Category - photography

My Homage to ‘Mr. Turner’

Here, then, is my “digital homage” to JMW Turner…

Joseph Mallord Willam Turner (1775-1851), for those of you who have never heard of him, was one of Britain’s premier landscape artists in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

I first learned of Turner several years ago after I started photographing medieval ruins in the United Kingdom. Turner traveled Europe extensively during his career, and painted dozens of canvases depicting the ruins that Britain’s aristocracy were just beginning to preserve during that period, often turning them into parks on their estates. When I started researching the sites that I had visited in the spring of 2013, Turner started showing up in my web searches.

I was of course intrigued by the 2014 feature film “Mr. Turner” that portrayed the artist during the peak years of his career.

When I returned to the UK in the spring of 2017, I sought out some of the locations that Turner had painted 200+ years earlier. My itinerary started in Chepstow, Wales (park car, see castle…), near the ruin of Tintern Abbey that Turner painted in 1794. I carried a file of his painting with me on my iPhone so that I could find and attempt to replicate his vantage point.

I did manage to find what I suspect was the spot where Turner stood when he painted the Abbey, though things look very different when viewed through an ultra-wide angle lens compared to a painter’s ability to render things with whatever perspective he can conjure with his brush. 200+ years can also do a lot to how a place looks; Turner’s paintings show ruins like Tintern in a native state, largely overgrown with vegetation. A lot of that growth has been pruned back and manicured in the centuries since preservation has become more of a priority.

Once I got home with the files, I put them through several layers of processing. First I blended 5 frames into a single HDR file. I loaded that into a “digital painting” program from Topaz Labs called “Impression” which can take photographs and overlay then with digital brush strokes. The program features several “Turner” presets, so I started with those and worked them with details that hopefully do Mr. Turner some kind of contemporary, digital justice.

But I didn’t stop there.

When I was in London at the end of the trip, I made a pilgrimage to the Tate Modern museum which houses much of Turner’s work. I spent several hours touring the Tate’s Turner exhibit. And, thankfully, they have no restrictions on (no flash) photography of Turner’s canvases. I took detailed photos of every one, thinking that I might have a use  for some of the master’s skies…

Once I was back in Photoshop, I masked the (boring, bright, solid blue) sky out of my Tintern Impression, and made a background layer out of one of Turner’s paintings. So this is a composite of my digitally processed photo and an actual JMW Turner painting.

On the left is Turner’s painting from 1794; on the right, my digital homage from 2017, created with Photoshop, Aurora HDR and Topaz Impression – with a ‘digital assist’ from JMW Turner himself.

Nashville – August 21, 2017 1:27PM
“Darkness At The Edge of Noon”

I was rather ambivalent at first about the Big Eclipse.  At least, from the standpoint of a photographer – because I was pretty sure that everybody in the path of the moon’s shadow would have some kind of camera turned toward it, and there would be roughly 357 bajillion trillion photos of the eclipse posted on the Internet within minutes of the totality.  What could I possibly add to that?

But as the date approached, I started to get an idea: rather than aiming a well-filtered camera at the sun itself, I was curious what effect the darkness would have on the Nashville skyline.

So I staked out a location at an overpass just north of town, put one of my cameras (Olympus OMDs) on a tripod to record a time lapse, and left the other to maybe shoot the corona once the totality began.  I mean, OK, why not 357 bajillion trillion plus one?

So much for my "once in a lifetime" experience...

So much for my “once in a lifetime” experience…

Well, that plan got thwarted.  While most of Nashville and the surrounding area was blessed with relatively clear skies, at the spot where I was set up, the eclipse was itself eclipsed, by clouds.  This photo was taken about 2 minutes before the “2nd contact” (beginning of totality), and shortly after, the cloud closed in completely.

But once the darkness descended at 1:27PM, I picked up camera number two and started shooting toward the skyline.

I had noticed that the way I’d set up the time-lapse, with a constant exposure value, once the darkness started settling in, the manually set exposures went pretty much completely black.  So with the second camera, I exposed for the diminished light, and the result is the photo at the top of this post.

And here’s the time-lapse.  It just gets dark…

Chasing The Light – UK 2017
Opening August 5 at The Arcade

Hello, friends…

It’s been a while, I know.  But (among other things) I’ve been traveling…

Last month I returned from spending three weeks in England and Wales “chasing the light in the Celtic latitudes” – during that time of year  just before the summer solstice, when the light that cinematographers call “Golden Time” lasts for nearly three hours.

I have hundreds of new photos to share with you: photos of ruins as well photos of living, medieval cathedrals and churches. And stories. So many stories about the places I visited and the things I saw.

So my main reason for writing today is to invite you to the first showing of this new work during the Downtown Art Crawl on Saturday, August 5 at the Erabellum Gallery 2nd floor of the Arcade. The Crawl runs from 6:00 – 9:00 PM.

To tempt you to come out and see what’s new, I’m attaching two digital files to this missive you can use as “wall paper” on your smartphone or computer:

P6051927_Aurora2017_HDR

The smaller, “vertical” file is from a medieval church in Yorkshire called Beverly Minster. It makes a great lock-screen wallpaper for your smart phone. The larger, “horizontal” file is the fan vaulting in the cloister of Gloucester Cathedral, where several scenes from the Harry Potter movies were filmed. That one makes a great wallpaper for your desk-or-laptop.

Those are not the actual files, those are just thumbnails I’m putting in this message. To download the actual files, click here. That will take you to a .zip in my Dropbox. Download the file and double-click on it, that will open the actual files. Then move them to wherever you keep your wallpapers.

There will be much more to show-and-tell at the Crawl. Please come by and say hello…

—PS