Capturing The Christmas Spirit; A Holiday Collection Of Clever & Colorful Websites
"At Christmas play and make good cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year."--Thomas Tusser
Christmas seems to have gone from a time of peace and love to one of controversy about how it's celebrated. I tend to think of the holiday in much the way the late Will Eisner expressed in his preface to The Christmas Spirit, a collection of stories featuring his comic book hero The Spirit. Eisner was Jewish and viewed the holiday with some detachment but said, "...Christmas is a magical thing, a holiday when the world stops for a moment to perform small acts of charity." He went on to say, "The majority of people accept kindness and love as virtues and I have come to believe that this lies deep in the inner recesses of human character..." It is in this spirit that I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
On the night of July 30, 1999, Canadian Larrie Thomson packed up his camera and set out for a rural county dump to try some light-painting techniques he'd read about. You can read the details of Thomson's foray into the night dodging skunks and wandering around in the dark in the "Who" section of his website, but first click the "Photos" link and prepare to be amazed. A vertically scrolling list of thumbnails appears, each representing a gallery and as you move your mouse over them, a description appears. Click on any thumbnail and a new scrolling vertical gallery appears and when clicking any of these images (whew!) a full-sized version is displayed, sometimes with the story behind it.
His 13 galleries of unmanipulated hand-painted night photographs captured in camera are a joy to explore. As interesting as Thomson's monochrome photographs are, and most of them are worth a look, his color shots will stop you in your tracks. Using his light-painting techniques the decommissioned Turner Valley Gas Plant industrial facility takes on a Blade Runner look, combining the beautiful with the mysterious. His painted photographs of the Drumheller Hoodoos (rock formations) near Alberta take you to alien worlds and his images of an old school bus in the snow looks like it leapt from the pages of Harry Potter. Painting with light may be one of the oldest of photographic techniques but Thomson uses it to catapult viewers into new worlds of imagination.
British photographer Chris Pethick is a member of the British Institute of Professional Photographers and lives in Salisbury, Wiltshire. He possesses that rarest of all photographic talents--the ability to express humor. Some, like Elliott Erwitt (www.elliotterwitt.com), have it and so does Pethick. Just roll your mouse over the citrus that spells out CAP photography and you'll see what I mean. Pethick's beautifully minimalistic and easy to navigate site design showcases his work in collections, including Places, Portraits, Objects, and Animals.
In "Places" he uses a sparse style when viewing the natural world that abruptly switches to images of strength when capturing manmade objects such as bridges and windmills. Surprisingly, his portraits carry the same dichotomy of strength and whimsy depending on his approach to a specific subject. "Objects" are wonderfully colorful graphics with a touch of wit. My favorite is the chessboard using brightly colored Easter eggs instead of chess pieces. "Animals" takes you to a world abounding with a circle of multicolored frogs, a rooster looking at a broken egg, and giraffe that appears to be saying, "What me worry?" Pethick's photography is an omelet of color, design, and absurdity whipped together by a master chef with a twinkle in his eye. Thanks and a tip of the Farace chapeau to Blake Shaw (www.photoabcs.com) for suggesting Pethick's site.
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