Photographer's Note


I started painting as a child, long before I owned my first camera, and I have long known that in a sunset, the colors can be far more compelling on the side across from the setting sun, rather than on the side of the sun. The view is of the Atlantic, looking East toward Europe, with the sunset behind me. This reflects the technique of the great landscape painters of the Dutch Golden Age, especially Meindert Hobbema (1638-1709) and Hobbema’s teacher, Jacob van Ruesdael (1628-1682), with rolling clouds illuminated by a setting sun, and the sun nowhere to be seen. I am convinced that as photographers, we can all learn from the great painters. Anyone who is a student of photography should visit a good art gallery where classic paintings, especially from the 19th century and earlier, are on display. The painter, having to work with a medium much slower than a camera, has to deliberate on the elements of perspective, composition, light and shadows… even longer than the photographer.

This photograph was taken last weekend in Miami, where my family had converged in order to celebrate the life of my uncle who had passed away last July. Thus it was a time of excrutiating ambivalence — seeing the family was wonderful, but the absence of a significant member was painful. Although he was my uncle, he was only 2 ½ years older than I, and we had grown up like brothers. Miami, where Jeff lived, is famous for its polyglot society and immense economic clout, is relatively young city. With its metro area it grew from just over one thousand residents to nearly five and a half million in just 111 years (1896-2007).

A well known asset of the region is its tropical climate. During the winter, the weather report on television each evening will list a sampling of temperatures around the country — Anchorage -20°F (-29°C); New York: 32° F (0°C); Minneapolis 0° F (-18°C); Washington, DC 35°F (2°C) — while showing a background of palm trees swaying in the Florida breeze. It does, however, pay for the seductive weather by occasionally hosting hurricanes with innocent sounding names — Ethel, Andrew, Hazel, Ernesto... The dark shadow at the top is the overhanging part of a thatched roof of a shed.

Nikon D-70, 18-70 mm Nikkor lens with a circular polarizing filter. ISO 200; Tripod. I could have made it lighter, but I was after the look of a painting. My friend Rob Zwemmer (alvaraalto) from the Netherlands wrote the names of two other Dutch painters you might want to check out. Many thanks Rob.

I recently created a new group theme, Symphonies in Color, adding this photo into the collection. The expression, "A symphony of colors," is the way the great Expressionist painter Vincent van Gogh, in a letter to his brother Théo, described the works of French landscape artist Jules Dupré (1811-1889). Van Gogh's words are also appropriate in describing the still life depicted here. I welcome other TE members to add to the theme.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6774 W: 470 N: 12149] (41261)
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