Such an amazing part of the world. It takes me a long time to get a sense of place and honestly I haven’t yet found my place but living in Albuquerque has been an interesting experience. I could see myself living a long time in this land of enchanting colors and friendly encounters. I am often astounded at the beauty of nature in such a arid environment. This shot frames the sand hill cranes coming to winter along the Rio Grande.
While time is relative and subjective I still haven’t had enough of it lately. I have been spending a lot of my time behind my camera trying to frame the world as I see it.
Here is one of my latest shots.
Darren Mahuron is a photographer in demand. He and his wife Lisa work in Fort Collins, Colorado creating commissions and artworks that are highly imaginative and metaphorical. Darren’s friends describe him as a passionate artist who is unpretentious, unstoppable and a natural at visualizing his imagination. I first saw his work when Gabriella Louise showed me the photograph he had done to promote her as a musician.
This piece (below) MEDEA 3 illustrates an interestingly modern interpretation of an ancient greek myth, the tragedy of Medea.
Darren lent me his ear and answered a couple of questions about what inspires him and a little about how he achieves the beautiful textures and colors within his photos. The Mahuron’s work can be seen at the online gallery, Darren Mahuron: Photographer.
Sounds like you’ve been a visual storyteller for some time now… what is it about our world that inspires you to create?
I am inspired by many things; Music, Literature, Film, People, Places, Relationships. I love to travel, I enjoy conversation, most often topics that go well below the surface. I am passionate about life and death. I rarely look at other photographers work so as to not be influenced.
Looking at your web gallery I see a lot of metaphor in your work. Can you talk about the inspiration for this kind of storytelling?
Many of my ideas come from listening to music or reading. I love pre-christian history, Greek Mythology and politics, they all play a part in my storytelling I suppose. I typically have the idea as a visual first and then begin to understand it’s meaning later or sometimes never. Some of the ideas in my work have also come from my wife Lisa or the subject or as a collaboration.
In discovering digital photography what struck you first about the medium?
I really discovered Photoshop first. It was very intuitive for me. Digital photography was a tool to get a file into Photoshop to mess around with. That’s how it started for me. I like photography more now that I understand it better, but I still consider myself more of a digital painter than a photographer.
In your photographs, the first thing I sense is your grit and texture, it seems that you use high contrast lighting to start achieving this effect. Can you talk a little bit about why you frequently choose this pallet?
I try and create a consistent world that is dirty, or gritty, a little edgy maybe as a way to communicate my ideas. Not sure why I started down this road, it just resonates with me.
One distinction in your photographs are the shadows and rich colors, it seems that you shoot above the ambient with the strobes… or do you achieve the depth in post?
I’m not completely sure what “above the ambient” means actually. I’m self taught, and I just do what I think looks right. One way I’ve learned to improve on my contrasty look is to shoot with brighter lights. This saves me time in post. It also allows me to shoot at say F22 rather than F2.8 which gives me a larger depth of field and more detail to work with later in Photoshop.
As far as advertising, I really enjoy the Exist campaign. The photographs illustrate the fears we see in our minds as we are driving around the city, and also the fears of biking around the city. To create events like those must require a bit of pre-production, are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of photographer or do you plan ahead meticulously?
I’m a pretty meticulous planner. I always have the shot in my head before going on location. I typically know how I’m going to light it as well. I sometimes will also loosely draw the image so that I know the composition will work.
I definitely try and allow for some spontaneity while on location, but that typically has more to do with allowing the model freedom inside the controlled set and lighting.
I tried to learn from your techniques in this photo of my husband Brooks could you give me a critique? He wanted all of his freckles to show and we were trying to recreate something similar in detail and texture as this cover of Wired Magazine because it is so the opposite of airbrushed perfection.
Sure. By comparing the photos the number one issue keeping you from getting the look that I think you are going for is the lighting. I think you’ve done some interesting things in post, but without strategically placed, high contrast lighting, it will end up a little flat.
If you were starting over again, what flash/strobe would you start with?
I started with Alien Bees actually because they were the least expensive lights that were still getting positive reviews. I still use them.
If there is anything you would like to say other artists please do.
People often ask me about short-cuts. I don’t really know of any. I spend 4-12 hours on each image. Also, the best way to get better is to try and shoot or photoshop ever single day. I think work ethic is more important than just about anything else art related. If you want to make a living doing photography or art, it’s simple, just work longer and harder than your competition.
Dr. Peter Wasilewski, a NASA scientist, paints with frizion crystals. His images show that joy present in the natural world. The shapes arise from water crystals that form on earth and are unlike the many other forms of ice known of in the Milky Way and beyond.
Thin layers of water are frozen, manipulated, and viewed through polarized light. Light has wave-like properties, one of which is vibration. A polarizing filter is placed on a light table to polarize the light passing through. A petri dish with a thin layer of water in the process of freezing is placed over the filter. As the polarized light passes through the forming ice crystals, it is bent in two slightly different directions and forms two different rays of light. The color palette in the images is created by rotating a second polarizing filter placed over the ice to intercept and resolve these emerging light rays.
Thanks to Bioephemera for bringing these beautiful images to my attention.
Sebastiao Salgado shows us what our world is made up of and many of the relationships and realities that we are a part of. His work shows me the compassion it takes to realize that this amazing world where we live is a place where we often don’t know what it takes, what it means or what we must yet overcome to live here… simply because the world is such a big place and we are so small.
He must also feel the wonder and awe at a world that just is.
With the year being so productive and bringing of bountiful colors and nourishment, the time moving towards the darkest days and Halloween, I am reminded of the film/animation called Mirror Mask a rich and imaginative work. It was done by Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman two artists who I have found can grasp a breathtaking sense of beauty and combine it with the fecundity of our world to create a metaphor or a backdrop to a story of mythical proportions.
Edgar Allan Poe has said, “There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in the proportion…” and both of these artists have found the things in our world that are hidden and so often out of proportion to what we see in everyday life, albeit quite darkly.
The art in this film is stunning and I think, quite original. The writings of Neil Gaiman have always inspired me, his ability to tell stories is amazing. As he focuses on the words Dave McKean works tirelessly on satisfyingly fantastic images which tell the stories well.
If you are interested in the works of creative and imaginative storytellers this movie will fill you with wonder. Here is a short to satisfy that craving until you can get the film, it’s an animated version of Shakespear’s Sonnet 138.
A super interesting note about the previous post on color and it’s psychological, subjective qualities.
When I was completing the color test a window was directly behind my monitor while I was sitting under florescent lighting looking at the screen. Natural sunlight is at such a high intensity much higher than bulb lighting and our sense of color perceives that intensity as blue, the lower intensity light, indoor lighting isn’t as bright giving that light a more reddish hue.
I find it interesting that with blue light, higher intensity light, interfering with my perception from behind the monitor, made it harder to see the tiny nuances of difference in the color test at the blue range. Doing the test again in a controlled lighting environment made the sense keen and I made a perfect score.
A side-note is that because electromagnetic waves are all around us, only a small range of these waves being visible light, there is much more affecting our perception than meets the eye.
Our world is so much more subtle than we are daily able to pay attention to, and it is always in flux. Color theory is still not pure. The problem arises because the absorption of light by material substances follows different rules from the perception of light by the eye. A major issue for designers of print is that the printing process requiring ink and a subtractive process gives material substance to a color while our eye perceives the direct wavelengths causing color perception.
Many historical “color theorists” have assumed that three “pure” primary colors can mix all possible colors, and that any failure of specific paints or inks to match this ideal performance is due to the impurity or imperfection of the colorants. In reality, only imaginary “primary colors” used in colorimetry can “mix” or quantify all visible (perceptually possible) colors; but to do this the colors are defined as lying outside the range of visible colors: they cannot be seen. Any three real “primary” colors of light, paint or ink can mix only a limited range of colors, called a gamut, which is always smaller (contains fewer colors) than the full range of colors humans can perceive.
So does an artist, the human element, give a work of art, design, or even a photograph that personal touch just by a different mood, a different lighting scenario…. a perception of color… a sense? Of course, and the texture of our differences is stunningly beautiful.
Our sense of color is one of the things I believe makes us unique. I’ve noticed that it seems to be a subjective reality to an extent. Josef Albers wrote a book on the “Interactions of Color,” where he talks about the phenomenon.
I scored a 15 the first time and a 3 the second time. And found that my sense of greenish blue is where I was the least keen.
A Bozeman resident, a rambler through the lands, a man with a camera always hanging halfway out of his back pocket, Ryan Wilson, recently sent me a couple of photos caught as the light began it’s disappearing act over the Gallatin Valley. I think Ryan found the elements for his logo in the dumpster of some long forgotten town out west.
In the photo below the light finds it’s way over the hills and across the diagonal line of the photo. You can find Blackmore in the distance pointing out of the Hyalite range.
Big Sky Country is the name they decided to give Montana, here is a good example of why that is. Those mountains, the Tobacco Roots, are at least 60 miles away.
Pretty photos Ryan.
The forest was hushed and the trees and flowers were drenched with dew. An early morning photo of the Hyalite Reservoir caught the cool air and the stillness of the world just waking as the sun came over the ridge. To me it seems as though a chalice was tipped and is now left on its side as peaceful dreams were poured all of the night onto those sleeping in the world.