Pictorialism

black and white split-toned photo of Taraxacum Officinale (common dandelion)

Taraxacum Officinale

This weekend I got a new lens. First thing you do when you get something like that is check if everything is functioning and take some test pictures. That’s exactly what I did: first I took some pictures of my girlfriend, then some flowers, a Japanese statuette and finally, this morning, some dandelions in my garden. The usual stuff…

I uploaded the results to my computer to do some pixel-peeping. The quality of the photos was very nice and, just for fun, I decided to do some post processing on this very ordinary dandelion picture. It turned out as a black and white picture, but not in my usual style. Usually I use a small aperture to get as much depth of field as possible, but here I used a larger aperture so only a very small “slice” of the flower is in focus. The purpose was to check if the lens focuses properly. Well, it does, and what’s more: I quite like the result. It reminds me of the work of the pictorialists at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th century.

Pictorialism is the name given to an international style and aesthetic movement that dominated photography during the later 19th and early 20th centuries. There is no standard definition of the term, but in general it refers to a style in which the photographer has somehow manipulated what would otherwise be a straightforward photograph as a means of “creating” an image rather than simply recording it. Typically, a pictorial photograph appears to lack a sharp focus (some more so than others), is printed in one or more colors other than black-and-white (ranging from warm brown to deep blue) and may have visible brush strokes or other manipulation of the surface. For the pictorialist, a photograph, like a painting, drawing or engraving, was a way of projecting an emotional intent into the viewer’s realm of imagination. (From Wikipedia: pictorialism)

 

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Domino Effect

Boats falling over like dominos

Domino Effect

The domino effect is a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then causes another similar change, and so on in linear sequence. The term is best known as a mechanical effect, and is used as an analogy to a falling row of dominoes. It typically refers to a linked sequence of events where the time between successive events is relatively small. It can be used literally (an observed series of actual collisions) or metaphorically (causal linkages within systems such as global finance or politics) (from: Wikipedia: Domino Effect)

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Red Rock

Perros Guirec, September 2012

Perros Guirec, September 2012

This is the lighthouse of “Men Ruz”(“Red Rock”) in Ploumanac’h, Brittany France. I already talked about this building in my previous post (you can check it out here if you like). In that post I rambled about how the scene reminded me of the famous computer game “Myst”.

Anyways, as I explained, it was quite difficult to take a picture without people in it. This place seems to attract a lot of tourists at anytime of the day! There were always at least two or three people “walking through my photo”. To solve this problem, I applied my preferred technique: long exposure. If you use an exposure of 15 seconds or longer, moving people (or objects) will effectively disappear. As soon as people stand still for a few seconds however, you’ll see “ghosting”, so you have to pick the moment you press the shutter very carefully. Everybody has to be moving! I guess Henri Cartier-Bresson’s concept of the “decisive moment” is also valid when using long exposures…

It was a bit awkward, but I was able to take a few nice pictures without having to wait for all the tourists to leave. I used a ND400 neutral density filter which gave me an exposure time of about 20 seconds in broad daylight. Cool! I just zapped everybody! At the moment I took this photograph, three of four people were crossing that bridge while another person was walking around the lighthouse… they’re all gone…!

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Rock don’t roll

Black and white long exposure photo rockpiles, pebbles, île Grande, France

Rock don’t roll (Rockpiles, île Grande, September 2012)

This one was taken on Île-Grande in Brittany, France during our latest trip. We walked around the island and we were pleasantly surprised: it is beautiful. There were not much tourists when we were around, but I guess there must be a lot of them during the summer months judging by the number of rock piles. These piles of rocks covered a whole beach, an impressive sight! I’m sure they’re made by people with a lot of time on their hands (tourists?) because it’s not as easy as it looks to make a stable pile. Anyways, these piles have become very typical of  Île-Grande and it yields great photos.

I went in with my ultra wide angle lens and got really close to the pile of rocks on the right. The distance between the lens and the pile was about two feet (60 cm). I used a long exposure to get those blurred clouds in the sky.

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