A Photographer’s Symphony: Mr. Muchow’s Opus
“The negative is the equivalent of the composer’s score, and the print the performance.”
The quote belongs to Ansel Adams. An instructor at college told me that phrase and it really stuck with me. It really shaped and molded the way I create a photograph.
Now Mr. Adams is talking about the good ole days of film and darkroom. Basically he is saying that each negative is a visual composition of objects or ”notes”. These notes are arranged by the photographer so a subject interacts with background, foreground, and even light. That arrangement can then be “played” or printed in different way. The photographer could increase the contrast or dodge the shadows in the print. Now what is really interesting is that same photographer could decrease the contrast and burn instead of dodge. This would create a print with a completely different mood than the first even though the prints came from the same negative.
This still applies to digital photography. The negative has become the raw file, and the print the post-processed image. Instead of the darkroom, a photographer has Lightroom and Photoshop to create a performance from a raw file. As a photographer, you should embrace the composition of your photographs and work in post to create the best “performance” of your “score”.
I’ve included three examples of a raw image with two different post-processes of each.
By: John Muchow, Springfield Creve Coeur Camera