Monday, December 29, 2008

Vincent van Gogh - Nineteenth Century Nocturne

Many artists (yes, that includes photographers) often look outside their chosen art for inspiration. I know many photographers who look to music (especially jazz and blues) for inspiration. But let's not forget about the other visual arts, especially painting.

"It often seems to me that the night is much more alive and richly colored than the day," van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo in 1888

(The Starry Night, by Vincent van Gogh)

Van Gogh's most famous paintings include his night work The Starry Night (1889) and The Night Cafe. But an article in this month's issue of Smithsonian magazine discusses some of his other great night paintings, including The Starry Night over the Rhone. The article was published to coincide with a show dedicated to Van Gogh's night painting. According to fellow famous impressionist Pissarro, "[Van Gogh] lived at night. He didn't sleep until three or four in the morning. . . . He [often] meditated over the very rich associations that he saw in the night."

Sounds like a case of Nocturnalism to me!

(Starry Night over the Rhone, by Vincent Van Gogh)

"Van Gogh and the Colors of Night" will be on display at the New York City's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) through January 5, 2009 (that's right... it's open for one whole more week!), then it moves to Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum for four months.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Yuichi Hibi

The New York Times has a slide show and accompanying article about Yuichi Hibi, who photographed the noir side of New York City at night with a point-and-shoot camera between 1992 and 2002.

(Photo by Yuichi Hibi)

Bonnie Yochelson of the New York Times writes:

Mr. Hibi’s Manhattan has largely disappeared. “Those empty spaces, dark alleys and deserted streets are the victim of a brighter, reconstructed world that has lost its appeal for me,” he said recently in an e-mail message. “New York is beginning to resemble any other international city and has lost its edge, in spite of its breathtaking verticality.”

Sound like anyplace you know?

Take a moment to review his slide show

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More 5D Long Exposure Tests

Seattle-based night photographer Brian Chapman has posted another set of 5D MkII long exposure tests, this time all taken at night. Although this set was taken at ISO 400, underexposed, and then pushed during RAW conversion, the results are very interesting.

The source of the latest 5D MkII long exposure tests.

For more 5D MkII long exposure tests, click here and here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

FocalWare Moonrise Calculator for the iPhone

For those of you who love fancy third-party applications for your iPhone, Moose Peterson has a brief review of a new iPhone application called Focalware. This $10 app calculates moonrise, moonset, moon elevation and moon phases. They've also thrown in sunrise and sunset information for no additional cost, but I'm not sure who would want something like that :-)

It sounds like a good deal, especially if you've ever found yourself standing out in the dark and waiting for the moon to rise over the horizon, all because you forgot to check the moonrise website before you left your house.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Developing a Personal Vision

You can read endless blog posts, magazine articles and books about the importance of developing a personal vision for your artwork. While some of these articles are worthwhile, many of them leave you with the impression that the author is just as confused about the process as you are. I've only seen a handful of writings on this topic that were worth saving.

(Photo by Andy Frazer)

Recently, Mark Hobson wrote an interesting piece titled "Most Girls Just Want To Have Fun" on his Landscapist blog. This one is definitely worth saving. He gives a great example of landscape photographers who would give the same response when asked about the meaning in their photographers; "Ain't the grandeur of nature just grand."

Mark replies, "If that's as deep as your vision goes you're not exactly traveling in a rarefied circle of thought." He argues that most photographers photograph because they just want to have fun, not because they're trying to express an artistic vision that has been refined based on personal experience.

I agree with him completely. I only wish it weren't true.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Canon 5D MkII In-Camera Noise Reduction

An update for night photographers interested in the Canon 5D MkII...

Washigton-based night photographer Brian Chapman has posted an update to his long exposure tests of the Canon 5D MkII. In this update he repeated his earlier long exposure experiments, this time he shot for 15 minutes at base ISO of 100, and compared in-camera noise reduction both on and off.

Very interesting results. I think it's clear from his experiments that the Long Exposure Yucky Threshold for the 5D MkII is some point well beyond fifteen minutes.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Canon 5d MkII long exposure tests - Part 1

Seattle night photographer Brian Chapman has posted some long exposure noise tests of his Canon 5D MkII. He has not had the chance to do these tests at night, yet. But Brian is a bit of an expert on daytime long exposures, and the data should be of interest to night photographers. He compares the 5d MkII at 2 minutes, 5 minutes and 10 minutes.

Let's all pray for some clear, night weather in the Seattle, WA area so that Brian can complete the night long exposure tests.