Fine Art Photography

About the technique

The French visual artist Sylvie Chadourne reveals her unique technique for shooting peotic photographs.

Sylvie Chadourne Fine Art Photography

About the technique of photography

All these photographs were taken with a reflex camera 24x36mm -CanonAE1- using lenses from 24mm to 500mm. With the exception of my very first photographs, carried out on negative film colour, I mainly used films for slides colours from 100 to 400 asa according to needs of the subject.

The lense is, in my opinion, the determining element. The case can be of quality, if the objective is not it, it will be impossible to take "a beautiful" photograph. The situation reverses will be on the other hand much negotiable. The choice of the objective is closely related to the subject which one wishes to photograph. I use a range of focal distances going from the 24mm (large angular) to the 500mm (teleobjective). My favourite objective is a zoom 70-210mm also having a macro position. Very practical on the field, one can cover any subjects, thanks to a versatile optical range.It also reduces the weight of my photo bag! I barely use the Macro position though. I prefer what is called "close photography": I use the maximum capacity of the zoom lens and aim at subjects a couple of meters from me. I use a teleobjective of 500mm with mirror the same way. In short, I use teleobjectives not to photograph what is far but to seize what is close, thus sublimating dimensions and accentuating the details. These teleobjectives generally impose large opening of diaphragm, reducing the depth of field : a disadvantage which appears to be an advantage for my photographs. Making the background fuzzy, it emphasises the principal subject by isolating it. The task is more difficult when it acts several elements having to appear in a same framework. It is then necessary to seek a plan of clearness making it possible to make the development on the most interesting subjects while taking account of the harmony of the forms in framing. In all the cases, I for a long time chose the use of the tripod (in brought closer Photography), sometimes constraining but ensuring the stability of the camera.

I like contrasts, so backlight is one of my favorite thing, specially the one caused by a declining sun drawing luminous contours. Park with the burns of the retina: it is necessary to be carefull when facing the sun with a camera. A sun visor fixed at the end of optics will ba a mandatory accessory. Nevertheless, the luminous rays striking the objective directly cause irisations can be very aesthetic, providong it is used sparingly. Moreover, these teleobjectives, because of the nature of their lenses, sometimes render in a beautiful way glares of light being in the fore or background of the subject. Thus, of the drops of rain shone upon are transformed into geometrical figures illumining the picture of a bucolic magic.

Let us talk now of optical filters. I had the great chance that a friend, having forsaken his activity of photographer, offered me a whole panoply of filters: Polarising, Radial zoom, Spangled, filter with facets, Gradation colours. I kept them aside for a long time before finding a use to them. The filters of colour for example could allow to transcend a sand texture grey, sad and dull but that the resulting colour appeared often artificial and like plated on the subject. The facet filter, which multiplies the image, used in a conventional way appeared to me of a limited interest, doing nothing but reproducing the central subject in the angles. It is by chance that I discovered my own way of using the filters. Not having the proper support to fix the filters on my 500 mm lens, I decided to hold myself the filter in front of the objective. While looking through the lens, I realised that by positioning the filter slightly in skew, this one collected the rays luminous by the section and a such prism acted, causing coloured brightness. I hastened to apply this principle to the other accessories and I obtained finally interesting images. The result of the use of the filters depends of course on the adequacy on the selected subject. Used advisedly, they can transfigure a dull subject. However, the filter does not make it all. And like anything else, it is necessary to know how to use it without misusing it.

Some words finally on my relation with the technique. I began in photography at the 14 years age, within the framework of an association where I learned the bases from the shooting and Black and White laboratory development. I took again a camera in hand only years later. My skills in painting and drawing influenced widely my approach to the composition of the image. I did not neglect this chapter in the studies that I carried out then thanks to the books treating of the Technique of Photography. There is no universal receipt: with each one its path. Personally, I need a fine blend of artistic intuition and technical knowledge. It is a delicate balance. I would nevertheless tend to think that the technique is nothing but a know-how in the absence of an artistic sensitivity, but that the artistic appetite must nourish itself from the technique to evolve/move and be explored itself.