The feeling of an evolution is a constant for every artist who is pursuing the search for refinement and enlargement of his/her own means of expression.
I was very much into using textures to process my images a year or two ago. I loved the painterly look that you could achieve and the soft dreamy quality of so many textured images.
I’m still drawn to these images and I admire and enjoy the texture work on the blogs and sharing sites of so many artists and photographers I’ve met online.
But I stepped away from it myself, and this is why…
At one point I realized that I didn’t want to use heavy processing with textures as a crutch when I didn’t know what to do with a less than stellar image. So I decided what I needed to do was spend more intensive time learning and practising and honing the craft of photography — which is really what I’m in love with. I wanted to take full advantage of my equipment and make better base images — by honing key skills — exposure, composition and framing, and focus, for example. I wanted to do a better job of getting my images right in camera.
I also wanted to delve deeper into the hard work of discovering and developing my own unique approach and vision. This has challenged me to become more contemplative and intentional in my image-making, as well as more experimental and risk-taking. I feel I’ve seen an improvement in my images and while many of my experiments have not seen the light of day, they have also yielded some happy results and taught me so much. And not only have I gained ground by working on simplicity, abstracts, double exposures, long exposures, ICM, etc etc etc, I’ve also truly enjoyed every moment. The more I can master the craft, the more my images will become a means for expressing myself.
Over the next while I intend to continue to strive for the best image quality I can get from my camera, I also want to return to spending time refining my processing techniques. For example, I want to learn luminosity masking and make better use of Adobe Camera Raw for raw conversion. (ACR is basically the same as Lightroom, without all the photo organization abilities.) I just learned a few new ACR and Photoshop techniques from a video with Ben Willmore on Creative Live that have me quite excited.
And so just for fun I hauled out my textures the other day and had a play with a few recent crabapple images. I’ve learned that when I start off with a better quality image, I am generally happier with the results of adding textures. My taste is at the “less is more” stage so I went fairly light on the processing of this image to let the beauty and delicacy of the crabapple blossoms shine through.
What are you refining these days?