Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Having Fun with Post Processing

I’ve learned a lot about photography in recent months and while I’ve enjoyed the challenge of capturing  images in camera, it’s the post processing of the images that I’ve been having real fun with. That’s the part of the process that for me is where the real creativity begins.

Let’s face it I’m a graphic designer/commercial artist at heart. And with all the software tools available these days the whole process of creating illustrative artwork digitally has become that much easier — and quicker too! A couple of months ago when I exhibited some of my photographic work I was flattered to hear 1 or 2 commenting on how they weren’t sure if what they were looking at was a photo or a painting. They seemed to like the fact that it looked like a painting.

Well, I like that sort of thing too, which is why I did it that way. However it’s not until you look closely at the work I've done so far, that the question even arises. Here’s a blown up section of a recent piece I’ve been working on.

It started off as a photo which was taken in the Auckland Wintergardens. The circle in the picture below shows the section that is shown in the enlargement above. To all intents and purposes, the picture shown at the current size below just appears to be an ordinary photograph. It’s only when you look closely that it appears like the picture above.

I’m really excited about the potential for this style of work. I realise of course that it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. There are the purists who think that photography should remain just that and that it shouldn’t pretend to be something else.

But these days it seems anything goes. We’re now only limited by our imagination.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The question of POST PROCESSING photos

With all the technology and software available today there are a myriad of choices to make regarding how to process your images. Some of the questions that arise are: 
What am I trying to accomplish? 
What should influence the choice of styling? 
How much is too much? And where do you start?

For me it all starts with the image itself. I try to ask myself...
What is the overall mood of the photograph? 
What are the most compelling features of the image? 
What is the best way to draw attention to those features? and 
What kind of response am I trying to elicit from the viewer? 

Some of the above questions can be hard to answer due to the subjective nature of visual arts. So, at the end of the day I have to trust my own instincts and produce what I think works best. (This of course, is assuming you're not shooting on commission for somebody, who's personal taste will often dictate the final style).

There are times when I can be a little indecisive about this, or I can go back to an image a day or 2 later and decide that I don't really like the style I've applied to an image or the way I've processed it. Take this image for example:

My initial instinct was to process this image as I did in pic.2. I must admit I was rushing the decision a bit, in an effort to share it with friends as soon as possible following a recent event. I knew it was a great shot but on reflection I decided I hadn't carefully thought through the best way of processing it. 

It turns out that I'm not the only one who likes the image. Most of the feedback I got was very positive and revolved around the central figure in the picture where all eyes are focussed. She's a beautiful woman and my initial attempt at processing the image didn't address this aspect of the shot. I was more focussed on the fun that was taking place (it was a game of musical chairs).

As I mentioned above, this can be very subjective, everybody sees something different. So I'm interested to know what you think. Please feel free to make a comment.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

More on Selling Canvas

Following on from my last post about 'being seen in the right place', one of the marketing avenues I’ve thought about for my photography is to take the plunge and start producing my own framed canvases and try selling them direct to the public. This is not a new idea of course, but I'm guessing there are a number of pros and cons associated with this method of selling.

Not that I’m a negative person, but the first thing that comes to mind is the RISK. Compared to online selling where canvases are printed to order from a huge catalogue of pieces, this way of selling requires the artist to risk printing out something that someone may never buy. There’s a lot of money’s worth of time and materials tied up in stock just waiting for a chance sale, which probably explains why in the picture above they’re being sold ‘unframed’.

This factor makes it imperative that you know what the market wants in order to minimise the risk, which sounds like it would require more in the way of ‘crystal ball gazing’ than meaningful research, as people’s tastes in art can be very fickle and hard to explain or even understand.

I mentioned there are pros. In the event that you do get ‘lucky’ and let's face it, that’s what it boils down to in the end, there is a much larger profit margin on each sale as well as an opportunity to meet those who love your work face to face. I’ve been told that art buyers like to know whose work they’re buying. It’s not uncommon for such art buyers to buy more than one piece. The important thing is getting your artwork in front of real people.

I put this to the test recently. After selecting 3 pieces to sell I duly set about printing them out on canvas on my Epson printer, which does a brilliant job but I’m limited to a width of 17inches.

Each print got a Museum Grade coating of matt varnish before stretching onto frames.

Then I entered them into a local gallery exhibition with high hopes of making a sale. Unfortunately they were exhibited alongside 150 other pieces, many of which were much larger in size. I must admit that once I saw how they were presented, I wasn’t too hopeful about making a sale and sadly I was right.

For now I’ve resorted to loaning them to friends to hang on their walls seeing as all my walls are full. But I have a few more ideas up my sleeve about what to do next. I’ll do another post about that later.