At first glance the winter landscape looks so desolate, monotonous and colorless. However, I find that once my eyes/mind get tuned into the trees, their trunks and bark, I see abundant subjects of interest. Here are photos of the great variety that caught my eye one day in early January in Edmonton.
This is another series of abstracted photographs. As I have shared previously, the technique I use is to employ a neutral density filter that allow me to use shutter speed in the 2 to 4 second range. During this long exposure I will move the camera – normally in a direction parallel to the lines I wan to emphasize. In the previous and next image I would have followed the line of the vertical trunk. Generally I don’t want too great a range of movement and might go back and forth over a short displacement during the exposure.
“Morning Light” was the result of a bit of a happy accident. I neglected to stop down my neutral density filter sufficiently to get a “proper” exposure. The image was over-exposed but still one I could work with in post-processing. I liked the over blown background exposure that resulted.
The yellow at the base of the tree (that you may be able to make out in the previous image was from the lichen that I typically find on the trees around the Edmonton region. Especially in the winter this color seems intense. However, straight out of the camera, these long exposure images typically do not have much color, so I usually will bump up the color saturation significantly to get an image that feels to me like what I was actually seeing/feeling.
Continuing on from Part 1, here are some more photos, featuring the wonders to be seen on the bark of trees (even in the middle of winter):
Some people may wonder how I go about creating a painting. In this post I will share my steps in the development of a recent canvas.
This painting started off from a photo. The photo was one I took while out for a walk with our dog in Edmonton’s river valley. When walking I am usually carrying my Nikon D80 equipped with either a 18-55 or 55-200 lens. I took over 100 photos over the course of a couple of hours. This is the photo that inspired me for the painting:
The broken tree trunk was the obvious central object that attracted me but I also liked the snow, some of the other tree forms and also the sky with the contrast between sky and clouds. I don’t like my paintings to be too much like a photo, especially with respect to color. Therefore I will often convert my color reference photo to black and white. I will want to get the values right but not be a slave to the natural colors. In the process of converting to black and white I will also take the opportunity to apply color filters and adjust the contrast/brightness. I use Nikon’s Capture NX2 software for the processing. This is my black and white reference photo:
I really liked the way the “red” filter turned the sky dark. What I didn’t like about the photo was how busy the mid-ground looked with all of the brush. Here I was able to apply my artistic license to clear out the million little lines and emphasize a few key tree elements. I may have done a few small thumbnail sketches to test out my idea , then I transferred my design to the canvas (12 by 16 inches/30×41 cm), drawing it in with charcoal:
You can see how much I have simplified the scene, taking liberties with the sky and the trees. From there it was time to start applying color. I did not refer to the color photo for the “real” colors. At this point I went with my gut to realize the colors that I somehow envisioned. In this case, I started by painting in the sky. You can see even at this stage I made some alterations to the design as I had drawn in with charcoal:
The painting continued as I moved to the tree and foreground. Especially for these key elements I choose to apply the paint think and juicy.
I call this work “finished” (in quotes) because it may not be. I see a number of things that I wonder if I could improve upon. I could continue to rework this painting but I generally I do not like to re-work, especially after the paint has started to dry. Instead I would prefer to live with this painting for awhile, thinking about what I like and noting what I think can be improved – and then I will paint another version. In fact with this one, I am thinking of a couple of small studies and then I will paint a larger version.
Link to more of my abstracted landscape paintings (often developed in similar fashion from photos)
Time: Mid-day, Tuesday January 4th
Weather: -1C and snowing moderately
Location: Edmonton’s river valley, trail on the south and east side of the river north of Dawson Bridge