Harmony in Autumn

I can’t believe that a year has passed since my last Autumn post… where does the time go? So with only a few weeks left in November, I thought I’d better get cracking with a new piece of autumnal calligraphy, before winter sets in and I miss the boat!

Even though my main passion in life is for calligraphy, I love photography, and I get kind of snap-happy in Autumn. There is so much colour to capture at this time of the year. And I love to marry my two interests by using my photographs as backgrounds for my hand-lettering. I enjoy searching for that certain scene that will eventually lend itself to an appropriate quotation. I can’t think of a more satisfying way to create original artwork.

A professional photographer once shared a tip with me. He told me, “when you’re out walking, looking for subjects to photograph, every once in a while stop and look behind you. If you don’t, you never know what amazing shot you might miss.”

So, on a recent walk through Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park, I followed his advice. I stopped on the path, turned around, and couldn’t believe my eyes. There was Glasgow University Tower rising high above me, perfectly framed between the bare branches of surrounding trees. It couldn’t have been better positioned if I had asked it to pose for me. There were golden leaves everywhere, and the darkening sky just added to the mood. So I raised my camera, took the shot, and hoped for the best.

I later imported the snap into Photomatix, (HDR software) where I tweaked the controls to emphasise the autumn golds, and to make the sky heavier and more moody.

I then imported the snap into Photoshop, where I placed textured layers above it and altered their blending modes to “hue” and “soft light” to create a monotone effect, with emphasis on complementary shades of gold and brown.

The bottom third of the photograph was almost entirely free of foliage, making it the perfect place to position my hand-lettered autumn-related quotation. I used the colour-picker to sample the colour of some leaves on the right, and transferred the colour to the focal point, “harmony in autumn.” I coloured the remaining text in a more neutral shade, just to provide some much-needed relief to the vivid autumn colours that dominate the photograph.

See the finished piece at the head of this post.

I used a similar technique to manipulate the photograph featured above, that I took of Glasgow University while standing on a bridge over the River Kelvin. The only difference being that I applied a horizontal gradient effect to “watch the leaves turn,” in an effort to simulate the changing colour of leaves in autumn.

These images were a lot of fun to create, both calligraphically and photographically (and, of course, photoshopically), and I’m really pleased with how they turned out.

So, coming soon is my traditional “Winter” post. I must remember to stop and look behind me in the hope of discovering further serendipitous photo-opportunities… weather permitting!


2 Responses to Harmony in Autumn

  1. Lynne Braga says:

    Hello Duncan!
    Just wanted to say how how lovely your Glasgow photos are with the calligraphy quotations. My husband (now dead 7 years) was from Paisley and although we were never able to travel to Scotland, I believe his heart was always there. I also appreciated the photographer’s advice since I always carry a little camera to record what there is no time to begin or finish in my sketchbook. So glad I found this site because I’m struggling to decide how to letter my pages for the Sketchbook Project 2012 (Arthouse Coop). I have tried calligraphy in the past but would not attempt it this time–so I’m thinking I’ll have to improvise with various kinds of scrawls.
    All the best,

    • Hi Lynne

      Thank you so much for your kind words about my calligraphy and photographs. You didn’t mention in which country you presently live, but it’s a pity you didn’t make it to Scotland with your husband. I’m sure he would have enjoyed showing you the sights (there’s a lot to see).

      I’m not familiar with the Sketchbook Project 2012 (Arthouse Coop), so I googled it to find out more… and it looks very interesting. I hope you find a solution for applying lettering to your pages.

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment on my work… I appreciate it.

      Best wishes,

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