My latest series of work queries the border area surrounding works on paper and how the border can be used creatively to dynamically affect the feeling of the image itself and its relationship to its immediate environment.


Historically the Border areas of Photographic prints and other works on paper were designed to safely handle the art work without having to touch the image itself as well as acting as a type of buffer should the print fall on its edge etc. My latest series of work queries the border area surrounding works on paper and how the border can be used creatively to dynamically affect the feeling of the image itself and its relationship to its immediate environment.

I initiated this series of imagery by transforming the stark white borders of my photographic prints using pastels, watercolors, burning, tearing, collage etc. I begin to realize through my experimentation how significantly the encompassing borders could be used to alter the feeling and dynamic of the photographic image itself.

Window-Shoppers-Mixed Media Platinum Palladium Photo-print
Window-Shoppers-Mixed Media Platinum Palladium Photo-print

One day it dawned on me to use one photograph to frame another and eliminate the border completely. I started to search out buildings or other constructs which had square, round or rectangular openings such as windows, doors etc. I began inserting other photographs into those empty apertures using Photoshop. Each attempt along the way helped to give me a greater insight as to how imagery creates a dialogue with what in the immediate environment surrounds it as well as the dialogue that exists within and between adjacent images.

Santa Fe Railyard_Adobe Structure as frame.
Santa Fe Railyard_Adobe Structure as frame.

After framing images within empty spaces of other images, I began to experiment with combining multiple photographs from similar but different environments into a single image by dropping one photo within another creating a repetitive framing sequence and a unique photographic look. As I began placing one photo within the other varying the sizes, I started to invert every other photo 180 degrees creating a more abstracted rhythm and dynamic feeling. I then applied the above workflow to photographs that were taken directly from the same environment, each photo containing a piece of the whole, then composited into a single photographic image.

Tree Framed_Dynamic invert

The final photograph is a compilation from various parts of the original scene that morphs into a cohesive image with borders and frames incorporated into the entirety of the composition. Sometimes the whole can be greater than the sum of its part. The evolutionary process of this series will most likely continue, no end in sight for now.

Framed Santa Fe Fine Art Museum
Framed Santa Fe Fine Art Museum


iPhone Insights-David Hoptman

I think Ansel would have done whatever it took in the end to make a poignant image, no matter what type of a camera he were to have used



Cosmic Sunset Tesuque NM
Cosmic Sunset Tesuque NM

Excerpts taken from an interview from the New Mexican

The first time I opened the photo app on my iPhone and tapped the screen, click I was hooked. It’s the camera that is always there when you want it, its easy to carry, you are more or less ambiguous when you take photos, tripod adapters are available, your photos appear instantaneously on your HD monitor and the touch screen allows you to enlarge check details, composition etc. You also have the ability to store, transfer files, upload to social media, and share with friends as well as documentary capabilities including video, etc. All these benefits would be for naught if the image quality were not up to snuff. The image quality is astoundingly good along with the availability of so many truly sophisticated apps to affect imagery makes the iPhone a very powerful and creative tool. The final straw was when I heard that you could get good quality German Schneider lenses that will bayonet mount onto an adapted iPhone case,


the lenses range from fisheye to wide angle and telephoto.

I still don’t think there has been a vast improvement from the 4s to the 6s but a definite improvement no doubt, a faster chip and more megapixels never hurts. The truth of the matter is when I look at my prints that are 16×20 inches and larger made from my 4s I am still blown away from the quality. I have printed for professional labs, teaching at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design as well as for my personal work, trust me I am quite familiar with fine art museum quality prints.

I am the one who is astounded by the range of things available with iPhone Photo apps. I would say there are certainly some things that you can’t really do without Photoshop, on the other hand I would say there are many things you can’t do in Photoshop that you can do with the iPhone, although I don’t think one necessarily excludes the other. The idea is to merge the two and take the best from both; if you can pull that off you


have just added a powerful tool to your creative bag of tricks.

  1. I admire photographers that still work with film. It is a beautiful medium and carries along with it a different mind-set. I do not think for the most part the film photographers exclude digital imaging unless they go directly from film to print with no digital manipulation. Personally I love digital technology but have not stopped using it in conjunction with other more traditional photographic process I am involved with such as Platinum Palladium Printing and Photo Polymer Gravure/ Printmaking.
  2. I think Ansel would have done whatever it took in the end to make a photograph and no matter what kind of a camera he were to have used the results you can be sure would have been STUNNING. It’s using the tools at hand the best you can and not being afraid to experiment.  “Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art .” Ansel Adams.

How To Create a Well Balanced Still Life Photographic Composition

Still life photography, more so than other types of photography, such as landscape or portraiture, gives the photographer more leeway in the arrangement of design elements within a composition.

Montecristi still finalweb

Greetings: I am going to begin to share some of the assignments that I give to my students in 2nd year photography University Level. There are lists of what to consider and how to proceed. I hope it provides some insight into the making of a Still Life Photograph. The still life above was done for a recent job here in Santa Fe NM. The Gourd still life was shot with an 8×10 and printed in Platinum and Palladium as were the Birds of Paradise still, Egg Press and Family Matters_quince family which was also hand colored with charcoal and pastels.

Natural Light Still life: Window light or ambient light from your chosen location. 3-Prints due…1 print-with Fruit as part of theme…1 print-with Flowers as part of the theme. You can treat the objects anyway you like…use your creativity and give it some thought before you start, remain open for new ideas during the process of composition and lighting. 1 Print-your choice of objects and or shooting your still life in the studio for those with studio access; or shooting a found still life. Print quality will be as important as the content of your imagery.

There are basically two types of Still Life’s, Found and Created. When most of us think of a still life photo, we generally think of a created still life where we build the entire composition–from choosing the most photogenic bowl, to what fruit to use, to how to position and light all the other elements. But, when you are walking down your favorite mountain trail and run across a fallen leaf sitting on a particularly attractive rock, that’s a still life, too.

© David Hoptman 2011
© David Hoptman 2011… made with iPhone and fisheye lens

Still Life Photography is the depiction of inanimate subject matter, most typically a small grouping of objects. Still life photography, more so than other types of photography, such as landscape or portraiture, gives the photographer more leeway in the arrangement of design elements within a composition. Color, Texture, light and dark values are the ways in which an artist can create a mood or make a statement much like a poet can using the written word. It is your choice of objects, background, foreground, lighting, etc. which will convey the mood and reveal your intent with the creation of your still life images.

Continue reading “How To Create a Well Balanced Still Life Photographic Composition”


Art is a dynamic process and intuition is an integral part in the art making process.

davidhoptman_photo-etching_ with mixe media

in·tu·i·tion n something known or believed instinctively, without actual evidence for it.

log·ic n sensible rational thought and argument rather than ideas that are influenced by emotion or whim.

Keep in mind when reading this blog that abstract thought must be digested abstractly.

From time immemorial there has been great deliberation and profound speculation regarding the actuality of intuition. When we elicit this word we have little or no tangible basis for dealing with it is a concept. It is a mercurial and mysterious process that we as human beings are all familiar with and yet when one tries to solicit this course of action within a logical or rational context it in essence vaporizes and is lost somewhere between cause and effect.  Many of us have personal experiences in our lives where we have relied upon intuition and have full faith in the knowledge that it truly exists. This presents a problem inherent with syntax not in a grammatical sense but in a more abstract and less logical sense.  Logic and intuition do share a common ground, without one the other would not exit.

Intuition is a subtle and elusive counterpart to rational and logic. We all inherently possess the ability to call upon our intuitive powers. Some of us are more finely attuned to our intuitive process while others trying to become conscious of this invaluable ability search in vain, usually in the wrong places. Intuition cannot exits within the context of everyday consciousness because this is where logic and rationality create the foundation for what it takes to subsist within our daily routine that we ground our very being in. It is this ironic interrelationship that stands in the way of one being free of past conditioning. The very essence of our being is submerged among this very interrelationship. Creativity thrives on intuitive processes without which artistic endeavors would lack a basic vitality and dynamism necessary to communicate to the viewer this particular form of expression.

Polaroid minipulation_mixedmedia_collected to Polariod Museum

jester-origwebIn actuality all of us use our intuitive senses far more than we are cognizant of. It is the rational mind/ego that takes credit for making the proper decisions that propel us through life. So as we begin to delve into getting a handle on our intuitive prowess we begin to understand that we are far closer than we think to summoning up this exceptional quality to augment our creative process.

Intuition is based on a certain combination of trust and knowing, many times we will ignore that veritable inner voice that speaks to us and put it out of our minds to later find out that in fact we should have listened to our original gut feelings. This same enigmatic place within our psyche is where creative process can channel intuition and creative spirit. While it dwells nowhere in particular yet it exists everywhere and has a certain ethereal tangibility, the moment we grasp for it, it slips away, this is the mercurial property that makes the concept of creativity difficult to grasp.

Intuition can be comprehended as one looks to abstract art and the subtle language that is spoken with form, content, color, texture, line etc. This rhythmic language of the artist is in fact a language that does not speak in a rational tongue but transcends rational and logical thought. We as spectators and communicators of abstract art can in someway draw conclusions as to what the artist has expressed through his abstract language and through intuitive process find a common ground among others viewing the same art works. Is it good or is it bad? Is there a consensus a commonality regardless of gender, race and creed? Art is a dynamic process and intuition is an integral part in the art making process.



Composition is a Dynamic Process

Use you LCD Monitor to Compose Astonishing Photographs



                           USE YOUR LCD MONITOR TO COMPOSE                                                                                ASTONISHING PHOTOGRAPHS

You may own the most expensive photo equipment and have the latest array of software for tweaking your images but it’s all for naught if you haven’t quite figured out the fundamentals of how to put together a suitable well balanced composition. Creating a harmonious photographic composition is not easily accomplished or learned. With today’s sophisticated digital camera’s sporting high quality LCD monitors, each photo you make is instantaneously presented to you with zoom capabilities, histograms, shutter speed etc. The trick is to embrace this technology, if not you have overlooked your best opportunity to create and fine-tune your composition. The LCD Monitor is the best and only feature your camera has that can actually aid you in framing up your next great photograph. Just as there are clear guidelines that pertain to writing, music, sculpture etc. there are similar parameters that apply to the two-dimensional arts like painting, photography and printmaking. A strong composition regardless of the content generally makes the difference between a mediocre photograph and a poignant image. Continue reading “Composition is a Dynamic Process”