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.

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!

 

Three classic winter haiku set to snow-scenes on the Faluån, Dalarna

There’s a zen to nature photography and haiku that I’ve wanted to work with for quite a while. So here’s something from me which is rather new. Three snow scenes intended as small dialogues between classic winter haiku and my own photographs. The pictures were taken during last week’s snowy weather and they are of the Faluån – that’s the river that runs through Falun connecting Lakes Varpan and Runn in Dalarna, Sweden. The haiku come from a small website 12 Haiku That Reflect on Zen Buddhism.

There should be no need to say more – but comments and suggestions are welcome.

A walk in the forests

These pictures go along paths and over bridges, through forests and beside rivers. This isn’t so much a walk as a hop, skip and jump. So we’ll start with the short hop beside the Faluån. It’s not exactly a forest but it’s well wooded with a lovely range of colours and the hint of a bridge in the background.

Autumn colours beside the Faluån

Autumn colours beside the Faluån

Then we skip along to Värmland and the beautiful pathways at Alsters herrgård. They swing along through the gardens, down to the river and then along to Lake Vänern.

Lastly let’s jump into the misty and mythological woodlands, pathways and forests of Bohuslän. All of these pictures are taken around Äsperöd in Uddevalla, within 15 minutes walk of our apartment, so I count myself as extremely fortunate to have such wonderful nature all around me.

 

There really was a lamp hanging in the forest in the last picture, I didn’t put it there …

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.