Friday 29 June 2018

Artistic Dilemma: To Pose or Not to Pose

A posed shot from 2013. Note the triangular composition. Models: Emma and Ida Stranne

When I started with photography I tried to learn as much as I could from other photographers. I read photography books by the masters, I took every opportunity I could to make friends with other photographers.

It worked! I did build basic skills. Because I built the same skill set that everyone else has, my pictures looked much the same as everyone elses.

This has advantages. My pictures were more popular back then than they are now. It was easier to discuss photography, because I had the same frame of reference as the photographers I met.

Superheroes Against Cancer, 2013
If my photos had a distinguishing feature, it was the subject matter more than the style.

As I learned more, I began experimenting with light, the way many photographers do. Here too, I ended up with the usual techniques for creating High Key and Low Key photos, and wide range in between the extremes.

As my skills grew, I wanted to incorporate my other interests into my photography.

For example, I am interested in Science-Fiction, and I read a lot of comics when I was younger, so the next logical step was...
From the graphic novel A Rift in Time create one with some of my friends. There were eight of us, and we had a blast. It took more than 15 months, but we actually did get A Rift in Time published.

There is one crucial thing comic book artists do differently from photographers and painters: Posing!

Comic book characters are usually shown in real life poses, like when they are walking, and talking. In many comics there is also a lot of fighting. Thus, comic book artists are great at showing motion.

They tend to have a greater range of compositional tools at their disposal than photographers, but in my view, the real gamechanger is the idea that you can capture motion in a still frame. Closely related to that, is the idea that characters should look and behave naturally, instead of posing for an observer.

Elinor and the T-Rex, 2017 Model: Noor Model Noor
Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with traditional model poses. It is just that there should be room for more than that.

If all model photos use a small range of poses, compositions, etc, then they will become boring. Each new photo will contribute to making both itself, and the photos taken before it, less interesting.

Add a little inspiration from a genre outside traditional photography, and suddenly you can make something fresh and different again.

Elinor and the T-Rex, with the model Noor Model Noor, was inspired by Fantasy and Science-Fiction Artist Joe Jusko's painting Inferno. (Take a look! It is worth it. Joe Jusko is a great artist.)

You may notice the presence of compositional devices, like leading lines, but there is nothing resembling a traditional model pose in the picture.

Jungle Moon, December 2017

When I got interested in creating Fine Art Nudes, at first, it was back to posing again. The reason was that I consciously imitated some of my favorite artists.

Jungle Moon above was based on one of my favorite paintings by Frank Frazetta. My lack of originality is intentional. When I start learning something new, I imitate. Adding something of my own comes later.

The Pit, December 2017
Creating the pictures I wanted to do photographically would have been very expensive, so I turned to a combination of 3D and digital painting. Well, digital smearing is more like it...I build pictures like a photographer would, because I can't draw or paint.

Dangerous Shadow, March 2018
I gradually refined my workflow, and incorporated ideas from fantasy art, and comics.

I also created a recurring character, Kyla. Her first appearance was in Dangerous Shadow, in March 2018. Kyla's appearance was based on Fantasy, especially the Cavewoman sub-genre of the Lost World genre. She owes a lot to Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, Budd Root, and similar artists.

However, I did change one thing, her behavior. Kyla is no damsel in distress. She rescues herself from whatever predicament she runs into, and she does it in an efficient manner, without overt posing, sexy or otherwise.

Aftermath/Blood on Her Hands, March 2018
Yep, i went to extremes in order to make a point.

I will almost certainly return to making more pictures with Kyla, but after the first half-dozen or so, I wanted to do something a bit brighter, softer, and easier to relate to for those unfortunate souls who haven't read tons of Fantasy and Science-Fiction books.

The Moon Maiden, May 2018

Back to the drawing board again. I like Gerald Brom's painting Moonlight very much, so I used it as inspiration for my own The Moon Maiden.

You may notice that while the Moon Maiden is action-free, it is back to posing again.

Gothenburg Nudes VII: Bathing Women
After fiddling around a bit with various ideas, I decided to do a series of nudes where women do their own thing, without posing, or even acknowledging, that there is an observer.

The idea was to separate nudity from objectification and sexualization, in the hope it would pave the way for appreciation.

That is pretty much where I am now. I have made nine pictures in the Gothenburg Nudes series. I have broken the rule about not acknowledging the existence of an observer once, but I have pretty much stuck to the not-posed constraint.

My main concern right now, is coming up with ideas for pictures that have stronger composition than the previous ones.

We'll see how it goes.

Gothenburg Nudes IX: Bike Ride

The picture above was inspired by a recent bike ride. My son and I went to a second hand market in the small village of Jonsered to hunt for Lego. I took the opportunity to take a few background and reference photos.

I had planned to include a picture with a bike in the Gothenburg nudes series. The one above is not what I imagined from the start, but I do think it works better.

Most of the time, I use very simple compositions based on the Rule of Thirds. It is not the only compositional rule I use, but for a photographer, who often has to compose a picture very quickly, and has limited control of what is in the frame, the Rule of Thirds can easily become the GoTo compositional tool.

In this picture, I still use the Rule of Thirds, but I have added a triangle. The sides are the woman's body, her shadow on the ground, and a part of the bicycle frame.

Triangular composition is very common in painting, but most painters use equilateral triangles. I used a right-angled triangle instead. It's less common, but it still works.

If you are interested in how I built the picture up using photos and 3D elements, check out my pictures on ArtStation.

Wednesday 27 June 2018

Gothenburg Nudes VIII: At the City Library

The Gothenburg City Library is important to me. I love books. I like the café, where I sit and work from time to time. Did I mention I love books?

So, I had to include at least one picture from the City Library in the Gothenburg Nudes series. This is the one...except, maybe it isn't.

When I work on a picture I often get ideas for more pictures. That is what happened when I worked on this one. So, maybe I'll make another City Library picture. Maybe two...

I think I need to go back to the library real soon, and see if I can come up with a couple more ideas.

Monday 25 June 2018

Gothenburg Nudes VII: Bathing Women

I am used to cloudy, windy, and rainy Gothenburg summers. This year, we are having a great summer. Thus...bright, sunny pictures to reflect my bright sunny mood.

I am getting more and more convinced I should recreate at least some of the pictures in this series with live models. It'll be interesting to study the differences.

I published a couple of these pictures in a Swedish art forum on Facebook recently. This sparked an interesting discussion on the importance of art that pushes boundaries. Depending on your point of view, a picture of nude people bathing, or engaged in other activities, is nothing especial, or it can make your brain explode. A picturecan be beautiful, unremarkable, or immoral, depending on who views it.

What art can do, is provide us with a new perspective on what is acceptable, and what is not. I see a lot of pictures, ostensibly art, that are objectifying, and that denigrate people, especially women. I want to help provide a counter-weight to that, by showing that nudity is not the same thing as objectification.

If you are interested in how this picture was created, check out ArtStation. There you will find a sequence of pictures that shows the process in a bit more detail.

Oh, if you are interested in how a painting helped change our view of sexuality, and made us a little bit more open-minded, check out this Wikipedia article about Le Sommeil, by Gustave Courbet.

Gothenburg Nudes VI: Stairway/At the end of the Tunnel

I shot the background picture for this one in a tunnel under a road in Partille. While Partille is outside Gothenburg, and technically not a part of the city, I'll let that pass.

Technically, these pictures are neither nude photos, nor nude paintings, but photo-3D-digital postprocessing-mixed-media things...language has not quite caught up to the digital techniques yet.

Moving back a bit, we can see that the stairs are at the end of a tunnel.

I haven't quite decided whether to use both versions in the final version of the series, or both.

Gothenburg Nudes V: At the Stone Pier

This picture is different from the previous pictures in the series. The woman in the picture looks straight at the observer.

When I first looked at the finished result, I thought this was a mistake. The reason is that I want to avoid the impression that she is there for the sake of anyone other than herself.

I haven't quite decided yet whether to keep this one or not. To some extent, it depends on how the rest of the series works out.

Monday 4 June 2018

Gothenburg Nudes IV: Volleyball

As I gain confidence creating nude art (, well, I may be a bit generous to myself, calling my pictures "art", still, I try,) I want to integrate ideas from my other work into my new pictures.

One of those ideas, is to move away from static posing, and capture a moment in time when things move. Comic book artists do it extremely well, as do movie and game concept artists. Photographers and painters usually don't even try.

How do you create a picture like Volleyball?

I take walks with my camera, looking for interesting backgrounds. For the Gothenburg Nudes series, I am primarily interested in locations easily recognizable by people who live in Gothenburg. In a pinch, I'll use anything that looks like a good background for a photo though.

When I find a good background, it usually helps me figure out what the finished scene should look like. For example, I shot the background for Volleyball in a park owned by the Gothenburg Horticultural society. It's in central Gothenburg, and quite popular.

It was a sunny day, and there were lots of people sunbathing in the park. What do you do if you want to push sunbathing to the limit? You go nudist of course, so, there I had the idea for the first picture from the park, A Stroll in the Park.

The next step was to move away from a static scene. What do you do in a park, in the summer, when sunbathing gets boring? (That is, after about 10-15 seconds, if you are like me.)

You can always go for a run if you are alone, but if you want to do something with friends, why not go for volleyball?

The next step was to go to, and search for photo references. I wanted to see how volleyball players move.

Next, I set the scene up in Daz Studio. I used my photo of the park as a background in order to get the angles right in the 3D scene. When everything looked the way I wanted it to, I rendered the foreground separately, and then composited in Affinity Photo.

Compositing in Affinity Photo allowed me to match brightness, saturation, and color in the picture. I also made some minor anatomical alterations, similar to those I made when I created The Moon Maiden.

Finally, I used DAP Auto-Painter to paint the picture.

When I worked on Volleyball I got a couple more picture ideas. Today, I took a stroll in the Gothenburg harbour, and got a couple more photos, and maybe an idea or two too.

Well see what happens next...

Gothenburg Nudes III: The Fountain

Have you walked through Bältespännarparken, a park in central Gothenburg, a hot summer day? Have you imagined running through the fountain in the center of the park, just to cool off?

Well, don't expect to see me doing that. I am way to shy to skinny dip in a public fountain. I might have a sip of water from the drinking fountain nearby, but that is as far as I'll go.

 This is the third picture in the Gothenburg Nudes series. If you want to see the previous pictures, and perhaps even read a bit about them, click these links:

Sunday 3 June 2018

Gothenburg Nudes II: A Stroll in the Park

After publishing Walkabout, I decided to get out a bit more, and to bring my camera. I wanted to shoot reference photos at easily recognizable locations in Gothenburg. Maybe I could turn those quite ordinary locations into something more interesting.

I have done similar things before, but mostly for Fantasy and Science-Fiction themed photos. This time, I wanted to continue exploring nude art.

While I sometimes do model shoots with traditional model poses, I usually prefer pictures with people who do not look like they are posing. I want the camera, and me, to be as unobtrusive as possible.

The same thing goes for a 3D picture or digital painting. I like people who do their own thing, without the need for approval from me or anyone else, and that shows in my pictures.

Please do not get me wrong. We all need to be appreciated, for what we do, and for who we are. I believe it is far better to find people who do appreciate you for being you, and for pursuing your interests, rather than you trying to adapt what you do and who you are to someone elses notions of what is interesting, attractive, and otherwise worthy of notice.

If you deviate from the norm in a noticeable way, you probably won't find many people who really appreciate what you are, so try to be careful to appreciate them in return. It is worth the effort. I know, both because there are people in my life whom I appreciate very much. Sadly, I have sometimes let friendships, and other relationships slip, and I am the poorer for it.

With the Gothenburg Nudes series of pictures I want to capture the feeling of just appreciation beauty, seen and imagined. I want to spice up the ordinary a bit, which is why I have chosen various locations in Gothenburg as locations for the pictures.