Romantic Fine Art Garden photography

All the photos in this gallery were taken in my house or garden, between April and August 2023.

Many see the goal of photography as capturing reality in a like-like image. To this end, high resolution cameras and sharp lenses are highly prized. During processing, imperfections may be removed, and the image improved, sharpened, sanitised, tuned-up. The resulting high-fidelity photos can be stunning. But why, then, do the public consistently find blurry and soft-focus images to be more desirable and beautiful?

This is where fine-art photography comes in. For the fine-art photographer, the aim is artistic impression, not photo-realism. The image that comes out of the camera is just a starting point — just one part of a bigger creative vision, not the end result. Resolution and sharpness are less important than mood and artistic potential. During processing, such photos will often be degraded, smudged, scratched, deliberately blurred or painted over. In many cases, very little of “what the camera saw” will remain. Instead, something transcendent should emerge.

The 18th century romantic movement was in part a reaction against industrialisation and the scientific conception of nature: processes that were seen as dehumanising. Romantic art aimed to bring out emotions, feelings, and mood in its portrayals, with the goal of appealing to the heart over the head. In romantic paintings, therefore, spirituality, imagination, passion and mystery are prioritised over photo-realism; human expression over the mechanical. In our current digital era, such a counterbalancing vision is certainly needed.

Applying these principles to my photos, I have tried to introduce painterly qualities that convey the impression of the artist’s hand and eye. To do this I overlaid the original digital photo with various textures including those of artists paper, canvas, dirt, scratches, smudges and water stains. The results are quite different to my low-key botanical photos: more like paintings than photographs. Let me know your thoughts.

Keir Watson

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