My Purism Goes To HellTuesday, September 19, 2017
I cannot speak for other photographers but I can for myself in the idea that one’s photographic trajectory is one of ambivalence.
My beginnings were all about authentic purism. By this I mean that I refused to use filters or any of the few special effects that I had at my disposal in that past century before the digital makeover occurred.
The more I read the more I found out that b+w film and colour film was much more sensitive to ultra violet light than the human eye was. If I wanted to be accurate in the sense of shooting what I saw and getting it I soon learned that yellow filters on b+w film made it more like the human eye.
As soon as I discovered the polarizer I loved the way it darkened skies in colour or in b+w. Such was the pull of the polarizer that I soon began to see hyperealistic paintings (landscapes) that had polarized skies. The painters obviously knew of the existence of the polarizer.
And so, my life as a photographer has been a back and forth path from authenticity to over-the-top fantasy.
In some cases I have forced myself into corners where I told myself I would use one lens, or take only a certain number of photographs. The idea of limiting what I could do gave me a freedom to think of ways of collaborating with my subject to get a photograph that would satisfy us both.
Now in this era of digital and in particular of digital manipulation it is difficult to trust in the images we see. Of late I have seen photographs of Vancouver auroroa borealis that I know have been enhanced.
In my former career as an editorial photographer art directors demanded slides or if the assignment was in black and white a contact sheet. They wanted to see the original approach of the photographer and when possible to treat it with the respect that at one time existed in image journalism.
Back and forth I have seen myself go and now that I am obsolete –redundant & retired I need not follow any of my former guides of image propriety I find myself letting go and simply doing what gives me the most fun and visual satisfaction.
The luminous photograph of the luminous Sandrine Cassini that illustrates this essay I took in August of 2003. By then my friend Paul Leisz had dragged me into the digital age (not with a camera) but with Photoshop and Corel Paint Shop Pro photo programs.
The effect you see is not a new one. I did this back in 2003. This is how:
1. I scanned the b+w medium format b+w negative as a colour negative. This added an initial red/orange to the mix.
2. I went to Photoshop’s levels and abused the adjustment. I added a little contrast.
3. In Paint Shop Pro 9 I used a tool called clarify and I notched it to clarify 5. I then sharpened it to 27 on the Paint Shop sharpening tool.