The Artistic Transducer: Tales of Conjecture, Hyperbole and My Creative Process
I love shoes! This makes it very hard to criticize my wife’s large shoe collection, but on the up side she has very little grounds for mocking me about mine. What I also like besides just owning cool shoes is photographing those shoes. This particular shot was taken on a spring afternoon with a slightly overcast sky. I would call the arrangement of this shot “non-traditional” and yet it still follows the rule of thirds and several other such “traditions.”
I shot this for fun, but it is still intended as a mock commercial shot so I left room for text or a logo. As a result the image looks off balance if there is no text or logo involved. Well, if you’re decent in Photoshop and you don’t mind ripping off someone’s logo it takes about five minutes to modify a famous brands logo into something with the same feel, but not indicating that this shot was actually used by the brand. I’ll let you guess the brand.
Anyway, just a little fun on a spring afternoon between gigs. Thanks for reading.
I submitted a piece to a gallery for the first time last week and it was accepted. It will be on display and for sale in the Art League Gallery at the Torpedo factory in Old Town Alexandria until Jan 7. You can get more details here http://www.theartleague.org/content/dec2012_allmedia
The piece is pictured here and is entitled “Chained No. 3”. As you might guess from the name, it is the 3rd in a series. I have not finished the previous two images, but hopefully they will be done soon and also hanging in the gallery. I was pretty nervous, as I had never submitted anything to anyone before, but I am now very excited that a whole new group of people have a chance to view my work. Thanks for your continued interest and support!
This isn’t really even a POTW, there is no photo and there will be little to no discussion. This is mostly an explanation of a whole new format for this blog. What I mean is, there will be no more Photo of The Week, but there will be a Blog Post every week, or sometimes even more often. I am simply switching the format around.
I realized after about twenty POTW posts that I was not all that happy with how some of them were turning out. I felt that some were pretty strong, but some were total bullshit, or at least not as genuine as I wanted them to be. I think the way to remedy this is to write the more image specific stuff less frequently so that I have time to write something honest, substantial, and focused. The problem with the old format was that I would go on these tangents when I didn’t have much to say, simply because I needed to get the post up on the net. I like these tangents and I am going to keep writing them, but they didn’t belong with the images and they undermined the clarity of what I was getting at.
The new plan…
The new blog will be called “The Artistic Transducer: Tails of Conjecture, Hyperbole, and Creativity.” It will include in depth discussion of images, as well as other, more frequent posts that deal with tangential or at least less concrete areas of my artistic process. This way I can deliver truly honest image discussions as well as tangential musings and thoughts, all with a little more regularity and focus.
Ok, well that’s the plan. I will be starting this blog off with a new image this week. Before I do that however I would like to get some feedback from you. I would like honest answers to the couple questions below.
– What is the best day and time for me to publish blog posts? When are you most likely to have the time and inclination to read them?
– What is the best way to notify you that there is a new blog post?
Please leave your response as a comment on this page.
Thanks and enjoy the new format.
A nice sunset…with a boat…
This image has been waiting to have something written about it for a while now. I just could not think of anything to say. I should be able to find something to say about every image I create right? Well, I got to thinking about this assumption and the conclusion that I have come to is elegantly simple. If I truly have nothing, non-technical, to say about one of my images, that means that I don’t consider it Art. (more…)
If you shoot in RAW format (unprocessed image data) like I do most of the time you have to touch every single image again later in post. Often this is just getting groups of images with similar color, contrast ratio, and exposure, and batch processing them using a tool in Photoshop. It does make for a much longer post production process, but I think it yields much more consistent and better results.
Unfortunately for my ego, this photo was not the result of careful shot selection and meticulous editing, but rather, if I remember correctly, an incredibly lucky shot captured in full auto mode in jpg format. Too bruise my ego even more; I didn’t even notice that my camera had somehow been switched to auto and jpg. It is an easy thing that can happen with the turn of a dial, and I remember wondering why my camera would choose this moment to start misbehaving and being all stupid.
By the time I had figured out what was going on the wondrous and evanescent weather moment had passed and I was sure that I had miss it completely. Not so. As it turns out my camera is pretty decent as a photographer and barely needed me in order to take great photos.
This all happened more than five years ago, and I had pretty much forgotten about it. But, then I found this image on my HD, and thanks to our wondrous technology, all the metadata that had been embedded when the image was created. Metadata is all the information about and image such and camera model, lens model, focal length, etc. This stuff is great for many reasons, but in this case it was a great memory jogger.
As I write this I am deciding what size and type of print of this image to buy and hopefully sell. I am pretty sure that when the print arrives, it will look spectacular and I will be very happy with it. I also know that what this image means/speaks/inspires to me is going to be very different from others who view it. I will always look at this photo and chuckle and be amused that something so cool was so accidental. Perhaps I should modify it in some way to express that viewpoint and make it part of the “art.” hmm, I may have just talked myself into that…looks like I will be ruining another perfectly good photo with “art”
Thanks for reading!!!
Another nice sunset…I
Here is an interesting example of exposure mixing that takes the image a little farther than simple HDR. With a normal HDR you use multiple exposures to capture the entire dynamic range of a scene. In this image I did that as well as get exposures at specific shutter speeds to capture the water in different states of motion.
When you are close to the shore there are two different views of the water. The shallow areas, where, if shallow enough, you can often clearly see the bottom, and the deeper areas that tend to reflect the sky. It can be hard to capture both these areas with a single frame. I opted to use shutter speed in combination with HDR the show both end of the spectrum. A short shutter speed to freeze the water so I could see through it to the bottom. A longer shutter speed to allow the current to blur the surface of the water and give it that glassy reflective nature. I have the detail heavy, sky, so I didn’t really want to have detail in the reflection of the sky in the water. This is good because using the long shutter also made the reflection blurry and painterly.
I then combined these two image sequences and did allot of manual blending so that the right areas were sharp and the others blurry. I have not quite finished blending, but for the purposes of this blog it was good enough.
Overall with this image I was just trying to put a little different spin on your good old sunset shot. Also, I am once again employing the ideal that an image with some surreal elements often is more descriptive than a direct copy of a scene.
Thanks for reading!!!
every time I look at this image I think of the original Halloween movie from 1978. I know that’s a very odd association, but it has to do with the composition of this image. Halloween was one of the first films to effectively use the scary POV shots where the audience thinks they are seeing the victims from a scary vantage point in the bushes or around a corner. It is a pretty simple technique, just have an “out of focus” foreground element and throw the horizon line off in an odd direction. Done, evil villain created.
Now that I’ve explained the idea look at this image again, only this time imagine that you know there is someone in that boat innocently sleeping. Now imagine that you have a pretty good idea that someone is out to get that person. The photo takes on a whole different meaning when viewed from this perspective. The foreground elements and the tilt give this image a voyeuristic feel that we often associate with foreboding.
Granted, I did quite a bit of leading, but I would still bet you that your perspective on this image is different permanently.
Film and TV have had an indelible effect on the way our brains work(unbelievable conjecture). We see conventions in films and although we know they are not real, I think there may be some deep primitive part of the brain that does not recognize this. Not sure if this fact makes a difference as the conscious areas of the brain seem to run things for the most part. But I find it hard to believe that some reptilian part of the us doesn’t see films and shows and file them right alongside other memories, memories that the conscious mind would deem “real.” In fact there seems to be significant evidence that the brain uses the very structures employed in perception to simulate our memories. I would suspect that, say, the optic nerve, used in remembering/simulating images, is not also charged with delineating “real” from artificial. This, I would imagine, must be a “thinking” function and that does leave the possibility that memories exist in the brain separate from the designation “reality.”
All this is more or less conjecture of course, my own musings, but that’s what this blog is for. I have decided to no longer apologize for the rambling nature of this blog as it’s about my artistic process and this rambling, tangential style is fundamental to my personality(as anyone who knows me has probably been forced to endure).
Thanks for reading!!!!
For most portraits the eyes are the most important part. For whatever reason the eyes seem to be the most communicative area of the face.
There are exceptions to every rule of course, and sometimes not showing the eyes at all can be a powerful statement on its own. But, generally if you show the eyes you want to make sure they are saying the right thing. The right thing depends of course on the purpose of the photo. A family photo is different than a head shot which is different than a portrait…you get the idea. Basicly, you have to know your message and have to communicate it on a basic level through the eyes.
This is a head shot I did for a friend, and as headshots go I quite like. It is certainly non-traditional, but for me it has all the necessary elements of a good head shot. It captures the way the person looks and gives a little indication about what on the inside.
For some people just smiling will capture a deeper part of their personality. I think this is what we like to call being Photogenic. Some people are very photogenic and some are very not photogenic, most people fall generally in the middle(as they statistically must). There are in fact some very beautiful people who do not have an easy time getting their “personality” to come across on “film.” There are also plenty of people who, in person are odd looking or downright ugly, but in front of a camera they look like a million bucks and you feel as if you are looking directly into their soul.
I love the ethereal style of this shot. That is accomplished using a very shallow depth of field, over exposing the back light, and looking down on the subject. Also, I used a neutral gray background (actually blue, but in BW it does not matter) so that the brightness of a white background would not distract from the details that are sharply in focus. For me, in this situation it was absolutely imperative that the eyes be razor sharp in order to make them pop out from the rest of the soft focus. For this particular image, if the eyes(the focal point) are not sharp the head shot falls apart completely and does not convey anything. Because a large portion of the frame is out of focus this would not do the job of a head shot unless the power of the eyes draws the rest of the frame into “focus.”
Thanks for reading!!!
This image has been waiting to have something written about it for a while now. I just could not think of anything to say. I should be able to find something to say about every image I create right? Well, I got to thinking about this assumption and the conclusion that I have come to is elegantly simple. If I truly have nothing, non-technical, to say about one of my images, that means that I don’t consider it Art.
Wow, this was quite a revelation to me. I had never considered the question of “what is my art to me” in such simple terms, but the more I think about it the more I am convinced. As a minimum bar for what, of my own work, I consider art, it is the most simple and decisive measure I could ask for. With simple taxonomy in mind, this blog takes on a whole new level of importance for my artistic process. As it is, this blog is for myself, for the most part. I publish it because I am hoping that other people reading it will help mitigate the “bullshit” factor. So far I have not had any “calling BS” responses(hoping that might change when I launch my new site and it’s easier to leave a comment), but the very idea that they might is a good deterrent to getting to self aggrandizing. What I am saying is that I want your help keeping this an honest and matter of fact look at my artistic process and thinking.
Now, to say a few words about this image and why I don’t really consider it art. Interestingly, if this was created by someone else and I saw it hanging on a wall somewhere I would consider it art. For sure there are many artistic works that many people have many differing opinions on. In the larger sense, the historic sense, it is those people, outside of the creator, who decide on what is art. That being said, the question of what the artist considers art of his/her own creation has an incalculable effect on future projects and self image as an artist.
This image here is a good image. It is a solid photograph. However, every decision I made when creating this image was a technical one. All those choices add up to a cool photo, one that many people might consider art, but to me, its creator, it is just not invested with anything.
Thanks for reading!!!
I’m gonna do something weird for this photo of the week. The next paragraph in this post I wrote a while ago and now I don’t like it and don’t really agree with it. Instead of deleting it and starting over I think I am going to include it in this post and just add the new version after it. This blog is about process so I thought it might be interesting. I might also be lazy, but I would like to think that I not so lazy that I cant delete a paragraph.
A tall pointy building in the middle of the desert…
So, you can’t go to Dubai without going to see the Burj Kalifa, as of April 2012, the tallest building in the world. I was prepared to be amazed. What I was not prepared for was the sheer size of the building. Massive is word that does not really come close, but will do for now. It’s huge triangular base looks like something from a science fiction film. It is truly one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen. All that being said, I was not moved by the building the way I am by other huge buildings. The Burj is an engineering marvel, like so many buildings in the enormous city of Dubai, but it seems to lack “soul.” On some level buildings are the ultimate expression of humanity…(ran out of thoughts)
The New Version
What can you say about the world tallest building? The size is only believable when you see it. There is almost no way not be impressed.
This photo was taken from a path leading to the base of the tower, I would say I was several thousand feet away. A 16mm lens was not wide enough to be any closer than this and capture the whole thing. As it is the top is cut off in the image as well. I was quite tempted to change the brick of the path yellow, but that seemed a but over the top. However OZ would be a place where this marvel would be at home. In fact the reflective glass does give it a bit if a green tinge and the emerald city did come to mind.
I very much wish that I could have taken a trip up in the tower, but my schedule was prohibitive so this was the best I could do. To be fair the exterior vantage is better for getting the sheer size.
I have several other pictures of the tower and I think I will have more and better things to say when I post those. At the moment I have not decided how I want to approach the interaction of engineering, architecture and art. I did want to get this image out there so you could check it out.
Thanks for reading!!!