Saturday, August 16, 2014

Past Prime

As I indicated in my previous entry, I have recently come to realize that flowers that are not freshly cut and in full bloom are entering a more visually interesting phase.

I had the studio set up to take some pictures of dolls for one of the fellow artists at the Torpedo Factory.   Walking out to the car I spotted a tiger lily that was. how shall I put this, entering a different phase of its existence.  It was quite interesting and I cut it off and took it into the studio to photograph.

To make a long story short, I have made about 300 photographs of flowers in various states of transition.  Nothing exceeds like excess!  No flower in the neighborhood is safe.  Folks are leaving flowers for me in my mailbox at the Factory and in sacks attached to the door of my studio.

I think the word is out that if you have dead flowers, give them to Jim.

A little note on the technical side.  These are taken with my Nikon D800e and the Nikor 105mm macro lens.  I used Helicon Focus software to focus stack the images to that I could get the depth-of-field required to execute the images the way I wanted.  You can see more here.

Friday, August 8, 2014


I have recently started shooting flowers in the process of "passing into another state."  What I have come to realize is that they are possibly more beautiful than they were when they were "fresh."

This started be thinking about the concept of beauty in art.  Beauty is seductive both to the artist and the critic.  Beauty is difficult. I suspect that critics find it difficult because they are afraid of what other critics will say about them if they give a great review to work that it is beautiful.  Artist find it difficult to deal with in a serious way.   We are afraid that someone will trivialize our work by saying it is "pretty."  That's almost as bad as saying it's boring!  Trust me, boring is worse........

In showing the flower pictures, I am struck by how many folks comment that they didn't realize that dieing flowers could be so beautiful.  Maybe this is a result of seeing them large where small details are made visible. Who knows?

Many photographers today seem to be afraid of beauty.  We see portraits of people staring blankly at the camera,  deserted building, and the truly banal passed off as "great art."

Maybe I'm just out of touch........

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Miles Davis and the Art of Photography

I recently read a statement attributed to Miles Davis (possibly the greatest jazz trumpet player of all times - but that's for another time), that he played not what was there, but what was not there.

As I have thought about my own visual development, I have come to the conclusion that I prefer images that leave something to the individual viewer's imagination.  Some images are too easy.  After the first time you look at them there is nothing left to discover.  What is not shown may be more important than what is shown.  It leaves room for individual interpretation and discovery.

I understand that making such an image is easier said than done.  We are often attracted to a subject because of the interest that it holds for us.  We see it.  We feel it. We sort of have a relationship with it.  It is not easy to see what is not there because we are so aware of what is there.

However, one of the necessary skills for photographers is editing.  We may take thousands of images of what and where we point out cameras, but then we should edit heavily.  There may seem to be very little difference between one image and another, yet one has life and speaks to us while the other doesn't.  This is where visual literacy comes into play.  It's having that sense of what makes one image work and another not work.

Visual literacy is difficult to teach and probably takes years to acquire.  We are very good at teaching people how to change an image but not very good at teaching them why and what should be changed to make an image come alive.  Visual literacy is acquired by looking at a lot of work and deciding for oneself why an image is great or merely near great.  Where that line is drawn is a personal decision.  Where I draw the line is not necessarily where someone else would draw it.  It's the result of how we view the world, our exposure to visual images, and our own personal life experiences.  It can be acquired but it takes some work and the self awareness to realize that it needs development and nourishment.