Paul Melcher's selection
© Jamie Beck
It was not long after the invention of photography that artists decided to tinker with it and started discovering what else, besides copying reality, could be achieved. Man Ray, for example, realized that a lot could be done in the dark room, and thus spend more time in post production than actually taking pictures. It has since always been an integral part of photography.
However, film as a capturing tool and print, as a support have their limitation. When it switched to digital, photography offered new powerful tools to alter images even more. Entered Photoshop and its huge array of tools that, in the hands of an expert, can transform any image in pretty much anything else. The result has travel the gamut of the awful ( like overused HDR) to the sublime. However, it still remain a post processing tool that left the image as a still, able to be printed on paper or online.
A few years ago, visual graphics artist Kevin Burg, already playing around with .gif files , partnered with photographer Jamie Beck and invented Cinemagraph. For those who do not know, Cinemagraph is a process where a still image has moving parts. Like a mini clip. The difference with a movie clip is that only a specific part of the image is animated. Thus it is exactly like a still photograph but contains movement.
The result, that can be only seen online, is stunning. It recreates what we see just a little better, since it seems that we are looking at something alive. You can see the wind in the hair, or the movement of a hand. What makes it so enjoyable is how delicate it is. At first, it is hard to spot, it looks so natural. Cinemagraph has the ability to render more life to an image than any previous process, while remaining gracious and non intrusive. For photography, it's a step forward.
The process is not that hard : you film a miniclip ( 10 to 20 seconds), decide what part should be moving and via photoshop and layers, select and erase the background on each frame. Tedious and long but certainly not that hard.
In a way, it is surprising that it hasn't taken off faster than it has since it adds a new dimension to still photography. But then again, not every image would have a great result. It is certainly a new tool to take in consideration for any photographer looking to enhance his storytelling.