Free Book: Drawing Portraits Post #37
Once you lay graphite on paper, you might want to remove it. If so, then an eraser used in the conventional way will work fine. However, sometimes you don't want to remove it completely. Lifting graphite rather than rubbing it away will take off the top layer or so leaving a more even and subdued result. You might then add another layer or continue to lift graphite until it looks right. You can also lift parts of a shape to mimic how values reduce as the lighting reflects across the surface. Use a kneedable eraser to do this.
pAtTeRnS and what is aRt ?
You may have a little difficulty recognizing the word "patterns" in the title of this post. Hvwoeer, tihs snetence is pborably esay to raed. So what is going on?
A friend of mine has been studying the brain. I've been helping him out with some of the maths and concepts. You can read about some of the work at http://www.associatedpatternengine.com/
We have had many thought provoking discussions about how the brain might work, and what is required to simulate the thought process of a brain.
The conventional idea seems to be that higher thought revolves around language. I used to accept this argument as it's clear that my mind is constantly 'talking' in words and sentences. But the work on pattern had convinced me that this is only a side effect. Real thought happens non verbally.
Here are some examples.
We think the answer is that a brain is a probability-driven fuzzy pattern-matching engine. Everything is made of patterns.
Professor Brian Cox has said everything around us is made of patterns. Everything is a pattern.
If everything is a pattern, we have to ask, "What is a pattern?", and this is where my contribution fits in with the project. It's not an easy question. Some people will define a pattern something like, "Elements of a set of objects which repeat in a predictable manner." But I think this is incomplete. Here are two examples where there is no predictable repetition, yet an undeniable pattern.
What this means is that a pattern in the most general terms, is a collection of objects which convey information. In my model, a tiled floor consisting of a repeated collection of shades and shapes is indeed a pattern, but this is a special case. This is a pattern which can be defined as an infinite construct yet only using a small number of symbols. The general definition of pattern also includes as a special case, non periodic tiling which can be described using a small number of symbols and a tiling algorithm.
An encrypted sentence is an interesting example because it conveys information to one person, and not to others. Therefore it is a pattern to one person, and just random stuff to others.
There are other kinds of patterns which fall into the broad definition, one of which is turbulence, and another is the Mandelbrot set.
In my definition, even the grains of sand on a beach is considered a pattern. This pattern, however although finite, is simply a very large collection of objects with no predictable repetition. There is no way to exactly predict the position, shape and color of any particular grain of sand in relation to another. Yet we all perceive a sandy beach as a sandy beach and not a cow or a tree.
In your brain, when you see the words "sandy beach", this is a two-word pattern which triggers previously experience of a sandy beach. The mental image of a beach will be unique for each person but in every case, the input pattern "sandy beach" is associated with the individual's stored pattern of a beach. This could be a visual pattern, a pattern of smells, or a pattern of how it sounds or the feel of the sand in your hands. These are then strongly associated patterns. There is an input pattern and a set of output patterns. Some input patterns are more highly associated to more and stronger output patterns than others.
The word "pAtTeRn" shown in mixed case is not as highly associated as "pattern" without case change. Words are seen as collections of information, we read the whole word in one 'gulp' where the first and last letters are what I call pattern anchors. They help to define the input pattern and focus it to those output patterns most likely associated.
This is a good point to address the question, "What is art?"
My answer is that art is a pattern. Furthermore, it is a pattern which invokes a significant flow of information from the pattern (the art) to the observer. If this flow of information is large and sudden, then the work might be bold, shocking, ugly, or extra beautiful.
It may also invoke a flow of information that is slow and pleasing, constantly revealing new patterns, and new associations the longer you look at it.
A work of art which does not invoke a flow of information is weak and unremarkable.
The tip therefore for budding artists is to create works which are capable of delivering significant information to the viewer. This can be bold, loud and sudden, or slow and subtle. It can be a combination of the two. A good work of art makes a statement and the 'output' patterns do not necessarily need to be visual.
You can pay several month's wages for a high quality long lens. But is it worth it?
I was recently asked about photographing subjects that are far away, and how to get a better result.
My answer was:
"Forget digital zoom. It buys you nothing more than you can achieve by cropping your image in the computer.
There is no substitute for getting closer to your subject.
Telephoto lenses compress the field so that objects look a little like cardboard cut outs. They also lose light in the optics.
Well over 90% of most people's shots do not have to be taken with a telephoto lens. Some people just get lazy and 'zoom in' rather than walk a few paces forward. The remaining small percentage of worthwhile shots that need a zoom or telephoto fall into specialist categories:
some sports photography
wild life photography
spying on celebrities...
Of course there are other situations where a zoom or telephoto is nice. But these lenses are hard to use properly.
You need good light to take a sharp photo.
In low light or even average light, your long lens robs even more. This causes wider apatures, more difficult focusing, higher ISO (or sensitivity settings) which leads to more grain in the image. Low light needs slower speeds which contributes to camera shake, and motion blur.
A log lens greatly amplifies camera shake. So a long lens benefits from a tripod. But to use a tripod, you need to be able to set it up quick. It's cumbersome and sometimes heavy or not permitted in certain areas.
To mitigate some of these issues, you need a "fast" lens. This means one that gathers a lot of light to compensate for the losses. That costs a lot of money.
In addition, particularly with complex zoom lenses, the construction of long lenses demands high quality optics. Otherwise chromatic aberration, and distortions become apparent in the resulting picture.
Again, you will need to spend big money to get the best quality lenses.
Perhaps with the high quality zoom lens, it becomes possible (but not probable) to take some great zoom shots."
Okay - So what am I saying here?
If you are starting out in photography, there are many much cheaper methods to get better pictures. Photography has so many technical obstacles that huge improvements can be made without spending $4000, or even $40000 on a long lens.
In my opinion, since 90% of normal shots can be made with a basic digital camera costing perhaps $150 and do so on automatic settings, then most of the technical challenges are taken care of very well even for a child. Despite this, there are literally millions, or probably billions of photographs taken each year that are boring and unremarkable.
Therefore, my ultimate advice is to spend a few dollars on some good books to learn about composition.
Good composition can overrule many sub-optimal technical results. A well composed shot will win-out every time over a technically perfect (but boring) shot.
The main difference between a good professional photographer and an amateur is often seen not in the content, subject or technical result, but in the artistic result.
By the way, the green tree frog above was taken with the stock zoom lens supplied with my camera which is approximately a maximum of 80mm focal length in "35mm-speak", then cropped.
Unless you have all the technical details covered as second-nature, and only if you have a genuine need to photograph things that permanently stay far away from you, then don't waste your money on a professional long lens. Use the cash on a course in composition, or good books on the subject.
(C) Jeremy Lee 2010, all rights reserved.
Note: I am allowing the blogs in the category 'Book' to be stored for personal use only, but not for distribution or commercial use. Should you wish to reproduce any material, please contact me for negotiations.
spOOk's art is owned by Jeremy. He has practiced drawing and painting for about 40 years, and might get good at it one day. spOOk's art is focused on graphite portraits.