December 12, 2005

More photographs for thought....

Back to showing more work....At the end of the showcased photographs, I am adding some more graphic art work or as I like to call them, eye candy.... As I stated in the photoshop blog that I wrote, I would like to distance my photography with any extreme alterations such as graphic art. I am hoping to keep the integrity of my photography as a clean, ethical, and morally principled art. I specify when it's my photography and when its my graphic art.

The reason I like to do graphic design is because sometimes my photographs would be interesting with a little bit of spice. Each work of art is formed from a photograph(s) that I have shot. With that said......enjoy!


Kansas city untitled - sk2005


"Surro" - sk2003


"Summer's Lush" - sk2004


"The Neon Spirit" - sk2001


"Sunflower Sunshine" - sk2000


"Fall's Crippling Grip" - sk2003


"The Dollar Dance" - sk2003


"Riding the Light" Series print # 4 - sk2005


"Cry of Burgundy" - sk2002


"Making new grounds" - sk2004


"The Leaf Corpse" - sk2001



"The Big Bad Wolf" - sk2004


"Turning Charlie" - sk2003


"Abstract Unknown" - sk2002


"Altered Perception" - sk2004


December 11, 2005

Experiment and Learn

It was 1 in the morning on a cold night in Minnesota. The temperature was 20 below zero and the wind chill felt like 35 below zero. I was on a shoot to capture the lights of Christmas that illuminated the entire city before they shut off at 3am. I was shooting slide film that night with speeds of 100 and 50 to give myself a shutter speed that would allow me to shoot 15 seconds or more. I carried a Minolta Maxxum 7 and my old trusty Canon AE1 and was ready to shoot.

Now when I shoot, weather doesn’t bother me one bit. The biggest problem that I had that night was my Maxxum 7 froze up, so the rest of the night I was gloveless while I adjusted the aperture and shutter to a setting that would allow me to push the light to an effect that would not let light bleed into the shadows. Once the light stops, there is no gradation between lightness and darkness. I knew with the settings I was using and the amount I was bracketing that I would in fact get an interesting outcome.

When I got the slides back I was in for a surprise. With the amount of light that was let in from the shutter and the fact that I kept the aperture anywhere from 22 to 27, I found that not only did the light source from artificial environmental sources (street lights) but the detail in the snow was incredible. The great thing about experimenting with your camera, different settings, film speeds, and even bracketing your light is that you will not only figure out what your hypothesis was, but you are sure to find out other benefits from changing the way conventional shooting is done.

With the Stillwater shots that I finished I found that I need to change the colors from what ever the light temperature was, in this case the snow was yellow and the lights started to jump of the visible light scale. I also learned to bring sets of different colored filters to accommodate the over powering temps of the street lights. Once I drop the yellow out of the snow, the picture has a feeling that leaves the viewer trapped in the photograph.

I learned quite a bit from the shoot. It has given me insight on how I conduct my night shooting. The big thing is to understand or anticipate in your head what your end result will look like, remember settings out loud, and expect that the photograph will come out different than expected. Then when you do, make sure that you identify what you thought was going to come out of the settings and also identify the changes within the pictures that came out of the same settings.

This is mainly directed at film when you are shooting blind, but I also believe that it can pertain to digital as well. If you are on a time constraint or just don’t feel like analyzing every shot, you can view your photographs right when you get to a computer.

Look at your photographs, analyze them, and then identify what you may be able to do to change your settings in the future. The more you understand your shooting style, techniques, and the ability to control it, the sooner you will be shooting for fun rather than spending most of the time with the technical aspects of your camera.

Starting off with some Stillwater Minnesota Pictures....

" The coldest hour of nightfall " Series Print #1 - sk2004


" The coldest hour of nightfall " Series Print #5 - sk2004


" The coldest hour of nightfall " Series Print # 8 - sk 2004


" The Snowman" Series Print # 2 - sk2004


"The Door" - sk2004


Ok....let's get out of Stillwater, Minnesota....move on to some other photographs!


Lightning Strikes - sk2003


"Pumpkin Grin" - sk2002


"Burning Passion" Series Alt - sk2005


"Burning Passion" Series Alt #2 - sk2005


"Woods of Twilight" - sk2002


"The Hen" - sk2001

December 1, 2005

PhotoShop: A great tool, yet a potential danger.

Another useful tool in photography has been the development of PhotoShop within the last ten years or so. When I started using PhotoShop back in 1996, the amount of control you actually had with a photograph was very minimal. PhotoShop 2.0 was the version that was floating around in schools and colleges through out the United States with a curious eye on the development and rumors of PhotoShop 3.0. Ever since 1996, I have used PhotoShop whether it was at work or even just at home trying to scan in my photographs to manipulate the levels to a usable image.

I admit that I am most likely a better PhotoShop user than I am a photographer. I understand the concepts of a camera, exposure, and lighting; however, sometimes different films, film speeds, and lighting situations can very the outcome of the intended photograph. If you use PhotoShop correctly and are able to add, subtract, or manipulate pixels to a more positive outcome than the actual photograph. I feel that sometimes film or even digital pixels do not do a photograph justice due to lighting or the way your camera may have been set. With PhotoShop, you are able to strengthen your colors, adjust the white and black balances that your camera may not control.

I like to use PhotoShop as a post photographic tool. This means that once I get my prints or negatives, I can go through and give a final feeling that my original may lack. I have been asked if I think this is an ethical problem. I believe that a feeling can be manipulated through a camera so it should be ok to change the feeling of the scanned image. The only aspects I change in PhotoShop are white/black levels, color saturation/color correction, dust/scratch scanned dust from the originals, and every so often use the sharpen tool. Because I only touch the items that can be corrected in a photo lab, I feel that personal ethics I have never get tampered with.

Some of these ethical issues that should not be tampered with are adding content to an image, purposely selecting the background and distorting the blur amount (this can easily be done in the camera,) anything that dramatically changes the environment (such as taking out or adding trees to a picture,) or even something as simple as using a filter on a photograph. Once you have done something to change the original concept of the photograph, I now classify this as a computer graphic. Don’t get me wrong, that’s some of what PhotoShop is all about and even I have created plenty of computer graphics. These ethics I am talking about is a measure that many photographers use to keep their photography close to the way they shot it and to keep themselves as honest to their viewers as possible.

PhotoShop is used in a variety of ways: photography, graphic design, advertising, video production, animation, and many other fields that has visual needs. Once we start combining the use of PhotoShop for two or more of these industries we start to find a convergence of media that throws everything in a grey area. Digital photography and photography are considered a medium within the fields that are visual heavy and allow much convergence between manipulation and organization. I personally like to keep photography as its own entity especially when I complete a print to be showcased.

To me, the grey area can be described as computer design because whatever is in that region can be used for anything and everything. At that point, the purpose of the image is stripped away to be used for what ever the intended user wants.

Since the development of computer graphics I believe that photography has branched itself in a variety of directions. The farther we move away from the original concept and introduce new ways of changing a photograph, the less honest we can potentially become to our intended audience. The problem becomes dangerous when the viewer or the audience is not aware of the intended manipulation. Because PhotoShop is so capable of this type of manipulation and the fact that the user is becoming more efficient at it but turns it into a common occurrence. As viewers, it makes it harder for us to determine what fact verses fiction is.

The first four images you see are computer enhanced in PhotoShop. Changing the original concept of the image that was shot.
Some computer art/design

Back to my photographs.....

"The Train" - sk2005

"County Fair" Series print #3 - sk2005

"In town celebrations" - sk1997

Home Fireworks series, print #7 - sk 2005

"Taste of Minnesota Fireworks" Print Series #13 - sk2005