July 08, 2006

Lisa on a Beach at Sunset

Digital infrared original
The longer I work with digital cameras, the more they are influencing the images I make. On the simplest level, they are still just cameras, however the fundamental difference in how they create images and how those images are then treated before use, has pretty much revolutionized how I photograph.
Digital original
For this session, Lisa and I went to Long Beach, to work along the shoreline and hopefully catch a good sunset. When we arrived, it was still several hours to sunset, so we began the session working with Lisa in the water and making a series of images using long exposures to transform the moving water into more of a swirling mass than a series of individual waves. As a side effect of the longer exposures, however, Lisa was continually being buffeted and jarred by the incoming waves, which in turn blurred her pose. Here the digital camera came to the rescue; I ended up making two series of images of Lisa in the water; one with a high shutter speed so with Lisa's pose recorded with crisp detail, and a second set of photos with long exposures showing the water blur. In the computer, these two sets of photos were combined to yield the final image, a process that would have been impossible with a film camera. There are, of course, many ethical issues brought up by the idea of image editing in this manner but, as my images are about the celebration of beauty, as opposed to the news or current events, I feel no compulsion to ignore such an obvious benefit, simply because of some illusionary sense of photographic truth. Everything in the resulting image was present when I made the original images...just not quite at the same time!
Digital original, 2 frame stitch

The other strong influence that the digital camera had on this session was the fact that it was almost exclusively photographed in colour. When I used film, colour was always an option (it is simply a different kind of film, after all), but it came with a high price - lack of control. With both print (colour negative) or slide (colour positive) film, there was never an easy way to gain control over the quality and characteristics of the resulting images - without a dedicated colour darkroom, I could not make my own prints. So for most of the first 17 years of my photography, I left colour alone. Since I started working digitally, colour has crept more and more into my work - especially on a day like this, when the light was perfect, the setting dramatic, and model patient enough to put up with my passion for the technical; many of the colour images combined two or more exposures for the longest possible tonal range - the last of the big digital influences that played a part in this photo session!

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