Photography of old and ancient things—either man-made or natural, has been an artistic passion of mine for over 40 years. So, as such, I really don’t do “documentary photography”; that is straight-up, backed-off, un-manipulated pictures of things just as I found them. I call that a “record-shot” and I only do those to accompany one of my blogs or as a teaching tool for my students.
As artists we interpret the world, we idealize our subjects, showing our audience a different point of view. Sometimes we push that vision to an alternate reality. The problem with the record-shot is that it’s too literal. You instantly recognize the thing that it is and move on—no thought process required; Boring! I’m not afraid to produce an image that most people can only guess its source. I like to make people think. However, I’m not talking about pure abstract images—I’ve been known to do those as well! Pure abstracts are too easy especially in the digital realm. No, I’m talking about something more subtle; using my vision of parts of an object to hint at its whole.
f11.0 @ 1/100 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 24mm
When I find a worthwhile subject I like to start with close-ups. I’m looking for the details that tell us about its nature—its history—how it has weathered time. I tell my students, “showing less can often reveal more about the object!”
Then I start showing more…
f20.0 @ 1/160 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 24mm
This is a reverse angle from within my subject using wide angle distortion as a compositional effect; the leading lines of its structure pointing back to that colorful wall.
Then backing out, the way I came in, to reveal the other side—the entry way sans door.
f8.0 @ 1/1250 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 35mm
I had pre-visualized this exact image of this subject years before with those fall colors visible through this doorway, but was never able to coincide a visit here during the fall along with great lighting, at the same time!
And finally the reveal of my subject as a “record-shot”….
f8.0 1/200 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 67mm
This is an old Basque Sheep Herder’s Wagon on display at the Idaho Botanical Gardens (Boise, Idaho).
So, that is my artistic process for photography of most objects. I carve up my subject—often with telephotos as my knife—dissecting the subject to show its details. Sometimes I don’t even show the whole subject—that’s what too many other photographers do all the time!
’Til next week…
Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman
Training site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com
Client site: http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com