Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The story behind the photograph

I love this photo. I absolutely do. It was made after I had instructed for 5 days straight with +Royce Howland and Costas Costoulas of Calgary's Resolve Photo in January on our Monochrome Printing Masterclass. 

In those 5 days we had given our students exercise after exercise to help fine tune their vision. Obviously I did the exercises too (with my iPhone). And our own exercises had an affect on me. It changed my vision a little bit. Talk about a win-win situation right?

I had seen this tree a few times before and it always intrigued me and stood out from the crowd so to speak. I had a gut feeling there was a photo there. But which one? 

After the workshop I said goodbye to my fellow instructors and drove straight to the tree. I got out of the truck, grabbed my viewing frame and started walking towards it. At first, I framed it wide with a lot of trees around it. Didn't work. Then I went to stand underneath it. Didn't work. After a few other tries I said to myself: 'OK Oli, step back and think about this for am minute. What do you really see?'.

I started to imagine how I would feel if I was that tree. How it would be to know there's a Forest fire on the way and you can't move. How would I feel? 


How would I feel when there was a lot of smoke around me. Obscuring my view. Filling my lungs. 

It would feel claustrophobic. And I would panic. 

Now I started to look at this tree again. How could I compose this so it communicated those feelings? My answer was to frame the tree super tight. Filling the frame to the edges. But I wanted to convey a sense of hope as well. That's why I decided to keep the sky blank and fairly light (there where clouds in the sky that day though). This was done in development. I placed the tree bark on Zone II 2/3 and overdeveloped so the sky would fall close to a Zone VIII. Setting the negative up for a nice contrast range (or contrast index).

But I also kept in 3 trees on the bottom to further enhance a secondary storyline of 'hope'. I deliberately made sure these trees where out of focus. Because I didn't want them to detract from the main focus too much and I needed them to be there in a supporting role. Quiet literally really. 

I think in the end I feel I made more of a portrait of this very unique looking tree than anything else. I was through my imagination I was able to see through the obvious and make an emotional and graphical looking photo. 

I should do this more often.