Archive for the 'Still Lifes' Category

04
Jun
11

“Slinkies” recognized

My photograph “Slinkies!” won an Honorable Mention in the 53rd Annual Darien Art Show last night.  I’m honored and humbled! There is some great work in the show – painting, sculpture, multimedia as well as photography. The exhibit runs through next Saturday. For details, see Darien Art Show.

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12
Mar
11

man does not live by bread alone…

This week I had the great pleasure of doing a shoot with my good friend, Lisa, who is a baker extraordinaire.  Lisa is a professionally trainer baker of artisanal breads, scones, biscuits and cookies. If you have not tried any of Lisa’s scrumptious creations, stop by Darien Cheese & Fine Foods (website). You’re in for a real treat!

This shoot was about shapes, textures, colors and depth of field. We purposely kept the compositions very simple. In the image to the left of Irish soda bread, we used a fairly harsh light, to bring out the shine in the glaze on the bread. Also we were emphasizing the contrast between the smooth board and rough texture of the bread.

In the image of the bread in a cooling tent, we wanted to show a bit of the reflection off the glass, but not have it be overwhelming. This is a matter of trial and error as you move lights around. Thank goodness for digital capture – there’s no cost to shooting hundreds of images, if need be.

I love Lisa’s post-modern red bread box.  It looks like it might be something the Jetsons would have in their kitchen. While shooting it, I kept wondering if it might take off and fly around the studio. Luckily, it stayed put.

Lisa and I shot her breads for about three hours. We used just a few props and stayed with the blue paper background. We’d take a shot, move the bread a half-inch to the side and shoot again. There’s a lot to be said for keeping things simple while taking pictures. You can slow down and really concentrate on the shapes and textures.  So many images we see today are too busy and frenetic. I find the photographs Lisa and I created to be somehow calming.  Please see more images from this series on my website, here.

“Man does not live by bread alone.”  This sentence appears three times in the Bible, in Deuteronomy and the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.  And to be sure, there is more to life than bread. But I have to say that, when I eat a slice of Lisa’s flax bread (pictured below), all’s right with the world and there’s not much else I long for!

24
Feb
11

Slinkies! (part two)

I wrote a blog post recently with some pictures of slinkies. If you missed it, you can catch it here. The weather is still pretty drab and I needed a fix of bold colors, so it was back to the slinkies. This was not all just for fun, but also for lighting practice and experimentation. But the fun was the main thing!

The slinkies are indeed fun to shoot. I’m remembering playing with them as a child, trying to get them to walk all the way down a flight of stairs. (I never quite made it – did you?) The colors are fun. And playing around to get some interesting shapes and compositions was a terrific creative exercise.

In the first two images, I used a fairly soft lighting setup. In the one above, I went for a harsh light, to bring out the shadows on the “floor.”  This harsher light also accentuates the three dimensionality of the slinkies. With the slinkies hanging in mid-air, I had to wait a long time for them to stop bouncing.

The one above was also shot with a fairly hard light. As I look at it, there is almost a theatrical lighting feel to the picture. 

How do you respond to these photographs?  (Notice I didn’t ask if you liked them.) I’m fascinated by how each of us responds to visual images.  You may have a positive or negative reaction to each of the colors, based on your own experience and memories. The shapes may conjure up other subjects, consciously or subconsciously.  A psychiatrist could flash these in front of us like a Rorschach test and have a field day! The more abstract a photograph is, the more liberty we give our imaginations to take over.

Which image did you respond to most strongly? What did you feel? What experiences from your life came to mind?  I’d love to hear from you!

And – just as a preview of possible coming attractions….Legos!

01
Feb
11

slinkies!

It’s been a horrible winter in New England.  Everyone (especially me) is getting cranky. I needed to have some fun.  In a photography magazine, I’d seen some neat images of slinkies, so off to the toy store I went.

In this shoot, I really was just having fun.  The colors and shapes took over. Childhood memories came back. The colorful new plastic slinkies may be even better than the old metal ones I grew up with – who knows? 

There’s more snow, sleet, ran and cold today and tomorrow. But these images brought me a bit of joy and the faith that Spring will eventually come. And I hope they’ll bring you the same joy and faith as well!

08
Jan
11

1940’s glamour headshot

Faithful readers will recognized Tori – a friend and a wonderful model I’ve worked with before, for example here.  In this shoot, we were going for a 1940’s glamour look – think Hollywood publicity still for a movie star.

A couple of notes about the image.

I used just one small light, about 5 feet to camera left and aimed down from above. This gives a very high contrast and dramatic look. I converted the image to black and white with a special software, Nik Silver Efex Pro, which provides a film-style effect to a digital image. Finally, I cropped the image as a perfect square. The square crop isn’t used much today, but it’s a classic and goes well, I believe, with the feeling of this picture.

As always, your comments and questions are welcome.

22
Sep
10

flowers, marbles, nicklels – and people

As many of you know, my photography exhibit “Up Close” opened last week, at the Darien (CT) Library. It was so terrific to greet many friends and  acquaintances – as well as strangers – at the opening reception.  We had about 150 people come, which was humbling and which also really blew me away!  If you have not had a chance to see the show, I hope you will drop by the Library and check it out. The show will be up until October 25th. The work is for sale, and there is a price list at the front desk of the Library.

I wanted to post a few pictures from the show.  The image above is one of three photographs of marbles.  These images are about color and depth of field.  I was also trying to convey a metaphor of one (a person? an object?) that is “different” within a crowd of many.

The image above is entitled “Lindsay Dreaming.”  It was interesting at the opening reception to hear which pictures various people liked best. This was one of the favorites and it’s one of my favorites as well.  I’m usually drawn to color, but this image definitely worked better in black and white.  Aside from that comment, I don’t want to say too much about the picture! Better to let you interpret it from your own perspective.

Most of the work in the show was created this year. I did include a few older images, such as “Nickel on a Park Bench.”  This was taken on a photography workshop in Savannah a couple of years ago. Our assignment for that day was to work on photographs using narrow depth of field – that is, the area in sharp focus is very narrow. In this image, the nickel and just a few inches of the bench are sharp, but everything else is fuzzy. The circles in the background were small colored street lights. I’m not sure I can understand the physics of how camera lenses work,  but often small bright lights that are out of focus will appear as these lovely larger circles of light, which is called bokeh.

In the show, I exhibited seven image of flowers.  One of them is shown below. In all of these images, I used a close-up (macro)  lens, shooting from about a foot away.   The pictures in this series are, in part,  studies of how light coming from different angles can help create a sense of three dimensions.  I was also drawn into and therefore wanted to emphasize the beautiful details of each flower, reflecting the rich variety of God’s amazing designs in the natural world.

As always, any comments and questions are welcome.

07
Mar
10

Shooting Flowers

While shooting people is my first love, I do enjoy photographing a variety of other subjects, including flowers.  There are not many flowers available at our local florists yet, as we are at the tail end of winter. But I found a few flowers to shoot at the local Korean fruit and vegetable market.

A few tips for shooting flowers:

1) Get in really close. you don’t have to show the whole flower. As you get closer in, the image may be begin to have an abstract quality – not a bad thing.

2) Make sure the flower is still (shoot inside, or outside with no wind). Make sure the camera is still – the best way to do this easily is with a tripod.

more tips below –

3)  Consider buying a macro (that is, close-up) lens. For these images I used a Nikon Micro (Nikon’s word for Macro) 105mm F2.8 lens. The macro lens can provide really nice detail for close-up shots.

4) Focus very carefully. Macro lenses tend to have a very narrow depth of field, so the area in focus may be very small. decide what you want to have sharp in the image. Focus manually. Autofocus may not yield a good result.

5) Watch the background. You don’t want it to compete with your flower. I have in the studio a bunch of poster-sized boards of many colors, which I used here.

again, more tips below….

6) Try lighting from different angles.  The star-gazer lily at the top was mostly backlit, so you can see some of the translucent qualities of the flower. Both of the gerbers were lit primarily from the side, to show dimension. Avoid lighting from behind the camera – will usually make a dull, flat image.

7) Take lots of pictures.  They’re free (in digital, anyway). Try different angles. Try shots you think might not work – they often do. Take risks.

Lastly,  take time to marvel at the incredible variety of the natural world. If you believe in God (as I do) , give thanks for the incredible beauty God has created for us to enjoy. If you’re not a believer, be grateful anyway!

I’m having a solo photography exhibit in the fall (watch this space for details). The theme will be “Up Close.”  All or most of the pictures will be close-ups – of people and other subjects, such as flowers.  Hope to see you at the show!