Using Filters to Create Art from a Simple Photograph.

This dramatic walkway through a dense palm forest looks as if it is a pencil sketch.   Much to the surprise of some, I did not use the pencil sketch filter in Photoshop to create it.   Instead,  this photograph is a result of high definition processing, black cherry colored red filters and the liberal addition of both abstraction blurriness and heavy vignettes.

This work started out as something different. Originally, I desired to take several photographs of palm trees. Walking through parks in the state of Florida one would almost naturally suspect that palm trees would be both abundant and easily photographed.   Realistically, only half that equation works out.

Finding palm tress in Florida is like finding a mosquito in a swamp.  They are everywhere. There are thousands of styles and varieties, yet to this day, I have found only a handful worthy of the effort involved in lifting camera to eye.   The difficulty is not their shape or size, no, rather their blandness. Palms are just not very colorful in their own right. You have either a dark brown with green foliage or a long trunk of sandy grey.

So, when I partook of the adventure to capture a cluster of palms for my next piece, I was ever the optimist hoping that today would be the day that I could capture that elusive photogenic palm.

Walk Among the Palms
Walk Among the Palms

The scene itself had all the particulars I look for.  It had the palms, of course, a nice sidewalk style walkway and plenty of atmosphere.   However, when started the process of selecting works for further enhancement, I was markedly disappointed by the original results.   It was too brown, too exposed, and the natural lines in the photograph created by the trees were all wrong, at least for me.   Still, I had that hidden impression that this shot was worth something. There was an unexplainable artistic feeling I had about it.

That is when my muse hit.   That magical feeling of “what if I do this over here?” started to guide my senses and my hands. I started attacking the problems with filters, until I found the hidden picture within the picture.  When you use filters in the production phase of your art work you invariably end up painting with light a great deal.  A nip here and a tuck there, along with darkening a particular tree while enhancing another gives you varied results until finally your mind settles on the answer you were looking for.

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Exciting News from Florida

It’s great to announce that things are really moving forward for our gallery in Florida.   While A&A Photographic Arts has been a popular destination for the online art gallery aficionado, 3,450 social media followers alone can’t be wrong, and we have also spent the past year really expanding our place in the physical world.

Our Texas locations are still going strong.   We are still showing our works in both the Richardson and Addison Café Brazils located near North Dallas and we have plans to expand to other locations soon.

In March we announced our presence to the Florida art world by taking part in a month-long art show presented by Sun Gulf Art Gallery in New Port Richey.   We also recently became associated with the Tarpon Springs Art Association.   This organization is a very strong group of local artists who are forward thinking enough to see photographic art has as a new and upcoming fine art form.   We are always excited to be associated with organizations such as this.

Other real exciting news is our new expansion into Dunedin, Florida. The owners at Downtown Dunedin Deli & Grill have let us display and offer our art for purchase in the front of their restaurant. Dunedin is one of the prime locations around the Clearwater area for  fine art. There is a thriving artist community in the city and to present our art for the patrons of the popular downtown area is truly inspiring.

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Know Something Most Artists Don’t Know About Filters

This incredible capture of a local bird fishing by the side of a tranquil pond owes its drama and vision to the use of filters in photographic art.

I’m often called upon to explain what a photographic artist does to not only the everyday art lover, but often enough to painters and sculptors also. Many people, especially, other artists are often hung up with the use of photography as merely a recording tool for selfies. Slowly, those barriers of understanding break down more and more as people see the artistic results of science and art blended in perfect unison.

One of my favorite explanations  is that in photographic art the light is our paintbrush and reality is our stretched canvas. However, we need to add another line to that explanation as our work of art Water Bird in Copper this time displays.

Water Bird in Copper
Water Bird in Copper

Namely, a filter is our artist palette.

 

This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Mlaoxve
Public domain by its author, Mlaoxve

Artist palettes are stereotypically envisioned as large boards held by painters where they mix the colors of the paints they are going to use. It’s one of the oldest and most recognizable pieces of equipment in a painter’s toolbox.

 

Painters use palettes to mix their colors to achieve the perfect nuance of color that they then apply to the picture that they are painting. It allows them to lighten or darken paints to create help them create the highlight or shadow in the work according to their artistic vision.

In photography, the use of filters is nothing new. In fact, with out the use of filters color film would never have developed. Filters allow certain wavelengths of light, or colors, through to the lens while blocking others.   This is often used to stop glare and boost picture clarity. Or, in it’s artistic application; the humble filter can serve the role of the palette and dramatically enhance the drama and beauty of the picture at hand.

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The 55 Buick Roadmaster And Why I Did It

One of the more enjoyable aspects of creating fine art out of historical antiques like this ’55 Buick Roadmaster is learning about the history behind them.  Usually, with machines like cars and airplanes, aficionados like Jay Leno, bring out their slide-rulers and talk about all the old technical terms.

You get to learn the Roadmaster had  a Variable Pitch Dynaflow Transmission, and how with a 322 Nailhead V8 you get 236 horsepower. Or, you could even learn why one of these beautiful cars would be worth more if it had wire spoke wheels than the standard issue. It’s like communicating in another language.

But let’s talk art.  When I originally went to take the picture, I thought of just a candid shot of the grill and hood to show off the natural beauty of a Roadmaster. But, I had another idea.

First, I must confess that after living in the Southern States for a couple of years the concept of watching NASCAR on the weekend is not lost on me.   I’ve always loved the angles from the live cameras on the cars. The shot from the bumper showing the other car following you from 12 inches at 150 mph always raises the level of excitement.

The distinguishing characteristic of this one angle is that the lines are never straight on the car behind you. Because the car is so close, and moving at speed, the dynamics of the shot will always show a slight curve or bend in the fenders and hood.   Your eye views this  as speed. Or, in other words, it makes it look like it’s going fast.

55 Buick Roadmaster
55 Buick Roadmaster

Normally, a photographer would reach for a fisheye shaped lens to accomplish this task. I had two problems with this idea. First, I wanted a slight curve, barely distinguishable to the eye. I wanted the subtle effect of speed without the obvious reason behind it. So I’d be understandably nervous about overdoing it with a fisheye.   Second, and most importantly, I didn’t have a fisheye lens with me, so I had to make do positioning myself, and twisting the camera just a fraction to get the effect I was looking for.

In the end, I believe the goal of what I accomplished the look I wanted. So, help me welcome the 55 Buick Roadmaster to our Gallery. Don’t wait; this work looks incredible on a metal print. Contact us and get yours today!

Understanding The Creative Experience in Photographic Art

Part of the creative experience when you are creating art of any kind is to understand when to break the rules. Studying the successful works of the masters before you earns you some of this knowledge; however, this alone does not guarantee success.

People that practice both photography and art like to have rules. But, rules are guidelines. More like suggestions to be contemplated. What makes a rule a steadfast guarantee of success in one photograph will make it an utter failure in another.

No, instead it’s really applying learned academic knowledge combined with the intangible gut feeling of pure instinct over the period of many viewings.   When you are looking at a subject, say a flower, if you purely concentrate on the academic aspects of taking the picture all you will accomplish is taking a clear focused picture.

 

That’s it, and that is harder than what most people realize in the days of iPhone photographers. That’s because the proper academic technique of taking a picture consists of the mathematical measurements of aperture, focus, rule of thirds, white balance and lens selections, the list goes on and on. You either get these right or it’s wrong.

 

The result is a properly formatted picture of a flower. It looks good. But is it art? That’s where so many people get hung up on definitions.

Now let’s look at that flower from a more creative view. When you are viewing the flower what are you trying to express? What vision are you giving your work? Do you want to break any rules to make that image speak the emotion or action you want it too.

Purple Daisy
Purple Daisy

How you come to this is by experimentation and learning what works for what goal you want to accomplish.   For instance, does the flower have to be precisely centered in the picture, or by putting it to one side can you force the viewer to move their attention?

After a while and about 10,000 pictures you begin to develop an eye for what is going to work and what might not. It is not really a conscious thing though.  I mean you don’t wake up one morning and the world suddenly looks different.  Rather, it is a slow process that usually takes years to appear.

However, I daresay you will become as proficient in the creative view of photographic art as the academic photographer does with all of their math and formula.

Mind you, neither side is necessarily better than the other and any photographer worth their lenses will tell you that it takes both the academic and creative approaches to truly the master the art and science of photography.

Why not start your own artistic journey ?  Sign up to be a friend of A&A Photographic Arts today!   

 

Photographic Art that tells stories.

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