Tag Archives: artistic photography

Understanding The Creative Experience in Photographic Art

Part of the creative experience when you are creating art of any kind is to understand when to break the rules. Studying the successful works of the masters before you earns you some of this knowledge; however, this alone does not guarantee success.

People that practice both photography and art like to have rules. But, rules are guidelines. More like suggestions to be contemplated. What makes a rule a steadfast guarantee of success in one photograph will make it an utter failure in another.

No, instead it’s really applying learned academic knowledge combined with the intangible gut feeling of pure instinct over the period of many viewings.   When you are looking at a subject, say a flower, if you purely concentrate on the academic aspects of taking the picture all you will accomplish is taking a clear focused picture.

 

That’s it, and that is harder than what most people realize in the days of iPhone photographers. That’s because the proper academic technique of taking a picture consists of the mathematical measurements of aperture, focus, rule of thirds, white balance and lens selections, the list goes on and on. You either get these right or it’s wrong.

 

The result is a properly formatted picture of a flower. It looks good. But is it art? That’s where so many people get hung up on definitions.

Now let’s look at that flower from a more creative view. When you are viewing the flower what are you trying to express? What vision are you giving your work? Do you want to break any rules to make that image speak the emotion or action you want it too.

Purple Daisy
Purple Daisy

How you come to this is by experimentation and learning what works for what goal you want to accomplish.   For instance, does the flower have to be precisely centered in the picture, or by putting it to one side can you force the viewer to move their attention?

After a while and about 10,000 pictures you begin to develop an eye for what is going to work and what might not. It is not really a conscious thing though.  I mean you don’t wake up one morning and the world suddenly looks different.  Rather, it is a slow process that usually takes years to appear.

However, I daresay you will become as proficient in the creative view of photographic art as the academic photographer does with all of their math and formula.

Mind you, neither side is necessarily better than the other and any photographer worth their lenses will tell you that it takes both the academic and creative approaches to truly the master the art and science of photography.

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Be The First To Read What The Artist is Saying About This WWII Fighter

I became interested in military aviation in the fall of 1976 when I watched my father work on a large plastic model kit of the Chance Vought F4U Corsair. This WWII fighter plane excited me; everything from the strange cigar looking long fuselage to the gull wings gave the impression that this was a different kind of fighter.

Born in WWII, the Corsair fought in the Pacific theater against the Japanese Empire. This aircraft was a star performer in the hands of many a pilot. Thanks to Hollywood and actor Robert Conrad, no one was more famous for flying Corsairs than Col. Gregory “Pappy” Boyington. He was a Medal of Honor winner and commander of the VMF-214 squadron known as the “Black Sheep Squadron”.

When I eyed this beautiful still operational museum piece at an airport after a nearby airshow, I remembered the old legend of the Black Sheep Squadron and promptly went about capturing the idea.   Baa Baa Baa was born. The conditions for the picture were not to my advantage, however.

Baa Baa Baa
Baa Baa Baa

Light is Your Paint:

In artistic photography light is your paint, reality your canvas, and the camera your paintbrush. All three parts must combine and work together for a work of art to coalesce. The aircraft hangers in the background coupled with another fighter just out of the frame proved to be a challenge thanks to the glaring afternoon sun. The only thing to try was constant repositioning and checking the angles for the shot that obtained the most dramatic effect.

Later during processing, I decided to try my hand at creating a more historical looking piece. The traditional black and white imagery proved to be too bland and the way the brilliant sunlight plays on the undercarriage shadows and shiny metal wings became muted. So I started experimenting with the pale browns and yellows of yesteryear type film. The result is a unique blending of techniques and filters allowing the picture to retain its historical feel and yet have the punch and crispness of modern-day photography.

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Make A Symbol of Power Work for You

The city of Venice uses the winged lion as its symbol. The winged lion is also a symbol of St. Mark, and it’s not by coincidence that St. Mark is also the patron saint of the Venice. There is a power in these old symbols. The mere fact that you find symbols of this nature throughout the ancient world, and often modeled very similarly gives credence to the notion that they believed these symbols had an energetic power also.

In many ways this idea of energy is like that of the Chinese concepts found in Taoism and Feng Shui. In both of these philosophical ideas, objects and pictures can obtain and even hold energy. These objects, such as our wall relief here, influence the attractive or disagreeable energies surrounding us in our everyday environment. It’s believed that using these objects as art can help us in subtle ways.

For instance, a popular artistic expression of a winged lion shows the lion resting his paw on the Motto of Venice. Naturally, being Venice, the motto is in Latin and the ancient carvers may or may not have known what they were writing.  However, when carving out the motto they knew they only had so much space in which to carve the phrase “Pax tibi, Marce, Evangelista meus. Hic requiescet corpus tuum” .

That’s quite a bit of carving to place in a relatively small area without any errors. So, they used a sort of shorthand to get the whole phrase to fit. These artisans preferred the much shortened. “Pax – Evan, Tibi – Geli, Mar – Sta, Ce – Meus”. Obviously this version is a great deal easier to spell and carve. The phrase, in sum, means “Peace to you, Mark, my Evangelist. Here your body shall rest.”

Seal of VeniceThe lion has a grotesque even a gargoylish expression that gives the work an expressive power of suggestion. These carved features often enhanced seals and heraldic carvings to motivate a sense of fear and foreboding in us. It is still believed in many areas of the world today that these grotesque and macabre features are useful in frightening away the evil spirits that wish us ill will. What better location therefore, than to place it on a seal of a powerful empire?

We are then drawn to the large claws surrounding the book on which the famous motto is carefully carved .   At once this message maintains both a foreboding warning of power and fear to the enemies of the owner of the seal and delivers a message of hope of protection to that owner. A message establishing that St. Mark is still present and gentle people have nothing to fear.

The idea is to enhance that message through the visual use of various artistic filters.   The shadows on this piece play a crucial role in establishing the historical and powerful feel of the carving. The deepening shadows and lighting enhance the effect of the lion as both a gargoyle and protector.  Various brown filters are then applied to allow for the stone and it’s all-important texture to suggest its permanent nature as a protective seal against evil.

These two elements drawn together allow for the energy of the piece to fully flow and provide the emotional response that makes owning the work so fulfilling.  All you need to do is display it.

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Discover the Energy of the Lions

Blue Lion is the first in a dual picture set. Red lion is the other picture offered in the set . Meant to go together side by side, the details and colors of these two lions bring up the energies found in fire and water.

Both elements are clearly lions of the elemental world. They both contain a primal cleansing function and are equally feared by man. Lions represent the sheer force and power of nature in action and these statues summon an example of that ferociousness.

Blue Lion
Blue Lion
Red Lion
Red Lion

With the blue hue representative of the water element and the red hue a symbol of fire, we seek and find an energy balance between these giants of the natural world.

Whether you are seeking to enhance the Feng Shui flow of energy found in fire or water or just seeking a powerful dual statement of protection, these lions will look equally good protecting a doorway or projecting color into a room.

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How We Took A Flower From Ordinary To Extraordinary

As I mentioned last week, we are looking to take this photo of a typical tea rose and turn it into something fabulous. It is a good photo with the subject clearly

Tea Rose Original
How can we improve this?

defined and focused. But, it looks like thousands of other photographs of a tea rose.

Artistic is not really a word I would use to describe it as much as ordinary. Ordinary is not bad, but we are making art here!   Yet, it does have some artistic value. Centered in the shot, the rose falls in line with the traditional rule of thirds. However, there is too much space on the outside of the rose.

If you look at the white of the rose and the dirty white in the background you’ll discover that the rose tends to disappear into the background. If it wasn’t for the reddish tint on the tips of the petals, one might not even realize it is there. That is not good.  The answer is to crop the picture so that the flower becomes more focused as the one and only item for the viewer’s perusal.

Next, we need to create a mood for the picture. Since the subject is a flower, we can easily follow one of two routes for creating this mood. We can soften the flower by blurring it. This will give the flower a dreamy  like quality. Doing this kind of visualization reminds me of the Hallmark cards you see for sick people or weddings. In my opinion this is best done with a color photograph.

Or we choose the second mystical mood creator known in art as visual punch. This choosing of one technique over another, probably more than anywhere, is where the visual message of the artist gets to be expressed in photographic art. It’s a choice. You must factor in different element of the picture to make your choice wisely. Personally, I’m thinking this flower needs visual punch. Punch is power.

The reasoning behind this decision is the color of the flower. Since the shot happened during the mid afternoon with the harsh sunlight moving in and out of the clouds, I used a UV filter to act as a sort of sunglasses. I don’t like the amount of color I had to lose to make sure I capture the detail in the flower. Therefore, I chose the visual punch of a black and white image.

Further, the shot just doesn’t seem romantic and “soft” to me.  However, flowers always show a certain sense of passion and passion is power.  So, we have passion and visual punch able to combine into a true statement.  My vision of what route to take when creating this work is now complete.  Now we just need to visually bring it to life.

Since there is no color to attract the eye, we can only use the shading naturally provided by the sun and the colors as they turn from various colors to numerous shades of blackness. The result is a powerful visual image.

Pink Petal Tea Rose
Passion and Punch always work together.

The flower is actually enhanced in its detail by losing the color and the cropping helps bring out the graininess of the flowers leaves. The result is a powerful combination of light and dark, grainy and smoothness that will look good whether framed or printed on canvas.

We go from ordinary to extraordinary.

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