Nick Carver Photography Blog

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Large Wall Art: 7-Foot Wide Panorama

Large Wall Art - Panoramic Photography by Nick CarverLarge Wall Art: Nick Carver and the 7-Foot Wide Beast
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I recently made a large wall art piece for a client to hang in his TrueCar executive office in Goleta, CA. I've made some large wall art before. My record is 10-foot wide, a panoramic view of Sedona, AZ that hangs proudly in my Tustin classroom. But on the 10-foot wide piece, I broke up it into 3 smaller pieces, forming a triptych, simply because it's nearly impossible (or prohibitively expensive) to create a single piece that large.

Large Wall Art - Panoramic Photography by Nick Carver

For this wall art at TrueCar, we were looking at doing a 6-foot wide print with a 4" double mat and a 2" frame. All in all, the piece would measure 7-foot edge-to-edge when it was complete. Since we were going with traditional matting, doing a triptych wouldn't look right. The gaps between prints would be distracting. So the goal was to do a single continuous piece framed under glass.

Before this, I'd never done a piece this large with glass. The triptych hanging in my Tustin classroom is float-mounted with plexiglass and no frame. Doing it under a single pane of glass presents a different set of challenges. Thankfully my framer, Salamon Art in Fountain Valley, provided much needed guidance on this process. I learned from the head honcho over there that matting prints this big is so uncommon that there are only 2 colors available for matting: white and warm-white. Good thing that's what we wanted anyway. The next challenge was glazing (meaning the glass). They don't make glass this big for picture framing. We could get a pane specially made, but that would cost a fortune. Thank God for acrylic. Acrylic glazing made the whole piece surprisingly lightweight compared to glass and it made the materials far more affordable.

I typically like high-gloss metallic prints, especially for landscapes like this, but I decided to go with a regular matte finish paper. It was a tough decision because I don't really like matte photo paper, but it was the right decision. High-gloss prints this big become distractingly riddled with ripples and reflections. Also, it's a good idea to do really dark photos in a dull finish. High-gloss picks up reflections even worse when the picture is dark. If you got yourself a really bright composition, though, gloss can look great. The printing was done, as always, by the experts at Pro Photo Connection in Irvine. It's the only place I trust with my prints. This photo, by the way, is a 6x17 panoramic made on Fuji Velvia 50 film in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.

Sunset at Rancho Palos Verdes

The finished piece came out great, it was huge, it didn't break on transport (my biggest worry), and it looked gorgeous hanging on this exec's wall. As I've said before, getting the photo framed and hanging on someone else's wall is the ultimate reward of photography. Feels good.

On to the next one.

Abstract Photography: Palm Trees in Laguna Beach

Abstract Photography: Palm Trees in Laguna BeachAbstract Photography: Palm Trees in Laguna Beach
Double exposure on Ilford Delta 100 Film
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I'm not really known for abstract photography. Most of my work consists of more literal interpretations of landscapes and nature. Nothing wrong with that, but lately I've been feeling the urge to flex my creativity a little bit by attempting a more abstract approach on my subjects. I've found that forcing myself to see a subject in a different way that departs hugely from my typical straightforward approach tends to open up the flood gates of creativity in me and I often times create photographs I'm really proud of. If I skip the "obvious shot" and just concentrate my efforts on doing something different - anything different - from my first inclination and from what I've seen before, I often times like the results more.

I'm beginning to believe that an ounce of "different" is worth 10 pounds of technical perfection, dramatic composition, and epic light.

So one day in January when I ventured out to Laguna Beach to photograph the sights, I decided to try some abstract photography on the multitude of palm trees down there. I wanted to try something different than simply  straightforward photos of palm trees. I didn't want the viewers to look at these photos and think "yep, there's some palm trees in Laguna Beach." Instead, I wanted my viewers to be unable to express exactly what the photos made them think of or feel. I wanted their emotional and mental response to be difficult to explain.

See, I like it when a photograph or a painting simply instills a "vibe" in you - a feeling that you can't really express in words or describe fully to anybody else. The paintings of R. Kenton Nelson do that for me. When I look at his work, I just get a vibe. I can't articulate it and I don't even want to try. I just feel it.

I know, I'm getting deep here.

But seriously, I think a painting or a photograph should instill this kind of unexplainable sensation in viewers. It shouldn't be easy to describe why you love a work of art or what it means to you or what it's trying to communicate. Because if you could just put it into words, then what's the point of the artwork?

Now the thing about abstract photography is that it doesn't get the same enthusiastic response from viewers as the Peter Lik-esque epic landscape compositions that are bursting with color and drama. Flashy colors and epic scenics grab people, plain and simple. After all, those types of photos look awesome on a digital display. But I've come to realize that I personally don't like hanging such epic, in-your-face photographs on my own walls. I tend to gravitate towards the more subtle, somewhat understated photography that doesn't punch you in the face like the typical landscapes out there. I like wall art that accents a room, not overtakes it. 

So when I photographed these palm trees in Laguna Beach, I wanted to capture them in such a way that the pictures would be (1) something I've never seen before, (2) something I'd want to hang on my own walls at home, (3) something that would really push my creativity and force me to think outside my normal approach, and (4) something that would instill that unexplainable, difficult-to-articulate feeling in my viewers and in myself.

To accomplish (1) and (3), I exposed my film multiple times with overlapping compositions of clusters of palm trees so as to create a more abstract photography look that wasn't so structured. I wanted it sloppy, yet precise - simple compositional elements of various palm trees overlaid to create some interesting shapes and tones. The goal of the compositions was simplicity. Two of the compositions were triple exposures on a single piece of film, two were double exposures. The one with the seagull is a straightforward single exposure. I found out upon developing the film that I did successfully achieve point (2). And as for point (4), these photos do instill that intangible feeling within me, but I can only hope it achieves that in others.

I framed up this abstract photography of palm trees in Laguna Beach for a month-long display at Artist Eye Gallery in (fittingly) Laguna Beach, CA. If you're in the area, swing by Artist Eye Gallery on Thursday, April 3rd from 6:30-9:00pm for Art Walk to see me and these photos in person!

Click any photo to enlarge. And just for fun, there's a little Instagram video for you at the bottom.

Abstract Photography: Palm Trees in Laguna Beach

Abstract Photography: Palm Trees in Laguna Beach

Abstract Photography: Palm Trees in Laguna Beach

Abstract Photography: Palm Trees in Laguna Beach

Abstract Photography: Palm Trees in Laguna Beach

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