Intuitive Creativity, but……

I create images mostly as an intuitive process. I react in the moment to a stimulus that attracts me and then work to make a picture that satisfies my response. I know when I’ve been successful when there’s almost a feeling of relief. Then I keep exploring to discover what else about my visual experience needs satisfying. Sometimes during the process, I talk to myself to achieve the result I want (it actually helps calm me down so that I can be analytical about camera settings).

Because I work intuitively (after 40 years of making images), I don’t do any real analysis of the images while in the field. Back in the studio however, I can spend as much time staring at the images as I please, or need. On a screen I can evaluate what about the images, and my intuition, worked. Then I determine what steps are needed in the development of the images to fully realize the emotion I was feeling.

I typically don’t venture out with any preconceived ideas about particular images I want to make. Generally, my motivation to go out is based on situational elements like, it’s cloudy, the leaves are colorful, I have time to explore.

Below is an analysis that I went through in the studio while developing this image.

Bringing this image into Lightroom and doing some basic developing of color, contrast, and shadow/highlights adjustments, I can then evaluate the image overall. After looking at it for a while, I can judge whether the image is balanced. Since we tend to look at images from left-to-right (the same way we read), I begin there. The left side (1) is heavy with trees, so the visual weight there needs to be balanced on the right. The red sumac leaves (2) progress lower left to upper right, drawing the eye in that direction, good. At point (3), the green leaves are brighter and encompass a larger part of the image, which also drives the viewer to the right. Lastly, the distant trees (4), draw the eye to the upper right, good again. Overall, I feel the image is well balanced and pleasing. This process of analysis serves as a kind of feedback loop which enhances my intuition next time in the field.

Fall Falls

I am still having trouble driving around here in Pennsylvania without getting distracted by the wonderful fall display this year. I like each part of the color transformation starting with the earliest changes and ending with just color accents on the trees. I can’t safely pull over everytime I feel inspired while on the road. Working at Ricketts Glen State Park however doesn’t pose that problem.

This image was made after a heavy rain which really got the water flowing fast and furious. But the image is designed to also emphasize the stone stairway on the left. Pathways have been a theme of mine for many years. In this case the stair path also provides a visual alternative to following the flow of water and balances the fallen tree trunk on the lower right. What I especially like is that the stairs give me a way into the image and a mental place from which to explore the entire scene.

I have been working with a Micro-Four-thirds camera system made by Olympus for some time now and have been pleased with my results. Importantly, I also find that there are certain types of image making and certain kinds of locations where a small profile camera system allows me to stay active and flexible.

My show year still has six events on the calendar including a Sugarloaf show this weekend in Oaks, PA. Go to my website for my full show schedule and additional galleries of work –

Ricketts Glen State Park - Stairs
Ricketts Glen State Park – Stairs

Barn Cats – the series

During the past 9 months I have been working on a series of images depicting the lives of a group of barn cats residing on a small Pennsylvania farm. There have always been cats in my life and I have found their behavior and beauty a tempting subject for years. I approached this project from a fully visual perspective but can not help be enthralled by their behavioral interactions with each other. I have also become very appreciative of how hard their lives can be even when they are provided supplemental food.

In many ways these cats are living like other wildlife; they are dealing with the elements, sickness, and even predators. I find myself viewing them now as I would have any animal I studied while earning my degree in Psycho-Biology (Animal Behavior). This cat project has become very personal as I have come to know these animals as individuals. Even in what seems like a rather short period of time working with the cats I have seen some come and go, empathized with there feelings of lose and cold, and rejoiced in the new births.

This is a project that will continue over time as the group is a dynamic and fascinating subject for me. I am currently showing a selection of images from this project at Artist’ Gallery in Lambertville, NJ. I will also have several from the series at my regularly scheduled art show events. See my full schedule at

Barn cat on fence with snow on ground
Barn cat on fence with snow on ground

Observations – A Two-Person Show

I am in the final printing stage of work that I will be exhibiting at my annual two-person show with Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville, NJ. This year I have teamed up with the amazing Gail Bracegirdle whose work I have admired for years. The name of our show is Observations and touches on the question of whether artists really see the world differently.

The show will be up starting June 4 with a reception on June 6 from 5-8 pm. This show is more about my visual approach than any particular subject matter, so it seems extremely personal to me.

At Artists' Gallery starting June 4
At Artists’ Gallery starting June 4

“Bolt” – SOLD at Artists’ Gallery

Images that depict motion are always challenging in a two-dimensional, static medium like photography. But, if you can make it work, the image can be very powerful. This is an image that happened quickly as I responded to this deer just a moment after spotting him.

The technique of “panning” the camera with the subject’s movement at a shutter speed slow enough to render a sense of motion but fast enough to maintain recognition of the subject, is tricky. There are technical and aesthetic considerations so it requires having done it enough to respond in the moment.

This is the second image of this type that I’ve sold at Artists’ Gallery this year and it drives me to do more work of this nature.



For a little while now I have been studying and appreciating the Japanese art form of ukiyo-e (“pictures of the floating world”). These were woodblock prints and paintings that were made during the 17th to 19th centuries and which had at their core a beautiful simplicity that I am very drawn towards.

In this genre of art I am especially excited by the nature themed works which emphasize line and form. . I have made several prints of images that were inspired by these poetic artworks and have been pleased with the response to them.

During my last trip to Maine, I made a bird image that I feel is consistent with the overall feeling of ukiyo-e, at least the way I have been inspired by it. In this image, made near Portland Head Light, I am emphasizing simplicity with repetition of line broken up by the more organic form of the bird. The print will be made as a black and white image on Epson Enhanced Matte paper at a size of approximately 10×14. The 16×20 framed price is set at $200 to start and includes UV-protective, Reflection-control glass. The edition will be limited to 100 in this size and 150 overall.

(c) 2014 Paul Grecian - Photography
(c) 2014 Paul Grecian – Photography


After being asked “what camera I use” I am most often asked “do you manipulate your images?” I don’t mind answering either question, but neither is straightforward. I use and have used a broad variety of gear, so my answer to “what camera” never pleases anyone. The harder question concerns “manipulation.” At a couple recent shows, a show judge and a customer asked me if I manipulated my images. The problem I have is that I do not believe most people know what they mean when they ask about manipulation. I have also discovered that those who do have a sense of what manipulation means to them, have differing ideas.

As a result, I always ask the questioner what they mean by “manipulation”. Some will answer honestly that they don’t know, in which case I just explain what I do in some detail. However, the show judge I mentioned above told me his definition of manipulation involved putting things into the image that were not in the original scene. That is not a practice I engage in. In the case of the customer who asked me about manipulation, I asked him “how I would measure manipulation?” His answer was that I would measure it “in hours.” I told him that I have a very straightforward workflow process and “hours” are never involved. However, I may stare at an image for days before I decide on how it should ultimately be developed to match the feeling I had while in the field.

Ironically, both the adding of elements to a photograph that were not in the original scene, and the working of a print for hours have been around since the beginning of photography. These practices were common and often discussed in their time as well. To my way of thinking, all of photography is fundamentally a manipulation. Working with a three-dimensional subject in which light is bouncing off in every direction and converting it into a two-dimensional print in which no light is emanating is a pretty big manipulation. Take away color as in black and white prints, add perspective, contrast, exposure, focus, and the myriad other creative decisions artistic photographers make in the creation of even rather “straight” images, and the answer to the “manipulation” question is never a yes or no reply.

Rain on Jordan's Pond, Acadia NP
Rain on Jordan’s Pond, Acadia NP


Reflecting on Fall………..

I am drawn to reflections. The reflections can be of color or objects, doesn’t matter. During the fall though I seem to be more attuned to reflections than other seasons. It’s not surprising, fall is when the most vibrant colors are found in this part of the country. On a bright sunny day when the light is hitting trees decked out in their fall oranges, reds, and yellows, those colors make for crazy backgrounds when reflected into pond, lake, and creek waters. These reflections form the backdrop for the point of focus in my images. The areas of focus are often considered the most important elements in an image, but for me in an image dealing with background colors, the subject is really as much about the color as what is in focus.

In this image of rush grasses in front of lake reflections, the lines and colors are both equally important to me. The goal was to isolate the lines with limited depth of field to smooth out the reflection as much as possible. For greatest versatility in composing, I chose a Canon 28-300mm L lens and worked with a full frame Canon 5D on a tripod. I could work all day with this combination which allowed me to simplify the process and concentrate on what excited me visually. This image was made in the Delaware Water Gap, PA.

Rush to Color (c) Paul Grecian
Rush to Color (c) Paul Grecian


What I See is the Way I See

I’m calling this WISIWIS instead of the more familiar WYSIWYG. It has long been true and understood by most photographers that the way they see their environment is highly dependent on their experience using optics, film, sensors, and processing of images. Optics, film, sensors, and processing options all provide an artists with a new way of seeing. When I really began to achieve images I was happy with was when I started “seeing” the way camera lenses and film impacted an image. I was in control of the process because I could visualize a final result within the new parameters that a wide angle, telephoto, or macro lense offered, and the color palette and contrast range of a particular film. 

Beyond lens and film, I learned to visualize what a polarizer would do, a Neutral Density filter, a shallow depth of field, the effect of purposeful motion or a long exposure. This all meant that when I arrived on a scene, I was “seeing” the way I saw (visualized) things as a final film slide or print. Nothing has changed since working in digital format, except now I can extend my vision to the finished print without an intermediary film process. Now I have greater control over subtleties in tonality, contrast, cropping, and exposure (very darkroom like). 

Now instead of seeing the way one or two types of film “saw” things, I can apply my own vision, my own “film” view of the world. As a result, what I see in the field has changed because the way I see  is now influenced my the new way that I work. Even though I’ve worked primarily in digital format for over 5 years, much of that time I was still working with “film” eyes. I am more certain now that I am seeing with my own eyes now and to me that is the way it should be. 

 In a winter image like the one below, I can visualize in the field the cool/warm light contrast, the texture that will be achieved by extended depth of field and compression of a telephoto lens. I can visualize a curves adjustment to gain contrast, a levels adjustment to open up shadows, and how the final cropping will impact the visual geometry of the piece. I can visualize the result on a matt paper or a luster paper and maybe even on canvas or metal. 

Early light brushes snow covered woods - (c) Paul Grecian



As I’m mounting and matting prints, I get a chance to really look at the image as well. It gives me a chance to see them repeatedly and up-close without distraction. Sometimes I realize that a certain image excites me more than it had previously. Today, while preparing for an upcoming event, I realized that I really enjoy texture. Actually, what I realized is that what I like about some of my work is that it has interesting texture.

I’m not sure that I appreciated how drawn to texture I am because I like clean, texture-less backgrounds as well. This past winter gave me an opportunity to work with texture in the form of snow and ice. Whether it was an ice encrusted tree or a frozen pond, the fine or coarse texture filled my images. My experience has been that once I become aware of a sub-conscious attraction, I become more atuned to it when in the field.