Bunch of stuff to talk about today, both photography and art.
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It’s an unusually warm, even hot, September day last fall and I’m of a need to take the camera out and capture new material. Off I go, late morning, to one of our historic neighborhoods, park the car and begin walking. I’m out there for close to three hours, relocating by a few blocks twice, the sun getting hotter each step. Three hours, and I captured roughly five or six dozen shots. I kept lining them up and in the back of my mind I’m thinking how much better the same shot would be in a month when the autumn colors kick in. But I kept at it, focusing on textures and the contrast produced by the sunlight against the historic structures.
Here’s how many works I’ve extracted from those three hours and those five or six dozen captures:
OK, that’s not entirely true – I did get a couple. Like as not, I’d have pulled more but for what happened next.
I got back in the car, stopped off for a 15-minute break and something to drink, then went over to Riverside Park where the Chalk Festival had just begun: roughly 30 artists of all ages spread out along the sidewalk with their colorful piles of chalk, each creating a work of art which would last until the next downpour. And I can see there’s already a number of people taking photographs, including one of the guys from the newspaper I recognize. I’m thinking, probably won’t get much here, but I stroll through anyway, grabbing a dozen shots or so. I spent maybe 20 minutes. At this point, now, I’m hot, I’m tired, I’m hungry, I figure I’ve done all I can do with this, so I head for the barn.
Those 20 minutes led to a half dozen superb works, a couple of which I count among my best ever. EVER. Those new techniques I’ve discussed, they came roaring into play, here. I found things in those few captures I’d have never found before. There MIGHT be something hiding in those three hours and five or six dozen shots I’d taken earlier, but everything that’s come after has overshadowed it. Irony lives in the camera.
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First of all, I would NOT necessarily include the work featured here in one of those half dozen superb works. This is the most complicated work I’ve ever attempted. It grew to ultimately combine a half dozen separate files of the same capture, each crafted differently, then blended back together, along with numerous filters and adjustment layers – enough to become the largest file, by far, in my portfolio in terms of kilobytes. I’ve certainly spent more time on this one than anything else – weeks dwelling over certain aspects of it, going back and tweaking this, tweaking that. I even went back today, after I started writing this, and added a couple more touches.
And for all of it, I’m not sure I don’t just simply have a sloppy blob. It’s either that, or a masterpiece.
It might be that I’ve found the limit of these new techniques; there’s a point at which enough is enough. In retrospect, the original capture was heavily backlit, perhaps too much so for the direction I tried to take it. Did I try to push it in a direction it couldn’t go? Was I simply trying too hard? Or, did I succeed in ways I can’t yet comprehend?
The juxtaposition of “sometimes you just know” is “sometimes you have no idea”. Sometimes, it’s not where we’re at, it’s where we’re going. And we have no idea where that is.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.