Friday, April 9, 2010

Flickr Friday - Boiworx and Contrast

Photography at it's most basic level is about asthetics. It's about what is pleasing to the eye, what is displeasing, what tricks the eye into looking longer and making you think.

Boiworx on Flickr has got some great examples of using contrast and colour tone to make you look again at images you may have seen before, images of famous landmarks or beaches, and seeing them (forgive me) in a different light.

Some examples work better than others, and this shot is fantastic. The composition is beautiful, with the strong architectural lines, the balmy tone adjustment that makes the grass greener and the supernatural contrast that gives the sky an amazing (and somewhat eerie) depth.

Definitely worth checking out the others in this series!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Never throw out what you could recycle.

So finally I have finished my post-wedding breather! It was lovely and I don't regret a minute of it, but there are things to be written about. Things, people!

I was reading Lifehacker yesterday, and came randomly across this quote by wildlife photographer Andy Rouse.

"As a photographer, you have to push yourself all the time. I take a lot of crap."

I know that in a one week period, I took about 1000 photos and found that about 10 of them were excellent, about 20 additional shots were good and there were about 50 more that were fixable. That's A LOT of shots that got thrown in my circular filing cabinet.

A lot of them had elements that I could cut and paste into my digital art attempts. When I looked at them the other day, more than a year on, I could see good shots I'd overlooked before and shots that had moved into the fixable pile because my knowledge had increased and I knew what to do to improve it, to make it asthetically worthwhile.

Lifehacker suggests the delete key. I disagree. Never delete your photos. Get yourself an external harddrive and look through your past work occassionally. You never know what you might find.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

One Perfect Day - 8 x 12 inch Yellow Flower Photographic Print

A stunning yellow flower, a warm flood of sunshine tempered by the slightest of cooling breezes, a cold drink next to the swimming pool. Remember the glory days of summer with this superb 8 x 12 inch high resolution digital print.

I know it's my own shot, but I was so proud of how it turned out! It was practically perfect as taken, I only needed to adjust the contrast and brightness levels ever so slightly to really make the colours pop. Very, very happy with this one!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Great Photographs - Buzz Aldrin on the Moon

In 1969, a event occured which had an irrevocable impact on human civilisation. America became the first country to land people on the moon. Travelling in the Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins spent two and half hours on the moon setting up experiments and taking photos, including the photograph of Buzz Aldrin above taken by Neil Armstrong, before sucessfully returning to Earth.

The photographs that resulted from this brief sojourn are perhaps some of the most scientifically analysed shots of all time, raising questions of how exactly photography works and how the physical conditions on Earth determine how we shoot. Consipiracy theorists who believe the moon landing was staged have questioned everything about the shots from why no stars appear in the images to the source of the light casting the shadow in the image above. The answer to the first question seems to be as basic as "Because there was a fair amount of light, the shutter speed used was too fast to capture background stars".

Some of the other questions aren't as simply answered, and come down to the physics of the interactions between light, air and subject. Ian William Goddard explores some of these issues on his site, using models of the lander and the astronauts to recreate the physical conditions under which the shots were taken.

The camers used by the astronauts were chest-mounted Hasselblad 500ELs using both black and white and colour film. As Michael Light notes, colour film in an interesting concept in a vaccum and it may be that the colours we're seeing aren't actually the colours you would see if you stood up there yourself. The astronauts were given photography lessons and practice cameras, allowing them to be confident in using the equipment on site. Overall 3584 images were taken on the mission, not a bad shoot!

Remembering Apollo 11 has a selection of wonderful photos from the era along with quotes from the astronauts, and is well worth a look to people interested in space, photography and/or the 60s.

As a final memo - keep in mind that astronauts don't take well to being told they're lying about landing on the moon!

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Modern Day Ozymandias

Shelley's poem has always touched me. It's so simple in it's vocabulary and it's construction, and yet it has so much meaning. Even in the present day, when we fight death, decay and change harder than we have ever done, there are signs all around us that, like Ozymandias, we too will be swept inexorably along by nature's more powerful tide.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Wednesday Heart - Kelsi Doscher Photography

One of things I love about Etsy is them team environments. It engenders a sense of community and support which is essential for that kind of endeavour. My favourite group is the Sneak Attack Team who surprise a new seller or three each week with a whole bunch of views, hearts, sales and love. Supporting budding shops is one of the best things you can do.

This is all a long way of getting around to today's Wednesday Heart, the new Etsy seller Kelsi Doscher Photography. Her photography is simply stunning.

Take this first image for example. Crisp, clear - a fantastic micro shot.

The colours and the pattern are what mostly drew me to this shot. I love images like this that encourage people to see the beauty in the small, often overlooked, things in the world.

Texture is an important part of the above shot, but it is what takes this next print from being just ordinary to absolutely stunning.

It's the ideal desert shot, it makes you thirsty just looking at it. The cracked, parched imagery just leaves me reaching for my hand cream. And I absolutely love the colours.

Lastly, there is this amazing black and white landscape:

The first thing that jumps out at me from this shot is the excellent composition. I love how the symetery works both vertically and horizontally. It's also a great example of black and white photography. The blacks and whites are sharp and distinct and there is no problem with pixellisation, something I sometimes struggle with.

Kelsi Dolcher Photography is one of those photographers who both inspires me on to greater quality photography and intimidates me a little with how professional her work is. She brings the unrecognised beauties of the natural world out into amazing works of art. Kelsi Dolcher Photography, you are my Wednesday Heart!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Great Photographs - Migrant Mother by Dorthea Lange

It was 1936 and the US was in a time of great depression. Dorothea Lange was travelling the countryside with her husband, an economics professor studying the economic conditions. Dorothea, a trained photographer, would take pictures while her husband conducted interviews and provide them free to newspapers to highlight the depth of the problem the country was undergoing. After spotting this impoverished mother with her young children, and without much discussion on either side, Lange took a series of six pictures, the above, Migrant Mother, going on to symbolise the plight of the intransient and poor.

This photo was later identified as being a portrait of Florence Owens Thompson. a 32-year-old widow who earned 50 cents for every 100 pounds of cotton she picked. There is an interesting recorded interview with her that can be found here.

This image really demonstrates the power imbalance between photographer and subject. When asked about the image, which became hugely famous and contributed to Lange being awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in photography, Florence Thompson is quoted as saying:

"I wish she hadn't taken my picture. I can't get a penny out of it. She didn't ask my name. She said she wouldn't sell the pictures. She said she'd send me a copy. She never did."

Lange's actions brought attention to a serious problem, and even prompted the Federal Goverment to send much needed aide to the area. The photograph took on a life of its own, drawing people in with it's stark reality. So should she be forgiven for taking advantage of Thompson? Is the greater good that she achieved worth the shame that the picture's popularity caused the children in it, who felt stigmatised as lower-class poor?

When Florence Thompson was ill and dying, a campaign was mounted to come to her aid and 2,000 letters arived bringing the family over $35,000 from people who had been uplifted and inspired by the portrait. Florence's son Troy said this:

"None of us ever really understood how deeply Mama’s photo affected people. I guess we had only looked at it from our perspective. For Mama and us, the photo had always been a bit of curse. After all those letters came in, I think it gave us a sense of pride."

You can find the entire series Lange shot of Thompson here. As an interesting contrast, here is a picture of of Thompson and her daughters taken many years after the depression had ended: