Sunday, November 1, 2015

Photo Formula in the Digital Darkroom

I've been taking black and white and color photos for about forty-eight years. Mostly nature and landscapes from being an outside advocate. I started working in darkrooms when I attended high school and for many years immersed my hands in photo chemicals just like thousands of photo-bugs all over. It was a very time consuming and often frustrating process to try and secure decent photographs. There were many variables involved that drove a troubling failure rate. It was so frustrating to discover that I did everything correct in processing the negatives and making prints but made mistakes in exposure or focus or camera movement when I took the exposure. Over many years I slowly developed a formula I keep in my head. A process that now is automatic and I do not really need to think about. That has come in real handy when I'm fatigued on a strenuous hike or climbing and may be not thinking straight. 

I try to not criticize or point out differences between other photographers and me in public because I think we all love photography and there is plenty of room for people to try different things. I mean, I read that around 4 million photos are uploaded to Flickr every day so that confirms there is plenty of room for people to do what they want and share with the world! The most important piece of my photos is the subject and composition. If the subject is not somewhat interesting and my composition would not be somewhat compelling, then I don't take my camera out of its bag. 

My photo formula:

Composition Range - the range is wide, inclusive, informative and in as close as I can get at the same time. I try to fill the frame diagonally from corner to corner, and corner to corner. +
Depth +
Texture +
Tonal Range +

Here is Becoming Human at Burning Man 2015. This giant steel art installation was located just outside Center Camp and the artist changed the object it held in its right robot hand each day. A chainsaw in the photo and large artificial flowers during other days. It was a very striking installation and there were always many people taking photos each time I walked by, but I held off because it hadn't met my formula yet. After coffee at Center Camp I was headed out to the playa, saw the clouds that created depth, tonal range and luminosity and sat down on the ground between bike racks to try and increase depth. I wanted to bring out its red patina so in processing I increased contrast and color saturation a lot and it came out just like I wanted when I took the photo.


 Becoming Human by Christian Ristow - Honorarium Art Installation