Searching The Web So You Don’t Have To
I said it last month but it bears repeating: “Never was there a time when it was so easy or inexpensive to create a great-looking website than right now.” Yet one emerging trend is to pack as much text onto the opening screen as possible and if a picture must be used it should be tiny and maybe show a portrait of the photographer. There’s an old joke whose punch line is, “First, you have to get their attention.” That’s true of websites as well. That landing page should be your signature image—that gasp factor—that makes the viewer look, linger, and want to see more. Give it a try.
When Paul Marcellini says he braves “mosquitoes, snakes, and alligators in search of the unspoiled scenes of Wild Florida” all you have to do is look at his portrait in the “About” section to know that he’s serious. Six galleries contain the kinds of eye-catching images he’s talking about. Peek into Artist Favorites and one look at “Holy Sunstar,” shot in the Hillsborough River State Park, and Marcellini redefines what you think Florida looks like. Similarly, his monochrome “Welcome to the Jungle,” made in the Big Cypress National Preserve, has an ethereal look made more poignant when he explains the lines in the mud around the tree serving as the photograph’s focal point were “created by alligators dragging their tails.” Yikes.
Yet images such as “Washington Oaks Alight” are quintessentially Florida and show an incredibly gifted photographer immersing himself in the environment to create drop-dead gorgeous images. These photographs are displayed in a crisply designed no-nonsense site design that not only serves the images but lets the photographer shine. His Travels gallery contains five subcollections, including Iceland and Kenya, that sparkle with the kind of inner glow that permeates much of Marcellini’s work. In Kenya, images are separated by Color and Monochrome and his black-and-white photograph “Holding On” of a baby baboon clutching its mother is a beautiful, sensitive portrait of these animals. Flick over to Color for more traditional images focusing on small things rather than wide vistas. In Iceland he embraces the landscape with sweeping images such as “Canyon of Wonder” that lives up to its title. Paul Marcellini is a magician with light and finds the right time and place to make images that transport you to places one can only dream about.
Scott Papek is a Nebraska-based landscape photographer with an interesting past—he originally was a sound designer, creating emotions from “noise”—and now uses his talents to produce images that “come from the soul rather than a camera.” His dramatically designed website literally hits you over the head to get your attention with screen-filling images that, rather than using a lot of words, do the talking for him. His Gallery Images include a handful of signature images that are sold as Limited Editions, while a Zenfolio (www.zenfolio.com) portfolio contains images in his Open Edition. This is just a small selection of images but is clearly an example of “less is more” since each photograph is impeccably composed (“Lake Jenny Reflection”) and colorful (“Tranquil #1”) and are examples of the best that landscape photography has to offer.
His site also contains a Lifestyle section featuring photographs of people collected under five different titles. Portraits, for example, shows Papek’s versatility with delightful photographs of kids, doggone cute pictures of dogs, and environmental photographs of adults. There are also galleries for wedding and engagement portraits that show another side of Scott Papek’s personality. Before leaving this site be sure to visit his blog, which is populated, as I write this, with examples of his landscape photography accompanied by comments about where the image was made and occasionally about the nature of the life of a fine art photographer, such as, “Don’t ever think you have it figured out.” I couldn’t agree more.
John Shuptrine is a fine art photographer specializing in silver gelatin images of natural and urban scenes. His clever site from websiteworkbox.com perfectly showcases his work. Center stage there’s a slide show with thumbnails of recent work surrounded by text that enhances rather than dominates the splash page. Five collections in his Black and White galleries cover topics such as Architectural, Close Up, Humans, Natural, and Urban. Each collection has thumbnails that when clicked reveal a comments page with another thumbnail that when double-clicked fills the screen, allowing you to appreciate each photograph’s subtlety. The focus and attention to detail in Shuptrine’s Natural and Urban collections are focused in the small moments of life rather than grand themes. All of the images are for sale at affordable prices.
There are few people in Shuptrine’s images except in Humans, where his spontaneous images of people have a street photography feel that contrasts with the meticulously composed view camera images found elsewhere. The Color galleries have similar themes but explode with color and it’s almost as if another photographer created these images. They are powerfully simple, making me wonder if Shuptrine is really not at his best when working in color. You decide. Here his subjects take on a stronger, more tailored composition, making color an integral part of the experience. The subjects in the Color galleries may be more traditional but are also more dramatic, showing how John Shuptrine’s right-brain/left-brain thinking can produce a wide range of interesting and extremely well-crafted work.
This month’s Blog-of-the-Month is by Danuta Antas-Wozniewska, a Polish fine art photographer, graphic artist, and art teacher. Her blog is called “Seeking Beauty in Ordinary” and is powered by Blogger (www.blogger.com). The blog is driven by the power of Antas-Wozniewska’s vision and lives up to her goal of finding beauty in the every day. The photograph of a stream through the woods, “El Paradiso Mio,” glows with autumnal warmth, but there’s a crispness and precision that recalls lost days of youth that makes you want to jump into the stream, although you know it’s going to be chilly. Her “Nostalgic Landscape” is a monochrome image of a tree-lined lake that’s truly universal in appeal and clearly shows that she’s a master of the landscape genre. Then she surprises you with a wide-angle HDR shot of Warsaw, the capital of Poland, that sparkles with life. In her use of cool tones, it’s the opposite of “El Paradiso Mio.”
The blog is in English and not only features her fine art images but an occasional how-to tip as well. “How to Stir Your Imagination with 360 Degrees Perspective” takes you to another wooded stream, showing how to create a different perspective by using techniques explained in the post. Yet you can learn by just looking at images such as “Dancing Couple” that shows intertwined trees in a post titled “Inspirational - Saved Soul.” I’ve always wanted to visit Poland and now can do so vicariously through Danuta Antas-Wozniewska’s inspiring blog.