Saturday, March 06, 2010

Photography with an end result in mind

Warning: this is a photography post. Tldr: I talk about the process of going from a vision to a print. If you want to see a pretty picture of mine, scroll to the end.

Photography is fun. With a few hundred dollars you can get yourself a nice kit that lets you take some great photos. It's exciting to walk around, take photos and get a few good ones. In the beginning you feel lucky when you capture a great image. If you are bitten by the photography bug, you want to keep your camera on you at all times and you are eager to share your photographs with your friends. The next stage moves from a reactive motivation to a proactive motivation. This is where you seek out or pose your environment for a greater chance of getting a great photo. You travel to fun locations or you starting telling your spouse or friend to pose just like so. This is also a fun stage. This is the stage I'm firmly set in.

But also I'm trying to move forward, past begin reactive to my environment and past setting up my environment for maximum chance of getting a good photo. Now I'm trying to pre-visualize specific photographs I want and then going out and making it happen. I'm not doing it all the time because, frankly, it's a lot more work with a lot less results that meet your expectations1.

With that in mind, I took advantage of some flowers I got Tara to celebrate the fact that she had only seven and a half weeks of clinics left. The vision I had in my head was a triptych of monochrome closeups of the flowers. I wanted something with detail. More realism, less impressionism. Something with an 'art' quality to it. Not art as an highfalutin ideal, but art as in a piece of art; something I could make presentable and something I would want to hang on the wall. After a hour or so with my macro lens and my trusty D70s (which still don't have back yet), I had some good source material. And after another 2 or 3 hours of processing and editing, I had something I liked.

I got my photo printed at Black's. In Kitchener-Waterloo, we are lacking a high quality developing and printing lab (if I'm wrong and there is one hidden somewhere in town, please let me know). The last good one was Heer's in downtown Kitchener, but they folded a few years ago. So I went to Blacks to get it printed. Instead of me just handing them my CD, they made me sit down at one of the printing kiosks and submit the the photo from there (lame, really - if you know if a lab and printers in town, please let me know). A week later, I got an email from the lab that was printing my file. They couldn't open the TIFF I had uploaded from the kiosk. The file opened just fine at the kiosk, so I don't know what happened. After converting the TIFF to a JPG and emailing to the lab, things were on track. The print arrived a few days after that and it looks pretty good if I do say so myself. It's printed on Black's Pearl paper at 12" x 24".

Finding a frame was another fiasco. I had no idea framing was so expensive. The three quotes I got hovered around the $175 mark for a frame in the size I needed. My lovely wife suggested I look for an existing frame and print and just get a new mat. A $40 frame from HomeSense and a $30 mat from a nearby framing shop and I was all set. It did take me a couple of hours to remove the old print from the frame and to mount my photo properly and without dust and cat hair, but my time is pretty much free.

So here is the final product. I'm happy with it. It matches the image I had in my head early on and it's something I feel good about putting on my wall. What else could I ask for?

1 There is one more stage of photography that I want to get to, past the pre-visualization. And that's the stage where my photography moves beyond about being centered on subjects. It's a stage where I can take a photograph that evokes emotion. In my mind, this is the stage a photography moves from being a craft to being an art and producing something that can be called Art. Even though I have rare glimpses, I'm not there yet. No where near there.