Studies in Tenebrism - 10 on 10 - October 2014

This month's 10 on 10 is one of purpose and calculation.  I feel as if the last couple months, although at least posting something, had fallen short on a lot of different levels.  I hesitate to call it laziness, but more convenience.  I just shot what was easy for me to shoot and so I was left with photos that even in capturing a moment, were somewhat thoughtless from an artistic perspective.  This month I wanted to change that pattern.

Make sure to check out the other 10on10'rs, after you look read my awesome words of genius of course.

Shaw Photography

Twinty Photography

Courtney Z Photography

Anya Elise Photography

CLB Creative

Brittany Conner Photography

Feeling somewhat burnt out after spending weeks on end in front of the computer trying to finish personal projects and current Half Stop Sessions, catch up on backed up photo editing, as well as doing VFX work in studio while more and more piled on... I needed to step away, plain and simple.

Yearning for a taste of nature and the outdoors I decided to get in the car with my camera and head to unknown territory.  That ended up being Angeles National Forest, although I have spent some time in ANF I headed to an area that I haven't explored before.  As I headed in, it was around 2 o'clock or so and the lighting is about the worst you can ask for but as I drove along through the vast desert mountains I began to notice some very harsh lighting within the peaks and crevices of the range.

I stopped and shot a few photos here and there, not overly impressed by what I was finding but still happy that I wasn't in sight of the city.  I kept moseying along and eventually came across a small road that runs East/West through the mountains called Big Tujunga Canyon Rd and turned.

This led me to what appeared to be an abandoned dirt road that was blocked off with a big wood burl sign labeled "Colby Camp".  The bullet holes in the sign were enough to spark my interest and I wanted to hike so I grabbed my bag, locked the car, and headed on hiking down the abandoned road.  Keep in mind I hadn't seen another vehicle on this Big Tujunga either, it's pretty desolate out here.

After only a short time on the trail I began to see this lighting I had noticed earlier and I began shooting.  It was all reminiscent of my favorite fine art painter in college, Caravaggio, who held this rank because of his famous usage of chiaroscuro or tenebrism which it was later termed after his dramatic execution and perfection of the technique.  This very harsh, single source, white whites and black blacks lighting was exactly what was being presented to me in this moment and I ran with it and all its inspiration.

I became completely immersed in the landscape and the moment, it was almost surreal, as if the photos were selecting themselves or something.  I shot very few photos, only a few more than what I've presented here today.  It had just been so long since I was able to shut my brain off from everything outside of my immediate presence and it happened in this place, there was something very calming about the desolation and the sounds all within the moment.

Perfectly camouflaged frogs mimicking the texture of this rock almost identically.

For the next two hours and 5 or so miles that I hiked along, this feeling and focus had overcome me.  I like what I produced with these photos for the simple fact that I was there to create and the way that it all unfolded felt like I was really capturing true creative expression and photos that really meant something beyond just the image.

It all sorta ended when the sun began to set knowing that I would need to head back before dark and I got to the end of the "abandoned" road which wasn't abandoned at all.  I made it to the camp and it got kinda creepy.  Tucked away back in this very temperate canyon that had a running creek and lush green vegetation (in the confines of a desert mountain range mind you) there were all these cabin type structures and a few random vehicles.  I didn't want to snoop around too much but I also didn't want to leave without checking it out a little.  After getting to a place where I thought there might be people, I decided to turn around.  And I'm alive and writing this, so that's good, and the end of my adventure.

Well, not the end.  I almost got ran over by Bambi on my way back and also saw a fox too which was maybe a first for me in LA.  I decided to head up to Mt. Wilson as well for some night shots of the city/stars which was also a first.  Splendid way to end an amazing day of light and shadow capping it off in great fashion.  Especially below with one of my favorites of the towers and the one on the right with its contrast almost perfectly opposite of the sky gradient that lay behind it.

I ended up editing all these and presenting them in Black and White to really capture that harsh lighting that I saw there that day.  Hope you dig them.

P.S.  I know this sounds likes a story I may have written after a weird solo LSD experience but I can assure you I was 100% sober and somehow came under the influence of nature itself.