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PIXelations 25

artsy Rockland area…

by fotofinish , 06-24-2009 at 05:49 PM (1197 Views)

During the workshop in Maine I attended recently, we went on various photoshoots. Each one was designed to emphasize a certain aspect of idea creation and composition. These tricks or gimmicks are now techniques in your own “bag of tricks.” Each one won’t always work for you in certain situations and require practice as does any new technique. But now I can say that I indeed do have a “bag of tricks” when approaching a potential location. Rather than merely using my previous favorite, “carpet-bombing” a site, I now can draw from several other techniques. Blindly approaching a scene with the vague hope of coming away with something a little more meaningful tends to yield very few “keepers” and can be quite frustrating in the creative long run.

So, here is a summary of the techniques we learned to come out of our comfort zone. Each one was designed to have us branch away from the usual methods we often lock ourselves into. Although we may feel we have a proven approach to composition when we first approach a new location, there often are other dimensions that can be explored to help us come away with something a little different; something that we may never have even considered as valid before. An additional goal of this is to get us involved with the scene, to commune with it. Unless we can connect with what we see, how can we expect our viewers to connect with it?

Try different perspectives
Take a series of shots of the subject at various positions: far, closer, close, right, left
Which one(s) produced the best results?

Try different amounts of time to setup and take the picture
10 secs, 1 min.,5 mins., 15 mins., etc.
What is the impact of setup time on the picture?

Too often we use just our eyesight when accessing a potential location shot.
What about using your other senses, rather than just sight?
Find a possible shot location.
Sit down and close your eyes.
Feel the scene around you: what do you hear, smell, feel, taste?
Do your other senses suggest a different approach to this location? This is one I did:

Use gesturing with your outstretched arm to very superficially sketch the major scenic forms/objects that comprise the potential scene. Be aware of how your body feels to the movement. Does this suggest a different placement?

Journalize, using third person, in a series of brief phrases or sentences what your eyes and other senses see/feel about the scene in front of you. Tell the story of the scene in your own words.

Anthropomorphosize the scene before you. How does that tree, that boulder, that mountain, etc. feel in this scene? BE the tree! Here’s one I did:

Sketch on a sheet of paper. Put a box on the paper, to frame the scene. Within this box, crudely sketch in the basic shapes/forms of the scene, in broad detail only, eg, a triangle for a mountain, a squiggly for a river, etc. Examine the sketch to determine scene validity, placement, framing, etc.

I put together a set of candidates for a new series I am developing. You can see the rest of my selections here.

These are really interesting ideas. Think I will copy them off and put a card in my bag. Never thought of tasting a place before taking a picture or wanting to be a tree. Thanks for sharing.

These are not for everybody and they don’t always work, but it is a great starting place. The whole point here is to feel a connection with the scene. Enjoy.

Enjoyed reading your posts. Sure gives me something to think about.

Thanks for the visit. I’m glad you got something out of it!

What I learned at camp, mom…

by fotofinish , 06-25-2009 at 05:27 PM (1202 Views)

The way I approach my photography has radically changed. This change came about as the result of my having attended JP’s workshop. Before attending, my photography can best be described at times as unfocused and chaotic. My work evolved more from “drive-by” and “carpet-bombing” shooting than actual project planning. I did have several active projects, however, but their objectives were never clearly verbalized and subject to change based on the latest hike I took or shoot I made. I had very little ability to pre-visualize the kind of shot I needed next. Although I now have a better sense of recognizing a good picture when I see it, to actually sit down and put together any kind of desired structure was a skill I sorely lacked.

All that has changed. I now have an artistic mission statement that will carry me forward for many years to come. I have goals to support this statement and multiple projects developing simultaneously which flesh-out my goals. All of my projects have “next-step” items which will help me not to stray far from my original goal. I will soon have artist statements for of my projects. The trick for me over time will be to keep open to new ideas while I remain structured and committed toward each of my projects. I must work constantly to maintain a balance between project structure and idea receptiveness.

Can creativity become a learned skill? You bet! I had my doubts before I went, but now I actually have tangible tricks to draw from in my “bag of tricks” to use in developing artistic projects now or in the future. I also have a better understanding of how to pre-visualize what I need for my next shot. “Writer’s block”? No such thing! I have specific techniques to use to keep the creative idea pipeline flowing. But can I sustain this explosion of creativity and direction for the long run? Time will tell, but if enthusiasm is the fuel for achievement, then right now I have enough to propel me for many months to come. The creative drought and “day-job” stress of earlier this year is suddenly no match for the power and rush that the artist gets when everything seems to be coming together as part of some wondrous master plan.

I am not so high as to know that nothing can last forever. There are more droughts and setbacks on the horizon just waiting to derail my creativity train. But now I feel I have the tools and some tricks to use to get me back on the idea trail and the productivity express. This will all hinge on my ability to practice daily all of my newly-learned tricks. These need to be made second nature. I will also need to keep adding more skills and more tricks to my bag so that I may stay in my groove and not fall into a rut.

Glad to see you feeling more positive. It’s been interesting watching you work thorough your thoughts. Skippy

Thanks, Skippy! Starting to have some fun again!

artistic mission statement resource tips

by fotofinish , 07-01-2009 at 05:04 PM (1330 Views)

How do you even start the process of developing your own artistic mission statement? Why should I care about producing such a difficult and seemingly obscure and self-serving piece of writing? At a recent workshop I attended in Maine, we talked about the importance of developing a statement that attempts to define the type of work we as artists try to produce. It represents your artistic objective, your reason why you just have to take pictures. By writing this down, it will force you to verbalize what perhaps before this had been impossible for you to articulate. Have you stumbled through your words when a friend or another viewer asks you what kinds of pictures you like to take and why? Being able to readily have an answer will, if nothing else, provide you with a sense of reinforcement and personal validation as to your own artistic direction. You are not just taking a series of random, unrelated pictures out of whim. This statement could then be used to start a personal roadmap as a means of determining future bodies of your work.

Although the purpose behind developing these kinds of statements may be worthwhile, to actually know where to even begin considering what to write can be at best a monumental challenge.

To get you started with your research, I have a couple of tips below which may help you.

Searching For Personal Trends
The first tip I suggest can take a lot of time, depending on how exhaustive you make your search. Assuming you have been shooting for a few years, go back through some portion of all of the pictures you have ever shot, and sort them into a few general categories. You are looking for any recurring idea trends in the pictures you have historically captured. Try to keep it to just a few categories, if you can. If you can’t, then maybe that suggests that your interests are a bit too diversified and need to consider refining your scope.

For example, in my basement I have many backup spindles of dvd/cd’s which I have accumulated since I started shooting again back in 2002. I was curious to see if I could spot any general trends in the typical pictures I shoot. What I found was four general categories: landscapes from the hikes I have taken and will continue to take; architecture; artistic/still life; and shots from old mill visits I enjoy making. I actually did this exercise when I was building my website, trying to make selections for the galleries eventually placed there.

This was quite an eye-opener for me because it helped me to narrow down my focus in the way I approach a scene. It has made me more aware of what attracts my eye rather than mere intuition, being unable to verbalize the specific concept.

Your “Greatest Hits”
The second tip involves picking from these newly-found categories about a dozen of what you might consider your “greatest hits” portfolio, the images you feel represent your best work. The process you use to make your selections will tell you something about what it is you consider important, whether it be the story the image presents, the use of color or shades of light and dark; or the arrangement of the graphical elements, etc.

Be as objective and as candid and critical as you can. Try to dismiss any sentimentality you may have towards the image, regardless of what it may have taken you to get this picture. Your image should stand alone and be able to whisper in your viewer’s ear its own tale. You will have to decide if you will make your selections based on your own personal requirements, or the popularity based on what you may have heard about the image from other viewers. Or maybe it is a little of both?

Whatever method you use, the final group should present to you hints toward the start of several bodies of work. This may just be enough to spark in you a creative surge of ideas and possibilities. You will want to revisit this group at least once a year to refine the grouping. You will find that your art will evolve over time and through your life-events and each shoot you do. Group candidates may change like the tides, but this is natural.

Armed with the knowledge and insights that these two tips have given you, composing a mission statement should present less of a challenge and more of a personal artistic enlightenment.

My Mission Edit

by fotofinish , 07-06-2009 at 08:15 PM (1406 Views)

My last blog entry explored a few tips on narrowing down your artistic mission statement. I think it is only fair to show you my mission/goals/projects. The projects, however, are still evolving and a couple may actually combine.

Mission Statement
My mission is to encourage the use of viewer imagination while exploring and suggesting what often lies hidden in the personalities and mysteries present in the world that was and the world that is.

G1: One of my goals is to capture images that artistically suggest the presence of a concealed personality, energy, and life force present in nature.

G2: Another goal is to capture images that portray elements of history with a sense of mystery.

P1G1: To extend the series related to the hidden personalities present in nature.

P2G1: Using camera movements, create a series that artistically suggests the presence of concealed personalities, energies, or life forces present in nature.

P3G1: Create a series that explores the natural world as viewed through the human world.

P1G2: To extend the series that continues to explore history’s sense of place with a sense of mystery.

P2G2: Using camera movements, create a series that artistically explores history with a sense of mystery.

This will radically affect my current website. I will gradually make changes to it over the next six months.

Sounds like an interesting Idea, I should try this out.

When you say personalities/energies/life forces of the world, are you talking humans? or are you personifying Animals buildings, landscapes and other non human beings?

and what do you mean by camera movements?


Cool stuff, I look forward to seeing some of your work and ongoing projects!


by fotofinish , 07-19-2009 at 09:30 AM (1136 Views)

Here is my working artist statement for my next series, called Pretend…

Did you ever play the game pretend? Does imagination play a role in your life? Even in the simplest of objects, there is a sense of something hidden, or a sense of a life force at work. If we can look beyond the representational and stare hard enough and long enough past the confines of the physical manifestations we see portrayed around us, we may find that everything is not always what it seems. Sometimes, a rock is just a rock. However, I believe that too many of us race through our lives with exactly this impression. We take comfort in our labels, our categories, our defined job descriptions.

The use of imagination at times seems to be a vanishing trait in a world where most things are categorized as right or wrong, black or white, or proven with scientific methodology. Common items in nature might be viewed differently if we try to look below the surface and ask what-if or what-would questions. As a child, taking my first artistic baby steps, I ask these questions with the spirit and wonder of a child.

If a tree could shout, what would it say?

What if sunlight on a bush did more than just show off its leaves?

What if…

I put the candidates for this series on my proofing site. You can see the rest of my selections here.

I love these shots. You’re stepping into a great area. Un bridled manifest. Keep going!

If the tree could shout it would say : “GIMME LIGHT !!”

Everyones imagination can be different .. we all have different feelings, thoughts and looks when we look at something like a scene or an object .. today i walked by the harbour with my daughter and she saw me taking pictures from ropes wrapped around wood .. to her it was a rope and wood .. nothing more .. to me it was the color of the rope against old wood in combination with the water next to it .. the whole composition atracted me as some abstract object .. took two or three more .. but my daughter still didn’t see it .. when home again i will print them so she can stare at it again .. then i explain to her again what i saw ..

You series looks great so far .. it’s good to have your questions next to it too .. so people who sees them can compare there thoughts and questions with yours ..planning to do some more?
How did you make them .. in Photoshop or with a lensbaby?
Keep on going!

I really appreciate the feedback, guys! This stuff I’m doing I know isn’t for everyone, and I’ve been getting rejection from a few key people…
Eric: these were all done in camera, no photoshop, just adjustments in Lightroom. I’ll write an article describing my process soon…

Ogunquit, ME

by fotofinish , 07-27-2009 at 06:41 PM (727 Views)

Jayne and I took some vacation time last week in Ogunquit, ME, with friends of ours. I wasn’t expecting much of a photographic opportunity for me, and I was basically right. I did get a few pictures of the harbor at Perkins Cove like this one:

We also took a brief cruise from the cove to the Cape Neddick lighthouse, one of the most photographed in the country:

You can see the rest of my selections here.

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