Friday, June 15, 2007
Jean-François Rauzier - The Image Is In The Details
Jean-François Rauzier's Hyper-photo composites are extraordinary in size, in vision and particularly in detail.
“In order to achieve panoramic images, I first tried panoramic cameras and wide-angle lenses,” Rauzier explains, “but was frustrated by not being able to control the distortion and ending up with a very typical panoramic and wide-angle effects. I began to shoot four to 10 pictures and stitch them together. After I mastered the process, it became a constant buildup until it was thousands of pictures.”
Of his equipment, Rauzier says, “I've used several cameras, mainly Fuji and Nikon. For studio work, I usually use the latest digital Hasselblad. Not using the same equipment all the time keeps me up with the latest technological advances that go along with the Hyper-photo's constant need for more precision and growth. I'm always looking for the best equipment and am not tied to anything in particular.”
Rauzier will use his Hasselblad in the field when he can, but prefers to carry his SLR cameras when he travels, as they're lighter and less expensive. When shooting with the high resolution of a medium-format camera, Rauzier makes fewer exposures in the field, but due to the extremely detailed and time-intensive nature of his work, there's still a never-ending struggle with the limitations of technology—restricted depth of field, blur due to the wind, flaring, etc.
“I shoot very systematically, shot by shot, with a graduated tripod,” says Rauzier. “I know that I've got the entire scene when I've shot all I can see! I try to not forget any details, even without interest, because when I skipped over some areas that apparently held no interest, I had holes in the image that were very hard to fill. It's better to capture everything, more than I need. I carry many memory cards and fill them quickly. The files are more than 30 to 40 gigabytes for a flattened image. I have no desire to be reasonable and reduce the size. I can't. It's a mutilation.”
Continues Rauzier, “I use Apple computers and Apple displays. I tried many programs, but now I use only Photoshop. It has many shortcomings for me, 3 GB of RAM maximum, but it's the only one that can manage the 30 to 40 GB files I'm making now. I need a 1 terabyte scratch disk and will soon use a RAID server. It works very slowly on the hard drive, but it works.”
Even though the time spent taking the image is less than the time spent putting it together comparatively, there can be a tremendous color shift between the first press of the shutter and the final shot of the image, especially at sunrise or sunset. In order to match images so flawlessly, Rauzier has to adjust each of them, often even single aspects within each image, with levels, color balance and hue/saturation.
Says Rauzier, “Practice, practice, practice is the only way I've been able to get good at it.”
“I can say I now take pictures everywhere I go,” Rauzier says. “When I was in L.A., I planned to take the big city, cars, freeways; instead I shot trees, cactus and flowers! I had an idea of L.A., but I discovered something else, very exotic and rich for my creativity. So I can't plan too much ahead of time. I know it when I see it. I shoot all that's interesting and have a huge library of images. Some pictures I took a few years ago and never put together, but I know they're on my hard drives as well as in my mind.
“For example, for “On Time,” I shot the beach of Étretat one year ago. I knew I'd do something with it. This beach, the atmosphere, and the shock I had in seeing how the stones had disappeared was so moving for me that I couldn't work on it before I had a great idea. When a man showed me his collection of alarm clocks, I had suddenly the idea for that image.”
Even after completing an image, for Rauzier, there's no time to rest: “When I finish an image, I'm very frustrated and depressed and need to start another one immediately. I'll soon show this work more often on screens as slideshows or movies of the Hyper-photos. It's the only way to see all the details and it's a fascinating trip. And eventually technology may catch up.”
To see more of Jean-François Rauzier's work, visit www.hyper-photo.com.
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