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Genuine Imitations

April 10, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I've never been a fan of faux finishes, fake facades, or artificial re-creations of any kind. I prefer solid wood over veneer. Real plants over plastic.

I love the fact that our church has real bells - not just loudspeakers playing a recording of bells.

I don't mean all this to sound stuffy and pretentious, though. There is such a thing as quality wood veneer, for example. And some very nice bell towers (including the one at my own alma mater) play artificial bell sounds, and that's fine. It's just a matter of preference.

But I realized recently that, with me, it's not really an issue that something is artificial. It has more to do with whether or not there is full disclosure that something is artificial. If you're up-front about it, I think that changes everything, because then it's an artistic creation that's essentially an "homage" to the genuine item that's being imitated.

For example: artificial flowers. Often made of silk or other nicer fabrics, they are rarely mistaken for actual flowers. So, since it's not an attempt at deception, I'm "ok" with that. (Not that anyone really cares whether I'm "ok" with something or not.) Anyway, with the wintery weather we've (not) been enjoying here in the northeast U.S. lately, flowers are hard to find. So I recently grabbed a couple shots of some artificial blooms in a candle arrangement created by my multi-talented wife. Here they are, starting with a white silk rose:

White Silk FlowerWhite Silk FlowerA white flower, made of silk, in soft light.


The next one isn't silk (I don't think), but it has nice detail:

Red Faux FlowerRed Faux FlowerA close-up of an artificial red flower.


So we've established that I'm "ok" with nicely done artificial flowers. (And we've also established that nobody really cares about what I am and am not "ok" with, but let's disregard that for now.)

What I did above is simply photograph some imitations. But what happens when the images themselves are imitations?

Interesting. (You may disagree - but stay with me.)

With modern-day image processing software, a photographer can do quite a bit of image manipulation. I really enjoy taking certain photos and applying what is called a "painterly" effect, through the careful configuration and application of various combinations of software filters. This painterly effect gives the image an appearance which simulates that of an oil painting.

BUT, it's important to note that I always fully disclose what the image is. I don't try to pass it off as an image of an oil painting. I do this for two reasons. Firstly, I have too much respect for the talent of actual oil painters (like my friend Joe) to ever pretend to be one myself. And secondly, as I said, I think full disclosure is key to making the imitation acceptable. By disclosing what it is, you open the work up to be accepted as a work of artistic expression on its own merits.

Or something like that. This has gotten somewhat cerebral. Sorry about that.

Anyway, here's one such example. It's an image of a side porch at a Napa winery, with painterly effects applied:

Side Porch on CanvasSide Porch on CanvasA quiet side porch at a Napa winery.


Here's another example. This one is based on an image of historic Acorn Street in Boston's Beacon Hill. It's been called one of the most photographed streets in the U.S. Here, once again, I applied effects to make it look like a painting:

Acorn Street on CanvasAcorn Street on CanvasA rendering of a view down Boston's Acorn Street.


I have other images with this kind of effect -- see my "Photo Impressions" gallery.

Anyway, this has been a long post, so let me sum up.

My point is just this:  I think imitation is ok, but only if you're genuine about it.



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