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The art of seeing #4: We are not always fascinated by the obvious things

(Image credit: Benedict Brain)
About Benedict Brain

(Image credit: Benedict Brain)

Benedict Brain is a UK based photographer, journalist and artist. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel. He is also a past editor of Digital Camera Magazine. 

www.benedictbrain.com

To be honest, I’m not really sure why I like to collect stones. They hold an allure I find difficult to articulate in words, so I thought I’d try to express it through photography. These samples were all picked from beaches in Cornwall.

Back in my ‘studio’ (box room), I struggled for a while to work out the best way to photograph them. After some experiments, I started getting the feeling I was looking for through multiple-exposure techniques. Placing the stones on a lightbox at slightly different angles, I took several shots that were layered together in-camera.

I love the way the layers recede in tonality. It feels calm while still having
a dynamic sense of time and motion. There was something meditative about the process of making the image, which I feel is reflected in the final image.

Most modern digital cameras have a multiple-exposure function that’ll allow you to layer images on top of each other. It’s an old technique that harks back to the days of film. It was a lot more hit-and-miss then, not to mention expensive. I was using a Nikon D810, which allows up to 10 images to be layered on top of one another.

Of course, it is possible to just take the images and layer them in Photoshop, and doing it in post allows for more control with a wide range of Blending Modes in your creative toolbox. However, it’s much more satisfying to nail it in camera,

The shot was nearly monochromatic, so I just went the whole hog and converted it to black and white. A couple of years ago, I found some beautiful handmade Shiramine fine-art paper from Japan; now I’d found the perfect image to print on it. BB

• Other articles in the Art of Seeing series

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