From the Ice Queen to the Mermaid’s Tail: three fantasy silhouettes

Sometimes my fantasy work just goes in all the right directions without me really knowing. In my last post I mentioned that Meagen had given me some great silhouettes to work with – she certainly did!

The Ice Queen fantasy artwork

The Ice Queen

I took her poses, masked out the background and it was then great fun to experiment overlaying the patterns and motifs I’ve been building up. Here she is as an Ice Queen. For this one I used snow flakes that I’d photographed on the car windscreen when we were skiing in Sweden.

The Butterfly's Wing fantasy artwork

The Butterfly’s Wing

This next one has an overlay of the Milky Way (taken above Hogsback). When I sent Meagen the picture she immediately saw that her hair gave the lovely shape of a Butterfly’s Wing.

The Mermaid's Tail fantasy artwork

The Mermaid’s Tail

I was intrigued by the curve her back makes and after a good deal of work I found the Mermaids Tail by superimposing two silhouettes back to back. There are around a dozen different overlays in this picture. Several on each silhouette and then more in the backdrop. When I composed the blue silhouette image Meagen told me she thought I’d turned her into a bioluminescent mermaid arriving in another galaxy. That’s what helped give me the inspiration.

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.

Autumn Currents

It’s hard not to be drawn to the sublime autumn colours here in Sweden. Then there’s the rivers tumbling downstream full of waterfall foam and loaded with leaves. This set of pictures tries to capture the tranquillity of the waters as they twist and turn, curve and weave on their way through the forests and over the falls.

I used the Live Composite mode again so the foam and leaves make streaks, curves and circles that  show the currents in the rivers.

Riverscape Impressions, Live Composite Photography

Ever since I was a teenager I’ve admired the Impressionists and lately I’ve taken photographs of riverscapes that look very impressionistic. Here’s an example.

A curve in the Bäveån

A curve in the Bäveån

The rushes in the foreground are blurred in motion whilst the river, full of autumn leaves, flows smoothly around the curve behind. The sky overhead is reflected in it and the bank of trees behind completes the composition. I’ll describe at the end just how I used the Live Composite mode on my Olympus to do this. But first some more riverscape impressions.

The second picture’s got similar elements in it. It was taken in windy conditions again so there was the opportunity to capture the grasses and reeds waving in front of the brown flood water. The composition’s different as I was much closer to the grasses and lower down which meant I could get the feel of the river, highlighted by the streaks of the autumn leaves, flowing quickly towards you.

Alstersälven, impression of grasses

Alstersälven, impression of grasses

The third picture is more abstract. The yellow leaves in the river loop and swirl towards you but the top of the picture blurs upwards and away. I moved the camera whilst taking the image to distort the leaf covered river banks and skyline. I think it highlights the rushing flow the river – which was in flood – and gives the impression of the rain and light snow that was falling when I took the picture.

Faluån Impressions

Faluån Impressions

In the next one a strong wind was blowing from right to left. A small promontory of reeds and grasses was bending with the gusts and that separates the picture. The foreground leaves were more or less stationary in the water but the ones in the current proper were going past at speed.

A windy day on the Bäveån

A windy day on the Bäveån

The last picture is the most abstract. It’s taken looking down into the water and it would be difficult to work out what you were looking at if you hadn’t seen the other pictures already. I think it looks like it’s been painted with oils and then the grasses added in with a palette knife.

Bäveån abstract impressions

Bäveån abstract impressions

The pictures were taken with my Olympus camera’s Live Composite mode. It’s usually used to take long exposure shots of astrophotography subjects like star trails or street pictures of car headlights sweeping past you. It works by setting a base exposure (half a second in the case of the pictures here) which is then repeated as often as you wish. The camera adds the changes in each subsequent exposure on to the original image and you can see it happening on the screen. After around two minutes I stopped each picture as it began to spoil the composition.

I’ll be showing more of these in another post. They have really stretched my creativity and it would be great to hear what you think of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Into the Dream Forest at #NAF18

Forests are hard to photograph. They’ve got all the light and shade, shapes and textures you could want – but trying to get that in a picture and capture the feel of a forest is another story. On Christmas Day last year I took a very wet and slippery walk to Hogsback’s Big Tree. On the way down I paused and took a misty shot looking back up the pathway. That’s the picture which led to this set of six images that will be in my #NAF18 exhibition ‘Metamorphosis’. They’re the Dream Forest series. I realised that if I used a Fine Art Filter in post processing then I could give the misty wetness a dreamlike, evanescent quality.

The picture I’d set out for was of an individual tree – The Big Tree. It towers high over your head and it has got a massive girth. These three wide angle lens pictures of individual Hogsback trees are taken from ground level and that gives them a different quality and scale to the Dream Forest pictures.

All of these pictures, and more, will be in sale at the Johan Carinus Art Centre, Grahamstown throughout the National Arts Festival from June 28 to July 8.

The Big Picture: Unwrapped for #NAF18

Today’s the big day – it’s when I get my large prints back from the framers. I’ve worked on them for a long time but only seen them on the computer screen – and they can be big: 90 cms x 90 cms. I get a glimpse when I carefully unroll them as they come back from the printers.  But I am scared of creasing or marking the surface so once I have checked each print they all get rolled back up again and taken to be mounted and framed.

#NAF18, Metamorphosis, Johan Carinus Art Centre, Grahamstown

The Big Picture: Delivery for #NAF18

Getting them into the house once they’re framed can be fraught with dangers too. The dogs have to be shut away as each piece is carefully navigated up all of the steps from the bottom carport and then round the stoep and finally into my studio. Finding room to unwrap them is like moving tetris pieces as I have over 50 pieces ready for #NAF18. And Kayleigh the cat would just love to sneak in and hide amongst all of the wrappings!

I’ll really enjoy having them around me in the studio for the next three weeks. Then this whole process gets repeated to get everything out of the house and off to my exhibition ‘Metamorphosis’ which is at the Johan Carinus Art Centre for the duration of #NAF18 from June 28th to July 8th.