Image Focus

Kaupo Kikkas | The Grand Jury

This photo started as a dream of mine which was to walk along the roads Ansel Adams walked whilst shooting some of his iconic images. I wanted to capture my very own interpretation of those vistas. After 8 years that dream had become a long-term project, called ‘Ansel’, which culminated in an exhibition of my favourite images.

As the project evolved it moved further from my original, simple idea; it became much more introspective, personal and much darker, but I always kept the ultimate respect for nature and photography, as if the spirit of Ansel Adams was with me.

naked man standing amid rocks in the desert

© Kaupo Kikkas | Sony α7R III + FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM | 1/400s @ f/11, ISO 640

This particular image is called The Grand Jury. It is a self-portrait that I shot in New Mexico with the Sony Alpha 7R III and the FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens. When creating an exhibition of my work, particularly when shooting an epic landscape such as this, it is always extremely important to have enough detail and sharpness to be able to create a large, exhibition size print. It is even more important when creating high quality black and white images; the raw file must have all of the dynamic range and detail I need when editing the image as it can be all too easy to reduce the quality of image when editing, particularly if you are editing a high contrast monochrome image. In this regard the sensor of the Sony A7R III is a work of art. I know I have all the detail and dynamic range to edit the image as I please, just as Ansel Adams spent hours in the darkroom creating his images.

You can look at this photo in many different ways, it includes a number of metaphors or myths. Aesthetically it reminds me of the woodcutting work of Dürer, or something from the Hieronymus Bosch painting. For me, this image is clear proof that photography can be a metaphysical art form and we can see and read the images in very different ways. We talk too much about apertures, lenses and editing but so often forget the main thing – our imagination.

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Kaupo Kikkas

Kaupo Kikkas | Estonia

"Work hard and love what you do, everything else will follow"

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