Category Archives: photo impressionism

Matt Molloy: stacking time

I really can’t get enough of Matt Molloy’s time stacked impressionistic images. Big blocks of colour and form with clouds reminiscent of  Canadian impressionist painters Lawren Harris (The Old Stump) and Emily Carr (Above the Gravel Pit). And that is appropriate given Molloy’s roots in small town Ontario.

“My time stack photos are much like a modern version of impressionism. By combining multiple photos into one image, it shows how light and other elements change over time. This gives a unique sense of movement in an otherwise still image.”

Power Plant - a great example of photo impressionism
Power Plant by Matt Molloy: 263 photos merged into one image. “I wish I had set up a little earlier, so the lines made by the clouds went all the way to the horizon. I still like the way it turned out, I just hope the ice is sturdy enough for me to try this again.”

According to Molloy’s biography his artistic pursuits are multidisciplinary; music, painting, drawing and experimental time-lapse photography. I think you can see the influence of the painter in his work .

I really his Power Plant (above). The blocks of colour remind me of the northern lights and that contrast against the silhouette of the power plant with a hint of snow and ice is striking. If you look at the cloud blocks close to the horizon the colour is rich with nice smooth shapes drawing your eye and as your eye travels up the staccato effect trails off to the edge.

Cloud Chaos Cropped - photo impressionistic treatment of moving clouds.
Cloud Chaos Cropped by Matt Molloy. “Another photo stack, made from a daytime timelapse of clouds passing over Lake Ontario. Check out the video… My latest timelapse creation… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLuZhXZztGw&feature=youtu.be%22”

This is my personal favourite in his current portfolio. In two dimensions Molloy  has been able to capture a moment in time we have all experienced; boiling clouds before a summer storm.

There is real drama close to the horizon. Again this in this image our eye moves to the top edge where the clouds start to lose their form as they bleed off the page.

Sky Sculptures - another great example of photo impressionism
Sky Sculptures by Matt Molloy. “This is an older timelapse. I’ve already done a photo stack with the photos, but this time I only used 75 of them. I like how some of the blue of the sky is still showing. In the other version it’s pretty much all clouds. http://www.flickr.com/photos/matt_molloy/7976402977/in/photostream”

Recently 500px featured a tutorial by Molloy describing this impressionistic technique.  Basically he uses the “lighten” opacity blend mode to emphasize the light elements while leaving the darker unmoving elements untouched. You can find the tutorial at  http://500px.com/blog/1051/tutorial-time-stack?page=1 . I am looking forward to trying it with some of my favourite subjects for photo impressionism.

“The exposure I’ve received through 500px has been great. I didn’t expect the “time stacking” tutorial to get so much feedback, but I’m glad it did. It’s brought me lots of new followers and likely got me some sales, so the hard work payed off.”

Twisted Sky - an example of photo impressionism
Twisted Sky by Matt Molloy. “90 photos merged into one image. I found this timelapse with some interesting cloud action while digging through old photos for my Tumblr page. matt-molloy.tumblr.com/ It’s really neat to see the clouds move like that, I think it’s the only time I’ve captured it on “film” Check out the timelapse video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4ij9wAG1BU”

What I find more interesting than the technique is its origins. Almost every photo impressionist I follow had a eureka moment; an idea spawned from something unrelated that compelled  them to produce photo impressionistic images.

Molloy started his journey with time lapse time photography. The time tracking stacking technique has been used for years in astrophotography to produce star trails.

“Once I made a few star trail images, I wondered why I’ve never seen this technique used on daylight timelapses. I tried it and, after a little tweaking here and there, I was astounded by the resulting images! They are kind of like a super long exposure, showing a large chunk of time in a single image, which is very much like the Impressionist movement that some clever painters came up with around the year 1870.”

Its worth looking at the time lapse video Molloy produced to see the genius here. Time lapse compresses time into a few moments. Time stacking captures the moment by compressing time into a single frame. It’s an idea that I have struggled with for many years (see my artist’s statement for example).

Twenty Minute Sunset. a photo impressionistic sunset.
Twenty Minute Sunset by Matt Molloy. “313 photos merged into one image using the lighten layer-blending mode in photoshop. As the title implies, this was about 20 minutes of shooting. (at 4 second intervals) I was a little late shooting this timelapse, so it’s another one from my backyard. I’m lucky to live in such a photogenic area.”

I am always interested to know which images are an artist’s favourites. Molloy identified the following 3 and gave me his thoughts on why.

Sunset Spectrum
Sunset Spectrum by Matt Molloy “396 photos merged into one image using the lighten blending mode in photoshop. I think this one pretty much covers the colour spectrum of sunsets, lacking only the darker reds. I can’t get enough of this technique!”

Its hard not to fall in love with Sunset Spectrum; big colour, big sky, classic pastoral scene.  To me this one feels like a crossover between the best elements of an impressionist painting and a traditional one. The contrast in styles is great here as it is  in his other examples. Molloy told me that “Sunset Spectrum” is one of his favorite time stacks because “it has so many different colours in the sky. I think the barn and the field are a nice anchor for the image.”

Icy Sunset a photo impressionistic image by Matt Molloy
Icy Sunset “400 photos merged into one image using the lighten layer-blending mode in photoshop. Even though it was extremely cold and windy, it was worth going back here for a sunset timelapse. It was a good one! Luckily my tripod weight (a brick on a rope) kept my camera fairly steady, but it didn’t help with the water spraying into the air (from the waves crashing into the piles of ice) and onto my lens. The fact that I was shooting at f/11 didn’t help that either. (you can see a few spots near the center of the photo from water/ice on the lens catching the sunlight) Still happy with the way this turned out!”

Icy Sunset has some of the elements I like in Power Plant but here the jagged ice is a rough reflection of the staccato clouds above. for that reason I think it is a powerful image.

According to Molloy “Icy Sunset is one of my favorite time stacks because it shows clouds that were moving in different directions, but the thing I like most is the crazy foreground. Every year the ice breaks up and it often gets piled up along the shore, it’s always an amazing sight to see.”

Crocheting Clouds (below) is an explosion of colour.  In many ways it best captures my memories of late August twilight in Muskoka.  For a real treat let your eye wander through the reflections in the water.

“Crocheting the Clouds ” was selected by Molloy as a favorites “because of the rich colours of the clouds. It’s nice that they were reflected in the water too. I think the texture of the clouds is interesting and their paths seem to radiate from the big tree, which leads the eye nicely.”

Crocheting the Clouds a photo impressionistic image using time stacking
Crocheting the Clouds by Matt Molloy. “186 photos of the sunset merged into one image using the lighten layer-blending mode in photoshop. I like the pattern in the clouds created from the interval between shots.”

I think Molloy is an artist to watch.  My Modern Met interviewed Molloy last year and it is worth a read. You can see more of Molloy’s work of Flickr and 500px. He sells his work on FineArtAmerica.com. Or you can follow him on Twitter.

Sky Streams and Floating Mountains - an example of photo impressionism
Sky Streams and Floating Mountains by Matt Molloy. “852 photos merged into one image using the lighten layer-blending mode. Two kinds of clouds moving and changing very differently.”

 

David duChemin:The Visual Imagination – updated

If you don’t follow David duChemin, you should. A great photographer with lots to say.

duChemin has just announced the release of an e-book focussed on abstract and photo impressionistic images. You can find the post at http://davidduchemin.com/2014/04/impressions-abstracts/ I am looking forward to reading it.

So why photo impressionism:

I had an experience with a painting – to say I merely looked at it wouldn’t do the moment justice – that made me wonder whether my own work created a similar experience in others, and if not – which is what I suspected – why not, and was there a way I could do that? 

An interesting side bar; based on the file names,  the images in the duChemin’s post are from his iphone.

Since writing this post duChemin has published The Visual Imagination. I hope to review it soon. Till then you can find it at:

The Visual Imagination by David duChemin a good photo impressionism read
The Visual Imagination by David duChemin

 

Hal Eastman: Photo Impressionist

Vol 6 of Photograph is out and features a great portfolio/article on Hal Eastman. You can buy  a copy at http://craftandvision.com/products/photograph-no-6.

Cover - Photograph Vol 6
Cover – Photograph Vol 6

Eastman’s portfolio focuses on slow shutter ICM images.   They are really quite ethereal; almost painterly. The portfolio alone is worth the $8 magazine price.

Natural Dance- Hal Eastman
Natural Dance- Hal Eastman

The portfolio is drawn from two recent collections. I prefer the “Natural Dance” images over his “Horse Rider” collection. The slow shutter adds to the mystery created by his use of natural locations. Because of the trees they have me thinking of Emily Carr although the subject matter is very different.

Eastman’s website is also worth a look. http://www.haleastman.com/ . He has a great collection called “Natural Rhythms” which is quite inspiring.

Natural Rhythms – Hal Eastman.

And don’t forget about the words. Eastman’s interview offers a glimpse into his process and creative ideology. Definitely worth a look.

A New Exhibition Asks, What Is a Photograph, Anyway?

20100731-_DSF1497-Edit

Looking back at the pictorialists (the original photo impressionists) it is clear that photography has been about vision since it’s earliest days. But with the advent of straight photography and later mass media photojournalism we began to test photographs against “truth” forgetting that every frame represents a series of choices that allow the truth to be shaped.

I like the question posed by this article and the exhibition and book behind it.

Definitely worth a look.

Bob Crutcher: Photo Impressionist

Legs: One afternoon on Water Street. (ICM) by Bob Crutcher
Legs: One afternoon on Water Street. (ICM) by Bob Crutcher

I have been following Bob Cruthcher on Flicker for a couple of months now and enjoy his use of intentional camera movement (ICM) together with a slow shutter speeds to produce visually compelling images.

One of my goals this year is to feature the work of photographers who are experimenting with impressionistic technique.

I have been following Bob Cruthcher on Flicker for a couple of months now and enjoy his use of intentional camera movement (ICM) together with a slow shutter speeds to produce visually compelling images. Crutcher lives in St. John’s Newfoundland. Looking at his Flickr Photostream St. John’s is visually rich environment.

As one door closes... ICM. One afternoon on Water Street
As one door closes… ICM. One afternoon on Water Street by Bob Crutcher

Earlier this year Crutcher told me that “Legs” (the lead image above) was his favourite impressionistic photograph. It is a strong composition with lots of visual interest drawing the eye from left to right. I like the saturated colour and strong sense of motion. The exif data tells a lot about the technique. Shot using a Canon Rebel and a medium telephoto at 1/8th of a second, the camera appears to be moved slightly vertically during the exposure.

One afternoon on Water Street by Bob Crutcher
One afternoon on Water Street by Bob Crutcher

Vertical ICM isn’t new. Freeman Patterson, another east coaster, used it effectively in the mid 90’s to create trees with height and weight to rival an Emily Carr. But with a deft hand and a new point of view Crutcher has given the approach fresh look.

I also like the compositional range. Some images are tight crops; looking for the picture in the picture. Others are wide perspective like the one below. Nicely done Bob.

Winter fun by Bob Crutcher
Winter fun by Bob Crutcher

Peace on earth and good will to all…

peace on earth and good will to all
peace on earth and good will to all

Its a busy time of year and easy to forget to pause and reflect on what is good and what matters – best wishes to all and thanks for your support of my photography projects photoimpressionism.ca/ and dagostino.ca/

The image is the Christmas Tree at Toronto City Hall shot in the round meaning about 40 images were captured all around the tree then merged together. The image is part of a series posted on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/photo-impressionism/

It’s All In The Detail

A Photo Impressionistic Treatment of Sunflowers In The Round: Detail 2 by Stephen D'Agostino.
Sunflowers In The Round: Detail 2 by Stephen D’Agostino. This picture was featured on Flickr’s Explore Page on October 7, 2013.

Some thoughts on creative cropping of an “in the round image” from my personal photography blog http://wp.me/p2Cu15-5D

Worth a look: Photographic Punctuation

I follow the blog photographic punctuation because of the strong impressionistic images and thoughtful commentary. Many of the images are taken with an iPhone.

If you wander through the images on the blog you will notice a grittiness and contrastingly a dreaminess. Take this one for example. The low resolution black and white creates drama but in a way that generalizes the subject; drawing the viewer in. The strong composition is not just because of the artist’s adherence to the rule of thirds, but look at the juxtaposition of the background reflection. Nicely done!

Definately worth a look.

Photographic Punctuation

I knew the phone would be passed to me. I knew this once she took the call. She showed me the caller ID as it rang and vibrated in her palm. Hello, she said, her gaze fixed on me. Yes, she said, this is me. She lowered her head and listened intently. Sorry, she said, can you repeat, she said. She turned from me and walked a few steps ahead. I see, she said. Yes, she said. Yes, what? I said. She turned again and raised her head and looked at me, mouthing something. What? I said. With her arm and hand fully extended she passed me the phone. You talk, she said. Hello, I said. 

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Photo Impressionism Is Mainstream:CBC News

It’s an interesting story. But what caught my eye is the use of a strong photo impressionistic image as the lead. A wonderful long exposure photo showing members of the Vienna State Opera Ballet performing in February 2013.

More and more I see photo impressionistic images in main stream media which is a clear indicator of the genre’s acceptance.

A long exposure photo shows members of the Vienna State Opera Ballet performing on stage at the Stage opera house in Vienna in February 2013. (Herwig Prammer/Reuters)

A long exposure photo shows members of the Vienna State Opera Ballet performing on stage at the Stage opera house in Vienna in February 2013. (Herwig Prammer/Reuters)

Ballet dancers brains adapt to cope with dizziness – CBC News – Latest Canada, World, Entertainment and Business News.

Technology Leads Art: Smartphones and the Rise of Photo Impressionism

red rocket

Technology and creative expression are closely linked. So it should come as no surprise that the rise of photo impressionism is closely linked to the success of the iPhone.

I recently explored that relationship in a post on my personal photography site. See http://www.dagostino.ca/technology-leads-art-smartphones-and-the-rise-of-photo-impressionism/