About My Process
Process and Craftsmanship
About My Work
How my Finished Work is Created
This article is a glimpse into my process for those who are interested in what I do and how I do it, in order to deliver the highest quality finished print. There are an incredible number of photographic and visual art specialties. While my Renaissance Soul nature should have me running in all directions and generalizing, I "usually" focus on natural subjects, and more specifically landscape scenes containing water in some form, since that particular subject has interested me for some time. I'm particularly drawn to the New England area, since this is where I've spent most of my life, and we are fortunate enough to have a vast amount of unique and natural scenic areas to enjoy. My typical process starts with exploring and knowing a certain area, where I might find great subjects to capture. I work in mostly large format black and white film, for the highest quality of capture, and my process ends with the highest quality finished print.
Tools of the Trade
I tend to travel with typical photographic gear like a camera and light meter, however, "typical" is a relative term, since I capture most of my images with a large format film camera. Most people have never seen a large format camera, which poses unique challenges in terms of transport and setup. It also tends to spark great questions and discussion when working with others, or meeting other people throughout my journey. The camera I use is very special to me, and it was essentially created for me years ago out of teak wood, by a craftsman with intense attention to detail, allowing me to create my work with the same level of detail. We have been through some interesting times together, and it has always come through for me like a close friend. Large format photography also typically involves a traditional darkroom to develop and process your images into prints to present as a finished product, however, I do think that large format photography is much more than just the process, and is really more of a mindset in general that is not necessarily for everyone.
Large format cameras use what is called sheet film to create images, and there are a number of film manufacturers still in existence today like Kodak Alaris and Ilford creating great black and white and color films. I tend to stick with a couple different film emulsions and developers that I am very familiar with, which give excellent quality in terms of image capture with the large size of the film. Sheet film poses some unique challenges, since it is much larger than typical film or a digital sensor, it is extremely skilled at attracting dust or anything else you might find in your work space. Loading sheet film into holders and making ready for an exposure out in the field, or unloading sheet film into tanks for development also poses unique challenges since the film is not protected in any way from light, and film cannot be exposed to light unless you are either taking a picture with it, or after it is completely finished with the development process. So those are just some of the challenges in dealing with large format film, so you can now imagine that I often find myself hiding in bathrooms and closets in complete darkness in order to change film in or out of holders and be able to capture images. Sometimes I really question the need to go through this much effort, but the results of traditional large format film are worth the work if you have the patience and skill. Most of my post film development workflow is now a digital process because it gives me an incredible level of control over the creative process, as well as the finished product.
The Art of Photography
In landscape photography, exploring the natural world in search of inspiration and visual art, capturing that exact moment which never repeats, and sharing that exact moment as a finished print is what drives me to keep creating. I generally either wake up before the sun rise to travel to my subjects, work during overcast days, or work into the evening as sun sets during the "golden hour." The light in general looks great twice a day during these conditions, and depending on the timing of the sun light, it lets me control the contrast of what I'm trying to capture. This allows me to make sure the wide range of light will all be represented to my liking on the final print. Also, if I plan to capture multiple scenes at a particular location, I will usually try to plan the timing of each scene based on the direction of the sun and time of day, to ensure that each scene is lit as well as possible, and most closely matches how I envision showcasing and presenting it in my final work. There are times when the elements make it extremely uncomfortable, and times when nature just doesn't give you what you were looking for that day, but there is always tomorrow, and persistence really pays off.
Much of the vision for a final piece of work is solidified as I am capturing the moment on film. Fully realizing and creating the final product, and where the real art happens, is mostly in post production. My film negatives are all treated with archival care, represent my life’s work, and are all digitized in order for editing and final production to take place. This is where the real artistic process happens, where during final editing, all detail and vision is brought forward into the final image, to represent the moment first captured in the field. From there, my final output is in the highest quality print, since I believe that photographic art is a print based form of media. My final product is something you can hold in your hands, or display on your wall that will stand the test of time. For that reason, I only choose the finest quality archival materials for use in the final print and it's display. I sign each piece of work by hand and leave my mark, since it is my handmade work and my brand, and shows that I not only created it, but that I also believe in it, and it's value for the owner of any piece of my work.
All photographs appearing on this site are the property of Matthew Allard, and Allard Imaging. They are protected by U.S. Copyright Laws, and are not to be downloaded or reproduced in any way without the written permission of Matthew Allard and Allard Imaging. Copyright 2017 Matthew Allard. All Rights Reserved.
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