Washed out and over exposed, is it art?
1 Sep 2009
I have spent years looking at styles of photography, from the days of wet plate and tin types to the world of digital now. Through it all I have witnessed the same transformation of the medium from a simple replication of existence to an expression of the photographers ideas and views. My great grandfather lived in Rochester New York and was a man of several trades. He was a carpenter, baker, a glass blower, he sang,danced, played music and he was a photographer. It is said that he was friends with George Eastman and it's a fact that my great grandmother Lucy lived with the Bousch family for some time, of the famous Lense makers for Kodak cameras. So it's entirely possible he did. Now he had a complete darkroom at one time yet few of his photos are to be found. One day my great aunt gave me a photo of my great grandfather, it is a double exposure,showing him boxing himself. The date is 1897. Now I know for certain that my grandfather was more than just a person with a camera, he liked to experiment!
Many years later I picked up a Canon T50 and started to take pictures, I had played with a small Brownie and never really understood the interest. Yet when I saw what I could do with that T50 I soon expanded, I bought an AE1,, then a T70,,, one day a Rebel and today the Canon T!i,,,through those years I never really experimented with the cameras much. I allowed another person to develop my film,, following my instructions on what I wanted.
Today,, well in the past year,,,, I have begun to push the boundries of traditional photos as I knew them to be. Just like other artists in various medias I saw photographers playing with pictures as my great grandfather had. So I decided that I needed to express my self as well. I was looking at some other works and I noticed how the picture was intentionally over exposed. I decided to take it farther,, I wanted to see what faces looked like when they were almost erased by light, taking brightness to a level I'd never used before and increasing the contrast. These photos mark the beginning of a new age for me. One where I push the traditional thoughts about what a photo should look like and make it look like what I think it should. Mind you I am not trying to replicate reality, but recreate a vision. I am trying to view the subject with a different eye. Keeping it real in form but unreal in its appearance.
I started with the statue of Christ at the Oklahoma City Memorial. I loved the work but did not care for the way I was seeing it there. I did not like the way I saw it in the photo later. So,,, I decided to change it. I started by making it a black and white. then I played with the exposures, the brightness and the contrast till I found what I wanted. That was the view I sought. The son of our father weeping,, the bright light of the heavens nearly eradicating the features of the face. Nothing was important but the basics of his face. I have moved onto to other portraits and have even tried it on still lifes. It's not for everyone and certainly not every picture renders itself to looking good that way. However I think,,I feel,,, that this method strips away much of the distraction,, And leaves the essence of the face,, the eyes and the basic shape for you to ponder. It can be striking,, or it can be boring. I can see it as art and I can see it as a bad scan at Staples.
The bottom line is that I am not going to confine myself to the view finder anymore. Now,, the photo will take on a life chosen by me,,,,,,,,,, reflecting how I perceive this moment in time . It's still new and I'm still learning that by working on the colors before you convert it,,you can affect the image when it becomes black and white,, and as you see by one photo,,you can do the same with color itself. I hope you like them. Or at least take time to give them some thought.