Exercise: The Square Mile
For this exercise I have decided to produce a series of images based around my property within the Wairarapa, New Zealand, but instead of taking normal large landscape scenes I have explored the concept of Impressionistic Photography.
Impressionism can be considered as the first distinctly modern movement in painting. Developing in Paris in the 1860s, its influence spread throughout Europe and eventually the United States. Traditional impressionistic paintings from the likes of Monet, Sisley, Morisot, and Pissarro feature small, visible brush strokes, with accurate representation of light and the feeling of movement. The paintings seem to be more about the visual effect than the detail of the scene. The use of short “broken” brush strokes of mixed and pure unmixed colour—not blended smoothly or shaded, as was the previous custom—to achieve an effect of intense colour vibration as seen in the following scene by Claude Monet – Les Coquelicots.
Impressionism was a style of representational art that did not necessarily rely on realistic depictions. The Impressionists sought to capture the former – the optical effects of light – to convey the passage of time, changes in weather, and other shifts in the atmosphere in their canvases.
The Impressionists loosened their brushwork and lightened their palettes to include pure, intense colours. They abandoned traditional linear perspective and avoided the clarity of form that had previously served to distinguish the more important elements of a picture from the lesser ones. For this reason, many critics faulted Impressionist paintings for their unfinished appearance and seemingly amateurish quality.
On investigation of photo impressionism I discovered a number of different ways to achieve the effect:
- Intentional camera movement with long exposures either moving the camera or letting nature move the subject (wind);
- Zooming of the lens;
- Selective focus using a very shallow depth of field;
- Focusing through another subject;
- Vaseline on the lens; and
- Post processing techniques.
One of the most interesting photographers I discovered for this type of image was that of Canadian lawyer and photographer Stephen D’Agostino who has created a ‘Photo Impressionism Project’. Stephen says ‘Sharp focus and a steady image can sometimes get in the way of the idea being conveyed… With photo impressionism, the movement of the frame is often more important than what is moving in the frame.‘ To achieve his impressionistic work, Stephen uses a photo technique he calls ‘in the round’. In this technique he layers multiple photos and uses opacity blending in Photoshop to create the desired effect as shown in the following image.
Stephen D’Agostino – Beach Umbrella In The Round 2
San Francisco photographer Christopher Dydyk also uses ‘in the round’ photography and photo stacking. He explains
‘Traditional photography is beautiful, but lacks the multidimensionality to fully express the sensations of energy and joy that are often felt when looking upon a San Francisco scene. To overcome the limitations of traditional photography as a medium, I developed a technique that captures these feelings.’
Christopher Dydyk – North Beach Cafe
In order to avoid the hours of post processing required for this technique I looked at the alternative methods of trying to achieve the same impressionistic effect but more in camera so researched photographers such as Eva Polark, Wendy Roche, Paul Pacey and Mirjam Appelhof that all use camera movement or natural/man-made movement of the subject, all of which to me produce strong impressionistic images of scenes which capture a feeling of movement, depth and tone.
The images have been taken using the long exposure technique and lens zoom with a small amount of post processing in Lightroom. I selected large land/skyscape scenes, foliage and hard manmade structures, trying to capture tone and shapes. Some more successful than others.
Land and Sky of the Wairarapa
Over the Lake
Sails over deck
In the deep
A brush with the …..
Websites [accessed 16/03/2016]
Stephen D’Agostino Photography: http://www.dagostino.ca/photo-impressionism/
Christopher Dydyk Photography: http://dydyk.com/
Eva Polark: http://www.evapolak.com/home.html
Wendy Roche: http://www.wendyroche.com.au/
Paul Pacey: http://www.paulpacey.com/
Mirjam Appelhof: http://www.mirjamappelhof.nl/
5 Impressionist Photo Techniques: http://digital-photography-school.com/5-impressionist-photo-techniques/