Archive for February, 2009

Ansel Adams-esque photo

February 23, 2009



Three of Ansel Adam’s photographs No. 3

February 23, 2009



In Redwoods, Adams uses lighting techniques to enhance the presentation of the redwood trees.  The negative space behind the trees provides a frame that allows the redwoods to pop out of the background and demostrate the granduer of these forest giants. 

However it is also the color choice that adds to the visual punch of the photo.  As the Photo Idea Index states, “Color informs, influences, attracts and compels through countless visual and emotional channels” (106).   Here, Adams use of black and white grant the photo a timeless, frozen and regal quality that works to graft a sense of wonder and awe of the redwood trees into the mind of the viewer.  As always and it is important to realize its power, the sharpness of the photo also invites the eye to take time to soak in the totality of the photograph.

Three of Ansel Adam’s photographs No. 2

February 23, 2009


The power of this photograph is an excellent showcase of Adams’ compositional skills.  As the Photo Idea Index tells us “the trick is to recognize good composition when you see it through the viewfinder (… )”(74).  Adams is taking a picture outside of a studio and uses the layout of the trees themselves to create a dynamic seen.  Notice how the smaller tree in the front is highlighted, the white spaces calling for attention due to the darker background. 

The placement of the  camera so the smaller tree is set off to the left is also a choice that helps the photo grab the viewer.  Adams uses unequal spaces and asymmetry to prevent the viewer’s eye from growing bored and moving away.  Instead the eye constantly looks for new details and is always able to find new ones due to the quality of the photograph.

Three of Ansel Adam’s photographs No. 1

February 23, 2009


        The impact in this photo is due to Adams’ mastery of presentation.  Here a forest becomes stage for a dazzling interplay of geometric shapes.  As defined in the Photo Idea Index geometric shapes are “self contained designs within the larger composition of a photograph” (100).  In the photo, it is the sheer number of the geometric shapes created by the criss-cross of the various showcovered branches that awe the eye and give a complexity to the photo not often seen wheen photographing a bunch of trees.  As always, Adams’ focus on clarity allows the viewer to see each branch in almost perfect detail. 

Ansel Adams: Favorite Photographer Bio

February 22, 2009

Ansel Adams was born in 1902.  As a child he developed a keen interest in the natural world and would spend a great deal of time outdoors.  Visiting Yosemite National Park in 1916, before it was a national park, Ansel would find a place to capture and inspire him for decades to come.  But first he had to learn his craft.

At first though, it seemed music would be Adams’ creative passion, however time spent in Yosemite with a camera slowly turned Adams’ towards photography.  Joining the Sierra Club in 1919, Adams would be deeply involved in the club and in the conversation moment for the rest of his life.  Adams began photographing the Sierra Club’s hiking excursions and made enough money to devote himself to photography as a profession.  In 1927 Adams met Albert M. Bender, wealthy patron of the arts and Mr. Bender would be instrumental in getting Adams first portfolio published, entitled Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras. 

With Bender’s influence Ansel slowly grew as a photographer.  Ansel would branch out into taking photos of the Southwest and in 1930 would meet the man who would exert a mentor-like influence on him, Paul Strand.  Strand, a fellow photographer, would help move Adams into produce photos that would become hallmarks of Adams’ photography, namely a strong emphasis on clarity.  Adams critical star soared, but finances would start giving him trouble as the 1930s wore continued.   Adams would turn to commercial photography to pay bills.

However, Adams would become photography’s grandmaster, writing technical manuals and developing his own system of photography, called the zone system.   Dozens of professionals in the field would consult with Adams.  Adams would also never compromise on his beliefs that his photographs were art, and to that practicing his art uplifted him. 

Adams would die April 22, 1984.


Sources include and .           

My Most Respected Photographer

February 22, 2009

The photographer I hold above all others in terms of impact on me and in terms of how I think about photography is Kevin Carter, a Pulitzer Prize winning South African journalist.  However, for a variety of reasons I will be completing assignment Five using Ansel Adams, who could more correctly be considered by favorite photographer.  The reason being is that I like to look at Ansel Adam’s work.  I’ve seen quite a few photos by Adams and consider them to fantastic demonstrations of photographic art.  I’ve seen one photograph by Kevin Carter and I can barely look at that photo for more than a minute straight.

This is a photo by Ansel Adams:



This is the 1994 Pulitzer Prize winner by Kevin Carter:



            As of right now, I would not feel comfortable going into DC and attempting to take a photograph that would echo Kevin Carter’s work.  In addition, I have not had much luck finding other photographs taken by Kevin Carter, as the above photo dominates all others.  That said, I will provide a brief bio of Kevin Carter with details taken from Time magazine obituary.

Carter was born in 1960 in Johannesburg.  He attended a boarding school and went to college, though he dropped out a year after entering.  He was conscripted into the army, but disliked serving the apartheid government.  After serving, he would work for a camera supply shop and when the uprising against apartheid began, Carter worked for the Johannesburg Star which sought to expose the cruelty of the government.  Carter would frequently place himself in harm’s way to get photographs. 

Carter would become part of what was dubbed “The Bang Bang Club”, a group of journalist who got extremely close to the violence that marked the end of the apartheid era.  He would receive a few accolades for photography, but no real international attention; however his moment came in Sudan in 1993.  There he would seek to cover the tribulations of famine victims.  Ducking away from the crowds, he would encounter a child who had collapsed from hunger.

Carter spotted a vulture approaching the child and stayed very still, as not to frighten the bird.  He would wait for what he believed twenty minutes before chasing the bird away and leaving to sit under a tree, crying and smoking.  The photo would become a sensation, igniting controversy over whether or not Carter should have helped the child in the photo.  Carter would slowly slip into depression and drug use.  However his life took a brief upturn with winning the Pulitzer Prize.  However a good friend and follow member of the Bang Bang Club died shortly thereafter.  A few months after than, Carter would commit suicide on July 27th 1994.

Assignment 4

February 16, 2009


Art Nouveau Examples

February 9, 2009

Woman on Rock


 Note: For some reason the pictures would not load on my blog.  Please follow the links to see the artwork I am describing.






Mucha, 1889


            Here is an example of the naturalistic quality of an Art Nouveau sculpture.  The expressive vocabulary here is a fusion of the stability of the rock, which looks solid, combined with the curves of the woman, curves which almost meld the woman to the rock.  This demonstration of humanity’s oneness with nature is quite common in Art Nouveau although what makes this sculpture unique within the movement is the rock, a non-living, non-ethereal element of nature being celebrated.


Autumn and Spring 1896


Mucha, 1896

        Here is a work that can be said to be representation or even emblematic of the whole Art Nouveau movement in of itself:  a depiction of a sensual, nymph-like woman at one with the greenery of nature.  It captures a decidedly non-Christian attitude towards both nature and the female form, allowing an almost mystical reverence for the plants and only the plants to come through.  Color here is various shades of green, to suggest life in a peaceful contemplation of nature.

Hotel Tassel Main Stair

Victor Horta (1893-1897)


In architecture, Art Nouveau was aggressively new in terms of using curving lines to create design.  From the shape of the stairs to the pattern of carpet the idea was to have a building that seemed to grown in a point in space instead of being merely constructed.  Though modern architecture would leave behind many Art Nouveau conventions, Art Nouveau would have a strong influence on the future of architecture.




Judith I

Gustav Klimt 1901

What this piece represents is an example of the diverse styles of Art Nouveau.  Each artist that joined with the Art Nouveau movement brought their own sense of what art should be like.  Here Klimt plays up the sensual element of the movement-the exposed breast combined with both the expression and the opulent nature of the woman’s clothing and jewelry communicate a comfortable accord with the material world that was a big part of Art Nouveau.





Dragonfly woman corsage ornament

René Lalique 1898



Here is Art Nouveau weaving together what should be grotesque yet is made beautiful due to the attention paid to line, color and symmetry.  The color is muted and non-threatening and the lines are smooth, not jagged or imposing lending the figure an odd grace.




Water Serpents I & II


Gustav Klimt 1904




Here is an example of the flowing line, a facet of Art Nouveau which became almost inseparable from thinking about the movement.  Realism and creating an illusion of depth are neglected in favor of giving the viewer a sense of otherness, a feeling multiplied by both the dabs of sequin-like color and the head on the right side of the painting.



Art Nouveau

February 9, 2009


Art Nouveau

Was a style of art characterized by its curving/ flowing lines, bright colors, and symbolism of nature, sexuality, and joy. Flowers, leaves, other plant parts, female figures, and flowing cloths were all commonly depicted. The materials that were used ranged greatly because the style was incorporated into many different forms of art. But, precious stone, different types of wood, silver, and glass were all used. The style was encompassed in architecture, jewelry, interior decorations, prints, furniture, and other objects that can be styled (i.e. lamps, silverware)


Year:  The movement is generally described as taking place between 1890-1914. Its end was mostly due to the beginning of WWI, where its light, happy, and free feeling was out of place in a world full of fear and pain.


            The Art Nouveau movement was most strong in Europe (notable cities include: Barcelona (Spain), Brussels (Belgium), Darmstadt (Germany), Moscow (Russia), London (England), and Paris (France), Vienna (Austria).  In the US the movement was small but was centered in New York City and Chicago.



Several Pediment Artist of the Art Nouveau movement included:


Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) who worked in Barcelona, Spain and was famous for his use of the natural shapes within his forms

Victor Horta (1861-1947) who worked Belgium creating houses and public works and was known for the curving aspects of his designs

Drawings, Graphics:

Aubry Vincent Beardsley (1872-1898) was born in France but was famous for his British illustrations and artwork

Alfons Much (1860-1939) was a Czech painter and produced many posters and paintings in the style (he was perhaps one of the most important artists of the movement)


Henry van de Velde (1863-1957) Belgian, he was a painter, designer, and furniture maker. He is best know for his architecture

Emile Galle (1846-1904) was a French glass artist (was one of the main artist of the French Art Nouveau movement)


            Art Nouveau was a movement that was meant to create joy within its viewers. It is symbolic of wildness, female sexuality, and unrestrained abandonment. It involved many bright colors and curving lines, flowing forms (organic forms), representing naturalistic patterns (without harsh edges), and no repeating patterns.

Critique Object: Crouching Spider

February 3, 2009