Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Emotion of Architecture

Bricks, mortar, steel and glass.  We walk by buildings all the time and yet do we appreciate when a building's personality is conveyed through what I refer to as "emotional architecture"?  Since another fascination of mine is architecture I'm often scanning buildings for details and creative interpretation that sets it apart from other more mundane structures.  Like any other art form there's always going to be periods of design that embrace similar artistic concepts or building materials, but beyond that what catches my eye is building emotion into the facade or soul into the building.

To blend my love of photography and architecture I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could interpret the design intent and take it further in terms of an emotional message.  The basis of my theory is that architecture is more about documenting building structures or monuments; it's basically a portrait of humanity itself.

The building I chose for this experiment is the Holocaust Memorial Center located in Farmington Hills, Michigan.  The building itself is a basic, non-descript rectangular design with nothing special, that is until you focus on the walls themselves.  The emotional messages are not so sublime.  A small vertical portion of the building uses a familiar colored striping akin to the typical prisoner clothing of the holocaust camps.  In case that subtle hint at the building's interior escapes the viewer, the barbed wire strung along metal fence posts on the building's facade drive the message home loud and clear

To enhance the visual message intended by the architect I chose to go with a black & white treatment rather than color.  My special tool of choice was limited to basically the use of natural light along with a little gestalt for creative tension.  How could I use the light and enhance it to guide the viewer's eyes to focus on the architectural message via the strong design elements of the building (striping and barbed wire)?  The answer was the application of neutral density lighting to create just the right mood and atmosphere to further the emotion of the building's original intent and interior space.

© 2012, Joanne Scherf

© 2012, Joanne Scherf

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Award Winner....Women in Photography International

Just received notice that one of my images, Illusions, won an award from Women in Photography International (WIPI).  It's always an honor to be recognized, but the WIPI is a wonderful organization composed of some of the best professional women photographers worldwide, so it means even more.

This image was taken on a cold, rainy October day in a beautiful cemetery with the sunlight just beginning to stream through the trees.  The soft focus only illuminates, figuratively and literally, the natural light emerging from the background to create the burst of color rays streaking forward.  Also this soft approach I felt added to the ambience of the location and emotional equivalent of the image.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Image of the Month: October

With the latest technology literally at our fingertips and options for creative expression endless, when is enough just that...enough?  I keep asking myself this question as I continue to explore the seemingly endless possibilities when I use an iPhone to take images.  Unlike when using my digital pro level camera and follow-up with post production in Photoshop only, the same is not true when I use the iPhone.  Using the phone as my camera, I tend to use not just one app but a mixed bag of apps sometimes resulting in as many as seven apps for one image.  That I believe is the case because I treat each app as providing a specialty or niche that other apps don't perform as well or don't even offer as a feature.  My use of the variety of apps tends now to be more akin to using these apps as if switching between different brushes as a painter would do.  I actually much prefer this method of continually swapping my tool selection as dictated by the creative path the image dictates.

But with the plethora of an ever-increasing quantity of apps, can it be just too much?  In other words does there come a point in the post-production process when one should put the brake on and say, "enough is enough"?  Or should you keep on using more and more apps until one has exhausted all plausible outcomes, if that is even possible.  To visualize this point, I'll show the creative flow of one very ordinary image and the outcomes of the variety of apps used in post-production.  Four different apps were used, but within each app an average of three functions were applied, resulting in twelve different creative twists.

So determine for yourself where in the flow of creativity you would have stopped and said, yes this is a finished image.  Would you have stopped at the first, second, third, etc. manipulated image or continued onward to infinity?  Ultimately I think it depends on the desired outcome or vision so the endpoint will vary, but it's a fair question to be asked over and over again.

Original Capture

1st app treatment
2nd app treatment
3rd app treatment
4th (and final) app treatment
I think one can make the case that the original image had good composition, perspective, and great complimentary colors to add to the gestalt and tension.  However, one could also argue that the successive post-production steps using a variety of apps also provided different and unique outcomes, perhaps one more interesting than another.  All said and done, I do think one can become overwhelmed and overdo the post-production, but as I get more comfortable with knowing which app to use when, I find that the end result comes naturally and not forced.  It's a learning curve, and with more and more practice, with time the organic endpoint will be an achievement of satisfaction punctuated by an "ah ha" moment.