Depicting Venice 3 – Ian Coulling
Depicting Venice 3 – Ian Coulling. The UK photographer presents a third post in the series of his unique Venetian composite images, to stir the imagination.
In this post, I have started to extend the selection of original images, to include composites made only from direct light on a variety of architectural structures seen in Venice.
As presented in my first two posts on new photographic depictions of Venice, the inspiration to investigate the potential of the composite image-making process, to explore the effects of multiple image planes, altered perspectives and space in Venetian urban scenes; essentially came from two sources.
The first, was from quotes made by artists, writers and poets over the centuries; regarding the floating nature of Venice, its magical direct and reflected light and its mirror effects.
Secondly, it was from the work of the English artist, Patrick Hughes. From his deep understanding of Renaissance art and perspective painting; he invented a unique optical illusion technique, termed “reverspective”. His artwork, painted onto reverse perspective structural bases, allows the viewer to explore perspective and space; when moving both laterally and vertically, in front of the artwork. His work is the subject of a previous post, linked below.
In these composites, a whole new Venetian world opens up. It is fascinating to see the effects of assembling multiple image planes in varying order, into one composite. Also, to see how our brain, accepts and interprets; this manipulation of reality and illusion.
Fun to make, you can never really judge what you are going to get; until you try it.
Venice is: “a city, floating in its own lagoon”….. “a city rising out of the waves”…. “a city like a water-lily”…. “like a Venetian woman, Venice dived from the bank to glide afloat.”….”a city of stone, water, colour and texture”….”a city where, direct and reflected light acts at the interface of structure and water, to produce the magic, of reality and illusion”….. “It is the city of mirrors, the city of mirages, at once solid and liquid, at once air and stone.”
Depicting Venice 3 – Ian Coulling. New Composites.
I started by selecting photos incorporating “columns” – Venice abounds with them! I then looked at making 4-image composites and “multiples” of them.
We can look at various factors that affect the perception of depth in the image plane. Analysing the above L and R images:
Above left. 1. We can see that in this original image, my choice of a longer focal length of the camera lens, compresses or flattens the perceived depth of the columns in the image plane. 2. However, in this case you can see another way that affects the way we perceive depth or recession – colour. Warms tones advance and cool tones tend to recede the image plane. 3. If we convert the image to grayscale (as below left), we see here that both warm and cooler colours, equate to predominantly to same midrange to light grey tones tones over most of the image. 4. However, the shortening of the rusty dark strengthening iron struts, all running horizontally; do add to the recessional effect.
Above middle . “Selfie” April 2023.
Above right. A four image composite. If the top left original image is “A”, I have made from it, a horizontally inverted image “B”. From B, I have vertically inverted the image to make “D” and then horizontally inverted D to make image “C”. I then ordered the composite on the background carrier: top left to bottom right: B-A-C-D. Here, a powerful new diamond shaped structure appears and dominates the central image space. The decreasing size of the more peripheral picture elements and their colour values; increase the recessional effects.
You can then make different ordering, for example A-B-C-D of the original image (as in images below for comparison). Often, you may prefer one type of ordering over another, You can also take the finished composites and rotate them through 90 degrees; to see what different effects you get.
Multiples. The examples below, used the same original image, but reordered in a different sequence of A-B-C-D; arranged in a block of four and then in a line. Wonderful complex effects – think ceramic tiles or decorative friezes!
Above and below. A rather more more “monchromatic” colour image composite, of columns on the western aspect of the Doge’s palace. Note how by reordering the images of the composites; you can advance or recede the image plane.
By reordering the composite to bring what were insignificant corners of the picture, into the centre of the image plane – a stronger new diamond structure is formed, containing even more layers of recession.
Above and below. Two more almost “monochromatic” column composites, showing advancement and recession of the image plane by reordering the original image.
Above. This composite was made from an image showing direct and reflected light.
Above. This composite was made from an image showing direct and reflected light. A strange biomorphic form appears.
Below. This composite was made from an image showing predominately direct light on buildings, but results in an illusion of reflected light on water.
In both these composites, the sequence of the original image, was set up to use the darker outer parts of the image; as a “frame” to the inner highlight areas. The illusion created is rather like looking down into water. However the central bright areas seem to advance forward, towards you. It’s fascinating how our brain seems to accept and interpret the illusions created.
Above. The original image was made from a directly lit bridge structure on the northern Venice coastline
Below. “The Four Horses of St Mark’s” on the Basilica. Sea-mist simplified the picture.
Strong recession created by the diminishing size of the main picture elements.
Above and below. The same original image reordered in the composite; to give a different vision.
Taken at Xmas, the decorated tree was in reality in front of the columns; as in the above image. In the reordered composite, a strange new structure appears to arise behind the columns; at the edge of the lagoon.
Images made from reflected light only at the air-water interface.
Above. Burano lacework?
Above. Stained glass window with Venetian cross?
Above. A bird like structure?
Above. This original image was taken at night from the Academy bridge onto the dark Grand Canal water below. Fine rippling of the water surface, caused different colours of reflected light to “shimmer” or “dance”.
Finally, a few more composites on the subject of “Venice sinking”
Around the week of Xmas 2019, a very talented street artist using the tag name “Blub”; put up some posters onto walls and electricity service boxes. During my stay, I only came across around six of the works, in various degrees of deterioration. They had probably only lasted a week or two in the damp cold climate.
Here today – gone tomorrow – captured for eternity: “Bhudda”, “Madonna and Child”, “Mermaid and Diving Bull Creature”, “Vivaldi” and “William Shakespeare”.
Above. I used the damage on the poster, to frame the two holy figures.
I hope you enjoyed these composite images – fun to make and a great source for the imagination!
LINKS (internal – external)
Depicting Venice in Art
“Depicting Venice – Patrick Hughes”
Foreign Artists working in Venice
“John Ruskin – Writer and Artist”
Other posts, combining text and my imagery.
Depicting Venice – Ian Coulling
“Venice – Great Poetry and Images”
Website of Patrick Hughes – Reverspectives.
Depicting Venice 2 – Ian Coulling Depicting Venice 2 – Ian Coulling Depicting Venice 2 – Ian Coulling