A recently concluded interview from a Singaporean based blogger of Art and Technology.
Click more for the full interview:

Monochrome Wiz
Ipinoylike.com |   October 31, 2011 | English | Source Link

Some people with an untrained eye find beauty in colours. To them, without colour, everything is dull. But to some, overly excesses of colour sometimes lead to distraction, disorder, chaos. Black and white, on the other hand, or colour in both extreme end, suggests balance and harmony. That is why oftentimes, black and white visual art is referred to as minimalism because the art itself is stripped down to it’s simplest form.

While doing my personal project ‘The 100 Manual Settings’, I stumbled upon the blog of David Lee Tong, a fellow blogger who featured Fine Art Photographer Red Ognita- a master of monochrome images. I was immediately mesmerized. His black and white images presents something mystical that makes me want to dive into the canvas, Is it because his images are ‘less, but more’?

IPL: What is Fine Art Photography?
ReD Ognita: The ‘web’ has a lot of definitions on what is fine-art photography, and some may differ in their own degree. But in an essence, it is an image made from a camera wherein the focus is more on the idea/beauty. With my limited experience and understanding, I’d say that like any other forms of art, it is about an interpretation of the world or expression of an emotion. Emotion not only on the contemporary sense of joy and sadness.

IPL: Is that the reason why they refer to you as a Fine Art Photographer?
ReD Ognita: We mostly name things on what they do. And though I do not claim myself as one, I am happy for my work to be considered as such.
IPL: Does that mean you spend a lot of time post-processing the images?
ReD Ognita: Time is relative for everyone. I cannot say that I spend a lot of time in post process but I can definitely say that I edit ruthlessly.
IPL: Before you go out for a shoot, do you plan anything in mind?
ReD Ognita: Yes, I always do. But plans are just plans. They’re not reality. They were made taking into account things that might or might not happen. And when you think too much there are just too much variables. I plan for a sunny day but welcomes to be standing in the rain.
IPL: You can be a painter or a musician to express your artistic side, Why Photography?
ReD Ognita: Photography started out as a way for me to connect to the past. I work overseas most of the year, and photos is the only way I can time travel. Photographs became time machines. Even before, I knew that photography can be something more.
IPL: Is it worth it?
ReD Ognita: To have the chance to create, to have a balance of body and soul, to have bigger dreams and an opportunity to fulfill that dream – yes, it’s worth it.
IPL: Why China?
ReD Ognita: I came to China 9 years ago and been here ever since. My photography was basically born in here. I was fortunate enough to find a mentor and a group that shares the same passion. I go back home once or twice a year for family.
IPL: That’s why your Art, or Photography style is imbued with oriental significance?
ReD Ognita: Consciously, I do not really pay much attention to style. I create what pleases me. It was only when my work was reviewed by an art teacher and a gallery owner that I was made to realise that I am following a certain pattern. A style that was obvious to them and a revelation for me. But with that being said, I do not deny that I am influenced by my environment. I believe, our environment has a major influence not only to an artist’s psyche but also sometimes, dictates his aesthetic values.

IPL: Why Black and White?
ReD Ognita: There’s something different in Black and White that it’s hard to explain. It’s an immediate interpretation of the world on it’s very least. I find the emotional content more stronger than with color. Of course, this does not apply in all BW images. It takes more than a mere BW conversion to make things come together. And as with life, we tend to give more time and choose to master what feeds our curiosity.
IPL: Why Square?
ReD Ognita: Composition, being the strongest way of seeing, I believe my images are at their strongest presented in this format.
IPL: What is a normal day shoot for you Red?
ReD Ognita: I need to be in sync with the environment even before I take out my camera. Carrying too much gear tires me, and needless to say, this adds time to my already rather slow process. I carry a sling bag with camera, one lens and a tripod. It is not only my shots I compose, but also myself.
IPL: Kindly please share us your views about:
Colour – correcting an image – It all depends on the purpose of the image. The purpose will dictate the need (or lack of) correcting an image. News agencies has a set of rules in this regard, and I personally agree to them. I do not want my news to be filled with interpretations other than myself. But if the image is aimed to communicate your thoughts, or your vision – then please let me see what you see.
Post Processing – The creative part of photography sometimes comes here. That being said, post processing is an integral part of the creative process. In the earlier days, this is done via darkroom. Nowadays, most of us do it in front of screen. Different ways. Same goal. Same importance.
Lightroom or Aperture – Photoshop.
HDR and Vertorama – I’m all in for dynamic range but not to the point it looks cartoonish. Again, “cartoonish” is relative.
Street Photography – Challenging. I tried. I think it’s my creative rhythm. We all have one. While I take time in almost every step of the creative process, street photographers recognizes and reacts immediately. I know a beautiful street photo when I see one, but almost blind to street scene.
Canon or Nikon – Canon
Mac or PC – PC

IPL: What / Who inspire you?
ReD Ognita: Stories. I like stories. Especially stories of success. It somehow drives me to do more and fuels the fire within. On the aesthetics, I’d say David Fokos and Michael Kenna. I also want to mention Mark Rothko and Hiroshi Sugimoto. I had the opportunity to personally ask Michael Kenna some questions and it is very enlightening. I believe that inspiration can come not only from face value but also on the values of it’s creator.
IPL: If I am to peep into Red Ognita’s Studio (or office) what will I see?
ReD Ognita: My workstation is as minimal as my gear list. Table, PC, speakers, telephone, a pair of pens.
IPL: 5 simple tips for a better photography.
ReD Ognita: I believe that there are 2 ways to better ourselves in photography, or in any other form of art, for that matter. One is knowing ourselves and the other, the technical aspects. Technical mastery without vision will render work lifeless while vision without solid execution might fail in conveying the message. Both should go hand in hand. I am afraid I cannot offer something that’s not already written and read. But to those who want to hear it from me, here’s some I have come to know.

The single most important thing towards learning that you can do on your own. It will provide you the things you do not know and perhaps, validate the things you know already. It will give you a glimpse behind the images and maybe, if you read enough, an insight to the mind of the person who created it.
There are things you cannot learn just by reading. You have to go out there and try it out. Develop your muscle memory. You cannot learn swimming by reading.
Practice with purpose
Do not just go out there like a madman. Practice with precision and consistency. The hope is that what you practice becomes second nature.
You were once a beginner. Share your work and knowledge. You just don’t know who you will inspire.
Create time to create
Allocate the time. Close that door. Sit on that chair. Work on it. Inspiration may not come, but it doesn’t mean we should not increase our chances.

In the end, you will notice how you approach photography is also how you would approach life. As I’ve mentioned earlier, photography can be
something more.

ReD Ognita: Thank you, Che for this chance to share. I hope I am able to give something.