There are several facets of Japanese culture that appeal to me ranging from their
gardens and the principles that inform them to their paintings and their minimalist
Ikebana flower arrangements. It surprises me really because they are all inherently
minimalist and their culture revolves around their conscientious attitude to life
and work. The mess and chaos that surrounds my life is at odds with these qualities,
but there it is.
I particularly like the way that they paint with black ink and how they can make
a very few brush strokes say so much, and it occurs to me that I might apply this
idea to my photographs, so I have been looking at ways of doing this.
It seemed logical that stripping a photograph back might start with either content
or colour, and so far, I have taken the easy option and switched the camera to monochrome.
It's a bit arbitrary on a digital camera because while the lcd shows a black and
white image while you are working, it is recording in colour. Back on the computer
the photos all appear in colour in Lightroom and have to be changed back again.
In order to get some idea of how my ideas might work, I did some test cheats and
converted some of the images that I took last year on Mull to black and white, and
then blew them out in lightroom. The pared down images that resulted really appealed
to me so it was time to get back outdoors and attempt to create them in-camera. This
time, we headed for mid-Wales in search of steep hills, stunted trees and rocks.
Removing detail by over exposing the image works nicely up to a point, but I am still
struggling to understand, while out in the field, what I am going to be left with
whilst looking at the back of the camera, and my long term issues of not getting
what I was intending to and then failing to appreciate the merits of what I have
actually captured, have come to the fore again. Once more I find a couple of weeks
breathing space between capture and selection gives me a better appreciation of what
I've had a thing about over-exposed and monotone images for some time and this is
a natural progression for me, even if burning out detail is generally considered
a beginners error. Now those detail free areas are my paper. The idea is to burn
out distractions and background, while hopefully retaining black edges and some,
minimal, fine detail. The exposure and black controls in LR have become my friends
allowing some pale grey shadows to remain if required or to be burned away if not.
Potentially painting out unwanted detail should be very easy as well, but that may
be for the future and I haven’t gone down that road yet.
These are very early days, but I have made one or two pictures that appeal to my
eye, both by intent in the field and by manipulation of images taken previously.
At the moment I still have my 8 stop nd filter firmly fixed in front of the lens
and just occasionally I am surprised by a colour image taken in black and white mode,
hence the 'rogue' on this page, but I have to say this method of working interests
me more than 'standard' photography. In fact I am almost embarrassed to admit that
after spending so much money on equipment, I find even spectacular images don't really
move me any more. A case of familiarity breeding contempt or more probably that the
world is now so over-saturated with quality images that they have become virtually