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.