Violins and the Female Form

LM-090330-3020Last Monday, we shot rehearsal photos for an original stage production at our local theatre. We do this quite often, and we have a great time with theatre photography.

During the show, I found myself drawn again and again to the violin in the orchestra. Not the violinist, the violin itself. Kind of like my passion for reflections, it drew me like a magnet, again and again. I shot dozens of images, sometimes even missing action on the stage.

TB-20D-050306-7213bw All artistic photographers are fascinated by the subtle play of light and shadow. Beyond that, though, they have their favorite subjects. I think mine are are slow, sensual curves. And as I thought about why the violin was drawing me in, I realized that maybe this was why I also liked to shoot maternity photos.

There are just so many possibilities with maternity images. Sure, there are a lot of overused poses, but they’re overused because they’re beautiful. And an expectant mother who is willing to experiment is one of the best subjects a photographer can have.

P-40D-080708-8149 Beyond maternity images, I’m in love with the female form in general. Lighting the smooth, soft curves and seeing the shadows bring out the shape is exhilarating to me. And although I like high-key images, the dark, shadowy images are what really draw me in.

I did a series of nudes once (and if you got here because of a Google search for “nude”, sorry, I’m not going to post examples) that were nothing more than silhouettes on a colored background. Absolutely beautiful.PWOOD-40D-080126-1619

Sometimes people say: “oh, you like to photograph women’s bodies? You must be a porn photographer”.

No, it’s not like that at all. There’s a huge difference between sensuality and sexuality. I have no interest in shooting porn. There’s no “fine line between art and pornography”, it’s a massive wall of difference that I don’t want to scale.

It’s about seeing and understanding light, and using it to display and enhance shape. It’s about seeing beauty in it’s purest sense.

The human form, especially the female form, has captivated our imagination since the beginning of recorded art history. It has been one of the most popular aspects of the creative visual arts.

The violin has captivated my imagination as well.

The Art of Smoke

20070202211513_pwood-30d-070202-7034 I came across an article today that completely changed my view of smoke photography. I’ve tried it once or twice, and came out with some pretty decent images (or at least I thought so at the time).

There are some Flickr groups that are dedicated to smoke photography, and there are some very beautiful images there.

Smoke Ring 1, by rexbogg5 on Flickr

But the work of Stoffel De Roover is just so mind-blowingly beautiful that I’ve realized I need to go back and start learning again.

He’s interviewed, giving up some of his secrets, at Digital Photography School.

Here at DPS we are always on the look out for photographic techniques that are pushing the boundaries of the medium. This week I’m excited to highlight Stoffel De Roover as he gives us a window into the amazing world of “Smoke Art Photography”.

Smoke art, in its simplest definition is art that features smoke. The smoke can be considered the subject or the medium to create something else. Some focus on its own beauty and pureness, others use it as ‘paint’ to create stunning artwork. I think my work lies somewhere in the middle: For the images in my gallery with the exception of a few, each image has the smoke of just one capture (in some cases duplicated or mirrored).

Darklord, by Beat on Flickr

If you try this, I would recommend that you select incense sticks with a fragrance that you’re going to be willing to smell for a while. Even with a well-ventilated room, the smell permeates everything.

And don’t be afraid to experiment with air patterns. Wave your hand towards the smoke and see what happens. Let the smoke pile up under a large spoon. Use a bulb blower and direct a sharp puff of air towards the middle. You’ll never know what you can get until you try.

Images like this require both skill with a camera and skill with Photoshop. But mostly they require a willingness to experiment, to learn, and to take many, many images before ending up with a work of art.