Recreating the subject in fine art photography. The concept and realization of my image Ode to Black | Black Hope II – Anima Black
Another addition to my Black series and the darkest and most difficult to work with so far, because of the dark tones and the limited range that I decided to use in my processing, but also because of the complexity of the volume and the fact that whatever light and shadow you see here is created from scratch according to my vision for this object.
The building is one of the highlights of San Francisco and is, in fact, an addition to the museum, but is so impressive that it is drawing all the attention to it once you reach the square in front of the museum. The structure had a cladding of dark-blue diamond shape steel sheets which can be astonishingly bright in the sun, but looking very dark and melancholic if the weather is overcast.
CAPTURING THE IMAGE
The most challenging when taking the shot was to find the best angle, the one that would tell what I intended it to tell and finally this angle was what you see. The space in front of the museum is narrow and long and finding a spot where you have an open view to the entire volume, as well as an interesting composition is really difficult. But there is always a solution if you want to find it. So, what I did was to find my solution But I had to pay a price for it. Even if there were some other angles I could use with less cluttered background, the building itself wasn’t “speaking” to me in any other way so what I had to do was to take this photo as it is but remove the background that was a high-rise building totally oppressing the delicate and sophisticated volumes of the museum.
CREATING (EN)VISIONOGRAPHY BY INTERVENING IN THE SCENE AND “RECREATING” THE SUBJECT
To avoid the high-rise building oppressing the museum building, I had to find a way to separate the two. So I decided to remove the high-rise building as if it wasn’t there. To realize this I had to shoot the building and the sky separately and reunite them in post-processing, while removing the building in the background.
Therefore, what you see as final result in the image is quite far from reality, but as you know by now, I am not driven by the intention to mimic reality in my work, on the contrary, I’d say that I try to “run away” from it and present my own reality, even if what I create is just slightly resembling the real world. This image is one of the closest to this “alternative reality” concept and to the concept of “(en)Visionography” that define my work and they illustrate it perfectly. What you see is my ideal proposal for this space and building, a perfect image of it as I envision it in my mind. Also, an image that can be a piece of the puzzle in the story that my Ode to Black – Black Hope series tells. More about the concept of the series with my next image that is coming soon.
I see creating my images as a way to “re-design” or the buildings or scenes I am showing, as if I was the architect who designed the space in reality. It is a “professional deformation” in a way, as I always look at the world through the eyes of an architect, even when I am not practicing my profession and this influences in a great measure my vision and the tools I use to create, also the result of my creations. However, regardless of my base profession, reimagining the scene can help the fine art photographer to reach the essence of his vision and show it to the world.
Recreating the subject in fine art photography is one of the most powerful tools the fine art photographer has to reach the essence of his vision and present his perfect world through the photographs he makes.
BLACK AND WHITE PROCESSING – PHOTOGRAPHY DRAWING (PhtD)
Processing wise, this image is again one of those which could be considered typical to illustrate the technique I’m using when processing, the Photography Drawing technique. You’ve heard me talking about this before quite a few times but I’ve never gone into details because I wasn’t really considering it a technique for a long time. It had a slow evolution but recently I realized that I’m every time doing the same things even if I don’t search for this and I like to experiment as much as I can. But somehow I always end up doing the same things, more or less and having consistent results. I think I should talk more in-depth about this sometime soon.
I did talk more in-depth about this technique and you can read more at the link above and also in my book From Basics to Fine Art – Black and White Photography. It is a technique and way of conceiving my images based on my former drawing background and the skills I’ve gained while practicing it making drawings of buildings for quite a long time in the past. What I basically do is to use the principles of drawing in black pencil on my images, changing the light balance in the image to suit my vision and intention.
This technique gives me the freedom to do whatever I want in my image, since I’m not depending on reality anymore, but only taking a base for my creations from the world around me.
To be able to influence reality in such an extent, what I need is to start from a very neutral base, meaning most of the times, what I’m interested in when taking the shot is a good composition and a clear idea. I then convert my color image into a very neutral black and white image (being neutral is a very important aspect of this technique because it is what will allow me to have total control over light and shadow).
I then work on this neutral image like I would work on a white paper, or on one where I only have the outlines defined. My work is done separately on every surface, so perfect selections are vital here, but the processing skills needed to do this are minimal. I like to keep it simple and I do it here too. From then on, it’s only a matter of deciding the right balance of light, the right contrast, deciding where to place the right highlights and shadows and how to create depth and presence in the image.
This is what I do in a nutshell, since many of you asked. If you are curious to find out more, I will have to make a more in-depth description at some point. Let me know if you would want this.
Exposure and EXIF:
286.0 sec. (for the sky), 1/60 sec. (for the building), @ f/11, ISO 100
CAMERA: Nikon D7000
LENS: Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 ED AF-S DX @ 10mm,.
FURTHER STUDY RESOURCES
FINE ART BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY, ARCHITECTURE PHOTOGRAPHY, LONG EXPOSURE PHOTOGRAPHY
Find more resources about fine art black and white photography, (en)Visionography, long exposure photography and architecture photography in Julia Anna Gospodarou’s extensive collection of photography tutorials. To receive free future tutorials, you can subscribe here.
Learn more about how to create fine art photography, from vision to processing and the final image in Julia’s video course From Vision to Final Image – Mastering Black and White Photography Processing, in the video tutorial Long Exposure, Architecture, Fine Art Photography – Creating (en)Visionography, and the book From Basics to Fine Art – Black and White Photography, or by attending one of her highly appreciated workshops.
Find Julia’s recommendation for the best software and gear to create fine art photography and curated deals and discounts for these tools.
To study with Julia Anna Gospodarou personally, find out about our
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Founder of (en)Visionography™ and creator of Photography Drawing™, internationally acclaimed fine art photographer, architect, educator, and best-selling author, with 25+ years experience in photography and architecture, Julia Anna Gospodarou is a leader in modern fine art photography who shaped with her work the way architecture fine art photography looks today.
Awarded more than 100 times in the most important photography competitions worldwide, two-time International Photography Awards IPA Photographer of the Year, World Photography Awards SWPA, and Hasselblad Masters Finalist, her work was widely exhibited and published internationally.
With a passion for the world’s civilizations and speaking five languages, Julia was always in the avant-garde of thinking as an architect and a photographer, constantly pushing the limits of what is possible, constantly reinventing herself as an artist and an individual. Her huge love for travel and discoveries and her passion for teaching, art, and photography led her to become in the past one and a half decades one of the world’s top-rated fine art photography educators and workshop organizers.