Architecture of a Photograph

When it comes to the composition of a photograph, I’m not sure “architecture” is a commonly used word but I think some photographs can only be discussed as being composed of interesting building blocks.

This one, for example has a large block of shadow at the bottom. The stick creates another seeming building block that connects the figure with the shadow. The light on the top of the figure’s head adds interest. Everything seems to work to hold the image together and give it heft.

What do you think?

Shadows are Complicated–Have Own Image

We all know that depending on the angle of the sun, shadows can be elongated or shortened.

Sometimes shadows can multiply or fatten or become the focus. You have to look carefully to see that.

Check out these two images of evening shadows caught on a cloth interacting with the form behind. Nothing simple about them.

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In this one, the shadow seems to walk away from the actual person casting that shadow.

 

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In this one, the shadow seems to be holding the cloth rather than the other way around.

Keep your eyes open. Notice shadows!!!!

It’s All About the Shadow

Normally it’s all about the figure. The figure in this photograph is good but the composition is all about the shadow. It’s a shadow that has been made complicated by the sun and water. Adds considerable interest. And because the photograph is mostly about that interesting shadow, black and white is my choice for presentation. Black and white emphasizes light and shadow. Perfect combination. BTW, this was shot at noon, not a photographer’s favorite time, but that high angle of light contributed to the shadow. Hope you agree.

Connie Imboden Class

linewebTook a class last summer from Connie Imboden www.connieimboden.com She believes that you need to “push in” and find the photograph that is part of the body. She likes the kind of photograph that is mostly line and light without being immediately apparent what part of the body you are looking at. The results for me (I tend toward photographs full-body) were interesting. Satisfying. Pushed my limits. Good. See what you think.

Beauty VS Discomfort

brokenfacesmBeauty is a problem. Most of us, like it or not, have let fashion photographers and moviemakers decide what kind of bodies are beautiful–young, overly thin–mostly. The fine art nude photographer needs to work against that norm, or embrace it and try to find something new in it. Art is not art unless it shows us something we haven’t seen before. Connie Imboden www.connieimboden.com goes one further, she like to discomfort and distort images, forcing the viewer to see something he/she might not enjoy except as art. Here are a couple examples of photographs that I’ve done that are intended to discomfort. What do you think?

In the case of the black and white image, water distorts the face as it breaks the surface.

In the case of the colored image, a sheet of mylar reflects a distortion of the body, including those floating fingers.

Machine Shop Nude

A friend, who also does fine art nude photography, hates props. He thinks the human form unadorned is cheapened by the addition of mirrors, machines or almost anything else. Hard enough to make the skin tone right, capture the muscle tone and movement. I nod my head. He’s right, of course. And he’s wrong. When the prop gives contrast and interest to the composition, it’s hard to say it’s not important to the picture. I like these two photographs  because, in both cases, the prop is central and minimal giving the human form lots of room to be the point of the photograph.

Both were done in a machine shop with lots of grease and everything else. That can become an even bigger issue. You begin to include too much of the environment. Then the photographs begin to look like: “Oh, we have an undressed person in the machine shop.” The trick, I’ve always believed, is to use the environment, make it part of the photo, but not lose the focus which is the human form.

 

Back to Back–Red Photo Series

It should be obvious, by now, that I’m doing a series of red photos. Why? When it comes to fine art nudes, it’s hard to top the old classic black and white photos that we all love and remember. Those black and white images are removed from reality (we don’t see in black and white) forcing us to think about shape and light rather than skin tone and body form. With that in mind, I wanted to try color that wasn’t literal. Red seemed a good place to start.

This photo was taken on a light table with three lights, one covered with a red gel. The second figure is actually a reflection from the light table. In this kind of set-up, you’re forced to get in close because you don’t want to catch any of the table or the lights in the picture. Means you have to simplify the compostion to minimal elements, which is the charm.

This one prints medium to small, works well with a black or white matt and has sold repeatedly. Done in series of 25 with only a few numbers remaining.

I think it hangs best any place where a punch of red works.

Red Flower

photo red flowerThis one is all about simplicity. Flowers, model, black background, done. Note that it is almost, but not quite, centered in the frame which adds to the sense of simplicity.

It helps if the model strikes a pose that also suggest a casual, uncomplicated attitude. Red flowers against pale skin, nice full lighting. What else is there to say, except that sometimes the seemingly simple shots are the hardest. They are usually the ones that you catch between more complicated set-ups.

This is digital capture and digital print. Prints in series of 25. It prints large or small but seems to work as a more intimate piece because, while seemingly modest, it is suggestive. I would frame it with a white mat/ black frame. Bathroom or bedroom is where I’d hang it.

Slice of Red

Extreme lighting can be good or very, very bad, but when it’s good, you get something like this.

This was done in the studio with one very bright light colored with a red gel. That means you only capture the parts of the body that find the light, but the resulting shapes can be extraordinary. I like how this shape tapers almost to a point top and bottom with just enough curve.

Red adds drama to the composition. The little edge of back on the far side also adds interest, as do the strands of hair.

This one is best about 7×10″ approximately with wide white mat and black frame. It can be bigger and also works as a small, intimate piece. It glows when placed near a lamp or light. I’d suggest bedroom, near the reading light. In series of 25 numbered prints.

Silhouette Times Six


I’m no fan of silhouette photos. Most of the time, I think the same image, not in silhouette, would be more interesting so why go the gimmick route? This is an exception because the plastic dress forms, on either side, create a second repeat of pattern and then for a bonus, the dress forms reflect the silhouettes (look closely). Result is six images with two models. Now, that adds up to an image that is more than just setting up some backlit lighting.

The other criteria is that the silhouette shapes need to be eye-arresting. I think these are because of the angled arms and slight hand movement. I like that one model is facing the camera, the other is turned sideways. Even the hair hanging down adds something.

This one is best big enough to show all the silhouettes, even the reflected ones, 11×14 or even larger. It does well matted black or white. It would be fun in a dressing room or walk-in closet. It is modest enough for a public space. Printed in series of 25 prints.