A tutorial about the creation of the image Exuberance I – Vision and black and white post processing
This is the first time I am publicly posting this image. You can also see it in the book From Basics to Fine Art – Black and White Photography, written with Joel Tjintjelaar together with many other images I never posted publicly. These images can be seen only in the book, being created especially for it. You can find details about the creation and processing of this and many others in the book.
It was not a long exposure this time. I shoot handheld once in a while and especially when there are no clouds or water in my frame or when the subject is enough to create the image itself.
This is an image of a bridge I love and whose realization I followed closely from the first to the last moment of its construction.
About the subject – Rio-Antirrio Bridge, Patras
A piece of interesting trivia first about the bridge. The Rio-Antirrio (or Charilaos Trikoupis) bridge is the longest cable-stayed suspended bridge in the world (2,880 m or 1.8 miles long) and one of the most difficult to realize constructions in the world due to the particularities of the site, the seismic activity of the region and the strong winds blowing here especially during the winter time. The depth of the water where the suspending pylons are built reaches 65 m in some places, which made this structure even more difficult to design and realize. It is considered to be an engineering masterpiece and it was built by a Greek-French consortium led by the group Vinci, the construction being coordinated by architect Berdj Mikaelian.
About the image – Shooting conditions
And now some more about the image.
The image was shot on a very sunny day, as many summer days are in Greece (today for instance it’s sunny and we have 37 C, or 100 F for those familiar with Fahrenheit degrees) and it is, as I said, a short exposure. The other images in the series (a series about this bridge) are long exposures and I will post them soon.
Vision and creative process – The meaning of the image title
My vision for this image and what I wanted to show here was the force and the power this bridge coveys especially when you go close to it. While from afar it looks like a very elegant, gracious and slim construction, it is only if you go near the pylons when you understand what lies beneath the grace you see from a distance. And this is a tremendous strength and force that can be seen in every detail of this structure and it is justified by the work that each element of this bridge has to do, which is supporting the whole construction suspended at such a dazzling height above the sea. Together with this wave of force, or because of it, you can also feel a great joy and a great admiration for the creators of this bridge, a feeling that fills you with exuberance – thus the name: Exuberance.
This bridge always reminds me of a person that looks calm, gracious and even frail from a distance, but that is capable to show the strongest will and biggest force under the visible shell and when circumstances require it.
Telling my story through the image
As I always do in my photography work, I try to show not only the object, but mostly how the object made me feel, the thoughts and sensations it triggered in me and the stories I’ve seen in it. This is what I mean when I’m talking about vision, this is what translating your vision into image is for me.
In this case the most important way of translating my vision into image was to choose the right view of the bridge and the right composition. I did this by going close to the bridge and trying to have as a foreground the element that is the most important in the structure of this bridge, thus in conveying my vision of showing the strength of its elements, and this was a cable standing on its base, with a background consisting in one of the pylons of the bridge, the next most important element in my shot and in the structural geometry of the bridge: the pylon supports the cables that in their turn support the bridge. Most of the work here is done by the cables, the pylons are only the ones supporting the cables, as the bridge doesn’t lay on the pylons and has no contact with them, despite this being what one could see without knowing details about the structure.
Interpreting the structure of the architectural subject and using it in making a statement through the image
I’m giving you all these details about the structure for two reasons. First, so you understand better my work and how I choose my subjects and compose my images. Second, so I can show you why it is so important to understand your subject, the architectural object in front of you, also to understand how it structurally functions and which is its function, also what was the vision of the architect designing it. Of course you can shoot architecture without knowing all these things, but knowing them will take your architectural work to the next level, so never go shoot an architectural object without studying it in all these aspects beforehand.
This is one of the best pieces of advice I can give to a fine art architectural photographer.
Understanding how the structure of a building works, at least intuitively, will take your architectural photography to the next level because you will be able to understand the vision of the architect and use it in your image.
You can read this article I wrote if you want to consult a more in-depth tutorial about the creation of a fine art architectural photograph.
Black and white processing – Photography Drawing (PhtD)
Second part in realizing my vision here was the processing I did to the image. I can tell you that, once you have a vision in mind, once you know what story you want to tell, it’s very easy to process an image, of course supposing you are already mastering the technical part of it, which is working with processing software.
What I did here processing-wise was to follow my thought of showing the cables as the main structural element of the bridge and the main compositional element of my frame and you can see that my interest (and the brightest tones I used) went to the foreground cable and then to the ones in the background, the rest of the image being subdued tonally speaking so it shows that these elements were secondary in the geometry of the image and in my vision of this bridge.
Therefore, my vision for this bridge is the reason this image is processed the way it is. Never forget this and it will help you when you don’t know how to process an image. Find your vision and the processing will follow.
The image was processed with my method Photography Drawing™ (more details about this method you will find on my blog post above and even more in my book). If you don’t know about this method, in two words it means to process a black and white photograph using the light and rendering principles of classical drawing in black pencil. The processing is selective, meaning you will process every surface in a different way and independently from the others, but keeping in mind that the end result should be a harmonious and natural looking one and it has to look as a whole.
The 1st Rule of Photography Drawing
Show space and volume, not only shape.
The three-dimensional space and the volumes are the basis of architecture and architectural design. Architecture has almost no interest in two-dimensional shapes, but only in volumes and space. Therefore in drawing, while rendering an architectural object, this is the main goal we need to keep in mind: to show space and volumes, to not limit ourselves to two-dimensional shapes. This principle translates easily to architectural photography and has to do with enhancing the image so it shows more faithfully the space and the volumes existing in it.
The space is too limited here in a blog post to talk more about it (especially that I’ve done it before) but you can find the next 9 rules of Photography Drawing and the 10 Processing Steps, plus the entire philosophy behind the method of Photography Drawing in the book: From Basics to Fine Art – Black and White Photography.
You can more my process of creation in this article about the 15 steps I follow when creating an image with Photography Drawing.
Tamron 18-270 mm PZD
1/100 @ 20mm, f/16, ISO 100, Polarizing filter attached
Topaz Labs 15% Discount for my students and followers
Topaz Labs was so kind to not only feature my work so many times and participate in my workshops, but they also gave me a discount code for my students and followers who are reading this blog and want to use the best software available in their post-processing work. You can use my special code “juliaannagospodarou” to get 15% discount for any of the Topaz plugins, separately or the whole collection. You can use the code by ordering at this link. Enjoy!
FURTHER STUDY RESOURCES – FINE ART BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY, ARCHITECTURE, LONG EXPOSURE
You can find more tutorials on fine art black and white photography, (en)Visionography, long exposure photography and architectural photography in my extensive collection of photography tutorials. To receive my future tutorials directly via email you can subscribe to my website.
More about how to create fine art photography, from vision till processing and the final image you can read in my book From Basics to Fine Art – Black and White Photography, with co-author Joel Tjintjelaar, and in my video tutorial Long Exposure, Architecture, Fine Art Photography – Creating (en)Visionography a hands-on tutorial accompanied by an eBook presenting my processing workflow, or attend one of my workshops.
Julia Anna Gospodarou – (en)Visionographer
Julia Anna Gospodarou is an internationally acclaimed photographer, author and educator, teaching workshops and lecturing around the world. Founder of (en)Visionography™ and Photography Drawing™, co-author of the best-selling book From Basics to Fine Art, with high distinctions in the most important photography competitions worldwide, published internationally in numerous books and magazines, Julia is passionate about art and striving to spread it into the world.