Archive for March 2013

Controlling Light and Visual Interest   Leave a comment

Tulip Bulbs

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

I have often been accused by my wife of committing “art speak” when expressing my feelings about art or my photography. Accused, suggesting a distaste, for the perceived pontification of analysis of art. I actually like to take an in-depth journey into what art means to me, though stop short of an “art world” historically influenced, high brow  view often posited by intellectuals; and yes that is my distaste.

I like to speak about how art makes me feel, where my eye travels in the image and how the subtle elements of contrast, color, form and composition influence the feelings I feel when I stare into the artwork and am moved by its presence in my world.

So it is with this image that I am pulled into it, examining its detail, not looking for meaning, but simply basking in the beauty of the pedals, the bulbs,  the roots, the lighting, and the life of the flowers suspended in water. Life emitting from the chaos of a root system visible through the container in which it is held.

Early attempts at lighting were naturally trained on the yellow pedals, until mid way through the shoot, I began to become more and more fascinated with the bulbs and root system of the arrangement. Adjusting my studio strobes to concentrate their power on the lower section of the flowers resulted in some glare and required some fine tuning and post production tweaks to ensure the clarity of the area I wanted to draw the viewers attention to was unencumbered.

I have written before that I only marginally obey compositional rules like the rule of thirds, discreetly and intuitively. That said, what I love about this image is the unbalance within the balance. The leaf, partially broken, straddling the lip of the vase, rests conspicuously in front, demanding attention to itself in its denial of its peers attempts to stand tall. The bulbs, often hidden from view, brightly calling awareness to themselves, like younger siblings seeking notice. Beneath the water, lies another layer of support, roots stretching in all directions, the labyrinth now contained only by the clear glass, taking its shape and wanting. Finally, the yellow tulip flowers, accustomed to the stare of the voyeur, now found competing for that gaze.  They are but a subplot in the play, the best supporting actor, no longer the protagonist.

Set against a plain black background all this drama might otherwise be lost, if not for some careful lighting and visual “slight of hand”, working its way through your consciousness, or at the very least mine.

Thanks  for stopping by …  and indulging me my visual soapbox

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Posted March 15, 2013 by Paul Coffin in Art, Nature, Photography, Studio

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Music in The Air   1 comment

While I can’t claim the images in this post represent originality, I will say that experimenting with photographing smoke did result in some very original forms from which I was most pleasantly surprised.

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

I have seen smoke photographs in the past, but it wasn’t until I was able to really study them, that the beauty of the form and texture emerged. The motion of the smoke,  influenced by the occasional puff of air or wave of my hand, was beautifully captured against a black background to accentuate the movement and sense of motion. Honestly I can’t say that I have ever seen smoke this way before or that it was even possible to take such shape.

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Music in The Air

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

As my artist wife was quick to remind me, titling a photograph has its pitfalls and so it was that I stopped short of attempting to name every image. But the image above did remind me of musical notes and so it is aptly titled, Music in The Air.

I am very pleased with the results of these experiments, but I am also anxious to look for ways to bring something original to the subject. We’ll see what I can come up with.

Thanks for stopping by.

The Beacon – Cape Florida Lighthouse   Leave a comment

Cape Florida Lighthouse

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Growing up on the east coast of Nova Scotia, lighthouses held more than just a symbolic notion for me. Long since replaced by modern technology, the lighthouses of the past have become a tourist attraction and destination for history buffs and photographers alike. This particular lighthouse has an interesting history related to the Second Seminole War in 1835 as the keepers were trapped in the tower while they were attacked by the Seminoles.

The Unchanging View

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Imagine back in 1836, looking out these very windows and knowing it could be the last view you ever saw of your home. John Thompson and his assistant, Aaron Carter faced that very reality and sadly it was indeed Aaron’s last moments in the tower before his death.

A Room With a View

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

As luck would have it, I arrived just in time to walk the 109 steps to the top of the lighthouse. In 1855, the tower was renovated adding an additional 30 feet reaching to a height of  95 feet, it’s current height at the observation deck.

The Beacon

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Finally, with a little squeezing, I made it to the top of the lighthouse where the lens of the lighthouse sits, commonly known as the focal height, 100 feet up. Clearly not constructed for someone who is 6’3″, it was a space I could barely walk around in. It’s not often you get a chance to climb to the very top of a lighthouse and it was certainly a lucky chance that I was able to. These monolithic structures make great subjects for photographs and I am always on the look out (pun intended) for an opportunity to photograph them.

Thanks for stopping by.

Abandoned and Forgotten   1 comment

The Nolan Plantation, Bostwick, GA

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Time it seems, takes its toll on all things living and not. No doubt, life lived here, in this place, now seemingly lost and forgotten. The history of this place like many other abandoned structures in the south, is rich with storied wealth and comfort amid the impoverished and lowly. It remains a stark contrast to its surroundings as much today as I am sure it did in 1910.  Built in the early 1900’s, the Nolan Plantation was surrounded by a 2000 acre farm and country store across the road. Today it barely holds its own and the decaying facade is met equally with softened floor boards and broken windows. It is now a home to scores of pigeons.

Two Doors Down

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

I’ve been known to venture into an abandoned building from time to time for the “sake of the art” and as is often the case, it scares the heck out of me. The eerily quiet home was lit only by the mid morning light piercing the cracked windows and warmed the otherwise cold interior. Colors, only partially faded, textured with cracks and graffiti remained vibrant and willing. It was the only way the walls could talk.

Home Alone

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

I have a rule when I enter a building, and that is not to disturb anything. I don’t move objects to enhance the composition and I leave little evidence of my presence. It’s my way of paying respect to the place and its history. And so it was with this chair, in the corner of the room, the only piece of furniture I found, that sat waiting, as if its owner would one day reappear, kept company by the sunlight casting long shafts of contrast along the weathered floor marked only by the wood framing.

Inside Looking Out

PAC_4072_HDR

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Room after empty room the natural light shone through. Scratched messages from previous visitors littered the walls. It is regrettable that such a magnificent structure has fallen into such disrepair. Strangely, its beauty remains despite the peeling paint, cracked walls and sunken floor boards. It is isn’t lifeless yet and appears unwilling to “go down without a fight.”

Thanks for stopping by.

i paparazzi   Leave a comment

Dinner For Two

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

I am often struck, as I travel throughout the world, how often I feel like any one place feels like another. That where I am in that moment could easily be a thousand miles away and look and feel exactly the same. It underscores how very much alike we all are. How we want the same things for ourselves and the ones we love. That we need to fill our hearts, minds and bodies with nourishment is no different today than it was 50 years ago. This scene is being repeated a million times over as you read this text. Don’t you think that’s crazy? And even more mind noodling, is that it will take place again and again and again beyond our days.

A recent epiphany came to me. According to a Google search I just conducted, the oldest person alive is 115 years old. That means that 116 years ago not a single living soul on this planet existed. No one, not one of us existed. Very likely in 116 years from now, none of us will exist then. It’s not a morbid fascination, but the realization that life really does go on and that this scene will be not much different in that foreseeable future. People eating, socializing, laughing, and crying, all the while as time goes by.

This is why photography so fascinates me. It stops that moment and cements it into history. A record of a single brief 1/125 of a sec when time stood ever so momentarily still.

Today we reflect on what was by comparing the history of things to the present. Black and white photography helps us put some perspective, albeit of an infinitesimal amount,  of that recorded history.

And so it is, that history repeats itself, and will again in the future, with or without me to help record it.

Dinner For Two

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

The Jaguar   1 comment

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

The hood ornament of a classic car offers a variety of symbolism for its brand and its driver. I’m not a huge “Jag” fan, but this classic hood ornament on a well preserved classic caught my attention. I learned a long time ago to shoot in “aperture priority” mode in my camera and over the years forgot why. The recent acquisition of some great lenses for my camera reminded me why. Depth of field is a tool in every photographers toolkit and when used properly can be an effective method of drawing attention to a particular area of the image. This is a bit of an extreme example, but I like how it makes you feel like the jaguar is really going to leap off the car.

Today’s subject is a bit of a departure from recent posts, but I wanted to share this image as it is a recent favorite.

Thanks for stopping by.