David vs. Michael

Last Christmas I decided to make my mother a St. Michael piece. I’d make a drawing and layer that into a mixed media collage. Only one problem… who do you book for that modeling gig? In the end I wound up using Michelangelo’s David as a reference for my drawing. Clearly this is an identity crisis just waiting to happen.

Jason Bourne: “I’m definitely Kane. I just had a meeting as Kane. And he knew me as Kane. So I’m definitely Bourne. I’m also definitely Kane.”

Matt Damon – The Bourne Identity

About this image: charcoal drawing on Bristol Board

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Wind Turbines

It’s been all cold and windy lately. Which means it’s wind turbine time, I guess. And 80’s night. Naturally. Have a great weekend, everyone!

… you spin me right round, baby

right round

like a record, baby

right round, round, round…

– You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) – Dead or Alive

About this image: Digital photograph, moderately modified

Confluence Tower

Need an aerial view of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers? Enter the 50, 100 and 150 ft observation decks of the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower … pretty cool. I’d recommend visiting on a warm day, though. It’s a bit windy 150 feet up in the air. Who’d have thunk it?

Dr. Evil: “I’m gonna’ get you, Austin Powers! It’s friggin’ freezing in here, Mr. Bigglesworth!”

Mr. Bigglesworth: “Meeeeeewwwwwwww…”

– Mike Myers – Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

About this image: digital photograph, lightly modified

Common Blue Morpho

Don’t worry… no animals were harmed or mistreated in any way during the production of this post. The above is a paper Morpho peleides from the St. Louis Butterfly House that I’ve strung-up in a pasta sauce jar (which I even took the time to wash out first). You’re welcome, fake butterfly.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

It has been said something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world. – Chaos Theory

Title Card from The Butterfly Effect

About this image: digital photograph heavily modified to replicate wet plate collodion

Fresh Fruit

You might be thinking, “Is that… a little… um…” Well, maybe. But it’s completely made-up, so you get to create your own narrative. Which is more fun anyway. Right?

Ned Plimpton: “You don’t know me. You never wanted to know me. I’m just a character in your film.”

Steve Zissou: “It’s a documentary. It’s all really happening.”

Ned Plimpton: “Well, d**n you for that.”

Owen Wilson and Bill Murray – The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

About this image: Replicated supermarket ad created in Adobe Illustrator then printed, stained, distressed and collaged on 16″x16″ canvas – large text painted in acrylic and distressed – figure and fruit painted in acrylic – sides painted in white crackle/distressed acrylic with some torn bits of ad and painted text wrapping around

Statue to Painting

A few people have asked about my faux wet plate collodion photos, so I’ve included more info about them below (please feel free to skip my rambling). Either way, the above is ‘Statue to Painting’ by Louis Saint-Gaudens (it flanks the St. Louis Art Museum’s main entrance along with Daniel Chester French’s ‘Statue to Sculpture’). Both were done in plaster for the 1904 World’s Fair and later reproduced in marble. Have a great weekend, everyone!

About this image: digital photograph heavily modified to replicate wet plate collodion (see below)

Nothing holds a candle to real wet plate collodion, but until I can bankroll the set-up and find a place to store chemistry I have to ‘fake it’.

In-camera tips: In my opinion, you’ve got two choices… replicate ‘period’, or create an obviously contemporary image. Anything in between feels suspect to me (like someone tried to go old and missed). If you want to replicate a period image be sure to remove any/all modern elements from your shot. For interior portraiture, try using a tripod, natural lighting, shallow depth of field and a long exposure. Period lenses required long exposure times, so I think some blur from accidental sitter movement adds to the feel.

The plate: I use clear acrylic sheets (like those used for framing/glazing). They’re relatively cheap, and thin ones are easy to cut/break, too. I get mine from Blick Art Materials.

The ‘collodin’: I use a water-based polyurethane (from a home store – you could experiment with a fairly fluid gel medium, glue, etc., too). Basically all I do is ‘flow’ polyurethane over an acrylic sheet, and then dry it. That simple. How it dries creates various effects. Letting the whole thing dry slowly/completely produces a fairly smooth, translucent ‘pool’. Allowing the edges to dry and then rinsing off the center produces a perimeter ‘ridge’ and flow-like streaks (the longer the plate dries the further that edge creeps in). Using a hot hairdryer creates wrinkles. Other tips include pressing a finger into the polyurethane while tacky to create a fingerprint, and/or scoring/breaking off a corner. I then throw the plate on a flatbed scanner (using a black backdrop) and pull it into Photoshop where I ‘layer’ it with a photograph using various blending modes, curves/levels/contrast adjustments, etc. If you find there are too many ‘artifacts’ in your plate or a few distract from your photo you can airbrush those out/back.

Editing tips: Find a good example of a real collodion image for a guide to curves/levels/contrast/tint adjustments, etc. Mask off the edges of your photo along the polyurethane ‘edge/ridge/perimeter’. Also, some early lenses had an interesting swirly bokeh (when shot wide open), which can be replicated (kind of) with a Radial Blur (masked/faded off from the center outward). And the original images are/were mirrored, so don’t forget to ‘flip’ your photo (especially if it includes text, etc.).

As always, if anyone has specific questions, I’m happy to help if I can!

Hesburgh Library, University of Notre Dame

Here are some random flowers I photographed outside the Hesburgh Library at the University of Notre Dame. There is a reflection pool just beyond these plantings, but I had to crop it out as this entrance was being worked on during our visit and there was construction ‘stuff’ everywhere. Even with the  low vantage point I  had to airbrush out high-reach equipment, etc. Oh well. Good excuse to go back… right?!

Byron ‘Buster’ Bluth (*describing his new construction job*): “…I like it here… and the language these guys use… rough! One of the guys told me to take my head out of my bottom and get back to work! (*cackling laughter*) My bottom!”

Tony Hale – Arrested Development

About this image: digital photograph, lightly modified