Bird Flight and the Black Swan – return to fantasy art

I think of the some of my photography as fantasy artwork. It’s work that often dissolves a nude study into a spiritual natural scene. If you check out Symmetry Series: nude studies and new work at #NAF19 you’ll see what I mean. It’s no real surprise that I’ve wanted to do some more fantasy work during the current lockdown as it’s wonderful place to retreat into. The problem is, of course, that I can’t set up the necessary shoot with a beautiful model! But when I saw Meagen’s wonderful recent work in her @meagieswain Instagram feed I knew we had to find the solution. It was quite easy. She’s great at taking selfies, has a good smartphone and is very good at collaborating! So I sent her some fantasy ideas and concepts for poses and a week or so later my WhatsApp went a bit crazy receiving the 50 or so shots she’d taken.

Black Swan fantasy art magical realism

Black Swan

In one of the selfies she’s looking wistfully out of her window so I took that as my base portrait for the Black Swan. I masked out the domestic interior of her place and then added four or five overlays to get the final image you can see here. I wanted a magic realism kind of effect and think the Black Swan floating in the clouds gives the right, slightly surreal edge. If you compare it with The High Priestess you’ll see that it’s got a much softer tone than my other work with her.

Bird Flight

Bird Flight uses the same image and has the same approach. This time I wanted a golden-yellow colour so there’s leaves, grasses and tree bark in the overlays. Even the bird is a yellow bulbul – photographed at our bird feeder.

Meagen’s also sent me some great silhouettes and I’ll dedicate a post to them soon. They’ve given me some nice new directions to follow.

In Tandem: Poetry to Imagery

Just before lockdown I shared a quiet couple of beers with Harry Owen and we talked about trying something new for the Virtual National Arts Festival. Seeing as we had lots of poetry and imagery between us why not collaborate? Here’s a taste of what we have been working on.

Aorta – Harry’s unpublished poem was initially prepared with Coming Home: Poems of the Grahamstown Diaspora in mind. It’s the first one that we worked on and has all of the elements that we have stuck with. There’s a voice-over to a sequence of images followed by the written text of the poem. A soundtrack backing the voice-over is the final strand of what we have put together.

The second piece is from Coming Home. It’s Gillian Rennie’s lovely small poem ‘Bots Aloes’. Harry again is the reader. Coming Home is published in East London by Amitabh Mitra’s The Poets Printery.

The last poem took a while to complete because we really wanted to track down the author – Hannah Armour – to get her reading of ‘Now’. She wrote this when she was ten and eight years have passed since then. It’s published in For Rhino in a Shrinking World: An International Anthology, edited by Harry Owen and published by The Poet’s Printery. Thanks to social media and our network of FaceBook we found her and she kindly gave us the voice-over.

We still have three more In Tandem videos that we are working on. They’re all longer than the ones we have done so far and consequently more complex. Watch this space!

 

Now by Hannah Armour

One of the most memorable and heart felt poems in Harry Owen’s anthology For Rhino in a Shrinking World was written by 10 year old Hannah Armour. So it was an easy choice to be one of our In Tandem series of video clips for this year’s Virtual National Arts Festival. It’s read here by Harry himself though it would be fantastic if we can find Hannah (who must be around 18 by now and living in the USA) and get her to give us a recording for the voice-over. I’ve chosen the two rhino pictures to complement the poem and that’s the style of all of these clips. There are a sequence of images with a voice over and then the text of the poem. If you know how we can get in touch with Hannah please let us know.

 

 

The Sound of Water: Three Haiku

We missed Reddit’s Poetry last month because of the Covid-19 lockdown so I’ve decided to make this short video clip instead. It’s three haiku with a water theme that I found at The Haiku Foundation’s website. Each of them is overlain on one of my photos of Eastern Cape waterfalls:

  • Wally Swist’s haiku with the Upper Kowie Falls in Featherstone Kloof near Grahamstown;
  • Ron Moss’s haiku with the Madonna and Child Falls at Hogsback;
  • Bashō’s classic haiku with The Upper Tyumie Falls at Hogsback.

I hope you enjoy them.

 

When the wave breaks

Towering over our townships, like a wave ready to break, was this huge cumulus cloud. Ominously pink in the late glow after sunset the top of the cloud was rising fast and, blown by the winds, looked like a crest hovering over Grahamstown’s townships below. This was taken a couple of nights ago, a week after the lockdown began, and mirrors my feelings of apprehension.

Cumulus clouds breaking over Makhanda's (Grahamstown) townships during the Corona virus lockdown

When the wave breaks

Technically this was a tricky photo to take. It uses the Olympus’ Live Composite mode – in this case it’s seven minutes worth of half-a second exposures superimposed (a total of 840 frames).  But it was really quite dark at 6:40 pm so I adjusted the ISO to 1000 and opened the lens up as far as possible to F2.8. The bright white lines in the sky are star trails. The moon was playing hide and seek in the clouds whilst I took the picture and that gave an unpleasant bright smudge in the sky that I have edited out.

Hogsback Land and Sky

The views of Hogsback’s landscapes and sky-scapes from Wild Fox Hill are outstanding and so I’ve made this small video of 24 pictures. It’s not as if you have far to go to get a really good shot: some of these pictures were taken right from the stoop of the eco-cabin. Others are taken from the hills nearby. I just love being able to get outside whatever the time of the day or night and capture the changing light and moods.

The video is three minutes long. It’s my first attempt so comments and suggestions are welcome!