Reflections on a year in 365 photographs


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The light and form of a spiral staircase in the early morning light.


Considering the image: As I get further into this project I am finding one of my goals has been at least partially achieved.  I was taking my son to school today he pointed out this spiral stairwell on the back  of a building on Daniel Island, SC.  I immediately saw an image of light and form using the curves of the spirals, the lines of the bricks and banister to play against the highlighted stairs and darker shadows underneath and on the brick wall.  I also decided right there that the image would be square format in order to play against the dynamics of the curves.  Of course black and white was a given because the image is about light and form.  Color simply doesn’t matter here.

Making the photograph: I initially grabbed the EF 50mm f/1.8 Mk I which was mounted on the camera but that proved too tight for this shoot, so I swapped to the EF 24mm f/2.8.  I took a quick test image at 0EV in matrix metering but found the highlights were just a bit blown out.  I ended up backing off to a -1eV which gave me 1/250 at f/8.0 and ISO 100.  I shot 30 different angles  and even climbed to the top of the stairs looking for just the right composition.  Post-processing after picking this image was simple with a black and white conversion, a bit of curves, sharpening, square cropping, and then saving and sharpening the .jpg you see here.  The deep shadows underneath the stairs are blocked just a tiny bit in this .jpg, but they are full-tone in the full-sized image.  I would want them to just touch black in a print, so that may take some playing with the curves to get right in print.  Some of you might also note that I’ve begun adding a black border to images.  Right now I’m experimenting with that by simply clicking “canvas size” in Photoshop and adding ~1% border with black fill.

Another refinement to the project is adding some structure to the entries with these standardized paragraphs.  As I get deeper into the project I am finding that I have to spend less time on “Making the photograph” because I am getting to the intuitive manipulation of the camera equipment and processing software.  That isn’t to say that I don’t still have a lot to learn, but now that the basic and even intermediate skills are becoming second nature, I get to spend more of my limited project time focusing on “Considering the image”, which to me is the real joy of photography.  With digital photography and a bit of technical know-how, if you can imagine an image, you can usually make it happen, even if you have to make do with lesser equipment or borrow from another photographer.  The hard part is in imagining and finding the photograph in the first place.  See the world in different ways.  See it in ways few others will.

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Written by Brian Fancher

April 27, 2010 at 5:30 pm

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