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.