Wednesday, June 6

Energy Tree

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The renowned photographic teacher Craig Tanner in a recent podcast mused, "We are drawn toward the highest energy." Hmmmm.... Or maybe some draw the highest energy within their frames? Are all ideas energy? Is the vice versa? Let me try that differently. Are good ideas disruptive? And is that what generates energy?

Much of what draws the serious lens is upsetting to the status quo. Which is the role of innovation, right? As I do the galleries here in Hilton Head and Savannah - I see a tide of stereotypical art. An hour ago I saw a mass of excellently rendered shots of the Savannah mansions for sale at a shop. The photographer captured wonderful palettes, warm lighting, tack sharp detail... and yet this high craft produced mind numbing goo. It's as if he froze the scenes in mirrors - and simply reversed them. I could sense no part of the guy's mind in the interpretations.

Do you recall garage bands that sounded just like pop-hits? They weren't artists, they were impersonators - or live recording/playback rip-off-ers. Most photographers are not artists... their images never pass through a bath of energy. They are visual stenographers.

I agree that Craig Tanner's pictures, at least as posted at Light Diary seem drawn to the highest energy. But I don't agree that most people's photographs capture high… or even any energy. They are not art, they are, even when originals, reproductions – copies of a moment.

Yesterday I confronted something foreign to me. This tree must be so commonplace to denizens of the deep south. So, how to show them, as well as people like me, that there is something unusual about this tall guy? So how to tap the energy here and make it spark out at you. How to make it shimmy and snake upward toward a commonplace sky?

So here’s my way of sucking the highest energy out of someone else’s humdrum. Does it work?


mcmurma said...

Uh... let me see here. What can I say to convey the thought that came to mind immediately upon viewing this image--never mind reading the text.


Yep, I believe you got it with this one. Whatever oddness pervades the image (munincipal lighting?) is not only excusable but mandatory to the allure of the final product.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I have also been numbed to the point of boredom by so much of the photographic work being done today. In fact, I can't even view my own work without often feeling this way.

On the one hand, I am as guilty as the next guy for attempting to reproduce images seen elsewhere. I believe all photographers do this and that it simply cannot be helped. It's a big world, for sure, but subjects, viewpoints, interpretations, and even lighting options eventually add up to an almost finite set. To find something unique and new is almost an impossibilty--a task usually fit only for those hearty and creative souls that also happen to be decidedly insane. And although I do not yet fill this bill, I am trying!

Seriously. It is tough to find freshness behind the lens. Some, like yourself, often work magic through technology, using PS and other available tools to create "other art" that bridges the gap between "straight photography" and photo-realistic paintings.

One day I would like to see a collection of your prints. No doubt they would humble me to the point of giving up. At least for a time. Then the urge to express my own viewpoint would (hopefully) kick in and provide inspiration in the face of hopelessness.

advman said...

Mmmm ... Yup ... it does work. And, Goodness, how it does! It actually made me breathless upon first sight. One of your very best.

As to your text, yes and no. Of course from your point of view it's no question, you're right, but your art is only one way of interpreting reality, and it is not a subtle one. There is a lot more place in the triangle :)

Which is in no way meant to contradict that most photos are boring.


Ted Byrne said...

Thanks Michael for the reinforcement.

Stylizing images sits badly with some folks. Yet it seems to me that unless we are inside the frame along with whatever it is that we originally aimed our lens toward... Then we may as well have bought a post card. And you demonstrate that with every image you post to your thoughtful collection at your blog.

Ted Byrne said...

As an addicted visitor to your blogsite it is obvious to me that you work at being invisible almost as hard as I work at not...

And yet your machinations result in images which seem possible only until the craftsman looks closely at your work. Then pfffft.... it becomes obvious that what seemed obvious is, well, not obvious.

I like it that your ideas are ghosted into evey image through pre and post processing (not particularly the word "pre" there.)

Which makes my point... that art cannot be an impersonator. Authenticity demands originality.