Tag Archives: technique

What is The Potential of A Photograph?

Some artists start their creative process by looking at a blank canvas. They envision the scene they wish to portray and think on what colors or tools they will need. They may begin with a sketch and some painters even begin with a photograph.

It’s a personal inner vision that tells them what the next step to creating their art is and what they need to do.  Then they use their experience as an artist to tell them how to accomplish it. It really is no different for the photographic artist. As you would expect, it begins with a photograph.

No, wait, it begins even before that. For me, it begins with my camera. I will walk down seemingly endless amounts of garden path and corridors looking for anything that strikes my eye. I look for things that are different, full of color, or makes a statement in some way.  Then I have to ask myself about the angle of the subject, the lighting conditions, and even what settings I might need on my camera. Soon after all that, I take the shot.

Once I have these various tasks done and I’ve finished my picture-taking for the day, I take my undeveloped artistic blueprints to my office.  There I start the mental and physical process of choosing what will work and what will not.

Cameras have limitations, and no camera will always manage the impossible feat of matching the human eye.  So, if I deem 3-10% of the number of pictures I take on a shoot as having some potential, then I’m happy.

I call those pictures a blueprint for that is the best description of what raw unformatted pictures are to a photographic artist. Those pictures are my canvas, or my sketch, and from them I ply my inner artist to create, simplify, expound, and develop my inner vision.

On a recent trip to Florida earlier this year, I found this palm tree flowering in a courtyard. The sun was shining and the sight of this strange flower sufficiently struck my curiosity.  I immediately saw potential with this flower.  This is the raw unfiltered image.

What is the potential?
What is the potential?

At this moment it’s just a picture.  Nothing has been done with it.  As a photographer I could sit here and ponder the exposure, the depth of field , and all of the photographic niceties that make a good picture and traditionalists usually do. But as an artist,  I’m looking beyond the technical at an image that can be transformed into a living work of art.

What kind of potential do you see for this photograph?

This week I’ll use it as my canvas and next week I’ll show you what I see.

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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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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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