Making Photographs

Ansel Adams once famously said: “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

“Taking” implies something being already there and someone grabbing it. (sometimes even without asking)

“Making” implies that an image (any creative work for that matter) is rather the result of a creative process that begins in one’s mind, as an idea. Inspired by this idea, the photographer then uses their tools, knowledge, and creativity to bring that image to life, so that the rest of the world can see it, learn from it, and through it.

As photographers, we tend to see images in the strangest of places and moments. For instance, the other day I turned on a light in the house, and, for some reason, I looked up. The shadow it cast on the ceiling caught my eye.

Oftentimes, especially when we tell fictional visual stories, it’s not only what we see, but how we see it–the story or subject–as photographers. We can look at the same subject and each one of us can interpret it or envision it or ‘see’ it in our own way. That’s where the artist’s voice comes in.

So, back to my making of the Shapes & Shadows image:

I edited the image in Snapseed, adjusted contrast, converted it to black and white, and played with a few filters. Then I thought that the image needed something else, but I didn’t quite know what that was.

The following day, when outside for a brief walk, I noticed the snow on the street, its texture enhanced by the directional, side light coming from a streetlight. I captured a few pictures. Later that evening, I used that snow image (Double-Exposure tool, in Snapseed) to add texture to my shadow, and then increased the contrast a bit more.

The final image looks something like this:

Shapes and Shadows. Abstract photography in black and white. ©Alina Oswald.

The image was captured and edited on my iPhone. It can also be found here.

This is only an example. As photographers, we become captivated by various stories and subjects. And visual stories are almost everywhere. Some are real, others are fictional stories, but they are stories that capture our interest and make us take a closer look.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Alina Oswald

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