Tag Archives: light painting

What’s Your Thing?

17 Jul


Moments of Light and Dark

Moments of Light and Dark

Finding your photographic style is a major part of developing yourself as an artist, developing your brand and defining your market.  It’s also something that many of us struggle with.  I know I certainly do.

Let’s start with a few examples, shall we?

For those of you who love HDR, I think it would be safe to say that Trey Ratcliff has built a solid HDR brand for himself.  When you see a Trey photo, you generally know it’s a Trey photo.  Bajillions (approximately, give or take) of photographers bracket…but not all HDR is created equal. Trey has an editing style unique to him.

The obvious B&W iconic photographer is Ansel Adams.  Strong landscape compositions and well defined tonal ranges, as well as his involvement in the National Parks systems made him a recognizable figure with a recognizable feel to his images.

When I think of light painting and luminosity masks I think of Ryan Dyar.  I know he didn’t invent the technique, but he ran with it and his images are evocative and emotional because of it.

I recently ran across an Instagram feed of two nomadic lady photographers who have style and branding down to an art.  (You can follow their adventures at www.ourwildabandon.com) Their images scream vintage and fill viewers with nostalgia.  The realities of road life may be difficult, but they market the hell out of the freedom of the open road and the joy of discovery.  They have even gone so far as to have distinctive poses for their images and a great witty yet friendly tone to their banter which makes them very likeable.  As with the others mentioned above, this may not be a unique style, but they wear it well. 🙂

So…now that we’ve had a little breakdown of what style means in a real life setting… its time to ask yourself, “What’s my thing?”

Are you set on saving the whales?  Are you an artist determined to emote through surrealism? Do you love deep shadows and solid highlights?  A clean symmetrical tapestry?  Square canvases? Good will and human spirit stories?

(In answer to your unasked question, yes, I associate all of those categories with a particular artist!  Because you know…it’s what they do and they’re damn good at it.)

It seems to me that while flexibility and the ability to cross photo genres is important for sustainability over the short term, defining who you are as an artist is an important step in long term success in today’s highly over saturated photo market.  To stand out, you need to find your thing and shine at it.

Shine on, my friends. 🙂

Ehhh…see what I did there?  Lighthouse photo?  Shine? Ehh?  Ehh?  The above photo was taken in New Haven.  Edited with luminosity masks, with some artistic license taken to remove some distracting items.  The antennae had to go, ya know??  Anyway…

Feel free to give us all a taste of your thing with a link to your portfolio in the comments and what your focus is!

Light Play

20 May
With Bated Breath

With Bated Breath

With the world being flooded with digital images, the edit you put on a photo is just as important as the thought, resources and skill it took to capture the files in the first place.  Your choices, your editing style and methods can totally change the feel of a finished product.

How so, you ask?  (Or if you didn’t, you should have!)

Well, the obvious answer is that art is subjective, our eyes perceive the world differently and when we begin the creative process – the moment when we put our eye to the camera – our idea of how the image should be shaped belongs to us, as the artist alone.

Our choice in edits helps to bring those ideas to fruition.

With Bated Breath :: Light Painting

With Bated Breath :: Light Painting

For example, this is an example of light painting.  The colors and highlights within this image were enhanced with a layer dedicated solely to painting in color and light where it needed a boost.  To me, the details still lack a bit of contrast, but I like the moody feel of the light and the boost given to the lackluster sunrise.

With Bated Breath :: HDR

With Bated Breath :: HDR

Now, this photo is an HDR – more detail, but lacks the depth that comes along with dynamic light.  This particular image, to me, has the feel of a painting.  It is a great re-creation of nature, but it doesn’t feel real.

For this particular image, I chose to mix the two techniques, masking in which parts of each version I enjoyed.  The final version is the photo at the top of the post.

Now, is any one way better than the others?  No.  Not really.  It’s art.  If you love the painterly feel, you’ll probably hang the HDR version.  If you love light bleed, you’ll shoot for the light painting effect.

That’s the thing about art.  It’s 100% in the eye of the beholder.  First and foremost, I work to learn and create images I enjoy.  Once you develop a style, then you will define your market.