The Anatomy of a Fine Art Photograph… By Tim Lucas



Its easy right, you drive to the spot – take a quick snap, then head home put the paper in and press print. Done!  Err, no.  The chasm between a ‘happy snap’ which is a valid form of photography allow that moment in time to live on (maybe on social media) and a Fine Art Print is vast.  Recently I was asked by a parent of a 15 year old just starting out in outdoor photography for some advice for the budding photographer. The answer, put the camera away, walk/sit/stand/climb and take in the scene. Then think about the scene and what it is that you are trying to take home from it….


 ‘Learning to see’

Perhaps the hardest thing for any photographer to learn.  What it is that you are looking at, can you find something in the scene that you have never seen before, because if you are there then its likely hundreds of others have been as well. During my recent exhibition, ‘Intimately Remote : Exploring Small Parts of a Big World’, people often commented along the lines of ‘…I love the small details that Tim has observed….’and ‘…Love your ability to display a unique world out there that most of us dont see…’.  The ability to be able to visualise scene, in a way that offers a truly unique aspect, is something that comes naturally to some but must be learnt by others. It’s a skill than improves with experience and only actively searching within the natural environment can hone this skill.


‘You must have a good camera….’

Yes of course it’s the camera that does all the work!  I remember once being asked this question whilst eating out, and being tempted to answer along the lines of ‘…great meal, you must have a good oven…’   The camera, like the oven, is just a tool after all.  To make the meal needs quality ingredients, skilled preparation and care. To capture a useable the base image is no different, only this time the ingredients are whats in front of the lens and the skill is using the camera/lens/filters/settings to get that initial capture.

‘Are Your Images Photoshopped ?’

This is a common question but an important one – shooting in RAW format means an image needs to be processed? How come yours and my look so different even though we took the same photo? Think of it like this : Focus on an object on the table, close both eyes and open the left one. Close the left and open the right – the object seems to be in a different place. Open both eyes and you can get a sense of depth.  Well a camera has only one eye! So yes, all images need to be edited to bring out the sense of depth within the natural scene. Other edits might be to remove unwanted objects, adjust the colours to better reflect the scene. OR, perhaps to totally change the scene to produce a more desirable Fine Art Print. How much is too much – from my perspective editing is to bring out my vision, and if done well should be the unseen element that answers the original question ‘…how come yours and my look so different…’.

Take these two for example, the left being ‘as shot’, the right after the ‘editing’ process:

I notice on your prints that you use lots of different paper, why?

Media choice is very important to me. In the Digital Nature Print Studio we have about 18 types of print media. These range from cheap poster stock to handmade Japanese media and now aluminum substrates. And in the canvas ranges from Matt to Metallic, once again at a price points to match the client requirements.

To me the image chooses the media, not the other way around. When taking an image I will almost always have my desired print media in mind. It may be a matt or super glossy, flat or textured.

Whatever the choice the combination of well composed and edited image, printed on the ‘right media’ will produce a vastly different result when compared to shooting a jpg file and printing on a cheap inkjet paper.

Where can I see you work?

Till the end of January a selection of image from the local environment are on show at the Red Rock Regional Theatre and Gallery, and works are constantly being added to my website and facebook pages.


Do you print for anyone else?

Off course! Contact Tim for more information





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