As a photographer, I love looking at great imagery. We all do. It’s what inspired most of us to pick up our own cameras and it’s one of the main things that continues to inspire us as we evolve as artists and image technicians throughout our lives.
One photographer whose work I really like is Ken Kaminseky. Ken is a travel photographer who not only has a fantastic eye, he has taken his work and style further by incorporating a very tasteful element of HDR into his imagery. I’m not talking the kind of HDR that gets a bad rap, so much of which is overdone and just looks, well, you know…kind of “off.”. Ken does it right.
I think the reason that Ken’s imagery is so striking is that he doesn’t use HDR to carry the shot, he uses it to enhance what is already a great shot. Without HDR, his photos are already striking, well balanced visual pieces. When he adds that additional processing, he transforms them into something something slightly out of this world.
However, it’s done so well that you almost don’t even notice that it’s HDR. With many of his shots, it takes a second look with a seasoned eye to even recognize what he’s done with the image. That’s the key when using any special effect or tool, whether it’s a Lensbaby, HDR or a special off-camera flash technique; the image itself has to stand on its own. It can’t rely on the effect or it fails- it’s too transparent.
You know what I’m talking about, we’ve all seen way too many photos that depend on some effect. Those shots may be striking at first, but we soon tire of them. They don’t hold up because they don’t have what I like to call a visual anchor, which is a specific element that adds truth to the photo. A visual anchor inserts an aspect of reality into an unbelievable shot, because it reassures the authenticity of the shot in some way. If done right, this authenticity can actually end up making the shot even more unbelievable.
The visual anchor in Ken’s imagery is his ability to look at the world and produce simple, gorgeous compositions that would be great on their own. His photos don’t need HDR, but they definitely benefit from the added life and color that he adds to them in Photoshop.
The technique works really well in his night shots. With night photography, we already expect something different, so the HDR element gives these shots a unique and visually appealing look. I love his night shot of the Colosseum.
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I also admire Ken because he’s an example of someone who has worked hard to remake himself and adapt to the new economy. A commercial, travel and lifestyle stock shooter who was hit especially hard by the downturn, he seems to have emerged with new success by forging ahead on his own path. In that respect, he’s someone we can all learn from.
Read an extended interview with Ken Kaminesky at prodigalconcepts.com and check out his work at: