A tutorial – vision and making of – describing the process of creation of my image Fluid Time – Stopping Time – Video tutorial and written tutorial.
I’ve been posting tutorials about Vision and Making of for my photos for more than 2 years now and the feedback was always fantastic, so I want to take a moment to thank you all for this great feedback. I started to do this because I need to share what I think, what I know and how I create: how I (en)vision and process my images. I did it first on Flickr, Google+, then Facebook and then I slowly moved over to this blog due to the fact that the posts were becoming longer and the other platforms are not suitable for this kind of posts. From now on this is the space where you will find my tutorials about how I create my images and all the tutorials and my other thoughts and reflections related to photography. If you want to keep track of these articles you can subscribe to my blog and you will get an email with the new posts the very moment I publish them, before they appear anywhere else.
For this edition I’ve created the Tutorial Vision and Making Of Fluid Time IV as a filmstrip and a video tutorial that you can watch below, where you can see my vision and processing workflow for this image, so you can see how I think and create. Much more on my photography philosophy and processing techniques in the book From Basics to Fine Art – Black and White Photography written in collaboration with Joel Tjintjelaar.
From the RAW file till the final image – What are the limits of creation
You will see, in this image I had to make some major interventions in the captured images so I can get the result you see. Usually I do not need to make such extended interventions in an image and I work with only one RAW file, but this was an exception and a very good example to make my statement as a fine art photographer – and this is that a fine art image has to be your personal creation and not what the camera captures, and nothing is forbidden in the process of making your vision reality. This is what art means. In art, just like in love, nothing is forbidden that makes you feel happy. Yes, art should make you feel happy. The only rule to respect is to keep it real and not create a fake looking image. You can do what you want, on the condition to make it look possible.
I hope this way of looking at your work and at the world can inspire you to try new paths in expressing yourself.
Here is also a link to the same video on VIMEO if you prefer it to Youtube.
Fluid Time is a series of black and white long exposure photographs captured with the Canon TS-E 24mm tilt-shift lens. The tilt-shift blur I use in the series is meant as a form of artistic expression. The series explores the concept of time and of parallel realities, the blur effect being the “key” I use to access these realities.
Do you think there is no such a thing as parallel reality?
Think again and try to define reality.
Arthur Schopenhauer says:
“The world is my representation”
What Schopenhauer means is that what you imagine is just as real as what you see. This is your representation of the world. This is where the concept of Vision was born, since the way we perceive reality and the way we imagine it is unique to each of us and it is what gives us the impulse to create ART.
Our Vision is our Story and this is why it is unique and authentic.
This is what drives me in creating. Without my Vision, without my Story, the photograph would be only …an image, nothing more. Only by putting ourselves, our soul and our Vision, into the image, can we create (en)Visionography.
Vision and creative process
This image started to be built in my mind from the moment I discovered these buildings and especially while I was working on setting up the routes for the Chicago workshop 2013 that I did with Vision Explorers. Wrigley Building and Trump Tower are two of the most impressive buildings of this fantastic city and a landmark of Chicago. The great thing about them is that they work well together from the point of view of the combination of shapes and proportions, even if they belong to different periods and styles: Trump Tower is a contemporary building with modern architecture, while Wrigley was built in 1921, almost a century ago. Small piece of trivia: The Wrigley Building was commanded by the well-known chewing gum company Wrigley’s (thus the name) and it was Chicago’s first air-conditioned office building. Nice?
What drew me towards Wrigley building, except for its architectural qualities was the clock in its tower. Its symbolism. The relation with the series Fluid Time was not clear at the moment I decided to focus on the clock while presenting this building, but as I said before everything is related to everything and behind every image there is a story that leads you to creating it. This is how I work, everything you see in my images are my experiences converted into images. They are my Story. Probably my subconscious already knew what to do with that clock even before me starting to work on processing this series, from the moment I was working on the concept, and the results can be seen in my image.
Symbolism in fine art photography
The intention was for the clock to play the central role in the image, to be the subject. My processing workflow followed this idea as main concept. The reason is probably obvious considering the title and subject of the series. In addition, in this fluid world and reality that I created in my series, it makes sense to me that the appearance of a clock in my story is more likely capable to stop the time than to record its passing. This is why the clock is the sharpest area in my image, the area I kept sharp when focusing with the tilt-shift lens, and the rest of the scene is more or less blurred – this is the point where time stops and the connection with a parallel reality is possible in my vision and story.
You will always find a symbolism in my images. From the title till the last touch of the brush, everything has a reason of existence, everything is a symbol that tells a story. I chose photography to tell my stories, just as a writer would use words. I’m using images because for me they are more symbolical than words, even if I need words too to communicate my message, and that is why you read what you’re reading now.
But remember, to understand my work, you have to read the story. And that is what I try to do too when I look at other images. I know an image will impress me in the highest degree only if it has a story behind it.
Black and white processing – Photography Drawing (PhtD)
Long Exposure Base image combined with 3 short exposure images, blended in order to increase the tilt-shift bur effect.
Base image: T/S LE = Tilt-Shift Long Exposure
– Camera settings: 241.0 sec. @ f/4, ISO 100
– Neutral Density Filters: 10+6 stops Formatt Hitech ProStop IRND Filters
– Other Filters: Circular Polarizer
Secondary images: T/S SE = Tilt-Shift Short Exposures
– Camera settings: 1/500 sec. @ f/3.5, ISO 100
– Shot with Canon 5D MK3 & Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II
– Tilt-shift lens settings – 8.5 degrees – maximum tilt, 12mm – maximum shift (rise)
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!
The creation of the photograph
One particularity of this image was that it is an image created by combining 4 different images, which is not characteristic for my workflow. I usually work with one RAW file, but when that particular RAW file cannot give me what I need, I will find a way to overcome that. I am determined to not be the slave of my camera, my equipment, of the weather conditions or of whether it is physically possible to get an image from the accessible points of view. There are many ways to overcome these limitations. You just need to be creative and free yourself from clichés. I believe in creating my own reality if I cannot find it ready in front of me, this is what creating (en)Visionography means for me. I will give shape to my vision even if I need to invent new ways of working with my images. I always do, I almost never do the same things in each image, it is a constant evolution and experimentation. I love that because it allows me to be creative, to also design my images, not only process them. I could say that I am not only doing Photography Drawing™ but also Photography Designing™. Of course the architect in me is behind both these ways of conceiving my photography, and that is because I was first an architect before becoming a photographer. This is how my mind works. The best thing about this is that I can look at things from a different perspective and this is the best way of finding new ideas and solutions in my photography work. Just as photography and looking at the world as a photographer has always tremendously helped me in my architectural designing work.
Closing parentheses now and back to concrete things.
This image was processed, like most of my images in LR, PS CS6, Topaz Labs – I used here B&W Effects, DeNoise, Detail and ReMask mainly and also another interesting plugin, Lens Effects, to give some more richness to my tilt-shift blur that resulted from the 3 images I combined.
Why I used 3 + 1 captures to create this image?
Because I wanted to increase the blurred area in the image and control its placement. So, I took 3 shots with the tilt-shift lens tilted and shifted to the maximum and using the widest aperture f/3.5 to get the most blur possible, while placing the blur area in different areas of the images. Afterwards, in post-processing I blended the blurred areas and I managed to increase them. You can see that in the beginning of my processing workflow, in the tutorial video and the filmstrip too.
To these images I added a long exposure image to get some definition in the sky, but most of the sky needed to be enhanced since the clouds were quite faint at that moment.
I used the Transform tool to fix some issues that the blending of the 3 images created and then I straightened my verticals using DxO View Point, a great software to control the deformations that result from tilting a wide angle lens. You do not have so many issues with this deformation when shooting with a tilt-shift but that depends on where you can physically place yourself when shooting and I didn’t have the option to go in a different point and still keep the view I wanted in my image. So, I corrected the deformation as much as I could by shifting the lens upwards and completed the job by passing the image through DxO View Point afterwards. This is a very efficient way of getting the best of both worlds, keep this in mind.
You can read more about how to work with a tilt-shift lens in my Essential Tilt-Shift Lens Guide that I recently published on the Topaz labs blog. You can find an update version of this Essential Guide for the Tilt-shift Lens on my website. Also much more info, other tips and pieces of advice can be found in my book.
After creating a final color image from the 4 flies I started with, my processing workflow went back to my usual one: processing with the method of Photography Drawing. You can have a quick glance over it in the video, also much more about it in the book I just mentioned.
Black and white processing principles
The main idea when processing my images, and this is something that the many years of classical drawing in pencil gave me, is to create a balance of gray tones and to use them to emphasize or hide elements in the image and not to mimic reality. This balance of tones is very subtle and this is why the processing has to be done in very small steps so we can control the result. The tonal transitions have to be very soft for the result to be believable and pleasant to the eye and the relationship between all the elements in the frame has to be perfect composition and light wise. This needs serious work. One of the things that explains why I need the amount of time I need to process an image, let alone the “pre-processing” part when I work on the concept and on how to transpose my Vision and my Story into the image.
my Vision + my Story + Processing = my Fine Art workflow
This is how I create what you see.
Feel free to leave me your feedback in the comments and if you have questions I will gladly answer them.
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.