Autumn_Differently

Strolling around with a camera, on the look-out for the next image to capture, I enjoy the challenge of attempting something different. These are often experimental ideas. The results commonly end up being deleted back home, but there is sometimes that single image that grabs my intention.

The image above was the result of panning during exposure (1/8sec, F10, ISO100). A quick  vertical movement. I shot about a dozen, this is the one I saved, the rest were rubbish. There was something right about this; the panning had a clean vertical movement, there were streaks of golden light, it felt ‘magical’ somehow. I’ve done very little in processing except adjust curves and levels, and use Topaz/Clean/Curly Smooth. Click to see an enlargement.

The second image (below) was a shot taken locally looking up into the bare canopy; searching for the right composition, the right array of branches. Back home it was an OK image, but there was nothing special about it, and even reducing it to a pure silhouette didn’t get my pulse going. So I did what I occasionally do to B&W images (my idea of computer doodling, best expressed as ‘I wonder what will happen if I try this’): I solarized it.

Solarization first came into prominence in the 1930s with the work of Man Ray. In those days it was the result of briefly flashing the darkroom light on while developing a print. It reversed some tones, and created lines (the Mackie line) between areas of high contrast. The results were very unpredictable. In my experience, I experimented with this process using inter-negatives in the film era.

In the digital era, all you have to do is ‘click’ Solarize (if using Photoshop you will find this in Filter/Stylize/Solarize). The result will initially disappoint but the next step is to adjust levels and you will have an image with rich blacks and bright whites. There is an alternative method. In Photoshop, open Curves, click on the Drawing icon to the left of the window, Shift-Click bottom left corner of the curve window, repeat Shift/Click middle top, and again bottom right corner. You will now have created an inverted ‘V’ shaped curve. Job done. Voila, as the French would say.

And that is it. Simple to execute and occasionally you get an image that inspires. It’s the Mackie line that makes this print – as if hoar-frost has picked out every line of the tree and its branches. A complete transformation. Try it sometime.

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About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'.
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9 Responses to Autumn_Differently

  1. I really like the first image. Often there are subtle differences between the keepers and the images to be deleted. I have found that with intentional movement blur that the ones with clean vertical or horizontal pan tend to be the keepers. Similar to your experience I have it taken 10 shots to achieve one that works. In this instance your persistence has resulted in a wonderfully magical image. Brilliant 🙂 Best wishes, Mr C

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  2. shoreacres says:

    Your first image reminded me of the photo of lace lichens that Steve Schwartzman posted on his blog recently, from the temperate rain forest (the second photo on the page). It’s fascinating that a natural phenomenon and a photographic technique can render images that seem so closely related: art imitating life imitating art, I suppose.

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    • LensScaper says:

      I see what you mean about Steve’s image, I missed that post. Creating blur in camera has a high failure rate, so it’s always nice when you find an image worth keeping.
      I’ve been re-reading some articles written nearly 50 years ago by Jorge Lewinski (a well known Portrait Photographer) and published in one of the UK’s main photo magazines. I haven’t looked at them for probably 45 years. There are some fascinating observations, one that struck home particularly was this: ‘Be adventurous in your viewing. A constant barrage of images will create a foundation – a subsoil – to the future realization of one’s own original language. Slowly one becomes visually aware. Images become to form all around, without one actually taking photographs.’ The concept of creativity being like a personal language – now that’s an unusual idea.

      Liked by 1 person

      • shoreacres says:

        That’s a fine quotation. I not only agree with the thought, I have experienced a bit of what he’s speaking of. Writers talk about developing a ‘voice,’ and I’d say that’s analogous to the point he’s making about a person’s visual vocabulary.

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  3. bluebrightly says:

    The solarized canopy is really, really nice! I’ve seen – and done – the vertical blur in the woods kind of image before, and it’s nice, but I haven’t seen many solarized images, outside of historical or specialized contexts. You chose the perfect subject for that technique. The way you did it, it tends to morph into frost patterns or a snow flake, which I like. Another method is in Color Efex, where the solarization panel has a choice of 12 different color or B&W starting points – then as you say, you just play around until it looks good to you. Thanks for experimenting, and showing me how good solarizing can look, Andy.

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    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks for your comments, Lynn. I took a look at Color Efex and saw the polarisation options you mentioned – I had never spotted that before, but I rarely used colour Efex. I’ve been re-reading articles written by Jorge Lewinski in 1971 and were published in one of the UKs photo magazines and last night, bizarrely read this: ‘I have used derivative processes (solarization, tone separation), but looking back at these pictures I realize only too well, that they were in fact an admission of failure. I simply did not manage to carry out my idea in a straight photograph, and had to resort to darkroom magic to add something to an unsatisfactory picture. I am aware that in many cases this argument does not quite apply.’ I was relieved to read the final sentence of that quote. I agree that you seldom can salvage a poor image by doing something wacky, but I also believe that occasionally you can enhance a so-so image by using an unusual technique. In this case I certainly feel it has produced something quite special.

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  4. I love the way the sky bleeds in your Intentional Camera Movement photograph. At first glance I thought your solarized photo actually was of hoar frost. I didn’t know there was a term (Mackie line) for that halo effect; thanks. I used to make solar prints when the paper was in the developing tray (in my bathtub). Can’t remember what I used as a light source. Camera flash unit maybe?

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    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Linda. In the original there was a little bit too much sky, the image benefited from reducing that slightly. I never tried solarizing prints. I copied the original negatives onto two-and-a quarter square lith film, and flashed the light while that was developing. Then contact printed that lith positive to get a lith negative from which I printed the final paper image. With lith, if you didn’t like a little detail you could touch it out with Snopake! My darkroom was a plank over the bathtub!

      Liked by 1 person

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