Photography in the digital age


Photography has traditionally been used to depict the world around us as accurately as possible. These days, digital cameras and editing software allow photographers to enhance and alter photos so that what they want to say comes across more clearly. The 2016 National Arts Festival features a number of digital photographers, so we chatted to Monique Wiffen Rorke and Roddy Fox who are exhibiting their work in Along The Way and Portals respectively. By Shannon Wilson.


Wiffen Rorke explains how she uses the technique of layering in her artwork by taking photographs of paint and jungle gyms, digitally enhancing their shadows and layering these photographs to create this effect.

Wiffen Rorke creates a colourful painted background to put the jungle gym on top, creating positive space out of negative space. The lines are much more crisp and the detail in the jungle gym is evident when the photograph is layered. “I love texture and layers and colours, and that brings the texture of the jungle gym to the foreground,” says Wiffen Rorke.

Wiffen Rorke uses layers and digital enhancing in her work, which is a time-consuming process for her depending on the image. For example, one of the swings took quite a bit of time as she had to take out the negative spaces between each small chain. “The process can sometimes take up to weeks to perfect,” says Wiffen Rorke.

Using a combination of layering, painting, photography, digital alteration and other tools Wiffen Rorke is able to create textured, engaged photographs that evoke a certain mood, usually the feelings she experienced while taking the photographs. Wiffen Rorke does not go to places with the intent of photographing them, but instead takes pictures in places she passes through that catch her attention.



The first thing that geography lecturer and fine art photographer Professor Roddy Fox explains is that he is very selective about what photographs he uses. Fox uses his aperture settings first and then does standard touch-ups on the whole image. Then, he starts the process of creating a mirrored image.

Fox explains that he sees things in photographs that can be used to create different images. Fox keeps these things in mind when he takes his photographs so that he can create the effects that he desires.

Okapuka Sunset quarter size

The more complex patterns that are repeated throughout the photographs have a more complex process. Fox explains that these photographs are not spontaneous and in fact, the one below took a couple of hours and three lights until Fox was satisfied – and that was just taking the picture! The picture was then mirrored and flipped several times in different ways to create this effect.

Endless Filigree quarter size

Fox uses many techniques, including digitally painting on the photographs, mirroring and enhancing what is already there to give the desired affect. Being a geography lecturer, Fox explains that he is still studying changing landscapes – only now he changes the landscapes himself. Photographing landscapes and using software to manipulate his images, Fox declares that he is now much better at using satellite mapping and remote sensing. This, he says, comes from using digital software in photography. “The two processes are very similar and so it was a very small step for me,” he explains.

“It’s not a normal picture: I can’t achieve some of the suggestions I’m trying to make or find the things I’m trying to find as easily as with a straight forward picture,” Says Fox.


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