And now….Negative Space….

Fireball -- San Diego, CA -- May 2008

Fireball -- San Diego, CA -- May 2008

As many of you who have seen my previous entries here, you know that I like to “bend” the parameters of what I am doing. By “bending” it, of course, I mean putting it through whatever filters or processes that are unique to me and, more often than not, discovered “by accident.” My “electric” photography is one way I bend it and the twists I make are catching the eyes of those who have never quite seen anything like it before. Electrifying my work always gives me a bit of a charge in the process (pun intended)….and in that process, I look for even more ways to change it. For instance, I am interested in HDR and have put a few up of those but have backed off a bit in favor of others whose work speaks for itself and makes me wonder “WHOA! how does he do that!” but I keep at it. Doing it is better than the alternative. I’ll put some more up when I feel a bit more confident about the process.

In my never-ending search to tweak my photography, I find myself going back into my archives of work that I have shot in the past. That is, anything from a few months ago….to a few years ago. Case in point: last year, I spent the weekend at a friend’s property in the mountains southwest of Ft. Collins, Colorado. This place, Shoshoko, is the most wonderful spot that is within striking distance for me (as opposed to, for instance Pt. Lobos, near Monterey CA, which is, frankly, Heaven on Earth for me, and is also 1200 miles away); I get up to Shoshoko as often as I can. Last September while there, I took this photograph:

Shoshoko After Dawn

Shoshoko After Dawn

Going back to it, the “electrifying” process didn’t have the effect I was looking for so I ran it through some other moves instead. So, this is where my tweaking took me:

Out of the Forest with the Dawn

Out of the Forest with the Dawn

I really like the resulting photo, especially the outline of the tree images. In the same sort of way, those shimmering lines show up in the “electric” images. I had to tweak the photo a bit more, clone some stuff out and generally clean up a spot here or there, but that is all just a part of any photo, if it needs it.

Consequently, I began looking in yet another way with the images I am taking (or have taken).
Let me explain that for a moment: when I look at an image, I don’t simply look at the composition of it, as many photographers do. I look at an image and then run it through various shifts in my head, imagining how it will look when I run it through, for instance, the “electric” version of it…or the electrified version that looks more like a sepia drawing…or the process I used to use that looks like this

Castelleja Blossom - Shoshoko

Castelleja Blossom - Shoshoko.

In other words, my mind simply doesn’t stop by just looking at the composition of the photograph…it looks a lot deeper and in several different ways. Calculating these moves in my head may seem simple enough but, for one who oftentimes has difficulty maneuvering how to get from Point A to Point B in the city, the process can be a bit taxing. That said, it IS an enjoyable task, especially turning out the finished product, which may, or may not, end up looking what I had envisioned at all!

This explanation is the longer way of saying that I have begun to look for (or see) what I am now calling “negative space”. These photos, more often than not, are shot at night. Some, like the photo above, can be shot during the day; however, the background is better subdued, or fog-like, than bright, as in a clear blue sky. Darkness plays a much more important aspect to the study of “Negative space” to me…and the use of a flash to highlight the foreground in a more pronounced way. Imagining this idea in my head can have its travails, such as actually figuring out just how different the darkness may shift. In the end, it’s all relative since I can manipulate it until it serves my purpose.

To wit, an original, taken a couple of weeks ago, while out for the evening on one Denver’s First Friday Art Walks. [This one was taken out the side door of an interesting artist who extrudes his oils through a screen to produce his paintings. It seemed quite apropos at the time, since his process is so dependent on how it is conceived as opposed to the difficulty of the end product. His process includes painting upside down, requiring him to get underneath the screen and pushing his acrylics up through it….which makes for a lot of up and down body movement. Frankly, it seems to me quite a dizzying effect….and, sometimes, equal to what my brain goes through to imagine how my images will end up!] I walked around this tree and took several shots of it, much to the scratching heads of those watching me. Why on earth was I shooting up into this tree, taking what looked like as just branches?

Oak Tree With Acorns

Oak Tree With Acorns

Here’s the resulting “negative space” shift:

Before the Acorn Fell

Before the Acorn Fell

By the way, I didn’t actually SEE the acorn until after I processed the photo; it was simply indistinct in the tree when I took the original photo.
While I have taken few photographs after dark in the past, that will likely change now!

Have an excellent day!

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2 Responses to “And now….Negative Space….”

  1. Out Of The Forest is out of this world. Well done, Sam.

  2. Staffan H Says:

    I agree with Louis – Out Of The Forest is definitely out of this world. There is just some kind of magic in it that I’m not capable of describing. I’m also very fond of Oak Tree With Acorns – it’s just magic.

    Your “Negative Space effects” really impressed on me, so well done and keep up the good work, Sam.

    All my best,

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