Exposition 17th December 2018
I was conscious that I would have a small window of opportunity for printing any images that I wanted to use for the exposition. I had taken the shoots on Wednesday 5th and Thursday 6th December and would have 11 days before that Exposition was due to be installed. This would mean that anything I produced would need to be edited, printed and mounted in advance of this to allow me to come in and hang on the day, although it transpired that there would be an option to hang on the Friday instead, further shortening the timeframe.
I would also have to factor in printing days with Becky in the Annex print room. Her last day before the holidays was Monday 10th of December, which meant I had the weekend and the Monday to edit the images and organise them for printing. I spent the weekend editing a selection of images, which my plan was to print at A4 each image that was an option, and then reprint the chosen selection on A3. This allowed me to be able to assess each image individually as well as ensuring that the prints would work together.
I had been conscious that the images I had taken during the walks were of quite a subdued nature, with muted tones and often more bleak views. This would be something that would be a key consideration when choosing the edits, and then subsequently which images would make the cut. I wanted the edits to reflect this bleakness, with this in mind, I avoided adding vibrancy or saturation into the images. Rather balancing the exposure to fit with what I felt during the capturing process. This is something that is impinged with bias, and subjectivity. As I am producing the edits after the event, I am trying to return to a fleeting moment, and recapture a feeling or memory, that is then biased by my other experiences during the day and in the intervening time since shooting.
Although the editing process is an attempt to recreate the feelings I witnessed, there is also a sense of my technical and aesthetic training/experience being applied at this stage also. The image above has had a few changes made, most noticeably the sky has had a graduated exposure filter applied to darken the top of it and make it appear more brooding. Although, this could be used as a narrative tool, I remembered that at this stage of the day, I was expecting rain, and the sky had looking as if it was due to oblige. Prior to making large changes I cleaned up sensor spots from the image, this is something that is straightforward in lightroom, yet in the long run it would be better just to get the sensor cleaned. The spots however are either on the sensor or possibly on the lens. I may do some tests to work out.
There can be a pushback against altering the image during the editing process, either by adding in or cloning out detail from the image itself. This is not something that I have too much of an issue with, I feel that there is a level of what I deem acceptable. Sensor spots are not an element that would exist to the eye, so I would be removing them without hesitation. I feel that anything that is invisible to the eye during the shooting process, I would be happy to remove, however anything that is obvious, I would rather remove it with my ‘feet’, by trying to move location to edit the element out. This isn't always achievable, and I may need to use post processing to remove these elements. Ultimately, I believe that it comes down to the reason you are taking the images, if I was working in a news capacity, or to document the area as a factual account then I would leave the image intact, however if it is to sell an image as a landscape print, then I would try to keep the image as aesthetically pleasing to myself as possible. If I was able to edit an element out that was hampering this ‘ideal’, without it being apparent, then I would be happy to. This is not a definitive rule, but rather a thought process or mental tick list that I adhere to when editing my images.
Returning to the editing process, I work predominantly in adjustment layers in Photoshop, however I will start in Lightroom for the initial tweaks. Lightroom has a lot of the functionality of CameraRaw, the program I had been using previous, however I find that it has a more user-friendly display and offers better exporting options. Although, this assessment is based off an older CameraRaw, as I have only used Lightroom for the last few years. Once the initial tweaks have been made in Lightroom, with some initial adjustments to the exposure, applying lens correction tools. I then progress to using Photoshop, which allows me access to make tweaks with adjustment layers and dodging/burning tools. I then use Photoshop to size the image and apply any paper and printer profiles. At this stage as the profiles will change some of the dynamic range of the image, I will then make some further tweaks to return it to how I want it to look, before printing.
For printing I wanted to go for a matt textured paper, as I felt that the images of mist, which had large areas of negative space would benefit from the paper texture to add something into these areas. I was restricted to the paper types that Becky had available, which had expanded since the previous trip, there were a few to try, which after a trial of the new matt paper, I stuck to the Hanhemuhle Torchon 285gsm. This is a paper that I have used in the past, and I feel that it works well with look of the images that I had produced. It added enough texture into the negative space, whilst not being overly distracting. The paper also wasn’t as bright as some of the alternatives, which meant that the transition between the print surface and the border is not as stark. I wanted a border for each print, as although I was not framing the image, and sticking with a foam board mount rather than a window mount, I wanted there to be an area that led in to the print, with a slightly larger amount to the bottom to draw the eye up. I feel that trimming to the edge of the image generally works better with a gloss print, where the image uses the wall as a border and ‘floats’ within it. Due to the fact that I was having this border around the image, and no guidelines to trim, this did mean that I would need to do more in the way of prep for each print, as I would need to measure the borders to ensure that they were consistent, and be very precise with the trimming of these measurements. This did make the job more laborious, but due to the fact that Becky was finishing on the Monday, and I had until the Friday to mount, this time-consuming element was not an issue. There was however, an issue that if I made any mistakes, that I would have no option to reprint the images. To combat this, I printed a 4th potential final, which would serve as a backup if required, and worst-case scenario, I could use the A4 prints instead of A3 if I needed to.
I ended up picking 3 images to print, and mount in 2 rows. The top row would be 2 A3 prints, and the second row would be the 3rd print, and then an artist statement and map which would be placed within the space that would be taken up by a 4th A3. This allowed me to have a balanced, and in my mind, aesthetically appealing way of displaying the prints, that would maximise the space available, whilst also working with the singular spotlight I had at my disposal. The spotlight was moveable, so I could ensure that it would illuminate the area that all the prints were situated in, hopefully with a relatively consistent light.
Although the image with the mist and the trees was the image, I felt personally was strongest from the selection, I felt that as part of a collection with the other images, that it looked out of place. I wanted to display a cohesive and balanced selection that looked to be part of a project, as opposed to picking the best individual images and force them together. This meant I dropped the image from contention, opting instead for mist on the hilltops image. I had two images from the Mount Keen trip that I felt went well together, as the tones in the foreground, ridge of hills, and the sky all matched well. This wasn’t in the same vain as my past Seascape where the horizon was consistent throughout and they could be lined up, rather a proximity that tied the two together, yet there were enough differences in my mind to keep the two interesting.
Placing the hilltop with mist on the second row meant that it was still part of the collection, however it didn’t appear as too repetitive an element, as if I had found a third image with similar tones sand features as the other two. Due to the relative negative space in the areas consumed by mist, I felt that this allowed me to have the map and statement next to this image, and although they didn’t fill the shape of the A3 print fully, there was an element of symmetry with the negative space. Albeit flipped horizontally.
I had tried a few different text shades and box sizes for the statement itself, which in the end I opted for some light greys. This in part was due to using a similar look with the end of year show in 4th year, which had worked well, as although the grey looks light on screen, it is fully legible, yet not too dominant on the eye. I thought that this would work well with the images, as I had been looking for a more subtle effect with the editing, and I felt that a dominant text colour and font could overpower the images and draw the viewer to the statement first. The map also was quite subtle tones, which worked strengthened this approach. I was wary of some of the brighter colours, which is why I kept it relatively small, although this was mainly due to the fact that the only map of the Wild Land Area with the boundaries marked is through the SNH’s documentation, and the resolution of this map is not particularly high. I found that this size was the extent that I could print it and still have a sharp resolution, albeit with a bit of sharpening through Photoshop.
Upon reflection I felt that I was very happy with the presentation, the prints, statement and map looked professional, and it was legible, whilst keeping the subdued or subtlety I had felt the prints lent themselves too. I had painted the wall, which wasn’t required by the criteria of the exposition, however I felt there were marks that would detract from the prints or determine where I would need to hang the prints. The decision to touch up the wall I felt was vindicated in the final presentation and was responsible in part for the professional look of the exposition, in my mind. There were areas however, that I would question going forward. I was happy with the images selected, but I need to question the criteria in which I selected them for printing, as I feel that I was concerned with presenting a selection of images that I felt were of a technical and aesthetic quality, rather than a clear narrative of the project. I do feel that there is a distinction between these images and images I have taken to sell in the past, and would not describe these as commercial images, yet I feel that they were chosen as a means to show my skills as a photographer rather than communicate the project.
I am unsure at this stage, as to how I would communicate the project through my imagery and feel that this is a question that I will be looking to answer moving forward. I may look into a more documentary approach, trying to take a series of images that build up the story, rather than choosing a few ‘hero’ images to illustrate the statement.