Pampas Grass – Take Two

BW 03-15-13 A-BW film 50001 Pampas Grass Plume

Yesterday, I posted my lament about living in Southern California with the constant sunny days and corresponding blue skies. A very warm and cheerful place to reside, but potentially problematic if one wants to create dark and stormy photographs. Just no clouds to add to any potential drama! Oh, darn.

Gerry Clausing, a good friend of mine, proposed an alternative look to my color film image, below. He went even further in reducing the exposure and ramping up the contrast to provide a very moody version of my image that I posted yesterday. I will admit, it now looks pretty darn eerie.

Gerry also raised a good question; for a project like mine that I thought I have been developing as a “photo-documentary” of a previous WWII decommissioned bombing range that I now live on, how much latitude can one creatively take and the photograph still be considered photo-documentary?? I think today the term photo-documentary is thought to be the same or similar to photo-journalism, that what is captured is not altered, i.e. remove people or objects or conversely add people or objects, which in my prior discussion would be to add a dramatic clouds to fill in the sky. Maybe my fallacy has been that my project is photo-documentary when in fact it may not be one, but does appear similar to one as an artistic project.

From my initial assessment Gerry’s rework of my image, below, is a bit of a visual stretch as to what was in front of my lens at the time of exposure to call it photo-documentary, but actually very interesting as an artistic interpetation. Granted that I already increased the contrast for the image I posted yesterday, but perhaps not beyond the realm of “reality” as what I believe Gerry created below.

This of course ignore the elephant in the room; how many current and past photo-documentary photographs are created as black and white images? Talk about a conceptual leap past a color photograph of the “reality” of event. Yet most will accept a black and white version of an event as part of a photo-documentary project in the blink of an eye. Not even question it. And for those who are familiar with the black & white photographic process know all too well the subtle changes that a photographer can make and most readers would not be any of the wiser. Color on the hand should look “real”.

Another aspect of my thinking on this project is the big thing with “contemporary” photography today is that these are predominately color photography projects, and to a much lesser extent, black and white images. Nevertheless Gerry’s question has me thinking about what might my project look like if I converted my color film scans into black & white images, as I did with this same photo, above. I think the black and white image looks pretty interesting even if it is not as eerie as Gerry’s version below.


Featured photograph, above, Pampas Grass (Gardening For Ordnance) copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale

Featured photograph, below, Pampas Grass, edited by Gerhard Clausing



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