Incubation II

Photographer Eric Meola and I share our insights on the creative process in this three-part conversation. In the first installment, I share the influences of my parents and meetings with many remarkable men and women including Eliot Porter, Ansel Adams, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Then we discuss the power of words.

“Words can be powerful tools. Think of all the things you can do with words. Generate ideas. Clarify a response. Determine a goal. Frame a question. Evaluate strengths and weaknesses. Make comparisons and contrasts. Identify an influence. Select an approach. Test a theory. Explore alternatives. Identify what’s missing. Solve a problem. Advocate. Motivate. Evaluate. Find a new direction.

No matter what discipline you’re in, why wouldn’t you use these powerful tools we call words? Try not using them! Can you? So why not use them well and unlock as much of their power as you can?

Many linguists have explored how language influences thought, going almost as far as saying language is thought. Benjamin Whorf said, “Language is not simply a reporting device for experience but a framework for it.” If a culture has a lot of words for something, it indicates those people have a highly developed relationship with it. If a culture doesn’t have a word for something, it indicates either a very different relationship to a subject or a blind spot. Certain tribes in the Amazon jungle have many words for green, but none for blue. The Inuit have dozens of words for snow. We currently have too few words for photography. (At best, we amend the word photography with other words—photojournalism and photo illustration.) Look at all the words we have for various kinds of writing: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose, journalism, journaling, interview, biography, autobiography, screenplay, short story, novel, trilogy, epic, lyric, etc, etc, etc. The photographic community and culture at large would do well to repurpose many words drawn from our literary traditions and use them in our visual traditions.

The question is not, “Should I manipulate a photograph?” Since the invention of photography, all kinds of things have been done to photographs. The question is, “What happens when I do or don’t manipulate a photograph?”

Limited language wastes time and results in less productive debates and diverts attention away from more productive discussions. One of the fundamental things I’m trying to address through my work is complicated by limited language. Our culture often talks about people versus nature; we use words like “us” and “it.” We draw lines and take sides. Our current use of language psychologically distances us. This makes it harder to describe people as parts of nature. If we enter that mindset, we think about ourselves and act in our world differently.”

Read the rest of our conversation here.

In this video, I share my thoughts and feelings on photography and printing.

Find out more about printing here.

Read other interviews here.

Read my artists statements here.

In this video, I share my thoughts and feelings on photography and color.

Find out more about color management here.

Read other interviews here.

Read my artists statements here.

John Paul Caponigro Interview – The Coast Of Maine

December 27, 2011 | Comments Off |

Years ago, I had a wide ranging conversation with Rob Draper on the thinking and process behind my art.

Read other interviews here.

Read my artists statements here.

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Find printing tips is my latest interview with Ron Martinsen.

Find more tips in my Lessons.

Find out about my fine art digital printing workshops here.

Dave McDonell on Noise

September 30, 2009 | Leave a Comment |

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Dave McDonell, cofounder of Imagenomic, the company that makes Noiseware, my favorite noise reduction software weighs in on noise.

JPC    Where does noise come from?

DM    There are several factors in a digital camera capture process that contribute to noise. The most prevelant are temperature, the actual capture circuitry, sensor size, and the process of sub-sampling which induces errors between adjacent pixels.

JPC    Why is chrominance noise so much easier to reduce than luminance noise?

DM    It’s really not in application. It’s just that you perceive changes in luminosity or brightness much easier than you do in color.

JPC    Fine color noise is easier to reduce than coarse color noise, like the color patterns created by demosaicing bayer patterns. When are you most likely to encounter this type of noise? How should you treat it differently? How far can you go?

DM    There are no hard and fast rules for any of the above questions as all are dependent on the capture situation and subsequent output medium.

JPC    What’s the biggest challenge when reducing luminance noise?

DM    Achieving a balance between perceived reduction and image detail.

JPC    At what point would you stop using the sharpening controls in Noiseware Pro and start using the sharpening controls in Photoshop?

DM    Again, another matter of workflow organics. Each person has a specified workflow as to input, editing and output.

JPC    Do you recommend reducing noise before or after sharpening? Why?

DM    In the vast majority of cases, use noise reduction before sharpening as sharpening will almost always magnify existing noise patterns.

JPC    Do you recommend reducing noise before or after upsampling? Why?

DM    Along the same lines as sharpening, any noise patterns will be magnified. Sometimes it is necessary when resizing to use noise reduction in 2 steps – one on the unsized image and another finishing reduction on the upsampled image.

JPC    Tell me about one or more features of Noiseware Pro that typically get overlooked and under used.

DM    Probably the most under used but most powerful feature is the bracketing function. One can quickly establish usable ranges from which presets can be generated. Presets is another overlooked feature whereby one can establish customized slider settings for a wide range of images.

JPC    Is all noise bad?

DM    All images have noise to a degree, regardless of capture method.  When the amount and/or type of noise becomes such that it is viewed as degrading to the image, then we definitely toss it in the bad category.

Find out more about Noiseware here.
Find out more about noise in my DPP articles and stay tuned for more.

JPC on thirdeyephotozine.com

September 21, 2008 | 2 Comments |

Recently Rayhaan Traboulay interviewed me for his online magazine thirdeyephotozine. Here’s an excerpt.

RH I recently had a discussion with a friend about creativity within people. I
find that people either generally “have it” or don’t. I believe that you
can’t really teach it too much. Theres room for improvement and critiques
and so on, but I find it is either innate in someone or it’s not. Would you
agree or no?

JPC I disagree – strongly. To be a successful creative person in any field, it
takes perseverance, intelligence, hard work, skill, talent, and luck – in
that order. Everyone is creative. Different people have different creative
strengths. It helps to find the areas each of us are strongest in and to
develop skills within other areas to become more versatile. Creativity is
not contained to the arts. Some of the most creative people in history and
with us on the planet today work in the fields of science and business. We
all have something to offer. And something to learn from each other.

Do you think you can learn to be more creative? Comment here!

Read the rest of the interview here.

Read more interviews here.

Read and hear my comments on my images here.

Find free PDFs on making artist’s statements here.

Hear my free tips on becoming more creative here.

See my images and get free portable galleries here.


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