Updated: Dec 18, 2020
The back story on how this image was born.
©2017 Kent J Burkhardsmeier All Rights Reserved
As you look at this photo:
Where do your eyes go?
Do they linger in one place?
Do they move around within the image? Where?
Do they want to move out of the image?
Are you drawn into the image or does the image reach out to you?
Does it conjure up emotions within you?
The rest of the story…
This image is about vision, fine art, emotion, and movement. It wasn’t a routine photo taken but rather the creation of fine art photography—born out of creativity.
Fine art can be a nebulous term—often determined by the viewer, subject, medium….
I wasn’t going to be recording a moment in history. Instead I wanted to create a printed image that would invoke emotion, move the eye, and look wonderful hanging on a wall – my definition for fine art photography.
Creativity would be required if I wanted to successfully accomplish my objective.
Just as a painter needs different brushes and medium to transform the canvas into her masterpiece; I needed tools to help me create my piece. My tools included a camera, lens, tripod, digital darkroom, and guidance from a master photographer.
Guidance from a master photographer
Last month, I attended a wonderful workshop at The Palm Beach Photographic Centre (@PBPhotoCentre) by Vincent Versace (@VincentVersace). The workshop (Master Black & White) is based on his bestselling book: From Oz to Kansas: Almost every black and white conversion technique known to man.
To enrich our learning experience, we visited a local nursery to photograph orchids. Vincent would use them to teach us his approach for creating fine art B&W images using chromatic grayscale conversion. We decided that it would be most effective, if each of us would take the same shots (exposure and focal points) of the same arrangement. Vincent set up the arrangement and the tripod. One-by-one we captured our own 25 shots.
Back in the classroom, using his own images, Vincent walked through his process: culling and selecting, merging images into one photo, adjusting and masking sections of the image, reviewing and using the 3 color channels, blend it all together, and finishing off with the printed image.
The instructions moved along quickly. Instead of trying to follow along with my own photos, I decided it would be better to observe closely, ask questions, understand the concepts, and take copious notes. However, I was determined to recreate Vincent’s technique on my orchid photos immediately after the workshop in the comfort of my own studio.
My image (Orchid Love, shown above) was created using my own images taken at the nursery and following the approach taught during the workshop. I took my time, visualizing the final image and bringing out the essence of the orchids while using Vincent’s method.
The resultant image looked good, on the screen. But the print didn’t stand up so well. I evaluated the flaws observed on the printed image, decided where I needed to adjust, and re-entered my digital darkroom. My path deviated slightly from the first pass, as different components within the image started speaking out. I allowed my processing to flow with my eyes and emotions—listening to it. At the end, I emerged with the above image. It looked great on the screen. But the proof was in the print.
I printed the image on Epson Legacy Platine paper—which looked great. Yet, I felt it could be better—I couldn’t feel the velvety softness of the petals within this print. It needed to be printed on a smooth matte paper. So, I printed it on Museo Max paper. Now I could feel the softness of the flowers.
I had created a fine art image that moved my eyes, invoked emotion and passion within me, and filled me with joy. My Orchid Love was born.