04/8/14

Making of “Captivity”

In this one, I wanted to create an mood similar to a jail by projecting the light through something like “metal bars”.
I used a cutter and cardboard to create my bars and set a flash behind it on the right of the camera to project the shadows of the bars onto the composition.

I could have created shadows with a more defined borders by placing the flash farther from the cardboard, so that the relative size of the flash would be smaller, but for me it was ok this way, because it can be interpreted as an office curtain too, which I also found appropiate.

To emphasize the highlights and textures of my hand and give the impression that the person was in tension and sweating, I used a dropper with water to wet my hand. I used an old keyboard I had at home because by combining it with the b/w processing seemed more adequate to me than a modern keyboard.

Before:

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After:

04/3/14

Making of “Drowning”

To create this photo, I used my computer screen again as a softbox. I wanted to get the silhouette of the glass so I didn’t need a flash, and using a tripod I could choose the dof I wanted and then the necessary exposure time to get a white background.
I placed the razor blade very carefully before filling the glass until it held in the position I wanted, and then I started to fill the glass with water using a dropper, and also doing some photos of the composition while I was filling it, just in case the razor blade changed its position, in which case I could loose the shot.

Also, in the first attempts I noticed that the edges of the glass weren’t as defined as I wanted due to unwanted light coming from the screen, so I placed a couple of books as flags to reduce the amount of light on the sides of the glass to get a more defined silhouette.

Finally, I used photoshop to create the silhouette of a face and then its symmetry with a copy of the layer.

Before:

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After:

04/1/14

Making of “Pens and Swords”

Today I’m going to start a little project about how I make some of my photos or build my light tools, usually using materials that can be found at home, because sometimes there’s no need to have an amazing studio to create decent photos. I won’t describe the details in each case, and the making of photos will probably be made with the smartphone, but feel free to ask if you have any doubts ;)

The idea was suggested by my friend and photographer Xavier Carol, check his blog if you want: lalquimista.com

For this first photo, I used a feather I found on the street. With a cutter, I carefully cutted the feather to the point I wanted, and then I placed a decoration sword I had at home inside the feather. I wanted a dark background but also emphasize the details of the sword and feather, so I used my computer screen and a polarizing filter in the lens, rotating the filter to a point where I saw a black background.

With some exposure time, I could illuminate the objects and also keeping a dark background. Also, although I knew the final capture would be vertical, it was much easier to make the photo horizontally due to the working area of my “soft box”.

Before:

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After:
 

 

 

07/30/12

State of Your art: What makes an artist improve?

Paths to consciousnessHow many times can you overcome the same challenge feeling the satisfaction you had the first time? Some people only need one or two times, others can keep repeating the same thing for a long time and still enjoying it. This number will depend on our degree of demand and perfectionism, which in practice is the time that takes us to need a more complicated challenge, and see what we’re capable of. That’s why I think artists or professionals learn and get results at different rhythms.

From my experience, the learning curve is based on what I’ve just mentioned and two more factors that I’ll explain now, but in a different perspective than the typical “learn, practice, learn, practice”. What I find more interesting is what do we think about the results we’re getting. Are they good, bad? Are we proud of them? Which aspect would have a better result?

The first and more important factor is what I call State of Your art. If you were asked to position your work in a “quality ranking” among everything you know about that subject, where do you think it would be? You’ll probably think there’s a lot of people already better than you at that, and still more if you’re just beginning, but knowing the State of Your art will allow you to have an imprecise but also global reference, and wou’ll not be disappointed when you find out somebody else had the same idea as you and executed it in a much better way, or with a slight difference that you wouldn’t have thought of. Knowing the State of Your art won’t give you so much satisfaction when creating something new, but neither you’ll be disappointed if you discover that your idea was already done, because you already knew that this could happen.

How do you know your position in the ranking? Suppose there’s still a lot to see, that there’s somebody better than you, and that you still have a lot to learn. Thinking this way won’t give you an exact position, but I believe it’s an appropiate attitude to have. I find interesting and useful to read and talk with other professionals, to see how they work and also to learn and inspire myself, but I also think it’s important to develop a personal style that, while being influenced by some others’ works, are the product of our vision as an artists and professionals.

The second factor which I find necessary to improve is self-criticism. Just before creating something, many times comes the initial euphoria of “This is amazing!”. It’s fine to feel this way at first, but then it’s necessary to place your new work in the ranking of what you know and settle down.

I think the previous factors allow us not only create better art, but also better products and services, as long as exists a continuity and passion in what is being done, without thinking about getting huge results, just to improve, do someting meaningful and setting personal goals, the rest will follow.

08/21/11

Consuming art to create art

Since I started doing music, photography and other arts in which I’m interested, when I asked some people for advice at the start, the typical answer was “draw/listen/copy/play someting you like”. I think that trying to imitate a reference artist can be useful and motivating in the beginning to learn some technique, but what happens when all your education is based on learning that way?
Old music sheets
Learning classical piano for example, the common denominator of most schools is that they teach you how to read sheet music gradually, to be able to play more and more dificult songs, songs which most of them were composed two hundred years ago, isn’t there any good classical piano composers at present? Things are quite different in modern music styles like Jazz or Blues, where an significant part of the song isn’t in the paper but in the artist, this forces the interpreter to contribute with a personal expression to the song. Due to this “extra” effort we do have some brilliant Jazz musicians at present, Brad Mehldau for example. I don’t pretend to say that modern styles are for most talented musicians, I just think that some existing (and extended) teaching methods don’t maximize the creative abilities of the artist.

This has happened to me for example, when I try to create a new song, half of the time I have an idea I’ve thought “Cool! Wait a minute…”, and then I realise that that melody was from a soundtrack I listened a year ago. Is it really valuable having listened and learned to all that songs or technique when talking about creating something new? I think it happens the same with photography. In my opinion is like wanting to build a castle with those wooden pieces games, if you have the pieces in front of you, you will build only with that pieces, but if you start with no pieces but you still want to build the castle, you’ll find something to replace them, don’t be afraid of not having the proper education or knowledge about an art, because in my opinion all of that is less important than curiosity and attitude.

What is also interesting is that if you can play a Rachmaninoff concerto you’re a genius, but if you draw a copy of a Monet’s painting, this is not so amazing at the eyes of another artist, to be euphemistic, so innovation is more or less important depending on the art we’re talking about, and I’m not sure if this makes any sense.