Sunday, February 23, 2014

Visual Poetry?

I read a number of other blogs on a regular basis. One is an artists hosting site that frequently posts things from member blogs. Today I read an article about painting by Doug Hoppes that fits very well with the topic I have been discussing in other recent posts, seeing and translating what we see into images that communicate what we see to our audience. In it he quotes one of his teachers, Stapleton Kearns, as saying "The arts are purest as they approach poetry". For the curious the article is at

I'm a believer in the idea that artists of all mediums have a lot in common and can learn from one another. The techniques to render what we see and try to represent may be different but the core of what we do is the same. The ideas that Doug Hoppes expounds in that post can just as easily apply to a photograph. Where a painter may take a certain amount of "artistic license" by leaving out distracting elements or emphasizing others to direct the viewer's attention in a representational work, so may the landscape photographer use both in camera and post exposure controls to impart the "feeling" of a scene.

In the case of the image above I used an exposure that left detail in the brightest portion, the sky. But even then the sky was basically a flat grey with little variation. My eye which has the capacity to see a much greater dynamic range than the camera and thus differentiate the subtle shadings in the sky had seen more. In order to make the image closer to my vision of it I selected the bright areas and applied a curve that translated the subtle differences into a range of tones that a computer can display. That left the line of mist behind the islands and some other foreground details too dark so I dodged them on a merged layer in order to bring them back up in relation to the surroundings. The result is how I remember the scene, how it felt. Hopefully it is a poetic representation.


  1. Anonymous2:27 PM

    Love the painterly mood in your photo. you reached your goal - it is poetic! Glanced at the images of your previous posts which are so focused and "clean." Am a painter myself, and like to keep learning.

    1. Thank you. My wife thought it was reminiscent of a Hudson River School painting.