If you regularly browse my online gallery you will know that I’m constantly adding new images, and (occasionally) removing others. In fact, over the last month or two I have added rather a lot, and I thought it was time to shine the spotlight on one or two of them …just in case you missed them!
From now on, at random times (i.e. whenever I feel like it) I plan to single out an image and tell you something about it, why I like it and how I made it.
Here’s one to start with: it’s an image I recently added to my “shadow” series:
What is it actually of, and why is it called “Mobile”?
Well, this was taken this spring outside the LA Museum of Modern Art. The subject is a work by Alexander Calder, who is best known for inventing a type of kinetic sculpture made of many carefully balanced pieces which can move relative to each other (in the breeze), creating a constantly changing form – he dubbed this a “Mobile“. This particular piece sits in a pond outside the gallery and is kept in motion by the random interplay of water fountains and wind.
As you might guess by the large number of images involving shadows and reflections, I am fascinated by indirect observation. What can we tell – or not tell – about something by its shadow? Here you see the seemingly solid shapes of the sculpture’s shadow contrasted with the ethereal, although directly viewed, water spray. The shadows seem to pop out as if they are suspended above the water (as the real sculpture is), while the water creates a shimmering background texture. The dark shapes seem simple, flat and two dimensional, but what do they really tell us about the things casting them? Nothing in the picture gives us a clue to the direction of the light, so we can’t tell their real shape or size, nor where the objects casting the shadows are are relative to the frame. This isolation enhances the abstract quality of the image and forces the eye to appreciate the spacial composition, and contrast of textures. The underlying tile grid gives the image a mathematical feel – like an equation plotted on graph paper, which echoes the precision of the perfectly calculated equilibrium in Calder’s piece.
I took this shot from a walkway above the pond so I could look down and isolate the elements I wanted (no distracting people, trees or buildings). The sculpture (and its shadow) was moving rapidly and I needed to freeze its motion, but since it was a sunny day I just set exposure compensation at -2/3 stop to tame the reflections and let the camera do its thing, leaving me to concentrate on the composition, which was constantly changing as the wind and water spun the parts of the sculpture around.
Of all the shots I took this one best captured what I was after. It required very little work to create the finished image.
If you found that interesting let me know – if there’s a picture in the gallery you are curious about, drop me a note – maybe I’ll pick it next time!