Saturday, June 29, 2019

Sculpting is Fun. Doing My Own Photography is NOT.

I held my breath as I opened the kiln. Then, I let it out with a smile and a thank you to the clay gods, goddesses and the universe. I’ve been working so hard on this new body of sculptural work. It’s taken months and with some pieces years to get to this point. There is no going back. It’s over for better or worse. 

This time, I am blessed. Every piece came out in one piece, colors bright and the new pearl glaze shimmering nicely. But I wasn’t done, yet. 

It’s time for your close up. 

I am not a professional photographer. I had a wonderful, talented pro who took pictures of my work for years and I admired his excellence and expertise every time. He patiently assessed every piece I’d brought, decided on background, set up and snapped away. He retired. Now I am on my own. 

In this age of cell phone photography, it’s easy to think that shooting pictures is as easy as a click of a button. It’s not. 

Good photography is a complex dance between light and shadow, foreground and background, composition and editing. These days you need a digital camera with double digit megapixels, zoom, computer downloadable and a good editing app or software. Add a tripod, seamless background, table set up and lights. Whew.

Let there be light. 

Lighting is the key to good art photography. My photographer did a wonderful job and I now try to emulate his technique as best I can. I use this set up in my garage which is the only place I can have the kind of complete darkness which is necessary to get good lighting. 

I know it sounds crazy but starting in complete darkness is the key to good lighting. When I first attempted my photos, I had too much light and the background was too light, too flat and dulled the colors in my pieces. This time I really tried to get more contrast between the background and my work. I was aiming for gradation from top to bottom of dark to light in each picture. I think I did better this time. But I know I need to learn more. 

Learning is lifelong. 

Yes it is. It’s not always easy and I’m not the most patient student. Technology overwhelms me sometimes. Playing with lights and camera makes me act a little crazy. I’ll admit, my dog heard a lot of bad words that day. Sorry, pup. 

But all in all, I love learning. Even when I get frustrated, I never want to stop. I truly believe that the key to a long, healthy life is learning. Maybe one of these times taking pictures of my work will become as easy as building with clay on a good day.

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