I am introducing a new piece in my botanical series. This image was made using a vintage lens which is some 60-70 years old. I am using a collection of these lenses to achieve a softness and quietness in the images which matches my personal aesthetic.
As an admirer of Piet Mondrian, I am inspired by his work and philosophy. “Mondrian believed that art reflected the underlying spirituality of nature. He simplified the subjects of his paintings down to the most basic elements, in order to reveal the essence of the mystical energy in the balance of forces that governed nature and the universe.” I especially feel aligned with his philosophy that art reflects the spirituality of nature.
The clean geometry and basic colors of his work makes it dramatic and very appealing to me. In my image above, which I have titled “Balance of Forces”, I use the lines of the grasses to compose an image with parallel lines and triangular shapes to create a sense of movement and dynamic visual interest. I selected the background for this image first as it is of equal importance to the final result as the foreground grasses. I aligned the area of yellow wildflowers in the background so that they brought the eye to the top center of the image from which the lines of the grasses would then cause exploration throughout the frame.The yellows also provided nice color contrast to the blues throughout the image.
Available as a giclee on either photographic paper or canvas from my gallery on-line.
At a recent art festival in Virginia, I met Judy. She entered my booth and was drawn to a canvas giclee that I had made of an image of grasses. The image is part of a series I began last summer using antique lenses adapted to new cameras. It is a very etherial series and one that speaks to my aesthetic. Judy was also drawn to a framed print from the same series which hung on my display walls. It was a picture of a meadow of daisies (titled appropriately — Daisy Meadow) rendered softly against late-day light and also made with one of my antique lenses. Daisy Meadow was the piece she wanted and she wanted it as a large canvas.
I took her order and as soon as I returned to my studio, began working on the new canvas image. I hadn’t had this piece done on canvas before but thought it would work well. In fact, I think this new series I’m doing lends itself exceptionally well to larger canvas giclees. Still, I was very pleased when she wrote to me after receiving her artwork. She told me, “it is absolutely the most beautiful picture!!!! I love it!.” In a follow up email, Judy speaks to the piece having “so much depth.” The picture is “soft and inviting,” she added.
I always listen to the people who purchase my work, they are my best source of feedback. From them I get insight into my work and even the business of selling art. It is the interaction with collectors that makes being a full time artist most fulfilling.
Daisy Meadow can be purchased as an art print or canvas giclee directly from my on-line gallery – here
Driving back from a show in Virginia last month, we passed by a section of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. It was snowing which made the scene along the river appear to be in a fog. The snow obscured the details of distant hills, and generally gave a soft feeling to the landscape. I made some mental notes about returning under similar conditions with a qualified camera.
After a few more miles I couldn’t stand it any longer and pulled over the first chance I got. I always bring a camera with me to shows in order to make new booth images for future show submissions, and to do some PR images for web use. So I got out of the van with that “show” camera in hand and figured I would do what I could. The camera is an Olympus Stylus 1, a small sensor camera with a very good lens and full manual control capability. I am a strong believer that strong images are made by artists not cameras, so I worked to create an image that conveyed the feelings I had looking out over the river.
I like the feeling of dimension in this piece. My eye travels first to the island on the left then to the distant island on the right, then toward the middle island and the distant hill. I converted the image to black and white as color was not relevant to my visualization, and added a subtle sepia toning. I think the image has a rather timeless quality to it and am quite happy with it. My 11×14 test print is very pleasing and so this image is available on my website HERE.
I’m currently reading two books on aesthetics which I find fascinating. I’m still at the beginnings of both books but already they have me contemplating the “why” of art more deeply. As an artist I create from a relish for nature, a relish for beauty, a relish for life. It is a consciousness raising experience and one that lifts my humanity. I respond to natural beauty through aesthetic experience and translate that into my own interpretation, striving to create something beautiful in itself. When I respond to a field of grass aesthetically, I’m not trying to recreate that field. What I am doing is trying to relate my unique aesthetic experience of that field to a viewer so that they may feel about it the way I did.
If I am successful with my creation then I have affected some response in the viewer which raises their consciousness and relish for life as well.
I’m looking forward to this weekend. I will be exhibiting with the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen at Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia.
There will be new work! I have been creating images with a couple unique themes. I am excited about both new bodies of work. The first set of imagery is being done with a variety of antique lenses and plays with light and color as reflected off of the flowers that grow in meadows near my studio. The second set of imagery is being done with macro lenses and deals with light refraction off of water drops on plant leaves and petals. In future posts I will be speaking about these new bodies of work in more detail.
The image below is part of the first new body of work and was made with an antique Meyer Optik Gorlitz 135mm f3.5 lens (Exakta mount) that I purchased on eBay from an overseas seller. The lens, when used correctly, can render background elements with a very soft, etherial feeling. The out-of-focus highlights expand into spherical shapes that I find very pleasing. I used the lens on a Fuji XT-10 camera body with an adaptor that allows it to be used on the camera. Exposure is done in manual mode as is focusing, but the Fuji has a wonderful electronic viewfinder which allows me to precisely select the area I want to be sharp.
One of my goals when selecting new photographic tools is to be able to do things that my current tools don’t allow or make too difficult. Last year I purchased a Nikon Coolpix P900 because I felt that its crazy 83x optical zoom lens which ranges from an equivalent 24-2000mm would allow me to compose almost any image I wanted. It also was said to have a pretty good image stabilization function which I knew would be necessary with 2000mm!
No camera can fill every niche, and the more any one camera claims to allow me to do, the lower the image quality tends to be. So I went into this purchase expecting the limitations of such a camera. Having worked with it just a bit now, I have confirmed my suspicions regarding its limitations but also what I hoped it to be – a go to camera when an image idea comes to me and there is no time or access to setting up “better” gear.
One of those “in the moment” ideas came to me during a recent evening and the Nikon P900 was the tool I selected to try to make the image I was visualizing. The moon was slowly coming over a ridge lined with trees. I wanted to compose a frame filling image of the moon with the silhouetted trees in front in a very flat, two-dimensional way. I ran inside for the camera and started composing. At 800 ISO I was able to get sufficient shutter speed to hand hold 2000mm I thought. But for extra security I found a post to lean on and stabilized myself further.
I took the meter reading off the moon to maximize my shutter speed and because I wanted the sky to go black. The image became a round, golden ball with some crater detail and bare winter trees silhouetted. Its the image I visualized in my head.
Prints in two sizes are available on my website – Here
Certainly snow adds an etherial feeling to an image, emotionally it may be the most important element in a winter scene. I also find however that snow adds a great sense of texture to an image. In fact, it may even emphasize the other textures in a scene by breaking the image up into an almost pointalistic painting.
The soft, even lighting of a snowfall is critical as well, preventing areas from becoming too light or too dark. In the image below, I composed in layers and included some winter red berries to add color punch to the image. For me though it is the texture that turns me on most, something that when working with a two-dimensional medium really gets exciting.
The image was made with a Canon 5D camera mounted to a Canon 28-300mm L IS lens on a Gitzo tripod. I selected a focal length of 150mm and worked almost wide open and at 400 ISO to attain a shutter speed of 1/60 sec. (fast enough to stop the snow falling from being a blur).