It is unexpected. Photographic images that capture a subject in a way that is generalized. That is why I am attracted to photo impressionism as an art form and in the round photography as a technique.
Think about it. We spend years and considerable sums perfecting our craft. Photographs are judged by their crisp focus and their perfect exposure. But these technically perfect images don’t always convey the essence of the subject. Often a subject has to be deconstructed first. It has to be reduced to its essentials before we can really understand it.
When I was first exposed to in the round photographs of trees made by Pep Ventosa I was drawn to them but couldn’t say why. It was only later, looking at a real tree, that I understood his technique really is a deconstruction; and that is unexpected too. When you bring dozens of photographs of a single subject together you would expect them to add to the photograph’s detail. But it doesn’t. Instead shooting in he round averages the scene, creating a new view point based on what is common; not what is different.
I will continue to shoot and enjoy”straight” photographs. But photo impressionism is a passion and there is so much to explore.
For thoughts on photo impressionistic technique see http://www.dagostino.ca/category/technique/
Spring brings some wonderful opportunities to explore “in the round photography”.
The idea is to capture the essence of an object in its environment by taking photographs from many points of view and then merging them into a single image. And the result is often a simplified version of the origin, bathed in muted soft pastel’s. I was first exposed to this idea in New York where you can find wonderful examples by Pep Ventosa at the Lumas gallery in Soho.
In this case I carefully walked in a circle around the apple tree taking a pictures every few paces. For each picture the tree was lined up in my view finder using the grid lines. Of course you can’t line your subject up perfectly but the process is very forgiving because the result is really an average of your efforts. In terms of numbers think 20 or more pictures.
Because the image is averaged there are other surprising results. While I was shooting a service truck parked in my point of view. It was obvious I was shooting so I was upset that the truck would create a distracting element in the background but as you can see it vanished when the images were blended together. Same thing with the “no parking” signs posted around the tree.
I start post processing in Lightroom where I select all the images I plan to use and then open them in Photoshop as layers. For this one I used an opacity blending script but the blending can also be achieved manually. For manual blending try reducing the opacity of each image by about 50% of the image before it.
I find the result of opacity blending a bit too soft so I use NIK’s tonal contrast filter and Vincent Versace’s mid tone contrast action.
I have been experimenting with photo impressionistic “in the round” techniques; inspired by images produced by Pep Ventosa.
There are two big challenges from my point of view. First the images have to be carefully composed to allow them to be merged. I try to keep a constant distance from the subject and use my view finder’s grid lines to keep the composition consistent. It all makes sense if you think of making an in camera multiple exposure. While you can fix composition issues in Photoshop, the result may look too contrived.
On the Photoshop side, the images depend on the use of opacity and blending modes. I have had good results using 50% of the opacity of the layer below as a rule of thumb. Different blending modes produce very different results. I like the look of luminosity mode.
Washington Square, New York. Another in a series of experiments in this genre. This image is composed of about 40 photographs taken around the fountain and then merged in photoshop. Post production was limited to colour balancing and filters designed to bring back a bit of structure such as NIK’s tonal contrast filter and Vincent Versace’s mid tone contrast action.
One of the great things about the internet is the ability to see emerging photographic trends. Sites like Flickr and 500px have channels for fresh and popular photos and they are worth checking out. I’m not suggesting copy cat photography. I just think that when you expose yourself to great work, and reflect on it, it helps you to understand and define your own vision. That’s why a recent blog post by John Paul Caponigro cocerning tracking your influences resonated for me.
After reading Caponigro’s article, and a second on concerning identifying the nature of your influence, I thought about my own practice and influences. There are books I go back to for technical ideas and inspiration such as Vincent Versace’s Welcome to Oz and there is the book that started it all for me Photo Impressionism and the Subjective Image by Freeman Patterson and Andre Gallant. I also find myself drawn to painters such as Monet and Van Gogh. I keep a list of photographers I am interested in with web links using NoteLife and visit their sites regularly. Until now I hadn’t looked at the list as a list and it surprised me a bit. In no particular order it includes:
John Paul Caponigro
Walking past the Lumas Gallery in Soho I was reminded that travel photography isn’t just about taking pictures. It is also an opportunity to see new ideas and techniques.
A few months ago I saw an exhibition of multiple exposure photographs shot “in the round” at Lumas. The photographer, Pep Ventosa, took photographs of trees from very angle and then merged them together to create a montage. The images, and in particular the trees, are beautiful, painterly and impressionistic. You get a sense of the tree, it’s environment, and more.
The technique is more difficult than it sounds. I use a DSLR that allows for in camera multiple exposures but the camera times out before you are finished and it doesn’t allow you to shoot enough images. I don’t think the technique works with fewer than 20. So you are forced to shoot single images and then merge them in Photoshop. I find that if you frame your shots as if the image in an in camera multiple exposure, the post processing won’t be as contrived because you maintain the sense of random error inherent in that kind of photography.
I have been experimenting with in-the-round using strong vertical subjects such as fountains, carousels and monuments. There is much to learn here but I think the Washington Monument example shows promise.
More to come on this technique as I figure out what works and what doesn’t.