I’m Trying to be an Impressionist Photographer

June 06, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Spring green aspen forestp1259670242-5

Spring #1

I love the work of the Impressionists. Their ability to reduce a scene to line, form, color and texture is amazing. To simplify a scene to these elements and maintain the emotional response is, to me, high art. As a photographer I frequently get lost in the details of photographic representation. When that happens the colors, line, texture and motion within the scene are usually lost to clarity, sharpness and detail. When I take my glasses off and look at the image out of focus it looks more interesting than with those sharp details.

Adobe Photoshop offers lots of filters to attempt to make a photo look like a painting, sketch, watercolor or some other media. Most of these don’t work very well. I have spent hours trying to accomplish the Impressionistic look with little to no success. The problem could be in my seeing. Once a scene is seen in full detail I have a difficult time seeing it in any other way. It just looks wrong! There are other “Actions” available to try and achieve the look I’m after within software but I’m unimpressed so far. Perhaps using a program like Painter would help. Or perhaps I just need more patience. I’m sure the latter is true whether the software works or not.

I would prefer to accomplish this vision within the camera so I don’t need to manipulate the photograph in software. The software approach somehow seems fake to me. I think there is a lot to be said for achieving the vision for an image in camera rather than in software. That’s not to say that the Photoshop approach is invalid or even to say that I won’t use it. I’m just saying I prefer a more “organic” approach to creating my photographs. That’s also why I play with my Holga and Diana cameras and have experimented with Lensbabys. So far I haven’t had much success with any of those. Moving the camera, using homemade filters and playing with selective focus and other techniques have gotten me closer to the images I want. I don’t want the viewer to know (or care) how I created the image. The Photoshop approach always seems so “obvious” to me. Vision should never compete with technique.

“Spring #1″ is one of a very few Impressionistic images I have been successful with. How do you feel about it?

The post I’m Trying to be an Impressionist Photographer appeared first on Dusty Demerson - Crested Butte Photographer.


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Crested Butte, Colorado photographer, Dusty Demerson creates fine art photography displayed as prints and canvases and provides private photo tours in and around western Colorado.

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