This afternoon we closed the doors on the exhibition that has run for the last fortnight that combined painting by my wife and photos by me. The title of the exhibition was “Life’s little moments” and as such my images mainly fell into the genre of “street photography”.
Now that the exhibition is over I can share the images with a wider audience. While the digital images look good there is nothing like seeming them in white mattes on the wall of a gallery. The images are presented in the order that they appeared on the walls of the gallery.
I am sure that I have mentioned before that my wife is a very talented painter. Some time ago she was offered the opportunity to exhibit at the Odlin Gallery in Lower Hutt. This would be her second solo exhibition.
While she was chuffed with the offer, she was really concerned that she did not have enough pieces to display, and so we agreed that I would supplement her paintings with a series of my photos. In the end 12 images were chosen, all that fitted the overall theme of the exhibition “Life’s Little Moments”.
Now I mainly present digital images but there is something really nice to see your work on the walls.
The opening night was held on Tuesday and around 60 people came to look at the works. It was really nice to hear all the positive comments made. Five of the images were processed into Black & White using Nik software, and I would have to say that I was really pleased with how they came out.
Success is something that we all try to achieve bit often it is not that easy to define outside of the sporting arena (where there are generally scorings to work such things out).
Each year the Hutt Camera Club holds an annual exhibition (mainly of prints) in which members submit works that are then displayed in a local gallery over a two week period. Most years I have submitted images and this year is no different, with three of my images taking part.
As the exhibition came to a close, it made me think about how success could be measured with such an event. I have come to the conclusion that it all depends upon your point of view.
If the exhibition had been run by a single artist then it could have primarily two aims:
For new or emerging artists it could be to raise their profile (which would lead to further works)
Sell their works, and therefore earn a living.
Now this is valid for a professional artist, but is it the same for an exhibition run by a camera club, where the majority of its members are amateurs. In such cases I believe that the exhibition has quite different aims, namely:
Provide its members with the opportunity to have their images appear in an exhibition
Raise the profile of the camera club and as a result attract new members
For the members taking part the opportunity to sell their works.
Because the aims are less measureable (apart from the last one) it is often difficult to measure success.
In terms of the first aim around half the club members submitted something with quite a number of images coming from members that joined this year, so you could say that it achieved its goal.
In terms of the second aim, with the 2015 exhibition, we managed to get an article in the local newspapers on the day that it opened and as a result attendance numbers have been much higher than previous years. On this basis the profile has been raised but whether that translates into people joining oly time will tell.
In terms of the third aim, four images sold over the two weeks of the exhibition which was great for the photographers concerned. However only four sales out of 71 images would not be considered successful by most people.
I found out today that my image “Naked Art Class” which I entered into a recent exhibition at the Odlin Gallery in Lower Hutt won the “peoples choice” award. Doesn’t actually come with any prizes or anything tangible, but just the knowledge that the public appreciated the work.
Every two years the life drawing group of the Hutt Art Society holds an exhibition of their nudes. Two years ago it was expanded to include photos, and the current exhibition opened last Tuesday.
I had been preparing for this exhibition for a while and my image “Naked Art Class” was specifically shot for it. You can read all about that image on this blog post. In addition to that image I have three other images entered, with each demonstrating different styles and techniques.
It has been really good observing the reactions of people as they see “Naked Art Class”. Quite a few have big smiles on their faces which is exactly what I was trying to achieve.
The exhibition is open until Sunday 2 August at the Odlin Gallery, which is found at the corner of Huia Street and Mrytle Street in Lower Hutt.
I was super stoked over the weekend to learn that my image “The role of the model” had been accepted for inclusion on the 2015 issue of “New Zealand Camera” which is the annual publication of the Photographic Society of New Zealand (PSNZ).
I understand that over 900 images were submitted and only 175 were accepted so having one in at my first attempt was very pleasing.
The whole story behind the image can be found in this blog post.
Sometimes the best way forward, is to admit that what you are doing has gone of the rails, and the best way to fix it is to start again.
This was certainly the case when I started out to build the composite of the Art Class together. In Part One of this blog post I went through how the image was shot and that because a number of models had been unable to make it, I had to shoot it as a composite and assemble it in Photoshop.
I selected the best images in lightroom and starting with the elements closest to the viewer, combined them as layers in photoshop masking out what I wanted to show through. After an hour I has a reasonable first cut. In order to save space I had only copied in the part of the element that I wanted rather than leaving a full layer.
I had an issue with shadows on the wall but other than that the image looked ok. The problem was that I did not want the viewer to immediately see that they were only two artists. Despite the fact that they had changed hair styles it was too obvious.
With Sian (redhead) adding a couple of extra tattoos and changing her hair colour made sufficient difference. But nothing I did really worked with Kylie so at that point I contacted Renee (who has been sick on the day) to see if she was available to shoot.
Once I had that image and tried to incorporate it the composite started to fall apart.
I could not get the light to look consistent across the image and elements were not lining up. I also realised that I had cropped off the heels and needed to enlarge the canvas at the bottom and rebuild the missing part of the heel. Then I discovered that some of the elements on the layers that I had discarded was actually needed. After 45 minutes of struggling and getting nowhere fast I decided that the best approach was to scrap it and start again.
This time I started with the empty room which I enlarged slightly at the bottom so that I had space to deal with the missing heel. I placed the girls at the back first, balanced the exposure and then moved forward. Admittedly incorporated Renee into the image was the hardest element as she was not shot in the same environment and some more work is still needed there, as the feet are not there yet. Unfortunately feet are the hardest part of a composite to get right, and the usual techinques (not showing them, or making the area around them very dark) are not available to me.
Given that I have plenty of time before I have to exhibit the image I am sure that I will get it looking right by then. If you want to learn more about composites then the best resource I have found are the videos produced by Aaron Nace at www.phlearn.com
Sometimes the time between getting an idea and actually executing it can be a long interval. About two years ago when my wife was doing art school and bringing home lots of drawings from her “life studies” classes, I got the idea to create a satirical image based on a class. In that I wanted to revert the roles whereby the model was clothed and all the class were nude.
I never really took it further than a concept but this year I decided that I needed to actually bring it to life as I am planning on submitting it for an exhibition next year. So I booked a studio and posted a casting call as well as contacting a number of models who had taken part in the body painting competitions. I also thought it would be more satirical if the model was male, as most life art models are female.
By the end of casting I has six models selected as artists and a male model, and everything seemed to be going to plan.
As often happens that plan went out the window when the male model and two female models became unavailable, then one got sick and then on the day two didn’t show. So having gone from being able to do the whole shoot in a single image I had a male model (Jacob) and two female artists (Sian and Kylie). This was going to change the way that the image was put together.
Below are a series of images and explanations of the various shots that made up the final image.
The first priority was to determine what f-stop would give me sufficient depth of field (DOF) to ensure that my model and artists were in sufficient focus. Generally the DOF runs from one third in front, and two thirds behind the focus point. In the case of my image that focus point was to be on the male model.
With the camera set on the tripod i estimated that f9 would be a good starting point, and with the help of a willing volunteer we shot two images. The camera was set to Aperture priority and the lights were not turned on at this stage.
My guess was correct and so we now turned the lights on and made sure that the exposure was at f9 where the front easels were positioned.
Knowing that shoot had now become a composite the first image taken was of an empty room that would enable me to use as a base.
At this stage the lighting was from two lights fitting with 1 metre soft boxes positioned at 45 degrees to the camera. You can see the lighting by the shadows cast.
Having only two models, and sox easels meant that they would be shot three times. I started with the right hand side of the image. At this stage Jacob was only in position to give the girls a reference point.
I then moved the girls to the other side and repositioned a light so that it was providing f9 at the point where Jacob was standing so that from this series i Would select one for Jacob.
We then moved Jacob out of the way, and moved both lights forward and metered the rear easels to f9 and shot the girls at the back of the room.
I then positioned a light back on the central spot and had Jacob strike a pose. I took the camera off the tripod and moved to a position behind each easel and shot what the artist standing there would have seen.
I thought that I had everything I needed for the image but as I was working through the composite (which will be in part 2) I realised that an element was not working. I decided that I needed a third model in the shot so I contacted Renee (who was the sick one) and a fortnight after the original shoot she came round home and we shot her.
Getting the angles, and the distance right was the hardest part of the set up here.
In part two I will go into putting the image together.
Last year I was invited to submit images for an exhibition at the Hutt Art Society that combined paintings, drawing and photographs of the naked body. It is intended to be run every two years and so I have started making images for the next one.
I really like producing bodyscapes so I approached Jaimee via Model Mayhem to see if she was interested to assist. We met some months ago and I went through what I was looking forward. She was willing to take part but with other commitments it was not until last Sunday that we finally managed to get together to do the shoot.
When she arrived Jaimee admitted that she had been wearing her bra all day and that it was likely to have caused marks in her skin.
Normally I would request a model remove any tight clothing at least an hour before a shoot starts so that such marks have time to fade. I had forgotten to do this with Jaimee which was a big oversight on my part. While you can easily remove the marks in Photoshop, it does slow down the overall processing as so I generally try to ensure to limit the effect.
While the intention was to shoot bodyscapes I also wanted to try some other images so actually started the evening with a mask and petticoat. We then moved onto using lengths of fabric.
Doing the shoot in this way where we moved from essentially clothed to fully nude has the advantage that it gives time for the model to get comfortable with the session. It is very important in the bodyscape shots because quite often you are shooting close to your model. It also had the advantage in this case because it allowed time for the marks to fade.
When it came time to do the bodyscapes I was using a large stripbox as the main light positioned to the side of the model. A second light with a small honeycombed grid acted as a fill light.
Towards the end of the session I had Jaimee apply oil to her body and we then sprayed her with water. It creates a really neat effect.
Jaimee was a real champion because the evening was not that warm but she did not complain.
Of all of subjects in art, the nude, is often the most controversial. Not sure if it started with the Victorian era, or the teaching of puritanical churches, but many people cannot separate the notion of being naked with sex. As such they get confused between an artistic image and pornography.
Despite all the negative attitude, there is actually no better way to teach someone how to see and draw light than to use the naked form as a subject and for hundreds of years we have been doing just that. It is why every art course involving teaching drawing humans will have some with the model naked.
It is also true for photography, where if you want to learn to light the body well then the best way to do this is with a naked body. You see it is not the lines but rather the interplay between highlights and shadows that really define the subject.
The life drawing group at the Hutt Arts Society has a biannual exhibition of their work but they were concerned that they did not have enough work to adequately show in the gallery. So they approached the Camera Club to see if we had photos that could complement the paintings. The exhibition was titled “Nudes, Nudes and More Nudes”.
In the end only three members of the club could supply images, and in my case I submitted 8 pieces shot over the last three years. Most of the images that I did submit where either shot in low light or were bodyscape images (where you are using the form to create shapes rather than the whole body).
While all of the images were up for sale I did not have high expectations of selling anything. Marianne Muggeridge (who is a very good Portrait artist) said that
“Nudes were a self indulgence, as they did not sell”.
I had taken the advice of James Gilberd for Photospace Gallery in pricing the images and it must have worked because it turned into a very successful venture selling 3 images as shown below.