Archive for the ‘Studio’ Tag

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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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.

Colorful Glass – Studio Part III   2 comments

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

Much to the delight of my wife, I asked if she would accompany me to the Crate and Barrel store to look for some interesting glass to photograph. Not long after we arrived I realized, naively I suppose, as I should have known better before we stepped foot into the abyss, that I am a buyer and my wife is a shopper. A quick scan of the store and I was anxious to get in and get out, but my plan was quickly dashed as I dutifully took the time to admire every other item that caught her eye. It’s not that I am entirely disinterested, it just doesn’t hold the charm for me as it does her. Perhaps it’s the mars/venus thing.

That said, today’s adventures in the studio with the introduction of color, added to my excitement and to the results I achieved. Next up, colorful liquids and ice. 🙂

Posted May 13, 2012 by Paul Coffin in Abstract Color, Art, Photography, Studio

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Studio Glass Part II   2 comments

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

Last night I spent a few more hours experimenting in the studio, with the final result shown here. A few spills and several attempts at capturing the right pour and I’m pretty happy with the results. I love the way the back light shines through the ale and the black side cards add just a hint of black along the glasses edge. I can absolutely see how it takes hours and sometimes days to get the right image in the studio.  I can’t claim to offer any creative originality here, but am excited about applying my learning to something in the future that will.

Posted May 11, 2012 by Paul Coffin in Art, Photography, Studio

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In the Studio   2 comments

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

I decided to spend a bit of time in my studio experimenting with glass and reflections. It is turning out to be much more difficult than I thought and I now understand why many studio photographers have assistants. Nudge this, click, nudge that, click, move this, change this, adjust that. I have plenty to learn about this style of photography and will just need to experiment over and over to better understand the dynamics of light, glass and reflections.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

Stargazer Lily   2 comments

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

As many of my fellow photographers will attest, we tend to suffer from what my sons refer to as, GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). I have also discovered this affliction in musicians, which both my sons happen to be.

Nikon has recently released their much-anticipated prosumer camera the D800, with a whopping 36 MP, driving the need for many of us anxious to upgrade, to examine our supporting cast of gear, not the least of which is the glass we put in front of it. In anticipation of the eagerly awaited D800 I have upgraded my lenses and have begun to put them to use in the studio on my aging D80. The reputation of Nikon lenses is second to none and Nikon continues its long tradition of making exceptional quality glass.  This studio  shot of a Tiger Lily and bud was taken with a very simple setup. One overhead softbox against a black seamless background. A few small adjustments in Lightroom 4 to push the highlights and pull back the shadow detail and voila.

I am very fortunate to be married to a fellow artist, who completely “gets me”, and understands the euphoria that accompanies the creative process that yields the artistic expression of our inner selves. Did that just sound like Lil’ C from You Think You can Dance? Oh well, it’s a pretty cool thing.

Posted April 6, 2012 by Paul Coffin in Nature, Photography, Studio

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Artist’s Home   1 comment

“Living” Room

I have always enjoyed the company of creative people, especially the more eclectic, artistic type. While in Costa Rica, I visited a local artist / collector’s home who literally had every square inch of available wall space filled with art.

Homes in Costa Rica, unless in gated communities, are almost always protected behind barred windows and gated car ports. Clearly, criminal intent is ever-present and therefore personal security is paramount. It is a bit disconcerting at first, but my sense is it has become a way of life for Costa Ricans.

Driving up to the artist’s home, I first saw a steel corrugated solid facade, with a single metal door. Passing through the door I was greeted with an outdoor atrium of sorts and an outdoor room with a small pond. Just ahead, behind the homes front door was an unexpected personal gallery of art and sculpture. Each room was more visually interesting than the previous and he was kind enough to give me free rein.

The lighting was challenging, so I opted to take my tripod and use available light whenever possible. Taking advantage of the tonal range offered by HDR, I shot multiple exposures in cases where the light was uneven as was the case in the photo above.

“Light” Room

Mask Room

Saint Wall

Not every room or every piece of art was necessarily my taste, but I appreciated the opportunity to explore the artist’s home and to photograph it. It was in many ways a living gallery that reflected the owner and his sensibility. All in all, it was one of the coolest homes I have been in.