Fine Art Photography Explained

The term fine art photography is probably a new term but it is so often heard now that it is a category by itself under the art of photography. Some people may, of course, be confused by the term ‘fine art’ being combined with ‘photography’. Since photography is an art form by itself, it is actually quite natural to combine it and come out with a fine art category.

Fine art, as we all know, is a form of art that showcases the artist’s skills in his or her masterpieces. Now, in this type of photography, instead of using brush and paint and canvas, the artist uses modern equipment, the camera, to express his creativity and piece of art. Thus, the artist cum photographer creates a masterpiece using light, camera, lens and digital photo editing.

Yes, this category of photography doesn’t merely mean the artist capturing pictures using his camera. Rather, the artist will capture images in a creative manner and further enhance his images using skillful photo editing. The image will be edited, or ‘painted’ using the computer, in such a way that it ended up as a beautiful piece of art instead of just a plain photograph.

Some photographers may scoff at this category of photographer artists and say that this group depends too much on the computer to ‘save’ their lousy photography skills. But let it be known that more often than not, the photographer is actually a very creative photographer who is able to capture creatively composed shots and then use his editing skills to further turn the images into works of art. The photographer is not merely relying on computer photo editing to save his ‘lousy photos’ but instead, he is using his artistic computer editing skill to further enhance and bring out the beauty of his work of art. It is rather similar to an artist who uses different colors to bring out his work of art.

Many people also tend to confuse an artistic photographer with a photographer who uses too much photo editing to enhance his photographs. To differentiate between photographers of different categories, you only need to look at his work. An artistic photographer will produce shots that are artistic, with depth and a composition that is similar to paintings while photographers of other categories, such as photojournalism or sports, will have a totally different style of composition, lighting and editing.

Nowadays, this special category photography can be applied to almost anything. If you want your pre-wedding photographs or even wedding day photographs to resemble that of an artistic masterpiece, all you need to do is to look for a skilled, creative fine art photographer to take gorgeous shots of you on your special day. You will not regret having such beautiful pictures of your wedding day or of you and your husband as photographs will last forever!

The New Study of Sumi-E Photography – The Art of Modern Ink Style Photography

Sumi-e photography is photography in the style of the Japanese ink brush painters – not only in the colours and textures, but in the subject matter as well. Neither filters nor digital manipulation are used. Rather, the natural light is captured from certain angles with a specific aperture and shutter speed to create an effect which is somewhere between a painting and a photo. The backgrounds emulate washi, or Japanese hand made paper, and ’empty space’ is left for calligraphy.

As the photos are printed onto an appropriate medium (water-colour paper, canvas), the calligraphy can be painted directly onto the photos – every print retains its individual character.

Similar to the masters of the traditional art form, it requires dedication, passion, concentration and above all clarity of the mind and heart to find truth and love in the new art.

The History of Sumi-e

The traditional style of ink painting in Japan has a rich and vivid history that spans over centuries. The “sumi-e” style was introduced Japan in mid-14th century by Korean missionaries. Trained in the art of concentration, clarity and simplicity, Sumi-e’s earliest practitioners were the highly disciplined monks. The masters dedicated themselves to the art form through years of reflection and strict discipline. In preparation they would make ink by grinding a solid ink stick (formed from the soot of pine branches) on stone and mixing it with water. Loading the brush (fude) they composed poems, stories, and characters in unique handwritten fonts on the delicate rice paper or silk scroll.

Prominent masters of the style are Sesshu Toyo, Tensho Shubun and Josetsu.

Photography Book Review – Understanding Exposure

Understanding Exposure has been written with the digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera novice in mind who will benefit from Bryan Petersen’s easy style of prose, the simple non-technical explanations, and the wealth of associated photographs to illustrate the point. Intermediate or more experienced photographers will be able to hone their skills reading about special techniques for more difficult lighting conditions such as capturing snow or low level lighting or night scenes, and the use of polarizing and neutral density filters, multiple exposures and High Dynamic Range (HDR) shots. However, please note that the book is not particularly useful for point and shoot cameras.

In his introduction, Bryan Petersen makes note of the fact that the modern DSLR camera has so many controls and modes that even an experienced photographer can become confused. You could use the camera’s auto settings and take perfectly good photographs but you will never be able to explain how you achieved that particular result. He suggests the only way to fully understand exposure on a modern DSLR camera is to use the Manual Mode and to take control of the settings yourself, or to “fly solo”.

While he defines exposure traditionally and technically, I achieved a far greater understanding from his “Photographic Triangle” explanation of the basic concept of the interaction of aperture, shutter speed and ISO. This for me is the highlight of the book and cuts through most of the confusing technical jargon so often associated with books about photography. Additionally, His “Heart of the Triangle: The Light Meter” example of obtaining water through a kitchen faucet as it explains the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO, illustrates very simply the concept of exposure.

Not only does he provide simple explanations of terms and concepts, there are also exercises at the end of each chapter for you to help complete your understanding.

There have been three editions of this book written by Bryan Petersen: 1990, 2004 and more recently, 2010. While there have been marked advances in camera technology during the twenty years between editions, it is fair to say that the overwhelming message about the “Photographic Triangle” remains true. It is by far the simplest explanation of exposure that you will ever read and the easiest to understand. Once you embrace the concepts of the Manual Mode on your DSLR and apply Bryan’s explanation of exposure in any situation, the “light bulb” moment will happen for you and remain forever more. I do recommend though that you revisit the book from time to time because each time I heave reread his book, I have gleaned yet another kernel of knowledge from it. I consider it to be one of the best books written about this subject and I recommend to anyone seeking to understand exposure and to produce perfect photos every time.