Welcome to a new feature for my site! On the eleventy-first of each month I’ll update the content throughout my site, so you can see my latest work. Each month I’ll also select a Picture of the Month (PotM) and tell you more about it.*
For my first entry I’ve selected this study in perspective: a picture of an office building in Atlanta where I’ve combined traditional black & white photography with modern digital effects to create a hybrid piece with a faux ink or watercolour feel.Basic Facts:
Camera: Rachel (Mamiya 645 Pro) with 55mm wide angle lens
Film: Ilford Delta 400 (b&w), pushed to 500 EI
Filter: Wratten #21 Orange
Developer: Kodak Xtol at a straight dilution
Why I took this shot:
I wanted to represent man’s inhumanity to man. I was intrigued by the converging angles on the building, against the barren sky — and the architecture reminded me of Japanese pagoda-style buildings.
Making the Shot: The conventional wisdom of the Zone system is to shoot for contrast and develop for highlights. For this shot I reversed it, exposing the film for highlight and printing for contrast. This provided me with strong contrast between the white skyline and the ultra-black of the building.
Once you’ve got all the pieces in place this is actually a fairly easy shot to take: I set the lens to infinity, pointed it skyward, tilted the camera about 45 degrees on the vertical axis, and snapped the shot. I relied on my wide angle lens combined with the 45 degree tilt to accentuate the lines and angles in the subject — thus creating an image that draws your eyes into it.
Film and Developer Choices: My goal was to create an image with stark differences between highlight and contrast, so I needed a film that would allow me to shoot with a small aperture and relatively high shutter speed. Ilford Delta 400 gives me this, and simply handles bright light very well. Further, it handles being pushed to 500 without loss of resolution or accuance; I was able to get the specific density of .61 that I was looking for.
For this shot it was also important to select the right developer, pairing it with the film and the effect I had in mind. So even before I loaded my camera, I knew what developer I would use. Kodak Xtol is a high detail/definition developer with a very fine grain, which allowed me to bring out the pure black I was looking for.
Digital Manipulation: After scanning the negative in at 1200dpi, I took the file to photoshop as a digital negative. To create the hybrid photo posted here I (1) did some level and curve adjustments to get the effect of the contrast and highlight that I wanted, (2) added a mask layer to add a pale cyan color to the sky (and further enhancing the detail of the building), (3) adjusted the fill and opacity of the paint layer until it ‘looked right’ (that’s the technical term!), and (4) added a mask layer with brush stroke effects to give it a faux waterclour/ink look for the overall print. I’d like people to look at it and not be entirely certain whether this is a photograph or some other genre of art.
*Editor’s Note: Robbie is about as organized as most artists out there, so “eleventy-first” is as close as we can get to which day of each month we’ll update the site!