Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Green Fence, Dark Blue Sky"

Some images have their constituencies. My photos of rubber ducks, wildflower landscapes, even classic cars, all appeal to certain groups of people.

This image, however, must prove itself to the viewer. At first glance, I suspect the observer may be tempted to move on, dismissing it as a snapshot of something not very beautiful.

Why then do I like this photograph so much? It helps, of course, that I created the image, that I was there where these colors and textures and objects and weather all came together. To be sure there was a certain thrill in the air as I was composing this image. More about that in a moment.

As the artist I hope that patient observers will spend some time with this image. What are we to make of these elements held together by this uncommon light? This green fence, appearing initially to look like a downed palm frond, is not doing its job. And the white posts in the background, so boldly illuminated by the bright light, appear to be placed there on purpose but without apparent function. Only the distant telephone poles appear as we expect them to be, still standing and functioning.

I love how this image feels to me. The beautiful combination of cool colors and a nighttime sky are subtley warmed by the bright early morning sun lighting them from the side. I like the rock in the lower right, its small solid shape helping to make the image feel balanced in a somewhat surprising way. And in the distance (though they're hard to make out in this tiny version of the photo) are some mounds that replicate the shape of the foregound rock.

I don't remember now who famously first said that "bad weather equals good photographs." That's not literally true, of course; lots of images are made in all kinds of weather that aren't very moving or compelling or beautiful, but my experience has shown that some of the worst weather yields the best surprises for artists.

In this case, I'd been awakened by a friend calling to tell me about an amazingly beautiful early morning rainbow that was arching over the Palm Springs desert. As I pulled on my pants to rush out the door I could see that the rainbow was fast disappearing, but the sunlight peeking from beneath deep gray clouds was lighting up the foreground objects everywhere while the background sky remained foreboding and dark. I headed toward the windmills in the wide open spaces north of the city, and by the time I reached my vantage point, the winds had picked up and there were raindrops flying through the air. A man walking his dog had to turn back because the dog refused to venture further into the stormy weather.

I was suddenly struck by the tones of the fallen fence. I saw its similarity to a palm frond (one of my favorite subjects for photographic studies); I loved how the fence meandered across the desert into the distance with a certain lyrical beauty. And there were those darkened telephone poles and the white posts and the mounds in the background and the rock with its greenish cast.

And so as the wet wind whirled about me I fought to achieve this image with my 50mm lens.

No tripod was used. Settings were left pretty much to chance. It was indeed a snapped shot, made with as loose and elemental an attitude as I ever assume in my work. Maybe that's why I particularly love the image. Its ruddiness and complexity and mystery and surreal lovely colors reflect something deep and unknown about my artistic soul.

No comments:

Post a Comment