Monet proclaimed three important principles in impressionism painting: Movement, Light, and Spontaneity in brushstrokes. I’ve been photographing irises in their natural habitats for seven consecutive years. Nothing in flower photography is more whimsical than the rapid strokes of light created by plants that move with the wind. Then, there are the relentless motion of lights and shadows with the sun, and the sometimes rapid changes of light made by moving clouds. Nothing remains still in iris still photography made in nature except for the photographs themselves.
Puisque je suis impressionné, il doit y avoir de l’impression là-dedans…
I wanted to truly express my four dimensional experience with irises, 3D plus time, in two dimensional photographs. To this end I developed a new technique that combines photography and post processing. I used multiple shots, but I did not want to rely on opacity blending because opacity diminishes each photo’s contribution and sharpness in the final image. What I wanted, instead, was to keep sharpness while allowing each photograph to have an equal but unique opportunity to impact the final image, based on my criteria of choice, without being diminished by the other photographs. In order to create a single image as a whole, I also needed that individual photographs will not be shown as distinct entities.
The end product is a blend of 10 photographs taken consecutively on a tripod. The post’s feature image is its small version.
For many photographs sharpness is stronger in a reduced image. This is most likely for images that are not sufficiently sharp in the first place, but also when original images include fewer details. This is not the case here, where the photograph is rich with tiny exquisitely razor sharp details, enabled by my blending technique.
Therefore, to fully appreciate the photograph’s unique impressionism texture, here is a slice of the full size photograph, made by cropping it around the flower.
The flower is the Dark Brown Iris, photographed north of Beer Sheba, on the edge of the Negev desert. The Dark Brown Iris is endemic and in the red list of endangered species.
Is this art?
It is probably no more no less of an art than any creative self expression. Is it “good art?” – This is a tougher question, because “good art” is an elusive term. A particular criterion of good art, acceptable by many, is quantitative: how much are people willing to pay for it? As it stands now, by this criterion alone this photograph is not good art. Yet, that is. After all, the fact that Van Gogh’s paintings were not considered good art in his time, makes us understand that this criterion is somewhat fluid.
Future posts will continue to discuss what makes “good art”, because it is an important question in photography, as well as in the evolution of human society and communication.
Is it photography?
Surprisingly, I feel that this is an easier question to answer in the context of impressionism, despite the continuous controversy over photo manipulation. The answer should be simply that this is no less of a photograph than an impressionist painting is a painting. What makes this argument even stronger is the fact that the Impressionist art movement itself was controversial at first, even ridiculed.
Google it and you’ll find other commonly used expressionism photography techniques. Most of them, such as long exposures, camera movements and even multiple exposures are not controversial, because they can be made on camera. Erenst Haas comes to mind as a great pioneer in long exposure action photography. I used most of these techniques on color slides myself, long before the rise of digital photography. A few of these photographs, old (slides) and new (digital), are found in my galleries. Perhaps all of these techniques are also known as “blur” and, In fact, the use of “blur photography” is about 20 times more common on the web than “impressionism photography”.
Impressionism techniques in both painting and photography were developed with a certain artistic philosophy in mind. Yet, doing my own search of expressionism, I was not looking for another “blur”. Looking back at it, it should not be a surprise to me that I was looking for a unique, different expressionism technique for a flower subject photographed in a windy grassland habitat. After all, many of the original impressionism paintings were aimed to halt glimpses of light on water, flowers, and brightly colored dancers’ dresses.