Tag : ocean
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!!!!
These are the exact parameters and pressures I was shooting under when I made this image. I got several great images out of that lovely morning and I am quite proud of some of them. At the time I was completely absorbed by the moment, but after staring at images on a computer for hour, it is hard to not let your mind wonder.
I occurred to me that sometimes a crappy shooting situation is less stressful because if you get anything that meets your artistic standards you can be very satisfied with the practice and skills that allowed you to work through it. However, working with the perfect parameters can sometimes make for stress of a completely different nature.
I don’t think that I am the only artist who has a large portion of self esteem inextricably intertwined with artistic endeavors. Given that fact a perfect shooting environment can be a very precarious position to be in. Not because of the fear of getting nothing; if you have any skills there will be some usable end result. No, its because the perfect situations is where an artist must navigate the treacherous waters of transcendence. What do I mean by that? I am referring of course to the question of true genius or great skill. Skill can be developed, and not just technical skills either, artistic instinct and eye I think can also be developed. But, there is another level I think. A level almost no one ever reaches, and even more rarely know they have reached it.
It seams obvious to me that virtually no artist can know if they have reached that level. Thankfully it seams impossible be that much of an objective observer of your own art or art around you. For this reason it makes no logical sense to even allow these thoughts to percolate in the brain, but I do it anyway. I think this may present a fundamental problem: The perfect environment for creating art has always forced questions of an unanswerable nature into my mind and I am not sure that I can change that. It has also crossed my mind that these questions may be the very thing that separates 10k hours from genius.
Thanks for reading!!!
Some of you have seen this image before. If you have, you probably know that there are two versions. This one is the version that shows up best on a computer screen. The other is more subtle and soft and will look fantastic printed on canvas in a large format.
This photo was taken at about 6am in MA and the water was very cold. I would like to thank Chris Bloom and Lauren Evans for agreeing to get up that early while on vacation, climb into cold water and put up with me asking them to hold various precarious positions while they tried not to look cold. Based on the final product they are both good actors because they were freezing.
I would also like to thank my assistants Taylor and Michael Bloom, as well as my lovely wife Megan, for dealing with me getting very cranky because one of my wireless flash triggers was not working. Oh, and getting up early and that whole bit too.
I had been planning to try and get some sunrise shooting done for several days, but was afraid to ask the folks on vacation with me to get up before the sun came up and indulge my artist obsession. It was completely unfounded fear as it turned out because everyone was on board from the word go.
This version of the image is the HDR version. HDR is the process of capturing scene by taking multiple exposures in order to capture a broad tonal range, and then combining those exposures later, with software. These type of photos can have a surreal quality to them that can make them look fake or like digital renderings. Depending on the situation they can be a very effective tool and I even like to use a normally exposed image in some areas and an HDR for other areas of the same final product. In this case though it is just HDR.
The pose was developed by the circumstances. in other words I had no idea what exactly i was looking for. We tried a bunch different things and finally we worked our way to this. This turned out to be one of those posses that looks completely different on camera than to the eye. In fact it looked like two almost random positions to the eye, but when compressed into two dimensions and onto a CMOS censor the compositions really flows.
The sun is obviously on the right side of the image and the “chi” of this image flows in an arc from the bottom left of the frame to the top right, the sun. Also from the foreground to the background. I added the lens flairs in post because I wanted the flow to be immediately apparent. To me they almost look like some sort of mystical tractor beam pulling the models towards the sun.
As I sit and write about it i have discovered several small things I would like to change. They are minor, but I think that it is these minor changes that may be the difference between looking at this image one time and wanting to see at it often.
Thanks so much for reading.
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So far my audience is pretty small so the number of people who get to see all the little details is more or less one, me. I think of this fact as a reinforcement of my artistic honesty. You see, there is no guarantee that anybody but myself will ever have the chance to look close enough to actually see the little things. In spite of this fact, I have no power to stop agonizing over the details. If I am to continue making art I will continue spending hours making a mask or layer perfect. Since I intend to continue in this direction I have no choice but to come to terms with the frustration of not being able to get it perfect. On the flip side, ever once in a while you know when something works just right.
Getting back to artistic honesty. I like to think that my lack of restraint in beating the little details to death indicates that I am working from a place of true integrity. This could just as easily be false and closer to a psychological disorder than artistic inspiration, but I have a feeling that this is a chasm bridged by every person who thinks themselves and artist.
In so many areas of my life rationality is the best way to make my way. However, it sometimes seems that in the realm of artistic self esteem, logic and reason should be used sparingly at best. For example, if I truly examine the continuum of technical ability and artistic narrative skill that has existed, there is little hope that anything I create will be seen, even posthumously, as possessing of such an awe inspiring nature. If I base my self respect and belief in my work in any way on the context of history and previous genius, I will have none left. I are thus left in a logical conundrum, for I would argue that unless you greatly value your own work, and its creation, chances are, not many other people will either. So, in the face of this apparent contradiction I think that a minor abandonment of traditional logic is probably necessary in most instances of artistic endeavor.
All this is to say that this image was shot at sunrise on a beach and was created mostly with simple aesthetics in mind. When I got it into photoshop I could see that it had something to say so my question to myself was “how do I get you, the viewer, to listen and hear the thing that i hear?” As with every one of my images I try to create face value interest, and within that framework build meaningful things and hopefully a story. You will of course hear different things than I do when you look at this image. But, I think that if I can honestly hear them when I am making it somebody will notice that maybe there is something to listen for. I have decided to call this piece “We are the flying machines,” odd in know but for me the name of one of my pieces is often the context from which it should be viewed. All i can do as an artist is to trust my own judgment and inspiration because to rely on logic, history, and external validation is a recipe for spiritual anxiety that I definitely cannot handle.
Maybe by the end of this blog something will come to me.
The first thing I want you to do when you read this is look at this image for a while and try and decide what makes this image cool right off the bat. I have shown this around and without fail it take a couple beats for people to recognize the fact that the right side of the image is black and white, while the left side is in color. Cool right?
I had been wanting to try this idea out for a while, but I until this image I hadn’t found one that would work well without looking contrived and altered. Now, obviously when you notice the effect you realize that it has been altered on a computer. However, what I try to do is to not have that be first, second, or hopefully even third thing that you think. My goal, almost all the time, is to make the enhancements fit the piece well enough that in the context of the piece itself they are not distracting. I usually have little interest in replicating reality, but I also don’t want you to be distracted by the surreal additions.
This particular image is very good for this subtle BW/Color effect. First off, large sections are already somewhat monochromatic. In fact the sky is really the only section that really shows off any color at all. The second reason is the silhouettes. They are by nature black and so I didn’t have to worry about the contrast of skin tones and I also had an area I could use as a natural dividing line. The third thing is the nature of the clouds. The clouds themselves, even on the color side, are relatively grey-scale. Because of this the clouds are reasonably similar across the image and this makes the changing bluse sky less distracting. Because of these factors the blue sky is really the only major transition from left to right. Yes, the water is different on either side, but your mind wants to see the symmetry, so it does. The transition of the sky is also adjusted to follow both the cloud edges and the diagonal lines of the arm and leg as they extend towards the top right corner. All these subtle effects are enough to confuse a mind looking for symmetry and patterns, at least for a couple seconds.
On a completely different note, my favorite thing about this image is the droplet of water coming off the foot on the right side of the image. It implies motion of the leg rising out of the water and as such breathes that all important “life” into the photograph. My other favorite thing about the drip is that I never saw it during the shoot.
I think I will call this image “A Drop of Motion”
Anyway, please make any comments you would like and thanks for reading.