Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Learn composition by example: Subtlety

If you have been following this blog, you may remember a series of short posts about basic composition techniques in the Art-iculations category. These were written for beginners by a beginner (moi). My Flickr friend Rick (word artist), a very accomplished photographer with a brilliant sense of composition, has embarked upon a similar series for the Flickr group Learn Composition by Example, providing far more information and examples than I did. Previous posts on this subject can be found here:
Leading lines
Negative space
The S-curve
The diagonal
Recently, he posted his thoughts on subtlety as a composition technique, with 19 photographs as illustration of his points (also to be found in his blog), ranging as usual from the most basic to the advanced very subtle and thought provoking uses. For this topic I have picked a shot by my Flickr friend Dalinean (Sunset), which Rick picked as an example of subtlety in the form of a hidden subject. He commented on it as follows: "One cannot avoid but being captivated by the spread of banded texture in the sunlit sky here. And in itself, it would make for a beautiful image. But it is the direction those streaks lead us that holds the true gem: two silhouetted trees in the corner, anchoring the image: the true stars." Like the others in this series, highly recommended to expand your compositional horizon.

web site

Monday, January 30, 2012

Looking for Blofeld

This shot dates back to 2008, during our visit to Beijing. For some reason it is currently attracting hundreds of views at Flickr, without specified source. I do not think it is special, but apparently some people do, so I decided to share it here.

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.001 sec (1/1000)
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 7.2 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0


Potpourri: Will it go round in circles?

From time to time I will be highlighting some of my own favourite posts in my parallel blog, Art's Potpourri. These can be recent or from years ago. This one was posted on 26 March 2011 (re-posted 28 November 2012 after the re-start of Potpourri).

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Frozen Dreamland

My Flickr friend ebergcanada has been absent from this blog far too long - a recent visit of her stream yielded a string of favourites to choose from. I picked his one for obvious reasons: an appropriate and gorgeous ice cold shot, just as winter finally reaches Western Europe this year. As usual, all rights retained by the creator.

Al Hamra Tower Kuwait City

Earlier this month, the building of this stunning 413 m high skyscraper in the capital of Kuwait was completed. Beautiful design by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill - contradicting conventional architectural wisdom that such high rise structures must be symmetrical for stability (well, time will tell...). More on this building can be found in the wikipedia link below.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Yesterday was Holocaust remembrance day, the day of liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps 67 years ago. The above shot, taken from a series posted in the link, shows former prisoners of Auschwitz-Birkenau attend the anniversary. It is spine chilling to see people who actually spent their childhood there march under the infamous Arbeit Macht Frei sign. We have visited this site ourselves a few years ago, a very emotional event. All rights retained by the photographer/agency (Unknown/EPA).

Unusual concertos [19]: Electric violin

Before the purge of end 2008, one of the most popular topics of this blog was "Unusual concertos", classical concertos for all kinds of instruments and orchestra. I have decided to revive this, aiming for less familiar composers in general. In its original incarnation, I came to 40 different concertante instruments - aiming for 50+ this time.

The nineteenth concerto deals with the electric violin. Perhaps not an instrument one would expect a major classical music composer to write for, but living legend John Adams proved the exception to that rule. His Dharma at Big Sur is a fascinating concerto, performed here by Tracy Silverman on the electric violin and the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the composer (from a Nonesuch CD).

Go here

Friday, January 27, 2012

Repost: Autumn princess

A re-post from the artchives (original posting date 23 Jan 2010) - with the blog in its current form over three years old, I intend to dig up some of the older posts once in a while.

Once more a post I have Jenny Downing to thank for. Belgium-based Christophe Gilbert is one of the best photo-manipulators in the world. He cleverly distorts reality through these amazing hyper-realistic photographs with a twist. Check out the link - very worthwhile. All rights retained by the creator.


Modini shoes

This is the type of creativity in logo design that I love: not too clever for its own good but a wonderful use of the main product, in this case shoes, to contribute to the visual effect in the logo. And let's face it: it is not that obvious to create an M from two stiletto heel shoes...

web site

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chelsea Monday

In Imaginary Movies I will be posting some fake movie posters I created (including a fake review), with two recurring themes: the title is based on a pop/rock song, and the image is from my Flickr stream. This one takes a Marillion song in combination with my shot Embrace.

The cinema release of Chelsea Monday comes as the attention for the London 2012 Olympics is increasing. It is one of the best sport themed movies I have seen for a while. The basic premise is simple enough: two young athletes, both among the favourites for their discipline, happen to meet shortly after their arrival one Monday in the London Chelsea district - two weeks before the start of the games. Both Ukrainian steeple chaser Igor Kovlibenko and Canadian sprinter Jenny Matucewicz have so far lived 100% for their sports to fulfill their golden dreams. Their chance encounter leads to a whirlwind romance, which threatens to get in their way of their - and their coaches - ambitions. A complex but convincing mixture of subplots develop from there, leading to a dramatic finale on the opening day of the Olympics. Sterling performances by the two leads, Julia Cole and Todd West. A gripping movie.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Saint-Saens, refined romantic

French composer Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921) is another example of a well-known composer where the masses only have heard a few of his works. The mighty and magnificent third symphony (with organ), the symphonic poem Dance Macabre, and the Carnival des animaux - and that's about it. His ten concertos get far less playing time than they deserve, his Requiem is an almost forgotten masterpiece, and his chamber music is elegant and refined, among the best of the late romantic period. I recommend the Hyperion CD series for most of his chamber music, but for this post I have picked a Naxos recording of his beautiful and virtually unknown string quartets, composed in 1899 and 1918. Excellent playing by the Fine Arts Quartet. Very rewarding music, highly recommended.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Vanity Fair February 1926

Here we have another one of those beautiful art deco covers that Vanity Fair is rightly famous for. The creator of this dance extravaganza cover is A.H. Fish.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Baby dragon

With the year of the dragon just starting, this seems an appropriate post. Another piece of photoshop brilliance taken from the advanced photoshop contest section of Worth1000. Here is a shot created by their member oilcorner for the Deadly cute contest - depicting ferocious animals in a cuddly setting. I was surprised that I had not blogged this one before - must have been in the time before the re-start. As usual, all rights retained by the creator.


Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year to all our Eastern friends and family. The year of the dragon is upon us once more (we got married in the previous one). The beautiful illustration above, sourced from here, is a solid gold dragon in the shape of the 2012 numbers.


Sunday, January 22, 2012


His previous contribution under this heading was a glorious sunset shot, but here we have my Flickr friend andy_57 return to one of his gorgeous model shoots. And gorgeous she is, one of the most attractive model he ever had in front of his camera - and that is against quite some competition. The lighting is as expert as always with this accomplished photographer. As usual, all rights retained by the creator.

Links [16]

Once more an overview of interesting links on topics related to the blog, that I encountered recently, but that will probably not make the blog as separate entries. The picture above is by myself.

Retro Paris (Robert Doisneau).
Weather Pictures of the Year 2011.
Britain's Finest Follies.
Mahler's 9th Interrupted by Cell Phone.
London Art Fair 2012.
The Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mystical moss

It has been a while since I posted something under the heading of Fractal Art, so here we go. Once again, I have selected a creation by my Flickr friend chriscreek. Although he did not give it a title, one of the people who commented on it at Flickr called it "Mystical moss", and that fits it perfectly. As always, all rights retained by the creator.



No particular reason to post this today, and I don't know this 2005 Luc Besson movie at all, but I came across it a few weeks ago in a blog post on best movie posters, and I agree it is a gem. More on this movie in the IMDB article linked to below.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Andy Warhol at the Grassi Museum

A visitor looks at the complete collection of 69 album covers created by Andy Warhol at the Grassi Museum for Applied Arts in Leipzig, Germany. Everyone knows the Velvet Underground one (banana!), but I was surprised to see that there are so many more. All rights retained by the photographer/agency (Hendrik Schmidt/EPA).

Land art by Walter Mason

"Land artist" - that's what German artist Walter Mason calls himself. His art works are fully integrated with nature and unfortunately temporary as nature will in the end annihilate these creations. I find them very appealing and I recommend clicking the link to read and see more about him, including an interview well worth reading.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A ringed planet

A strong imagination is a prime asset for a photographer. And this particular shot demonstrates a very strong imagination indeed. My Flickr friend peggyhr has appeared a number of times in my blog, mainly with her fantastic water reflection shots. Here is a different side of her - look what happens when she makes us look at her tea pot from a different angle! As usual, all rights retained by the creator.

Land of confusion

The progressive rock band Genesis is one of my all-time favourite music acts - when they went for radio friendly pop/rock in the eighties they lost me, with a few exceptions. Land of confusion from 1986 is their best song from that period. The video is one of the best of all time - starring puppets from the UK sketch show Spitting Image. The cover design for the single also uses Spitting Image puppets - in this case of the band members. Apart from the fun factor, as well as it being a parody of the cover of With the Beatles, it is also an interesting cover from a photography point of view, with excellent use of extreme contrast of light and dark. More about Genesis on the linked wikipedia page.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Unusual concertos [18]: Piccolo

Before the purge of end 2008, one of the most popular topics of this blog was "Unusual concertos", classical concertos for all kinds of instruments and orchestra. I have decided to revive this, aiming for less familiar composers in general. In its original incarnation, I came to 40 different concertante instruments - aiming for 50+ this time.

The eighteenth concerto deals with the piccolo, the smallest member of the regular orchestral wood wind instrument section. Vivaldi was I think the first to write a concerto for this instrument, with Peter Maxwell Davies probably being the most prominent of more recent composers in this respect. I have opted for the 2001 piccolo concerto by Avner Dorman, taken from a Naxos CD. The soloist is Mindy Kaufman, who performs with the Metropolis Ensemble under Andrew Cyr.

Go here

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


More photoshop brilliance taken from the advanced photoshop contest section of Worth1000. Here is a shot created by their member watschi for the Pleasantville 25 contest - old black and white photographs skillfully turned into full colour shots. I love the original image (included in the link), with its elegant atmosphere, and the colour conversion is spot on. As usual, all rights retained by the creator.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Cora Heerkens

Even though Dutch artist Cora Heerkens has been a friend for over 30 years, only recently I learned that she has branched out in an artistic direction, including painting. Browsing her works, I was struck by this particular creation, a beautiful abstract, titled Intangible. Warmly recommended to check out her site.