Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Traditional Nature Morte


I. The traditional Still Life, or Nature Morte

Since all the best images of famous examples are copyright, and this project began as exploration of the abilities of small, one-piece digital cameras, my friends have joined in this exploration and the entries may be seen in https://picasaweb.google.com/102498681030579488308/NATUREMORTE.
The initials or other chosen designation of each photographer is given here as in the Album.
We all found present-day equivalents true to the tradition without simply imitating the appearance of a Chardin, for example.
bw

Like a 17th-century Nature Morte, this new photographic one makes full use of composition in terms of light as well as shapes to create a unified Still Life.  The textures of pressed cardboard and paper towels draw attention to the the variety of smooth surfaces, and one metal lid refers to the metal foil.  The more you look, the more you notice the considerations that make it coherent and interesting.
ms: see her remarks in album
Perfectly true to Nature Morte, though also more interesting than oranges per se, here transparency and reflections work wonders.
pl: the best the small camera could do so far
Who would guess (I didn't) that a quartered orange could outdo the quartz?  The translucent rocks demand perfect focus throughout; when you zoom, you need more time and (handheld) may move, but with wide angle the compactness of the group is compromised:
pl: max wide angle
Like the whole mantelpiece, this is no longer really in the spirit of a still life.  Here I learned the limitations of using the Nikon S9100 according to my own rules!

Some of the purest Still Life is very simple, with only two or three objects (or even one):
bw
Some of us keep things that we like placed appropriately, but given a little light, noticed at the right time of day, things that are much less than objects of delectation can become Still Life in a photo.  As Robert Doisneau said of wet streets, they are better objects for photography than for painting:
pl
And a single crab, considered from a good vantage point, can become new, too:
anon
Denise, who is so good at seeing the abstract qualities in the ordinary, is also skilled in getting the most out of the chip and lens of a tiny Nikon S6000:
denise
The line between the simple Nature Morte and the use of a camera to abstract in the terms of early Modern art is hard to draw. 
For a beginning, enjoy these straight photographs of simple things, seen and framed in terms of the long tradition of the Nature Morte, to be enjoyed visually as such.  The more you look at them, the more you see.