iPhoneography – Everyone Can Do It

May 20, 2012 in Photography by joanvienot

A professional photographer composes and controls his or her image.  The styling, positioning, and lighting are planned to the nth degree.  But today, almost everyone can be a photographer, capturing those elusive moments in time without necessarily planning any part of of the photo.

If you have a cell phone today, then chances are it has a camera.  I’d like to encourage you to use it, and not merely to record events as cameras traditionally have been used, but also to start documenting visual imagery that you find interesting.  There is probably no better way to become more aware of our visual world than by capturing bits and pieces of it, and nothing is more immediate than a camera image.  Much of what becomes your camera sense simply starts out as what you feel comfortable with, whether capturing elements of design – line, shape, size, position, color, texture, density – or elements of composition – balance, rhythm, and harmony.  As for me, my sense of composition is somewhat instinctive, not something I can put words to, so that my photographic decisions are mostly about positioning myself so that light hits the subject in an interesting way.  Certainly, I know about the rule of thirds, and a few other compositional tricks, but in a complex composition such as the one pictured here, the rules of what not to do probably outweigh the rules of what to do.

To enhance the dramatic lighting and create a vintage effect, I used an app called Hipstamatic, with my favorite lens, Roboto Glitter, on Float film.  The result is a mostly dark image with overexposed whites tending towards yellow, anda few turquoise highlights.  The border is black.  In an image with more light, the edges of this film would look spotty, sort of mildewed.

I watermarked this image with my website name, in the lower right corner, and probably should do that more often, particularly when I post something on social media.  Facebook makes it very easy for someone to download an image onto his own computer, and then re-upload it, which then drops the attribution to the original photographer.  If people simply “share” the image, the photographer’s name remains on the image information, but if downloaded and re-uploaded, the attribution is lost.  This particularly offends me when someone uses one of my images on their own website.  I post a lot of paddling photography, and tag many standup paddleboarders, so they might have their website developer use one of my images of them racing or doing some activity on a paddleboard.  I don’t think people realize that images are copyrighted from the moment they are made, and that you cannot use an image without permission.  If asked, I always have given permission for my photography to be used on someone’s website, but I ask the person to give me written credit.  I have given only two of my best friends cart blanche permission to use my images with or without attribution.

A good photographer makes a shot look spontaneous and easy, but even if posted on social media, that doesn’t mean the image is public and free for the taking.

Figure Drawing at ArtsQuest 2012

May 13, 2012 in Figure Drawing by joanvienot

One of the premiere art events in Northwest Florida is ArtsQuest, the fine art and music festival held every Mother’s Day weekend.  This year it includes 130 international visual artists of all genres.   While the artists sit in their booths, musicians perform in the open-air amphitheater, and demonstration areas give attendees opportunity to see art being produced and perhaps even try their hand at something they may or may not have ever tried before.

I am privileged to sit on the Board of Directors of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County which produces the festival.  The festival requires the assistance of many volunteers, and Directors are not exempt.  So I volunteered to demonstrate figure drawing for two hours yesterday afternoon.  Two of the other demonstrating artists joined me, plein air painter Lynette Miesen sketching the model, and Sue Carol Knight Woodley painting.  Sue Carol had demonstrated and coached people with portrait painting for the previous two hours, and Lynette was actively plein air painting in front of the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters booth.  Margaret Rogers demonstrated weaving in the booth across from us, displaying many of her gorgeous completed weavings.  We were in the courtyard next to the world-famous Bud and Alley’s Restaurant in Seaside, Florida.

The model, Beth Roth, is a professional model, and I asked her to time us so that I could concentrate on drawing.  It makes a difference to me whether I am timing the pose or not, as to my level of concentration.  When I am in charge of the timer, I find myself doing a little clock-watching, which inhibits the free-flowing abandon I find most conducive to expression.   We were under a white tent, and although there were shadows, there was so much light that when I tried to heighten the contrast with a floodlight, I couldn’t tell the difference when I turned it on, so I gave up on that idea.

I encouraged a few passers-by to try their hand at it.  One was a professional artist visiting for the festival, and he said that he goes to figure drawing sessions every month or two, because the practice improves his other work.  Another had a lot of fun sketching, and she asked for one of my 10-minute sketches, above left.  When I gave it to her, she insisted on paying something, so I asked her to put a tip in the kitty for the model, which she was happy to do.

I had a few pre-game jitters but once we got going, I settled in and was hardly aware of the spectators talking and looking over my shoulder as I drew.  I did notice the change in pitch as people explained to their children what was going on, and I was thrilled that kids were there.  I think it is important to take children to creative venues and to encourage them to make the arts a part of their everyday life.

I know that I would benefit from more portrait study.  Neither of the two drawings below do justice to the model’s beauty and serenity, but distortions and all, I count them as successful.

Most of my images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot