Digital Images — Digital Darkroom — Part One


Some­thing about work­ing on the iPad to edit and share my images reminds me of the fun I had with the wet-film-paper work­flow that used to be the norm in film-based dark­rooms.

For me, the act of cap­tur­ing the image with a cam­era is only one part, the first part, of the cre­ative process.

What to shoot?
Sure, with­out the ini­tial image, all the cool dark­room tricks are mean­ing­less — take a pic­ture of a white sheet of paper and see how cool it looks with a sepia fil­ter applied, or a Hip­ster grain. Inter­est­ing sub­ject mat­ter is essen­tial.

Start here
The ini­tial image is the start­ing point — the place where you begin to express your ‘pho­to­graph­ic eye’. There are many, many books that can help you devel­op your ‘pho­to­graph­ic eye’, and the library is a great place to find them. Or any mag­a­zine at a super­mar­ket check­out. Or Nation­al Geo­graph­ic — any­thing with images shot by a pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­ph­er — you can learn from all of those.


The art of see­ing
To me, cap­tur­ing the image is a dis­tinct expe­ri­ence in itself. Look­ing at your sub­ject, be it a snow cov­ered barb­wire fence, your dog, or a build­ing, find­ing some­thing visu­al­ly inter­est­ing is key.

For me, that’s a sig­nif­i­cant part of the chal­lenge.

The craft of cap­tur­ing
Next comes the part where I make sure I can cap­ture the best image pos­si­ble — best for bring­ing into my Dig­i­tal Dark­room, that is.

For me this con­sists of mak­ing sure the image is framed well, not dig­i­tal­ly noisy (using too high an ISO set­ting), free of dis­tract­ing ele­ments, such as a tree branch behind (and appear­ing to be stick­ing out of) my subject’s head, for exam­ple.


A mat­ter of style
All of this goes into devel­op­ing your per­son­al pho­to­graph­ic style. It’s some­thing that evolves over time as you become expe­ri­enced. It’s some­thing that’s expressed in every image you take — by the sub­ject selec­tion, by the image place­ment in the frame, by the type of light­ing you use in the shot..etc.

And then, per­haps the eas­i­est part of cap­tur­ing an image, is actu­al­ly cap­tur­ing it. Press the shut­ter. Many times. Take a few more of the same sub­ject with a slight­ly dif­fer­ent fram­ing, or light­ing, or focus point. Dig­i­tal pho­tos are basi­cal­ly free, unlike film back in the day :smileywink:

Into the dark­room
So that’s a bit of my think­ing on cap­tur­ing the image. Next time I’ll look at my work­flow in my Dig­i­tal Dark­room.
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