Thursday, September 24, 2015

A peek behind the curtains

Greetings Everyone and Happy Equinox!

  I've been working very hard the past few weeks to catch up from my computer crash and also to finish up with my submissions for the next Amber Lotus calendar project. I had a lot of images to prepare for them and with my computer glitches everything got pushed way back into a corner. But the log-jam is coming untangled and I'm pleased to say that they were very excited about the new images I just submitted.

  Also, I've not been able to talk too much about a big new project that is on the horizon as we were working thru the details, but soon I'll have a nice announcement to stay tuned!

On one of my little forays into the forest this past month, I decided to try and document the process of how one of these little houses gets made. Some people love these "behind the scenes" reveals, and others don't want to know who the magic is done. So if you are a person who prefers to just see the images I make and enjoy them for what they are in that moment and if knowing how the image gets constructed will detract from your joy, then this post may not be for you! 

  What I would like to show/share is a simple series of images that show the progression of how I do one of these installations. Here we go!

I had spotted a tree near my house that had three lovely shelf-fungi growing out of the trunk. I had been watching over the course of several months to see if the light would ever reach the trunk and give a nice splash of sunshine to the spot. Finally, as late summer arrived I saw my chance had arrived. Here is the tree:
 As you can see the tree is mostly in shadow at this time. So I adjusted my camera to make a better image:

Then I  brought in the pieces I had pre-made to fit onto these two shelf fungi. I had wanted to use the tiny 3rd fungus that is to the far left, but I knew that whatever I put there was going to be in strong shadow so it was unlikely to show up well in any photo, so instead I chose to build only on the two larger shelves. I began by setting the top and bottom pieces into position and making sure they were going to fit.

The main body of this house is made of moss only over a light twig frame. I wanted a second door for the lower shelf so I made a mossy landing pad to lead up to the lower door. I tried several variations before I got the door to a place where I liked how it looked. In the photo above you can see that the door is covering over a bit of the vine that was already growing on the tree. This was not a good placement, so I centered it a bit more and liked that much better.
I had picked some hosta leaves from my garden that were particularly bright. Since I knew the setting was in a dark-ish forest, I chose the brighter leaves for better contrast. They were pinned to the twig frame and to the tree bark using Hawthorne thorns. This anchored the house to the tree trunk for stability.  

Next came the fun part! There were other Hosta plants that were in full bloom with very large and fragrant trumpet-shaped blossoms. I had always wanted to use these blossoms in a piece and here was my chance!

I also some Fuschia blossoms that I wanted to add as well as some tiny Lobelia flowers just because I love the intense blue color. All got added at this time. Now the whole thing was coming together but as you can also see, the bright sunlight made getting good photos problematic. Also, because the flowers were not in water and the day was warm, I knew I had a limited amount of time to get the shots I needed.

I made some subtle adjustments from the image above.... can you spot them? The camera has not was on a tripod. Also, as often happens in the forest, the bright spot of sunlight has now moved off the house and the camera is not so overwhelmed with the direct sun. However, it also looks a bit "flat" without any sun... now I waited for what I hoped would be the magical moment... 

and here it comes... first it hit the roof and side edge of the mossy house...I kept taking photos as a little sliver of sun crept down the side of the main tree and illuminated the right side of the image.

I really liked how the  sunlight amplified the bark texture and highlighted the vines which were on the right side of the tree. 

I kept shooting as the sun slid up the trunk and created more interesting effects. You can see that I have shifted the camera's position slightly in this image to try and better capture the sun-drenched areas in the image. It is very challenging shooting in situations like this as the camera does not "see" as well as our eyes do. But I've learned to shoot at multiple exposures and then adjust the images so that we get the light-filled spaces and the dark shadowy ones full of rich details. For this house, the actual shooting time went very quickly and lasted only a couple of minutes but preparing the house before and processing the images afterwards took many days.
  After the shoot was over I took everything apart and arranged all the biodegradable materials as an offering to the forest.

I also got my supervisor to wake up and we headed back to the house for a well-earned cup of tea. 

When I got home, I processed the images and here is the final result. Please keep in mind the image is low resolution for easier viewing.
I hope you've enjoyed this little peek behind the curtains of how I make some of my images!

Have a great week-end!

1 comment:

Marili Deandrea said...

This is really lovely!
Kisses to your supervisor!


Welcome to the enchanted world of Environmental art and Faerie Houses sculptures created by Sally J Smith. Here you will find photos of the artist's unique art-forms and hear some of the stories from behind the scenes as she shares with you her creative process.