I’m a fine art photographer from Yorkshire in the North of England, I started photography in January 2017 after being disappointed by the quality of images from my compact camera, from a once in a lifetime trip to Iceland (once in a lifetime because of the unpaid motor tickets I left behind). As soon as I returned, I purchased my first DSLR and I have not looked back since.
It took me a couple of years to really get on top of the editing technique, to understand the tools I was using not just technically but to achieve the results I wanted. It’s a constantly evolving process, at every point along the way I’m thinking I’m producing the best results I’ve ever done, but in 6-8 months I can look back and see things I was doing wrong. For me thats a big part of the enjoyment, the constant progress. It requires a lot of dedication and effort but the progress makes it worthwhile.
The process for producing images like these breaks down to 3 stages, each of which is key to getting the right result. Images can take a few hours to edit, so it’s best to tackle these on different days.
Preparing the image for editing
The is doing some tidying up on the image, removing distractions, levelling/straightening, fixing imperfections (such as dust spots), flattening out the dynamic range and cropping.
This process is based on making selections of different parts of the image, so they can be edited individually, accurate selections are very important to a good result so this process can take time (1-2 hours at least).#
Dodge & Burning
The contrasty look is achieved through dodging & burning, this is done using gradients & masks to achieve the very smooth transitions. It is by far the most satisfying part of the process as you start to see your vision for the image come together on screen.
When it comes to having the vision to create the images, that is something that (for me) has built up over time and with practice. In the past I’ve attempted to recreate images, to put myself in the thought process of the artists whose work I very much admire, a bit like someone wanting to be a guitarist would start by playing artists songs that they love.
Now I’m looking to other styles of artist to bring in inspiration, the inspiration can range from ideals to bring in to editing of an image or just a feeling that I get from their work that I want to somehow capture in my own images. Michael Kenna and Ansel Adams are the two obvious influences, but I also take inspiration from Goya, Casper David Friedrich, and Rembrandt. Also I’m drawn to the darker works of HR Giger and Beksinski. To name a few.
Lockdown has been a fantastic opportunity to reflect on my approach, revisit images I created nearer the beginning of my journey and reprocess with the greater knowledge and experience I have now and consider the direction I’m going in the future.
I have trips in mind and a new range of images I want to create, tutorials to write and lots of club presentations planned which I really enjoy, I’m really looking forward to where the next two years of creating these types of images will take me.