We’re just back from a couple leisurely days celebrating Thanksgiving at the Oregon coast. The weather was the best that the Northwest has to offer this time of year: chilly, wet, windy and unbelievably fresh. Had a great holiday dinner Thursday at Driftwood Shores, and spent most of the rest of the time out enjoying the beach and trails.
I’ll be doing hand-colored versions of both of these photos soon.
Just about done with the owl portion of this big (24 by 72-inch) hand colored photo. But I want to put a little more complexity into the background, which, in the original photo, is buttery smooth from being out of focus.
I like the bright yellow eye, which is pretty accurate to how thr owl looks in real life.
Here’s an early look at a large (24-by-72-inch) hand colored print I’m making. The image of is a Great-horned owl that Noah and I encountered at Fields Oasis during our recent eastern Oregon adventure. The bird sat remarkably calmly as we approached around the rim of the small pond. Only when we got close could we see that the owl was hanging on to a rabbit it had caught, which explains why it wasn’t quick to flush.
Here’s another view of the owl, with a clearer look at lunch:
Both photos shot with the 36-Mp Pentax K-1, which gives enough detail to print a single image really big. So I thought I’d crop it down to a wide pano view, as you can see, and try a large black and white print to color. It came out with startling detail, including the interesting texture in the bright yellow iris of the owl’s eye.
This is a test print on cheap paper (it might be shelving paper, I can’t remember where it came from). Which is good, as the printer, which needs cleaning, threw a couple ink splatters. Fortunately they missed the owl, so I can fix them in the coloring process.
I’ve only just begun the coloring, with a couple quick layers of acrylic medium and a wash of ultramarine blue and some olive green on the out of focus background.
On a trip to eastern Oregon a couple weeks ago, Noah and I drove the gravel road that goes right to the top of 9,734-foot Steens Mountain. The most spectacular view is off the East Rim, right near the summit. This time the view was transformed by thick smoke, from western wild fires, that had somehow gotten stuck in the middle of the desert. No wind was blowing on top of the mountain (pretty much a first, in my experience), the temperature suited t-shirts and shorts, and you could barely make out the floor of the Alvord Desert directly below.
The photography was great. Here are three hand-colored photos I’ve just completed from our visit that summer day.
I’ve been on kind of a tear lately with photos from the woods. Our local forest, neighborhood clearcuts and all, makes a lovely subject for landscape photography, and I’m deeply enjoying making black and white images to take back to the studio and color.
As you can probably make out, I’ve been loading up the brush with more paint than usual, stretching the boundary of traditional hand coloring into something more approaching a painting on top of a photo. The photograph is definitely still there and still vital to the image, but I’m less shy about coloring over areas with abandon.
Here’s a look at that one on the right. Don’t mind the glare — I shot it on the ground outside, which means I’ll soon be re-shooting it a little more carefully:
Lots of paint piled up on the foreground ferns and other undergrowth. I’m not quite inventing things, just simplifying areas of color, and reinforcing shadows and highlights to give that area more structure.
The simultaneous opening tonight of the newly resurrected Mayor’s Art Show and Salon des Refusés, along with the second running of Karin Clarke’s Eugene Biennial, was great fun. A passel of people turned out on the warm summer evening to all three events, the art was good, and the wine flowed freely. I ran into old friends, caught up on art world gossip, and met a couple good painters whose work I’d never before seen.
I realized that I have missed the Mayo’r Show since it shut down in 2016 because it provided that exact opportunity: A place for the Eugene art world to come together one night a year and see and be seen.
Best off, for me, my piece in the Biennial sold right at the opening reception, which seemed to be mobbed all night. A sale! I mean, really, how cool does life get?
The 2018 Eugene Biennial opens Friday night, July 27, at the Karin Clarke Gallery downtown, and you’re invited to see and enjoy this 18-by-24-inch hand-colored black and white photo “Elder 2018.6” by yours truly, along with works by about 30 other regional artists. Festivities at the gallery begin at 5:30 p.m.
Be sure also to check out the resurrected (it was cancelled in 2016 after the Jacobs Gallery closed) Mayor’s Art Show, opening that evening at the Hult Center, as well as the Salon des Refusés, which shows works rejected by the mayor’s show at New Zone Gallery.
All three shows open at 5:30 p.m. Friday night. See you out there!
If you mess around with digital photography, you’ve probably run into the acronym HDR. It stands for High Dynamic Range photography, and it refers to a techie method of merging bracketed exposures either in-camera or in post-processing software to extend the still rather limited dynamic range of digital sensors.
In plainer English, that means using, say, three exposures of the same picture to solve the wedding photographer’s problem: The bride’s dress is so white and the groom’s tux is so black that any single photo has got either blown-out whites or blocked-up blacks, or both. Merge one shot exposed for the bride and one exposed for the groom and you get the best of both.
HDR, though, is one of those things in which a little goes a long ways. Get it right and your photo looks like an artist’s painting. Get it wrong and it looks like something by Dali.
So I hadn’t tried it very much. Then I got a new Pentax KP last winter and was putting the excellent little camera through its paces, trying out every bell and whistle, and in the process tried out all five levels of in-camera HDR in black and white. Converting to BW gets rid of the lurid color associated with bad HDR photos.
The KP has this new HDR setting — simply marked “ADV” in the menus — that produces very compelling shots. They can look a lot like Tri-X souped in Rodinal, my favorite way to make prints to be hand-colored back in darkroom days, or even like fine art etchings.
That opened a new door for me. For the past three months I’ve been shooting everything in sight with the HDR process and making 18×24 prints to hand color. Still sorting this out, but the images are very compelling, and I’ve set up one of the User settings so I can set up HDR ADV in BW (how’s that for alphabet stew?) with one quick click of the dial.
Many more of these to come as I sort the process out.