August 10, 2021 ·

Ed Gordon

A cut is brutal, even if committed by the blade of a surgeon. So for Irving Penn the camera is an instrument that creates art through a precise form of violence- violence because, in order to achieve visual poetry, the photographer must use the camera like a knife, constantly making choices about what to cut from the world and what to keep.
 


“I recognize it for the instrument that it is, part Stradivarius, part scalpel” Irving Penn
 


The above words, not mine, stolen, plundered but precious, describe the camera’s true nature in the hands of the Photographer and PhotImagist.
 
The reality and the experience of the Photographer can be the same as the PhotImagist but I think mostly it is different. That’s just my subjective opinion. 
 
Before getting to the nitty-gritty of stepping away from reality please indulge me for a moment and let me paint the picture in journey speak. 
 
I’ve traveled all over the world, met the most amazing people. I get experiences other people don’t get. It is the journey I get to take to get to those pictures. That realization is everything. It means so much than the actual shot.  It’s the memory, the experience.
 
There’s nothing like waking up early before the rest of the world and heading out when it’s still dark. You can see nothing but you know that the landscape is there waiting for you. It’s only a matter of time before the veil is lifted and the light starts to make it come alive and you are the only one there with your camera and you are capturing every moment of that. That’s a feeling that only photographers know well. It’s incredible. It’s the journey. It’s the unforeseen things that get to be the most meaningful. It is not the gear, it’s not even what I’m shooting- it’s where photography has taken me.
 
Scouting locations, checking the weather, getting up at ungodly hours of the morning, trekking to the said location only to find that the light is shite, the sky is shite, the wind is howling, in short, a disaster. Time and time again the man or woman keeps going back until finally, conditions are right or right enough. The 20-kilo backpack is now open and the camera and the chosen lens mounted on the tripod another 7 kilos of weight. I am speaking of my experience so I will use “he’. 
 
He begins the process of decision making, he chooses the style of exposure inserts his ND and GND’s, and wraps the towel to prevent light leaks during his 4 min exposure.
 
The window of light is short. Sometimes minutes, often seconds. The sun comes through. Lens flare and those dreaded burned-out highlights are going to be a problem. More problem solving needs to be done. Decisions need to be made but quickly for fear of losing the moment of almost perfection. 
 
Perfection is rare and the quest is endless. But joy oh joy it’s in the can.
 
The thrill of being there in those moments, witnessing the canvas unfold. Often alone but sometimes with like-minded souls aware and able to share sans words the wonder of just being and being there. 
The light is gone, the sun is now ravaging the shadows and the moment has truly passed until later when it can be relived in the sacred chambers of the mind and brought to life again as he/she performs alchemy with light in the editing chamber that for most is the Digital Darkroom but for a few dedicated souls the aromas of developer and fixer await. 
 
A BROADER REALITY~ Colliemore Harbour Ireland
 
I can’t count the number of times I have shepherded a group to a location and of course, everyone wants the hero shot. Let’s face it, that’s why we are all there. Yet my experience tells me a location has often more to offer than just the obvious.  

Hero shot Colliemore Harbour, Dalkey, County Dublin
It seems an eternity ago, October 2019, when a group of us attended a workshop led by Joel Tjintjelaar, myself, and my son Peter. www.explorelightphotographyworkshops.com.
As well as architecture we deliberately included some of the amazing seascapes and harbors to be seen around the greater Dublin area.


 
As usual, the banter was terrific. Once I knew that all of the group were being taken care of by Joel and Peter, I peeled off no more than 20 meters from a cluster of tripods being cajoled into perfect alignment by their eager owners. 
 
I had noticed some heavy-duty chains and they spoke to me. Some of the group came over and wondered what I was doing and so I showed them. It’s really hard to appreciate an image on the back of a camera even with overhanging clouds blocking out the sun. I had however chosen to shoot the chains in total shade. The perfect light for the subject as I knew I could make the object I photographed become the subject.

Those who looked would understand.

An image from my Imagination project shot on Zeiss 85mm at 1.4

 
 

 
Those of the group that had finished with their hero shot and came over were somewhat perplexed that I was shooting this image deliberately at F1.4 on an 85mm lens. 
Almost zero depth of field yet the illusion of sharpness is created through careful placement of intensities of light and tone and the viewer’s eye is drawn to the anchoring point and then the rest of the chain. 
There are many reasons why I love this image but the primary one is that it brought joy and tears to one important person in my life. If I ever get back to the telling of the journey after Leonard Freed then I will share images of this person as she is an amazing model and business manager, mother, and friend. 
 
When she saw the image she wrote to me: “You made me see beauty in something harsh, ugly, horrible and unforgiving. Thank you for changing my consciousness. Beauty can be anything”
 
Her paternal grandparents, Van Der Bosch, died in Auschwitz and her maternal grandparents died in Treblinka. 
 
Getting back to the shoot that day I happened to notice the way the waves were lapping up against the steps that led down to the ferry where folks could jump on a small boat and go to see Dalkey Island. 
And so another opportunity presented itself and with my Zeiss 85mm already on my camera I began a series of long exposures. At the time I had yet to buy the Zeiss 135mm and 85mm wasn’t doing it for me so I switched to my trusted Nikon 70-200 Zoom. I rarely use Zoom lenses nowadays except for Infrared but that’s another epistle for another day. 

The power of imagination. Once the hero shot is in the bag, keep looking. Nikon D850, Nikon 70-200 at 120mm, F8.


 
The shoot that day was wonderful. Not just the images but Joel and Peter are great teachers offering encouragement to all and of course the entire group were and still are just a wonderful bunch of people.
 
Interestingly, the last shot to show you was the first shot I took that day.

Colliemore Harbour, Dalkey, County Dublin shot on Nikon D850 with Nikon 16-35 Zoom at F8.




 
STEPS AWAY FROM REALITY
 
I do ramble a lot when I write. Getting back to Irving Penn and his scalpel. Much has to be done before we start cutting away to frame our unique and singular perspective of a much broader reality and like all things it starts between your ears.

Your intention. Be clear in your intention both emotionally and technically. Understand the difference between the object you photograph and what you deem to be your subject. More on this another time but I suggest a really good read would be to zip over to Joel Tjintjelaar and read this article just recently published. https://www.bwvision.com/what-makes-fine-art-photography/
Your imagination. Digital cameras have made us lazy. I am speaking as a black and white photographer. When I started my black and white journey I had a cutout piece of cardboard and in it, I had a Wratten filter. Using this simple tool was like looking through my viewfinder and thus honed my skills with my surgeon’s scalpel, the camera. It also trained my eye to see in black and white and this, in turn, developed a keen understanding of light transitions, contrast, and tones. Invaluable in the field but essential in the darkroom both analog and digital. A good tip is to always observe how the light is describing your object and ultimately your subject.
Choosing to shoot in Black and White. That is part of your intention. Removing colour takes us a step away from reality and towards creating an artistic interpretation. Shape, form, tone, and texture are revealed to the eye, rather than overpowered by color. But the appeal of black and white photography goes deeper than that. The monochrome image, at its best, is beautiful. It’s art. It captures the beauty and soul of the subject. It moves people. It’s powerful and it endures.
Long exposure, moving clouds and water and people are all opportunities to depart another step away from reality.
The digital darkroom offers endless possibilities to step even further away from reality as a photographer but even more so as a PhotImagist. 
 
The above list is not absolute as there are many ways we can use our imagination as Photographers and PhotImagists to create beautiful images that reflect our unrealities and announce our subjects.


 
“ Photography is personal and must be authentic. Unique self-expression is the ultimate goal and challenge” ~ Ed Gordon 2020


I hope that you have enjoyed “stepping away from reality”. Another step is the use of Infra-red and next time I write here I will go through the options available to you. In addition, I will share some failed images and also some images that were only possible by choosing to shoot with my Nikon D850 camera converted to 720nm. Seeing failed images is a great way to learn but I promise some wonderfully unique images as well. 

The famous umbrellas at Thessaloniki, Greece shot using Nikon D850 converted to IR 720nm.

If you have any questions or comments just mail me at edgordonphotography@gmail.com

Ed Gordon

August 2021

For workshops, information go to www.explorelightphotographyworkshops.com

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Ed Gordon

It’s been more than 20 years now since I founded www.explorelight.com and gave up my day job to immerse myself fully in my photography. My work has been published in various magazines including Photo Art International and Outdoor Photographer. I have also featured in numerous radio and TV celebrations of the work created by myself and my son Peter, European Professional Photographer of the Year 2013. As I reflect on almost a lifetime of making images and teaching others to find their voice in photography I realize that unique self-expression and authenticity are the ultimate goals in this great medium. The changes that have taken place in these past 10 years motivate me to share my journey and in so doing provide insights so that others can learn to find their voice in photography.

You May Also Enjoy...

Techniques

Simplified Camera Raw 10.1 in PS Elements

Photoshop Elements – A Quick Breakdown

August 4, 2021 ·

Allan Derickson

FacebookTweet Watching the Charles Cramer series of videos here on Luminous Landscape was both tremendously educational and inspiring. It made me want to have another


Techniques

Photography and movies have taught us to interpret focus and blur as depth: the eye refocuses and moves too fast to notice it

Photography and Stereo Vision (Rediscover)

July 24, 2021 ·

Michael Alford

FacebookTweet Why Aren’t We Talking About It All The Time? For years I have been fascinated with how the human eye perceives depth, and particularly