Technology on its own doesn’t amount to much. But when an extraordinarily sensitive artist knows how to adapt a technique and make it his own, the results can be stunning. Yoshinori uses a familiar technique Mizutani to bring out unexpected beauty.
Born in 1987 in the Fukui Prefecture, Japan, Yoshinori Mizutani currently resides and works in Tokyo. In her HDR_nature series, the photographer uses the HDR technique, short for High Dynamic Range, to create a very peculiar type of nature photography. This image-processing technique consists in joining several shots with variable exposure and adjusting the contrast ratios to create images approximating what the human eye can see. It provides a better dynamic range of luminance between the lightest and darkest areas, surpassing the capacities of any other photographic method. The human eye is able to perceive details where there is a greater difference in illumination than that supported by other formats, such as film or a standard digital image. The eye constantly adjusts to the ambient light, while the brain interprets this information allowing the viewer to see clearly under a wide range of lighting conditions.
A luxuriant play of proximity and distance
However, the way Mizutani deploys this technique departs from the generic use. With her series HDR_nature, she pushes the limits of photography. As she releases the shutter, Mizutani deliberately destabilizes her camera. Through a combination of the multiple images, she manages to bring to the surface something that had been hidden in nature. She uses a method developed to obtain hyperrealist images in order to produce a series that vacillates between the oneiric and the pictorial. The relationship her photography maintains with nature goes beyond the established patterns. Her images seem to interpose distance between the viewer and nature through an overlay of somewhat blurry surfaces in which nature appears estranged. Yet, at the same time, her approach evinces a penchant for an impressionist aesthetics, with its sensitivity to the subtle colors. She achieves a double effect of proximity and distance that turns out to be really interesting.
This effect, which is both aesthetic and sensorial, is not new in Mizutani’s work. When one’s work tackles a technical issue, chance can be an ally. In the case of Mizutani, there is also a prior intention. Just as in her previous works we can discern a deliberate path that makes it possible to foresee the result.
Technology and sensibility
Mizutani’s previous projects directly inform the HDR_nature series. For example, we find the same interest in getting under the skin of things and the same interest in color. Her prior work also addresses the natural and the uncanny—themes are developed in HDR_nature. What is new here is the use of the HDR technique, and in particular introduction of movement into the shot.
The more recent series show an interest in the relationship between nature and the fantastic. A domesticated nature, such as that of parks or ponds, belongs, in Mizutani’s work, to the realm of the unconscious. Nature also appears to reveal to us something that cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Even the cover of the book HDR_nature creates an interesting visual effect with a sheer cloth binding that shimmers as it is being handled. It foreshadows the contents: a multiplication of images as if stacked one on top of the other. And just as in nature, where sunlight changes the appearance of things, the images seem to change depending on the time of day.
Mizutani's delicate images offer a painterly blend of colors and shapes and afford the viewer the impression of sensory contact with reality; that they were created using a camera seems merely incidental. Mizutani combines three staggered exposures in a single image. At the mercy of the algorithms, reality morphs, conjugating the natural and the uncanny in the same surface. The images in HDR_nature are documents of a temporal and spatial complexity that highlight natural beauty while rediscovering it anew. The series invites as many interpretations as there are visual layers.
HDR_Nature © Yoshinori Mizutani