Diese Seite

Here is one of my photos that always jumped at me (albeit gently) when browsing the archives, but of which I never could satisfactory explain why I like it. Remembering that the print exercise is about printing at all, such a photo is perfectly suited. The wish to see it on paper demands some examination of my feelings about the image. I have to decide what parts to emphasize, where to dodge and where to burn, and where to introduce partial color – na, just kidding. In order to be able to do this, I need to know (better: feel) what the image is about – for me. Because there is no intrinsic meaning, only interpretation. 

Diese Seite Diese Seite – Kohlmarkt Wien, 2007

So what did I do? Nothing fancy, but more than usual. After global contrast adjustments, I worked on the mannequins to bring them out. Here it is important to dodge only the highlights (linear dodge with the history brush, but very slightly, and maybe some soft light afterwards) – just brightening the area would make the bars and the dark dress too bright. Also, I added some sparkle to the ornaments in the left foreground, but they should remain darker than the inlays in the floor on the right side. The floor I wanted to be shiny (which it is anyway), but also dark enough, almost black, but not quite.

Said inlays lead to the girl, which is very important in my opinion. To her, I did some tonal violence; not really, but I made her quite a deal brighter, and also her  reflection in the floor. That is the reason why the inlays are brighter on the right side, but this is very welcome and fits – fits my feelings.

Honestly, I don’t know whether I worked according to a certain interpretation that was already set up in my mind, or I let it just flow and the interpretation evolve with this flow. But this is not important to me, because the beauty lies within the resulting impression of aesthetic progress and increasingly honed reception.

In this example I repeatedly see the importance of plenty time between the exposure (2007) and the editing (2012). I see that everything was there in the image, but needs to be revealed or worked upon for the final fixation: the print. It is like dusting off an archaeological artifact. On the other hand, I couldn’t discover much if I remembered the making of that artifact too well.

This whole process of investigating one’s feeling about an image and applying it to the print, is very helpful in understanding and learning to feel one’s photographic preferences and intentions, i.e. what do I want to take a picture of and why.

In this case I learn that I couldn’t possibly have grasped all the interwoven layers and potential implications in this image on an intellectual level at the time of exposure. Working on the image to make a print reveals what was there in the first place, and that the making of an image is at least a two-staged process: exposure and printing. It is only possible to make such images by gut reaction, without thinking. The danger lies in declining photographic opportunities upon intellectual judgement, a la it isn’t worth it… But you never know, so push that damn button when you feel it! 

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