What Is Luminous?

Posted on July 28, 2011


With special thanks to Rob Howard from Creative Splurges who helped me muddle through posting a gallery and slide show. Normally I post images on Facebook and just link them to here, but now I am freed from that.

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So, what is luminous? My friend Peter Moon asked that and I set out to take some images as examples, starting in his unbelievable garden.

I’ve talked about luminosity before, and it is certainly one of the things I look for in an image when I go to print it. The very best, most luminous images shine with a metallic sheen. They leap off the page at you. This comes from a long tonal scale with a large portion of mid-tone grays.  In other words a lot of stuff around Zone 5.

In the past, I’ve always thought of “long tonal range” as “put something in every zone from black to white” resulting in relatively high-contrast prints which, in retrospect seems to go against luminosity. Lately, after reading Blakemore’s book, I’ve rediscovered lower contrast images. This combined with improvements in my development processes have resulted in negatives that are easy to handle and just seem to leap off the page. (There will be a whole post on this once I finish the testing and figure out some weirdness that seems to defy theory.) This is actually pretty exciting stuff for me, to try and try and try and suddenly get several rolls of highly successful images!

They would’ve been even better but something is going on with my camera and the mirror is not flipping up, resulting in a lot of missed shots. Had I more confidence in it, I would’ve shot that storm from the roof and not had to crop out my neighbor’s trees. I live right in the famed “convergence zone” here and have taken a lot of bad sky negatives off of that porch and other places, so I’m super stoked to finally know how to capture a decent cloud shot. (Check out the funnel cloud!)

Once again, the scans could be better, but the print is the point!

Which is better a gallery, or a slide show?