Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fifty roses.....5

Several times during the short span of the fifty roses project, I have felt as if I have bitten off more than I can chew.  I simply don't have new ideas at that rate.

Then I remembered Georgio Morandi, who had proved such an inspiration to a painting project from earlier.

I got out the Morandi book and looked over his images to see what I could find to help with the roses project.  I got some of my Morandi bottles and repainted them grey, black and white.

I then realized that the thing to do is to meticulously arrange the bottles so the shapes and placement work well.  Then I had to light them to do the same for tonal relationship.

It has helped me move the Fifty Roses forward another step.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Fifty roses.....4

I have done variations on a theme in this series but I don't want to bore people with similar images.  I've decided to rotate between the various variations to keep it fresher.

Here is a black and white image processed in Silver Efex Pro. It is a bright red rose with a red filter, which renders the rose whiter.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fifty roses.....2

This is the second rose still life.  Some might think it looks frightfully like the first.

Well it does and it doesn't.  The challenge with series is to push them along; to see how many variations on a theme work.  Painters often paint variations on a theme and over the years, they are seen to stand on their own as distinct ideas.  So time will tell.

The idea in Roses 1 was the memento mori, mostly:  Living and dead roses, the straight razor, my old friend death in the form of the skull.

The idea here in Roses 2 is also life and death: The fact that we pass this way once, so make the most of it.

When I recall the idea of mortality, one of my first profound experiences of the idea was through Shakespeare's sonnets.  He devoted an enormous amount of ink to the idea of "cheating" death by living a full life:  for him, one could create children, write, and have faith.  Those were three ways of creating a kind of immortality.  You still didn't get out of it alive, but you left a legacy.

So my second rose still life is a homage to Shakespeare, hence the complete works;  the eyeglasses (symbols of knowledge), the prickly rose stem (it doesn't always come easy) and the dead roses say it doesn't last forever.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fifty roses....1

Here is the first attempt in the fifty roses project.  As you may recall,  I foolishly decided to attempt fifty roses photos that are different from any done before.  Good luck.

The first was supposed to be simple.  I figured my best hope was to portray absolutely simple images.

It started simple, but then a tin cake plate got into it for dull spectral highlights; then a nice white plate, which just screamed for Death, who wormed his way in with the white plate as a halo.  The dead petals were added with the plate, randomly dumped.  I needed some balance, hence the dried white roses.  My grandfather's chipped straight razor was added to echo the shape of the coffee pot and direct the eye up (and maybe just a smidgen of memento mori).......

And before you know it........anyway.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fifty ways to see your Roses.... part 3

I've been thinking about the challenge of flower photograpahy: that it is over done.  When I was in Amsterdam recently, I was reminded of the power of the original baroque still life painters; their ability to convey the luxury of ordinary things for an emerging, wealthy bourgeoisie.  It was a break from religious painting.  It was self centred in a way.

It was the Protestant declaration that we are here.  We are rich.  We are going to tame the material world.

The Dutch understood the American dream way before the Americans did.  What will the Chinese version look like?

But I digress.  The old Dutch masters inspired me to try and photograph a rose in fifty ways that haven't been seen before.

It starts tomorrow.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Do not put flowers....part 2

The lilies are less spectacular than the roses.  They travel in packs.  It seemed to me they only revealed themselves when bunched together in a group; confined to a small space.  Maybe it's just me.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Never put flowers in your portfolio....1

Scott Kelby, a teacher and Photoshop expert advises "never to put flowers in your portfolio".

I think it's because everyone puts flowers in their portfolios and therefore:

a) art directors are so sick of seeing them they hurl,
b) since everyone does it, the odds are virtually certain that someone did better flowers than you and yours suck by comparison,
c) Botticelli had the final word on this in 1547.

So if you agree with Scott, you should find another blog to peruse for the summer.  Our front garden is given' 'er and it's liable to be a floral summer.

The rose bush is in flower (probably till November), the lilies are in and I like the way the Fujifilm X Pro-1 with the 60mm lens renders colour.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hot time summer on the water...part 2

I have been shooting with the Fujifilm X Pro-1 camera for about a month now.  It has impressed me greatly and continues to do so.  It is light weight, has old fashioned knobs and dials, has 3 excellent lenses and produces images that are better than any digital camera I have ever used.

I'm not a shill for Fuji.  But I was faced with a decision when I went to Europe:  I could carry five pounds of gear around my neck and get good pictures while looking like a paparazzi in every museum and restaurant I visited, or I could carry I small tourist camera and get crappy image files but be comfortable and enjoy the trip.

Then I read about this Fuji X Pro.  Light and great images.

It's a real breakthrough in digital cameras.  Now mind you, it's fiddly in some ways.  It doesn't know what you're thinking before you think it, like the Canons and Nikons.  It isn't photography on auto pilot.  But for those of us who actually had to calculate exposure and focus, this may seem more natural.

Don't misunderstand me:  I'm all for the young and innovation.  Kids produce fabulous images with phones, iPads and shoe phones for all I know.  And if they want a 5d Mark V, God bless them.

But for me, this Fuji producers images that sing.  The one above reminds me of an Alex Colville painting in its delicate handling of tonal transition and edge detail.

I love it.  And I can wear it around my neck all day and hardly notice it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hot time summer on the lake

Hot here.  With the humidex, it's around 95 to 100 degrees or 40 celsius for our European friends.  We went on our annual boat junket where it was cooler on the water.

It was a spectacular day.  The water was cooling, the company was excellent and our picnic lunch was delicious.

It was an interesting day for image making.  The heat and sun seemed to etch the images, like on a copper plate.  I just went with it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Abstract wanderings....part 2

Apart from a brief student stint as truck driver and waiter before I graduated from university, I have made my living entirely by writing and photography. I had a rather brilliant teacher who was also my boss.  He told me that there were no dull people, only dull writers.

That idea landed on me like a clattering epiphany.  I was already an existentialist of sorts (you are what you do.)  It was down to me to find the meaning of things.  

When I returned from Europe earlier this month, I was complaining about dull subjects when I remembered: There are no dull subjects, only dull photographers.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Abstract wanderings

It rained: the overcast weather inspired thoughts of colour. I love the saturation that happens with wet surfaces and cloud cover.

I wandered around and shot a dozen images. Here are a few.

Paris is for lovers

I might as well state the obvious while doing the Paris pix.  Everywhere you look, there are people wandering Paris, their relationships in various states of perfection and disrepair.....

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The joys of summer

Big hats, jelly beans, nearly naked, and just bombin" around in the car.....the true joys of summer

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Jump off a cliff: part 2, the soft landing

The problem with self portraits is they can seem vain.  But the main reason people do them, I think, is to experiment and try things: either you wouldn't want to waste time with a model, or you just don't have a model handy.

It may be why photographers, and painters for that matter, have so many pictures of their younger kids, posed so artistically.

Kids are handy and you can pop them into the set and ask them to stand this way or that.  Until a certain age, they are fairly obliging.  Later, it's more of a cajoling game.  Till finally they tell you to pound salt, or words to that affect.

That's when the self portraits start in earnest....until the grandchildren arrive!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Who wants to jump off a cliff?

I recently changed out my entire canon eos 5d mark II and III with all the good L lenses for a humble Fujifilm X Pro-1 with lenses (three only !!!).

I have made all my recent best photos with the Canon.  But when I saw the still life pix and then my vacation snaps from the Fujifilm camera, I just said "fu&%k it".  Life is short.  I want easy. This feels like my old Rolleiflex. I can wear it around my neck all day, without strangulation.  I think I'm home. (plus I banked $2600 on the trade in. It's like getting paid to trade!~)).

But when I got home from vacation, I realized the Fujifilm might not be able to do cable release autofocus self portraits.  Since portrait photography is one of my enduring loves, I had a brief moment of panic (just to see what it was like).

No need to panic.  The portrait files are stunning: in monochrome or colour.  The Fujifilm focuses like old friend Karsh on his best behaviour ("hold that now!" as he points the finger at you.)


Peonies demi-mortes

The peonies are fading fast. I barely experienced the transition from beauty to rest.

But this is the first year for these blooms and I didn't expect them to be full blossoms at all.

Beauty is where you find it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hey hey hey, it's the Grand Palais

Grand Palis from Champs Elysee

window seat


grand staircase
Helmut Newton exhibit

grand staircase

Grand Palais exterior

As we walked along the Champs Elysee, we noticed a rather interesting building towards the river.  It was the Grand Palais.  Next day, I realized the Helmut Newton retrospective was hung there. Newton was a German photographer busy for most of the middle of the 20th century.  I had wanted top see the Newtons as his wife had curated the show and it was extensive.  I had seen lots of Newton in books and mags, but never up close.

He is a very impressive photog.  He is like Lucien Freud in his existential tensions: they are of the same generation, and both recently died.

It was great to see his work.  The large nudes were inspired by police photos from the 1970s.  He did most of his shooting with a medium format Rolleiflex camera.  The really big prints are eight feet tall and they are grainy but fine nonetheless.  Pixel peepers today would dismiss him.  That is the sad state some photography has sunk to.

The light in the Grand Palais was fab.  I shot a bunch.

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