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Technical Notes:   This large sculpture by Michael Lekakis reminded me not only of an abstract dancing figure, but also of driftwood. Thus, I chose the graduated background not only for its sea-blue tones, but also because it suggested an upward movement inherent in the form of the sculpture better than a solid background would. I often study a piece of artwork for many hours before deciding on how to light it, at what angle to present it and what background best compliments it. In fact, when I am not rushed, and an artist can leave their work with me for a week or so, and I am able to "live" with it - so to speak - I am often suddenly surprised how it eventually reveals to me its true nature. This, of course, challenges me to put that perception into reality as part of the creative process.

In order to capture the many twisted facets of this complex sculpture I used four lights: a main light to capture the form and create the deep shadows that made the image have a sense of continual movement and change, a fill light to make sure that there was enough detail in most of the shadows to maintain the texture of the wood, and two spotlights to create some strong highlights against the dark upper portion of the background as well as to capture the underside and backside of the some of the extremely twisted curves that were such an essential part of this piece, giving it a sense of strong continuity.

I have mentioned before that usually, for classically figurative sculptures - or for that matter, any classical or recognizable form such as a bowl or a vase - it often confuses the eye to have it lit by too many light sources from different angles, as we are not accustomed to perceiving this in the natural world. However, one must always be willing to break the rules, when it is appropriate, as I felt it was in this piece. By keeping the sculpture at quite a distance in front of the background, no distracting shadows from the different lights were thrown across its surface.

When lighting such large pieces with varying light sources from different angles and with different intensities, it is very important for the fine crafts photographer to ensure that the value of the light is consistent across the entire piece whenever possible. When photographing large or complex pieces, I use a hand-held incident light strobe meter and may check the reading at fifteen or twenty points on the artwork, constantly readjusting the ratio and angle of the lights so that there is rarely more than one-half of an f-stop difference between any area over the whole composition.

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