Studio photography

Harvest Table

The fall weather inspired me in the studio the other day. © Terry Ownby 2012.

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Bringing autumn into the studio

As the wheel of the year slowly turns, autumn is my favorite season during that cyclical journey. The drop in temperatures, the clearness of deep blue skies, the changing leaf colors, the rustle of falling leaves and their musty smell when kicked under foot; all these descriptors fascinate me and some times I attempt to bring these sensations into the studio.

Fortunately for me, I have a project in my advanced studio photography that challenges my students to create scenes in the studio that could be perceived as having been photographed outdoors on location. Not only do we need to consider appropriate subject matter, but also we need to give attention to the details of props, backgrounds, and most importantly, the lighting. All these elements should work in concert to recreate a believable fluid outdoor environment inside the controlled parameters of the studio.

This past week I demonstrated to my advanced studio class techniques to control the mixing of various Kelvin temperatures of light sources to help achieve the believability of an outside/inside shot. I included natural elements as part of my supporting props to help create the sense of being outside. After the class demo was completed, I remained in the studio another hour and kept fine-tuning the shot. It was a short period of involvement that allowed me to slip into the creative right-brain mode of working and to forget about daily problems, schedules, dinner, and all the mundane minutiae of life. Photography therefore, can function as a catalyst for not only our visual pleasure, but in some instances, for all our sensual encounters, whether in the studio or out in the environment.

Below is a simple still-life shot from my class demo, followed by a similar shot produced the prior year for the same assignment.

"Harvest table, Autumn 2011" © Terry Ownby. Lighting demo for my advanced studio class using mixed Kelvin temperatures.

Behind the scenes of "Harvest table, 2011." © Terry Ownby.

"Harvest table, Autumn 2010" © Terry Ownby.

Analog and Digital Technologies

Just a short update to my last posting on the Technology Series. After input and dialogue from my friend, Wilson Hurst (who’s finishing his MFA at the Vermont College of Fine Arts), I revised the overall look and feel of the analog portrait. I’m much happier with this stylistic approach, especially when juxtaposed against the stark white sterility of the digital technology counterpart. Visually, the diptych characterizes Neal Postman‘s notion of Technopoly and America’s surrender of culture to technology. Thus, presented below is the first diptych of the series.

© 2011 Terry Ownby

Technology and Its Ideological Implications

Today I created a test shot for a new photographic series I’ve been wanting to produce. The photographs will address technology from an ideological perspective. Specifically, Neil Postman’s Technopoly plays a significant role in this framework. As one of the 20th century’s more interesting cultural and media critics, Postman warned against technology’s ability to eclipse humankind through what he called the “tyranny of machines”.

This series of images depicting various forms of technology will be paired as diptychs contrasting analog and digital technologies from across various scientific disciplines. As such, I hope to investigate social and institutional ideological stances and influences that creep into our sense of personal self-identity without our awareness. In other words, we assume this aspect of life to be normal.

The image below is my first test-shot in the series and it depicts a 50-year old Paragon Engineer’s Transit, manufactured by the Keuffel & Esser Company. K&E, as it was known, was founded in 1867 in New York and last produced this particular model of transits in 1969.

© 2011 Terry Ownby