The third installment from our recent visit to the Greenhill School campus is the work “Girders”. As the construction on campus of the new fine art building continued, there was a brief opportunity to see the skeletal insides of the towering building. I wanted to capture this moment before they installed the walls and fleshed out this monstrosity of campus expansion.
What I discovered was a series of right angles and geometric shapes as the girders of the red steel frame stood against the sky. The day was cloudy with low rumbling storm like clouds that spoke of rain. As these billows of dark nature swirled past the girders it created a strange otherworldly ambience.
Upon reflection of what I was seeing, I decided that a heavy red and green tinted filter was just the thing to bring the ominous feelings of the clouds to the viewer’s attention.
The red in the girders only became a deeper hue and a strange idea of the basic conflict of nature vs. man became prevalent to the picture’s theme. The girders representing the indomitable will of man to build, while his hubris produces an angry response from nature. All is in place to remind man though the building may continue, the victory is false for in the end nature and the ravages of time will eventually overcome.
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
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.
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.
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.
As the new school year gets under way at Greenhill School in Addison, TX. The student population quickly gets use to life on a campus that includes peacocks. These magnificent birds have graced the school campus for generations.
Both peacocks and peahens have lived on the Greenhill campus since the 1960’s. They were originally part of a small menagerie of animals used to educate the Lower School children. Since most of these early students lived in an urban city like Dallas, the chance to experience live animals such as peacocks provided a unique learning environment that Greenhill carries forth to today.
Over the years the peacock population rose to the point where the caretakers took humane control measures by retiring one old arthritic bird to a wildlife shelter to live out its retirement in aviary paradise. The peacocks have also seen their share of difficulty as the decline of the peacock population to a mere 2 birds on campus during the 1990’s caused a movement to purchase more.
While the peacocks are very much self-sufficient, they do need someone to watch out for the sick or injured. Injuries sometimes occur when the males, seeing reflections of themselves in windows, will attack themselves. Other problems are possible with wild coyotes or large hawks attacking the young. So, the school has a staff member to be on hand to deal with these difficulties as they arise.
Among the administrative staff at the school, the unofficial but very honorable position of “Keeper of the Peacocks” passed down through the ages from Mrs. Kittleman to Mrs. Nicholson to finally Mrs. Strevig.
While the official school mascot is the Greenhill Hornets, all the students, faculty and visitors remember the peacocks on campus. Their colorful displays and loud squawks surely delight and will help educate the children of Greenhill for decades to come.
I recently spent a morning at Greenhill School in Addison, Texas to take pictures of the elegant peacocks that live on their campus. These peacocks have run free on the campus for many generations. While the official mascot of Greenhill is the hornet, the campus treats the peacocks as unofficial mascots of the school.
The springtime weather makes photographic opportunities with the peacocks a rather tenuous situation. If the wind is howling in from the plains the peacocks have a hard time displaying their train feathers. Yet they are in the middle of mating season and the hens are walking about. In fact, it is quite surprising how loud a peacock call is.
I visited the campus on a windy day, concerned that the peacocks would not display their tail feathers. Luckily, the peacock that I managed to find was cruising around in between two buildings and was fairly protected from the wind. The peahens continued walking about and fortunately a class change poured hundreds of students into their area. The students are very respectful of the peacocks and they receive constant human interaction, but peacocks still like to avoid contact when possible.
The class change resulted in the hens walking right by a peacock. When he saw the peahens, he let out a cry and started doing the mating dance that peacocks are so famous for. Contrary to popular belief, peacocks don’t just stand still when they are displaying. There is dancing, shaking, shimmering, head movement and a 360 degree slow turn involved with the full extension of his feathers.