Search by Keyword
Note: All prices in US Dollars
Fine Photographic Art or Decorative Photographic Art
Pentafied Calling, Geometric Photo Art by Nikols 2012
Decorative arts, is historically a term applied to the design and manufacture of functional objects. It includes interior design, but not usually architecture. The decorative arts are often categorized in opposition to the “fine arts”, namely, painting, drawing, photography, and large-scale sculpture, which generally have no function other than to be seen. (after Wikipedia) The image above started life as a image of a steel I-beam sculpture The Calling and is a large-scale sculpture. (see end notes)
Art pieces can be decorative, collectable or both. A decorative art piece is something that is solely intended to be displayed to compliment a defined space. A piece of collectable art is artwork that will likely maintain or increase in value. Obviously they can be one in the same. Obviously some art forms can and do inspire others. Obviously some decorative art pieces will not likely gain in value using any near term time measure. Opinions about which is which will very among collectors, dealers and appraisers.
Collecting and/or decorating with art is very personal. The aesthetic sensibility of each person is different. I am a photographer artist. One would expect my home and office to be decorated with photographic art, specifically my own creations. The reality is photography represents only a small percentage of that art and my own is in the minority.
An interior decorator, house dresser or designer, may be mostly concerned with decorating or staging a home or room whereas an art collector or enthusiast may select artwork solely based on how collectible the piece is. Others may decorate with and around collectable artwork. People often buy artwork based on emotion. They see it, it speaks to them on several levels almost all heavy with emotions. Someone else may fall in love with the work of an unknown, because it evokes a meaningful or pleasurable emotion within themselves. Some see or recognize a symbolism in the art and that becomes its greatest attraction. By the same token that person may just as easily see an image and decide that is the one to complement the lampshade in the den.
There are those who would say using art works in purely decorative ways is an art in itself. I would not disagree. It is a vocation and talent for which I make absolutely no claim of proficiency. Successfully staging a room can be rewarding. Rooms can be staged by color, theme, period, purpose and so on. Rooms can be decorated to produce feelings of excitement, peace and calm, mindfulness, or nostalgia. Decorating with art can help define a room’s ambiance.
All that said, we are still left with the question implied in the title. What is the difference or even is there a difference between Fine Photographic Art and Decorative Art? To address that we must revisit our recent essay Fine Art Photography — FAP for a definition of Fine Photographic Art. FPA takes image rendering one or two steps beyond the snapshot into an emotional place that transcends the purpose or location. FPA almost always has a transcendence or universality that ordinary images straight photographs can not quite match. FPA melds together all the compositional, technical and transcendental qualities to give it, and its narrative, a true universality. Just a couple of additional qualifiers. FPA implies, and for me demands, the reproductions meet highest quality of materials and process standards and the editions are strictly limited in number.
In a conversation not long ago, a gallery owner referred to much popular photographic art, as “throwaway art”. At the time we were discussion the appropriate materials and techniques to by used in filling a Fine Photographic Art commission given to Sui Generis Images. I think Disposable Decorative Art (DDA) is a much better descriptor. It is disposable in that the cost is relatively low for what one gets. We have all seen DDA at the box stores, on line or in the framing shops. The images are good if not all to my taste and already framed. Change the room or to refresh the look and the art is easily replaced. The real down side is your neighbors have the exact same thing on there walls, as do the people across the nation or beyond.
Fine Photographic Art is not like that. A good quality FPA piece will cost between 2 and 4 times the DDA piece when presented on the same media at about the same size, for example stretched canvas. The bulk of the DDA may look like it is completed as well, but close inspection shows not. Most often the material media is of lesser or unknown quality.
Since the FPA is limited in production and restricted in the reproductive method, at Sui Generis Images for example archival quality canvas and inks, it has a very good chance of appreciating in value. DDA is mass produced, is available in a variety of sizes and reproductive methods; it is not likely to become a true collectable and not likely to gain in value. My experience with mass produced DDA items is a 50% value reduction once it hangs on your wall.
Sui Generis Images, our sister blog and Fine Photographic Art site has only one product: limited edition, fine photographic art, on archival quality canvas. As I Found It and Ideal Totem, on the other hand, specialize in stock photographic art and stock photography. AIFI’s and IT’s art can be purchased in a variety of sizes and reproduced on any surface or material the customer decides. It is Decorative Art and could be considered DDA.
Please note, the art at Sui Generis Images is unique to itself. Sui Generis Images’, FPA’s are only sold through its web site and authorized dealers. Free, no obligation quotations are gladly provided. Experience our sui generis customer service.
1. The Calling by Mark di Suvero installed in 1981-82 along Milwaukee’s lake front, in O’Donnell Park, it is owned by the Milwaukee Museum of Art, which sits ±200 feet east.
2. Pentafied Calling ©Dennis Nikols 2012 has not been released for sale. This is its first public showing.
|I promised to discuss the idea or concept of photographic studies, not the study of photography, in last weeks essay. If we look up “study” in a dictionary we will find something like this. Study: 1. a piece of work, esp. a drawing, done for practice or as an experiment. 2. a musical composition designed to develop a player’s technical skill. Obviously this definition was created before us photographers got into the business of creating art, about 170 years ago as I recall.
This photographer and I am sure others, expand that definition to include: an image or series of images done for practice, experiment or just to see what we can make of it/them. Sometimes a photographic study is only a singular image. Most often I find a number of images compose my study. Studies seem to result from a half formed idea, we see or think we see, when viewing an image(s) of potential. Sometimes it is the challenge, sometimes the conditions or situation are such, that good images should result and it is the photographers job to find and recognize them.
When we are in this mode of creativity we are no different then graphic artist sketching with his pencil or the musician honing is skills. My late father in law, Bill Parks, was just such an artist. He taught for many years. I remember he always kept a small pad and sharp pencil in his pocket, his hands were never idle. I learned a lot about how to see and not to just look, from him. Modern technology allows us to do these studies almost as frequently as we desire or as our imaginations dictate. The North Point Water Tower set is an example. I am hard pressed to pick my favourite image. That is one reason I show them all. I know, some times to much choice makes the choosing harder. The technology is both blessing and curse. That simply means we must strive for Golden Mean. (In philosophy, especially that of Aristotle, the golden mean is the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency.)
I have often taken one image and treated it in a number of different ways. Sometimes as in the example of the North Point Water Tower the study is a number of different angles and views of the same thing and/or place.
In the last essay I talked about Hoar Frost. I used a few images to illustrate. I have now gone over the entire inventory from that day. Wow! Some good stuff and some not so good. I had intended to grouped some of the successes together and present them here as a Hoar Frost Study. I got sidetracked and instead offer one image as a number of variations. Way easier to decide too.
Studies are not new to me and any reader that has followed up some of the previous essays, by looking at the photobucket or flicker gallery, will have seen them or parts of them. My series of Nacmine’s Railway Bridge is one I am very proud of.
From the Hoar Frost series one specific image caught my attention. Yes it is the same image that lead off the essay First Snow Of Winter Nov. 2012. This became one of those “to see what I can make of it,” images. I think the image lends itself to the more artistic then rendering view. It is therefore a study within a larger study.
The introductory image is the master or starting point. I think is a good one and one that has good potential for variations. In February and March of 2011, I wrote several essays called Variations On A Theme Parts One, Two and Three. Here we go a step or two further.
I was careful to only use “image tricks” or “editing tools” that are readily available to almost everyone. Programs like iphoto and Picasa have them or some of them built in. Many image management systems have them and often affordable image editing tools come with them or many of them. Some of the utilities that come with your camera also have them. You too can experiment and if you don’t like the result, destroy the evidence.
Another option is to purchase one or more of the stock images at Ideal Totem and As I Found It. You can do anything to you want to with the digits you purchase. Just remember to only work with a copy, never the original. Depending on how large you want the result pick a size that will give you a reasonable resolution, that’s why both sites offer a variety of sizes.
|Some of the changes or alterations are dramatic and others subtle. This is only a small fraction of the possible. Not all those alterations will be pleasing to your taste. Given the cost of experimenting in the 21st century, it is truly anything goes.
|hope you enjoy this experiment. Some of these are good enough to make it over to As I Found It or Ideal Totem. Others are well beyond the mandate to those sales sites. Images like these are within the mandate of Sui Generis Images Galleries which holds only fine photographic art. I think highly of this set. If I didn’t I would not be showing them. What we are showing here is a small part of the possible. The limits of the possible are limits of human creativity and inspiration. A limit I am still unable to define and have no hope of ever reaching.
As always our dear readers areI welcome to comment on or question anything here. The discussion is always open or if you want to know how something was done, ask. I take complements too, my ego likes to be stroked just like everyone else.
If you or someone you know is in the market for very high quality fine photographic art visit Sui Generis Image Galleries. There is still enough time to order that absolutely unique seasonal gift. The photo artists at Sui Generis Galleries will gladly give you a firm for 60 day quotation on that image in a class by itself.
North Point Water Tower
|This stand pipe (water tower) was built in 1873-74. It was fed from the Old North Point pumping station on the shore of Lake Michigan about a mile east (behind) the photographer. The first time I photographed this structure was in the spring of 1963. That color slide is unfortunately misplaced. I have returned to recapture it many times since. Many of us find we keep returning to same places and re-photographing it. Each of us have our own reason(s), some times it is simply just passing the same place over time. Sometimes it is the challenge presented by the always changing light. I have always thought of these multiple image return visits as “studies”. A study being defined as: a piece of work, esp. a drawing, done for practice or as an experiment; a musical composition designed to develop a player’s technical skill. (The idea of “studies” in photography will be addressed in subsequent essays as they are a little more complex than dictionary definition suggests.)
Over my lifetime the buildings in the background have changed but the circular road around its base and the little park to the south have remained remarkably the same. A number of 19th and early 20th century buildings in Milwaukee were built or faced with locally available Paleozoic limestone. The North Point Water Tower is a great example. I believe it was the combination of these buff limestones and the tan bricks made of local clays that gave Milwaukee the nick name Cream City. For me the contrast of the green roof, the tawny limestone and the sky is what makes these images appealing. The light dances over the roughness of the limestone blocks and never looks the same twice. The strong vertical shape of a tower has both cultural and primordial significance for us humans. The images in the this study were all taken over about 10 minutes, as I walked around the tower’s base. They are their own narrative, speaking for themselves.
I remember the first time I noticed this structure. It was toward the end of my first year of university. The school, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee is a dozen or so blocks north and a few blocks west. It was a bright spring day, not all that different in light and sky conditions from the image shown here. I don’t remember who I was with or why we were passing but we were. I do remember noting the location and making the decision to return with my camera. Often these thing begin with and/or are reinforced or enhanced by, serendipity. I probably would not have done any research on the North Point had it not been for a book my mother sent me in 1984, Pioneer Photographer Wisconsin’s H. H. Bennett.
My mother knew how great an influence Bennett’s work had on my youthful vision of the world and the role of photography in it. I had seen much of Bennett’s work, directly related to the Wisconsin River and the Trempealeu Formation, late Cambrian cross-bedded, deltaic, sandstones that out crop along it. Bennett’s home and business was located in Wisconsin Dells (formally called Kilbourn) and I grew up in that area. He was my photographic hero then and his work still inspires me today.
You can imagine my delight to see many other images besides those on and around the Wisconsin River. One of those images appears below. As best I can make out, the image was made about 1888. I did not even need to look at the title to realize it was the North Point Water Tower, taken from the north side, probably from the roof of St. Mary’s Hospital, which would have been the tallest building around at that time. It is obvious the exterior has been preserved since its construction. I later learned that from the top floor of the new hospital building one can get an excellent view of the tower much like Bennett’s. Next time I visit Milwaukee I will see that view and if possible photograph it. I doubt they will let me on the roof though. (Lat: 42.06 N & Long: 87.88 W)
H. H. Bennett about 1888
I have put a few footnotes in for those interested. At the time of my first image in 1963, the tower was still a working part of the city’s water system. That is 89 years of operation. The tower’s waterworks function was retired in 1964. As I remember from that time, the tower was still serviceable, it was just no longer needed as the North Point Pumping Station’s reciprocating pumps had been replaced by turbines. I think it is also useful to give just a few moments comparing the narratives between this old glass plate contact print (photographed from the book) and my modern digital views. This little slide show will help with that.
Studies like this one are often made available to the public at As I Found It. I started including these groupings from AIFI’s inception. It is just another way As I Found It and Ideal Totem are different from the other stock photography services. It just seemed logical that a stock image or stock photo service should be offering a variety of subjects and a variety views of those subjects. AIFI’s galleries with their sub galleries are set up to accommodate this idea. Over the years I have used stock services when I needed images I was unable to take myself. I often wished more view angel choices were available. Now you know partly why As I Found It and Ideal Totem are structured the way they are.
We moderns have several equipment advantages over Bennett and the other early photographers. One of them is the production difference. It took me about 10 minutes to expose my images. It probably took Bennett that long or longer to just set up for one shot. We have no way to know today how many images Bennett made of the Water Tower. I wish to believe he made several. It is only the best we see today and probably only the best that have survived.
Photographers like Bennett had their own versions on “studies”. They and he notably so, were innovators and experimenters. Photographers today are a good part what we are because of them. While our equipment and circumstances are vastly different we share a strong kinship with those that have gone before. The act of seeing i.e. the mind processing the light that falls on our Retinas, has not changed. The desire and even the need to expand the human and personal narrative remains.
North Point PDF from the City of Milwaukee with technical information about the structure.
North Point Water Tower:
“E. North Ave., between N. Lake Dr. and N. Terrace Ave., Milwaukee, Milwaukee County.
The 1871 Wisconsin legislature authorized the city of Milwaukee to finance and build a public water system. By 1873 the Board of Water Commissioners had constructed the old North Point Pumping Station below the bluff with intake from Lake Michigan, this tower, a reservoir a mile west, and 55 miles of water mains, delivering cheap, plentiful, pure water to Milwaukee’s people and industry. This 175-foot Victorian Gothic tower, designed by Charles A. Gombert and made of cut Niagara limestone from Wauwatosa, houses a circular wrought-iron standpipe 120 feet high and four feet in diameter. Until construction of a new pumping station in 1963, the standpipe water absorbed pulsations of reciprocating steam-driven engines, and the tower prevented ice from forming in the standpipe during cold weather.” (Wisconsin Historical Society)
|I have been thinking about how I should or could honor those family or personal memories that have meaning to others besides myself. Every once in a while I find some images that evoke an emotional connection to the past and others. I often label them as “The Way We Were”. What you will read here is not only applicable to memories. It should be applicable to any kind of book form image essay. The term book refers to a physical book but could just as easily be electronic. At As I Found It we are fond to saying that every images is a narrative. Other essays have addressed this idea. While each image does tell a story, that story can and does get modified as different experiences and meaning, brought by the viewer, are applied.
I thought it might be fun to create a memory album for my children and grand children. I went on line and found a number of services that produce some very nice looking products. I liked what I saw but also found the templates offered were not always to me taste. This in no criticism of any of them. My personal creative spirit always seems to want things that are not part of the templates being offered. I played with a few of them such as Apple’s iphoto and Google’s Picasa.
I then moved on to searching my hard drive for up to data software that would likely do the job. I had several well known page layout and desk top publishing products. I settled for one that I find highly flexible and powerful. Way more powerful then required. That said, I made sure for this example book, not do anything that the most basic programs can not do. My intention is to put my memory book on a CD, easy shipping and it will allow printing of specific pages that any of recipient may want. Given it is now early November what ever I do will not be ready for the coming season.
If you have a collection of digital images at the ready you can move way quicker then I can. I simply have more history to cover them most of you readers and 90% of that history is pre-digital.
We both can access digital stock images to assist us. As you know I produce them. It really depends on your theme and purpose. If it is memory based then most of the memories will be snap shots taken you yourself or other relatives and friends. If it is something more esoteric you may need my stock service to help you along.
I have put together a four page example memory book. For this book I used blank pages. I used blank pages since any template would have some fixed features that may or may not appeal to all readers. One can add masks and frames of various kinds to blank pages as well. Some of my software comes with a collection of these aids.
The opening page is a scan of an old postcard. It is the image at the top of the essay. This post card has meaning for me, my sister and our families. I found the postcard and that is what gave me the idea. I scanned the card. If you don’t have a scanner or a four in one printer/scanner at the ready, many establishments offer scanning services. I imported the scan into my page layout software, you can do this in many of the templates I looked at or in many image editing programs. Something like this, working narrow gauge steam train, is filled with symbols and for me nostalgia. I think the symbolism will go well on the cover or opening page. If you don’t have anything that fits your needs look at the stock services such as As I Found It. My intention was to fill the opening page, edge to edge, with this image. I left room at the bottom of this one for my notes. You readers will do what you want or you should. (Note: 128 was featured in this blog before Technical Note — Image Tone and is still working just as shown here.)
|The second page is just a simple image with room for text and captain. See the page for technical notes. The image is busy and engaging. It could be cropped much further then I did. This is always a bit of a problem for the author. Seen in this specific image, even though it was taken in the late 1970′s, is a milk can and many of the books on the shelf are still in use. In fact I have that book shelf in my office today.
|Page three shows Barbara and I in the late 1980′s, either returning from or about to go cross-county skiing. You can include clip art and little notes to help make up for the less then stellar quality of the snap shots or to just add some fun.
|On page 4 I annotated the main image and was very careful to find a picture of Zoe, that she would not overly object to being shown. She is behind the camera but was with us on the little field trip. The annotations here are black and being against the white ice/snow and tan soil show up well. Depending on the background you may want to change the color of the text like I did on the opening page.
You can allow more room or less room for text in your creation. I like to very each page based partly on the image(s) being included. No rules except good taste and common sense. You can download a PDF of this essay Memory book.
Remember this type of presentation is one of the main reasons for stock image services. Ever been some place and taken that perfect image only to get home and find out it was not so good after all? We all have and do, me included.
The galleries at As I Found It and Ideal Totem can help. They can not replace your treasured snapshots. Nothing can do that. Our images can help to add information, interest and life to your presentations. My experience tells me that it if often the simplest and thoughtful gifts that are the most meaningful.
Fine Art Photography — FAP
|Fine art photography (FAP) refers to photographs that are made in the creative vision of the photographer as an artist. Fine art photography generally stands in contrast to photojournalism, which is a visual account of news events or a record of things, places and people. Commercial photography, the primary focus of which is to advertise products or services, is generally held apart from fine art as well. That said in my experience the commercial and journalistic often slops over into fine art.
If one reviews the history of photography it quickly become clear that well made image narratives, produced for journalistic or commercial purposes, frequently become objects of art. Often but not always this transition takes place well after the journalistic or commercial significance has passed. If one examines the enduring images from the great photographic publications of the past, the truth of this can easily be verified. Today many truly great images can be seen on the web, produced from the present journalistic and commercial traditions.
I could find no generally accepted definition(s) of the terms “art photography”, “artistic photography” or “fine art photography. Definitions are found in articles, essays and reference books in all media forms. What seems to be lacking is the generally or universally accepted part. (see: Wikipedia—Fine-art photography for examples.)
The balance of this essay is more personal opinion dependent then academic. One significant difference between an artistic rendering and fine art is the level of emotion created by the image’s narrative. An artistic rendering, of a really great image. that is creatively presented is surely art. Fine art takes that rendering one or two steps further into an emotional place that transcends the propose or location. Art in general and fine art almost always has a transcendence or universality that just images can not quite match. Fine art melds together all the compositional, technical and transcendence qualities to give it and its narrative a true universality.
I have been at this photography business, all be it hesitantly at first, since I was 11, that is (58 years). Over that time I have made images for just about any purpose one can imagine. In my mind or better to my taste, I have created fine art works in most if not all of them. The exception is probably in the classification snapshots. Got a few really good ones but no true art. In attempting to create the best possible images, of what ever subject and purpose was holding my interest, I found my creative vision could often be satisfied. I should also note that while my vision was frequently satisfied, my technical competence or the limitations of the equipment of the day, did not always yield stellar results.
A truly artistic image, regardless of subject or purpose has the qualities, often intangible, of what I call fine art. I have some training and education in art history. I understand the principles of composition and most of the technical aspects of most, if not all art forms. Don’t misunderstand, I claim no pretense to executional competence for any except photography.
As I Found It and Ideal Totem (my two stock photo services) hold well over 4,000 images (at the time of writing). A very high proportion of these stock images qualify as art. They are good and well presented, even the textures and patterns tell their story well. A number of them have appeared and will appear in this blog series. Some are probably even great. Perhaps not quite as many as my ego would like, but still a good number. None are true Fine Art. Those images, a small percentage, have been selected to be offered as highly limited special fine art editions. These editions will be presented in physical formats that have the same listing quality as the images themselves. I will announce the new web site name and details in the near future.
Fall Color and Rain (more tails from the field)
by: Dennis Nikols
|Sometimes we find interesting images in the strangest or the commonest places. Not only are they interesting but they can offer a variety of different presentations. We will look at some of them below. As readers know, Dennis has been on the road making images for several weeks now. This picture was taken in Madison, Wisconsin. I is one of the few poor photography weather days he had. Being Dennis he was not the least bit daunted by rain and overcast. Instead he turned the situation into something he hopes is interesting.
Dennis says: “The top image was made with my pocket camera in auto mode. That means fill in flash being the default was ready when I turned the camera on. Fortunately, and not by design I must admit, the flash did not reflect back into the lens but illuminated the leaves. It was raining hard and had been for some hours before I came out in the early morning. As soon as I got in the car and started the engine I noticed the image potential. My pocket camera has a 40 mm lens and does well in close in situations. I completely forgot about the fill in flash default. Most times that is just what you want but not usually if shooting through a window or at a window or mirror. I lucked out more then skilled out with this one.”
Given the shape of my car’s windshield and the proximity of the camera to it, the flash in this case was adsorbed by the headliner. Dennis immediately turned the thing off and made a second exposure.
|This second exposure has a slower shutter speed and catches more the distortion of the water flowing down the window. The longer exposure also gathers more ambient light and that makes the image more real or alive. The leaves take on a translucent quality, Dennis likes it better. He thinks the distortion is much more interesting and superior at showing the rain effects. Remember the water lens? Well this is one large water lens. Here are a couple of other variations
|Dennis says: “Mother Nature did a good job of composting too. I double that I could have arranged these leaves better if I had tried. I suspect if I tried it would have looked contrived. If you were ever in doubt you now know exactly why I always have a small camera in my pocket.”
For some of these shots a modern camera phone will do as, or almost as, well. Dennis never thinks of using his phone. He is old fashioned and having a camera, always at the ready and the phone, not so much. His camera is 5 times the quality of the phone image too. For images the size shown here however, it matters little.
The images at Ideal Totem and As I Found It are usually well planned some are like these chance encounters that are turned into art. That my story but the image’s story is something different. Something with mystery and emotion. What’s your narrative?
We Do The Extra To Get The Image
This slide show captures the sun as it rises above the horizon. Once the sun has cleanly cleared the distant land and water we turned our attention to the hills, valleys and trees that lay beneath us; bathed in the warm reddish glow of the first sun as it is refracted through the earth’s atmosphere. That is just what this photographer is doing. The sun is up and he is capturing the warm red glow on the tree covered slopes below us.
It is not to difficult to get up for sunrise this time of the year as it is after 7 am EDT. We scouted this vantage point the day before, using a compass to make sure the bearing toward the rising sun would not present obstructions.
Making images like these does require a bit of dedication, a warm jacket, patents and either a good tripod or a firm surface to rest your camera on. Many modern, point and shoot, cameras have a sunset/sunrise setting to help. Hand holding for long exposures is not recommended. You can see the photographer is using a tripod and he has a remote shutter release in his hand, which is not visible. The images seen here are right out of the camera and no adjustments of any kind has as yet been made.
These shots are As Found in the truest tradition of As I Found It. When a few of them are selected for sale minor adjustments of contrast, saturation and perhaps sharpening can be expected. Ideal Totem will not be getting any but will be getting a host of new textures and patterns as soon as I get back from the filed.
In taking this sequence I made images about 30 seconds apart. About 6 shots were cut out to reach the 25 shot number an arbitrary limit I set for the blog show. We hope you enjoy them.
In picking your place for sunrise and sunset images the foreground is almost as important as the background. If the wrong things or something is blocking the image may not produce as desired or expected. We spent the afternoon of the day before scouting locations for our sunrise shots. It is a good ideal to know not only the sunrise or sunset times but also the azimuths to the objective.
I use a hand held compass to check the sight lines. Remember to account for the magnetic declination. The times are easy to come by, most weather forecasts have this information. The azimuths are another problem. The information is on the web and often presented in tables. Good but I like to visualize the situation, especially if I am planning days in advance or have never been to a location. The Photographers Ephemeris is an app and program that displays the information in both tabular and visual on a Google map or satellite image. This free utility is a valuable and useful.
|We have talked about macro photography before, the essays Macro Prairie Smoke and Garden Macro comes to mind. If you have a camera with a true macro lens or setting then taking macro photographs is quite easy. The Ladybug was on the railing of my deck so I took his picture using a close focus not a true macro lens. The image has been cropped by about 75%. He was moving right along and not the least bit interested in posing for a portrait. Getting right in on him would have been quite difficult but backing off to a foot or 22 cm did the trick. The image of the water lens is another story this is using a macro lens and getting the lens less than a few inches away.
Press This Link to see the 35 Images in the
SpecialPhotobucket Album Macro Lens I & II,
built specifically for this essay.
Press the Red Link that follows to see the 35 images in our New internal slide show,
Macro Lens I & Macro Lens II.
The images above and the others in the Special Photobucket Album or Slide Show , linked to this essay, were all taken with a macro lens or the very close focus of a standard lens. In several sets I start wide and move in. I was out in the garden around the middle of July and noticed a number of photo opportunities. These images are all from that time. All the images are, as they were found and no special equipment was used. A few were cropped to get ride of extraneous room and clutter.
I know not everyone is as intrigued by getting in close and personal as I am. I think everyone will agree, and if not comment please, that these are worthy images and like all images, each tells its own story. All we need to do is carry our camera around and keep our eyes open for opportunities. Speaking of comments it would be nice to get some feedback on how the Photobucket Album and internal Slide Show preformed and which style you want to see in the future.
Making images like these is not terribly time consuming either. It only takes a few minutes to kneed down and press the shutter a few times. I of course, am fascinated by the lens effect of the water drops. The results are never the same twice. The shape of the drops is always changing. This group was right after a brief and gentle shower. Having good light helps too.
The ladybug that opens this essay is one that was cropped. What you see is only 25 or 30% of the original. In situations like this the macro lens is not a good idea the ladybugs are not swift but they are not static either. It is impossible to keep a moving insect on a flat surface, in focus while moving the camera around.
None of the images in this series used any special equipment or techniques. I didn’t even use a tripod. Nor did I apply any special filters or effects. I did sharpen the images and adjust the brightness and contrast.
You may wounder why I placed the image album at Photobucket and internal Slide Show a slide show too? Simple, I had no way of knowing which approach would be best for my readers. I have no problem using both locations in future posts. Photobucket also offers the opportunity for readers to bookmark the album and return to it later, independently of the blog and to move around through the hundreds of other As I Found It and Ideal Totem images located there. Please note, Ideal Totem has its own Photobucket pages, listed as idealtotem.
This is one of those nostalgic images, you know the kind. The way we were in 1967. It is a Polaroid, state of the art for its day too. I found it in my most reliable archive, a metal filing cabinet with two drawers just designed for snapshots. The designers had other ideas, I suspect file cards, then I have never been one to be concerned with what others had in mind. It is what use I put things to that matters. Same for you readers. I have been taking pictures since a boy of ten or eleven. This essay is more about computers then photography but yet they are inexorably linked. I have been at this computing business for a very long time now. My first experience was in 1964, in the bad old days of punchcards and Fortran II. Punchcards for all their short comings had one advantage. Short of physically destroying the card they never lost any data and if unreadable by the machine they usually had the info printed on them, so they could be easily recreated. That said, I am not advocating a return any time soon; just pointing out that modernity has traded permanence and reliability for digital convenience. We photographers have hard asset archives to maintain too. The pros and cons of that are subjects for other essays. As are true archiving techniques. Today, instead of posterity we are talking about you and your short therm needs.
Over the years I have used: hard copies, tape both magnetic and paper, floppy disks of various sizes, hard drives of different kinds and styles, DVD’s and CD’s, to protect my digital data. Today we can rent mass storage space that will be distributed across several servers so the back up is backed up with radiancy and “Designed to provide 99.999999999% durability and 99.99% availability of objects over a given year.”
All of these mediums have short comings. None are truly cheap over the long term. For businesses however the mass storage idea makes lots of sense. For example, tapes needed to be rewound from time to time, most magnetic media needs to be maintained i.e. copied to fresh media every so often and so on. Hard drives are known to fail every once in a while. I have had several “pack it in” during the past year, alone. Newer systems and computers are hard put to read some of the older methods of file and data storage, this situation will only worsen over time too.
CD’s and DVD’s are good long term choices especially for images. They should be inspected every couple of years and if any faults are found copied to new media. That media is relatively low cost. This works well until you start having inventories in the 100’s of gigabytes. The average DVD is ± 4 gigabytes and the CD’s are ±750 megabytes. (I know multi layer DVD’s are more like 8 gb.) It all depends on how large your images are but 5 or 6 megabytes is not uncommon. Obviously if you can store 4 gigabytes on a DVD and if images are each 5 megabytes, then you can store about 800 on each DVD.
5 megabytes = 5 million bytes so a 4 gigabyte (4 billion bytes) media will hold about 800, 5 megabyte files. Most people store their images in compressed form such as JPGS. The standard compression is ± 50% so the 800 files becomes 1600 and if the files are smaller, more of course.
Let us assume the user has 1600 images on a DVD and he has, over time, collected 10 DVD’s worth, to back up his images. If every image is titled with a meaningful title and each of the 10 DVD has been inventoried or indexed, all that data can be put into a spread sheet and then searched. That takes time to organize and perhaps more computer skills then many of you want to learn.
If however, you start counting your images in the 100’s of gigabytes you can see the problem, that 10 DVD collection suddenly becomes 25. In my case we are talking ±400 gigabytes or 100 DVD’s. I am like most of you and do not title all my images. As a matter of fact the only ones that get titled are the ones that are presented for sale or are otherwise displayed. In addition, I will have several copies and versions of every one being presented for sale, those being experimented with or the “good idea that didn’t quiet work” ones.
To properly inventory such a massive collection, so an image can be easily located, is a daunting task. I will offer some suggestions about how to deal with problems like this in future articles. Right now let us focus on the digital media part of the equation.
Please do not relay on thumb drives or memory sticks for long term storage. They are like the old floppy disks, they work well but they can and will fail, without notice. Sometimes you can get the data back and others not, or getting it will cost you in both time and money.
If your collection is anything approaching manageable on optical media, then CD’s or DVD’s are your most cost effective and stable option. I have several programs that are designed to inventory drives, CD’s and DVD’s. These lists are easily placed into a spread sheet and as long as you have labeled the folders and images, locating a specific image or restoring all or part of your collection is quite straight forward.
It is a wise precaution to label all the CD’s and DVD’s with a permeant marker and have a printed copy of the inventory. You can and should include a copy of the inventory(s) on its own CD that is replaced every time the list is updated or changed.
Largely depending on how much this archive means to you, it is a good ideal to make a copy of every CD or DVD labeled as back up 2 or something and stored off site. Off site means off site, not in your attached garage. When my inventory was much smaller I had a reciprocating deal with another amateur photographer who lived close by.
For those of you that are doing this photography stuff as an advanced amateur or professional, it is best to use one the image inventory systems that are available. Picasa and iphoto come most quickly to mind. I use iphoto all the time. I do have others that are used for specific image sets or purposes. I do not use Picasa anymore. My bone with Picasa is the insistence of the program to automatically inventory every image on my hard drive and to collect every face into a special folder. Since I also have many images relating to my geoscience consulting activities I need to keep stuff separated into science/personal/professional photographer groupings. I have no time, for this mixing stuff by someone else’s criteria, foolishness and one can not turn that feature off. Free and comes at what price?
Since this is a blog essay and not a technical publication I can editorialize a bit. I have a real problem with software that tries to do my thinking for me. That is simply not possible. Few other humans can even approach that task. There is simply no practical way some computer program is even remotely capable of it. I simply find the tendency to try and treat my over active mind as being anything like the average, what ever that is, annoying. I understand why it is done. I do not understand why I am not given an upfront simple way to turn that stuff off. I photo for example will also find faces in your images for you but you must want that and allow it. It is the difference between active and passive decision making. If you are going to be a photographer at any level then your decisions must be active. Taking that picture is just that, an active decision. Everything that happens to that image from that point on needs to be active too. Simply deciding to keep it or discard it or even looking at it is active. Does that make me a control freak? No but it does say when it comes to my hobby or art I want full control of both the process and the copyright.
Iphoto works well and has even more powerful editing tools. I do not use the editing tools from these programs with the images I offer for sale. I sometimes use them for most of my blog, Photobucket and Flicker image posts.
Picasa, Flicker, Photobucket and other such services are fine places to share your images. They are not a substitute for a proper long term archive for your treasured images. Photobucket will now take very large or original size images, the others only hold images of some maximum size. I don’t know what those sizes are. When I use these social media sites I keep my image sizes to under 1000 kb. Photobucket’s approach helps but is not a true solution. I always do two things as soon as I get back to my office. First and foremost I import all the images from my cameras at the highest possible resolution to my dedicated Photo hard drive. It is easy to down size it is hard as hell to upsize. Take or make and store your images at the highest possible resolution.
One advantage for me and I realize not for everyone else, is my visual memory. If I can get my images grouped into approximate times or palaces and can see a thumbnail, hold a negative or slide to the light or what ever, I can quickly find the image I want or was looking for. This visual component is one of the things that the recent computer based inventory systems offer. It is the primary reason I use them.
The dedicated photographic drive on my desktop is named just that, Photo. For my laptop, I use an external called Photo 2 and on my network I have Photo Backup (an independent drive) for backing up both of them. These are out of the camera unedited or as is, images and all other images as well. In addition, on another independent drive a have a monthly backup of any changed files/folders of Photo.
I automatically archive the “camera out”, original or master images, even the out of focus ones. Rule number 1, never touch your original image. The only thing that ever happens to these master files is copying from them. It is a good idea to make them read only files. If you think about it that is philosophically what we have always done with slides and negatives. We make copies of them. Sure we would project the slides themselves and handle the negatives. Sometimes that showing and handling added flaws and scratches to them too. Therefore about rule number 1, just follow it.
Always work with a copy and don’t be afraid to copy the copy as many times as you want. Play with them, experiment. Try different things. Remember digits are cheap, it is the cost of getting them that can be high. Don’t like a result, use the delete key. But never, never, never, play with the original. Your archive then contains both the original and any number of copies that you have played with.
I mentioned above that I back up my drive Photo twice, that seems like overkill right? Wrong! About 10 days ago Photo stopped giving me access to my data. In tech speak the boot directory got scrambled. The drive simply said no data and all free space. We are talking 4.8 gb of so call free space on a 1Tb drive. I was pissed to say the least. I ran my fix it software and I reported no problems to fix. Okay, I got out the data recovery software and recovered everything one bit at a time for about ±23 hours writing to a 2 tb secondary back up drive. I then reformatted the drive, wrote zeros to the so called “Free Space” another 13 hours, and restored everything from the copy I have made only a short time before, so nothing was lost. That only took about 6 hours. I did loose 2 days of productivity fooling around doing all this stuff.
We all have images we treasure. Some of them are treasured for the art, most are treasured for the memories they evoke every time we look at them. The bottom line is the art can be replaced by some other, the memories can never be fully recreated without the stimulus and associations evoked by an image. As I Found It and Ideal Totem are great sources of those art or interest images. Your own camera is the best source of treasured memories.
Lycopodiaceae Diphasiastrum sitchense
Lycopodiaceae Diphasiastrum sitchense (link)(Link2)(Link3)
My field partner and I came upon several occurrences of this Lycopodium genius and species on a recent expedition to Northern Saskatchewan. First let me say I am no plant expert. Readers, if interested, should follow some or all of the reference links to get the real scientific info.
I have seen Lycopodiums of several different North American varieties, all across Canada and the Northern States. I never knew its proper name until my field partner identified it for me. (A reminder: I am the Geologist at Retread Resources Ltd., my field partner is a soils (Pedologist) and plant fellow, Jason Nelson of Ecodynamics Consulting.) He was not absolutely sure which species and genius of Lycopodium it is, so I took several pictures. One often notices the Lycopodiums in the field as they are distinct if diminutive, often seen in drifts or lenticular clumps. Us geologists and other earth scientists tend to notice stuff like this as we are always looking at the ground, you know the place one finds soils and rocks. I am sure Botanists would notice far more then me about the plants beneath our feet.
We all see the trees and shrubs, they are in our face just like large boulders and rock cliffs. The small world is often more dynamic and varied then the large. Think about it what is more interesting the tree or the bark on the tree? Depends on your point of view of course. From the photographers view the bark offers the greater variety in the smallest area.
Jason pointed out that Lycopodium has a photographic connection that transcends the interesting and colorful images as seen here. That perked up my ears. Hay, having two professions that can be combined from time to time is as good as things like this get, you know.
Lycopodium Powder was once used as a flash power by photographers. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it: “Lycopodium powder is a yellow-tan dust-like powder, historically used as a flash powder. It is composed of the dry spores of clubmoss plants, various fern relatives principally in the genera Lycopodium and Diphasiastrum. When mixed with air, the spores are highly flammable because of their high fat content and their large surface area per unit of volume — a single spore’s diameter is about 33 micrometers (μm), requiring about 30 laid side by side to span a millimeter, or 750 to span an inch.
Preferred source species are Lycopodium clavatum (wolf’s-foot clubmoss) and Diphasiastrum digitatum (common groundcedar) because these widespread and often locally abundant species are both prolific in their spore production and easy to collect. Lycopodium has been used in fireworks and explosives, fingerprint powders, as a covering for pills, and as an ice cream stabilizer. Today, the principal use of the powder is to create flashes or flames that are large and impressive but relatively easy to manage safely in magic acts and for cinema and theatrical special effects. Lycopodium powder is also sometimes used as a lubricating dust on skin-contacting latex (natural rubber) goods, such as condoms and medical gloves.
In physics experiments and demonstrations, lycopodium powder is used to make sound waves in air visible for observation and measurement, and to make a pattern of electrostatic charge visible. If the surface of a cup of water is coated with lycopodium powder, a finger or other object inserted straight into the cup will come out dusted with the powder but remain perfectly dry.
As a then-common laboratory supply, lycopodium powder was often used by inventors developing experimental prototypes. For example, Nicéphore Niépce used lycopodium powder in the fuel for the first internal combustion engine, the Pyréolophore, about 1807, and Chester Carlson used lycopodium powder in 1938 in his early experiments to demonstrate xerography.”
Wow, is that interesting or what! I had no idea Lycopodium has so many uses and is way more than an antique substitute for flash powder.
Lycopodiaceae Diphasiastrum sitchense
Species Synonyms: Lycopodium sitchense Rupr, Diphasium sitchense (Rupr.) A.&D. Love, Lycopodium sabinifolium ssp. sitchense (Rupr.) Calder & Taylor, Lycopodium sabinifolium var. sitchense (Rupr.) Fern.
Common Names: Sitka clubmoss, round-cedar, ground-fir, ground-pine, Alaska clubmoss, among others.
Canada: British Columbia – northern Saskatchewan – Labrador, south to central Saskatchewan – southern Ontario – Nova Scotia – Newfoundland.
Saskatchewan: northern – central Saskatchewan; Lake Athabasca – Hasbala Lake – Southend.
Ecoregion: Boreal Transition, Mid-Boreal Upland, Athabasca Plain, Churchill River Upland, Selwyn Lake Upland, Tazin Lake Upland. (The images here are from the Athabasca Plain and the Tazin Lake Upland.)
Please feel free to look at the links above for more extensive information, images and interesting articles. As I Found It and Ideal Totem offer a wide variety of stock images that include plants, fungi, animals and rocks. These and other Lycopodium images will soon be uploaded to both sites. As always our images are always presented in a wide variety of sizes to meet client needs. If you need something sooner then please contact me directly.
by: Dennis and Zoe Nikols
Picture Frames are generally composed of: Solid Wood, Synthetic Wood, Metal, Plastic or Canvas. Other materials are possible and even probable, if it is possible someone will have done it. These are the most common, so the ones we will talk about.Wikipedia defines a Picture Frame as: “A decorative edging for a picture, such as a painting or photograph, intended to enhance it, make it easier to display, or protect it.”
We define it in a similar way but feel more emphasis needs to be put on the “protect it” part. Not all edges or frames are decorative either. In fact, many are designed and chosen to be as neutral as possible. These images are hanging on Dennis’ kitchen wall. Notice the frames. Had to look didn’t you? Sure they protect and are easy to keep clean, but they hardly enhance. They were chosen exactly because they do not, in any way, draw attention away from the image itself. We guess that too is a form of enhancement but when most of us think of enhancement we think more along the lines of the top image. Here the frame protects and facilitates hanging but it also works with the mat to bring out the colors and textures of the sunflower.
Speaking of protection, it is a good idea to protect your art from the direct and intense sun. UV filtering glass is one good way. It may cost more but what is the art it is protecting worth? A photograph of a love one that you do not have the negative or digits for is way more valuable then the printing costs. Save yourself the “could-of, should-of, would-of,” guilt trip.
It was not all that long ago, and to some extent, still is the fashion in the world of visual
art for the frame itself to be a work of art.
This is a copy of an antique ornate picture frame. The original was hand carved and it is, itself a work of art. We have seen frames that make this one look plain and ordinary. The bulk of the fames in this style are found housing paintings, sometimes prints and only occasionally photographs. We have seen antique frames made from other materials then wood and metal.
Frames then, come in very wide variety of styles and a broad selection of materiel. Sometimes materials such as wood and metal or plastic, metal and wood all coexist in the same frame. The wider the selection the more difficult the choice can be.
What is it you need to know about selecting frames for your photographic art? The same principles also apply to other art forms.
The most important components include: texture, luster, style, color, material, size, strength, shape and for large pieces weight. The TSLC (not a reference to Base 25 in China) are discussed below.
Texture: All materials have a texture. Texture as applied to materials can be smooth, mottled, rough, course, fine, high or low relief (the one above is high relief) raised, and so on. The texture of the frame can be used to contrast or compliment the textures in the image or in the room where the image is to hang. For example, the metallic smoothness of the sunflower’s frame contests with the gentle mottling of the flower. The chrome finish on the narrow metal frames of the sepia tone and black and white shots, in the next image, also contrast but instead of creating a tension between the yellow of the flower and the gold of the metal the thin chrome band defines or forms a window into which the viewers attention is being drawn.
Use texture as another tool that works with color, size, lustre and other properties to achieve your desired results.
Lustre: Here are some of Lustre’s synonyms: sheen, gloss, shine, glow, gleam, shimmer, burnish, polish, patina, brilliance, brightness, radiance, sparkle, dazzle, flash, glitter, glint, gleam, luminosity, luminescence. It’s antonym is dullness. Lustre was mentioned with texture a few lines above. Lustre works with color and texture to strongly enhance the contrast or complement to the content and presentation of the image. Photographs and other art are often presented with a texture/lustre combination, a result of the material selection of the artist. High gloss, semi gloss, and mat are three common photographic paper lustre terms. They are also terms that imply a finish or surface texture. It is really the lustre that is being described. Other artistic mediums have material related texture influenced lustres. The warp and woof of the canvas, the paper of the water-colour and thickness of oil or acrylic and the appellation of a top coat all influence the lustre of the image.
Use lustre as another tool that works with color, size, texture and other properties to achieve your desired results.
Style: Style is one of those variable elements that is influenced by the time and place of origin. Style is more or less an agreed on type of art, specific to a period of time. A prime example of this is the Art Deco phase, or the predominant decorative art style of the 1920s and 1930s, characterized by precise and boldly delineated geometric shapes and strong colors. More recently, the primary focus of modern art exists as de-constructions of previous styles of art challenging our perceptions of what we think we know to be true. In many ways, even the simplest of landscapes can challenge normative values and evoke emotion beyond itself. When framing style specific art, it may be preferable to use age related materials to imply an authenticity to the replication or to deliberately frame it “out of context” for added enhancement of meaning.
Color: Color can be a strong compliment or contrast, between the image and the mats. Mats have or can have color too. The sunflower image has a gold frame and that gold strongly compliments the yellow of the sunflower. In the second image the chrome is neutral in that it does not strongly assist or contrast. The sunflower image has a dark brown relatively narrow mat between the brilliance of the frame and brightness of the flower. The tone is contrasting but the colors are complementary. This combination takes maximum advantage of color usage to achieve the desired effect of “making the flower pop.” Conventional wisdom says the mat color should be used to draw or bring out colors in the image. There are few if any browns in the sunflower but the use of a “warm”, rich, dark color enhances the yellow flower’s gradient.
We often see image art pre-framed and ready to hang, offered for sale in the strangest places. Much of this art is very well done. It is off the shelf in a modern and affordable style. Often the images are well known and even famous. They are simply not unique or limited. Sometimes limited has some very big production numbers attached to it to. One common presentation style is called gallery wrap. We are not discussing gallery wrap or frameless images with a black border, another form of gallery wrap, in this essay. We make them and we sell them too. What we don’t make or sell are images so common that thousands of other households in North America or anyplace else, have exactly the same artistic pieces on their walls. Both As I Found It and Ideal Totem will gladly give you a quotation for a truly limited edition image on canvas. Canvas prints can be displayed framed or unframed. Canvas prints are special orders at AIFI and IT. Just use the email contact form or fax us at 888-786-0666 (403-281-5622). These limited editions are set at 25 and will be signed and numbered by the photographer. A certificate of authenticity will also be provided.
We have also noticed that much of this popular art comes with some kind of frame and sometimes white mats and sometimes no mats. There is nothing wrong with black frames and white mats. The question, is black the best contrast/complement for the image being considered, that is being placed in the context of my living or office space? We can not answer that and no one else can either. Only you are qualified to make that judgement. After all, you live in your space not me or any other would be expert/advisor.
You are welcome to browse through the galleries at Ideal Totem
and As I Found It
. There you will find unique images and views of often rather mundane subjects. To our thinking the juxtaposition of the familiar and the unique often results in the most appealing art.
Imagining A Different World
Imagining A Different World
How To Turn The Ordinary Into The Extraordinary.
Abstracted from the Image Wrangler
The Image Wrangler is As I Found It’s and Ideal Totem’s news letter. This month the Image Wrangler features one of Dennis’ technical articles. The title is a hot link to the full article in PDF format. Dennis’ articles are so stuffed full of graphics that it is impossible to include the full pdf in the Image Wrangler or the blog.
The simplest way to go about addressing this topic, is to start with a visual and let the narrative develop from it. This macro image, posted above, of a spent seed pod, is just that and little else. Not a bad image, not a great one either. When I first looked at it I said nice but no contest winner and passed over it.
That said, in the back of my mind or perhaps in my sub-conches, my mind’s eye saw something the rational photographer/artist did not immediately recognize. What was seen can be summed up as possibilities. This is one of those images that seems to give license to your imagination and creativity. Here your limits are imposed by yourself and no one or nothing else.
One must always be aware of the backgrounds of the images we make. Preferably they will enhance the subject. They can be neutral and essentially unnoticed, that’s good too. If however they are distracting and diminish the subject, usually not a good thing.
In this example the background it fuzzy and in contrasting but muted colors and tones. The viewers attention is drawn to the empty cells of the spent seed pod. In this example, the seed pod could be isolated by cropping… By variations in the color and tonal range of the full image some very interesting results can be quickly and easily achieved. I made 13 different variations. That is only a small fraction of the possibilities. Here are two examples.
Others are possible and they too will work…The important thing is to experiment. Try and try again…Keep trying until you are satisfied with the result or that no result is satisfactory.
The essence of creativity it taking the ordinary and presenting it in a different and hopefully new way. That is to say producing or creating something that did not exist before from the ordinary and familiar. It is taking the standard and recombining it to produce that which did not exist quite like it before.
We creators to do just that and feeling highly satisfied with ourselves is our reward. Discovering later that someone else had or has done essentially the same thing, with about the same material, is even better. External validation feeds our egos. This simply illustrates that creativity and innovation are universal human characteristics.
Sometimes we are even aware of the technique or idea but choose different materials, colors, patterns or what have you reinforcing our uniqueness.
In general the techniques used were:
— color to monochrome
— color or monochrome inversion i.e. negative to positive reversal
— color substitution or replacement
— false color substitution
— chromatic and temperature reversals or rotations
not all of the techniques are show here but are well displayed in the free downloadable pdf.
Many other techniques and display options are available. Not all options will produce optimal results. Those results are often image specific. Some techniques need hard edges other want fuzzy edges. Some require strong contrast or steep saturation gradients. Others give best results with pastels and subtle contrast changes. Do yourself a creative favor, explore the possibilities.
Now don’t be shy either you can share your experiments here. Just attach a jpg to your comment or send Dennis an email.
Macro Prairie Smoke
A little macro photography and more Botany then some want to know.
Sometimes getting in close is a must. The flower Prairie Smoke, Pink Plums (Seeds), Geum triflorum is just such a plant. “…The petals are cream-colorer, but are almost hidden by the five branctlets of deep pink. These flowers open only enough to admit insects, especially bees…” These flowers are nice but very small (±25 mm in width and ±75 mm in length) That means a 5 to 10 X magnification is desirable. This can easily be achieved by using extension tubes, bellows extensions or a magnifying macro lens. Some of you many not know what bellows or tube extensions are, keep reading for an explanation.
The top image illustrates the morphology of the plant. To my eye the long harry tendrils, which form the seeds are the most interesting part of the plant. The furry heads, most often seen in groups of three, nod in unison in the gently prairie breezes that are almost aways blowing.
Prairie Smoke’s range is: “Found across the prairies and into the lower foot-hills, especially in areas with lime soil, the range of this plant is from British Columbia to southern Ontario and south to California, Nebraska and Illinois.” These images were made in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. The two common names are highly descriptive. “…after blooming, the stems lengthen and the petals fall, allowing the pink plums to develop; as the seeds ripen, the color fades and the seed heads turn gray, creating the illusion of smoke with every breeze, as the seeds are carried away by the wind, the plump plums become thin, like a Old Man’s Whiskers, another common name for this plant. It is also called Three-flowered Avens.”
The second image was made using my favorite 28 to 80 Canon zoom. This is more or less just focused very close having zoomed the lens to 80 mm. If we wanted to get very close, say looking into the flower or right down to a few of the hairs on the tendrels we would need a special lens or a bellows/tubes. My bellows and tubes are old technology. I do not even know if electronic versions are even available. The next two images show what tubes and bellows look like.
The bellows are a continuous focus arrangement while the tubes are used separately or in combinations. In the example I use a 50 mm lens. These lenses were the standard for 35 mm photography. Most range finder cameras came with them and most 35mm bodies also. One would also have a telephoto say a 135, 200 or 300 mm and a wide angle such as 28 or 35 mm. One can use a 135 or 200 mm lens with the tubes too. The advantage of the longer focal lengths is they push the lens and back away from the subject. In my case I am not on my hands and knees as much. Just remember if you are going to go with old way you will give up all your automatic features. Also don’t forget you need a remote shutter release. On my camera it plugs in behind the little door on the side.
Many of the macro images at As I Found It and Ideal Totem were made using these techniques.
NB: The quotes are all from: Canadian Wildflowers Through the Seasons by Ferguson and Saunders, IBSN: 1-55013-670-4
Field Trip Notes One
Dennis has been in the field doing geology and making images. Some of the images from the geology field work will soon be included at As I Found It and Ideal Totem, most are job specific and will not. Below is one grouping, taken in the boreal forest, that will.
Oregon swallowtail butterfly or Papilio oregoniusy
This image was made in the boreal forest of northern Saskatchewan. My field partner and I stopped at a small back woods picnic area for lunch. It didn’t take long to notice the butterfly aggregates on the aggregate (gravel). Dennis and most of us who have worked in the back country have seen these and other butterflies gathering in groups before. Most commonly on piles of bear dung. Wkipedia has an article about them but it does not mention bear dung. Over 500 species on all continents except Antarctica. That’s impressive!
Dennis does not know much about these butterflies except one most often sees them as individuals visiting different, usually flowering, plants. They are often seen in loose groups. As you can see he was able to approach quite close without disturbing them. If you approach them like this try and do so as not to cast a shadow across the group. He used an 80mm lens shooting from eye height, 1/200 sec at f8, ISO 400 and then cropped the image by about 40%. Almost any quality “point and shoot” (>8 megapixles) can do this. If your camera has a zoon feature even better. Just remember to work quickly, quietly and with a minimum quick movements. These groups can be much larger then this one. Dennis had a selection of groupings in the large parking area. He choose this one as the butterflies were spaced out sufficiently to see clearly what they looked like.
On June 21 the longest day of the year. Dennis payed a visit to Waterton National Park in southwestern Alberta. Waterton in Alberta and Glacier in Montana are sister parks. His purpose was to take advantage to the good weather and the plethora of wild flowers blooming at this time of the year and the maximum time of quality light. A good share of those images will definitely be seen at As I Found It and Ideal Totem. We know how camera shy this photographer is so you will just need to imagine him on his hand and knees or even laying down making images of these flowers.
These images were all made with an SLR and high quality lenses. That does not preclude anyone who sees something of interest photographing it. Snap shots may not always make high or purposeful art but they do record memories and impressions. Often it is those snap shots that are most treasured by us humans. Images are important to all of us and that is a universal characteristic of people. Now that most of us cary cell phones and most of those cell phones can take pictures we have no excuse for not recored any impression we care to hold close or share.
The purists will ague those image are of poor quality and so on. Cell phone cameras are getting better. The lenses are not the quality of Dennis’ Cannon but they are capable of doing the job they were designed for. That job is less about making art and more about recording and sharing impressions. One is not required to travel great distances or to remote places to find images. They are all around us every moment of every day. We just need to open our eyes to the possibilities. Dennis almost never leaves his office/home without a camera in his pocket. Some of his best work has resulted from doing just that.
Lastly here is a hint for taking close ups of wild flowers or other things. Just take a pice of cardboard that you can hold in your hand and easily cary. Cover it with the dull side out of some heavy duty alluvium foil. Most tape will secure it. This little reflector can soften shadows and even eliminate them without overpowering the image. No batteries and the price is right too. I once used my mirror sunglasses for the same purpose. Works if the flower or insect is small enough.
Retouching Old Images
Get a PDF with all 11 images: Retouching Old Images. Before we start I need to make one thing clear. Retouching is not subject alteration. Somehow the brand name Photoshop has been turned into a verb photoshopped. This gives Adobe a huge advertising advantage. They do make a fine product. That new verb means, as near as I can figure, to grossly or substantially alter an images content or subject. In today’s speak or think, it is assumed electronically. However the practice is very old and can be done in a real darkroom too. I should add, nowhere nearly as easily or quickly as on a computer. Retouching is a very old photographic practice of fixing such things as scratches, dust spots, red eye and sometimes blemishes on a portrait subject’s face. This early retouching was often, not always, done on the print. Advertising Industry images have, are and probably always were and will be, highly altered or photoshopped. We all know this and simply assume it is the case. I have often marveled at the skill of the photographers and artists in producing the results they do.
In the world of journalism altering the image content is considered very bad form. In the world of art it is normal practice. In my view the two worlds should be separated. The problem is often once the images are out of the photographers hands he depends on the Good Will of others. That is your philosophical lecture for the day. Sorry about it but sometimes this writer just needs to vent. One more difficulty, at what point do we cross the line between retouching and art? I think in the example offered here, my retouching has now become illustration or art. Many other artistic presentation forms suggest themselves. If you click on this hot link you can down load the pdf version of this essay you will get 7 more image variations of this art.
I took this shot in the early 1970’s I think about 1973 or 1974. I could check for sure but it is simply not important. I came across an old 8 X 10 print in my files and scanned it. The scan was good, the old print was not. I remember most of the details, except the exact place. The last image (below) shows this unit in Sydney Nova Scotia in 1976. I assume it was someplace near there when I photographed it. I was going down the road, with wife and children when I saw this locomotive charging across the open field not that far from the highway. I only had time to take one or two shots and did what I could at the time. My old Mamiya 35 is not automatic and I only had a 50 mm lens in those days. (By the way I still have that camera and it works too but is now retired. The 50 mm lens is used with extension tubes or bellows for some of my digital macro work. A great lens like that one, can always find work.)
The film would have been Kodak Plus X, developed in D 76 and printed on F3 Kodobromide paper. The original print had not been framed or well cared for and it showed some flaws and damage. Judging from the grain in the image it had been enlarged at least two times. I had a few extra moments so I scanned the 8 X 10 at 1600 dpi and see what could be made of it. It is not like me to play with a master image but in this case I did. The sky is anything but acceptable and as you can see, my quick fixes (retouches) just made things worst. Scanning at such a density only magnifies any flaws like dust spots. I went for wholesale sky replacement, that is the top image. It does the trick but only just. I sacrificed the wonderful black mist. This is fine for my personal collection of working steam but no contest winner and not something that would ever make it to As I Found It or anybodies wall.
To do this I used a professional level image editor, a Photoshop competitor. Working at the pixel level, I chose a mid range gray and simply replace the pixels in all but the steam and smoke’s plume. It is often simplest to erase areas and sub or paint in the chosen color. Retouching at this scale is a long process. Fixing the “red eye” or covering up a dust spot is straight forward and often quite simple. On this scale we are talking hours.
I suppose if one took enough time and scanned the image at a lower resolution, a more acceptable result could have been made. The original image is not outstanding in the first place. The sun’s angel placed the head end in almost complete shadow and so on. It is hard to be critical of your own work but you simply must be honest with yourself and others. The top image is now good enough for its purpose. By homogenizing the sky into a uniform tone range two things happen. First the contrast is enhanced and second viewer attention is forced to the midsection of the unit and its mechanical details. An atmosphere of drama has been added as the locomotive looks to be working very hard. This reformed image now also offers a host of artistic opportunities. Look in the pdf version here: Retouching Old Images.
Now the back story: I printed up this and other images from those trips and shared the ones of the children with grandparents and others. I even framed up and gave away a number that were well done. This one did not make it languishing in a box with other photos since. One close look at the conformation of the locomotive and you recognize not North American, probably British. What it was doing in Nova Scotia I had no Idea. So I did what all modern inquiring minds do, I used Google and found this reference on the second page.
They kindly provided these wonderful images. As you can see, the unit has been repainted. The text says: “A Southern Railway’s steam locomotive 4-4-0 Schools Class 5P No.30926 “Repton” is seen standing on platform 2 at Grosmont station which is based on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. This steam engine was built in 1934 at Eastleigh and then it was withdrawn in December 1962. This steam engine attained 1,126,976 miles during service and then it was shipped to the U.S.A. in April 1967. This steam engine also returned back to England in April 1989 and then it was restored at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway between 1989 and 1990. The owner of this steam locomotive was Clifford H. Brown who lived in Alexandria, Virginia U.S.A.. Sunday the 5th of October 2008”
The same article also had this shot which I failed to recognize on my first overview of the The Railfaneurope.net Picture Gallery
Notice that in the Canadian images 926 has a headlight and in the British images it and its sister locomotives have no headlight.
At As I Found It
and Ideal Totem
we strive to bring you interesting and unique images that fill your special needs. Here in the blog or as Image Wrangler features we often talk less about why you should purchase our wonderful images and more about what images mean to you the viewer and me the photographer/artist. They are not always the same and should not necessarily be the same.
Technical Discussion — Garden Macro
This will be a joint blog essay between As I Found It’s Blog and Retread Resources’s Blog. I received several requests for more science about the water drop lens. Textures and Patterns are sometimes a special case. Notice the texture of the hair on the bumble bee along with the patterns being displayed.
Using a water drop to magnify or reflect is an old technique. I neither discovered or invented it. I’m not young but not that old either.
I looked up Macrophotography
on Wikeipedia and found the following, partly edited definition.
is close-up photography
, usually of very small subjects, in which the size of the subject in the photograph is greater than life size. Classically a macrophotograph is one in which the size of the subject on the negative
or image sensor
is life size or greater. However in modern use it refers to a finished photograph of a subject at greater than life size. The ratio of the subject size on the film plane (or sensor plane) to the actual subject size is known as the reproduction ratio. Likewise, a macro lens is classically a lens capable of reproduction ratios greater than 1:1, although it often refers to any lens with a large reproduction ratio, despite rarely exceeding 1:1.”
Okay that done we can move on to the physics of the water drop lens. The water drop or any lens for that matter depends on the refractive index of the material the lens is made of. You may or may not rememberer the physics you took in high-school perhaps you never took physics. So I will give you a quick reminder. (Remember I am the science guy here. What else did you expect?) Again edited from Wikipedia: In optics
the refractive index (or index of refraction) n of a substance (optical medium
), is a number that describes how light
, or any other radiation
, propagates through that medium. Its most elementary occurrence (and historically the first one) is in Snell's law
, n1sinθ1= n2sinθ2, where θ1 and θ2 are the angles of incidence of a ray crossing the interface between two media with refractive indices n1 and n2. Brewster's angle
, the critical angle for total internal reflection
, and the reflectivity
of a surface also depend on the refractive index, as described by the Fresnel equations
. (Just a reminder Fresnel lenses and water drop lenses have been discussed in several other essays.)
In the water drop lens below the the angle of incidence in the two mediums that is influencing what we see. Now we have lots of light rays and they are interacting with the different structures in the flower.
The water drop here also acts as a reflecting surface. Often water does that, we see it all the time in lakes, ponds and puddles. In this image the white highlights or “stars” are the sun. They are not generated by a photoshop plug in. I have such a plug in but assure the reader this and my other images here are As I Found It. They could be any light source such as lamp or electronic flash but I took this picture so I happen to know it is the sun. It is had to see it here but I think we are looking at a minimum of 5 separate drops. Since the refractive index of rain water is the same for each of the drops the interface between them is very difficult to notice. In the image of raindrops on Currant leaves you can see the sky and a few near by trees are being reflected.
I know you are puzzling over the dead bee image at the top of the essay. First these images, all but the ones borrowed from Wikipedia, are taken by me in my garden. I was crossing the small grass plot and noticed a bumble bee laying in the recently cut grass. I went about my business and on the way back into the house noticed the bee was still in this position. You can see his wings are mostly gone.
I put the bee on an overturned cottage cheese container lid and set it aside. I wanted to do a few experiments with getting close ups of the bee anyway and being dead it would not keep flying off to another flower. I left it lay on the back porch, on its little, round, white tray for a couple of days. Here are a few of the images I made:
Notice that having a white or plane neutral background helps to get definition of appendages and the little hairs on the body. Not far from away, in the front yard to be exact, is a very large Spruce tree and this is the time of the year that spruce trees produce copious amounts of yellow pollen. Judging from the amount floating in my rain barrel and my sneezing, I figure the whitish spot on the bee are just that. Were I an Entomologist instead of a Geologist I would have gotten my bellows extension and even added a diopter to get right in on the fellows details. We could take some of these grains and mount them on a slide and look at them under my microscope but that is going perhaps a bit to far. We don’t need to know exactly what these little grains are now do we.
One does not always need fancy special equipment, special skills or advanced knowledge, to spot a great image. Often you can capture that great image with your ordinary off the shelf camera. You do need a camera that has the capabilities of doing the job and no, your cell phone probably can’t do this.
Getting down to the macro scale with today’s digital cameras is relatively easy. Often the macro setting are built into the camera’s operating system or the modern lenses have very close focusing capabilities.
The top shot is the starting close focal image. I was using a Canon 28 to 80 zoom lens. In the bad old days I would have used a #1 extension tube with my 135 mm lens, a bellows extension with a 50 mm lens or possibly a diopter, to achieve the same result.
The technical specks are:
Aperture : 5.6 (f 5.6)
Image Size : 3456×2304
Scale Factor To 35 mm Equivalent : 1.6
Shutter Speed : 1/400 sec.
Circle Of Confusion : 0.019 mm
Field Of View : 15.8 deg
Focal Length : 80.0 mm (35 mm equivalent: 129.8 mm)
Hyperfocal Distance : 61.70 m
Light Value : 11.6
ISO : 400
The second image is a crop of the first. It is the water drop in the center of the flower that attracted my attention. Because both of these images are in as close or tight as they are, few clues remain for scale. These yellow crocus cultivars are quite small, only about 1/2 the size of the wild or domestic blue variety. It was my hope that the water drops would work to magnify the pestles and stamens. That is exactly what happened too. Isn’t physics wonderful?
The image below was made a day or so before the rain and the image above. It is not as close and has some context. By the way, if you don’t like getting down on your hands and knees then perhaps this close up, in natural settings stuff, is not really for you. That is why us stock photographers exist. You are free to purchase lots of close up stock for your needs or desires. As I Found It and Ideal Totem offer an interesting and wide range of close ups.
Choosing Standard Mat and Frame Sizes. By: Dennis & Zoe Nikols
An 8” X 10” image needs to be cropped. Requires and 11” X 14” Frame
A 5” X 7” image can easily be made. A 5” X 7” image can easily be made.
These images can not be displayed here at their stated sizes. You can them this image and many more in the Steam Power Gallery of As I Found It. (Always start cropping or reductions from the largest image that is what was done here. Do not save at some quality percentage to get smaller files and images. Also remember your computer displays things at 72 dpi (dots per inch). The printed images should be more like 300 dpi for best results. The reductions shown here were made with a scaling tool. As you can see the quality is uniform. They were then all further reduced using a tool that keeps the quality but reduces the file size to 400 kilobytes. ) As I found It and Ideal Totem offer several image sizes so you do not need to pay any more then you need to.
Choosing mats and frame sizes for your art images can be a daunting task. We partly addressed this topic before in the essays User Input One and Imagination.
Here we want to look at mat and frame combinations as they relate to North American standard sizes. Uniform sizing is based on ratios so while the units my be calculated in inches the principles of the formatting remain the same. Framing and matting materials, custom framing, custom print sizes and different printable media, will be addressed in subsequent essays.
If you purchase art images they will either come preprinted or in a printable digital format. Preprinted images leave little or no room for changing or adjusting the image size, however digital images offer great flexibility. Digital images are relatively easy to crop electronically and can be printed the way you want, on the medium of your choice. Like all these matters the devil is always in the details. One way to keep that devil at bay is to address each of these topics specifically.
The different image sizes offered at As I Found It and Ideal Totem for example, are digitally designed to deliver high quality results in general standard sizes, ranging from:
Small = 3.5” X 5” or 4” X 6”,
Medium = 5” X 7” through 11” X 13”,
Large = 12” X 14” through 18” X 20”,
Extra large = 20” X 30” through 24” X 36”.
Oversized images do entail custom work. Different image suppliers have different policies. At As I Found It and Ideal Totem our policy is simple, customer satisfaction is number 1. We are always pleased to prepare a no obligation quotation for taking any of our images into your custom world.
Notice that most of these sizes are outside or differ from the 3:2 standard 35 mm negative/slide format ratio. The mat will then work to crop the image. The mat cutout is always slightly smaller then the image standard print. Table 1 shows some of the most popular industry standards. Table 2 at the end, is a more complete list. Your local or on line retailer may not have all these size combinations. Different manufactures/suppliers may have slightly different opinions about what constitutes standard. Don’t be afraid to look around and ask questions. If you are reading this it suggests your art means a lot to you. Getting that art right means a lot to you.
The retailers may not stock the pre-cut mat colors you want or pre-made frame style and material composition you desire either. It is best to check out the size, mat, material, color and style availability before you print your image. Custom framing is always an option, most framers will gladly give you a quote. One additional point, images on paper, that are larger then ± 12” x 14” should be dry-mounted or placed in a floating mount frame to prevent sagging due to gravity and rippling due to atmospheric moisture.
This was supposed to be a white mat but that blended into the background so pretend the light gray is white or off white.
Table 1, Standard Frame Sizes
Frame Size Image Size Mat Opening*
8″ x 10″ 5″ x 7″ 4.5″ x 6.5″
11″ x 14″ 8″ x 10″ 7.5″ x 9.5″
12” x 16” 11” x 11” 10.5″ x 10.5”
16″ x 20″ 11″ x 14″ 10.5″ x 13.5″
20″ x 24″ 16″ x 20″ 15.5″ x 19.5″
24″ x 36″ 20″ x 32″ 19.5″ x 31.5″
30″ x 40″ 22″ x 32″ 21.5″ x 31.5″
*The mat openings are guidelines and must be checked with each manufacturer of pre-cut mats and frames.
You will notice that this table assumes 3” mats are being used. For square formats use the 16” x 16” as example or see Tables 2 & 3.
Mats are not always used. If you choose to skip the mat then the standard frame size should accommodate an image of the same trimmed proportions. Sometimes the image is printed on the medium somewhat smaller then frame opening. This provides a white border which can serve as a white mat. The image is proportionally reduced in size by the combined right plus left and top plus bottom margins. Example in a 16” X 20” frame a 2” margin, 4” total, will require an image reduction to 12” X 16”. Have the printer center the image on the standard size paper. Custom sizes work to and can have different widths. On the other hand, from my example below, a very narrow white border defines a black and white print in a floating frame rather well. The print is 11” x 17” a standard photographic paper size not a common standard frame or mat size. (If you look around you can sometimes find them.) Some examples of mats and no mats are seen in the essay User Input One.
Time for the backstory. Dennis entered a local photo contest with this image. The contest rules required the print to be framed. This was the most cost effective way to get the job done. Took second place too. Don’t be afraid to challenge the normal.
Now you know the origin of the image being used in all these examples. Notice that Dennis left the white image margin, important for centering the image in the mat opening, on the image. The wall in Dennis’ office is whitish. The floating frame, with the white margin on the image appears as a double mat. (We know it looks blue but Dennis did not color correct it so things don’t all blend together.)
If you require printing much greater then 11” X 17” the medium will likely be in the form of a roll and start out with a width of: 24”, 36” or 48” by as long as you need. Keep in mind that images will be centered between the width edges as listed but may need to be trimmed along the length dimension. Make sure your printer knows what white width you need or are expecting on all four sides of the print.
As mentioned above, most SLR cameras maintain the old 35 mm standard image ratio of 3:2. Un-cropped or out of the camera, one can easily make prints in the 12″ x 8″, 15″ x 10”, and 21″x 14″ range. It’s a ratio so just apply it up or down. Now, the devil I mentioned… A quick examination of Table 1 tells us that these sizes are not standard and the images made to these standards will require custom framing. (it is generally about 1/2 inch)
This tells you about the various image sizes you have and most you purchase will need to be cropped. Now cropping is not a bad thing. In our essay Imagination we discuss it. What it means is that you need to think about it: when examining the image you want to use the artistic vision that you want the finished framing to achieve? Very often you can sacrifice some of the sky or the foreground or crop to avoid showing an over or under exposed edge or area. On the other hand, if you are going to loose part of a person’s face or some vital contextual information, maybe this needs to be rethought.
Table 2. Standard Frame Sizes — Long List
Please note that mats very in size, between 1 and 6 inches, that is why I like to work from the desired image size out. These are guide lines not absolutes.
Image Size Recommended Matted Picture Frame Size
5×5 8×8, 10×10
5×7 8×10, 11×14, 12×14
6×9 8.5×11, 9×12, 10×13, 11×14
6×12 11×17, 12×18
8×8 12×12, 16×16, 16×20
8×10 11×14, 12×14, 16×18, 16×20
8×12 12×16, 16×20
8×32 12×36, 13×38
10×10 16×16, 18×18
10×15 13×19, 16×20, 16×21, 17×22
10×20 16×26, 20×30
11×14 16×20, 17×20
12×12 16×16, 20×20
12×18 16×22, 18×24, 20×26
12×24 18×30, 20×32
13×19 17×23, 18×24, 20×26
16×16 20×20, 24×24
16×20 20×24, 24×28
16×24 20×28, 24×32
17×22 20×26, 24×28
18×24 22×28, 24×30, 26×32
20×20 24×24, 28×28
20×24 24×28, 28×32
20×30 24×34, 28×38, 30×40
24×30 28×34, 32×38
Table 3. Standard Frame Sizes — Long List
Please note that mats very in size the between 1 and 6 inches that is why I like to work from the desired image size out. These are guide lines not absolutes.
Picture Frame Size Recommended Matted Image Sizes Supported
11×14 5×7, 6×9, 11×14
12×14 5×7, 8×10
12×16 8×12, 9×12
16×16 8×8, 10×10, 12×12
16×20 8×8, 8×10, 8×12, 10×13, 10×15, 11×14, 12×16
18×24 11×17, 12×18, 13×19
20×20 12×12, 16×16
20×26 12×18, 13×19, 17×22
24×24 16×16, 20×20
24×28 16×20, 17×22, 20×24
Vaulted Ceiling in the Grote Kerk or St. Bavokerk in Haarlem, Netherlands
Ultimately, both the famous and the anonymous photographers offer something worth learning. Wikipedia publishes a list of famous photographers. I never pass up a visit to any museum of art or any collection of high quality images. I would like to think I have developed one of those individual, instantly recognizable styles. I find it rather impossible to look seriously at any photograph and not learn something about image making and presentation.
The galleries at As I Found It and Ideal Totem are stuffed with just this kind of creative view of the world. For example images are often reproduced in a variety of monochromatic and color variations.
My personal philosophy is quite simple. I try to present my subject in the best possible way, given the prevailing conditions. This is however, highly subjective and purpose dependent, resulting in the occasional failure or lack luster outcome. See As I Found It’s and Ideal Totem’s About Us pages for more detail. Many other blog essays also deal with this general subject. look back over the past year or so for a wide variety. It may seem simple but when examined it is anything but.
When lack luster images happen one of three thing seems to have influenced the objective: the light conditions were poor, or I lost a crisp focus on the subject and/or purpose, or I lacked the skills and necessary equipment to deliver the vision I set forth to create. The reality is I am good at what I do and when compared to others I possess a unique view of the world, but is it instantly recognizable? Why, not at all.
You can do what I have done, continue to hone your individual skills and express your unique vision.
Dennis’ tips for allowing your unique vision to escape (in no specific order):
1. Subject Focus: You could select a few subjects that you feel passionate about. If you have knowledge of the subject it is often easier to see past the superficial and bring out the deeper meaning and emotions. Not all subjects carry deep emotions or have any truly deeper meaning, but that does not mean they lack the challenge of making the mundane interesting. It is what gives you satisfaction and intellectual pleasure that counts most.
2. Style: Style comes down to how you express your vision. It is some combination of methodology, technique and technology. This is a function of: the technology chosen, post exposure processing, your over all approach, the subject and conditions. It is making choices and maximizing the results.
3. Learning: Be open to learning from others as well as from your own experiences. I never discard a poor image without first examining it closely to see why it failed. I suspect that I am like most of you and only like about 10 % of the total images I generate. Sometimes I don’t like any of them because they simply fail to properly represent the subject. If possible, go back and try again, applying your knowledge of what went wrong until you have captured the essence of your initial vision. Keep in mind the original purpose of making the images. It is nice to take pictures of your child’s birthday party and if some qualify as high art, all the better. If the purpose is to record the event for relatives, future nostalgia trips or to embarrass the child later in adulthood then high art is simply not necessary.
4. Rules: Rules in photography are not so much absolutes as they are guidelines. Lets face it, if we did not set them aside from time to time, originality would be lost. On average, the “rule of thirds” applies aptly, but when it comes to presenting a certain subject the best possible way, at a given moment in time, then maybe not. Simply put, experiment, try it all! Today multi-media is so inexpensive that all other costs are greater. It is more expensive to travel even a short distance than to fill your reusable flash card. Unlike the days of chemicals, film and paper that made us careful and aware of the cost of each frame, today’s digital photos are, in and of themselves, freebies and 100% recyclable.
5. Critic: You are your own worst critic, as every artist is. It is critical to be honest with yourself and with others. We all know this, but more often than not, we are more honest with others and less honest with ourselves. The best way is to look at all our images critically, but not despairingly. Apply a critical eye to which images work and do not work and evaluate honestly why that is so. A great image of someone or something you detest is still a great picture. Understand why. You are not forced to show it to anyone else. If you find anything that is not quite right understand that too. It is back to the learning thing, isn’t it?
6. Inspiration: We all need it. Some of us thrive on it. Some of us inspire others. All of us are inspired by someone or something. It is that inspiration that turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. Let it work for you. I carry a pocket camera with me almost all the time because sometimes I find a unique moment and point and shoot. They are not all great. Most are just ordinary, but every once in a while I get inspired to go back with my SLR and do it right. We all need to be open to the idea that inspiration occurs when and where we find it or when and where it finds us.
Once, my wife and I were touring a 15th century cathedral and I was inspired to photograph the vaulted ceiling. I laid on the floor and did just that, much to her embarrassment I must add, but the results were outstanding. That is the lead image above. That image is outstanding because it did exactly what I wanted it to do while meeting the normal photographic standards. It is un-cropped, essentially right out of the cameras. One could very easily crop the left side to make it more centered and balanced. One could leave it as it is. That is where the personal vision comes into play. That is how you free yourself to be you, expressing that unique vision. Are there other things one could do? Of course, dozens. None are necessary better then any other, none are inherently more or less creative, all are different.
7. Practice: Don’t always wait for moments to find you, sometimes you need to go exploring with an active eye. Keep a lookout for anything new, different, and hopefully, exciting. If I have learned anything living in Alberta, it is the prairies and mountains are never the same. You can travel the same path 100 times and easily get 500 different images! Practicing is just as important in photography as it is in music or any other endeavor. I am convinced that I have trained my eye to see what the lens sees. I know, from experience, that I can size up and compose an image two to three times faster than most. By the time I get the lens cap off, I know what I am going to shoot, at what focal length and from what position. I would like to think this is raw talent; the truth is 50 years of practice.
8. Self Expression: Why do we take pictures or make images? For me, it is my form of artistic expression. For others they sing or play an instrument, draw, sketch or paint, while others act or write. For me, photography is my most important self expressive activity. If you choose photography as your expressive medium, you are also choosing to share your unique vision of the world, with that world. Few if any of us are photographers unless we intend to share our art, our vision with others.
Having looked at this cathedral’s valeted ceiling above and in essay one and here, I thought a couple of other shots might suggest the richness of possibilities of simply looking up. They are below. You can find more images not unlike these at As I Found It.
Lastly, it is chance, pure and simple that often has the greatest influence on our work. It is what we make of those chances that ultimately defines our individual vision of the world and culminates in the expression of our unique style. Most forms of self expression are directed outward from ourselves towards others.
Some would say photography is not just self expression, it expresses or even defines who we are. I think I am still trying to define myself and so for me, photography expresses what and who I am at any randomly given point in time, although I am not sure that it ever captures any real totality of my existence. I have often said, “Some day I will grow up. When I do, I’ll let you know.” I strongly suspect my epitaph will read something like this: “He always said he would let us know when he grew up. He finally did.”
These images show:
Vaulted Ceiling in the Grote Kerk or St. Bavokerk Haarlem, Netherlands
This second part of the Style & Vision discussion starts from the premise that reader has already read part one. Not yet, scroll down and give it a quick scan before you “continue reading.”
Ideal Totem's primary mandate is to provide stock and art images and photographs of textues and patters. It may seem odd when we talk about textures and patterns being considered art. They certinaly can be and much of what you find at Ideal Totem is that, art.
For the purpose of this essay, we are keeping “photographic” tricks and “darkroom” magic between minimal and intermediate levels. Extreme manipulations, while artistic, slip into the world of graphic art and many would argue, lose their place as purely photographic art. At As I Found It and Ideal Totem you will not find many images that rely on extreme manipulations. Some might fall into the intermediate class but only a few.
In photography, we find the same kind of psedo-recognition. When we examine the portraits of Karsh or the landscapes of Adams, they are often mentioned in the literature as being both distinctive and fundamentally unique to the inherent style of the photographer. Both are responsible for creating truly iconic images which now have a universal recognizability. In this way, they share a common thread to the works of van Gogh and Picasso in their notoriety. However, I have seen portraits with every bit of Karsh’s style and vision, that are every bit as well done, but were done by others and predate Karsh, forcing the viewer to question the assumptions being made.
Now I am a big Karsh fan and have been since I was a boy. In a room full of his work, that one might find at the Chicago Art Institute, the style simply screams at you. Similarly, I have taken black and white stills of Half Dome at Yosemite National Park and if you didn’t know better it would be impossible to say which was mine and which was Adam’s. I did not copy Adams in any way, except for the general subject matter. I have one of his famous images on the wall of my office too. It is hanging there as a sort of inspiration, a reminder if you will of what constitutes a great image and a truly creative vision. The image above was scanned from the original Kodak T-Max negative, made about 1990.
We photographers are often faced with a minor dilemma; we often know exactly what we want. That does not mean we will have the right conditions to create it. I am talking non studio images here. The studio is a different thing. Every bit as creative, it is a control of conditions inside or lack of control outside, that makes the difference. You can go the same place, at the same time of day, a thousand time and never completely reproduce the exact conditions of any previous encounter. That is the challenging situation the photographer faces every time they picks up a camera. I believe that it is in how the photographer overcomes this challenge that defines their own personal style. It is how our unique vision of the world interacts with how the world is being presented, that produces that personal style. I must warn the reader that the style differences among many photographers are subtle and at times barely discernible to the naked eye.
There are those that say it can be learned and talent is not required. There are those who say the opposite. There are others, I among them, who say that learning hones an innate talent. Every one of us has a unique vision of the world and not everyone wishes to express it and fewer still wish to express it via photography. None of us can ever be a Karsh or Adams or any number of other well known or lesser know photographers of the past or present. I often photograph with a fellow photographer. We stand side by side and use essentially the same equipment, yet our images are different and although we recognize it instantly most viewers would be hard pressed to tell whose was whose. On the other hand, if one were to examine our respective body’s of work, the comparison reveals individual uniqueness in our distinctive styles.
As with part one this essay is based on a longer technical article published at As I Found It
. It can be downloaded as a PDF file here
Vaulted Ceiling in the Grote Kerk or St. Bavokerk in Haarlem, Netherlands
This essay and its next few companions are based on a much longer technical article that will be published at As I Found It later this month. As always feel free to join the discussion. I know, I write so well no one has anything to add. Yep, and if you believe that...
In the artistic community much is said about style and how that style is, more often than not, linked to some innate talent. The style side is mostly true. Each artist, irrespective of their specific discipline, brings their own voice and vision to their chosen art. That which is internal to the intellect of the artist, is unique and independent of external training. It is also smart marketing to have a distinctive or easily recognizable. The innate talent part is way more complicated.
It would be convenient for us to instantly associate a photographer’s work as that of their own signature style. Were it only this easy, but alas, it is not so transparent. Theoretically, most well known artists have an inherent recognizability; for example, in a room full of impressionistic paintings one instantly knows which images are van Goghs'. Yes, but not always.
The question is, are van Gogh’s paintings all so unique they will always be instantly recognized or is it that we have been so widely exposed to them that most his work has been seen by us before? My experience would suggest the latter. Before anyone starts upbraiding me, give this just a bit of thought and perhaps a personal visit to the van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. (Perhaps this hot link will do, it’s way cheaper.)
Think of Pablo Picasso, his work is instantly recognizable right? Well, maybe not... that is only true through prior exposure to his paintings. If my art history courses are remembered correctly, his work is usually divided into 7 sections or time periods. The first three are very different from that of the later sections. If you see representative examples of all seven periods together, one quickly recognizes distinctive transitions and minor elements that are thematically carried through from one phase to the next. If you did not know, or had never seen a selection of his work from all these periods, you would be hard pressed to identify them succinctly.
The point is that Picasso and van Gogh both developed unique and distinctive styles over the course of time. To that end, the photographer is no different, perhaps just a little subtler. I think a lot subtler. We photographers depend on the interplay of color, light and shadow. If we stray to far from those basic components we move away from photography and move into the world of graphic art. This blog is focused on photography, the other arts are being given short-shift here.
The image above is not some work of the abstract. It is as labeled the ceiling of a very large Dutch church. Think or a moment if you have never been in this church and the image was not captioned would you know what it is? I would think you could easily say the vaulted ceiling of some large building. Now look at the image below. Once the context has been changed, not so easy. Some photographers consider context as king. That is a part of their style. Others have a different view as the cropped version suggests.
So context or its lack can be a stylistic tool. So can vivic colors, monochromes or the pastel pallet. High or low contrast, bright to dark, sharp focus or soft, freezing action or allowing it to blur are all elements of style.
You can find many other images of textures and patterns, not unlike this one at Ideal Totem, specifically in the Buildings Gallery. As I Found It's Textures and Patterns Gallery has some too.
Longer slightly more technical articles on may of the subjects covered here in the blog essays can be found in As I Fond It's Technical Library. These are high quality downloadable pdf files that allow us to use high resolution images as illustrations. Often the same images that appear in the blog but of significantly greater quality.
This essay was written for a more general audiance then Ideal Totem, where we have a focus on textures and patterns. I believe the principles are the same. I suggest the reader keep this in mind by adding texture and pattern to the sports spicific phrases..
Choosing the right sports image, the one that best meets your needs is just as important as choosing your company name or your logo. Every image on your site or blog tells the reader, visitor or viewer something about you and your enterprise. If you need images of sport action or just sports related subjects for your website, blog or need to fill a space on the wall then, you need to look at the stock services.
Some stock services are known for celebrity and professional athlete images, other not so much. A few services are very well known for their sporting coverage such as the Olympic Games. Some stock services specialize and some are general. It is a good idea to look around a bit before you make a decision. As I Found It
presents its sports related images in large groups, often in sequences; the Calgary Stampede rodeo gallery is a great example. This Hockey image is one of about 25 showing different aspects of a this game, but our Baseball gallery is focused on the batter. Be prepared to spend some time looking around. It’s your wall or website. You deserve to have the image you want. Thousands of sports related images are out there. Now all you need to do is find it or them.
To save lots of time and frustration make a short list using just one or two words or short phrases. Use the list for your initial image searches. These are things like the sport, i.e. hockey, figure skating, tennis, baseball and so on. Is it one or more then one and if more then one which ones? Do you have a favourite team or teams? Do you need action? Do you need strong facial expressions? Does the ball or equipment used need to be prominent. Notice the puck just getting to the ice of this “face off”. Is the sport played on a specify field such as baseball and is that important to you? Ice hockey needs ice, water skiing needs water, you get the picture. Are colour or monochrome image tones important? Is drama desired or not? Do you want tension, excitement, elation or dejection important, i.e. what emotions fit best with your propose, theme or layout? Once you have made this short list, try and keep it to less then 10 items. I would suggest 5 if possible.
Place the list aside and do something else for a while. If possible just let it lay a day or two. I know that sounds odd but my experience illustrates the value of that sleep or two. When you pick it up again things will be a lot clearer. Remember it takes your time to look but costs little else. If you get inspired go with it. If you come up empty, say after 45 minutes, rethink the list, rest and try again. The questions here are: does what I want exist in the form I want it; is something wrong with my search terms; have I looked wide enough; have I looked deep enough on each of the sites I visited?
Choosing the right sports image, the one that best meets your needs is just as important as choosing your company name or your logo. Every image on your site or blog tells the reader, visitor or viewer something about you and your enterprise. Having thought about the selection criteria as outlined above is a strong step toward finding that perfect image. Many people feel they need the association of a big name or recent winner or perhaps some well known iconic image. Many others are more concerned with the correct association that illustrates best the value set being illustrated. Keep in mind you want your site/blog or wall art to be unique just as you and your enterprises are.
There are hundreds of sports, not all of them are appropriate for your. Given the plethora of sports activities available, finding the right one or ones can and will happen. It is tempting to think of the big professional leagues like football or baseball. Those are the same ones everyone else is using. How about being just a little different? What about lesser known sports, less popular things like Hockey (unless your in Canada) or semipro and amateur leagues. Most sports are seasonal, that gives another kind of focus or leaver. How about two or three all at different seasons?
Given the large number of sports, few if any stock services will have solid representations of them all. That is why it is so important to have preselected a smaller subset. The image above depicts Western Hockey League action. WHL is one of many pro and semi pro leagues. Don’t forget the university and amateur leagues. Men, ladies, boys or girls it all depends on you, your taste and mostly on your objectives. Each sport is different and each presents its own unique action and pathos.
Digital Photographs for Your Website
Creating a professional website is very important to any company. The images presented on your landing page are critical in drawing the visitor in. Let’s examine the role of Stock Images in Website design.
This bridge is the recently commissioned Calatrava
designed, pedestrian bridge over the Bow River, here in Calgary. The bridge connects the downtown with residential and commercial neighbourhoods. This image is by H. R. Spaven a regular image contributor to As I Found It’s
Creating a professional website is very important to any company. The main thing that matters is the number of subscribers or traffic you get to your website. Before creating and designing any website, you should consider visiting stock pictures sites, which can help your project become more vibrant. We would like to think As I Found It
and Ideal Totem are just such places. Creating a custom design is a crucial element in attracting visitors to your website. Therefore, the correct blend of elements is significant in achieving your goal and making your website a success.
For this essay I will invent a mythical company whose name is “Bridges To Success” Let’s say this company is a head hunter or personnel placement enterprise here in Calgary. The image I selected, the one above, is the first thing you see arriving on the landing page of my new “mythoprise.” My advice would not necessarily be to use a winter image for this. That is much more appropriate for Edmonton. Images in all seasons are readily available at stock services like ours.
Stock images are professional photos of common places, nature, events, landmarks, and so on that can be used for commercial design and are for sell on a royalty basis. We would like to think at As I Found It
and Ideal Totem the bulk of the subjects may be standard the images within are unique.
Some conditions of use could exist that can prevent you from reusing the images or publishing them in magazines. Terms of service are usually different from one stock photography distributor to another. We at AIFI and Ideal Totem offer special licenses for special things, however all of our images are royalty free in print or electronic advertising applications. In return a small photo credit and/or copyright note is always appreciated and the right thing to do.
Stock pictures sites offer you a variety of digital photographs and services. The quality and price vary considerably, but if you look hard enough, you will find the right pictures for your website. Many of the stock databases offer thousands of images in any angle that you can think of. With stock images, you have the option to choose from ones that blend perfectly in the design of your website. Other essays here at the AIFI Blog cover ideas and methods for making thing blend too.
So how do you find a stock picture that is right for you? First of all, you should always consider colors and how they will mix together on your website. Keep in mind that soft warm colors represent a calm setting. You might consider finding several photos of the same theme. Just make sure the images blend well together, giving you a montage setting. Look for images that balance one another or feature neutral colors.
If you can’t find the right image for your project, you can check for more images from the same photographers. Usually, they have many more pictures from different angles and colors. By doing this, you can open a whole new window of photos that you might have overlooked.
Before purchasing any photo, you should check and see if it matches and fits the header of your website. After you have evaluated the photos, you should use the sample editions to see how they match on your website. These samples are good enough to use for this purpose, but they have a sign on them. You should then buy the photo if you are completely satisfied with how it looks on your pages.
Finding the right header image is like finding the right logo. Not always as easy as it sounds. Headers for websites and blogs are often wide and short that is not very tall and quite broad. The simplest way of doing this is selecting base or starting images that have whet you want and are wide enough to do the job. Next find images in that wide enough subset that have your vertical component at about the right height. Select the base image size to be about the width of your digital page a 17”wide screen.
Next crop the image to fit into your header space. That is exactly how I choose and made the header for is Blog page.
Stock photography is a very inexpensive (some say cheap) method for designing and obtaining professional images and photos without the expenses of hiring a professional photographer. Stock photos refer to images obtained under this method and may include photos, clip art, vectors, computer generated graphics and other form of imagery. You can choose from a variety of photographs from different sizes, colors, angles and that were taken from all over the world.
Stock images at As I Found It
and Ideal Totem are sold on a one off, no subscription or monthly fees, clubs to join or anything else. Just straight up retail sales and of course lots of good free advice here in the Blog, at the Image Wrangler
or on the Articles page
Tech Note: Choosing Stock Photography for Your Website
Photos are often recognized as a good visual form of communication. We have discussed or mentioned the story telling power of photographs and indeed most graphic art, in many other essays. Every Photograph Is A Narrative
, is one that comes to mind, it addresses the concept. We all know that images can be powerful and convey one or more messages. That is why image selection is so important.
We are often told and I have written in other places “photography has changed a lot over the years, in order to make this mode of communication even more persuasive.” That kind of statement has a contextual component. I would argue that the changes in photography and art in general are technologically driven. How the Inner Eye
or the Creative Eye
of he photographer/artist applies that technology is how we make that communication more persuasive or perhaps better said, more relevant to the viewer. Bottom line here, the right image for your web site conveys the right ideal or story to the viewer/reader/costumer/visitor.
Stock pictures, allow everyone who wants to enhance the aspect of a website or blog to select between many options and variations on the same theme and any number of themes. That is a very good thing for the users of stock images and for the producers too. If people didn’t need them As I Found It
and Ideal Totem
would simply not exist.
Stock photography websites give you the option to easily search for the right picture. The images are presented with thumbnail views, giving you the possibility to examine the picture closely. As I Found It
and Ideal Totem
display good quality thumbs. If one activates that thumb, a very good quality image is displayed to the finest detail. Many of the stock photography websites have thousands of images often relating to a specific topic.
Stock photography services offers two great benefits, you save a lot of time and they are cost effective. Stock photos can be purchased with a royalty free license, making them much cheaper than any other types of photographs available on the internet. At As I Found It
and Ideal Totem
we also offer a range of image resolutions to better match your needs and manage your costs.
Stock pictures are also known for their quick delivery, speedy access, extensive selection and great quality. We at As I Found It
and Ideal Totem
would like to think we offer unique view of things too. The photos can also be classified by descriptive keywords. Stock photos are ideal for people with a tight budget, offering a large variety of inexpensive images.
With the development of the internet, stock photos became easier to use as they can be downloaded very quickly online. All you have to do in order them. At many stock services you need to become a member of a stock photos database. Not at As I Found It
and Ideal Totem
no membership is required here. For others you create a user account on a specific website. You can then purchase multiple photos.
Stock photographs come in large variations and present great selections to choose from. Just by browsing quickly through stock images galleries and libraries you can find almost any picture you desire.
There are a lot of stock photographs websites that may not have the greatest resolution of the photos or the ideal prices; that is why As I Found It
and Ideal Totem
have a range or resolutions for every image. However, you can find websites that offer and deliver great pictures for a very low price.
Often you can find many great pictures from smaller sites, i.e. with small stock libraries. Since the owners of small stock libraries usually stress on quality, they only approve photos with high quality. That is us at As I Found It
and Ideal Totem
. We hand inspect each and every image at every size or resolution offered, before it is posted to our libraries or galleries.
Purchasing from stock photography is ethical and legal. This means that you won’t have to worry about the danger of getting tangled in copyright or legal issues. Purchasing the photos gives you the right to use them without having to be concerned about any lawful issues.
Stock pictures are less costly and easier to get than hiring a professional photographer. They can make a big difference on your website, presenting a much more inviting setting. Therefore, if you find a stock image that is cheap and can complement your website, you should go ahead and get it.
MVOAT means More Variations On A Theme. These patterns are well represented at Ideal Totem, our new sister site dedicated to Textures and Patterns. I started with this pattern, called Ice Pattern_1 shown here in its original form and color. If you look back at MVOAT—1
will notice this pattern. That is where it came from. These kinds of things are everywhere, it is only that we need to open our mental eyes to notice them. I remember at the time thinking, those a neat patterns I wonder what I could do with them. I snapped a few shots of the pattern while taking the other pictures of the Ice Palace.
Once back in my digital darkroom I did a few of the usual variations, black and white, sepia, color negative and so on. To keep this blog at a reasonable size I have built in links to my Picasa
albums on the same topic. So far I have 35 different images of Ice Pattern_1 all now for sale at Ideal Totem.
Why would you do something like this, one might ask? Why not, I answer. I find the this image in this color range pleasant and pleasing. Others may not. Others may see some useful propose for all or part of these images. The pattern subset in the lower right, is shown below. Depending on one’s taste, I can see this repeated or, tiled as a background to a blog or home page. An alternative is to divide the image in four and then using some, perhaps all five, or more parts, as equal sized tiles, build a very interesting background for a home page. This is one of those things where your inner creativity needs to be given its freedom.
Why would you do something like this, one might ask? Why not I answer. I find the this image in this color range pleasant and pleasing. Others may not. Others may find different colors are more pleasing or fit their purpose better. I will talk about color variations of these patterns in the next blog. You can see quite a few by hitting the Picasa link above.
Another kind of variation is intensity. Here is the centre of the original image this time substantially lightened up.
Okay, so let your imagination run free. Creativity is just that being creative, that is, taking that which we find and making something new from it. For those who know me well, this is old hat, I have been doing it since forever. Any of the texture images at Ideal Totem can be further cropped or subdivided. It is best to do with the 900 kilobyte sized files. At $6.00 each a real bargain when you can get four easily tiled subdivisions.
In last week’s essay I talked about cropping images for some aesthetic purpose, suggesting we photographers need to do more of it more often. In cropping with a purpose we will briefly examine cropping with some goal or objective in mind. Several of the images above are cropped and several not. it is a parent/child relationship. The images are of some petrified wood samples I encountered in a friends yard. As you can see the weathered surfaces are not very interesting but once broken or sawed they are just short of spatular. Even if your not into fossilized wood.
Geology lesson:. The process of petrification is in effect the replacement of organic structures with minerals such as silica. Trace elements, such as iron, help with the colour. The silica, as seen here, replaces the organic matter on more or less an atom for atom basis. This often preserves the fine internal structures of plant material. Tree rings show well and can often be seen with the unaided eye. Geology lesson over.
I was preparing these images for posting at Ideal Totem. While they are very pretty, I judged them more appropriate there then at As I Found It. The top and forth images are the before cropping or as photographed images. Ideal Totem is dedicated to patterns and textures, the majority of which are naturally inspired. Every image posted to anyplace by me is inspected in detail. These patterns and textures more so then panorama landscapes.
The top images is one of those obvious ones. it is clearly a fairly close in and show both the fresh and weathered surfaces. It would be nice if I had some clairvoyance but alias I do not and you don’t either. I simply have not way to tell just what a potential purchaser will want. I judged all of the above and several others not shown here, would give a variety that should approach meeting just about everyone’s needs.
The simplest thing to do is creatively crop. And to corp with the probable needs of this illusive user in mind. The top three illustrate a process of field of view reduction. One is roughly square the other is round. Each reduction presents the subject in a slightly different and more detailed view then the previous. One could reduce the field even further. Something perhaps best left to the user. If he or her chooses the middle sized image Ideal Totem sells, which would normally be printed at 8 by 10 inches, a relatively small feature could be displayed at the same size as the images shown here.
In the forth image I judged the user will be more interested in the unweathered surface and used an oval instead of a rectangular cropping tool. The oval shape is not as common as square or rectangular. Here is has two functions: one is to be different and therefore draw attention and two, to isolate the unweathered surface to draw attention to the texture of fossil wood surface and to being out the deep red splotches on the upper right. Other shapes or variations on square, round and oval are also possible.
All to often we forget about cropping our images. I think we would all do ourselves a favour if we did more of it. Now that we are firmly in the age of digital images we can loosen up on some of the constraints forced upon us in the days of film and paper. Now don’t get the wrong impression I am a child of that time and my film and paper experience is over 40 years while my digital experience is only 10. That is a 3:1 ratio. Pre-made frames and pre-cut mats if used, form constraints. We always lived with them. I was very lucky I learned to cut my own mats early on. That meant I was not totally at the mercy of pre-cut stuff or the custom framers. All that means is could do what my eye and creative muse said.
I am very fortunate, my daughter Zoe is a highly skilled professional framer and mat cutter. She indulges me perhaps more then others might. More often then not my images are just fine at some standard aspect ratio and presented in some standard size. Not always though. This shot of the Big Horne sheep is one of those times. I have photographed this herd several times over the years. It lives near the hamlet of Eckshaw, just east of Banff National Park. If one gets off the Trans Canada highway and takes a side road, you must slow down but you often get to see these majestic creatures and they are more then willing to pose for you too. The might is flat but the subject makes up for that.
All that aside the top image was cropped to produce the second one. I could have done this differently of course. I judged that isolating the ram from the others produced a better narrative. I judged the rocks and snow were of much less interest the viewer then his face and his lunch, the texture of his fir more so then the dry grasses. I just cropped where I wanted knowing full well this image will probably never be printed but it will be viewed electronically thousands of times. In effect this is a portrait of the ram. Visit the blog host for many more articles
It is just about a year now that this blog went live. This will be the 61st entry. Most have been short essays. Those
essays were designed to inform and stimulate. It is my intention to
produce another 50 or so essays in 2012. I place images like this in
AIFI’s Creative Eye gallery. The idea is to make the ordinary,
extraordinary, by finding that view or angel less often taken. We have
discussed the concepts of monochrome, color, drama and so on in other
essays. We have also looked at visual simplicity and complexity. Here
we have it all.
To make this image, I stood in the middle of a pedestrian bridge and
looked up. When I went onto the bridge I had no intention of looking up
and taking a picture or three. I just did and you see the result. The
giant H said, take my picture.
Subjects that have strong simple lines and rich tones and make an
interesting patterns attract attention. Here the color image is
presented in a reduced range of gray tones. Instead of converting the
millions of colors to 256 shades of gray, I reduced them to 16 and give
the contrast a boost. The availability of a few clouds did not hurt. I
think it helps to provide some contest in the monochrome image.
Gray scale is not the only tone range that could be used. Sepia or
orange would looked good. The image could be laid on its side to
produce a slightly different effect. If we make the image sepia and turn it on its side the narrative changes. If we remove the clouds it changes again. If we make that cloudless image Orange it changes still more. The
range of change is limited but is still very large. What this means for
you is the ability to allow a wide range of creative expression at a
very low cost. Go to the essay User Input One for more discussion.
We are still looking at Ice Pattern_1. Just in a different way. Before we looked at the pattern as presented by nature and the people how built the Ice Palace. Now we are taking that pattern just another step further. For this image I used a filter called Kaleidoscope. I’m sure there are a number of them available, this one works with photoshop 2 and several of my other programs. All these Kaleidoscope programs or filters or plugins, work more or less the same way, on a mathematical model I do not pretend to fully understand. What you have here are six divisions or a hexagonal pattern with a limited angel between the units. By varying the angle the pattern changes for a given count. It is a lot like looking at the crystal structure of a mineral. If you look back to MVOAT—2 the base image is shown. In Variation On A Theme Two I showed a Kaleidoscope filter with a four count here is an image with a couple of variations.
six fold with 1degree separationfour fold with 2.92 degrees separationfour fold with 0.2 degrees separation.
It is easy to see how all these things can be varied and are variables in your creative endeavours. Just a small aside. In the bad old days, those are the pre-digital times, when we wanted to do something like these tiles, we had limited choices. In the darkroom you could set up a grind and cut our the tile opening from some opaque media or my favourite was red plastic. Since black and white photographic paper was not polychromatic but orthochromatic and not sensitive to red light, it worked well. You just kept moving the paper under the slot and giving each tile the same exposure.