The Desert Botanical Garden Dale Chihuly Show, The Nature of Glass, at night, using digital night photography techniques.
“The Nature of Glass” show of Dale Chihuly glass art works at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona is a successful blend of organically inspired artworks installed within an organic setting.
In addition to this post , I plan a companion piece, covering some of the digital camera techniques I used, and a bit about the digital darkroom cool Photoshop layer editing I used.
I was able to attend the recent “Chihuly Photography RSVP Workshop” after hours night photography shoot. (Thank you goes to Steen Lawson, the Desert Botanical Garden Onsite Public Programs Manager)
The shot above should give you a sense of how some of the Chihuly glass pieces are set in and among the cactus and succulents in the Desert Botanical Garden collection.
Dale Chihuly’s glass work is colorful, often nearing the point of over saturation, but not exceeding it in my view. The intense color will put your film, or digital camera chip to the test, though. (I will be posting more of the ‘how-to shoot public art at night’ in a future post. Subscribe to keep on top of the updates.)
Chihuly also likes to incorporate his large, and therefore heavy, glass works into local environments as seen above.
Some of the strong pieces are set off by themselves, supported on a post, or hung from a structure as seen below.
For the above ‘centerpiece’ shot, I wanted to isolate the glass work from its surroundings. In the shot below, I specifically wanted to include the set up and the shadows cast by the lighting.
I liked the interplay of form, flora, and shadow in this installation and so included them all in my composition.
To give you a sense of the scope of some of the installations, I’m including a wide panoramic image of one of the more popular areas of the show.
Scroll sideways to see the entire panoramic image
This pano was taken using my homemade panoramic tripod head attachment with exposures ranging from 1/2 second up to 8 seconds. Since I conceived of, and made the image during the “Chihuly Photography RSVP” photo session, I decided to include other photographers who were also shooting this one scene.
I used a similar technique in shooting the panoramic night photograph on this page, 13th ASU Museum Short Film and Video Festival.
Some of the glass sculptures seemed to call out for simple compositions, as below.
Other of the Chihuly pieces were seemingly intended, and most successful, in groupings.
This grouping succeeds more than some others in the show in giving a sense of an organically derived copse of native flora in a surreal yet aesthetically pleasing landscape.
A few pieces came off to me as almost anomalous; that is, they didn’t seem to go with the rest of the show.
I really liked this piece, shot it in several different ways, but I don’t feel that it fit in the overall context of the show. This one seems like a little ‘undersea’ octopus, not really a ‘desert’ piece, but was very attractive to me in it it’s own right.
I really liked the opportunity to shoot in the garden at night with other photographers drifting around doing the same thing. It had a surreal quality in that most of the photographers were quietly going about their business, drifting from area to installation, carrying tripod mounted cameras, without speaking, in the dark, like silent photo phantoms.
To get a sense of closure, as I was leaving after the event, I paused and turned around to shoot the entrance to the Desert Botanical Garden when it was completely empty (not a usual state) showing a large centrally located Chihuly glass work inside the garden.
I hope you like these pix of Dale Chihuly’s glass work, and the fine installation at the Desert Botanical Garden.
Comments welcome below.