Archive for the ‘art’ Tag

Heads (Not Talking)   2 comments


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Heads (Not Talking)

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Time for a little Halloween fun. Creepy enough for ya?

While walking around the grounds of the medieval German church shown in Here’s the Church; It is in Stiepel, we stumbled upon a curious art installation tucked away in a corner of the property. All of the heads seem to be looking directly at the church.

The fact that the installation is not far away from some ancient headstones makes it all the more oogie.

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HDR processed from three hand-held exposures, processed with a combination of Nik/Google’s Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, and Viveza.

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The Iron Men of Hattingen, Germany   5 comments


The Iron Men of Hattingen, Germany

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Hattingen, it would seem, is a rather proud town.

Outside the old, walled section of the town stand these statues by Polish artist Zbigniew Fraczkiewicz. The iron men symbolize the battle for steel manufacturing in Hattingen. (In 1720, there were 52 operating coal mines within the municipal area and Hattingen became one of the first industrial cities of the Ruhr region. Steel production started in 1853, when the Henrichshütte was founded. The Henrichshütte became one of the most important employers of the whole region and dominated the town until it closed in 1987.)

The town of Hattingen was first mentioned in 1396, when the Duke of Mark granted permission to build a city wall. Today, Hattingen has a picturesque historic district with Fachwerk (timber-framed houses) built between the 14th and 16th centuries. The old city is still partly surrounded by the city walls, and provides a place for fascinating strolls through medieval buildings.

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Linzee’s Window   13 comments


Linzee's Window

Located at St. Saviour’s Episcopal Parish, Bar Harbor, Maine.

This church is definitely worth a stop if you’re in Bar Harbor. Although on the small side as far as churches go, it’s adorned with dozens of beautiful stained glass windows, with ten of them by Tiffany. I was particularly attracted to this one for it’s rich color and depiction of the local scenery.

From the St. Saviour’s web site:

Elizabeth Linzee: Designed by Denby of New York, made in Boston in 1937. It depicts St. Elizabeth with the child Jesus and St. John the Baptist. Note the hills of Mt. Desert Island in the background and the Trinity depicted with three gulls. Miss Linzee was an active supporter of the Jesup Library during a lifetime of summers in Bar Harbor.

More information on the church’s windows can be found here.

Because of the low amount of available light in the church, I shot this as a bracketed set in order to capture all elements of the window. Turns out that I needed them all! Nine exposures at 26mm, f/2.8, ISO100

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Feeling A Bit Rustless   11 comments


A rusty old lock and chains on a farm in Pollocksville, North Carolina

Feeling A Bit Rustless

Why is there so much miscommunication these days? Why is it that the national and world mood seems to be one of contention and hatred? Why do we feel such a need to segregate one’s opinion from the opinions of others, and then argue about it? Is this our current form of entertainment? Is this what makes us feel alive and engaged? Or, is there a better way?

Okay, I’ll admit that my day isn’t off the best start ever, and I’m feeling a bit restless as a result. Maybe it’s this interminably long winter. Maybe it’s what I’m reading. When that happens, rather than ameliorate my feelings with beer or chocolate, tempting though that may be, I tend to turn directly toward the issue to discover what lies beneath in hopes of finding a better way to do things. This post, I think, is the result.

I was recently on the receiving end of someone’s projection. Not much fun. I floated an opinion out to the world — it was nothing at all consequential, and largely ignored, as it should have been — but someone projected their own feelings and assigned them to what I said. Though I tried to point this out, it apparently wasn’t received too well. I might’ve suspected; it’s not easy to look at your own schtuff.  Problem is, I consider this person a friend, so I find it rather unsettling and unfortunate.

I’ve been watching some news, lately, and I’m astonished by the vitriol and hypocrisy present in the national dialogue. Even though people are using the term, “A new era of civility,” it’s quickly followed by, “BUT…”  You don’t have to watch a ‘news’ channel for more than five minutes before you’ll hear something that sounds like, “We need to elevate the conversation, BUT… those people over there are Nazis.” In fact, that N-word has been used far too often lately, and it’s a very dangerous term, for the first step in creating an enemy is to dehumanize the opposition, and this is usually done by assigning a label, an epithet.  Look at any war: Each side has a particular derogatory term for people on the other side of the conflict. This makes it easy to think of them as something less than human, and we are thus able to kill them without much remorse.

My day took a further turn when I tuned in to two opposing articles on Digital Photography School. One disparaged the use of HDR techniques, invoking the term “evil” (as if an inanimate object could even be evil!)  These days, “evil” is a term that has been so misused to segregate ideologies and even entire countries from one another that we can’t help but consider it a charged term, one that is bound to invoke a reaction from someone. Why did Shrub use the term “Axis of Evil” except to generate a knee-jerk reaction and galvanize public opinion against those whose ideologies conflict with ours? Mind you, some of “those guys” won’t qualify for sainthood any time soon, but still, the term doesn’t usually invite measured dialogue.

The other article brought up some interesting points, and actually served to expand the conversation, in my opinion.  Problem is, the title even had the term “tired debate.”

When will we stop going ’round and ’round, shouting opinions as though they’re facts, all while not listening much to the other side?

I recognize that this can be difficult. As I noted under one of the articles, our very nature is dualistic. From birth, we are conditioned to separate one thing from another, making distinctions, and this is how our world functions. These letters and words you’re reading (hopefully) are different than the background of the page; that’s why you can even see them. Hot is not cold; up is not down; here is not there, and so on. From the start, we cleave our experience into parts, so that we can know one from an-other.

But, in a very real sense, we are all swimming in the same sea — The sea of our experience.  Though we create arbitrary boundaries based on preferences, opinions, ideologies, nationality, race and darned near anything else that comes to mind, each and their other are two sides of a single experience, with one complementing another, and so to kill or destroy one side for the sake of the other is folly at best, and impossible always. Duality doesn’t work that way. If you get rid of ‘hot’, you can’t know ‘cold’. If nothing is ‘up’, then there is no ‘down.’ For too long, we’ve lived with the notion that in order for us to succeed, someone or something else must fail in a zero-sum game.

I’d only ask: Where has this gotten us?

As I mentioned at the start, I always like to look for a better way, and will continue to do so. Even though some may consider my comments to be a hyperbolic reaction to simple discussions (okay, fine), if it informs me and tells me where to move next, then I consider it to be good.

Even though my cornflakes have been thoroughly ruined for the day, this line of thought has compelled me to look for new ways of approaching my own work, which is a form of communication, my conveyance of something ‘inside’ to the outside world. (There’s one of those darned dualities again!) You won’t find me arguing the merits of HDR against more standard photography, nor standard photography over black & white shooting, nor film or digital or tin-type, or whatever is next, being ‘better than’, ‘worse than’, or more or less ‘evil’ than another thing.   Art… is Art.   This is one ocean. There is only one, collective, shared experience, and we’re all taking part in it. The separation we feel is created only in our minds. Wherever possible, I’ll be looking for the things we have in common, rather than the things that are different between us. We all realize that “everyone is different”, so why would we feel a need to argue about it?

It’s only when we start discovering what we actually hold in common that we can get beyond our differences and live more peaceful lives.

If you’re still here, thanks for reading. I’d love to hear and share your input on this, so please do feel free to drop a comment.

My day’s looking up already for your being here. 🙂

Posted January 22, 2011 by Rob Hanson Photography in philosophy

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Artisan Series: The Metal Artist   2 comments


Kirk Davis sparks it up in his ArtForms Studio in Morehead City, North Carolina

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Meet Kirk Davis.

Just don’t catch on fire.

I met Kirk when we were working on separate projects in a large house renovation. The owner was recreating a Tuscan Villa/Castle/Art Gallery (I don’t exactly know how to categorize the place!) Kirk was fabricating and installing a large number of iron pieces, and Susan and I were creating decorative plaster finishes inside. Overall, our parts in the project took up a large chunk of 2009, and we were all appreciative of the owner’s desire to let artists do what they do best: Create Without Limitations.

Kirk, operating as ArtForms Studio in Morehead City, NC, designed and installed custom pool railings, huge exterior lamps, door straps and hinges, wine racks, Gothic gutters (to go with the gargoyles), window guards, and other important elements of the house. He wanted to get some pictures of his work for his portfolio, and I wanted to visit his studio to see where he works. This is the first image from that session.

I can appreciate how Kirk approaches his art. Anyone who puts such thought and effort into their creations, and strives to develop unique interpretations while living in a world of mass-produced garbage, has my support. Over time, we’ve all become accustomed to settling for crap products, so I celebrate those who won’t sell out their creative efforts just to make a couple of quick bucks.  Slow down, take your time, put care into your work, and it will be a reflection of who you are, and will serve as a footstep in the sand that lets people know, “I was here.”

From Kirk:

“As an artist, I am profoundly influenced by space and my surroundings. I endeavor to communicate to others the power of art objects, creating bold new works that make a positive statement and contribute to the overall aesthetics of life.

“For over a decade the focus of my work has been the design and execution of unique sculpture, furniture, and architectural metal work. I encourage a collaborative design process with clients so that they may understand the possibilities of material and thus commission a body of work that meets their specific aesthetic ideals.”

We’ll likely see more of Kirk and the art he creates in future blog posts. To see the kind of quality that Kirk produces, please visit the private gallery that I’ve set up for him, Located Here.

 

Taken from a single exposure: Nikon D7000, Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 lens at 45mm, f/7.1, 1/8s, 2EV. Camera mounted on tripod behind a piece of plexiglass, fired with remote shutter release.

Reflections: Creativity and Certainty   11 comments


Gulls and terns gather at Great Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware

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“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” — Erich Fromm

Time for a little reflection, I thought.

I’m not sure why it came up today. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been posting images online for a year, now. Maybe I was compelled to do some soul searching on election day before heading to the polls. A blog entry by one of my Tweeps, Robert Vander Roest, got me thinking. (Link below*)

It is a time where decisions are hard to come by, a time where nothing seems certain. Whether I consider my own creative endeavors, or decide on who should lead the country (I say “lead” with no small degree of sarcasm), the same questions apply:

– Am I capable? Are they capable?

– Can I be a creative artist? Can they be creative problem solvers?

– Should I stick with what I think I know?  Should we stick with what we think we know?

– Will people want to see what I produce?  Can we stand to see what they produce?

At two ends of a scale — like hot & cold, or pain & pleasure — lie Certainty & Creativity.  People have a need for both in varying measures, depending on your own makeup and conditioning, and which way you lean determines how you move through the world.

On the one hand (let’s call it the Right hand) lies the need or desire for certainty. Stick with what we know. In fact, “better the devil you know…”  Tradition is important. Stability is a requirement. Conviction demonstrates unchanging belief. We want to wake up in the morning and know that nothing has changed.

On the other hand (the Left hand, of course) lies the need for something new, something creative, something unknown.  Tradition holds back change. Instability is a sign of evolution. Static beliefs are seen as close-mindedness. We want to wake up in the morning and know that something new, exciting, and utterly unexpected is going to happen.

It is at the nexus of these two that a tension is to be found, and whether we consider the internal tension that arises when we decide what to do with our lives, or the tension caused between two political ideologies, or the tension between an organism and its environment, it is tension that fuels evolution. Like Yin & Yang, or male and female energies, opposites do not interfere with one another as much as they complement and enhance each other, making a complete whole from seemingly disparate parts.

Certainty without Creativity is stagnation.  Creativity without Certainty is anarchy.

What to do… what to do?

It is the hallmark of evolution that Creativity advances ahead of Certainty, but only by a very small percentage, and it moves in fits and starts. If there were no Creativity at all, we’d still be throwing rocks at each other. But, whenever Creativity gets too far ahead the curve, Certainty is there to reel it back to the middle ground. This is why evolution moves glacially slowly, and why we see a pendulum swing from one side to the other on a fairly regular basis.

Both are necessary. Both are inevitable. And neither is right or complete by itself. Every perspective holds a piece of the puzzle, and none are 100% correct, and it is only by holding both perspectives lightly that we’ll survive and thrive.

As for my personal endeavors, having had a fairly long life of Certainty, today I choose Creativity. While so much of the world admonishes me to settle down, stay stable, and be certain about my future, I’m going to tip the table over and take chances. And as for tomorrow, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

To the decisions that the country will make today, I trust that we’ll see the usual ebb and flow of events, the typical swinging of the pendulum as we pass back and forth, left and right, between Certainty and Creativity.

And for evolution at large?  I trust that things are proceeding exactly as they should, for it can be no other way.

Be happy, and be creative with certainty.

Thanks for stopping by,
Rob

* Blog entry by Twitter friend, Robert Vander Roest

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This image was derived from a single RAW file. In Photoshop, I applied a curves layer to brighten the scene, then invoked Bleach Bypass from NIK Color Efex Pro. Standard sharpening techniques applied. At the end, I decided to add a touch of bokeh, using Alien Skin Bokeh, to the background birds… at times like this, things need to seem a little fuzzy, I think.

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