As most of you know, we have been using Arts on Main to teach Basic and Advanced Composition and Lightning for about 2 years now. Over the past few months I've personally taken more than a few artistic images there and thought to share a few of the images I created in the tradition of Pictorialism. I've always loved the Pictorialist movement, which ended in the early 1900's. Even though the movement is gone, Pictorialism is still being applied by fine-art photographers in various forms and sometimes referred to as impressionistic photography. Pictorialism was used by photographers to mimic the art of painting. Techniques included, soft, out-of-focus and blurry images, which simulated  impressionist paintings of the time. Pictorialist photographers sometimes scratched their negatives, or used soft-focus lenses, sometimes even defocusing the lens to create their images. Strong emphasis was placed on compositional elements like perspective, lines, shape, form and ambient lighting. Movement played an important role too and photographers often used slow shutter speeds to induce subject blur. 

Here follows a quick rundown on techniques I used to create my own Pictorialist images, albeit adding a modern flavouring and techniques: 

  • Using a tilt and shift lens for Extreme Shallow Depth of Field
  • Defocusing the lens
  • Moving the lens at the time of exposure
  • Enhanced Textures through using HDR techniques
  • Increase the contrast massively, sometimes up to 65% in Lightroom
  • Converting to B&W, using Nik Silver Effex (Up the contrast, enhance structure and add soft grain) 
  • Adding split toning for a vintage feel and at the same time, subtly ramp up the contrast between the shadows and highlights

If you're interested in the techniques I am using, feel free to post your questions. These techniques will be covered in depth with our next Fine Art Course, and I might just present an extra 1-day workshop on it. Let us know if you would be interested? 

Don't fee shy to leave your comments below! 

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These are brilliant. I love the emotion they convey. Such simple subjects but beautifully represented. You have inspired me to try to produce images of this type.

Thanks for the kind words Michael. You're welcome to join me there when I have a class again. Let me know if you could make it this Saturday at 08:00. 

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