Art, Fine Art Photography, Fine Art Portraits, Photography

Trying to Get What’s Up Top Out in the Open

This is a problem that all artists have, and one that quite a few people here have asked me from time to time.  Do I have a clear idea of what image I want to get?  Well, I try not to, if that makes sense.  I have learned that the image in my head is never what the end up product will be.  It can be so disheartening.

I have found that is it best to have an idea, but not a clear picture, then when I get something close I am happy, well relatively.  Then sometimes I am blown away and it is such a wonderful surprise.  However, to get to that shot there is always lots that don’t work, or the ones that are experiments and they haven’t quite worked how you wanted them too.

LeanneCole-emily-20130930-6720I have had this image in my head, not of anything in particular, but it is more about colour.  The images are dark, with lots of blue and green and the highlights are probably more golden.  I like this idea and the colouring, but I have to work out how to make them happen.  So I have been trying lots of different things with some images I took recently.

LeanneCole-emily-20130930-6981I don’t know if they work, but I like where they are going and there are definitely things in them that I like and want to keep trying.  It might be better to take shots that are meant for this sort of thing though, rather than using shots that were meant to be used for something else.

LeanneCole-emily-20130930-7250I have been trying things that I learned from Sue, and Lara Jade, and a few others.  I have been trying Sue’s burning and dodging, but it is a lot harder than it looks, so easy to go too far.  I need to practice a lot more.  I don’t know that these are successful, but it is nice and I like the general look.  I think I need far more experimenting though and have some other things I want to try.

So off to do some more experimenting.


  1. Like a story penned by a dedicated writer, a photographer’s projects often take on lives of their own. You create a character in your portraits and find that different effects or compositional elements fit them better than others. You find yourself saying “That would never fit him. He is better suited to…” or something similar. It is almost as if the subject is telling you what to do. I’ve experienced this both in writing and photography. If I may offer a humble opinion: don’t be afraid of that little voice telling you to change course. It will take you to places that will wow both you and your clients.

    • I had never thought of it like that. Brooke Shaden said she creates characters, and I think I might have to try that more. I love that voice that tells me that to try new things, my biggest problem is doing it, and being afraid it won’t work. So I will listen and then follow through. Thank you so much.

  2. I love what you’re doing! Experimenting is good! It really teaches you a lot. I like your idea of trying to capture what you’re after as you take the shots rather than afterwards, in post-production. I think it’s maybe a matter of finding the right lighting. Where I live (New England), some days at this time of year, the late afternoon sunlight is golden. I keep trying to get photos of it. It’s as if the air is colored golden. So maybe, you could find a time of day that has the lighting/color you want (or close to it anyway) and try taking some shots then. And also, I think you know that often you stumble into something completely unexpected! It’s so exciting when that happens! I try to remind myself to be open to whatever happens – which requires being relaxed. And always, have fun! And breathe! PS I love the photo in the banner.

    • We have that golden light here, though we are going into summer now, so that means the light will be harsher, unfortunately, I have plans though, and I am working through them now and I hope that they will help me get what I want. It is quite a different way for me to work. Though I have to say, what you said about stumbling onto the unexpected is really exciting and I live for those moments.
      Thank you Mary.

  3. I have to get them right from the off. I don’t know much about post processing and I haven’t invested the time to learn so far. Whether they’re what you envisioned when you set off, the end result is usually pretty striking.

    • I used to feel that way with film, I really didn’t like it, it was like you didn’t get that full control over what you were doing. Thank you Matt, it is all a learning curve and I am really enjoying it.

  4. Leanne, I love that you’re exploring new techniques and ideas. It’s rejuvenating and like walking into a dark room (no pun intended) – filled with the unknown. My favorite is the last photo. The mood, the tones. It’s great to learn from you.

    • I have to agree Catherine, it is so wonderful to try new things, though, I also feel like I am just extending on top of what I have done already. I think that last photo worked the best. Thank you.

  5. Wow thanks for liking my Post!
    You are obviously an expert, do you have any suggestions of how to take better photos?
    I know what you mean, I had a clear image, and it just didn’t look like i wanted!
    Your Pictures are amazing by the way!

    • Hey ZarinaLou, firstly, you are welcome. I am not really an expert, I am still learning a lot, but to answer your question about taking better photos, practice, practice, practice. Look at lots of photographers that you admire and then ask yourself why you love their work, and how can you achieve something similar in your work. Copy what they do, but only for practice, you will breach a lot of copyright if you just copy and then pass it off as your own.
      It is hard getting what is in your head out, good luck.
      Thank you.

    • That is so true Marie, it is all about both of those.
      I don’t know, I do know that film really frustrated me, and its limitations. Digital is fantastic.

  6. Wonderful shots!!! Especially, the last one – girl with hat is awesome!!! Yeah, that’s really a wonderful experimentation!!! Keep up the good work!!!

  7. I agree – I like a nice surprise – which is why I worked with historical imaging methods and now in digital IR. Burn and dodge goes base very quickly – I admit that I still don’t have the knack – What does work is to burn on a duplicate layer in PS and then cut back with the transparency of the layer to where it works.

    • Surprises, generally I don’t like, except in my artwork, I love it when you are working on something and you get a fantastic image that you weren’t expecting.
      I have started doing that Robert, I use a technique that I learned from Lara Jade, quite cool. Thank you.

  8. I really enjoy this post, both for the beautiful imagery and also because you inadvertently answered something I’d wondered for a while- because I generally work the same way in that I do not usually have a crystal clear idea of what I’d like my outcome to be so much as a swirl of color, context, and mood. I have found it to be much more of a success if I plan out a general idea and let what will happen, happen as far as the entire outcome goes. I’d always wondered if others worked that way, and if not, was I doing it wrong?? :D
    Again, these are such beautiful images (as always). I really enjoy the dark and dreamy feeling they give me. Thank you for sharing your experimenting!

    • I am so happy you enjoyed this Katie, and I work the same way. It is better to just go with it some times, good to have a basic idea to begin with, but allowing the image to evolve without too much control is really great too. Just experiment with each image and see what you get. Advice for me as well.
      I am glad you like the images, not so sure myself, but I like the direction they are going in. Thank you so much Katie.

  9. Like this small set photos. It’s like a muse in search of something or someone to inspire.

  10. I think you’re doing fine. as has been said here, it’s an evolutionary process…learning to harness the power of post and each step of the way you gain a larger palette to realize your vision

    • What a great way of saying it, thank you, I really like that. It is evolutionary and I like where this is going to a point, but I have some new stuff planned and I am excited about trying them. Thank you.

      • I find that every new technique I learn, no matter where it comes from or how it is applied by others, eventually becomes useful. Somewhere along the line I will find a situation that demands it or a way to adjust it to work with my own work.

        The real problem though, for me, is learning something then forgetting about it and coming across it again later and re-learning it. Sometimes it takes many many times for it to stick . :)

      • You aren’t the only one with that problem, I do that all the time too. I think I need to make myself a list of all the things I know, so I can go through it when I a process a photo to see if anything on it would be useful. I must definitely do this.

      • LOL..

        but isn’t it the most awesome thing when you stumble across something again and have that moment of realization?

        “oh yeah! wow!! I can do that!!”

      • Sometimes it is, and then other times I get so annoyed with myself because I could have used it for some other photos as well, haha. :(

  11. leecleland says

    Again, thank you for your honesty and freshness, Leanne. I do enjoy your posts where you wear your heart on your sleeve for all to see. Sometimes it’s the lack of post processing technique that holds us back (well me anyway), but mainly I’ve found I need at least a germ of an idea in my head to start with, otherwise my images end up being only snapshots with no direction. I personnally, am learning a lot from watching you grow through your posts, even though we take very different types of images, so thank you.

    • Thank you Lee, I am always pleased when I do this that people don’t mind too much. Having that germ of an idea is good, and then things grow. I often get ideas looking at movies, or looking at the artwork of others, looking and thinking how I could incorporate some if it into my own work. I am so glad to hear that you do learn from me, that means so much. Thank you again Lee.

  12. I don’t have any real observations to offer except this: If something keeps tickling your brain, you have to follow it. And half-measures never do!

    Interesting images, too. I can see these leading in many directions. I wish that I had your talent and skill. I’d push these images one way or another!

    • I agree, you do have to go with the tickling when you get it. I am really excited with some new skills I’ve been learning and how I can apply them to my work.
      My skill is nothing special, just experience really, I’ve spent a lot of time learning and practicing, so no reason why you can’t do the same work. Good luck. I will push the images, see where they go. Thanks again.

  13. “I have learned that the image in my head is never what the end up product will be.” No truer words have ever been spoken, Or typed out. Especially in my case…Thanks for the visits Leanne, your eye and end product are amazing!

    • You are very welcome and thanks for stopping by here. It is such a frustrating thing, but then we learn to live with it, and go with the flow, I think that is what I am best at, going with flow. Thank you.

  14. Great shots, Leanne. I really like your description of your working practices too. Very interesting – like the mixture of the cerebral and the instinctive.

    • Thank you Richard, I think it is something I am really starting to understand more, how I work and what I need to do to work.

  15. I love how these are looking! This style of yours is so enchanting, I’m always so excited to see them grow more and more into your own unique style :)

    • It is going to be interesting Amanda, well I hope it will be. I have lots of new ideas and plans. Interesting times ahead. Thank you.

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