Monday, November 30, 2015

Nudes and Flowers

This post rambles a bit, and I can't really say that it goes anywhere.

These are kind of my safe zones, or at least they were for years. My dad shot a ton of these gorgeous flowers on black backgrounds, super saturated colors, on some sort of transparency film. Mamiya RZ67, no idea what film, but he wound up with Cibachromes. My stepmother's place is still littered with the things. They're gorgeous, they go beautifully with the Bateman prints and whatnot. Lovely decor, not a lot of ideas. My dad would probably think my obsession with Art, Concept, Ideas and whatnot is a bit suspect. Not that that taciturn man would have said a word.

Anyways. I've shot a lot of flowers myself. I spent a year pulling together 27 pictures of which these are some.

These things combined my two safe zones: I shot the flowers as if they were nudes, stealing an idea or ten from Edward Weston (if you're going to plagiarize, don't monkey around, steal from the best).

I do quite like these things. They're very decorative, for one thing, and I use them as decor. I keep trying to mix them in to something more serious, and I feel like one of these days they're going to work as just the right decorative seasoning to something or other. But they are not themselves particularly serious.

The nudes, well, my wife is very beautiful. If I had my way, I'd spend all day every day taking pictures of her without her clothes on; meaning, concept, and ideas be damned. She seems to feel that feeding our children and so on has some value, however, which leaves me with some free time to do other things, which is probably just as well.

I'm not going to share any nudes. Sorry. Imagine a human person with no clothes on in the photos above, and you'll have the idea, though.

Looking back now at these flowers, I see that I was much too interested in techniques. I learned a lot about making pictures that look like one thing or another shooting these things, although I think that in the grand scheme of things my lighting-fu is still weak.

There wasn't much of any idea here. Flowers as nudes isn't a terrible idea, but it's just a kind of a motif, a visual treatment. It's like deciding to use a lot of red in your paintings, I think.

Nudes are inherently more interesting. There's a person there, for one thing, and we like people. And the subject is nude, which is inherently interesting, and freights your pictures with a metric *uckload of symbolism and cultural commentary. But there's still not necessarily much in the way of ideas. Indeed, you might have more trouble getting an idea across, since the viewers are pretty much gonna distracted by the flesh.

Anyways, I feel like I am moving away from these things to murkier (literally and figuratively) things. I think that makes me happy.


  1. Great work!

    How'd you get that softness in the darks in the second one?

    1. Thank you! The details of how I worked this file or that are lost in the mists of time, but I can tell you this:

      There's a lot of hand painting going on in the background, and I was using a lot of "enlarger diffusion", and an inverse technique where you use a white layer and let a "glow" flow out of the highlights.

      These are both methods that work very very well on nudes.

      See mjr's (NSFW) page: