Tag Archives: idea

Why I Take Pictures of Machines

I love taking pictures of inanimate objects.  When I deal with picture of artificial objects, my ideas are very different.  I deal with fellow creators and their designs.  It’s that paradox of structure in a free-flowing universe that fascinates and motivates me. I want to see a brilliant engineering feat.

I investigate the way man has tried to copy nature to manipulate the environment around him. I want to capture not only his success of angles, glass and light, but also the monsters of machinery, the decay of forgotten days and failures we made in the hopes of out doing our surroundings.

Then I want to take that perfection or failure, that mathematical formulation of color, contrast, shape and form and place its picture on a wall.  Let the magic of the design dominate the room or blend in with the trappings of humanity that people find in their houses. When you pick an industrial or historical decor for your room or office, it only makes sense to work with art that highlights that aspect.

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3 Thoughts on Naming Art

I believe that one of the most difficult things to do, as an artist is to name your own work.  Sometimes this takes more effort and creativity than the average viewer can imagine.  I’ve come up with a short list of the thinking process that goes into the naming of a picture.

  1. Meaning- An artist generally wants to name their work with a name that will be meaningful and provide a connection to the artist. In the business world this is marketing.  While the name Img5437.cr2 may make sense as the name the camera and computer gave to the image, to the normal viewer it is just random meaningless numbers.  Img5437.cr2  does not have any descriptive value.  You can’t really know that it is a picture of a buffet table loaded with all sorts of sensual treats with that name.
  2.  Story- Every picture tells a story.  Sometimes the story is dramatic and rather upfront.  Other times there is a hidden story meant to inspire or give an emotional response to the viewer.  A good name will give the viewer a greater connection between the art and the patron.  Artists find the name for a work of art that tells or hints at the story that the art meant to portray.
  3.  Language- You want a name easy to see, easy to spell, and easy to say. We live in the age where people do a great deal of shopping online.  An artist today has a potential for thousands and even millions of people to see their work by placing copies of it online.  Over 48 countries visit this online blog.  I’m happy to say that one of my pictures hangs in a condo in Seoul, South Korea.  So, I want to pick names for my work that is not difficult and identifies what the viewer is seeing regardless of what culture or country they live in.
Feathers Falling
Feathers Falling


As you can see, the naming of a work of art is rather a daunting task.  You want creativity, but not crazy, be pronounceable but not without meaning, and be cross cultural and memorable while still telling it’s story.

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The Power of Form in Art and Photography

Perhaps it is confusing to see the difference between a shape and a form.  A form is nothing more than a shape with 3 dimensions. So,

  • A square becomes a box.
  • A circle becomes a sphere.
  • A triangle becomes a pyramid
  • A biomorphic shape becomes identifiable as something in nature.  Think of why a kidney bean is a kidney bean.  It has the same shape as a kidney.

It is important that any fine art contains at least a shape or a form in every picture.  Why?  Since a form is a 3 dimensional shape it performs the same job as a shape but in a more realistic way.  It communicates an emotion or a message that the artist wants people to see.

When a person draws a flat circle and places the continents on it, people identify it as the earth.  But it lacks depth. Sure, we can name the shape, find the meaning, but it’s only when you turn the circle into a sphere that an entire new dimension shows in our 2 dimensional drawing.  That portrayal of the earth as a 3D image gives it more realism.


Sphere CC by Lemonade_Jo
CC by Lemonade_Jo

How do they do this?  In drawing, shapes become forms by using shading.  Photographic art accomplishes this with light with lighting. This fact becomes the focus point where the two forms of art differ.  In drawing you have to create a form out a shape by adding shading to the drawing to give it that 3rd dimension.  In photography, it happens automatically.  A photographer must manipulate the light creating the form to get the effect they wish.

Because you are taking pictures of an object in 3D and your camera is creating an image in two 2D, you can instantly create a powerful form in a realistic way instantly.

Hanging Grapes by Andrew Chianese
Hanging Grapes


However, the real power of fine art is the ability to take an image and highlight a particular form in the photograph to give it more significance than any other.  We can do this by using the aperture setting and creating a depth of field in our image.  We can highlight a sphere, make it the center of attention, and place it in crystal clear focus while turning everything else into a blurry mess behind it.

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4 Rules of Lighting and the Outdoors Photographer

One of the great aspects of lighting in photography is that it doesn’t work the same for everyone all the time.  There are general guide rules of lighting, but the solutions to making a photographic shot better are not always so cut and dry.  Some typical rules include:

  1. The closer the light source the harder the light and vice versa.
  2. The larger the light source the softer the light  and vice versa.
  3. Sunlight is always hard light unless in the shade.
  4. A flash will always give you a hard light unless you diffuse it or bounce it on the subject with a reflector.

Those rules are pretty easy to live with and with a little imagination you begin to see possibilities that will improve your photography.  However, sometimes the situation you find yourself in is not so forgiving.

Let’s say you are a photographer faced with the task of photographing the lions of the Serengeti.   Your only solutions to controlling the hard sun light is to use filters, the time of day, and possibly something in your environment to help you create some shade.   It’s not always possible, nor advisable to drag your entire studio with you.

Indeed, outdoor photography has it’s own lighting challenges in that you can’t always ask a subject to help you with the shot.  Flashing a strobe light in the face of a large bull will result in a great action photograph but probably not the kind you were hoping for.  Further, location is an issue also.  I know of a tree that, when in bloom, is gorgeous and has not one but two distinct colors of the flowers.  The problem?  The two angles to capture the shot with the best lighting are either in the middle of a busy 2 lane road or standing on active train tracks.  I can’t move the sun, and I can’t move the tree.  Yes, solutions to this problem exist, but none of them are particularly easy or inexpensive to do.

Weather can also play a factor in your lighting plans also. I had a photography instructor who swore that the best weather to take pictures on was an overcast grey day.  The light would be diffused by the clouds and he instructed us to use those clouds as our grey cards to find our neutral grey.

In a way, challenges to correct the lighting or sometimes even getting the lighting outdoors to do what you want is what make this form of photography fun.  The lighting found outdoors constantly create opportunities of creative thinking and doing things  “outside the box.”

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Your Art Is An Accident. Enjoy it.

It pains me to read something and say, “I wish I had said that.”  It’s very much like coming up with the perfect argument to a debate after the debate has happened.  I recently read an article in the Toledo Blade about an influential artist by the name of Art Weber.  He makes a few comments about photography that can also apply to any other art form.  Mr. Weber makes two statements in the article that resonate very well in the art world.

“Most shots you sort of semi-plan for, by putting yourself in a good situation,” Mr. Weber said. And then the photographer relies on the light to give an assist.”   So true.  When I go to a rose garden to take pictures, I know that I’m going to take a picture of a rose.  That is understandable.  But, when I get the perfect shot of a red rose, with a bee buzzing just above a drop of dew reflecting the early morning sun, it’s amazing.   You can’t plan for that and that is what makes it exciting.

The second statement he makes in the article is “It’s not about what equipment you own, it’s a matter of how you use it.” And when the subject is intriguing, the surroundings captivating, and the light in a cooperative mood, then that ultimate, signature shot can materialize.”  This is applicable to any art.  People get caught up with technology, and that is not a bad thing, but often, many jobs are accomplished with less.  I have seen great photography done with a pinhole camera made from a cardboard box.  I have seen great drawings done with crayon on a sidewalk, and I have seen fabulous decorating and design work done with junk and recycled materials.  Often, it is the lack of resources that inspire our creativity with what we do have.

I think I’m going to go work on some photography now.   I hope your inspired to work on your art to.

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