Saturday, March 31, 2012

Image of the Month: April

Another black & white image that I think is worthy for consideration for "image of the month".  This one captures dramatic clouds to create an ethereal ambience.  It was taken on a beautiful sunny afternoon with temperatures hovering in the 70's and the sky a brilliant blue with a few puffy clouds overhead; a typical spring day.  I am intrigued by the concept of taking these surreal images during full daylight that transform the viewer into a night time scene.There are no tricks with long exposure.  It requires an in-depth view of the weather forecast as one hopes for puffy clouds, a little wind to move the clouds along quickly and patience taking images ranging from 30 seconds up to 5 minutes exposure time.

© 2012, Joanne Scherf

Overall I think this image presents the house as the focal point with leading lines coming from the stone wall on the left and the limited view of the sidewalk on the bottom right of the image.  These leading lines focus the viewer's line of site directly to the house which emits an eerie glow.  The sky overhead adds a dramatic flair and the white clouds provide the perfect background for making the huge tree just pop from the image, ultimately competing with the house for attention.  The intention of the image could be bewitched, haunting, or perhaps just ethereal; you decide.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Winter's Day

To say this has been an unusual winter is overstating the obvious.  So with record-breaking, beautiful warm weather, blue skies with just the perfect amount and type of clouds, I trekked off to a local park to play with more long exposure techniques.  I set up the tripod and began taking several shots, only to be caught in a mini wind storm with significant drop in temperature, and total white-out snow squall.....even the ducks and geese were taking cover, and they had "down" protection!  In the midst of a long exposure shot I decided to continue and use my body as a wind shield to avoid my tripod from being blown away, and yes, ruining the shot, not to mention all the waiting time associated with capturing a long exposure shot.  After an afternoon of capturing images, one stands out, which is usually the case.  Art after all takes time, lots of it, but usually one is rewarded for tenacity, determination, and patience.

© 2012, Joanne Scherf

The "keeper" is the image above.  Although setting off in perfectly beautiful weather, I was caught in nature's inexplicable and sudden mini-storm that was actually a gift.  I feel confident I captured the essence of the mood and ambience of that day at the park during the storm.  Because of the long exposure setting I did not capture the actual snow storm/flakes blowing past me, but feel the mood is just as evident without, less distracting.

As I continue my remote class with a long exposure master, I find myself coming to terms with slowing down the process of actually taking the shot.  Not that I was a speed demon or trigger happy going crazy with a rapid fire automatic shutter before taking the class.  As slow and methodical as I was previous to this class, I did find I'm quite comfortable with the much prolonged act of waiting during the long exposure, even in inclement weather.  It offers more opportunities to look around quietly assessing the landscape for more shots from different angles, or more thoughts of "what if".

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Image of the Month: March

Back to the archives for a favorite.  In review of my range of work, portraiture might not immediately come to mind as a niche of mine.  However although somewhat selective in my portrait subjects and limited in volume, I definitely enjoy the opportunity to witness and capture intimate portraits that displays the inner person behind the facade.  My approach with portraits is typically non-traditional in that I often like the challenge of revealing the inner persona without always presenting the face.  This image, Anticipation, demonstrates my point that portraits are more than just faces.

Anticipation © 2005, Joanne Scherf

First of all a little background.  This image was one of several taken of a young woman pregnant with her first child.  It was shot on location outdoors using only natural light of the warm summer sun overhead. Although the other images of her were perfectly fine my eye was continually drawn to this one for a variety of reasons. Most importantly I felt it exuded more emotion; joy, hope, love, protection and warmth are just a few descriptive words that jump out at me from the image.  The question is why so much emotion from a "faceless" portrait?

My first inclination was to literally focus on and highlight or feature her present condition; pregnant belly.  I wanted to convey a sense of intimacy and emotional connection so I took several factors into consideration to achieve that effect.  One decision was to make the composition very simple and not introduce too many elements that would clutter the frame and distract the viewer.  Another was to have the woman assume a natural position with her arms and hands.  At this late stage of pregnancy I find most women rest their arms or caress their bellies, so naturally wrapping her arms in an embrace conveys her love and protection without any additional clues.  Another design element was the repetition factor to create a sense of unity. For example the circle or half circle is a repetitive line in the composition that combines all the parts into one uniform and unified image.  The circle of her naval and belly; a suggested circle by surrounding arms above and below the belly, and the half circle of the moon tattoo on the left hand all combine to create the illusion of an embracing circle.  Another element purposefully chosen was the vignette effect darkening the corners and creating another circle that envelops the image, again adding another dimension to the concept of unity.  A final decision was to make the image in black and white rather than color.  Black and white imagery tends to add an element of abstraction and eliminate the energy and sometimes chaos that color contributes.  All in all, each design consideration in the composition was done intentionally to tightly focus and direct the viewer's attention and create a warm image that conveyed a strong emotional connection.