Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lynden Sculpture Garden in the snow

Milwaukee artist, Eddee Daniel, and I collaborated on a number of installations at the Lynden Sculpture Garden in Milwaukee.
Eddee contributed the orange fences and I made the blue ladders. Since it was there all fall, we were able to photograph it in various seasons.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Caves in Vietnam

The following link of National Geographic photos was sent to me this morning, and I loved looking at the photographs as they demonstrated various elements of 2 dimensional design and principles of photography. Today, let's look at them from the perspective of design elements and how they are use various elements well to create an effective image. Later, we can go back and look at them from the standpoint of what makes them good photographs. So, as you shoot this winter, think about how you might add some of these elements into your work. Then post it here for all to see and comment on.

We'll start with looking at the basic elements of design in a 2 dimensional piece of art work. Read through these, and then reread them after looking at the photographs as they will make more sense afterward:

Line: how lines are used communicate a sense or lack of depth, perspective, or flatness to an image. Imagine how converging lines create a sense of 3D perspective drawing you into a piece while a series of lines in columns creates a sense of a wall. A curvy line creates one feeling, while a line with sharp angles gives another.

Shape: shapes can be geometric or organic, but are flat elements in a piece without shading giving depth.

Texture: in photography, texture will be visual but will give the sensation of rough, smooth, soft, etc. Think of a perfectly smooth body of water versus a close up of the sand on the beach.

Pattern: Pattern can be seen by repeating elements in the piece- a series of lines, shapes, or forms that create a predictable pattern that appears as though it will continue off all edges of the photograph. For a simplistic example, think of a polka-dotted pattern on a page. You know exactly what the pattern will be if you were to extend the page in any direction by any length.

Form:  Form is the concept of using shading to make a shape into a 3-d appearing object. Think of drawing a circle, but then shading it so it appears to be a sphere/ball. There is no added depth to the actual piece, but it now appears to be a 3 dimensional object rather than a flat element in the piece.

Value:  Value is the gradation of tones in a piece. Think of pure white to 100% black and the scale of grays in between. This is the value scale. Traditionally, black and white photography should have a true white and a true black in the piece and a range of grays in between. Pieces that have high values (are very light) may communicate more of an light and happy or even ephemeral feeling versus pieces that are mostly low values, are very dark, that may communicate more darkness, depth, sorrow and permanence.

Perspective:  Perspective is achieved by using a number of other design elements to give depth to a piece. Imagine standing on the center line of a road in Colorado that heads straight west towards the Rockies.  The road is wide where you are standing, but far away, the parallel lines seem converge. The wider they are in the foreground and the narrower they are in the background gives a sense of how far away you are. Next, think of the size of elements. Bushes near you will be big, but bushes far from you will look little. Next, think of the value of elements: items near you will be darker while objects far from you will be paler.  The mountains near you appear bright and colorful with lots of detail, while mountains far from you are more gray and light with less detail.

Color: There is more to say on color than I can cover in this post, so I'll keep it short and hit some major concepts.  Color can be used in many ways to communicate through a piece of art. Cooler colors, such as blues, greens, deep violets, can communicate one emotion towards a subject while warmer colors, such as reds, oranges, yellows, will give an entirely different feeling.  Colors will be different at different times of the day: think of the warmth of a sunrise coming up over Lake Michigan for those of us who got up early to go shoot it. The light creates warmer color tones (reds, yellows, golds, etc) than it does midday.  Color can also be used as a pattern. The intensity of color, or saturation, can communicate as well. Think of a stark black and white photograph and what the lack of color communicates compared with a photograph of bright colors of various hues.  Complimentary colors (those colors across from each other on the color wheel-- Red & green, Blue & Orange, Purple & Yellow) may  communicate an intensity to the image while colors nearer each other on the wheel may give a more soothing feeling (Blue & Green, Red & purple, Yellow& orange).  Lastly colors should be repeated throughout a piece. Use it in more than one element, in more than one place.

Okay, so now that you've gotten through my lecture, let's look at some PHOTOS!

Conquering an Infinite Cave...

Once you've looked at them, go back and review the elements of design again briefly. I'll post more soon on the elements of photography and use these same photos to talk about some of the element Phil taught this summer. Or, Phil, if you want to and have time, you can add a post on the photographic elements.

Today, as you look at the world around you, see where those elements play in, work and don't work, and imagine photos, even if you don't take them.  Remember what Dorthea Lange said, "The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera."