Tag Archives: artistic photography

The Making of “Peahen”

As an artist I love color, but as a photographer I am more inclined to rest with black and white images. There is one problem with this contradiction. What do I do as a photographic artist when faced with an image that belongs in color?

Birds are an excellent example of this issue. Some birds, like a mockingbird or a sparrow only really consist of browns and greys. While they are quite beautiful in their own right, yet as a flashing example of color they fall, for the lack of a better word, flat.

Therefore, black and white photography can help with those images by concentrating on the various non-color related details such as the texture of their feathers and the shapes of their bodies.

Peahen
Peahen

However, certain subjects such as a peahen artistically require color.   The various pigments and light reflecting qualities of their feathers just scream for a more color oriented focus than a simple black and white focus will deliver.

This carefully considered contrast between the elegant black and white and the strikingly beautiful color image of this peahen was forefront in my mind upon its creation. Therefore I rested with a colored technique that highlights the colorful aspects of the bird yet also maintains that certain elegance and style that a black and white photograph would produce.

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Moon Goddess Coyolxauhqui

Peering from the darkness, the goddess Coyolxauhqui (coh-yohl-shau’-kee) is one of the most important deities in the world of the Aztecs.   She is the moon goddess with copper bells on her cheeks. She is also the sister of the sun-god Huitzilopochtli and 400 star deities in the night sky.   She is also the daughter of Coatlicue (coh-ah-tlee’-cooeh ) the Earth Goddess.

Her mother Coatlicue was busy sweeping her temple one fine day when a ball of feathers fell upon her bosom. Instantly she became pregnant. When Coyolxauhqui discovered this she became overcome with anger that her mother did not know who the father might be.  Further, she felt her family honor was forever tarnished. So, Coyolxauhqui decided to kill her mother with the help of her star brothers.

When she cornered her mother and was rushing in for the kill, her mother, Coatlicue, suddenly gave birth to Huitzilopochtli (wee-tsee-loh-poch’-tle) god of sun and the war-god.   He sprang forth from his mother fully armed and wearing battle armor. Using a fire serpent (sun ray) he killed his sister Coyolxauhqui and the 400 star brothers.

Moon Goddess Coyolxauhqui
Moon Goddess Coyolxauhqui

Standing over the dead body of the moon goddess, the sun-god cut off her limbs and finally her head. However, as Huitzilopochtli felt concern that his mother would miss her daughter he threw the head of Coyolxauhqui into the sky where she became the moon.   He then threw the dismembered body of the goddess down the temple.

As the moon, Coyolxauhqui dies every month (the new moon) and because she is missing her limbs she appears in section until her face shines full.   This myth also explains why the sun is found always chasing the moon everyday in the sky.

Also, it’s possible that the dismemberment ritual of sacrificial victims came from story. An Aztec human sacrifice entailed removing the heart of the victim, cutting off the head and limbs and throwing the body down the steps of the temple.   Supporting this thought, the tongue of the goddess is also shown as a sharp obsidian blade often used for this purpose.

In today’s Latino cultures Coyolxauhqui is experiencing a revival as a quasi-patron saint of the overt rebellious woman figure.   This view asserts that instead of seeing Huitzilopochtli as a hero saving his mother and defending himself from butchery, the story of Coyolxauhqui champions her rebelliously standing up to dominating society and perhaps a cautionary tale of what happens when you lose.

Politics and religious fervor aside, The Moon Goddess Coyolxauhqui makes a fabulous addition to our collection.

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“Deity of the Week.” : Coyolxauhqui. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://deity-of-the-week.blogspot.com/2011/11/coyolxauhqui.html>.

“Coyolxauhqui.” Coyolxauhqui. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.pantheon.org/articles/c/coyolxauhqui.html>.

 

Street Photography Dealt Heavy Blow in Arkansas

It is still legal to take a shot of bamboo in Arkansas. Indeed my favorite subjects of machines, animals and flowers are all safe from the new law passed that will put the art of a street photographer in serious potential danger. The new SB-79, or the Personal Rights Protection Act. This law will require a photographer standing on the street in a public place to get a legal binding document from every person they photograph.

 

In most areas of photography this model release form is nothing new. Indeed, professional photographers will carry this kind of form with them when they go on shoots.   Up till now though it has not been necessary to worry about whether a photographer needs to have such a form filled out by every person photographed in a shot when that person is on a public piece of land.

 

However, The art of street photography specializes in the photography of the cultural side of people. This photographer specializes in capturing the culture and day-to-day activities of the subjects he captures. They show both the good and bad of every city and the colorful people who live there. So it’s immediately possible to see a potential conflict of interest.

 

The rules have been pretty clear-cut. When a person goes to the park and runs around with a dog chasing a Frisbee, That person is in a public area. The expectation to a right of privacy is pretty much forfeit. People can take pictures with you in them because you are in public. On a side note, it doesn’t entitle the photographer to act like an irresponsible jerk about his right to take the picture. The rule of “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” applies here. If however, a photographer has to climb a privacy fence to grab the shot of you sunbathing in your backyard, well, it’s called a privacy fence for a reason. See? It’s some of the clearest legal mud you can find.

 

However, this new bill seeks to change that. In order to provide a thicker murkier mud, It basically allows for litigation against the commercial photographer if the person being photographed does not sign a release form giving permission.

 

So, very soon if you are taking a picture in Arkansas you may want to sell, you have to make sure that no person is in your picture without the release. But it’s not that simple. Remember a person in the law means:

 

SB 79 Statute : 4-75-1003.

(4)(A-B) “Person” means an individual or entity. A partnership, a corporation, a company, an association, or any other business entity; a not-for-profit corporation or association; an educational or religious institution; a political party; and a community, civic, or other organization;

 

Again, while most photographers use these release forms to cover themselves from any possible legal issues anyway, one would not think this is too big of a deal. But that is not the fear. The fear behind this law is that it is just not always feasible for a photographer to determine whether a person actually needs to be processed as a model or not. After all as with everything there are always exceptions to the new rules. In this case more than 2 pages of the 9-page bill are exceptions.

 

Could you imagine running a photography business where you would have to literally have a group of litigation lawyers with you everyday to determine whether taking a particular shot would actually fall under the category of legal or not? With every possible click of the camera shutter having the potential for wiping out your business? Would you risk it?

 

As is usual, the solving of one problem definitely leads to others. Street photographers might not want to visit Arkansas anymore. It’s too risky. This means no more pictures and thereby no promotion of true Arkansas beauty or the people and their culture. Could this lose valuable tourist dollars? No one knows. But hey, at least now they don’t have to worry about what they look like at Wal-Mart.

 

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Introducing 2 New Palm Tree Works

Since last Sunday was Palm Sunday and we are almost at Easter, I thought I’d introduce two of our brand new offerings to our online gallery.

The first is Palm Frond.  A unique shot of a new palm leaf still unwrapping as it slowly opens from the tree.  This work is all about lines and shading.   The unique linear structure of the frond gives sense of climbing  to an unseen  focal point just above the viewable picture.

Palm Frond
Palm Frond

I hid the focal point of the frond to add a sense of mystery and increase the feeling of texture in the work.

 

Our second work is Palm Leaf Dew.   The morning dew slowly descended the ingrained channels in the palm fronds to rest at the very tips.   As the drops of water slowly accumulate into larger and larger drops, the force of gravity will soon take over and allow them to fall to the ground.

Palm Leaf Dew
Palm Leaf Dew

Using a series of dodge and burning techniques I brought out the lines of the channels and produced the reflective nature of the water droplets.  Meanwhile the background remains blurred allowing the focus to be on the fronds themselves.

Have a Happy Easter!

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How Will You Scare Your Enemies this Chinese New Year?

Happy New Year!

恭禧发财  ( Gong Xi Fa Cài)  or (Gong Hey Fat Choy)

Since it is Chinese New year, I thought it proper to introduce one of my new works. This is Male Foo Lion.  Sometimes referred to as a foo dog, foo dogs are really lions. Foo Lions are very important symbols in Chinese culture and references to them are easy to find. The most famous being sets of Foo Lions from the Ming and Qing dynasties found in the Forbidden Palace in the center of Beijing, China.

I wanted to bring forth and center upon the emotion in the statue by giving a close-cropped view of the Male Foo Lionterrifying teeth and eyes of the lion. I envisioned the lion launching out of the frame at the viewer with its ferocious intent. The image was desaturated of color and various dodge and burn techniques are then applied along with a cool blue filter to enhance the whites and boost the blacks in the image.

Traditionally, Foo Lions offer protection from negative energy or Qi. It does this in the same way gargoyles work. The scarier or more grotesque the figure is the better.   This frightening visage protects its owner by scaring away the negative energy. It’s also important to place the Foo lion so that it is facing a door or window from which the owner of the lion believes negative energy may come.

The male lion usually has a ball under his paw representing the world and is always located towards the left side of an opening looking out. The female lion is found with a cub under its paw representing support. The female lion is always located towards the right side of the opening looking out.

This particular image is that of the male lion. So, if you wish to feel the full effects of its protection, place it on the left side of an entrance hallway, door, or window.

 

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