Posts Tagged ‘special effect photography’

Which Contemporary Artist is Best to Buy and Most Likely to Increase in Value?

July 31, 2012

Considering buying a picture by a Contemporary artist and you want a far less expensive work than a Picasso, or an Andy Warholl, but let us admit you also want it to be a good investment. You really are hoping that your chosen artist might well be discovered big time and suddenly be worth many more times what you paid and preferably sooner than later! So what should you be looking for?

In times when currencies are at risk and the stock market fails to do well, the chances of success(by choosing the right artist) are far better than those with the Lottery!

By being careful about what you buy and in choosing the right artist, although there is always an element of risk, the chances of losing any value are minimal.

Whilst I am not making any claims to be any kind of expert, I have been a keen successful collector for many years of various art forms and antiques that have mostly increased greatly in value. I do hope that by sharing with you my instincts that these will prove to be of some help to you. Obviously, just in case the picture you end up choosing, doesn’t jump up tremendously in value, it is most important that you really like your choice, so that at least you will enjoy living with it.

Your choice of picture says something about you, so what sort of picture should you look for? Here are a couple of my suggestions of how to begin the selection process: –

  • Firstly look for something artistic that you find attractive and beautiful, preferably a picture you feel sure your friends will admire and comment on.
  • It is best to choose an inspiring picture, that makes a statement, or that has something fascinating about it.
  • Then do some research on the artist.

Be very wary of all the hype, art critics and so-called experts who claim to know everything. These days you can search on the Internet and no longer be restricted to the local Galleries, you can search and find art from all over the world without leaving home. This means you can view the pictures you like and avoid all the sales talk. But how should you consider your choice of artist, if you want to have the best chance of your artist becoming suddenly famous and priceless? To have any such chance of succeeding your artist: –

  • Needs to have developed a recognisable different style, or show exceptional original creativity.
  • Should have already created a reasonable number of works that demonstrate a consistent style and originality.
  • Should already have received some recognition, from having held several important one-man exhibitions and received already some worthwhile press, or write-ups.

In the past the artists that eventually become the most sought after, are those that created their own style, where they were the first to do something original, or different, and they made use of it consistently to best advantage. Some sadly, would also add choose someone old, rather than young, as so often artworks tend to be far more appreciated soon after the artist has died.

Of the painters, at the moment I am favouring Sir Bernard Fleetwood Walker R.A. because he has a style of his own that has not yet been fully appreciated. My personal view is Sir William Russell Flint R.A. painted wonderful watercolours and although they are already highly valued, I still think they will continue to increase in value.

I am not aware of any really great changes in painting that are sure of success. There are some who make use of spray paints and I have seen a few unusual textures where cement and sand have been used mixed with the paints. There are pictures created in three dimensions by layering cut out prints, stuck closely on top of each other, there are small boxed frames filled with carefully chosen objects as pictures, there are paintings embellished with Swarovski crystals, or small mirrors and other materials, also there have been mixed media pictures making use of all sorts of materials to form an image. But although different, I do not see many of these as ever being considered as great art works, it is really a matter of hunting for only the most exceptional examples, if any of these techniques appeal to you.

PHOTOGRAPHY
But the most dramatic and exciting changes have been with photography! Photography is now a valued art form, as are limited edition prints (providing the edition number is not too large – should be well under 50). So what is new?

Thanks to digital imaging there are now computer-generated pictures, such as ‘fractals’. But as the computer made them, rather than the artist, I doubt that they will ever be highly valued. With computer manipulation, mixed blended images that were never possible before, can now be created, these artists should be studied.

I have seen some graffiti light painting pictures that are rather different. The new computer HDR(high dynamic range) images that provide a much greater range of definition at different light intensity levels are also impressive and can be very atmospheric (far more so than ever before).

But what matters most is the end result; it is the picture that counts, the artistic vision is so much more important than the technique.

Having said that, certain photographic pictures could only be achieved because of the technique. As an example, there is a unique technique that involves photographing projected images that have been projected on to other objects. This has successfully been used to create some very interesting and quite different pictures.

I believe that if you follow my guidelines, you will find pictures worth buying that really could prove to be a great investment.

Good Luck with your hunt, hoping you enjoy the search and that you do find a winner.

The author has been a very keen Asian antique collector for many years helping to create ‘The Cohen Collection’ but he is also an artist.  For much more information with lots of photographs seehis limited editions of only 8 of each picture (up to 60” or 150cm longest side!) at: –
http://www.artist-john-cohen.net

You can also be kept informed on John N. Cohen’s ‘Painting with Light’ Facebook Fan page
http://en-gb.facebook.com/pages/Painting-With-Light/208903157734

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A very unusual use of Kodachrome

July 29, 2010

‘Painting with light’ is a term often used by photographers.  But John N. Cohen used his own invented form of ‘Painting with light’ (a very different and original ‘special effect’ technique), without any computer, to create his international award winning transparencies.

One of his top award winning pictures was titled ‘Spirit of Spring’, this was the first ever picture (it was taken on Kodachrome transparency film) that included both a negative of a tulip and a positive image of a girl’s portrait, all on the same emulsion!!!

No one knew at the time, how this could be possible as it was created well before anyone had the use of computers.

This technique is pure photography on film and has nothing to do with moving lights to make light graffiti, or of lighting specific parts of a dark scene with a long exposure.  What it does involve is the photographing of projected images on to other things.

John’s free publication titled ‘The Magic Lantern’ fully describes this form of ‘Painting with Light’ and explains exactly how anyone can do it, without any computer, darkroom chemicals, or expensive equipment!

Digital camera users could also use many of his techniques as they have certain qualities that are a little different from those achievable by digital manipulation.  Please have a look at ‘The Magic Lantern’ http://www.jncohen.net/photmagi/cg030001.htm

‘Spirit of Spring’ won The London Salon Trophy in 1967; this was then the first time a colour picture was deemed worthy of this much-coveted trophy, for it had only ever been awarded before for Black and White studies.  John was also the youngest member to have won it.

Reference: Wikipedia about John’s ‘Painting With Light’
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_painting#Technique_and_equipment

There have been over 20 One-Man Exhibitions of John N. Cohen’s photography (many were sponsored by Kodak) at major venues; 2 were held in New York, 4 in London, The Edinburgh Festival and many other UK & USA Cities.

Favourable reviews and comments were received about John’s photography from; Cecil Beaton C.B.E., Sir William Russell Flint R.A., Lady Clementine Spencer-Churchill, Sir George F. Pollock Bt., M.A., F.R.P.S., F.R.S.A., ‘The Times’ and ‘Arts Review’ to name a few!

A very different form of ‘Painting with Light’

July 29, 2010

‘Painting with light’ is a term often used by photographers.  But John N. Cohen used his own invented form of ‘Painting with light’ (a very different and original ‘special effect’ technique), without any computer, to create his international award winning transparencies.

One of his top award winning pictures was titled ‘Spirit of Spring’, this was the first ever picture (it was taken on Kodachrome transparency film) that included both a negative of a tulip and a positive image of a girl’s portrait, all on the same emulsion!!!

No one knew at the time, how this could be possible as it was created well before anyone had the use of computers.

This technique is pure photography on film and has nothing to do with moving lights to make light graffiti, or of lighting specific parts of a dark scene with a long exposure.  What it does involve is the photographing of projected images on to other things.

John’s free publication titled ‘The Magic Lantern’ fully describes this form of ‘Painting with Light’ and explains exactly how anyone can do it, without any computer, darkroom chemicals, or expensive equipment!

Digital camera users could also use many of his techniques as they have certain qualities that are a little different from those achievable by digital manipulation.  Please have a look at ‘The Magic Lantern’ http://www.jncohen.net/photmagi/cg030001.htm

‘Spirit of Spring’ won The London Salon Trophy in 1967; this was then the first time a colour picture was deemed worthy of this much-coveted trophy, for it had only ever been awarded before for Black and White studies.  John was also the youngest member to have won it.

Reference: Wikipedia about John’s ‘Painting With Light’
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_painting#Technique_and_equipment

There have been over 20 One-Man Exhibitions of John N. Cohen’s photography (many were sponsored by Kodak) at major venues; 2 were held in New York, 4 in London, The Edinburgh Festival and many other UK & USA Cities.

Favourable reviews and comments were received about John’s photography from; Cecil Beaton C.B.E., Sir William Russell Flint R.A., Lady Clementine Spencer-Churchill, Sir George F. Pollock Bt., M.A., F.R.P.S., F.R.S.A., ‘The Times’ and ‘Arts Review’ to name a few!

Inspired Accidents Whilst Painting With Light

February 9, 2010

Photography was just a hobby, but a very successful hobby, as John Cohen won the most important international awards and attracted the attention of Cecil Beaton C.B.E., Sir William Russell Flint R.A., Sir George F. Pollock Bt., M.A., and Lady Clementine Spencer Churchill amongst others.

Painting with light is all about photographing projected images that surprisingly are not often projected on to a screen.  John discovered the projector really is a ‘magic lantern’!  Computers and digital images were unknown at the time when some of his finest pictures were created over 40 years ago.  Yet they have stood up to the test of time and are still considered exceptional, making quite a statement!

It was by chance, seeing an image projected, partly on the curtains and wallpaper that started this unique art form.  By moving the projector and focusing on to other objects, noting how they distorted the image and influenced the texture and shape, led to the idea of photographing what could be seen.  Then by adding more projectors he was also able to blend different images too and so ‘painting with light’ began.

John started with an idea and experimented with various images, but sometimes something unforeseen happened, that sent him down a totally fresh route to create a very different picture than were originally planned, it is these ‘inspired accidents’ that have since turned out to be his very best works.

The London Salon Trophy
The first time this much coveted International artistic photography trophy had ever been awarded for a colour photograph was in 1967. Presented to John N. Cohen for his creation ‘Spirit of Spring’ he was also the youngest salon member ever to have received it. ‘Spirit of Spring’ was created by his own technique of ‘painting with light’ that enabled him to blend a portrait transparency with a negative of a tulip on the same emulsion. This technique involved photographing projected images that were not always projected on to a screen.

He subsequently had over 20 One-Man Exhibitions of his photography (some were sponsored by Kodak) 2 held in New York, 4 in London, The Edinburgh Festival and many other UK & USA Cities.

He received favourable reviews and comments in ‘The Times’, ‘Arts Review’, many other newspapers and photographic magazines.

His original ‘Painting With Light’ pictures intrigue and make quite a statement!  Now his pictures are just becoming available for sale as limited editions.

“Indeed, since the photographic image is made by the action of light, truth to light is truth to the medium of photography! All John Cohen’s photographs are made, simply and solely, by the use of light. His magic is the magic of the luminous, his poetry is that of the chiaroscuro. The attractions of his work is all the greater for the purity of the photographic technique, and its appeal all the more universal for being couched in an imagery common to all men and intelligible to all.” Sir George F. Pollock Bt., M.A., F.R.P.S., F.R.S.A.

John uses ‘painting with light’ (rather than computer manipulation) to express ideas, or thoughts, rather than reality.

A free fully described article ‘The Magic Lantern’ of how to do it is available.

FOR MUCH MORE INFORMATION: –
John N. Cohen’s website
John N. Cohen’s contact details
Reviews and Exhibitions
Sir George Pollock Introduction
John N. Cohen’s pictures
Facebook Fan Page

Free Course – Pure Photographic ‘Special Effects’ Without A Computer Or A Darkroom!

November 20, 2009

The following is just the text from the free course on ‘special effect’ photography – THE MAGIC LANTERN available at http://www.jncohen.net/photmagi/actual.html

It was the accidental chance projection of a slide, without having the screen in place that resulted in a portrait appearing partly on some fabric and partly on the wallpaper.  The curved fabric distorted the image and when the picture was clearly focussed the weave and texture of the materials forming a type of screen became part of the portrait.  This was sufficiently intriguing to leave the projection as it was and to study the possibilities of this occurrence.

If this effect could be photographed, then one can photograph projected images on other textures or even on other objects.  This proved to be the basic approach to gain full control of all images.  Providing a completely new way of superimposing and controlling every aspect of photographs.  Obviously if one can see it, one can photograph it!

The projector however offers so many more possibilities than the darkroom enlarger to create pictures.   Take any image on any film; it is just as easy to project negatives or transparencies in colour or black and white on to whatever is desired.  Consider the potential when projecting an image on to; fabrics (not always flat), textures, or even on to other objects, then try bouncing the projected photograph off a reflective surface and focus it on to a screen, or have a look at what happens if a crystal is placed near to the projector lens (behind the lens as well as in front).  Colour filters can be used, or parts of the image can be masked (again compare the results obtained in front, as against behind, the projector lens).

With more than one projector it is possible to combine and superimpose with perfect control more than one image.  By projecting these images, one on top of the other, and then masking away the overlapping parts of each image, that are no longer required, a totally new picture can be formed.

These are the basic principles, the projector provides all the magic, and such is the diversity that can be achieved with it.  The older types of projectors are better than the modern automatic ones, because it is easier to gain access to the space behind the lens. An important advantage with these techniques – so one should look out for cheap second hand ones!

Adding Texture
The easiest way to begin is to experiment with the projected image, try projecting a favourite portrait on to a selection of textured surfaces, to be used as a screen.  An enormous variety of textures are possible to use, they do not always need to be white, nor do they always need to be flat.

There is likely to be an element of distortion, as it is not possible to have the camera lens in exact alignment with the projector, but do not worry about this yet, distortion can be useful as described later.

The use of a texture in portrait work is particularly attractive, some of the beauty and character found in painted portraits is lacking in photographs.  But the realism of the photograph becomes more abstract simply by adding a texture and this can bring out more expression or character than was evident before.  This does not mean that one is copying paintings as totally different images are created from those ever painted, but that this abstract quality that so enriches portraits, can also apply to photographs.

Distortions
The only way of avoiding distortion is to project square on to the choice of screen and to photograph the image with a plate camera. Then one can correct the angle of view with the lens movements as used for architecture or perspective correction.

However, more often than not, distortion can be a very interesting effect if used carefully.  It can even be a very dramatic tool.  Any image can easily be elongated and stretched, or squashed and made wider. It just depends on the angle of the projector, or the camera, to the screen.

Reflections
So far it has been shown how an image can be influenced by; the addition of a texture, the effect of distortion, the use of colour filtration, and the use of negatives or black and white films.

Another fascinating way of manipulating a projected image is to consider reflections.  The principle involved is basically to photograph a projected image as seen in a mirror, or bounced off a mirror.  But instead of using a mirror, there are many other options.  Try a piece of acetate film as this material allows one to bend or twist it, and so distort the image seen, by forming a flexible mirror.

There are two quite different effects achievable even with the flexible mirror in a fixed position and the same image projected.  The first method is to project the image on to a screen and to photograph the reflection seen.  The other is to project the image into the flexible mirror, so that it bounces off it, on to the screen; it is this new image that is then to be photographed.

There are many reflecting surfaces that can be used.  They do not always need to be smooth, a highly polished old silver cigarette case, with a machine finished pattern as an over all design, has been used to advantage.

All photographs including those techniques already described can be made into patterns rather like a kaleidoscope by the use of mirrors.  By positioning mirrors at right angles to each other, with the image projected on to a choice of screen in such a way, that the reflections are repeated in the mirrors will then form a pattern that can be photographed.  The possibilities of scale and size are no problem when projecting images, the biggest building in the world can easily be projected between a couple of small mirrors or on to a small object!

Crystal Patterns
Spectacular patterns can be created by the use of crystals or prisms.  Apart from the special effect types available for use on the camera, remember these can be used with the projector too, it is also interesting to use old crystals designed to form a chandelier.

Experiment with different crystals placed in front of the projector lens, not always square on, and see how the image scatters according to the cut.  The best results are often found to be with a fairly small image within the transparency frame.

Quite a different pattern will be formed, by moving the crystal behind the lens.  Obviously as these crystals are not optically perfect, the projected image will lose some definition, but it can still be useful as a background image.

Colour, Black And White Or Negative Images
Photography has the advantage of instantly reproducing an image in a number of ways. Just by the selection of film the image can be in black and white, colour or in either of these choices it could also be in negative form.  All these can be projected!

Negatives can be unusually beautiful in themselves and they should not just be regarded as the means of obtaining a print.  The choice of projected images should not be restricted to transparencies but include film in all its forms.  Black and white images positives or negatives can be projected and used. Colour can still then easily be added to the black and white projected images by the choice of screen, as well as by the introduction of colour filters.

Filters
Many filters are available for the camera, and these can be used with the projector too.  But any bits of coloured cellophane can also be used with the projector.  There are hundreds of colours easily available, as one only needs such small pieces.

Even if they are not optically of use with the camera, if used between the projector condenser lens, and the film, they can influence the colour of the projected image, without any optical problems.  With care it is also possible to change the colours of specific parts of the projected image.

Make Your Subject The Screen
It is not difficult to move on to other objects that can do more than just act as a screen.  These are items that become an important part of the subject of the new photograph just as essential as the projected image.

For example an original portrait was projected on to a clamshell, amongst other shells, and the contours of the shell influenced the projected image.  With careful masking using a diffused mask behind the lens, allowed light to illuminate other parts of the scene too.

There are a number of other objects that have been used in this way; a butterfly with a river scene, an orchid, a ball of wool and a Siamese cat, a coin, or a decaying holly leaf.

Even a highly reflective surface can be used such as coins.  The camera was directly in front of the top coin, so that the projected image from the projector was to the left of the camera.  This meant that the camera lens avoided the very bright reflection.  Even the edges of the pages of a book have been used.

It can be fascinating to take your projector for a walk!  Use an extension lead and just project a selection of slides on to everything in sight.  By focusing on to a wide range of objects, you will be able to see what happens – expect to be surprised at some of the possibilities that will no doubt come to light!

Masking
Masking is best achieved by using black card that is stiff enough to stay upright; yet is easily cut into whatever shape is required.  It works well in front or behind the projector lens.  If masking in front of the lens it will quickly become apparent that the nearer to the screen the mask is placed, the sharper the shadow cast.  The ideal is to always use a soft edge shadow so the mask will not be very far forward of the lens.

If it is possible to work behind the lens, then the nearer to the film, the sharper the shadows edge will be.  It is then simple to perfectly blend different images when working with more than one projector.

There have been times when instead of masking with black card a transparent opaque plastic has been preferred, this avoids a black shadow forming, especially if the second projection is not adding much in that particular area.  Tracing paper has been effective for this purpose normally placed behind the lens near to the film.

Before considering a second projector, with just one, there are now an amazing amount of possibilities that can be achieved with the projected image.  However with two projectors the additional special effects are quite sensational.

Double exposure – With the Magic Lantern
The first option with the projector is to mount two pieces of film, sandwiched in the same mount, and project the combined images on to a screen.  By focusing on one of the images, the one in true focus will dominate and soften the other.  Much depends on the slide carrier used, but if there is room to insert more than two mounts in to the carrier, then the more space between the two films the greater the effect of one image dominating the other.  Should both images need to be in focus then the closer they are to each other the better.

When sandwiching films in this manner it is possible to insert one or the other upside down, on its side, or the other way round.  But there is little more opportunity with this technique of controlling the end result, so it is only a little bit better than double exposure as at least one can see what the result looks like first.

Two Projectors
This method involves using two projectors, but one has then an exciting way of blending any two previously created pictures, with far more control!

The technique is simple; just project both images separately on to the same choice of screen.  However, these images can now be positioned whichever way one might wish, one image could be much larger than the other, or by masking parts of each image, a different blend of the two pictures can be created.    This is how any parts, of any picture, can be blended together and all the time one can see exactly what is to be photographed.

Ideally, two identical projectors should be used, if possible with zoom lenses.  Should this prove impractical then variations in performance of the second projector can be allowed for, by masking the brighter of the two, just in front of the lens to achieve the same brilliance from both projectors.

To enhance the quality of the results one can achieve with this technique, there is an advantage in obtaining a screen designed for rear projection.

Image Blending
Once the full potential of using two projectors is realised, there will be a need for quite different types of images, these are what are referred to as background shots, in the advertising world.  A completely new stock of photographs will have to be taken, with blending potential in mind, no matter how many pictures are available from the past.

Now each image can be simply modified:  The brightness of one image, as against the other, can be controlled.  By masking and shading just parts, of each image, can be blended.  Colours of certain areas can be altered with filters.  The position of each image, relative to each other, can be adjusted.  Or even the size, of one image as against the other, can easily be altered.  One of the images could be distorted, reflected, or be changed in to a pattern by the use of a crystal.  The possibilities are quite staggering!

Best of all, the combined images are there to be seen all the time, until the desired result is formed. There is no need to rely on guesswork, as so many other special effects seem to demand, with these methods so no film really should ever be wasted.

With two projectors it becomes possible to mix film effects together in a way not possible before. It is so easy to blend negative images with transparencies, in colour or black and white.  Instead of transparencies in both projectors, one of them could be projecting a black and white negative or a colour negative just as easily.

Plate 3
‘Spirit of Spring’ is a well-known award winning study that won much acclaim for the author.  This transparency of a portrait was projected over; a second projected colour negative image of a red tulip.  A variation of this concept (plate 59 Poetic portfolio) is where another profile of Susan was blended with a colour negative of the centre of a tulip.  (See this and other photos in the author’s ‘Poetic portfolio’ at http://www.jncohen.net).

More projectors
There are no reasons why more than two images should not be projected all at once, providing the projectors are available.

There have been a number of occasions when four projectors were in use together.  However three have been the most that have normally been used, with the fourth one occasionally; simply projecting the author’s signature in to the scene.

Rear Projection
There are some valuable advantages in having a rear projection screen especially when owning more than one projector.  The first advantage that comes to mind, after the obvious one of avoiding distortion, with at least one of the images, is the opportunity to add a light coloured background when photographing projected images on to other objects.

Should the rear projection screen simply be used to provide a background scene, often expected to be in a softer focus, an expensive screen is then not needed.  Even tracing paper will do!

Inspired Accidents
Hoping that readers having reached this far will agree that the possibilities described, offer photographers working in colour so much more than simply recording reality.  Trusting readers will also agree that this form of photography really justifies recognition in the art world, as it has certain qualities that are quite unlike those of any other media.

This has been published with the hope that photographers will not just create strange pictures or gimmickry, but produce works of true artistic merit.

The most satisfying time spent is without doubt in the creation of the work.  Frequently regardless of the medium used, if an artist is truthful, the end result obtained is not always exactly as initially conceived.

Often the author has decided on a theme, or it could be just a thought about a pattern or composition that exists in the mind, in an abstract way, as yet unexpressed.  Perhaps the last portrait taken inspires the desire to do more with it.  Whilst considering and projecting certain images, to blend with such a portrait, something can suddenly be seen that fires the imagination.

At other times an idea occurs and a clearly defined image forms in the mind.  However, whilst trying to create this picture, it is not so unusual that one strays across a certain amount of accidental inspiration. This can be the chance blending of two images in a way never thought of before, that looks just too good to ignore!  The best thing to do then is to be prepared to change direction, and pursue the new study, rather than the original concept.  The first attempted creation can always be tried again later on.

The excitement and pleasure one feels when inspired in this way is hard to describe.  So even if one starts with just a vague concept, it is worth spending some time experimenting.  Think of it as being the stage where the artist is selecting and mixing the paints on his palette, still unsure of what he might paint, but just feeling the need to make a start.  Whilst thinking of the various possibilities, surprising relationships can develop, that might well become the basis of the final picture.  It is only really by actually making a start that you create the opportunity for something exciting to happen.

For those preferring pure photography, rather than digital manipulation, this is an exciting technique that anyone can do with very inexpensive equipment. The projector is all that is required (the magic lantern) is really magical!  A free course by an international award winning photographer.

“…regarded as one of Britain’s most original photographers.”   The Times

“To Cohen, the impossible in colour merely takes a little longer…”   Photography Year Book

Painting With Light

November 19, 2009

Painting with light’ is a term used by photographers and these techniques are described, but a top international award-winning photographer, John Cohen, has created his own ‘special effect’ techniques without any darkroom or computer.  This really is a unique way of ‘Painting With Light’!


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