“FRIDAY MORNING, 9 O’CLOCK. People complain about how dark it is in the mornings. But this is often the best time of my day, when the dawn peers grey and silent into my pale windows. Then my bright little table lamp becomes a blazing spotlight and floods over the big black shadow of my desk. … This morning I am wonderfully peaceful. Just like a storm that spent itself. I have noticed that this always happens following days of intense inner striving after clarity, birth pangs with sentences and thoughts that refuse to be born and make tremendous demands on you. Then suddenly it drops away, all of it, and a benevolent tiredness enters the brain, then everything feels calm again …”
cited: Trans: Arno Pomerans, An Interrupted Life The Diaries of Etty Hillesum, pg 69.
“…talking to you, God. Is that all right? With the passing of people, I feel a growing need to speak to You alone. I love people terribly, because in every human being I love something of You. And I seek You everywhere in them and often do find something of You. But now I need so much patience, patience and thought, and things will be very difficult. …”
~Trans: Arno Pomerans Hillesum, E. An Interrupted Life p. 16
This week’s photo study is inspired by my initial reading of Bruce Percy’s ebook, “The Art of Tonal Adjustment.” Thus far into this photo study project, the majority of discussions about composition generally concentrate on the basics of photography; such as, the rule-of-thirds, rule of odds, leading lines, the color red, and so on. Tone, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be a popular subject and one that has a variance of definitions. For example:
Hue is the color. Saturation is the purity/intensity of the color. Tone is the degree of lightness and darkness.
Tone is probably the most intangible element of composition. Tone may consist of shadings from white-to-gray-to-black, or it may consist of darks against lights with little or no grays. The use of dark areas against light areas is a common method of adding the feeling of a third dimension to a two-dimensional black-and-white picture. The interaction of light against dark shades in varying degrees helps to set the mood of a composition.
A picture consisting of dark or somber shades conveys mystery, intrigue, or sadness. When the tones are mostly light and airy, the picture portrays lightness, joy, or airiness.
“Tonal range” is another way of saying what the difference is between the darkest and the lightest parts of a picture.
“Tonal contrast” is created when light tones and dark tones lie alongside each other. In any photograph it is natural for the eye to go straight to the highlights and then move about the image, taking in the details.
Tonal contrast is the basis of many successful black and white images. If you need help to see the tones in your color photos an easy way to do so is to reduce the color saturation to zero. It is easier to see tonal contrast in black and white images because there is no color to distract your eye from the brightness values within the photo. It is important to note that reducing the color saturation to zero is usually not the best way to convert a color image to monochrome.
Throughout my inital research, I found Bruce Percey’s articles about tone to be an invaluable read.Hope you enjoy.
After pondering the feedback about the image I submitted for RAJ’s closeup/macro lesson, I realized my understanding of shutter speed was a bit fuzzy and in need of study. So with a bean bag for camera support and the Nikon set on auto-focus (I did not want to be impeded by my lack of experience with manual focus), I experimented with 40 various macro images of peppercorn and Himalayan salt. Of the four posted above, my preference is f/11 at 1.30 seconds.
The image I submitted for RAJ’s “frame your subject” lesson was revisited to darken the lit rectangle on the left as it was noted to be a distraction.
RAJ’s notation about the sunflower image in portrait mode brought to mind a photo article about how, as a camera moves closer, an peanut in a match box transforms from an image of a peanut to one of a piece of sculpture. In the sunflower image (right) I cropped the image in portrait and followed up with a bit of clean up along the bottom with Photoshop’s content-fill.