Trees inspired by Pentti Sammallahti

Oaks

About a year ago, while attending Photo LA, I was introduced to the images of the Finish photographer Pentti Sammallahti. Sammallahti, who shoots exclusively on black and white film, has a magical way of using tonal relationships and often shoots panoramic formats.

Inspired by Sammallahti’s work, I have recently been shooting with a 12mm lens (24mm equivalent on a full-frame camera) and my camera set to “monochrome” and a 16:9 aspect ratio.

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When working wide and panoramic, my compositional choices are not muchdifferent than when walking around doing my normal color street photography. I look for compositions with layers and dimensions, bringing some objects near and some further away. I try to fill the frame to the edges with stuff (sometimes the stuff is negative space) so that the composition appears to go on forever. And, with black and white, I look for components of the image to be visually speparated by tonal differences – if shooting color, I would use differences in color.

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Oddly, I don’t think these images look like anything like the images in the book of Sammallahti that I have studied. His compositions usually have big wide open (snow covered) spaces. I suppose this is true inspiration; to be moved to make your art and not just to copy their art.

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