Vision vs. Technique

SmileMake Art – My Interpretation of Graffiti

I recently read a blog post “Wow, how did you do that?” by Cole Thompson, an amazing photographer.  If you have a minute, I encourage you to read it.  For those who don’t have time, here is the part of the article that really spoke to me.

“However when I see people focusing on technique first, I find they usually never get around to putting that same energy into finding their Vision, and as a result their work is technically perfect and masterfully imitative. Technique alone misses the mark.

So instead of focusing on Photoshop and its hundreds of features or following the latest fad technique, put most of your time and energy into your Vision. I promise you that this approach will yield better images and much more satisfying results.

Technique is not the key to a great image. Vision is.” – Cole Thompson

I am so thankful for Mr. Thompson’s words of wisdom! I have had so many conversations recently through which I have been told that I need to master Photoshop and manipulating images because that is the way to go. I have always held to my belief that shooting to capture my vision is the best way to work – I suppose I am a purist, but I want to capture what I see, what I feel, and what is inspiring me. I want to use the light to make my images, not have to go back at the end of the day to try to make what I thought I saw by using a technique that someone else is using.  To me, that would then become me using a vision that belonged to someone else.  I don’t want to lose my vision, or myself to what others think I should be doing to be successful.  Success will come with patience and through hard work and sharing my vision.  The beauty of working with my vision, and using manual settings on my camera and not focusing on a technique, is that I can successfully use a film camera or a digital camera to capture my vision.  Kind of cool, I think!

I’ve been told by photographers that they shoot with the purpose of using the image for an idea they have in PS, or other editing software. To me, that is digital art vs. photography. To call it photography don’t you have to be using the camera to capture light and use your artistic vision to compose the image and use the light to successfully create your vision?

To be clear, I am not opposed to post processing a digital image, after all, isn’t the software for digital imaging like the darkroom to film photography? In fact, you have to process an image to some extent, don’t you?  Some images are fabulous straight out of camera (SOOC), but others need a little processing – a color burn, a dodge, a color balance, etc., and there is nothing wrong with HDR work when done effectively so that the subject doesn’t look fake.  The reality is that no matter how hard we work to achieve the perfect image in camera, the camera doesn’t always see what we see.  My goal is always to get as close to accurate as possible with exposure and white balance and the best possible composition – do the very best at what I can control and edit what maybe I couldn’t control as well.

I think that Mr. Thompson’s  insight is accurate as far as differentiating artistic vision using photography vs. the art of digital manipulation and creation.  A little dodge and burn, etc. are post processing tools that even the greatest photographers used in the dark room.  But the over saturation and complete manipulation of an image to the point that the original image is lost, to me, is another art form – digital art, which, in and of itself, can be amazing when done right, and should not be discounted as an art form, just designated as digital art vs. photography.

Another link to check out is the website of Jerry Uelsmann.  He is a film photographer that has been called the father of Photoshop, not because he uses Photoshop, but because he uses tools, techniques and expertise in the dark room to develop his negatives.  Through his years as a photographer he has overlaid negatives, and done amazing, and sometimes crazy, things to create images, often using multiple negatives to do so.  His work is thought-provoking and time intensive.  But, his work was all created through his vision captured in the form of photographs.  He often combined his visions to create new visions, but because he used his vision and captured that vision in the form of photographs it still falls into the realm of photography, to me at least.  The title applied to his techniques; “the father of Photoshop” certainly applies as he inspired the digital art world to become what it is today.

Realizing this post has the possibility to be controversial to some, I want to note that I am in no way trying to offend anyone or discredit the work of any photographers or their techniques.  I’m just stating my opinion and explaining my thoughts and letting you, the reader, know how I work.  I thought Mr. Thompson’s article was very valuable and may perhaps inspire and help others to find and use their vision and grow as photographers vs. attempting to do the work others are doing.  The reality is that none of us can truly copy another’s work when it comes to photography because photography is capturing a moment in time using a vision that will never exist with the same light again. I think the key to successful photography is knowing your vision, knowing how to use your camera to capture your vision through manual settings, and following your heart to further develop your vision through post processing.

Another link I’d like to share with you is the website for the International Center for Photography in New York City.  One of the current exhibits is titled “What is a Photograph?”.  I can’t wait to see it and hope that some of you make your way to visit the museum as well.

Enjoy going out and creating “your” art this weekend!

Merry Christmas

The Reds and Greens of Christmas

Red of Christmas

Reds of Christmas

Greens of ChristmasGreens of Christmas

Reds and Greens of ChristmasReds and Greens of Christmas

Greens and Reds of ChristmasReds of Christmas

Reds with Greens of ChristmasReds with Greens of Christmas

Greens of ChristmasGreens of Christmas

Why red and green at Christmas?  The Catholic faith uses red as the color to represent Jesus because of his death on the cross and his blood that was shed for the sins of humanity.  Green is the color of nature, representing life, and therefore the hope of eternal life.

Behold Snow

“Kindness is like snow – it beautifies everything it covers”- Unknown

Beautified by SnowBeautified by Snow

“When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow, we hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago, and etched on vacant places are half-forgotten faces of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know.”- Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Loves CherishedLoves Cherished

 

“How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said.”- Victor Hugo

A Kiss of SnowA Kiss of Snow

Golden Peace

A wave of grace

Washes over the soul

As the golden glow

Of the sun recedes

Beyond the horizon.

A wave of golden warmth

Moves the heart

And stirs the emotions

Of then and now,

Of loves lost and gained,

For people who’ve come and gone

With the ebb and flow

Of the waves of life

Flowing near and far

Tempting the soul to grasp

The glory of the golden peace

That often lies beyond our reach.

Until, at last,

We concede to accept

The love and peace

Offered by –

The divine.

copyright Robyn Graham

Golden Peace

Golden Peace

Innocence

“I might have some character traits that some might see as innocence or naive. That’s because I discovered peace and happiness in my soul. And with this knowledge, I also see the beauty of human life.” – Toby Maquire

InnocenceInnocence

Depending on which reference used, the Gerbera Daisy represents innocence, thus the selection of the quote above.

I used light to create a feeling of  innocence in this photograph by creating a blown-out background.   I think this technique creates an ethereal feeling which enhances the mood of innocence.

Wishing you moments of innocence and recognition of the beauty of human life everyday!

Stormy Seas

 

 

Stormy Seas

 

Stormy Seas

Image taken at Yaquina Head, Oregon

Settings: F20, ISO 400, SS 1/500, 85mm using a 70-300mm f 4.5-5.6 lens on my D800

Edits: Unlike most of my images, which I perform minimal edits to, I went out on a limb and I edited this one in Photoshop using a color burn layer and texture.

I just wish that I had caught the light on the light house…  😦  When traveling with kids and a husband, however, patience is not in abundance.

I’d love to have your feedback.  What do you think?

A Day in Solitary Confinement

From cell block nine

I am released,

For a narrow window of time.

Cell Block NineCell Block Nine

Narrow Window of TimeNarrow Window of Time

With burlap covering my eyes

And my hands cuffed behind my back,

The guard knows I

Cannot attack.

With confidence he leads the way.

Not a word do I dare say.

My senses tell me I’m in a long corridor

But we have not yet passed through a door.

Long CorridorA Long Corridor

Door to Corridor

Door

When suddenly the guard’s grasp

Upon my arm adjusts

And I hear the rusty sound of metal.

I recognize the sound,

My memory serves me well

Inside this prison’s hell.

Prison's Hell

Prison’s Hell

I feel a hand now press my head,

This is my cue to bend.

I’m told to take another step

And with that step

I fear the place I may be near.

But finally the guard decides

For just a minute he’s on my side.

He tells me where I am

And where I shall reside.

Solitary Exercise Yard

Solitary Exercise Yard

My thirty minutes don’t last long

In the concrete yard

With little reward

But the sun’s deep warmth.

The sun, it makes me grin

And my mind wonders

Back to the days before

I stole the horse named Gin.

Four stone walls

And a concrete floor

Are the solitary exercise yard.

No hoop or ball

Just me and four concrete walls.

I pace

And make my heart race

While the sun beats down upon my face.

I smile all the while

Until at last

My name is called,

Metal scrapes,

And once again

To the darkness I dread

I am lead.

With each blind step I climb

My mind begins to numb.

Blind StepsBlind Steps

The solitary life that I now live,

Is one I must forgive.

copyright Robyn Graham

The poem above was inspired by a recent trip to Eastern State Penitentiary in which I did the audio tour and heard testimonies from former prisoners as well as former guards.  If my memory serves me correctly, the first prisoner to experience solitary confinement was a man who stole a horse.  His head was covered so that he could not define his where-a-bouts and so that no one could identify him.  The images accompanying the poem are a few that I felt coordinated well with the story told through the poem.  The quote below by Charles Dickens really summarizes what life in solitary confinement was like.  The quote, too, fell in line with the words of my poem.

“Looking down these dreary passages, the dull repose and quiet that prevails, is awful. Occasionally, there is a drowsy sound from some lone weaver’s shuttle, or shoemaker’s last, but it is stifled by the thick walls and heavy dungeon-door, and only serves to make the general stillness more profound. Over the head and face of every prisoner who comes into this melancholy house, a black hood is drawn; and in this dark shroud, an emblem of the curtain dropped between him and the living world, he is led to the cell from which he never again comes forth, until his whole term of imprisonment has expired….He is a man buried alive; to be dug out in the slow round of years….

And though he lives to be in the same cell ten weary years, he has no means of knowing, down to the very last hour, in what part of the building it is situated; what kind of men there are about him; whether in the long winter night there are living people near, or he is in some lonely corner of the great jail, with walls, and passages, and iron doors between him and the nearest sharer in its solitary horrors.” – Charles Dickens in 1842 after he visited the Eastern State Penitentiary

 

“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.  Whoever loves his brother lives in the light and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.”  1 John 2:9-10

Magnificence of Beauty

 “I played around with the flowers and the lighting, so that was a good way to educate myself.” – Robert Mapplethorpe

Magnificence of Beauty

Magnificence of Beauty

The quote above could have come directly from me…I have learned so much about light and the art of photography through my work with flowers.  Two passions colliding to create art and beauty.

Clouds on Nine

Much of our family time was spent on the golf course this weekend…in between rain and thunderstorms.  This is one of the more dramatic images of the sky just before sunset Friday evening.

Clouds on Nine

“Life gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want to do if you stay in the present moment.” –

Deepak Chopra

The Dragonfly

Words associated with the Dragonfly:

light

vision

adaptive

color

magic

joy

illusion

change

sense of self

souls of the dead

summer

mysticism

wish

 

Joy

Joy

New Light

Mystical

MysticalLight and Color