Clearstory Studios art and crafts photography sample photographs


Edric Florence

Technical Notes:   In this shot, which has a number of technical imperfections, the artist - Edric Florence, a well-known wood turner for whom I had done many fine catalog shots of his museum-quality pieces - was interested in using the photograph for a poster at a local arts festival. In this case my primary responsibility was to pick as many different pieces of his wood-turnings as possible and arrange them in an aesthetically pleasing grouping. So, composition became the key element of this particular assignment.

Composition is something that one has to have an eye for, so most of my clients are appreciative that I am also an artist and have that capabilitiy. With a single piece, composition is usually a matter of the angle of view, simplicity of background and the framing of the image. Many artists and fine craftspersons usually need "group shots" at some point or other, whether it's for a flyer, brochure cover, postcard or publication advertisement. When it comes to combining a number of pieces in one shot, all of the requirements for a single piece need to be considered, as well as the addition of many other variables.

Some of those variables are the use of negative space, color compatability, aesthetic arrangement, size differences, relative reflective quality and the ability of fitting in as many pieces as is possible (usually only half of what the artist would ideally wish) without having the image seem crowded. It is important to be able to know how to overlap pieces - one in front of the other - without detracting from the essence of the piece behind, as well as knowing when to leave a negative space between objects, and especially just how large - down to the millimeter sometimes - that space should be.

Here, the artist and the photographer collaborated in choosing a flat platter of spalted silver maple, a covered jar of siberian elm burl, a high-lipped vase of curly maple, another low vase of walnut, a christmas ornament of english yew and ash, and several wine-bottle stoppers of various woods. The extreme relative differences in size of the objects was minimized optically by placing the smaller ones closer to the camera and the larger pieces further back. The depth of this entire composition was nearly three feet, so a very small aperture (f16 and f22) was necessary to keep them all in focus. If I did not use high-intensity strobe lights, I would be forced to use a long time exposure or resort to a faster speed film which would compromise the quality of the transparency. Although these were perhaps not the artist's most creative works, they were a good representation of what he would be selling to the clientele at the show, and he was very pleased with the end results.

By way of self-critique, I find the following faults:

The bottom walnut (remember what I previously mentioned about the light-absorbing qualities of walnut?) vase in the foreground is in too dark of a shadow to show any detail. This could have been corrected by using a white or silver fill-card to reflect some light up towards the underside of the vase, or by using a tiny spot-light to illumine this area. The two highlights (rather than just one) in the two vases and covered jar are a little distracting. This could have been avoided by requesting that the artist delay putting on his highest polish finish until after the photograph was taken, or by using several other lights bounced off the studio walls to replace the fill light. Finally, the slight underexposure that I general prefer to increase color saturation in the final transparency was slightly more than was needed, and the darker woods are actually over-saturated, although the yellowish-red color is more a quality of the limits of the scanning technique to reproduce the original image for electronic conveyance.

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