Month: October 2013 (page 2 of 2)

Art, Photography & Reproduction

The artist has always strived to push and expand the boundaries of expression, and in doing so has often made use of current advances in techniques or technology. All types of art are included such as modern art, abstract art and canvas art.

It is nothing new. Commercialism maybe somewhat more aggressive now than in Rembrandts day, but the studios of his era were just as equally skilled at producing the same painting many times over, than a digitally enhanced limited edition of todays genre.

The question it raises is that as technology moves apace where is the line drawn between what could be described as an artists preparation and that which is computer generated origination? More specifically does it matter?

One could argue that artists have always sought to enhance their work and utilizing todays technology is no different to the past. The fact is that what can be achieved today is far greater than anyone could have possibly imagined even 20 years ago.

It really all comes down to how you define what is art and what constitutes an artists preparation.

Projection and scaling tripods through to Obscura cameras were commonly used in the works of many of the masters, so why should using photoshop be viewed any differently.

Photography and art are like two cousins, related disciplines. But that ignores the fact that painting was the photography of its day. Royal courts would send ambassadors with realistic miniature portraits for prospective suitors, in much the same way as a photographic portfolio captures the lines and cheekbones for a model agency.

People often forget where they have come from and this is also true of all types of art including abstract art and contemporary art. It was as much about advertising, marketing and politics as the beauty or skill of its creator.

To me the use of any technique or process by the artist must be seen as part of the work and methodology. Surely the point is this. It is not the technique or process that is important, it is how you use them. Indeed there is a whole separate area of creativity here.

When Did Photography Become An Art Form

Since the dawn of time, humanity has searched for ways to express the world around them in visual form. Sculptors like Praxiteles, Auguste Rodin, Michelangelo and the unknown artist who crafted the Venus de Milo have filled the art history books. Painters, such a Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Salvador Dali, have their works in hundreds of museums and on the walls of private collectors.

Although the question of whether photography is an art form is still half-heartedly debated by some, and has been since the 16th century, many photographers have joined the ranks of famous artists. Several photographs, framed or enlarged, black and white or color, now populate the walls and museums of the world. However, only in the past century or so has photography been recognized as any kind of art, much less fine art.

Originally, photography was the “unwanted stepchild” of the arts, a poor relation to drawing and painting. Because of the camera’s mechanical nature, say the detractors, it doesn’t require any real skill. The need for hand to eye coordination is minimal, the subject of the photograph comes “ready-made” and the photographer doesn’t need to be creative or imaginative. In short, a monkey could do it.

Considered an industrial art or a documentary device, the medium still caused much consternation amongst the artists of other mediums. Many were afraid that photography would cause the loss of livelihood. Others saw a disintegration of the arts, distorted by the photographic lens.

So what changed? The art world met Peter Henry Emerson. A photographer himself, Emerson believed that, if a photograph brought “aesthetic pleasure to the viewer”, it was art. No matter how it came into being. In 1889, he founded a fine-art photography movement, calling it “naturalistic” photography.

George Davison and Horsley Hinton, along with Emerson, wrote many pieces claiming that their chosen art was not just a method of documenting and recording. In addition to the common uses, they suggested, photographs could be pictorial in nature, selected for their appeal and beauty.

Around 1892, pictorial photography became accepted throughout the world, vindicating many who had argued for the medium to be included under “art”. That same year, Alfred Stieglitz begged photographers in America to bring art photography to the country. In 1897, America embraced the first pictorial exhibit in Philadelphia and has accepted as an art form ever since.

Once acceptance was garnered, photographers began cropping up everywhere. All you really needed was to own a camera and a good eye. For instance, the “father of photojournalism”, Alfred Eisenstaedt, started taking photos at the young age of 14. He sold his first photograph in 1927 and had never had any training – just a good eye and a camera. His unstaged photographs, taken in the spur of a moment, have delighted and amazed viewers since 1928.

Throughout his entire career, Eisenstaedt never put aside the “amateurish” sense of adventure. He never felt the need to overburden himself with unnecessary equipment, and carried out his photojournalistic assignments merely by catching events at the right time.

Ansel Adams, whose landscape photography graces many walls, calendars and book pages, is another example. Although he had trained to become a concert pianist, a trip to Yosemite National Park and a Kodak Brownie box camera began a new era for Adams. From 17 until his death in 1984, he dedicated his life, an extensive array of fine art photography and music to the beauty of nature and the need to preserve the natural world’s wonders and resources.

Whether art or science, one cannot look upon the works of Ansel Adams, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Anne Geddes, Dorothea Lange, Edward Curtis and many others without feeling at least a small sense of awe. If a picture truly says a thousand words, their voices will be heard for many years to come.

Bird Photography Tips – Hummingbirds

In the world of bird photography, the hummingbird is certainly one of the most challenging to photograph. This jeweled bundle of energy has the ability to zoom around at record breaking speeds causing frustration for many a photographer. This article is written to help give you some tips so you can take better hummingbird pictures.

Setting out the Welcome Mat

Most places in North America are visited by hummingbirds, some year round, others seasonally. Your local Audubon Society can tell you when to set the feeders out. You can also find out if the hummingbirds in your area migrate so you can remove the feeders in time for the hummingbirds to migrate and avoid freezing in the cold.

Every serious hummingbird photographer needs a hummingbird feeder. When looking for a feeder, make sure you have one that is easy to clean and that it is easy to fill with sugar water.

Most birders suggest using 4 parts water to 1 part sugar or you can also try using a 3:1 mixture as well. Keep the feeders filled so that the hummingbirds don’t head to a more reliable nectar station. Don’t forget to remove the feeders regularly for cleaning and then put them right back up. Remember to never use food coloring because it is not needed to attract them and can cause a dangerous growth on the hummingbirds beaks that can harm them.

Feeders, Perches and Flowers

The biggest challenge with taking hummingbird pictures is that they rarely hold still. They are almost constantly darting here and there. Many photographers make the mistake of trying to follow them with their camera in hand. However don’t try following the hummingbirds but instead be patient and stay in one location.

You want to think about the kind of bird pictures you want and then set things up to help increase your chances of getting the shot. After that, it’s a matter of getting comfy and having your camera ready. Many photographers use tripods or monopods so the camera’s always ready. Some photographers use blinds so they can move without worrying about scaring off a hummingbird.

If you want photographs of hummingbirds hovering, remove the perches from your feeders. Although this may seem a little mean, if you plug up all of the holes on the feeder but one it will make it easier to get a good hummingbird picture. You will still have hummingbirds zipping around trying to chase off the other birds from the feeder regardless of what you do.

Now if you want to take a picture of a hummingbird perching, watch where the dominant male goes after he gets a drink at the feeder. Usually he will perch where he has a good view of his feeder. If the perch isn’t in a good position for you to take pictures, you’ll need to do some rearranging. Try moving the feeder near a perch so you can get a better picture.

Or move it farther from the natural perches and add a perch near it in a photo friendly location. As long as the hummingbird can keep a watchful eye for predators, it won’t mind relocating. Eventually the hummingbirds will get used to you and your camera, but movement will likely frighten them off so make sure you’re in a quiet area with very little activity.

If you have a beautiful flower that the hummingbirds never visit (and would make a great photo), try using an eye dropper and gently fill the flower with some sugar water. This only works for a short time because the flower will begin to wilt after just a few hours.

As with feeders and perches, you can also hang a basket of flowers to help attract them for photographing. However no matter if you use a flower or feeder, you’ll still only have about 8 seconds tops to take your pictures. Always be patient and don’t press the shutter release until the hummingbird has a had a sip of nectar or sugar water. If your flash frightens them off, it’s likely they won’t return to the feeder.

Background Check

The best type of background for taking hummingbird pictures is something dark green that doesn’t have any noticeable distractions like branches or twigs. If you want a “moveable” background try a dark green potted plant or even a large green painted poster board. The best thing you can have is a dark background so the hummingbirds bright colors can really stand out.

If you look for hummingbird pictures in google images you’ll get a good idea of what backgrounds work and what doesn’t. Hummingbirds will often fade into green or busy backgrounds making it impossible for them to stand out. A shaded area behind the feeder or perch also works well as a good background.

You can use photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop Elements, to blur the background and make the hummingbird stand out from the background.
Adobe has tutorials on this on their website.

Lights, Camera, Action

After you have things set up it’s just a matter of finding a nice, comfy place to sit nearby with your tripod and camera. In order to freeze their beating wings, you will need a high speed flash but you can still get some great pictures with a good compact camera by using these tips.

Remember, hummingbirds may be the most challenging subject in bird photography, but with some patience you will soon have a nice collection of hummingbird photography to frame and display in your home.

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