Rhubarb is one of my favorite signs of Spring! The large green leafs and bright red stalks create a bold spot of color against the brown landscape of last years fallen leaves and pine needles.
Yesterday Sarah and I received a gift of some fresh rhubarb. I love its combination of beauty and taste. A rhubarb crisp or a strawberry-rhubarb pie with vanilla ice cream on top makes me so happy!
Before the stalks of rhubarb get cut up and cooked I decided to take them out to the studio photograph them. I used a combination of 5 lights to create these images that have almost an X-Ray quality to them. I am trying to recreate the way sunlight passes through the leaves on a bright sunny day while at the same time I am trying to create a bright contour line to outline the shape of the plant. I do this by using strip banks from behind and a large light source from above. I also use a grid spot to scrape light across the texture of the leaves from the side.
After I photographed this group of stalks, I edited them on my computer to really bring out the texture and detail of the leaves. This involves creating many layers that address the shadows, midtones, and highlights separately as well as various edge contrast sharpening techniques.
The extreme light and dark values are known as a Notan Study. Notan is a Japanese term to describe the extreme light and dark values of an image and the irreducible shapes and forms of the subject. It is the foundation of a composition that gives an image it’s subconscious emotional energy.
A notan study is very similar to chiaroscuro but I think I prefer the Japanese interpretation. Once I have completed my Notan Study I have the option of layering the color back on top of the image. I generally prefer the monochrome study to the color but most people prefer color so I am happy to offer both in my artworks when it’s appropriate.
I photographed these rhubarb stocks from the front and back of the leaves and then decided to combine them into a single composition that creates depth and movement. By looking up at these plants I am sharing a worms eye view of these magnificent plants in a world that is so easily overlooked.
I’d love to know whether you prefer the black and white versions or the color? Leave me a comment!