled with other duties. I think I had only few hours in total to: introduce myself to her (or have someone else introduce me, but you know you cannot rely on other people), get us to know each other well enough so that suggesting a small photo shooting is not entirely awkward, convince this beautiful yet very shy woman to agree to that, make her feel comfortable in front of a camera and take photos, which she actually likes.

I mentioned B&W at first because Rebecca’s photos gave me this strong incentive to work on B&W tones. Before that very often I was discouraged with what I was getting in post processing. I still have to work on this general set of skills but I was very happy with the result I got here.

Clear, warm and reach tones, which show her beauty, tones which play so joyfully on her hair. Great subject to photograph and I hope I will have another opportunity to take more photos of her.

There is one more thing which is very important for me and which I mentioned already. It is very rewarding when you are successful making other person feel comfortable in your company. On the photos I no longer see that shy girl I met just a few days earlier. Go through the photos and look for yourself.

BTW, I added one color photo to this set. Colors of the background were altered as I do not like green so much. I shifted green towards yellow a bit, to make the photo warmer. A few small adjustments (curves, etc.) and I ended up with a photo which, in my opinion, has great colors, which go together very well and make the photo quite enjoyable to watch. Hope you’ll enjoy it too.


Update: it is obvious that different people see the same photos in a different light. Things get more interesting (in my opinion) when there is personal involvement… You may actually learn something about that person… Below is Rebecca’s favorite photo of herself.

 Posted by at 12:00 pm