The Digital Artist

continued from Going Pro

Well its almost 2017 and here I am thinking about how to start a new year. I do miss the days in Atlanta when I would get together with my friends Mario Yildiz and Julianna Burgos. Mario would create the most awesome hairstyles and Julianna would bring makeup and styling to a new level every time we got together. It seems, these days, everyone is a starving professional working way too hard to squeak by with a meager living. I closed my studio as I was not fully utilizing the space. There are several studios I can rent when I have the need to photograph people but I haven’t found a group of creatives in Miami where we all enjoy doing our creative work together… there is little patience for the collaborative artist. I must confess that I too have become a bit impatient, only interested in working with top talent (models, MUAs, and hairstylists) — its just too much work to fix bad makeup and sort through hundreds unprofessional expressions.

That said, life in Miami is good. I enjoy the weather and don’t have to punch a clock at the office every day. As I transition into a quasi-retired lifestyle not too far from the beach, my lifestyle dictates my photography rather than the converse. I returned from Scotland with amazing images in September and I’m excited about an upcoming visit to Cuba this January. I have time to wander and explore in a leisurely manner that lets my mind enter the creative zone. I am focusing my energy on fine art photography and its derivative digital art. While shooting, I think more carefully about the post processing options available when I return to the digital darkroom. My camera has become an extension of my creativity rather than “the tool” of my creativity.

When the photographer becomes one with his camera he moves through space with the skill and grace of a ninja slicing it into bits of time.

Giant CameraI recently traveled to Scotland and came home with a trove of images which eventually became huge wall prints. I used a 100mm lens for most of the shots, shooting panoramas with a portrait perspective. Many of these images are eight to ten shots seamed together. The result of a 50MP sensor and photo stitching software allowed me to produce images thirty inches tall and over 90 inches across with the clarity and definition of a film based contact print — something practically impossible without the most elaborate and bulky equipment.

I also use digital techniques to make my images more painterly with bold colors, poster edges, film grain and other artistic interpretations of the scene. My Europa collection applies techniques (HDR toning and poster edges) to stylize the image in a way that is reminiscent of post impressionist painters, esp Van Gogh. I call this style “v1” for version 1. The Faith and Fortitude collection brings me back to my roots in black and white photography. I’ve applied a variety of effects (HDR toning and film effects) to add film effects similar to Kodak’s (discontinued) Panatomic-X film. Once the color image was mastered, I converted it to black and white and optimized it for tonal range to create a powerful black and white image. I found myself so enthralled with the dynamic range that I have gone back to the color images and applied the black and white image as a luminosity mask further enhancing the color image in an artistic interpretation. This style of applying black and white HDR film effects as a luminosity mask is what I call “v2” for version 2. Additionally, I’ve been letting my imagination run wild creating the Surreality Collection where the images are melted in a classic Salvador Dali reverence.

The art of photography begins with a feeling, followed by seeing through the camera with anticipation, and ultimately developing an image that speaks to that feeling.

— Sam Dobrow