"For the artist communication with nature remains the most essential condition. The artist is human, himself nature, part of nature within natural space." Paul Klee

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Other Side of the Sunset

Last night as the sun was setting, I could see huge puffy white clouds lowering toward the horizon and I knew there was going to be a colorful sunset. After positioning myself down low I took several shots of the sunset. These were pretty good but nothing I haven't shot before. Checking my surroundings, I turned around and saw an even better sky. These two shots, the sun is setting behind me. The extreme difference in altitudes of the cloud formations produced some nice contrasts. The bottom shot, "The Cage" is intentional. I was interested in the two types of images, beautiful puffy clouds at sunset against cold black steel with straight unnatural lines. "There are no straight lines in nature." I think it was my high school art teacher that said that.

My Nikon D70 was set to ISO 400 with a Hoya polarizer, both shots handheld at 1/3oth of a second. The cage at f8 and the tree at f6.3. Because I was in Manual mode, I could use the built-in light meter to assist in determing the exposure setting.

Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Photographing Nature

The responsibility of photographing nature is set forth in the words of Chinese poet Wang Wei,
"When one paints landscape, concept precedes brushwork." Studying nature, contemplating a simple scene is one of the pleasures of studying (staring at!) nature. The Chinese view of landscape was that one could realize "paradise" on earth and this vision was made "out of earth".

To me, the frame of the camera is a stage upon which I will place my players. In this case, some yellow flowers in the sun. I chose an angle that included the fallen tree trunk allowing the flowers to become even more visible. Shot in full sun with ISO 100, 1/125th of a second @ f5.6.

To quote Leon Battista Alberti, "Our minds are cheered beyond measure by the sight of paintings depicting the delightful countryside...the games of shepherds-the flowers and verdure." And furthermore, as boldly stated by Albrecht Durer, "Art lies in Nature."

Thanks for stopping by. Stay cool.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Black on Green

I found these ferns at the bottom of a ravine in downtown Austin. The blackness behind them is the underbelly of a bridge where there was very little light. The sun was shooting down into the ravine backlighting the ferns. When I took the picture I concentrated on the placement of the black splotches figuring the green ferns will look good anyway. It's really a simple shot -only "black on green", if you will. As Chopin said, "Simplicity is the final achievement."

ISO 250 with -0.3 exposure compensation, 1/400th @ f5.6. Use the spot meter setting to make sure I had enough exposure on the front part of the ferns. White balance was set to Auto.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, July 18, 2011

"Nuit Americaine"

"Nuit Americaine" is a French term known in English as "Day for Night" This is a cinematic technique where the cameraman/director of photography exposes the film or sensor during the day but achieves a night time look. That's a technique that I haven't used in a while and was glad that I got a chance to try it last week.

You can see the effect in the top two pictures...the bottom picture was taken about 20 minutes before in open shade.

It didn't hurt that I had the opportunity to photograph my friend Dacia...who looks just stunning in all the shots we took that day. Actually it was more like about an hour and twenty minutes. Thanks to Dacia for enduring the searing heat and my crazy commands. Also a big thanks to Erin at the Austin Museum of Art for coordinating the shoot on short notice.

The top two shots were taken around 11:30 in the morning with a 100 degree sun beating down on us. In fact, my eyes were stinging from the suntan lotion creeping into my eyes. Thank goodness for autofocus.

The camera was the Nikon D70. The day for night shots were with the standard kit lens; 18mm/ 135mm using the SB600 in a shoot thru umbrella for key and the bottom shot was with an older Nikkor 50mm, f1.4 opened up all the way using the umbrella to diffuse the sun sprinkling through the trees. The older Nikkor lenses do not autofocus with digital cameras so focus is done manually. The camera was set to manual and ISO 200 for the entire shoot.
Thanks for stopping by and stay cool.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Desaturating An Image

When to desaturate is of course an aesthetic call. In this example shot of Lisa I had the camera set to my usual Vivid mode. That combined with an off camera flash resulted in a highly saturated picture. I desaturated the shot quite a bit...until the color was probably half of what it was originally. Again, this is a "taster's choice" thing but I felt the original file was a tad bit too "Kodak-y" bright, especially with the red cardigan and violet umbrella.
The best way to achieve this is just experimenting with your image using the Desaturate slider in either Photoshop or your Microsoft Office Picture Viewer.

Shot with the Nikon D80 in manual mode, ISO 100 (extremely bright day plus flash didn't require any higher of an ISO), f5.6 at 1/125th of a second. Lens was set around 200mm.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay cool.