Consistency of style is an important distinction between amateurs and true artists. An Ansel Adams print is immediately recognisable, as are the works of many other famous names. Whereas amateurs often have no style of their own or have too many, exploring various appealing alleys simultaneously.
I believe modern image manipulation software is partly responsible for this situation. In the days of chemical darkrooms, it was difficult to try selenium toning, sepia toning, bleaching, push processing, film variations, multiple dodging/burning techniques … for every picture. You were happy to gradually “develop” a technique that more or less ensured regularly good results and any further experimentation happened at a slow pace and after a well-considered thought process.
Whereas today, it took me a matter of minutes to produce both renditions (above and below) of this view of the Department of Earth Sciences.
If you’re done vomiting, apologies & onwards 😉
So, ease of digital wandering may confort us in our tendancy to explore stylistic back-alleys but the real problem lies within our brain, not in the code of LightRoom, CaptureOne, Silver Efex o Photoshop !
Try to muster the mental will power to omit the colourful oddity above and focus only on the black & white photographs on this page.
Consistent ? Heck no !
And yet, same camera, same lens range, same photographer same location.
The reason for this is I examined every candidate picture by itself and worked my usual routine with it, then “optimised” the look through various tweaks that seemed best for the picture, *in isolation*.
A recipe for disaster if you’re trying to develop your own style.
That’s OK as I was still experimenting with Nik Software’s Silver Efex and just having fun.
But I have a serious project for these photographs of Oxford and after this initial fun run, I am now in the process of reworking all of these images according to my feel about the city. It’s a lot more work and can be frustratingly difficult (and revealing of ones inadequacies as a master printer …) but it’s the only way of presenting a set that is not only consistent but – more importantly – mirrors my view of the world. Dreamy, strait & direct, inspiring, spooky, majestic, disgusting, … all are good answers so long as the pictures support them.
What do you think ? How do you guys work on your style (Christopher, Paul … you have stong individual styles) ?
Be seeing you (& more later about Oxford).
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Photographically, I think Oxford is a winner. My son worked in the city for a year or so – my visits and our time together was often taken up with no more than aimless wandering, taking in the atmosphere. So, I wasn’t surprised that the shot of the Worcester college passage was like a light switch for me; instantly I wanted to go back, spend more time wandering, recording the city’s corners and recesses. I think that’s the texture of the city lies.
My son is now working back in London (he’s a chef) and I have no sofa to sleep on for future visits 😉
I agree. Oxford is a fantastic place to photograph. If all goes well, my son should start studying there next march. If you need a sofa, just give me a shout.