Recreating the subject in fine art photography. The concept and realization of my image Ode to Black | Black Hope II – Anima Black
Another addition to my Black series and the darkest and most difficult to work with so far, because of the dark tones and the limited range that I decided to use in my processing, but also because of the complexity of the volume and the fact that whatever light and shadow you see here is created from scratch according to my vision for this object.
The building is one of the highlights of San Francisco and is in fact an addition to the museum, but is so impressive that it is drawing all the attention to it once you reach the square in front of the museum. The structure is cladded in dark-blue diamond shape steel sheets which can be astonishingly bright in the sun, but looking very dark and melancholic if the weather is overcast.
Capturing the image
The most challenging when taking the shot was to find the best angle, the one that would tell what I intended it to tell and finally this angle was what you see. The space in front of the museum is narrow and long and finding a spot where you have open view to the entire volume, as well as an interesting composition is really difficult. But there is always a solution if you want to find it. So, what I did was to find my solution But I had to pay a price for it. Even if there were some other angles I could use with less cluttered background, the building itself wasn’t “speaking” to me in any other way so what I had to do was to take this photo as it is but remove the background that was a high-rise building totally oppressing the delicate and sophisticated volumes of the museum.
Creating (en)Visionography by intervening in the scene and “recreating” the subject
To avoid the high-rise building oppressing the museum building, I had to find a way to separate the two. So I decided to remove the high-rise building as if it wasn’t there. To realize this I had to shoot the building and the sky separately and reunite them in post processing, while removing the building in the background.
Therefore, what you see as final result in the image is quite far from reality, but as you know by now, I am not driven by the intention to mimic reality in my work, on the contrary, I’d say that I try to “run away” from it and present my own reality, even if what I create is just slightly resembling the real world. This image is one of the closest to this “alternative reality” concept and to the concept of “(en)Visionography” that define my work and they illustrate it perfectly. What you see is my ideal proposal for this space and building, a perfect image of it as I envision it in my mind. Also an image that can be a piece of the puzzle in the story that my Ode to Black – Black Hope series tells. More about the concept of the series with my next image that is coming soon.
I see creating my images as a way to “re-design” or the buildings or scenes i am showing, as if i was the architect who designed the the space in reality. It is a “professional deformation” in a way, as I always look at the world through the eyes of an architect, even when I am not practicing my profession and this influences in a great measure my vision and the tools I use to create, also the result of my creations. However, regardless my base profession, reimagining the scene can help the fine art photographer to reach the essence of his vision and show it to the world.
Recreating the subject in fine art photography is one of the most powerful tools the fine art photographer has to reach the essence of his vision and present his perfect world through the photographs he makes.
Black and white processing – Photography Drawing (PhtD)
Processing wise, this image is again one of those which could be considered typical to illustrate the technique I’m using when processing, the Photography Drawing technique. You’ve heard me talking about this before quite a few times but I’ve never went into details because I wasn’t really considering it a technique for a long time. It had a slow evolution but recently I realized that I’m every time doing the same things even if I don’t search for this and I like to experiment as much as I can. But somehow I always end up doing the same things, more or less and having consistent results. I think I should talk more in depth about this sometime soon.
UPDATE: I did talk more in depth about this technique and you can read more at the link above and also in the book From Basics to Fine Art – Black and White Photography that i wrote together with Joel Tjintjelaar . It is a technique and way of conceiving my images based on my former drawing background and the skills I’ve gained while practicing it making drawings of buildings for quite a long time in the past. What I basically do is to use the principles of drawing in black pencil on my images, changing the light balance in the image to suit my vision and intention.
This technique gives me the freedom to do whatever I want in my image, since I’m not depending on the reality anymore, but only taking a base for my creations from the world around me.
To be able to influence reality in such an extent, what I need is to start from a very neutral base, meaning most of the times, what I’m interested in when taking the shot is a good composition and a clear idea. I then convert my color image into a very neutral black and white image (being neutral is a very important aspect of this technique because it is what will allow me to have total control over light and shadow).
I then work on this neutral image like I would work on a white paper, or on one where I only have the outlines defined. My work is done separately on every surface, so perfect selections are vital here, but the processing skills needed to do this are minimal. I like to keep it simple and I do it here too. From then on, it’s only a matter of deciding the right balance of light, the right contrast, deciding where to place the right highlights and shadows and how to create depth and presence in the image.
This is what I do in a nutshell, since many of you asked. If you are curious to find out more, I will have to make a more in depth description at some point. Let me know if you would want this.
286.0 sec. (for the sky), 1/60 sec. (for the building), @ f/11, ISO 100
CAMERA: Nikon D7000
LENS: Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 ED AF-S DX @ 10mm,.
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 for fine art black and white photography – Tutorials and reviews
For more tutorials about fine art black and white photography, (en)Visionography, long exposure photography and architectural photography you can visit my extended collection of Tutorials about fine art black and white photography. If you want to read even more tutorials you can also subscribe to receive all my future tutorials via email even before I publish them anywhere else.
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, also in my video tutorial “Creating (en)Visionography – The New Fine Art Photography – Long Exposure, Architecture and Beyond” a hands-on tutorial studying fine art photography, accompanied by an eBook presenting my processing workflow.
If you want to study all this with me personally you can take a private workshop or a mentoring course with me.
Julia Anna Gospodarou – (en)Visionographer
Julia Anna Gospodarou is an architect with a Master degree, a multiple award-winning black and white fine art photographer, (en)Visionographer, author and sought-after educator, founder of (en)Visionography™ and Photography Drawing™, author of the best-selling book From Basics to Fine Art – Black and White Photography (co-author Joel Tjintjelaar), with high distinctions in the most important photography competitions worldwide, published internationally in numerous books and magazines, passionate about beauty and trying to spread it into the world.