Tag Archives: Digital Tools

Imaginary Universe: Richard Kolker’s Computer Generated Images

London-based artist Richard Kolker has been working exclusively with computer generated imagery (CGI) for the last six years. But the fact that he comes from a traditional photographic background, having previously worked as a commercial photographer for Getty Images, would surprise no one: Kolker’s imagined pictures of still lifes, interiors and landscapes are rendered with such precision and clarity that they appear like true, documentary shots.

Inspired by the online virtual world Second Life and games such as World of Warcraft, which both rely heavily on GCI, Kolker sought to create images that were the antithesis of the aesthetic found in these programs. “I wanted to create images that reflected a more mundane nature, as opposed to the more fascinating environments people were experiencing through the anonymity of an avatar,” he says.

TIME Magazine

Richard Kolker’s computer generated image featured in the Oct. 29, 2012 issue of TIME.

That quieter mood is seen in the image created for Kolker in this week’s education-themed issue of TIME. For a story that examines the potential of free online courses to upend traditional higher education, Kolker created a dark image of an empty classroom. “A lot of my photos have this dark shadowy entity to it,” he explains. “I wanted to convey the emptiness with this classroom image—like all the life has been taken out.”

Kolker’s images typically take a couple days to create. And while the method may be seen as unconventional, he says the process itself feels similar to actual shooting. “I build a model like I would with plastic or cardboard, and I light it as I would in real life—but just with digital tools,” Kolker says. “And then I photograph it with a computer tool [Maxon Cinema 4D] that has a shutter speed and aperture—so in many ways, it’s fairly conventional.”

For the most part, Kolker relies on his self-described “vivid imagination” to conceptualize pictures, although he’ll use an actual photograph as a starting point from time to time. In one series, “Reference, Referents,” Kolker looked to famous works by artists whose pieces recalled photographic elements, including David Hockney, and tried to recreate the perfect picture that might have inspired said work.

He still carries cameras around when he travels, but says he never takes pictures anymore, preferring to continue his CGI work. “The whole world is shifting from analog to digital, and I love thinking about this digital code that you can use to create images of places around the world without ever having to go there,” Kolker says. “I love the total freedom of it—the ability to create whatever it is in your imagination or fantasy.”

Richard Kolker is an artist based in the U.K. See more of his work here


Do Process at the Verve Gallery

While teaching a Santa Fe Workshop last week, I had the great pleasure of visiting the Verve Gallery in downtown Santa Fe and viewing a terrific exhibition about photographer’s processes. The show features the work of eight image makers, each using a different technique to create their photographs. Accompanying the work are process images that allow the viewer to understand the how each photographer approaches their art. Today, I will feature three of those artists, and each day this week, I will feature another photographer and technique. The exhibition opened on February 24th and will run though April 14th, 2012. Do Process is a celebration of 21st century approaches to 19th and 20th century photographic processes. All the work in the exhibition was produced especially for this show. Feel free to click on the process images to make them larger.

Some of the images in the exhibition are made using contemporary processes, while others use alternative processes. Still others are made using both modern digital tools and old proven techniques. These techniques are characterized as “alternative processes” to distinguish the final print from the more ubiquitous gelatin silver print or contemporary digital print. The work in this exhibition ranges from 19th century print making practices, such as, hand-painted Gelatin Silver prints, Gum Dichromate, Bromoil, Mordançage, Photogravure and Albumen printing to more modern digitally composed and mixed media Photomontage prints. The exhibition showcases the history of some of the photographic techniques used over the last three centuries.


Since 1997, Maggie Taylor has created surrealistic imagery using computers, flatbed scanners and small digital cameras. She sees the scanner as a type of light-sensitive device, not much different than a digital camera. In both instances the scanner and camera capture a slice of time. In addition to placing small objects directly on the scanner, the artist also scans daguerreotypes and tintypes that she collects in antique shops and purchases online. The subjects in her images become the cast of characters that shape the artist’s pictorial stage. Once Maggie has finished her creations, she prints them in her studio on an inkjet printer. As is the case with all her creative work, Maggie runs through many test prints, image revisions and adjustments before getting the results she wants.


Kamil Vojnar is showing photomontages on paper and canvas from his ongoing series, Flying Blind. Kamil’s work focuses on the contradictory world in which we live, metaphorically focusing on the place where beauty and suffering meet. He mixes elements from dreams in his work and lets intuition and the materials he uses to guide him to his final image. Kamil often revisits his images repeatedly to place them in different contexts, creating variations of one image several times.

Kamilr’s unique approach to his work layers images from many different photographs and textures. Sometimes his work is layered on canvas creating one-of-a-kind pieces, and other times he layers on fine art paper, creating a small edition. In both instances he varnishes with oil and wax, sometimes painting on further with oil paints.


Joy Goldkind’s Bromoil prints are from her Adagio series. The images are abstractions of dancers created by a double exposure and slow shutter speed so as to deliberately capture the blur of moving figures. The silver gelatin prints are then converted using Joy’s Bromoil technique. She also has her new work in this exhibition where she uses mirrors so as to create images that distort the human figure. Once again, Joy uses the Bromoil process to alter the traditional photograph and thus create a “unique painterly print.”

As the digital world advances and film options decline, Joy finds it necessary to combine the earlier photographic processes with modern world technologies. She creates her negatives using a digital camera and a computer. She then makes prints using a traditional darkroom to create a typical silver gelatin print that she then converts to a Bromoil print. The Bromoil process was introduced in 1907 by E.J. Wall and eventually replaced the Gum Dichromate process. Once an enlargement is made on silver gelatin bromide paper, it is then bleached in a solution of potassium bichromate to remove the black silver image on the print. Then using special brushes, Joy applies the greasy inks to pigment the gelatin surface of the print.

Aperture is Hiring: Web Developer, iOS Apps and Website

Web Developer, iOS Apps and Website
Aperture Foundation

At an exciting moment in its move into digital storytelling, the Aperture Foundation is seeking a talented, creative web developer to be responsible for iOS app development and general web support. This position will be responsible for working with the internal creative team to develop a series of iOS-based apps related to ongoing projects. Although this position focuses on building apps, the developer will also assist with website development needs as time allows. The ideal candidate should enjoy building digital tools for a cultural audience, and must also enjoy working in a small, close-knit team in our busy New York office.

This is a hands-on development position. linkwheel creation . Ideal candidates should be innovative, flexible, and self-directed; show a willingness to share, discuss, and brainstorm ideas; and enjoy writing code, solving problems and working/communicating with coworkers. Knowledge of Magento and WordPress preferred.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Lead development of iOS-powered applications
  • Work with the editorial and creative team to develop digital applications that best support the organization
  • Set standards and best practices for development
  • Stay aware of the latest and upcoming Apple and web technology
  • Create clean, well-documented and optimized, error-free code
  • Participate in design brainstorming sessions, technical design reviews, bug triage, and functional walkthroughs

Experience and Skills:

  • Experience developing with iOS technologies, including submitting apps to Apple
  • Appropriate knowledge of Objective-C, Cocoa, iOS, CSS, HTML, and/or other languages as needed
  • Experience developing applications and renders from Photoshop PSD files
  • Strong organizational and communication skills
  • Ability to juggle multiple projects simultaneously under varying deadlines
  • Approach technical challenges with an open mind and a desire to innovate
  • Appreciate great design and thrive in a creative environment
  • Interest in and/or experience with photography, New York cultural institutions, and art-related events is preferred
  • Knowledge of Magento and/or WordPress preferred

Please send cover letter and resume to [email protected] with Web Developer in the subject line. Please no phone calls. Guillain-Barr syndrome . squido lense .


– Documentary Photography: Truth and Consequences

Photography, and especially documentary photography, has been used as a tool because it can tell the truth. Photographs present proof in a tangible form, which makes it easier for us to find what relevance and meaning the subject has to our own lives.

Being thrust into the digital era, however creates a host of ethical dilemmas for photographers, editors and the general public. A multitude of questions arise: who and what should be considered reliable sources? what should be digitally altered and how drastically? how responsible is the media to get and tell the truth? Consequently, I believe that both the documentary photography genre and the photojournalism industry should be held to stricter standards. These photos and stories are still supposed to represent reality, unlike advertising or fashion photos which are intended to sell a product.

It is only a guess, but when a photographer such as Ron Haviv is making a statement through one of his photos, it is a drastically different statement than someone such as David LaChapelle . The intent of the photograph may be the same (to be viewed by others) but in viewing, vastly different emotions are evoked. In fact, I think that the photographic process differs vastly for documentary photography and commercial photography. The environment in which the photographs themselves are taken is often posed for commercial photography. Documentary photography relies on something that is a bit more organic (in most cases). This does not mean that one is of more value, but that their purposes are varied. And as a result, for documentary photography, a moment of truth should be apparent from what emanates from inside the frame.

From a technical (and perhaps artistic) standpoint, getting the shot right without needing or utilizing digital tools shies away from taking the easy way out. Sometimes it is a matter of luck, but more often than not, it is a combination of elements such as precision and vision. Well renowned photojournalist Henri-Cartier Bresson told photo editors that he dictated which shots were not to be altered or even cropped. This attitude lends a certain authenticity, an honest reality.

Furthermore, one must take into account the varied perspectives involved in any type of photography: there is the photographer’s truth, the subject’s truth and the viewer’s truth. Each has the ability to derive varying truths and alternatively, the ability to manipulate the truth. Herein lie ethical standards that fall mostly on the shoulders of the photographer. How does she or he behave behind the lens? In front of the computer or editors? What professional responsibilities are expected of him or her?

Many of the questions and issues raised here are unanswerable, a gray area, or require on-going philosophical debates. But being inundated with images on a constant basis, it would be comforting to think that the photographs and projects that are produced of the ‘documentary photography’ order are presented in a way that is honest to what the photographer saw and what the subject was experiencing in that moment.

Perhaps it is naive or even unrealistic given technology’s advancements, but I believe that despite the celebrity obsessed, media-crazed world that we live in today, a sense of truth should remain intrinsic to documentary photography.

Do you agree?