As photographers, we often look to the work of other photographers in books, galleries or on the internet, for inspiration and ideas for our own work. In doing so, it may move us to try new techniques and genres, or even drive us in a generally new direction altogether. Studying painters may also do the same. Taking a single course in college on the history of art certainly exposed me to the progression of art from the earliest examples inside caves in France to the present, but the instructor helped us view art not solely by subject matter, but also by composition, textures, tonal values, balance and light; all the things we use as photographers. Equally valuable was simply being exposed to the work of the masters like DaVinci, Rembrandt, Monet, Moran, Bierstadt, Picasso, Pollock, and many others. It was time well spent, although not known back then. It also made it more likely to visit a museum to view art in the decades to come, continually adding to the mental library of impressionable paintings.
And so, there have been times when I’ve taken a particular photograph and actually said (not too loudly, though) the name of the painter that came immediately to mind. In each of the photos in this post, a painter’s name popped into my head either upon initially “seeing” what I chose to photograph, or a bit later, when looking through the viewfinder. In fact, the painter’s name is usually included in the title of the photo. Occasionally, I did have to search the internet for the name of an artist because a painting was in the “library” for sure, but just couldn’t recall the “author”.
The wild chaos of Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings immediately came to mind while hiking in the Black Balsam area just off North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway, when I saw the tree at the top. But it was the narrowed view, the small slice of the expansive surroundings, that caught my eye and necessitated the use of the 70-200mm lens. The telephoto’s narrow angle of view kept the sky out of the frame in keeping with the idea of an abstract within the frame, eliminating as much context as possible that including a horizon line would have provided. Even though it was shot under the harsh light of a clear day, a polarizer got through the glare from the leaves to reveal the autumn colors. It made a world of difference, and without it, I probably would have never tripped the shutter.