Beauty is not art
Beauty is not art, something that I continually forget. So, even though I catch a fantastic sunrise, take care to get everything just right, and get what I think is my best image technically of a sunrise, getting the colors of the sunrise reflecting off not only the water, but some of the rocks and vegetation, it’s just a photograph.
I may have worked hard, very hard in fact, to get everything in that scene to look as close to what I saw at the time that I shot the series of images that I used to create the HDR image that you see here. I loved the colors, from the deep blue sky almost directly overhead, to the brilliant yellow-orange of the sun behind the clouds. I loved the way that the light played off from the rocks, and even the dark shadows within the rocks. I loved the tension between the very smooth water, and the crushed rock that made up the shoreline, but none of that makes this photo a work of art, because it is the reality that I saw at the time.
I am learning that when it comes to photography, reality isn’t considered art, you have to alter reality in your photos to have them thought of as works of art.
That’s a problem for me. I grew up admiring the artwork of John James Audubon, and the photographs of wildlife and landscapes as seen in the National Geographic magazine. You may remember that a few years ago, I had the opportunity to see a traveling exhibition of Audubon’s artwork, and even did a short post on it, and you can find that post here.
In that post I noted that Audubon was not the first to undertake the mission of painting every species of bird in the United States, he followed in the footsteps of Alexander Wilson. The difference between their works was that Wilson painted birds on a stark, bare background, whereas Audubon painted birds surrounded by their natural settings. He often portrayed them as if caught in motion, especially feeding or hunting. Audubon based his paintings on his extensive field observations.
I can do that.
Maybe not very well, but I can do that.
When it comes to the photos that I grew up with in the National Geographic magazine, I had heard that the photographers who shot the photos were considered to be some of the best nature photographers in the world, but that carried a caveat that I wasn’t aware of at the time. That caveat is that most of the photographers who work for Nat Geo think of themselves as photojournalists telling a story, not artists.
Because of the demands of the magazine that they shoot for, showing not only the wildlife itself, but where and how the wildlife lives, the photos that appear in Nat Geo are in the genre of natural history photos, not artistic photos.
I did not know that until recently. I thought that a good photo was a good photo no matter what, how little I knew, and they say that ignorance is bliss. I was very blissful, shooting photos in the same vein as Audubon’s artwork, and Nat Geo photographers. I thought that you were supposed to include some of the background in a photo to show people the types of places that they may find the wildlife in my photos. Not only that, but every once in a while, the colors in the vegetation around the wildlife are quite pretty as well.
I thought that it was even better to capture the critter’s personality in my photos, as this series of a bald eagle having a bad feather day does. The eagle was in the process of molting, which must be uncomfortable at times, for the eagle started out holding its wing out for a while.
It thought that it had found the feather causing the discomfort…
…but removing that feather didn’t help much…
…so the eagle thought that maybe if it moved around a bit, that would help…
…but a tail feather was out-of-place.
I didn’t put the photos of the eagle with its head up its tail in here, 😉 I waited until it was working on wing feathers again…
…until the eagle decided that soaring for a while may make it feel better.
Okay, maybe those aren’t great, but how could any one resist cute, as in a baby red squirrel?
Especially when it was obvious that the squirrel had eaten a few too many fermented berries, and was drunk….
…looking for a warm, sunny spot to sleep it off.
Even I knew that there was nothing artistic about the photos in either of those series of photos, they fall into the class of photos too interesting not to post. I have to ask myself how many people get to see the expressions on an eagle’s face as it preens, or see a drunken baby red squirrel?
But, what about this one? Is the bokeh smooth and creamy enough? Did I get too much of the stick that the dragonfly is perched on in focus?
I suppose that I could shoot all the subjects against the blue sky, then I wouldn’t have to worry about blurring the background.
It seems to be working so far.
I’ll bet that the blue background doesn’t work well with birds that are mostly blue in color though.
But for most birds, the blue works well enough.
I wonder if it would work for dragonflies?
Fair, what about butterflies I wonder?
Not bad, but I need more practice on the insect in flight photos.
Of course I’m being silly again, but having tons of fun while I’m at it. 🙂
Along with more practice shooting insects in flight, I need more practice when it comes to black and white photography. I did shoot this weathered stump in color…
…intending to convert the photo to B&W.
But, the B&W version still doesn’t look the way that I wanted it to. I may need to do more playing in Lightroom, more so than when I’m shooting with an eye towards B&W.
I need a few flowers in this post to finish it off.
Okay, so beauty may not be art, so I’ll finish this one off with a subject that sure isn’t shot in an artistic style, and I think that we can all agree that it isn’t beautiful either.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!