Recently after showing one of my latest images to close relation, the reaction I got was " why on earth did you photograph such an uninteresting thing".
Of course I had photographed it because I personally found it visually interesting in the first place. I also could visualise before I made the photograph that it would make a nice black & white print with lot's of character.
The idea for this image has been sitting in my head for a number of weeks now. Ever since I acquired a 10 stop Neutral Density filter I have been playing with the concept of "clean space", particularly working with black & white imagery.
To achieve the desired effect of "clean space" a long exposure is required. By long I mean one minute plus and for this particular exposure it took four minutes. To achieve a lengthy exposure like this you need a Neutral Density Filter. A ND filter is a device for reducing the amount of light entering the lens, thus affecting the lenght of the exposure time. ND filter are graded in terms of stops, e.g. 1, 2, 3, 10 etc. A 10 stop ND filter reduces the light intake by ten stops. Without getting too technical, the exposure for this particular shot took 4 mins with the10 ND stop filter.
The effect of such a long exposure on the water surrounding the pier was to soften and flatten it. With the pier in sharp focus, thanks to the camera being set-up on a tripod, the contrast between the soft water blur effect and the hard edges of the pier took attention away from the water and onto the point-of-focus, the pier itself.
As well as abstracting the image with the effects of a long exposure, converting the image to black & white also added to the abstraction of the image. Given that we see in colour, stripping an image of it's colour is a form of abstraction in itself. When colour is removed from an image our brains read black & white imagery in term's of brightness (luminosity), distribution of tones, texture and the structure of the form's recorded.
For me this image was always going to be a black & white image. The colour version of the image is visually uninteresting and distracts form the detail in the wrought iron frame and wooden beams. Given that the structure of the pier is what drew me to photograph it in the first place, a black & white conversion was always going to be preferred to a colour version of the same image.
With a combination of a long exposure and a black & white conversion I believe I was successful in creating a strong image, one that focuses attention on the structure of the pier, with it's wonderful detail and textures and away from all other unwanted distraction.
I guess what we choose to photograph and how we go about creating the final image defines us as photographers. Taste is another matter and one that requires a lot more discourse than a few paragraphs in a blog!
Till next time, happy snapping! Or should that be happy visualisation, camera set-up, post-production and printing!