Tag Archives: photo impressionist

How I made this: Photo Impressionist Waves

There is a balance in impressionist photography between the moment you remember and the  precise instant of the photograph. My exploration has focussed on finding approaches that expand time to become that moment. Opacity Blend Image Stacking produces a result that comes close to that balance. This is what I do.

1. create the stack using Lightroom

 

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The images are selected for the stack. © Stephen D’Agostino
  •  The images for this photo impressionistic wave were shot at 60 fps using Nikon’s N1 V3. I shoot hand held being careful to maintain a constant point on the subject even though the camera is panning. The images are then imported into Lightroom.
  • The images are then selected for the stack. The more images you use, the more impressionistic the effect.
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Open as layers in Photoshop. © Stephen D’Agostino
  • Right click to reveal the menu then select +   .
  • Since I often use Starcircleacademy’s Advanced Stacker app to create additional texture I also export the images to a separate folder at this point.

2. digital darkroom in Photoshop

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Opacity blend to create the photo impressionistic effect. © Stephen D’Agostino
  • In Photoshop the stack has to be blended to produce the base image. A good blend can be achieved by starting at the bottom of the stack and then reducing the opacity of the layer above it by about 50% until you reach 3-5%. Don’t be mechanistic with this step. Creativity with opacity significantly impacts on the finished result.
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At this step you have a good base image. © Stephen D’Agostino
  • I merge the stack after balancing the opacity to produce a manageable file size. Note the blend results in a flat image. I address that later in my workflow.
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The Advanced Stacker App creates some nice textures. © Stephen D’Agostino
  • If I am going to use the Advanced Stacker App I run it here and then drag the layer over to my stacked image for blending. Note that the App is really just another opacity blend using the lighten mode. In doing so I find it often emphasises movement.
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Create the base image using an opacity blend. © Stephen D’Agostino
  • Again I opacity blend until I am happy with the image.
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This white point/black point was achieved using Vincent Versace’s action. © Stephen D’Agostino

 

 

 

  • The more traditional darkroom work begins at this point. I colour balance using the black point/white point/midpoint  technique.
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Balance the white point/black point layers. © Stephen D’Agostino

 

 

  • Often the black point/white point layers have to be balanced.
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Add contrast. © Stephen D’Agostino

 

 

  • The process to this point has produced a flat lifeless image as a result the image averaging that has taken place. I add dimensionality to my photo impressionistic images using Nik’s Pro Contrast filter.
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Nik’s Tonal Contrast Filter. © Stephen D’Agostino
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Midtone Contouring. © Stephen D’Agostino
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I lie to crop at the end of my process. © Stephen D’Agostino
  • While many photographers crop at the beginning of their darkroom process to reduce the file size, I like to see what emerges and crop based on the results.

3. the final image

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Waves breaking on a St Lucian beach. © Stephen D’Agostino

 

Vanda Ralevska: Light in the Dark of the Forest

Guest post by Vanda Ralevska.

Over the years photography for me became much more than recording where I have been. Conveying the impression that the scene in front of me leaves on my mind became more important than a purely literal representation.

In my photographs I strive to capture the atmosphere and emotions that the surrounding world evokes in me, and hopefully pass on the feeling to the viewers. Photo impressionism is one of the techniques that allows to simplify the subject down to its essence, and reveal the sense that it creates. Similarly to when you glance at a scene without focusing on detail. The impression it leaves is that of colours, shapes and textures.

Therefore I dedicated a part of my work to experimenting with the intentional camera movement (ICM) and multiple exposure techniques commonly used in photo impressionism.

This image is a result of using these techniques. I was standing at the edge of a woodland, when I spotted the regular pattern created by the tree trunks, interspersed by the autumnal colours of the leaves on the forest floor. The colours were gradually merging into the darkness of the thick forest with no distracting highlights. A perfect combination of colours and shapes to paint with the camera.

Light In The Dark Of The Forest
Light In The Dark Of The Forest © Vanda Ralevska

 

I experimented with ICM, however I was not very happy with the results, which were simply streaks of colours.  I wanted to preserve a little bit of texture in the leaves and tree trunks. Therefore I decided to use the double exposure functionality of my camera. The first exposure was a straight image with f5.6 aperture, focused on the trees closest to the camera. For the second exposure I chose a smaller aperture f16 to increase the shutter speed and to be able to capture the camera movement.

I post-processed the image in Adobe Lightroom 5, where I increased the contrast and clarity. I used the radial tool to darken the edges. Then I brought the image into Adobe Photoshop CS6 to further enhance the contrast and colours using the curves and NikSoftware ColorPro plugin.

The result is just enough detail to portray a late autumnal day in a forest, but without all the distractions that our minds tend to dwell on when observing the real world.

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Sunset Wave. © Vanda Ralevska

Editors Note:  This is the first image of Vanda’s to catch my attention. I found it on  Flickr where Vanda regularly exhibits her photo impressionistic vision. You can also find her on Facebook. Her website can be found at http://www.mylenscapes.co.uk/ Vanda’s work is definately worth checking out. Thanks for sharing your technique.

How I did this: “In The Round Images”

I am expanding the scope of the Photo Impressionism Project to include a discussion concerning photo impressionistic techniques. The project is called “The Lab” and am opening it up to all photo impressionists who are interested in sharing “how I did this”. The idea is to create a discussion; what works and what you might say… not so much.

interested?  Drop me a line at https://photoimpressionism.ca/contact/

Till then you might enjoy my blog post explaining how I create in the round images.

What I Have Learned: “In The Round Images” – Stephen D’Agostino Photography.

Matt Molloy: stacking time

I really can’t get enough of Matt Molloy’s time stacked impressionistic images. Big blocks of colour and form with clouds reminiscent of  Canadian impressionist painters Lawren Harris (The Old Stump) and Emily Carr (Above the Gravel Pit). And that is appropriate given Molloy’s roots in small town Ontario.

“My time stack photos are much like a modern version of impressionism. By combining multiple photos into one image, it shows how light and other elements change over time. This gives a unique sense of movement in an otherwise still image.”

Power Plant - a great example of photo impressionism
Power Plant by Matt Molloy: 263 photos merged into one image. “I wish I had set up a little earlier, so the lines made by the clouds went all the way to the horizon. I still like the way it turned out, I just hope the ice is sturdy enough for me to try this again.”

According to Molloy’s biography his artistic pursuits are multidisciplinary; music, painting, drawing and experimental time-lapse photography. I think you can see the influence of the painter in his work .

I really his Power Plant (above). The blocks of colour remind me of the northern lights and that contrast against the silhouette of the power plant with a hint of snow and ice is striking. If you look at the cloud blocks close to the horizon the colour is rich with nice smooth shapes drawing your eye and as your eye travels up the staccato effect trails off to the edge.

Cloud Chaos Cropped - photo impressionistic treatment of moving clouds.
Cloud Chaos Cropped by Matt Molloy. “Another photo stack, made from a daytime timelapse of clouds passing over Lake Ontario. Check out the video… My latest timelapse creation… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLuZhXZztGw&feature=youtu.be%22”

This is my personal favourite in his current portfolio. In two dimensions Molloy  has been able to capture a moment in time we have all experienced; boiling clouds before a summer storm.

There is real drama close to the horizon. Again this in this image our eye moves to the top edge where the clouds start to lose their form as they bleed off the page.

Sky Sculptures - another great example of photo impressionism
Sky Sculptures by Matt Molloy. “This is an older timelapse. I’ve already done a photo stack with the photos, but this time I only used 75 of them. I like how some of the blue of the sky is still showing. In the other version it’s pretty much all clouds. http://www.flickr.com/photos/matt_molloy/7976402977/in/photostream”

Recently 500px featured a tutorial by Molloy describing this impressionistic technique.  Basically he uses the “lighten” opacity blend mode to emphasize the light elements while leaving the darker unmoving elements untouched. You can find the tutorial at  http://500px.com/blog/1051/tutorial-time-stack?page=1 . I am looking forward to trying it with some of my favourite subjects for photo impressionism.

“The exposure I’ve received through 500px has been great. I didn’t expect the “time stacking” tutorial to get so much feedback, but I’m glad it did. It’s brought me lots of new followers and likely got me some sales, so the hard work payed off.”

Twisted Sky - an example of photo impressionism
Twisted Sky by Matt Molloy. “90 photos merged into one image. I found this timelapse with some interesting cloud action while digging through old photos for my Tumblr page. matt-molloy.tumblr.com/ It’s really neat to see the clouds move like that, I think it’s the only time I’ve captured it on “film” Check out the timelapse video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4ij9wAG1BU”

What I find more interesting than the technique is its origins. Almost every photo impressionist I follow had a eureka moment; an idea spawned from something unrelated that compelled  them to produce photo impressionistic images.

Molloy started his journey with time lapse time photography. The time tracking stacking technique has been used for years in astrophotography to produce star trails.

“Once I made a few star trail images, I wondered why I’ve never seen this technique used on daylight timelapses. I tried it and, after a little tweaking here and there, I was astounded by the resulting images! They are kind of like a super long exposure, showing a large chunk of time in a single image, which is very much like the Impressionist movement that some clever painters came up with around the year 1870.”

Its worth looking at the time lapse video Molloy produced to see the genius here. Time lapse compresses time into a few moments. Time stacking captures the moment by compressing time into a single frame. It’s an idea that I have struggled with for many years (see my artist’s statement for example).

Twenty Minute Sunset. a photo impressionistic sunset.
Twenty Minute Sunset by Matt Molloy. “313 photos merged into one image using the lighten layer-blending mode in photoshop. As the title implies, this was about 20 minutes of shooting. (at 4 second intervals) I was a little late shooting this timelapse, so it’s another one from my backyard. I’m lucky to live in such a photogenic area.”

I am always interested to know which images are an artist’s favourites. Molloy identified the following 3 and gave me his thoughts on why.

Sunset Spectrum
Sunset Spectrum by Matt Molloy “396 photos merged into one image using the lighten blending mode in photoshop. I think this one pretty much covers the colour spectrum of sunsets, lacking only the darker reds. I can’t get enough of this technique!”

Its hard not to fall in love with Sunset Spectrum; big colour, big sky, classic pastoral scene.  To me this one feels like a crossover between the best elements of an impressionist painting and a traditional one. The contrast in styles is great here as it is  in his other examples. Molloy told me that “Sunset Spectrum” is one of his favorite time stacks because “it has so many different colours in the sky. I think the barn and the field are a nice anchor for the image.”

Icy Sunset a photo impressionistic image by Matt Molloy
Icy Sunset “400 photos merged into one image using the lighten layer-blending mode in photoshop. Even though it was extremely cold and windy, it was worth going back here for a sunset timelapse. It was a good one! Luckily my tripod weight (a brick on a rope) kept my camera fairly steady, but it didn’t help with the water spraying into the air (from the waves crashing into the piles of ice) and onto my lens. The fact that I was shooting at f/11 didn’t help that either. (you can see a few spots near the center of the photo from water/ice on the lens catching the sunlight) Still happy with the way this turned out!”

Icy Sunset has some of the elements I like in Power Plant but here the jagged ice is a rough reflection of the staccato clouds above. for that reason I think it is a powerful image.

According to Molloy “Icy Sunset is one of my favorite time stacks because it shows clouds that were moving in different directions, but the thing I like most is the crazy foreground. Every year the ice breaks up and it often gets piled up along the shore, it’s always an amazing sight to see.”

Crocheting Clouds (below) is an explosion of colour.  In many ways it best captures my memories of late August twilight in Muskoka.  For a real treat let your eye wander through the reflections in the water.

“Crocheting the Clouds ” was selected by Molloy as a favorites “because of the rich colours of the clouds. It’s nice that they were reflected in the water too. I think the texture of the clouds is interesting and their paths seem to radiate from the big tree, which leads the eye nicely.”

Crocheting the Clouds a photo impressionistic image using time stacking
Crocheting the Clouds by Matt Molloy. “186 photos of the sunset merged into one image using the lighten layer-blending mode in photoshop. I like the pattern in the clouds created from the interval between shots.”

I think Molloy is an artist to watch.  My Modern Met interviewed Molloy last year and it is worth a read. You can see more of Molloy’s work of Flickr and 500px. He sells his work on FineArtAmerica.com. Or you can follow him on Twitter.

Sky Streams and Floating Mountains - an example of photo impressionism
Sky Streams and Floating Mountains by Matt Molloy. “852 photos merged into one image using the lighten layer-blending mode. Two kinds of clouds moving and changing very differently.”

 

Bob Crutcher: Photo Impressionist

Legs: One afternoon on Water Street. (ICM) by Bob Crutcher
Legs: One afternoon on Water Street. (ICM) by Bob Crutcher

I have been following Bob Cruthcher on Flicker for a couple of months now and enjoy his use of intentional camera movement (ICM) together with a slow shutter speeds to produce visually compelling images.

One of my goals this year is to feature the work of photographers who are experimenting with impressionistic technique.

I have been following Bob Cruthcher on Flicker for a couple of months now and enjoy his use of intentional camera movement (ICM) together with a slow shutter speeds to produce visually compelling images. Crutcher lives in St. John’s Newfoundland. Looking at his Flickr Photostream St. John’s is visually rich environment.

As one door closes... ICM. One afternoon on Water Street
As one door closes… ICM. One afternoon on Water Street by Bob Crutcher

Earlier this year Crutcher told me that “Legs” (the lead image above) was his favourite impressionistic photograph. It is a strong composition with lots of visual interest drawing the eye from left to right. I like the saturated colour and strong sense of motion. The exif data tells a lot about the technique. Shot using a Canon Rebel and a medium telephoto at 1/8th of a second, the camera appears to be moved slightly vertically during the exposure.

One afternoon on Water Street by Bob Crutcher
One afternoon on Water Street by Bob Crutcher

Vertical ICM isn’t new. Freeman Patterson, another east coaster, used it effectively in the mid 90’s to create trees with height and weight to rival an Emily Carr. But with a deft hand and a new point of view Crutcher has given the approach fresh look.

I also like the compositional range. Some images are tight crops; looking for the picture in the picture. Others are wide perspective like the one below. Nicely done Bob.

Winter fun by Bob Crutcher
Winter fun by Bob Crutcher

Worth a look: Photographic Punctuation

I follow the blog photographic punctuation because of the strong impressionistic images and thoughtful commentary. Many of the images are taken with an iPhone.

If you wander through the images on the blog you will notice a grittiness and contrastingly a dreaminess. Take this one for example. The low resolution black and white creates drama but in a way that generalizes the subject; drawing the viewer in. The strong composition is not just because of the artist’s adherence to the rule of thirds, but look at the juxtaposition of the background reflection. Nicely done!

Definately worth a look.

Photographic Punctuation

I knew the phone would be passed to me. I knew this once she took the call. She showed me the caller ID as it rang and vibrated in her palm. Hello, she said, her gaze fixed on me. Yes, she said, this is me. She lowered her head and listened intently. Sorry, she said, can you repeat, she said. She turned from me and walked a few steps ahead. I see, she said. Yes, she said. Yes, what? I said. She turned again and raised her head and looked at me, mouthing something. What? I said. With her arm and hand fully extended she passed me the phone. You talk, she said. Hello, I said. 

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Re-examining the Link Between the Rise of Photography and Impressionism

Photographic art is a reflection of current cultural influences and the technology available to the photographer. Pictorialists, the forerunners of photo impressionism were strongly influenced by the impressionist painters of their day. But did the influence go both ways? Were the Impressionists inspired by photography?  A recent exhibition of early photographs and impressionist paintings at the University of Michigan’s Museum of Art suggests they did.

I found the promotional material for the exhibition an interesting read. According to the UMMA’s web site:

“This exhibition advances a new argument for the origins of what was called “the new painting,” namely that a unique convergence of forces—social, artistic, technological, and commercial—along the Normandy coast of France dramatically transformed the course of photography and painting (as well as of the region itself). Within this framework, the invention of the camera and the development of early fine art photography in that particular setting will be seen as the specific catalysts that brought about a new approach to painting.”

Elsewhere the promotional material for the exhibition says:

“”After gazing at Monet’s or Courbet’s work, it’s a short step to grasp how photographers’ quest to “arrest motion” became aesthetically valid and how instantaneity captured their imagination, said McNamara.”

I am not sure that is really what was going on.  These photographers were not trying to arrest motion for its own sake. Like painters of their day they fought against the tools at hand to capture the essence of a their subject; and the technology at hand was limited, cumbersome and expensive. Remember that Eastman did not introduce a practical portable camera until about 1888.

Niagara-ahhinton-1904

It may be true that the photography en plein air challenged painters to do the same but I don’t agree that arresting motion was a factor.  For me the open question is whether the photographers of this period would have moved towards impressionistic images if they had access to better tools?  Was it a coincidence that Pictorialism traces its roots to about the time of the first Kodak?

“’The Lens of Impressionism’ is clearly an exhibition that draws on history, but raises contemporary issues,” said McNamara. “With the Internet and the proliferation of images in our culture, questions arise about originality. These were the same issues facing Impressionist artists working at a time when photography was influencing how they looked at the world.”

I like the ideas being explored here and would have liked to have seen the exhibition. You can read about it at Reexamining Link between Rise of Photography and Impressionism and at http://www.umma.umich.edu/view/past/2009-lens.html. The gallery guide can be seen at http://www.umma.umich.edu/view/past/Normandy_GalleryGuide.pdf