When making any image, I am consciously and also subconsciously aware of my surroundings and how they make me feel. This means that there are many forces at work which impact the way I make an image. All of the sensations I experience in the moment play a roll in how I represent my world visually. Spring is a rather overwhelming time of year. There is so much life bursting forward! There is so much color and song and new found warmth. It all becomes part of a highly sensual, highly emotive, and highly stimulating event.
This image was made in a garden in Colonial Williamsburg, a location where my wife and I exhibit our art during the spring. We use the trip as a way to connect with our fans in Virginia and to create new works about the joyfulness of the season of regeneration.
All of the sensations I experience in the moment play a roll in how I represent my world visually.
For this image I was using a very odd lens not made for photography. It is actually a movie projector lens which I purchased from a Russian metalsmith in the Bronx who makes adapters for these types of “alternative” lenses. I incorporate the effect this lens allows me to create with my personal esthetic in order to create differently expressive images. I can see, and therefore control, the effect through the viewfinder which allows me to have a new experience while creating. That really is a main point to the art for me – new experiences.
I am a big fan of Japanese woodblock prints, especially those relating to nature. The aesthetics of simplicity, muted color, and brilliant use of space (positive and negative), is very pleasing to me. Over the last several years, I have been conscious of my desire to work in a more minimalist style. One way in which I create in that style is with a long telephoto lens. With the narrow perspective and thin depth of field of a long lens I can isolate objects and compress elements within the composition.
This beautiful Weeping Cherry tree is one of my favorite features of our farm property and one which I go to each spring to experience anew. On this overcast April day, I watched a House Finch explore the tree’s bowing branches. The combination of pink flowers and rosy red of the House Finch create a harmonious combination. I composed for a bit of contrasting tonalities in the background and with sufficient negative space on the left to keep the image airy and light.
I like this new piece very much. It represents the direction my work has been heading now for a few years and which I am continuing to build upon. I made the print on a matte paper which maintains the subtlety of tones and softness of the light. It will be introduced this weekend in Timonium, Maryland as I tour with the Sugarloaf Craft Festival.
The finished piece titled House of the Weeping Cherry, is approximately 10×14, double-matted to 16×20 with all acid-free materials, and framed in white with UV-Protective, Reflection-control glass. The Edition is limited to 100 and is part of “The 100” Series, priced at $239.00 framed and $114.00 matted. Both are available at my gallery on-line HERE.
I am excited to introduce a new image and a new series. This new series is really a new category of art prints which will represent the majority of work I offer going forward. In this series which I have named “The 100”, prints will be limited to 100 total across all edition sizes. If I print in 1, 2 or 3 edition sizes, the total across all of them will be 100. For this new image, Black Bird, I am introducing it as a 9.75 x 13.75 print matted to 16×20 in an edition of 50. Therefore, all other edition sizes will number a total of 50 prints to reach 100.
Black Bird is an image I made early morning during a snow storm this month (it’s been that kind of spring!). Waking up to the snow, I immediately grabbed my preferred gear for tough weather and started driving the back roads around where I live in north-central Pennsylvania.
For this image I was drawn to the line of the trees and the way the snow was covering the branches almost as if the trees were “leafed-out” with white foliage. To me this piece has the feeling of an infra-red image, it is almost surreal. I keyed in on the small figure of a black bird on the top of the central tree and decided to make it the “center” of interest. The bird animates the image, providing a point of empathy, a vantage point that we can relate to. All wildlife allows this type of connection with a landscape, regardless of how small in the frame they are. It was also because of the small size of the bird in the image that I placed it centrally. The arrangement of trees is best in this configuration as well however. I work by gut instinct, intuitively, so I can react authentically and emotionally to a scene.
I used an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with an Olympus 12-100mm lens. This weatherproof gear gives me great confidence to work in extreme conditions. It is small and light weight and feels very comfortable in my hands. The Olympus 12-100mm gives me a great range of compositional options especially when needing to work from a confined range.
Freezing temperatures and snow flakes are still finding their way into spring this year. My morning trip to the barn was met with snow covering ground and large flakes in the air. I know it won’t last forever, but I am getting a bit impatient for warmer temps.
I think the local birds have had enough of it as well. Even though I continue to feed them, I think they are also getting impatient. Anyway, I asked this American Tree Sparrow if it wanted more snow. His reply was rather emphatic! Bit of a drama queen I think though, a simple head shake would have sufficed.
I’ll be in Rockville, Maryland this weekend participating in the A-RTS Rockville Arts Festival for the first time. It will also be my first show in the state of Maryland. Like many outdoor shows, there is a lot of physical labor involved and as this show has a Saturday morning set-up, it will be a bit of a grind. I’ve done these types of shows before though and they are part of my motivation to stay in some form of physical fitness. A regular routine consisting of yoga and light weight training is usually enough to keep me from getting hurt and from falling asleep during the show (lots of coffee doesn’t hurt).
The image of the hanging orchids below was made at Longwood Gardens, one of my favorite locations to work with flowers. This time of year though there are flowers growing everywhere and they all call out to me. I carried a Sony RX10 on this trip which was a pleasure to use and allowed me to work with a light weight, very versatile camera.
The image is available as an 11×14 archival print matted to 16×20 for $89 by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A big part of the visual impact of an image is the focal point. The focal point is the specific location that the viewer is lead to by the photographer. That point may be achieved through selective focus, light contrast, color, or some compositional device. Sometimes, the focal “point” may be a focal plane, a slice of the image that is somehow accentuated and made therefore, most important.
I like the visual impact of altering the plane-of-focus in an image beyond the normal parallel and instead creating a plane that is rather diagonal. It imparts a bit of an altered state feeling. It can also impart a bit of a dreaminess. This dreamy state is partially due to the defusing of an area of the image that is usually part of the normal depth of field. I like too, that the result is a simplification of the scene so that the specific slice I want to draw attention to is the only area in focus.
To achieve my desired result, I use a Lensbaby adapter which allows me to use Nikon lenses on Micro-Four-Thirds cameras. In the image below I used a Nikon 28mm manual focus lens (quite old) on a Panasonic G2 camera and set the plane of focus off to the side and down. It was a spring evening after a rain and the woods were vibrant green and smelled wonderful.
The calendars and the clocks tell me it’s spring but I need proof. For the last couple years I have been seeking that proof along with a friend, Wayne. We head down to Longwood Gardens to be shown that spring is in fact here.
Today, however, we found proof of spring mostly lacking. There were a few initial signs that the season has changed, but most were still weeks in the making. It’s all good though, the Conservatory is always worth a visit. And a walk around the grounds, even looking much like winter, is a fine thing.
Highlights of the day included a lawn full of crocuses and a the sighting of a rather rare Long-eared Owl! Other than that, well, there’s always that amazing mushroom soup………….
Inside the Conservatory I found a drapery of flowers with a hanging pot of orchids. it had a rather magical look to it all when I compressed the view with a telephoto perspective. For todays group of images I used a Sony RX10 with a lens equivalent to a 24-200mm which gave me most of what I would need with the various subjects at Longwood.
I was tired of waiting for spring so I did the next bet thing, visited Longwood Gardens’ conservatory. This amazing indoor garden is my favorite place to find spring when it isn’t coming as quickly as I’d like. Of course, this was a couple of weeks ago so spring is now here (just mowed the lawn to prove it to myself).
What I especially like about the Longwood conservatory though is the ability to work in a rather controlled environment. Typically the light is soft, the only breeze comes from the air circulating fans, the temperature is constantly spring-like, and it never rains. This type of situation allows me to concentrate only on making images, which is good. On the flipside, the consistency of conditions also limits the creative process. So it’s a trade-off, but one I understand when going in. When spring does hit at Longwood, I can have the best of both worlds. Working inside and outside allows for all the creative freedom I want.
This particular image was made indoors in bright, but diffused, natural light. The colors of the flowers are astounding so my main goal was to create an image with strong lines and geometry. I used a Panasonic GH2 camera with a Panasonic 14-140mm lens and an extension tube to focus more closely. I focused on the buds in the middle, diffusing the flowers around them and composed to place the brightest pink flower at a power point visually.
I have been putting together a series of images printed at 7″x14″ and will be now offering this new image. The bird of course is a Blue Jay, an image I made here in Bucks County just yesterday. Blue Jays are handsome birds with sharp features and unique coloration. We’ve had one visitng around the house lately, so I’ve become more conscious of them.
The colors in this piece are very complimentary giving it a somewhat peaceful feeling. The branch lines lent themselves well I think to this more panoramic presentation. Importantly, the branchs diverge toward the right of the frame which balances the figure of the Blue Jay on the left. I had nice soft light with which to work, but a long focal length lens (400mm w 2X TC = 800mm) and low light required a higher ISO (1250). I was very conscious of the way the leaves frame the bird and the over framing of the image so that it would be a successful 7×14.
This weekend I will be exhibiting and selling my work at the Strawberry Festival in Peddler’s Village. Located in Lahaska, Peddler’s Village is in the heart of Bucks County. Not far are New Hope, PA and Lambertville, NJ, well-known art centers on the east coast.
The festival runs from 10am – 6pm both days and is free to the public. The artists and craftsmen will be set up along Street Road on the Green. Follow the link for more information – http://www.peddlersvillage.com/visit/