Tag Archives: filters

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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A Brief Look at Andrew Chianese’s “Painted Peacock”

Upon my latest visit to the Greenhill Campus I found inspiration in this wonderful peacock resting on a concrete wall. These magnificent birds have graced the school campus for generations and continue to provide inspirations for new works of art like “Painted Peacock

Painted Peacock
Painted Peacock

Since it was spring time our dear subject was much more interested in claiming his territory and having a friendly discourse with the nearby wandering peahens who were pretending not to notice.

The peacock required special coloring by hand to keep the red filters from diluting the bright colors of the bird. The result is a colorful bird that is of beautiful contrast to the darkening background. Enjoy.

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Before DART: The Texas Electric Railway

For this next piece, Blue Texas Railway,   I took the image of a historical railway sign and added some modern flair.  The Texas Electric Railway was a streetcar rail line that existed in Dallas in 1917.

According to the Texas State Historical Society, “The company operated three routes out of Dallas, one to Sherman and Denison, one to Ennis and Corsicana, and one to Hillsboro and Waco. With a length of 226 miles, the Texas Electric was the longest interurban between the Mississippi River and California.”

The company finally stopped service in 1948. The cause of the failure was the increasing competition of people owning personal cars and trucks. A strange twist of fate because one of the leading reasons for  Dallas Area Rapid Transit or DART is the heavy traffic and desperate need for a metro line in Dallas.

The image of the rail sign and indeed the sign itself  is originally black and white. While this would provide great contrast to the image alone, I couldn’t let it be.  Like a child with a new toy, I’ve been looking for the perfect image to try out a new yellow and blue filter process that would give an image an electrifying tonal change. The stark contrast of the filter applied over a slightly underdeveloped original produced the extremes I was looking for.

Blue Texas Railway
Blue Texas Railway


My feeling is that while black and white art is much more traditional and classic, there are plenty of occasions where a burst of color will produce a much more satisfying emotional response in the picture.


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George C. Werner, “TEXAS ELECTRIC RAILWAY,” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/eqt13), accessed April 27, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

What’s Really Happening With Animal Photography? Part 2

In part one of our journey of animal photography we discussed that perfect controlled conditions are often found in an environment like a studio. We also agreed that things such as fully monitored and controlled lighting and a properly handled dog may make our job a little easier. We wanted to make a more artistic approach to photography, so we are taking pictures from different angles or waiting till the dog performs different actions to create a message or story.

Now, let’s give it more of challenge by taking the dog outside. By doing this, we have now introduced some real issues to our taking the perfect picture. The biggest challenge in taking a photograph outside is the weather. No one wants a picture or the smell of a wet dog in the car afterwards. So generally, most people will choose a nice sunny day with no or little clouds. Of course, that means we have to deal with lighting in those conditions.   What I’m referring to of course is the sun.

The sun is the bane of any decent outdoor photographer. But, there are tools and tricks to help. If you want a shot of the dog in the sunlight, it will be a better idea to take the photograph as early or as late in the day as the light will let us.   During the mid-morning to late afternoon the sun is constantly producing a very harsh light. This type of lighting will easily produce overexposed areas on the picture and even worse it will mute your colors. So the best time to take your shot is early morning or evening when the sun is lower on the horizon.

But what do you do if you want to take a picture of the dog at this particular park, but the park doesn’t open till mid morning?   Your answer lies in the use of a UV filter or a Graduated Neutral Density Filter. Think of them as sunglasses for your camera. They help take out the harsh light.

You can also try taking the dog into a shaded area where the sun is not so intense. If you have a team of helpers, you can also set up and use reflectors to direct the light on the dog just as you see fit.

Another issue with lighting outside is the sky. Watch your clouds. The minute a cloud crosses the path of the blazing sun is now a different amount of light to adjust the camera for.

Yet another problem is wind. Remember those reflectors used to cast directed light on the dog while it was in the shade? Well, in a nice breeze, those reflectors make fabulous kites. Worse, if you are trying to use those large umbrella lights and don’t weigh them down they will take off to the delight of everyone but me. So, now I not only have to time my shot for what’s in the sky, but in between gusts of wind.

It’s ok though, because I love the challenge. So I get the dog in the shade and I’ve chosen the shot I want to take. I’ve watched for the sunlight, put on a filter, worked the reflectors and even setup the camera settings for the proper aperture and white balance and here comes the fun part! I am so going to rock this thing.

Do I see a tasty squirrel?

Quickly, however, I realize that I am now not the only stimulus to the dog’s attention.

Indeed, the audacity! That cute puppy that viewed me as being the center of the known universe now has a myriad of shapes, smells, and movement competing with me for it’s attention. Trust me when I tell you that as important as you are to a dog as the provider of praise and tasty snacks, you will pale in comparison with the squirrel that just ran behind you or even the bird in the tree above you.

Other dogs nearby will cause problems and even other people can cause an issue. After all, according to a dog’s logic it only makes sense that I am a human with praise and treats;  ergo all the other humans may have praise and treats too! The only answer to this is patience. I might need lots of it.

So, after outwitting the sun, the wind, rain, camera settings, types of filters and the natural instincts of the dog to want to investigate everything or just chase tasty squirrels, We now have a work of art you we are proud of.  Or, you might also think about owning a cat.

Want a bigger challenge? This is still too easy? I admire your spirit. Imagine trying to do these things with a non domesticated animal in their natural environment that wants to eat you.

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