Tag Archives: black and white

What Makes The Image Of A Stretching Pelican So Powerful?

If there were ever a case about the sheer visual power of a black and white image it would have to include “Stretching Pelican”.   Color is popular in the art world; there is no denying it. After all we see in color, dress by colors, and each of our world cultures have, in their own way, given colors specific meanings.

So why then is there such artistic fascination with the unseen world of black and white? What is the draw? We are able to see an object painted black or one colored white, but we don’t visualize the world in such a way.

This lack of an ability to simply turn color in the visual world off truly belongs to the realm of the artist. Artists love to take that which cannot be seen but by definition must remain imagined and bring them into the forefront of our understanding.

Thus we have Stretching Pelican.   This is a typical brown pelican. Very much like its name, this bird really isn’t much to look at in its natural color. Its weird shape and large size draw more attention than the plain brown of the plumage.  For lack of better commentary, it’s just  a large brown bird.

Don’t misunderstand; the bird is graceful and powerful in its own right. There are plenty of fish in the sea that fear the mere presence of such a creature. Its wings spread out in the tropical sun, gliding over the surface of the water with eyes fixed upon the fish below.

But, the color! The color is a burnt brown. The wings are brown. The head is brown. Even the magnificent beak is nothing more than a shade of boring brown.   Yet, if we take this image and remove the color an incredible sight opens before us.

Stretching Pelican
Stretching Pelican

The feathers of the wings become these awesome shades of blackness slowly contrasted with brilliant peaks of white. The feathers of the tail and body almost look rigid with the white sharp contrast set against the black interior of the feather.   The feathers almost look like a metal armor.

Indeed, each feather suddenly renders a level of detail and structure previously hidden to the human eye.   Such detail brings new ideas and thoughts into focus. We see armor plating where there is none; we see rigidity where there is only softness. The bird becomes artistic and open for interpretation. The feathers, wings and even head suddenly take on a new atmosphere. It’s up to the viewer to decide the overall meaning, but that is what photographic black and white photography is all about.

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Whispered Secrets about “Infinity Pool”

Stepping back into the realm of black and white photography this week, we present our new work Infinity Pool.   Infinity pools are a unique type of water pool designed to enhance the mirage that the water in the pool goes on forever.

Indeed, it was this very mirage that inspired the beginning of this work. As I looked down the length of the pool I noticed to my delight that the texture of the turbulent lake behind the pool was a stark contrast to the smooth almost waveless pool. Also, the scene provided me yet with another layer of excitement by providing a third visual contrast of the lake lapping against the far shoreline.

However, it was only when I started the process of photographic development that yet another stunning aspect of the scene burst forth. I had noticed the reflection  off of the pool in the original photograph, but with the blue hues of the pool water compared to the lake behind it the sheer drama of the light was lost.

Infinity PoolIt was only by enhancing the black and white tones did I discover the wonder of the true picture. The reflection struck me the most.  So, as the intensity in the scene increased outwards to the background, the texture and brightness of the light led my hand in choosing the overall development of the work.

I present Infinity Pool as an example that sometimes the true beauty of the photograph is only discovered in the post-production handling of a scene.

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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>.

 

The Secret of Red Tulip

This is our latest offering in our ever-expanding artwork dealing with flowers. Red Tulip is a portrait of a bright red tulip found in the flower garden one spring morning.   The main motivation for the work revolves around the lighting and the detail of the dew on the petals of the flower.

 

Black and White photography allows for you to see pieces of the flower that you would otherwise be unable to view due to the bright colors. The challenge in creating a piece like this is twofold. The first, and probably the hardest, is taking the shot. But to do that it is necessary to mentally sift through hundreds of tulips and lighting angles to find the right one. The fact that I only use natural lighting conditions when taking a picture really pushes my creativity when searching for my subject.

 

Another trick is that you have to be there early to get this shot. Most photographers preferring natural light will tell you that as the day progresses the light from the sun becomes more and more harsh. But there are other reasons for getting to the flower garden before the sun becomes your enemy. Early morning is the best time to capture the morning dew. The random droplets of dew on enhance our attention to detail when viewing a flower. It just naturally appears fresher.

Red Tulip
Red Tulip

 

The second challenge in this shot is the use of filters.   Because I do not use artificial light, I use various colored filters to create a darker or lighter image among the colors when converted into a black and white image.   These filters only do part of the job however, as it is then necessary to use dodge and burning techniques to enrich areas of the flower that will enhance the natural lighting or darken the background as my creativity inspires me to do.   While this is consumes a great deal of time, the result is worth it.

 

As usual, the hardest part of any artwork is the naming. I decided that since the main reason any flower attracts our attention for so long is definitely the color. So, I decided that I was going to name it according to the color of the original tulip. Thus Red Tulip was born.

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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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