Posts Tagged ‘art’

A Day and A Night in Hespeler

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

This past weekend I was pleased to have some of my photos exhibited at the A Day and A Night; Art Meets Music event in Hespeler (a neighbourhood of Cambridge, Ontario). I ended up spending most of the day wandering around the festival snapping photos – here’s a look:










Photography as Art

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

I take LOTS of photos – too many, probably – and very few of those photos could be considered art.  I also look at LOTS of photos online – most of them would be considered art.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a photo so compelling that we think of it as art. Of the photos I’ve encountered that qualify, two characteristics are usually, though not always, present.

Some of the most compelling images I’ve seen are black and white (or other monochrome) photos. When processing my own photos, a simple “B&W conversion” almost always improves the photo – though rarely makes it compelling on its own.

The other oft-present characteristic is what’s called “shallow depth of field“. This is the effect where “focal plane” – the distance from the lens that is in focus – is very thin. Most photos have a broad depth of field – to the extent that everything in the image is more or less in focus. In photos with extremely shallow depth of field the focal plane can be so narrow that a subject’s eyes are in focus but the nose and ears are not. This is because the nose and ears are nearer and farther, respectively, from the camera than the eyes are.

Neither one of these techniques (they’re never really accidental) – even combined – can make a boring photo compelling, but they do appear more often than not on compelling photos.

My theory is that these photos are compelling because they present the world differently than we see it. We see in colour, and generally with a broad depth of field or at least the focal plane moves so quickly we don’t really notice.

It reminds me somewhat of the impressionist movement of the 19th century. Renoir, Monet, and the others presented an “impression” of reality that was recognizable but not quite the way our own eyes saw things.

There are a few other less common techniques that also provide this “impression” of reality: fisheye lenses, macro, long exposure, light painting, etc.

This is not to say, of course, that a photograph that represents exactly what the eye would see cannot be art. Many “realistic” photos tell fantastic stories and evoke tremendous emotional responses (think National Geographic) and can be just as compelling.

I think I prefer, however, to stay in the impressionist camp of photography for now – if only because it lets me hide most of my technical mistakes.

Beautiful Decay

Monday, January 4th, 2010
Michigan Central Station - Marchand and Meffre Photography

Michigan Central Station - Marchand and Meffre Photography

I have no idea why I’m subscribed to the RSS feed… I’m sure I had a reason. But when these photos popped into Google Reader this morning, I was awestruck. Dumbfounded. Speechless.

As a guy with strong ties to Michigan, I have a soft spot for Detroit. I think it may be one of the most interesting cities I’ve experienced – but folks rarely get past the “Motor City” moniker to see the beauty of Detroit.

This collection of photos by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre capture an unusual beauty – the beauty of decay. It is not really beautiful, of course, but heart-breaking to see these architectural masterpieces crumbling. Michigan Central Station has always intrigued me as it is plainly visible from the interstate feeding the Ambassador Bridge and I have stared at its broken windows many times over the years wondering what would become of it.

Marchand and Meffre’s photographs make me a little sad – but I’m glad that they’ve been able to create some beautiful art from such miserable circumstances.