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Allowing the Accident

In an interview, the artist Jackson Pollock explained how he was able to paint by dripping the paint on the canvas, yet maintain control: “I don’t use the accident – ‘cause I deny the accident…”

I wish I were so skilled as Pollock to make that statement. Truth is, I not only allow the accident, I welcome it.

I was using gels to create a background effect. 12×12 sheets of gel will fit on my Elinchrom background reflector, but I have other gel holders where I have to cut the sheet in order for them to fit. Unfortunately, I didn’t have an uncut sheet of Primary Red, which was the color I needed for this image of a pair of reading glasses:

© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |

I wondered, what would happen if I used the cut sheet? I don’t know why I tried it, because the cut sheet simply did not fit. Even as I was trying to fit it to the holders, I knew it wouldn’t work. I just knew it. Waste of time.

But the experiment yielded an interesting result.

Most of the white light (where the gel didn’t cover the reflector) went under the shooting table, but gaps in the material created a pleasing striation. It is very subtle, but I liked it. I never would have discovered it had the full sheet been available.

The accident.

Similarly, the edge effects created by the combination of the background reflector and gel can make interesting color variations. For this image of a pair of sunglasses. I combined 2 gels (I didn’t have a color I felt matched what I was looking for). The light falloff created an interesting hue which I felt adds depth and interest to the background:

© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |

I generally do start out with a plan. But as I work the shot, I find the accident can be a most welcome companion.

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