• Ruta Kalmane Saksens

METHODS and MEANING

When it comes to methods that I use in my practice, I have to emphasise the importance of the shutter speed. The fast shutter speed that I use to capture interesting, unpredictable movements of animals is an essential part of the photo taking process.

Fig. 1: Saksens 2020-2021. Animals in action


When it comes to methods that I use in my practice, I have to emphasise the importance of the shutter speed. The fast shutter speed that I use to capture interesting, unpredictable movements of animals is an essential part of the photo taking process. Animal behaviour is generally highly unpredictable, unless a particular animal is well trained. To get the perfect moment it’s sometimes necessary to wait for a very long time, but when the right moment comes, freezing the moment in time is essential. The results vary from unveiling beautiful patterns of bird feathers that are normally not visible to us, to revealing unusual chracteristic features of pets in action. The most interesting expressions of animals are captured when they engage in some kind of activity. Animals show a variety of unusual and funny facial expressions when there’s a lot of action and movement.

Fig. 2 Mikhailov 1968-1975. Red


Boris Mikhailov has applied an interesting method in his work. Each of the photos in his series Red has something red in it. I love the idea of including an object of a particular colour to unite a series of photographs. A colour is a great tool for interaction between a photographer and a viewer.

‘’Color plays a vitally important role in the world in which we live. Color can sway thinking, change actions, and cause reactions. It can irritate or soothe your eyes, raise your blood pressure or suppress your appetite.” (Morton ca. 1995-2021)

In Mikhailov’s series Red, the red colour perhaps played an even more essential role as the images represent life in the Soviet Union. The choice to include the red colour in photographs representing life in Soviet Union must not have been entirely accidental. The connection between the red colour and the identity of the Soviet Union is quite obvious. The first thing that comes to my mind when thinking about the Soviet Union is its red flag. Apart from the connection between red and the colour of the Soviet Union, the choice to include red and not just any other colour was a great way to capture the interest of a viewer.

‘’Red captures attention. It is one of the most visible colors, second only to yellow - which explains why it is used on fire engines and stop signs to trigger alertness.” (Morton ca. 1995-2021)

Mikhailov’s work made me wonder what results would it give if I would do the opposite – taking out a colour from images. Would it achieve an effect of unity between them? What other effect would it achieve? During the post-processing stage I experimented with saturation reduction for a while and came to a conclusion that taking out a colour from images can benefit the message that the images are sending. The main goal of photographing animals is to show their beautiful skin, fur, feathers, eyes, etc., therefore those are the colours that I want to emphasise. The rest, what is around them, is less important or not important at all.

Fig. 3: Saksens 2020-2021. Animals in action


In the first photograph of the two raindeer I have taken out the green colour. You can see that the animals have grass in the foreground and background, but by taking it out, I emphasise the colour of the animals themselves. The image is free from other distracting colours. In the second and third photographs of a dog and an Egyptian goose I have taken out the blue colour of the water. In this way the focus is fully on the animals. When looking at the original images separately, I don’t see much of what unifies them apart from the fact that all of them show animals, but when looking at the images after certain distracting colours are taken out of them, I feel like they have something in common – the style that has been used to represent the animals – the lack of some colours. I’m wondering if I should continue to experiment with this particular feature in my future work and what other effects this approach could give me.


LIST OF REFERENCES


MORTON, Jill. ca. 1995-2021. ‘Welcome to Color Matters’. [online]. Available at: https://www.colourmatters.com/ [accessed 2 February 2021].

MORTON, Jill. ca. 1995-2021. 'Red. The Meanings of Red'

[online]. Available at: https://www.colourmatters.com/the-meanings-of-colours/red [accessed 2 February 2021].


LIST OF FIGURES


Fig. 1: Ruta SAKSENS. 2020-2021. Animals in action. Private collection: Ruta Saksens

Fig. 2: Boris MIKHAILOV. 1968-1975. Red

https://www.artfund.org/supporting-museums/art-weve-helped-buy/artwork/11155/red

Fig. 3: Ruta SAKSENS. 2020-2021. Animals in action.Private collection: Ruta Saksens

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