Friday, 31 August 2007
Wednesday, 29 August 2007
I was checking couple of the blog links that Doug Stockdale has (whose blog & images I'm enjoying a lot at the moment) and found, as a result, a couple of interesting ones.
First up is Bartender Never Gets Killed, which I'll follow for a while and see if it stays. An interesting approach to composite images.
Second, on a similar vein, is Harvey Benge, who is currently putting together a series of diptychs which I find really interesting. They take a while but I find they are images that I can spend time regarding, analysing and appreciating. I'm also going to take some time to explore his other work: he certainly seems to have a fairly unique take on art presentation.
Doug Stockdale has a couple of posts on seeing/looking (here and here) discussing the conveying of his vision or message.
Is what the photographer regards (as per my use) a form of reality or is he imagining things and putting them into the images? For example, did I really see the sky lit up as above or is that my overlaying a distortion from my mind's eye? Does it matter? Certainly what I perceived was a distant spot lit up as a brief gap opened in the darkening skies. There are all kinds of stories one could tell about the phenomenon but for me it is an amazing piece of nature. I've seen it happen a few times - the effect is always brief and one is lucky to have a camera to hand (let alone fully set on a tripod as mine was).
For me, it is a demonstration of the tiny portion of the natural world we actually get to experience and that every encounter is to be savoured. What do you observe?
Tuesday, 28 August 2007
Although often misrepresented (as I'm doing) the whole point of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle is that the act of measurement changes the thing being measured (actually, that we can't perfectly know everything about a particle) . Whilst not quite quantum physics, photography has that effect on people: point a camera in their direction and their behaviour changes to suit.
When taking photos of people, especially out and about (street photography), I'm looking to catch "true" moments - the unaware shot as of a distant observer. Personally I'm not a fan of the photographer being part of the action, I prefer to be photographer as observer. For me it's about how others interact with one another, not how they interact with me.
Maybe it's not too far from particle physics after all.
Monday, 27 August 2007
A while back I wrote a post covering what I was looking for in a DLSR. This was based on my experiences with the Canon EOS 20D - my main camera - and the things I liked and disliked about it. It seems the 40D is a big step forward. Is it enough?
Checking through the points it seems all are covered (on the press release spec sheet at least) apart from:
100% view-finder: new one doesn't look any better than the old one on paper. Loads of extra info but will i be able to read it with my glasses on?
MLU button but i think the new custom modes should cover it. Nice that there is multi-shot lock-up.
Multi-shot bracketing (more than 30 but that seems reserved for pro models and is a fairly low priority.
Not sure on the wireless stuff but that would need extra bits as it's not built-in.
So close and worth a look but I'm not rushing out just yet. Maybe when I decide I need a second body this will step in.
What about the Nikon? Don't really care as I'm tied in to Canon at present at it's not enough of a "wow, must have" camera. Plus, I'm still going to hate those control locations.
Sunday, 26 August 2007
Photography is supposed to be all about the art of seeing (or is that Art of Seeing?). This idea has always sat a little uneasy with me but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Now I know. The image here was the eureka moment. The original has a whole lot of flat grey sky, which wasn't anyting of what I was actually observing at the time.
While working through the pictures from my Heidelberg trip, I realised that it is not about what the photographer saw, but what he was looking at. It all comes down to definitions, I suppose. From my dictionary (Chambers):
see: to perceive with the sense in the eyes
look: to direct the sight with attention
regard: to look at: to observe
OK, there are plenty of other definitons following on but these are the key first entries.
For me, a camera sees: it passes light through a lens to a recording medium. It takes the photographer to turn that into the attention of looking. The beauty of the English language is there is such a variety of words as to be able to finely grade meaning and usage.
It is a visual analogy to hearing - to hear is to perceive sound, to listen is to pay attention to the sound. This was a distinction passed to me by several teachers in school and has stuck with me.
Saturday, 25 August 2007
For me the Canon G9 is the most interesting announcement - only camera amongst the news that has potential to increase the amount of photography I do (i.e. it's a pocket camera I might actually like to own). I'd actually like to get my hands on one to try but I bet it's the last of the latest Canikon cameras to hit the shops.
Friday, 24 August 2007
Wednesday, 22 August 2007
After a pretty successful trip, I'm back. I've not looked at a single one of the 600 or so shots I made while I was away so that's yet more work for me. Right now, jet lag is getting in the way. My body wants to sleep at all the wrong times (like the photo filled free-time) and fully alert when it's less convenient (such as my regular office hours).
On the photo front I can comment that I had a lot of fun picture-making time while I was away and I'll be blogging on such subjects shortly.
Of course the big news on my return were the announcements from Canon on their new gear - do I have thoughts on that? Not sure yet but some of the new stuff looks interesting for sure.
Friday, 10 August 2007
I'm now off for 10 days on a business trip (with a bit of photo time thrown in) to Calgary, so posting may not be possible for the next week or so.
Hopefully I'll come back with another bunch of great pictures to develop & share, not that I've finished the work from the last 2 trips.
I've now got a load more photos to add to the portfolio and at the same time decided to make a few changes and implement an internal policy. From now, I'll restrict each of the 3 main portfolio categories to 24 shots (1 page of thumbnails). This will force me to cull all but the very best photos and keeps it quite fresh.
The 36 bicycles set will remain, and if I implement other projects they will get their own sections - this gives me the freedom to bring coherent sets of images together.
Check out the updates here.
In response to a question I posed, Mark Hobson (The Landscapist) has posted a response, discussing the issue of the photographer connecting with subject and viewer. On reflection, I think I agree with him.
I take away 2 things from his response.
First, as a photographer, I cannot assume a viewer connects with my subject just because I do. Some might connect, of course, and that would give the image meaning for them but it is not an automatic process. I have to reach out in some way if I want others to draw meaning or have some kind of connection with the work.
Second, as a viewer, if I connect with an image I cannot assume others are. What for me has deep insight may be little more than a asnapshot to others. The reverse holds true as well - just because I may not connect doesn't mean others won't. We all draw differnt things from art, unless the artist delibrately sets the context for us.
As an illustration, I deliberately chose the photo to go with this post. On first glance it may look like nothing more than a snapshot of a random wheat field. I've titled it, that may give more context but I can't expect anyone to have thesame connection that I have with the scene.
In fact, it holds quite a lot of meaning for me. It is inspired by Van Gogh's "Wheatfields under Thunderclouds", a painting I was very much drawn to when I first saw it in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. the connection for me, however is in the fact that it is one of two pictures I own (merely posters) that, once hung on the wall, make a house a home. For someone who moves a lot (6 times in 10 years), that becomes important. The other picture is Picasso's "Femme assise au capuchon".
As I commented, I've been using these techniques for colour work with some success but never thought to apply them to monochrome work. Having had a few difficult cases recently, I went back to take another look. Here are the results. In all cases - Capture one for the conversion (does the smoothest dark tone conversion, IMO), Photomatix Pro for HDR combination, Lightzone for final adjustments.
In this case, I did the HDR work in color then performed a conversion to B&W. There is clearly more detail in the far wall, and the water level in the opposite lock can be seen. Slight noise reduction necessary there to stop it looking too grainy compared to the rest of the image. Final print optimization not yet done.
Here, I worked the conversion in B&W from the start, to see how that affected workflow. No real problem as far as I was concerned. The image has 2 lots of colouration applied which is why it appear to be a colour image. I much happier with the fine detail in the smooth water over the weir and the less aggressive specular highlights in the foam.
Overall, a success: not for universal use but good for tricky shots and more abstract work. Just as I apply it for colour work.
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
Looking again at the photo attending the yesterday's post, I realise what a hash I made of the conversion: posterization, too much noise reduction. Uck!
Reading the stuff on 20th Century photography following the post & links at T.O.P. I realised that my photo art knowledge was sadly lacking.
Doing a search (actually for Winogrand) I turned up this handy resource for photographers - a whole buch of names, their photos and links to other resources. Handy for those looking for further information.
Monday, 6 August 2007
Thursday, 2 August 2007
While thinking about the contrast between my job and my photo life as displayed via the blog I wondered - is photography art for scientists?
I know many with a science/engineering background who are keen to serious photographers (not just holiday snappers) but very few who take up other art forms (save maybe the odd musician). I think it has something to do with the bit that comes between vision and execution: namely technique.
I don't believe vision defines artists, but the execution of that vision. Art is not in the concept but the doing and making.
Whether you ae an "art as verb" type or "art as noun" type, there is a clear part of the art process that is the "doing" requiring some sort of technique to be applied. It might be paint, pencil, sculpture or indeed photography. I believe that the technique one chooses is largely based on talent, some sort of aptitude or affinity for the medium. Hence the scientist drawn towards photography: it is a very technology, mechanial kind of art form. The camera is very much a mechanical (or these electronic) device that I think sits well with the scientific mind.
I know for me, personally, there is "art as concept" going on in the brain. I can see the world as a seres of pictures, moments, whatever. I also know that I have not the aptitude to capture what I see with brush or pen but have a natural feel for the use of a camera. I like the mechanical aspect in bringing my vision to fruition, working the camera seems to come quite natural.
With the advent of digital editting it also fits in well with my bits & pieces approach to working. In the darkroom one has to have the patience and appliction to seethe job through. with the comptuer I can come and go to the work, tweaking and refining, erasing mistakes and so on.