Photography is about "capturing an idea" or telling a story, as much as it is capturing a moment. It's also a genre that can bring people together.
One of my best photography friend's and mentor in is based in the USA and is individual I have never actually met. Chaula is an ex schoolfriend of my wife who has a passion for the captured image, and is always available to give me and independant and impartial view of my work.
She recently took on a facebook challenge to publish a true nature picture each day, and commented on how she know finds faults with her old pictures that she once loved. She reflected how this demostrated how her understandng of the art has grown.
At the time I was pondering potential submission ideas for an upcoming 'Minimalistic' competition, and her comment inspired me to look back at old images to see if there was something I can re-imagine.....
Here's a shot of the Footbridge to the 14th C Byzantine Zvernac Monastary in Aug 2014. The monastary is on island just north of Vlore on the Albanian Coast. I was always very disaoppointed with the image. While it's got a interesting leading line, the shot was taken on bright summer's day with sun directly ahead, which left the monastary faded and hard to see, and bright higlights on the lake surface. There was a locked 6ft high wooden gate that prevented me moving further down the bridge or getting low down for a shallow perspective.
My initial processing of the image involved the following..
- Levelling the horizon
- Spot healing the sun flare's.
- Convert to Black & White
- Applying 'Dodge' (1/3 stop) to the monastary buildings to bring them out of the shadows
- Increasing sharpness on the buldings to bring out more definition.
- Cropping the top remove negative space, the sun and the lens vignetting
- Increased contrast
Here was the final image which i posted on on social media and got positive feedback.
I then forgot all about it until last week, when I started thinking about minimalistic. Researching the topic, I identified 4key areas..
1. Composition. Keeping it simple and making use of negative space is an integral part of minimalist photography. Deciding what to leave out of the frame is the key challenge. Minimalist photography is all about stripping down a scene so that you only include the most important elements within the frame. Simplicity is the key to creating amazing minimalist photos.
2. Textures and colors. Use of contrasting colours, or textures are a common way to express minimalism.
3. Lines and geometric patterns. Strong lines make strong images. By paying attention to architecture around you, It's often possible to identify leading lines, and other geometric shapes.
4. Telling a story. Making the view see something bigger than the image itself, or explore their imagination.
So with these idea's in mind, I opened up in Photoshop and got to work..
- removed the islands and buldings completely and tidying up afterwards to leave a clean horizon.
- used context-aware stretch to increase the negative space in the sky.
- compressing the bridge downwards to create a flatter perspective.
- Applied Gaussian Blur to all the water, including the through the gaps in the side rails.
- tweaking the far end of the bridge to remove some debris and leave the perpective of an open end.
Here's the final image that I submitted....which i think is far more striking compared to prior version, and ticked all 4 of the 'minimalistic' boxes. Titled 'Path to Eternity' (credit to Chaula for the title). The bridge is rickety and dangerous and one has step carefully with no idea where the bridge may lead you. As one traverses the seemingly endless bridge the world around passes in a blur. It can be interpreted in many ways.
Competition night...The image scored 9/10. Judge's opinion was that he struggled with the contrast of blurred water with sharp & detailed woodwork... ;-/
You Judge ...and tell me what you think...