Saturday, April 6, 2013

Ernie Button's "Vanishing Spirits"

Visual experiences are where we find them--and they can literally be anywhere.  Part of "seeing the world through the eye of the artist," (one of my mother's favorite phrases), is to pay attention to the visuals around us everywhere.

I'll give you a case in point: Ernie Button.

When was the last time you were inspired by dirty dishes?
Ernie Button is quite a wonderful photographer, as you can see if you wander through his website (I recommend it!).  But he didn't get picked up by National Public Radio until he neglected to do his dishes.

As Audrey Carlson described it, in her piece The Wonderful World of Whiskey Art, "Ernie Button was putting a Scotch glass left out overnight into the dishwasher when he noticed something — a white, chalky film on the bottom of the glass. He held it up to the light and, upon closer inspection, could see a series of fine, lacy lines running along the inside of the glass."

Having spotted (sorry) this interesting visual effect, he did what artists do: he explored it. Photographers, as their name suggests, work with the medium of light.  

Button shined different colors of light through the residue, looked at it from different angles and with different backgrounds, and--being a photographer--got out his macro lens and took pictures of it.

Dalwhinnie 122
As you might imagine, a scotch enthusiast could find this project irresistible.  While he seems, from a quick overview of the images posted in his Vanishing Spirits portfolio, to favor Aberlour (at least for his photos), he has documented his willingness to try other brands, such as Balvenie, Dalwhinnie, or Glenfyddich.

This admirable broad-mindedness has yielded a growing trove of images that range from the celestial to the otherworldly to the weirdly interesting.  Since he only posts the ones he considers most aesthetically successful, it has taken him about 6 years of drinking scotch (it stretches my credulity to think he'd buy top shelf scotch and not drink it) to amass the current collection.

I wish him many more happy years of photography . . . and a stout liver.
At L: Balvenie Double.  At R: Glenfyddich.

IMAGE CREDITS: The photo of the dirty dishes is courtesy of a Real Clear Science blog post by Ross Pomeroy, "A Scientific Argument for Cleaning Dirty Dishes." The images for Aberlour, Balvenie Double, and Glenfyddich are from the "Whiskey Art" post (although they also may be seen on Button's portfolio, along with Dalwhinnie 122.  Many thanks to all these sources!

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