Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Week Eight - Seven Days with one Still Life

Day 50 - The Creamer

I mentioned in last week's blog about the 365 day challenge that it might be interesting to spend one week with one subject. I decided to do it out of a certain sense of ennui. The weather has been horrid and it is February. And historically a lot of artists have revisited a subject over and over like Monet with his waterlilies, conveniently located in his back yard, and Chartres Cathedral just down the block. Photographers too have seemed to make extended studies like Ansel Adams of Yosemite National Park or Ranchos de Taos Mission.

Besides what could be easier for a photographer than daily photographing a still life arrangement set up in her studio? Just a bit of rearranging, adding or subtracting a minor player, changing the light, picking a different time of day, or rotating the base to catch the light in the windows differently?

I posted on Binford-Bell Studio Fan Page seven photos of my still life with creamer but I took a lot more. So this week on this review of the last seven of the 365 days of 2013 I am going to post some of the also rans.

Day 52 - Also Ran

Same arrangement as Day to but on a sunny day with the studio lights on for the shadow. Warmer colors because of warmer light. I was drawn to the shadows on the basket and so played in the dry darkroom of my computer to bring them up to greater prominence in the composition.

Day 52  - a black and white

Day 53 - Dried Amaryllis flower added

I added an element on day 53 and rotated the tile base just a little and turned on more studio lights to heighten the shadows. I also turned the creamer just a bit to almost a profile view.

Day 54 - Light from windows only

Subtract flowers, turn off lights and try to catch the effect of just the morning light coming through the windows of the studio. Notice the dust on the creamer? Back to the 3/4 view of the spout. And I used a selective focus post process program.

Also ran for day 55

I polished the creamer and the brass vase. Brought back the flowers and added the ball. Right after I took the picture I noticed the yellow seed or something just in front of the candle snuffer and used the scratch remover to delete it. Was going to post that version for the day but decided to play. Ergo the real Day 55.

Day 55

This one when posted has been mistaken for a painting of mine as opposed to a photograph. And I guess in someways you could say it is a digital painting of a photographic image. And available as a Giclee print. I do not do prints of my paintings but all photographs when printed are Giclee which is just blown ink. All my photographs are for sale in a size of your choosing and printed on paper or canvas. This one on canvas would look even more like a painting.

Day 56 - Creamer takes a bow

The polishing of the creamer allowed a wonderful play of reflections of the studio windows and plants. Always have to make sure as a photographer I am not in the picture but the curved surface of the creamer made that easier than mirrors.

Interestingly enough I have not dismantled the still life in the studio. Who knows some interesting combination of light and shadow may cause me to snap it again. I learned a lot from this concentration on one subject. I feel as if I have taken a graduate seminar in photography.

BTW this next week will be very different. Weather improved and another photographer and I decided to erase cabin fever with a road trip through the neighborhood. I promise no creamers.

And just to close off an also ran in Black and White.

Shapes and shadows

Oh, and I did not post day 51. Check out the link to catch that one. Frankly it was the lessor of all posts this last week.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Our Bodies to Abuse

Venus de Milo with Drawers by Dali

Our Bodies
they abuse
thinking they have every right
to invade.

Poison our minds
take our breasts
penetrate our wombs
as if theirs.

Turn our hearts
against us
making us obey their will
by rape.

legal or illegal
we are slaves to the narrow mind
of men.

J. Binford-Bell
February 2013

With special thanks to the GOP

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Week 7 of the 365 Day Challenge

Day 43 - Surfacing

Another week of catch as catch can photos as my energies were directed else where. This propane tank emerging from the winter's melting snow was a happy surprise when I got it to the computer and played with it in post processing. Because of the pattern of snow melt it even looks like wakes from the action of the submarine surfacing.

Day 44 - spreading wings

And happily the butterfly Amaryllis came to the rescue with a second set of blossoms opening up. The reducing of the saturation on this photo shows off the form and makes the photo about something other than color. Photographers should always have plants around to pose as models.  And attractive knick knacks for impromptu still life subjects like my creamer below.

Day 45 - The Creamer

Wasn't it in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that the wicked stepmother steals Sneezy's sneeze by capturing it in a creamer with peppercorns at the bottom to hold it there. I picked up this delightful little creamer at a flea market a decade ago. How to deal with its reflective surface in contrast with the iron candlestick behind it provided a nice mid week challenge. It is sitting on a glass table which added another dimension to the image. I used selective focus in post processing to quiet the background. I did another series of photos with the magic creamer today which no doubt will be in Week 8 of the challenge.

Day 46 - Almost Gone

Continuing the study of my withering amaryllis blossoms. There is one more step to this withering process. It does it so gracefully I will no doubt feature it next week too.

Day 47 - Thorny issue

I first post my daily captures on my fan page Binford-Bell Studio  and a lively conversation came about concerning this photo. There are a million ways to see a subject and with digital manipulation or dry darkroom a million ways to alter it. I thought I would post a couple of the other alternatives for Throny Issue.

Actual colors

Heightened colors

As you can imagine my artist and photography friends have their opinions as to which is their favorite. But the heightened color one got the most likes on my page. And in the process of creating the last one I learned a few more things about my post processing program.

Day 48 - Reflections in Old Town Raton

My natural tendency is to go for the color so the stretch for me in the 365 day challenge is to do black and white or hue/saturation reduction. So day 44 through 47 was the exercise. And after the exploration of the cactus image I was back to color but out of free time. So Day 48 and 49 are images I took in November on a trip to Raton and never found the time to work with. If I am out and about and fill my cards with more than 100 images I snatch out the best and sadly forget the rest sometimes. Which is why I modified the nature of the 365 day challenge for me. It can be a photo I took that day (or often the day before) or one I post processed that day. I love reflections so I am not sure just why I did not work with the one above before now.

Day 49 - Shadows in Old Town Raton

A much simpler image but great shadows and contrasts. Windows are always a focus for me whether they are reflective or not.

Photography does not have to take an entire day like painting so when I only have limited time because life has intruded upon creation it is photography that fills the void. And when I am immersed in painting I can always grab the camera while the paint dries.

Monday, February 18, 2013


Wind of History by Jacek Yerka
Prompt provided by The Mag


Victim of mud
and history
unable to move forward
or reverse

slip sliding away
in the leavings of past snows
squishy oozing

our hopes for a haven
snatching from our plans
victory over winter
mired in dreams of spring.

J. Binford-Bell
February 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013

One Subject - Several Views

Butterfly Amaryllis

Monet painted over and over the water lilies in his garden pond. When I lived in Washington, D.C. I had the opportunity of standing before two of his water lily compositions at the National Gallery of Art. They were wall size - floor to ceiling and placed on two walls that met in a corner. Standing there you felt surrounded by his subject and just a bit overwhelmed.

Artists do repeat themselves with a subject that entices until they feel they gotten it right. Beginning on January 15th I took numerous photographs of my Butterfly Amaryllis as it has bloomed, withered and then bloomed and withered again.

Post Processed

I have tried different angles, different effects and even gone black and white for a subject that seems to be all about color.

Spreading its wings

The Butterfly Amaryllis is difficult to photograph because it always blooms in twins and is huge from tip of one flower to the tip of the other. And the depth of each blossom is almost four inches.

Dying Swans

As the second set of twins slowly opened I found my photographer's eye drawn to the withering blossoms of the first set of blooms.

Taking a bow

Even fading from its full glory it maintains wonderful color and grace. I could not trim the husks from the plant as my mother would have advised because they were still magical expressions of nature.

Turning away from the light

I think of all the pictures I took of this flowering event in my studio the one above is my favorite in its utter simplicity and to me statement of a profound moment. I found this dying blossom as it wilted and turned away from the light spoke volumes to me of the process of living things. And in the ability of artists to delve deeply into one subject through repetition. My one question, however, is do we ever get it totally right?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The 365 Day Challenge - Week Six

Road to Raton -- Day 36

It has been an interesting journey this week in photography. In fact like last week most of the reasons I picked up the camera was to record work on the rental unit. But I tried to point the camera at something other than tile from time to time.

Husk of its former self -- Day 37

When desperate for a photo the studio/greenhouse always provides lots of great subjects. The drying husk of the Butterfly Amaryllis blossom posed beautifully. And when I posted this on Wednesday, February 6th a debate broke out among the fans of Binford-Bell Studio as to whether the post processing worked or didn't so on Thursday I posted a photo of the same subject with no fancy processing.

Fading Away - Day 38

Did you catch that it is a different flower husk? Amaryllis come in twins and this is the twin of the other. And what makes this photo is not the lack of elaborating effects but the simplicity of the composition and husk itself - open and bowing - turning its face away from the sun. So perhaps not a fair comparison between the two. They are different photos. And frankly I did not like Day 36 as well without the post processing effect. Part of the whole digital manipulation world is knowing when to stop. Rather like painting. And like with painting that point is sometimes missed.

Winter Reflections -- Day 39

And then winter returned. The sunlight coming through the studio windows had vanished but the subject is still the butterfly amaryllis seen here in the central window panel mixed with other images from the inside of the studio and reflections on the outside of the studio. I think I will always see this winter in black and white. It has given us more freezing cold and more gray days than I can remember.

My own personal sun -- Day 40

So on another gray day I was in the studio looking for other things to photograph and took several pictures of my "night light" which is an Art Deco reproduction. I took several with the light off and was not that fond of them. Then took several more with the light on. When I played with it in my post processing program the light behind the glass fan looked like a sun.

Self Portrait -- Day 41

I must be missing the ponds of summer because I keep getting lured back to reflections. But the beautiful snow has melted and turned all sorts of bad colors, and the flowers are only inside though some stupid iris have been lured into thinking it is spring and put up shoots. I think what makes this reflection picture are the binds on the other side of the window and the addition of texture in the post processing.

I have several photographer friends on Facebook and we do have an effect on each other even if we have very different styles. Terry Atkins Rowe has been using textures. But our friend David Hailey is true master of them with his abstract photographs. And it was Jessica Duke that this week posted a picture of nature's texture with an ice picture. I love ice pictures so I began searching the gutters of my country road for some. Too busy for a trip to Coyote Creek, home of the best ice.

Blooming Ice -- Day 42

And I found some great ice abstracts. Texture above was provided by nature. Must remember to get out of the house more even if it is a gray and cold day.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Some Other Person

artwork by Joseph Lorusso

It had to be
Some other person
And yet she knew
standing there before the painting
it was her.

A life ago
a wild and crazy woman
who drunk too much
and too easily said yes
that was her.

Back then
she ran with a wild crowd
lived with her painter
him standing in the receiving line
would he know her?

Social elite
dressed to the nines
on the arm of her powerful husband
would either see her
in the painting on the wall?

J. Binford-Bell
February 2013

Visual prompt provided by The Mag.

On a personal note I am thrilled I lived most of my wild and crazy years before the smart phone or the video camera but there could be a painter or two in my past who from memory or a Polaroid snap may have recorded a moment that slipped my mind.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Week 5 of the 365 Day Challenge

Day 35 - The Bank

One of the positive effects of this exercise in year two is boredom. Camera is always in the car or around my neck but there are days I do not even reach for it. Then sitting in the drive through at the bank - panic. Suddenly I am looking around for just anything I can snap a shot of without getting out of the car. And while taking this photo through the bullet proof glass I am asking myself is this even legal to do. Is it looking like I am casing the joint.

Day 34 - Another Look

Even the day before was not a photo I had taken that day or even that week. It was a photo I had not post processed - the lessor of many photos I had taken on a day when they all seemed to work so well. And this one required cloning out an object. Good practice I told myself. How often have I "tossed" a picture because of one thing that should not be in the frame. So I did it. And isn't this whole exercise about learning?

Day 33 - Mirror

Truth is I was very busy last week. I have been working on refreshing and repairing the rental unit. And part of that is moving things out the previous tenant left behind. I think these two sconces and the mirror behind them were a couple tenants ago. Maybe three. It is a lovely beveled mirror I never could get myself to toss. If nothing else it made a wonderful photographic study when I was taking a ten minute break from tiling the entry/mud room of the rental. Mirrors and what they reflect are an interesting study.

Day 32 - my own kind of hat

When you are busy and you cannot throw photo gear into the car and devote a day to capturing the right image you can wander aimlessly around your own house and look for something to capture. Frankly I didn't even want to devote the time to set up a still life. It was find something, take a few shots and get back to work. Only at the end of the day was there time to post process a few of what I found to be treasures. This was taken in my entry/mud room as was the photo below.

Day 31 - Welcoming Committee

Maybe there is something to be said for limited time. This week has certainly gotten me out of my comfort zone. The Welcoming Committee is perhaps my favorite shot of the week. And it and the hats fit into my portraits without faces on going challenge. Or in this case self-portraits. The Welcoming Committee says a lot about me.

Day 30 - The Guardian at the Studio Door

The Guardian is another self-portrait. I found the gargoyle at some flea market. I think there were once two. They would have stood at either side of a fire place and held up the mantel. He now holds up a small half moon plate where I deposit keys and pocket rockets and other offerings. At some point I graced him with a necklace also found at some flea market. I have a house god I need to photograph one day. And a carved santo sits by my hats in the entry. I even have a kitchen witch who has watched over many a kitchen so it fits that I have a guardian for my studio.

Day 29 - Lunacy

The week began with the full wolf moon and my continuing search for the definitive full moon picture. Not there yet. But does any artist be they painters, sculptors, writers, musicians or photographers reach their goal?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Closed for Repairs

Manchester, England Central Library

The Manchester Central Library opened in 1934 and in 2008 major problems were discovered with the structure and asbestos used in its construction. It was closed in 2010 and is undergoing refurbishment and expansion currently. Its extensive collections are being stored in Winsford Rock Salt Mine.

Closed for Repairs

no admittance
while repairs are being made.

all the books gone
hidden away in the salt mines.

the dead sea scrolls?
the library of Alexandria?

like modern minds
to all beyond a 10 second sound byte?

Not razed like the old
open soon to receptive minds.

J. Binford-Bell

St Peter's Square, Manchester England

Visual Prompt provided by Tess Kincaid of The Mag