Cetin Tuker works as an architect and, having mastered 3D software to render his architectural visions, realised that, despite the accuracy of the models, there was something missing. After enrolling on a photography course he discovered the importance of aspects, such as composition and framing, and realised that the difference between producing good and great images is often an artistic issue and not purely a technical problem.
I started 3D by visualizing architectural projects when I was working for an architectural office in 1991. Those days I was in the fourth year of my university education and I was just wondering if I could model the physical form of the building as closely as possible, as it is planned by an architect.
In time, as I modelled more and more projects, I mastered a lot on the modelling software. After two years, creating an architectural model was no more a challenge for me. Actually, yes I was creating correct and highly detailed models, but it was obvious that something was still missing...
My 3D models looked like scale models made of cardboard and photographed on an infinite table. Actually they were not looking "tasty". My boss, who was a talented and experienced architect, called my models "mechanic", "unnatural" and "synthetic". Those days, they were taking photographs of the scale models to present buildings to clients.
In the following years, I thought a lot about these words "mechanic", "unnatural" and "synthetic". My question was: although I was modelling them almost perfectly, why were my models looking mechanic, unnatural and synthetic?
One day I attended a photography course for beginners. At the beginning I thought I was lucky because I was using 3D software so camera and lighting techniques were not new subjects for me. However, after a few weeks, I realised that whilst working in 3D I had never thought about composition, framing and the meaning of the image that I was creating. I mean, I was training a lot in the technical side of 3D but completely forgetting to think about the artistic side. And actually, the artistic side of the image is related with the design and it transfers feelings from the designer to the viewer. Recognising this was not a big step for the human being but it was actually a big step for me, on the way to understanding what is "natural" and "photo realistic".
Although at first glance 3D looks like a very technical and mathematical phenomenon because software, like CAD, is used to create application drawings of construction or mechanical projects, actually it is highly related with art and traditional techniques.
In some cases, 3D looks like sculpture (I do not mean modern, sculptural art of course) because a 3D artist creates 3D objects in a virtual environment using his/her material (polygons) and this can be called, "sculpting". In some cases 3D looks like architecture, because environment is everywhere - we can not delete it from existence. A 3D artist always designs an environment. In some cases 3D is related with animation (and music, because of the rhythm of the motion in animation), and of course cinematography.
Finally, in most cases, 3D looks like renaissance paintings (from a time when photography did not exist), and photography. The works of 3D artists mostly look like they have been created in a cross disciplinary art studio. To achieve the planned frame, a 3D artist creates/designs/plans the final image in his/her mind; plans the work flow and uses the computer, like a technician; models objects and figures, like a sculptor; creates textures of objects, like an illustrator; places the camera and selects the proper viewing angle and places the lights to create the atmosphere and emphasise the subject, like a photographer.
However, the meaning is always hidden in the first and last steps of this work flow. These are planning the final image, placing the camera, deciding the frame, and creating the lighting to create the atmosphere and emphasise the subject. Actually, these are the main elements of photography. In this case, I believe that we can call 3D, "photography in a virtual environment". Photography not only documents the existing condition of space, objects, or situations, but also transfers a feeling, or information, which is reminiscent of a feeling, narrated by colour, characters, lines, forms, and mostly light. In this case, a 3D artist who is also interested in photography can transfer the traditional techniques and artistic background directly to his/her 3D works, or vice versa. Now, as a 3D artist who is interested in photography, I want to discuss 3 of my photography works and 2 of my 3D works, according to these traditional techniques and bilateral transformation of traditional knowledge between photography and 3D.
Keep searching until you find the best light, composition and point of view.
I took this photograph when I was on my summer vacation in 2005. The location is Bodrum Turkey, a small town which has a beautiful sea and sun. I always get up early in the mornings in Bodrum because I know I can find many subjects to photograph. At 8 o'clock in the morning I can find a silent beach and good lighting (which is very important for photography). That day I decided to take photographs of the boats on the sea, so I took my 90-300 tele-photo lens with me. I don't like carrying heavy photography bags in the mornings, so I always decide what to take with me beforehand and carry only the necessary equipment with me. After a few minutes I took the first photograph (Fig.01a).
The blue sea reflects the light like silver, and a vivid red coloured boat sits on the sea. But my first try was not that successful. The direction of the light is not perfect, so the shadows are too dark. The vivid red colour lost its strength, and the silver effect of the sea was not as strong, either. After 15 or 20 minutes, I took another picture of the same boat. This time it was from a different direction: better light, better point of view and the boat is closer. This time the shadows are not too dark and the composition is better (Fig.01b).
I did not stop searching there and I walked to another place. Suddenly, I saw a smaller boat coming from the open sea into the bay. From the place I was standing, the sea had a beautiful, silvery look. The sea was reflecting the white buildings located around the beach and it was making the sea's surface look lighter in colour. The small, red boat, the contrasting blue colour of the sea's surface and the silvery look, all created vibrant colours. The man on the boat was concentrating hard on his work and I thought this feeling could be transferred to the viewer. I took the Photograph 1c and later made a little framing on the final result to cut unnecessary things on the upper part of the photograph and to see the boat a bit larger (Fig.01 Final). I wanted to keep it very simple. I just want to say only one thing here, so I must say it directly: I have sent the "noise" to the garbage bin. Finally, I put the boat and the fisherman on the upper left part of the image - this is the 1/3 rule. That point is the first point where I will start viewing this image. Whilst working in 3D, we have to search for the best viewing angle. We have to create many cameras in the environment and take renders from them. Then we have to judge the images according to traditional composition rules. Contrast and the 1/3 rule are just two of them. Lighting is the other important thing. Whilst taking photographs in nature, we cannot change the location of the Sun or other objects. But in a 3D environment we can do this. So DO THIS. Plan what you want to see, create and place your lights, locate your camera and shoot!
Fig. 01 Final
Cut out unnecessary things from the frame. "Less is more" is a sentence to be heard several times in art education. Although in some art movements it has changed to be "less is a bore", but this also does not mean that a composition made of a lot of objects scattered around means more than a few objects which are placed in the "right" places. A successful composition must be simple. Our aim is to create a composition which attracts viewers' eyes to the centre of attention. This can be a colourful spot on a black and white background, or the face of a man which is full of meaning. I mean that, whether we take a photo or create a 3D composition, the viewer will ask why this image has created. We have to give the answer to the viewer immediately and clearly. But of course we are searching for an aesthetic way whilst giving this answer to the viewer. In this example (Fig.02a), there is an unnecessary triangle on the upper left corner of the image. And the black silhouette located in the middle of the image, looks like a longitudinal line. So it would be better to emphasize this line whilst framing. In the final image (Fig.02b), I cut the triangle on the upper, left part and also, to emphasize the longitudinal line, I preferred the proportion close to ½, whilst framing.