11/06/12Just over a year ago, erstwhile pro photographer Jonathan Gooding, knowing of my guitar indulgences, suggested that I join a jamming session being held at a Bridport pub. So Gibson Les Paul under arm, I entered the arena. The preconceptions I had of the evening - me fluidly fingering the fret board in a deftly performed set were heavily flawed, I couldn’t remember a single chord or scale, or put a note to a key! Profound brain fade induced by a heavy dose of performance nerves and me trying to make their music fit my style. To ward off the demons, I had to banish my memories of this experience and get my head back in place. Sway Social Club Acoustic Blues night it was then. Given my previous experience, I had a different mindset. Low key, play myself in, maybe a small solo if allowed, and if I come out having hit a few right notes in the right places, a result – and thankfully, that was how it panned out. This recount is analogous. It’s not a case of setting your sights high and achieving low, but of trying to make things fit.
Last month, on Facebook I posed two pairs of images, both in monochrome and in colour and asked people to vote which they preferred. The first pair were taken visualised as a colour final print whilst the second was taken visualised as a monochrome final print. Both colour and mono versions were shown for each print and thankfully the envisaged final versions for each image came out on top by some margin.
Now, the first image didn’t give me much time for consideration whilst I was in the field. Stood on the Tuscan hilltop, the ever changing dawn casting its directional light over the rolling countryside, highlighting the low lying misty valleys, was a given. The way that the yellow grasses, warmed by the rays juxtaposed against the blue toned stormy clouds was the envisaged capture.
The monochrome, whilst maybe dramatic, didn’t gel - almost a picture of two halves.
The second image taken on the same trip, but in Siena, where they run the famous Palio horse race, demanded a different execution. I had already shot my blurry people milling along the cobbled pavement outside the many colourful bars and restaurants curtaining the piazza – all warm yellows and reds, but wanted to capture the aftermath. The piazza itself was emptying from its congested state earlier in the afternoon. There was a nip in the air. The coats were on, but there were still couples soaking up the atmosphere and historic relevance. This image is all about the textures, architecture, position of the people and space. A mix of colours would distract from that, especially with the variable colour balance around, and to me it does. Therefore my final mix of sepia tones, dodges and burns gave not only my finished print, but also the voting to agree.
My point then this month is the preaching of my practise, see – think – visualise- take –process –print what you visualise. This will work much better than taking an image and then trying to make it fit some new idea, particularly if it’s not a winner in the first place! Take your pictures visualised as a finished print hanging on the wall. By so doing you should then capture the information you need to process and produce that print, which will be all the better for so doing.