METHOD

The blending of textured layers method is applied to Open Edition images
THE POWER OF PRINT
It remains the ultimate expression of photographic imagery.


FROM CONCEPTION TO PRINT.
From the first creative thoughts and visualisation, I prefer to control the process carefully. I therefore mainly shoot in manual mode, starting with the raw image, recording as much useful raw information on the sensor as possible, preferring the in-camera image histogram to be bunched up to the right without burn-out. I work the image from there, without the automated adjustments being applied in-camera. I apply enhancements step by step evaluating their effect along the way.


BLENDING TEXTURES.
Ultimately, a combination of textured layers is incorporated within the final work, each having an affect. Different texture files add something in their own right to the final effect, but they also tend to bring out from the original raw information, certain tones we may not otherwise see. Depending on which textures are used and how they are applied, this method enhances the environment of the principle subject in various ways - gently bringing out the mood of stormy skies or rain for example, creating a richly textured arty effect or a fine-art effect.......sometimes it is most subtle and may not be immediately obvious.


I use a catalogue of texture images I have shot including earth, stone, metal, concrete, fabrics, glass. The subject matter for these images is simply all around us every day. Sometimes I will go out with a specific project in mind and capture what I think will turn out to be more appropriate texture images for that specific project. I keep adding to the collection, evaluating new combinations - an ongoing process.


GLICLEE PRINTING.
High quality printing is a specialist area particularly with large format print output. Our specialist printing partners work with us on each project to ensure we get it right - we discuss the technical aspects of the final image file, paper options, size, resolution and proofs. Prints are available from A3 up to A0 (118x84 cm) depending on file size. This is achieved via advanced Giclee printmaking technology. Images are printed with archival quality Ultrachrome pignment based K3 inks onto canvas and smooth or textured fine art paper. A particular printing option will be recommended for a specific image:


Hahnemühle Monet Matte Canvas, 390gsm

A premium acid free canvas with a pure white tone that has been specially developed for professionals who demand a product capable of producing precise images with very high resolution. In addition to offering outstanding water resistance, this canvas stretches and mounts with ease. The canvas will not yellow, crack or curl and is an ideal choice for a variety of applications including portraiture and fine art photography.


Innova Softex Fine Art Paper, 315gsm

Museum quality natural white, course structured, acid free paper. It has a natural white finish with a slightly structured, soft-textured surface equivalent to a traditional etching fine art paper making it ideal for digital fine art reproductions. The surface has a special matte coating, designed for high quality fine art and photographic reproduction.


Hahnemühle 100% Cotton Photo Rag Paper, 308gsm

The fine, smooth surface and feel of Photo Rag make this paper very versatile and it is ideal for printing both black and white and colour photographs and art reproductions with impressive pictorial depth. It’s surface is relatively smooth, not perfectly smooth like a hot pressed paper but smooth enough that it’s very, very slight texture does not interfere with image detail.


Hahnemühle Albrecht Dürer Textured Fine Art Paper, 210gsm

Named after the German renaissance watercolour painter this 50% rag-based paper with a subtle textured surface lends an artistic feel to art reproductions and photographs.


HISTORY OF EACH PRINT.
The process involved in producing the final work, is recorded. I write up the narrative for each image project - how it was conceived, how the original image was captured, what was been done at various stages of development and how it was finally rendered.


LANDSCAPES.
Original mages must be pin-sharp front to back especially for large-format printing. I use a large strong tripod, mirror lock-up, Image Stabilizer off, remote shutter release and I routinely take multiple exposures of the same image with 1 or 2 clicks exposure difference between them. This gives me the option of blending the image recorded at different exposures, to bring out detail that would otherwise be hidden in a single exposure, but not necessarily from the human eye, viewing the real vista.


WILDLIFE.
When shooting in Manual, many things such as White Balance control are easier, whilst the requirement to be constantly reading the light and adjusting exposure clicks accordingly, resonates with me i.e. 'we have just got some clouds coming now, so I will increase exposure sensitivity by 2 clicks and do a test shot to check the histogram'.


Learning how to use Manual a few years ago, I find I tend to better understand my settings (aperture, speed, ISO and Kelvin) and I try to justify each setting, so that I know exactly what I am doing with my combinations. Given a certain environment or lighting level, I have a reasonable idea in my head what my start settings will be. They might not always be right, but they are generally in the right area and combination.


Because wildlife opportunities are often fleeting and I may want different settings for different unfolding situations (and changing 3 or 4 settings can take too long!), I use a series of presets on the camera - I find this invaluable. For example, I may be focussing on a static antelope with spot auto focus and whatever the manual settings happen to be, but I will know that if it suddenly runs and I want a creative running panning effect, I will hit my C1 preset button giving me 1/30 sec with predictive autofocus tracking.....and I am in a better position to advantage of the brief opportunity.


My general presets:


C1 - Running subject, panning technique - 1/30 sec with predictive autofocus tracking
C2 - Walking subject, panning technique - 1/8 sec with predictive autofocus tracking
C3 - Flying birds with high frequency wing movement - 1/2000 sec with predictive autofocus tracking


INSPIRATION.
Whilst the concept of enhancing images via blending layers is not new, there is considerable creative scope in this area, even if the enhancements are most delicate. Inspiration for this method derived from my sister Annette, a talented artist in Tasmania, Australia.
I am particularly taken by her large canvases of landscapes, or 'Fractured Landscapes' (with an environmental message therein), where she uses multiple media and physical layers creating a very individual textured if not rough, grainy and scratchy effect where desired. I find it creates a uniqueness about her paintings - attractive and powerful enhancements yet sometimes subtle.


This prompted me to delve further into texture enhancements of photographic imagery without detracting from the principle subject. It is a dynamic thing and I continue to develop the skills and underlying working knowledge of this process - it is great fun, an opportunity to be creative and express ones personal style and it is just hugely rewarding from beginning to end!


Each print order is approached as an individual project with all the time and attention to detail throughout the process, to ensure a final piece of creative photographic artwork of the highest quality.