Greetings, and welcome to my blog.
I’m Robert Ludlow, and this is my fourteenth year in digital photography. When I began, at age 60, I had no idea that a budding hobby would develop into a serious pursuit of artistic excellence. Not that I’m claiming to have achieved any impressive artistic level — that’s a judgment better left to others. My take on it is that I’ll always be pursuing that goal.
But I am encouraged by acceptance of my work over the years by galleries in Florida and Western North Carolina. And I’m gratified by sales of thousands of my note cards and postcards in bookstores and gift shops, and by publication of my images in magazines, brochures, and online.
For years people have been telling me my prints look like paintings. I don’t mind hearing that; in fact, it is a look I often try to achieve in Photoshop and in my printing.
Of course I’m not a painter and never will be; but after years of working and playing with Photoshop, I have the ability to manipulate images creatively. Still, most of the time, I prefer to stick fairly close to reality, to approach image processing in a spirit of realism. Like a realist painter, I often grant myself license to remove distracting elements, to enhance colors, and sometimes to replace an entire area of a scene, such as a drab sky. At the same time, I exercise restraint so that the final result, often somewhat idealized, remains believable and faithful to the subject.
Here’s an example of a photo that has been cosmetically retouched to remove unsightly white streaks from the roof (which was later fixed) and to add a much more interesting sky. The latter required a not-very-difficult, special Photoshop technique to keep the leaves and needles on the trees from breaking up.
The Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC
Then there are those few occasions when I really get carried away, as with this heavily manipulated image which has turned out to be a pretty good seller.
But my primary artistic goal is to render my impressions of the richness, the beauty, and also the quirky humor of visual experience in ways that resonate for discriminating viewers. In pursuit of that goal, the apparent subjects of my photographs are often not of prime importance. I consciously try to divert my attention from the obvious in order to capture the more abstract qualities — forms, patterns, textures, shadows and highlights, arrangements, juxtapositions. The goal is to take best advantage of the interplay among those elements. Everything is important; my true subject is the entire image.
None of which, of course, is original with me. Still, I do have a unique vision, ironically, just like you and everyone else — well, at least those of us who think for ourselves and are not bound by some rigid ideology. The challenge for each of us, I guess, is to express that vision in ways that connect meaningfully with other people.
So in this blog, which was created to complement my website, http://www.photothemes.com, I’ll be writing about and demonstrating various aspects of my “unique” approach to photography. Watch for a post, coming soon, showing some before-and-after examples of “Photoshopping” to creative effect. So here’s hoping I have some things to show and tell that you’ll find not only informative but also entertaining.