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


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

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