01 June 2009

Mood Amplifiers

Ever since posting "More Real than Real" the other day, I've been thinking a bit more about photography. I'm a great admirer of  fine photography, and have aspired to it occasionally, but have so far found I enjoy looking at photographs more than making them. A little more precisely, I found that photography takes a great eye and great subjects. Constitution has robbed me of the first, it seems, and location and circumstances of the latter.

But I am a great admirer of the art. And a really stunning practitioner of that art is Trey Ratcliff, a Texan born blind in one eye (true fact) who excels in the technique of High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. You can read all about HDR on Trey's site, and see daily examples posted on his massively popular travel photography blog, Stuck in Customs.

HDR photography is the zenith of the "more real than real" aesthetic, often verging into surreal. But not dreamy surreal. It grabs you by the eyeballs and kicks you in the brain. Ratcliff combines HDR with all the dramatic tricks of the trade and incomparable subjects. I have no idea how one man can criss-cross the globe so thoroughly and survey all its wonders. Oh, and you can download much of his vast work for free, for personal use, in original resolutions. Unbelieveable.

Ratcliff freely doles out tips and advice, but I had to laugh at this observation:

    I notice there are a few things that are "Mood Amplifiers" in photos. These are items to include in your photo to take whatever mood is being conveyed to the next order of magnitude. These include: graveyards, churches, dogs, pretty women, miniature horses, and blood. I've been trying to think of a way to include all of these elements into a single mind-blowing photo, but a clear path has yet to present itself.
Coming from a master of dramatic photography, I take this advice seriously. And it all makes good sense to me, except the miniature horses. That might be discounted as a fetish, but I admit, I'm not entirely sure. After all, I'm no Trey Ratcliff.

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