CLASSICAL PHOTOGRAPHY by Jess Isaiah Levin, Raleigh, NC

l250eddings, portraits, seniors, corporate events, fine art prints.



May 28, 2007

the blog begins

If you have looked through this web site, you know that it contains a fairly wide variety of photographs, and that images certainly predominate over text. Those of you who have gotten to know me, or who are familiar with some of my contributions to other web sites, will recognize that ideas are very important to me and that I'm interested in a lot more than just "pretty pictures". In starting a web log, I'm not seeking to run my mouth incessantly about things that are unlikely to interest other people, nor will I try to prove my expertise, authority, or artistry. Well, at any rate, if I slip up and seem to be doing just that, I hope you will give me the benefit of the doubt in believing that this was not my conscious intention!

So what is my intent, my plan for this blog? Essentially, it seems to me that good and useful ideas come to us at odd times and unpredictable rates. Even something as seemingly straightforward as a clear explanation of a technique of photography may simply flow out nicely one day, where it did not even occur to me on a previous day when I happened to be trying, say to work on a book of various related areas.

At any rate, for better or for worse, I'm going to get things going today, now, by posting a few images that I created while wandering downtown Asheville, NC for a little over an hour a few days ago. I had no plan, at that time, other than to find what visual interest I could abstract from my surroundings. So much for my grand statement above of the importance of ideas! But I'll withhold self-judgment for a moment. Maybe you will, too, until we look at a few pictures and see what thoughts are conjured.


Actually, before we get to downtown Asheville, here's an image (above) created a few days earlier and a few miles from the center of town, in of all things, a shopping mall. What is it? In a way, I hope that it's not too obvious what it is. It would be fair to call it an abstraction, since I was consciously pulling two dimensional shapes out of the three dimensional scene in front of me, and trying to see it as a series of interesting textures and leading lines that would pull the viewer's eyes around the frame. In this case I was thinking about such things (or at least well aware of them even though I was letting my eyes and imagination lead me) as I "worked" the scene. [I guess I should identify this before moving on: it's a portion of a carnival ride.]

At other times, I think it is valuable to aim for good representation of the things around us. That doesn't have to mean straight reportage with no artistic input. Every time I frame a shot and choose to make it at a particular moment, I know that a lilttle of myself is becoming a part of the resultant image. Nothing new in that idea, but what comes to mind as I look at the series of photos that I "found" while wandering through the town (all too briefly) is that an approach based on seeing as much as you can, really noticing stuff, and "grabbing it" with a camera without too much forethought, can provide useful fodder for visual growth. For a photographer, this presupposes technical competence that works almost automatically, but that's a discussion for another day.

Here (below) are a few of the photos from my walk. I may add some more - and some more discussion - tomorrow. I don't have immediate plans to set up a comment board here, but if you want to email your thoughts to me, I'd be happy to hear from you. See the Contact page.


rounded corner

uphill motion

So, a little burst of color from the flowers, never mind that they were past their prime. A pretty straightforward documentation of a disappearing style of architecture, and a passerby caught on a whim because her colors complemented the building. Just keeping my eyes open as I walked.


May 29, 2007

Here are three more shots from the same 75 minute period that I wandered the streets in Asheville.

disappearing Deco

I think this building is being converted to condos. I'm not going to get into a big social commentary here (at least not right now); I simply tried to capture some of the interest in the profusion of decorative ideas in this building, isolating a portion that didn't show any of the "for sale" signs and other distractions. I'd like to think that this distillation has some interest in and of itself. Your taste may vary!

urban Rushmore

We're being watched! Kind of an urban Mt. Rushmore...

flying baskets

This one got a little Photoshop work to emphasize the design elements which attracted me when I shot the scene. Except for the flower basket in the foreground, it is all reflected in a glass and steel wall.

Judging from the photos I've selected to start the blog, you would certainly be justified in thinking that abstraction is often an element in my photography, and in my way of seeing.

May 30, 2007

Sometimes it takes a few days of "living with an image" to decide whether it's worth keeping, worth tweaking, needs some help, or should just be abandoned.


On the other hand, there shouldn't be hesitation over whether to try the shot. Don't walk into a street when you see that red light, but there should always be a green light for photos, unless it's a situation which could embarass a human subject.

Wolfe curtains

Who might be hiding behind those curtains? Not likely anyone, since this is the Thomas Wolfe house, and not occupied. Here's a broader view:

Wolfe house

And here's the back door:

Wolfe door

Asheville is a rather cosmopolitan town, for its modest size. Everywhere, you can see attempts to preserve the old-time charm, right next to what has to be called modernism. I felt that was symbolized by this trolley "chasing" the late model Corvette.


Note the mix of styles in this streetlamp and building:


Now I'll take a rest with a look at other folks taking their lunch break amid some public art. It all seemed to join into one sculpture.


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All images on this site © Jess Isaiah Levin