Sunday, February 28, 2016

"Behold... the Aurora Borealis"

Just wanted to start off the New Year's on an auspicious note.
Cheers everybody.

This cartoon ties in with another, posted below, that I really didn't have the heart to submit as a legitimate panel, as it's in the same league as "a polar bear in a snowstorm" (aka the white panel):

"What with the all the recent geomagnetic solar storms + coronal mass ejections (pardon) happening in our hemisphere, thought I’d take a stab at capturing the magnificence of the Northern Lights with my own gear. Stayed up all night too, but it was totally worth it. Shot with a humble iPhone w/minimal Photoshop tweak using basic Auto settings. Notice the composition of intersecting foreground elements aligned along the horizontal axis of the Golden Section. This also serves to enhance depth of field, and I think the subtle undertones of muted greens + pinks really ties it together too."

And I was stymied by an error window that kept popping up every time I tried to upload the image - must be something about posting all that solid black or something.

But seriously, it's a gentle poke at a common concern bandied about by photographers:

“A photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said ‘I love your pictures – they’re wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.’
He said nothing until dinner was finished, then:
‘That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove.'”

One of the sublime pleasures of being an artist is geeking out on gear. It's not elitist to have a nerdgasm over some spiffy tech (or technique), be it old or new. This is always tempered by recognizing the inherent value of so-called amateur efforts: "serious" aesthetic criteria and issues with craftsmanship has its time + place, and is just as fun as taking the simple pleasures of making art free from analysis and deconstruction. Take comics for example: the breadth + depth of the medium illustrates the variety of skill - it's part of what makes it so awesome, the sheer diversity of styles, the individuality in every work, and the range of different abilities on display from each creator. And you don't need complicated or expensive tools, or any training, or experience either. Anyone can do it, and everyone should. Make Art.

Back to the aurora: I find myself, like with most artforms, overly critical when it comes to the continual flood of the usual epic moneyshots of the Northern Lights that inevitable start to fill up the feeds during the winter. It's a signature byproduct of living in Alaska where we tend to get treated with endless imagery of just how damn heroic everything is up here. That being said, I personally tend to get jaded at the constant reminders of what a wonderful thing the aurora is, which is terrible, as it's simply one of the most spectacular things to witness and an experience we are supremely lucky to have right outside the back door, even while driving around on errands or in the outhouse. Then again, there's only so many pictures of, say for example, Denali that one can see without starting to glaze over. Or to use another case, cop a ho-hum attitude over seeing yet another magnificent moose, which the sight of would fill any visitor with awe and excitement. Meanwhile a local would be like "Dammit hurry up and get outta the way I'm late for work."

©2016 Mariska Wright - Image courtesy of the artist

Now in contrast to the stock centerfolds of the Northern Lights, here's an image that captures subtle nuance by including an environmental context that I personally find far more visually intriguing and aesthetically interesting than the usual photographs of just the lights alone. It's paradoxically more revealing and insightful to see the interplay and/or contrast between the aurora and other elements in the composition. An argument could be made that it's analogous to the difference between pornography versus erotica: one shows everything, the other doesn't need to.
Outstanding shot: here's links to both Mariska's Facebook page (including her enchanting and whimsical sculptures) and her Etsy shop to peruse for more.

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