I have had a tremendous number of request for images of local icons in our community. I am sure most of you, that live here in Bellingham, will recognize this “Conference Table.” This outdoor sculpture was originally created by Tom McClelland in 1978. It consisted of a large cedar wood conference table with six silhouetted figures seated across from one another, each extending a hand to shake with the person opposite them. The figures form the base that holds up the table. I believe the wood table was replaced in 1997. This image was most likely captured around 2003 and was recently converted to this “Impressionist Style” look. The small JPEG file you see here does not begin to feature the beautiful textures in the final render that was 25 x 25 inches. The small vignette below it is a small crop of the image printed to size.
Are these photographs or are they paintings?
So many people are asking me this question, I felt like I needed to respond with an explanation. Simply put, all these images begin as photographs. Through the magic of some serious digital tools, utilized on my 12 core MacPro computer they are transformed into a more painterly style or look. Let me explain….
Over the last 10 years alone an unbelievable multitude of changes have collectively altered the way images are captured, transformed and printed. I personally have not used a film camera since 2005. Film cameras for cinema- photographers creating feature length movies are being replaced by very elaborate digital capture devices. My expensive medium format Mamiya RZ film camera system lies dormant in a closet. I even have a 4 x 5 field camera. It uses film that is very difficult to find a place to have it developed. These film cameras, I have now been replaced with a Nikon that was state of the art in 2007. Now, even newer tools are surpassing its capabilities. My vintage darkroom equipment, enlargers and processors have been replaced by some state of the art digital printing equipment. Collectively, I believe all these technological advances are allowing me to break into new ground. I am finding I can be more “expressive” with the color and content of images I create. Almost as if I was painting, but using digital captures as “reference” images.
In 2008 I closed my gallery of fine art photography to pursue other pathways. That year I traveled to Paris, France and renewed my love for the Impressionst Artists. Monet, Cezanne, Degas, Renior, Van Gogh and Pissaro were at the top of my list. I found it interesting that the Impressionist movement (in the mid 1800‘s) was born out of changes in the centralized art world. The formal artists painting in a realist style were given the nod of approval by high ranking art critics at the time. Early on, these very talented “impressionist” artist’s (mentioned above) works were passed of as “rubbish.” Taking an interest in the timeline of “impressionism” made me realize there is a correlation between what seems to have happened then and what is happening with photography now. I could sum this up by saying that there are many new forms of fine art photography branching off from the traditional “realism” of photographic content. Mostly a result of having digital tools that allow us photographers to “alter” an image beyond it’s original state of realism. Some of us photographers doing this are the “rebels” of the era, creating new work that pushes into new and valid territory of photographic imaging.
To mold these images into this new “Impressionist Style” I use a number of software tools. Most notably, Photoshop to create, compose, and color the image into an initial composite that looks very photographic. At this point I utilize a series of “Plugins” created by Topaz labs to create “variable renders” from the initial composite. These layers are then re-entered into Photoshop in specific “blend modes” and opacity to achieve the end result. I feel that this “painterly” look grants me license to be more expressive and alter an image to my personal taste. It places me outside the boundaries of traditional photography. My intentions all along was to create something tastefully new and different. It requires me to be constantly making a multitude of “Choices” to achieve the end result. Only time will tell how well it is received….. much like the impressionist movement.